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Old Apr 13 2009, 01:20 AM   #1
proserpine
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Default books too complex for their own good?

Has anyone else thought that the longer the book Anne writes, the less coherent it becomes? Especially the later books, Skies, MHoP, Dolphins, DE/RSR and Renegades?

I've noticed that the books that tend to read the best are the ones that are either A: easily segmented into several self-contained stories (the original trilogy, DDawn) or B: short (Nerilka, Harper Hall trilogy). Moreta is fairly anomalous in terms of this pattern, being 300+ pages and coherent from beginning to end, but it too can be broken down into several smaller, fairly distinct segments (pre-plague, plague/death, recovery stage, and finally immunization). It's just that in this case these segments fit together much more seamlessly than in other books. Also, the fact that it manages to limit its pov characters to Moreta, Capium and occasionally Alessen really helps as well.

I always considered Anne's short stories to be much better written than her longer fiction simply because in the shorts she focuses on a single character and story line rather than trying to get too ambitious and ending up with a tangled mess.

As an example, I'll use Renegades, the most hated book in the series. I'll admit Renegades isn't my favorite book, but I don't loathe it either, which is apparently pretty rare, huh :P I suppose I don't mind it so much because I jump around a lot when I read it in order to follow the various story lines, of which there are way too many. For a book that's named after the lowest rung on Pernese society, it sure does spend a lot of time following around the people in charge.

I mean, it's been a while since I read it, but from what I can recall Renegades has
1. Jayge's story, which only comprises perhaps a third of the novel
2. Thella's story as distinct from Jayge, perhaps about another fifth
3. Piemur's walkabout from DDrums as seen by Sharra, and also later as he treks across a good chunk of Southern
4. I seem to recall T'gellen actually gets some POV time in this helping Larad and Asgener with the Holdless
5. The theft of the Queen egg as seen by Toric
6. Robinton and his Cove Hold subplot
7. Toric expanding Southern
8. The exploration of Southern as a whole really takes over as a theme about midway through the book
9. Discovery of Landing as told by Piemur instead of Jaxom
10. Exploring Landing with Robinton, Jaxom confronting Toric from Robinton's pov
11. A direct lead in to AtWoP

I don't know about you, but I think the amount of stuff covered in this book could have made two or three better organized novels if they were taken on individually instead of crammed in all at once. Also, several scenes are cribbed directly from other books, as retellings of already described events from a different pov. This has happened in other books, sure, but never so needlessly. Do we really need to know what Sharra thinks of Piemur when they first meet, or Robinton's observation that Jaxom looks a lot like Fax when confronting Toric about marrying Sharra? Contained in the same book as Thella's quest for her own Hold after being told that she couldn't be Lady of Telgar even though she was both older than Larad and somewhat well trained? The same book that describes Jayge's experiences as a Trader whose train is slowly rebuilding itself after the unexpected and unbelievable return of Thread after 400 years which wiped out most of their stock and family? The same book that, were it not so overstuffed with themes and plotlines, could focus on that most underdeveloped aspect of Pern, the lives of the holdless and miscreants?

Wow, that got a little ranty there, didn't it? So. What other books could be vastly improved with the application of pruning shears and a clear focus?
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Old Apr 13 2009, 03:48 AM   #2
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Not having read those books recently, I'm not sure whether to agree or disagree with you at the moment. From what I can remember of the storylines, some could have been better written as a novella like "Rescue Run" was but others need more ooomph to the storyline. I don't think they'd go well as a short story but definitely somewhere in between, like novellas do - enough ooomph to give it substance but not overwhelmingly so on character guidelines, story-lines etc... In other instances, a full length novel is better because one can get the gist between all the characters and story-lines that are occurring at the same time.
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Old Apr 13 2009, 10:41 AM   #3
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

I don't think the problem is length so much as date written. "Dragonsinger," for all its brevity, was a bit boring in places. "Moreta" is, in my opinion, the zenith of the series. Not only was it well-written, Anne managed to make a story that should have been predictable genuinely tragic and moving. But after that, I think she'd told the story she needed to tell, and the rest was just padding, or filler. (Though I liked "Dragonsdawn," for the most part, and I remember being satisfied with "All the Weyrs." And I remember enjoying the Debera/Morath/Iantine subplot in "Dragonseye.") Some plot points are interesting, like the rediscovery of Landing and the explanation of the Long Intervals, but much of its seems superfluous.

