The Bitter Guide to Books I Couldn't FinishJustin Mohareb January 14, 2000
I promised, most honorably, on this spot not one month ago to give you the tale of Books that Could Not be finished. And here they are.
First off, however, I would like to say that Anonymous Coward is a gimp, who violates more laws of nature before nine a.m. than most demo team leaders do all day. I could accuse him of a number of things, all of which are true, but that would involve putting more strain on my fingers than he deserves.
Of course, a couple small digression first. Borrowing books from your local library is an excellent way to determine how interested you are in finishing a book. Because, really, if you don't finish it in two weeks, you either A) have been too busy to do so, but can't WAIT to find out what happens next or B) have passed the 'give a shit' level far too long ago to count, even if it is less than 13 days.
So I wish to thank the Mississauga Public Library system for helping me discover how little I care for some books.
On the other hand, there are other books that don't get killed by ennui. They die a quicker death, one caused by a snapping reflex of the elbow that would make a major league pitcher proud. The Elbow Reflex is caused by a book presenting you with something so reprehensible/annoying/bad that it ends up causing property damage by sheer momentum, even if it IS a Jack Chick comic.
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson triggered no Elbow Reflex. In fact, I was enjoying reading it. I mean, it was a book about Mars. Everyone likes Mars, right?
So, here I was. Reading a book about Mars. Hey, a trip to Mars! That's a
cool idea for a book! Hey, they're colonizing Mars! That's a neat idea
for a book! Hey, they're terra-forming Mars! That's a neat idea for a
book! Hey, they're making major discoveries on Mars! That's a neat idea
for a book! Hey, they're having political intrigues on Mars! That's a
I mean, this book is just too damn much. I just kept reading it. And it wasn't getting any more done. Kim Stanley Robinson, I'm sure, was sneaking into my house at night and gluing more pages into the book.
I do think, however, that I might like to finish the book someday. Perhaps when I am retired. After all, it's only one book.
(What do you mean, there's two sequels and a pair of companion novels? Sweet Jesus!)
Bruce Sterling's Heavy Weather was interesting at the start. It started with a rescue from a black-market Mexican hospital (there was a really funny scene where the 'doctor' didn't QUITE seem to know what, exactly, he was giving the patient, or why. Heh.)
Unfortunately, when it came down to two weeks, I just didn't feel that the process of renewing the book was worth it, when I could just have the wife take it back to the library. Angst 1, Bruce Sterling 0. In fact, when I went back to the library a few months later, I found my bookmark still in its place. Angst 2, Bruce Sterling 0.
Robert J. Sawyer's Frameshift is an SF epic about the Human Genome Project. It involves a climactic fight scene between the protagonist, a man with a chronic disease, and a 90-year-old Nazi (never let it be said that we've lost the sense of action that used to be prevalent in SF).
Of course, I only know this because I read it on the author's web site (450 000 words of pure wankage!). The book found itself airborne two pages in, after this particularly painful line: "Not that he wasn't affectionate: he was French-Canadian, after all, and had the demonstrative nature that went with the first part of that hyphenate, and the desire to cuddle against the cold that came with the second."
Now that I think of it, I'm a Canadian too (but not hyphenated). Which means I have no desire to let perfectly good kindling go to waste!
I'm just kidding, actually. It was a library book.
Between Two Rivers is a Harry Turtledove book. Normally, that's gravy for me. I loooove Harry Turtledove. Yum. But this book didn't quite capture me.
I found the wacky tale of a group of bronze age Babylonians to be less than engaging for some reason. The gods get angry because one group of villagers are getting too independent. Wah. If they think THAT'S bad, I've got one word for them: Atheists. The annoying attitude & bad smell would be only the start of their deitific dilemma.
Well, that's all of them I could think of. I wish you all a good day, and a Happy New Year.
Yours in RaHoWa,
What do you think?