I'd have liked "Renegades" better if there'd been less Jayge and Aramina, and if Thella had been more fully realized. Pern needs more interesting villains.
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Old Apr 13 2009, 12:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Most of Anne's later books could do with a lot of tightening up. I also don't like it when later stories contradict earlier ones (I find MasterHarper of Pern unreadable because it completely contradicts Dragonflight, not to mention the abomination that is Beyond Between, it almost ruined Moreta for me and that's my favorite Pern book!). Weyr Search (early DF) does have some odd things that I'm glad Anne corrected later, turning L'tol's Larth from a green to a brown.
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Old Apr 13 2009, 04:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

I agree that some of the later stuff isn't as good, especially Renegades of Pern, Dolphins of Pern, and the Masterharper of Pern. However, I did like All the Weyrs of Pern, Dragonseye, and the Skies of Pern. Therefore, I don't think it's the timing of when they're written. I agree with proserpine that it's probably the complicated tangles of plot in Renegades of Pern. I think that Dolphins of Pern, and the Masterharper of Pern, and even Skies of Pern to some extent suffer by dealing with the Ninth Pass following All the Weyrs of Pern, which pretty much wrapped up all of the plot lines that had been developed. The Masterharper of Pern also suffered because of the contradictions with other books in the series, and AM's desire to tell the full life of Robinton (personally, I prefer it when some aspects of life are left to the reader's imagination).
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Old Apr 13 2009, 06:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

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Originally Posted by Thistlerose View Post
I don't think the problem is length so much as date written. "Dragonsinger," for all its brevity, was a bit boring in places. "Moreta" is, in my opinion, the zenith of the series. Not only was it well-written, Anne managed to make a story that should have been predictable genuinely tragic and moving. But after that, I think she'd told the story she needed to tell, and the rest was just padding, or filler. (Though I liked "Dragonsdawn," for the most part, and I remember being satisfied with "All the Weyrs." And I remember enjoying the Debera/Morath/Iantine subplot in "Dragonseye.") Some plot points are interesting, like the rediscovery of Landing and the explanation of the Long Intervals, but much of its seems superfluous.

I'd have liked "Renegades" better if there'd been less Jayge and Aramina, and if Thella had been more fully realized. Pern needs more interesting villains.
I found ATWOP a good ending--except I hadn't read RoP when I read it so I was somewhat lost about some bits. The problem was, after that she kept going. Dolphins seemed a bit...ooh, lookie, new interest in dolphins, let's write a book about them! With totally unmemorable new human characters, and a rehash of events already shown in the books--we get it. Robinton's dead. Then there's SoP, and a HUGE request for suspension of disbelief re telepathy, a last-minute attempt to make F'lessan suddenly a serious character, a really weak cover for "why we still need dragons" and a bad Abominator plot (Anne REALLY does not do villains well.) DE/RSR...I liked liked bits of it, but the plot just kind of meanders along aimlessly, turns down a few cul-de-sacs, and then stops in the middle of nowhere, with WAY too many characters for any to really get a full measure of time. It's just not bad, it's just not a good book on its own merits, either. MHoP is such an abomination I keep forgetting it while writing this post.

On the other hand, "Beyond Between", "Runner of Pern", and "Ever the Twain" are all pretty solid old-school Anne. But they also have, roughly, one plot apiece, and with BB she was revisiting old characters.

Obviously I've recently reread Moreta (also Nerilka, DF, DE, and am starting on DQ) and two things jumped out--DF is set on an ENTIRELY different planet than the rest of the books and so long as it's read in that light it's very solid. (And it's fair to do that as it's the first.) The other is that Moreta is an incredibly well-crafted book. There are, IIRC (I'm at work) basically two major POV characters, Moreta and Capiam, with some cameo POV by Alessan and K'lon. This is maintained very tightly through the whole book. We don't see anything that we don't NEED to see because there's nothing that isn't in some way related to the A plot, the plague, even if we don't necessarily know it at the time. The B plot, Moreta's life as Weyrwoman versus her own feelings and needs, is woven in and out of this. And the C plot (Orlith's clutch, the continuation of life with Oklina's impression) is woven in so neatly we barely realize it's there. I have to wonder when Anne knew for sure that she was writing Nerilka to go with it, too, because while that book itself isn't necessarily as good (like most first-person it's not as tight as it could be) it weaves itself in and out of Moreta brilliantly. Also, just the tone and use of things like foreshadowing--it's all there, used with just the right touch, so that if you read it without knowing it's all very natural, and if you reread it KNOWING the ending all the signposts are suddenly clear. Everything's just so..finished. Polished. I started my recent reread without knowing I was going to write a ficlet, so I wasn't particularly reading for content, but Desdra and Capiam jumped out at me--when I first saw PoP years ago Anne's explanation that Desdra stayed at the Healer Hall to marry Capiam seemed out of left field. This time, years later, I realized it was all plain as day from their first scene together. It just wasn't clobbering me over the head like a romance novel.

Really, I don't know what the heck happened there. Anne knocked one of out of the park with Moreta.
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Old Apr 13 2009, 08:10 PM   #7
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Personally, I wanted Renegades to be more about . . . well. . . the renegades. More Thella, please. Also, I found the Traders interesting- there's a population you never see. The idea of cool people who actually aren't bronzeriders fascinated me, and there was so much left unsaid.

What's an evening in a Trader camp like? Are the wagons pulled up in a circle, like American pioneers used to? Do some of the women bellydance (which, BTW is not about 'getting laid', rather it is about feminine strength)? And what happened to Kesso the runner when Jayge finally got together w/ Aramina? And what about his Aunt Temma?

What's the deal with Aramina anyway? "Hearing dragons upsets her." Uh-huh. Likely story. Woos- sounds like on of those people who try too hard- they're very fake. Shape up, woman! You know what, hearing rap music upsets me. . . or rather it does not, because I don't let it. Have a modicrum of self-control.
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Old Apr 13 2009, 10:16 PM   #8
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

I think Renegades would have been better as a collection of short stories using the same people rather than a novel.
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Old Apr 13 2009, 11:55 PM   #9
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

The later 9th Pass Pern books show the same lack of focus on a central plot or central characters that happened with the Tower & Hive series. After a certain number of books, covering a certain span of time/generations, the cast just becomes too wide and Anne gets caught up in giving us glimpses of everyone and more global plots as opposed to tighter stories with 1-2 central characters and plots that focus on the particulars of their lives rather than the universe.

It's like the first few books are movies (plot that wraps up with the end of the book) and the later ones a season of a tv show (meandering plots that are interesting chapter by chapter but don't necessarily sum up to anything specific by the end of the season).

I'm more forgiving of this with the Pern books, because I find the universe so fascinating that I like to see Pern as a whole and get glimpses of all these different characters. With Tower, while I enjoy them I'm less interested in the world-building aspects of the books and more interested in a good story about 1-2 central characters.
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Old Apr 14 2009, 09:59 AM   #10
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Quote:
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It's like the first few books are movies (plot that wraps up with the end of the book) and the later ones a season of a tv show (meandering plots that are interesting chapter by chapter but don't necessarily sum up to anything specific by the end of the season).
You noticed that, too.

That's why I've said that 4 of the books (DF, DQ, TWD, AtWoP) would make a good movie trilogy. Maybe add a couple of scenes from other books.

But use the rest of the books for a TV series.

1st movie: DF (pretty self-contained plot, mostly Lessa POV)
2nd movie: DQ & up to the F'lar fight scene/Robinton's heart attack in TWD
(Dealing with Old Timers plot, Lessa and F'lar POV)
3rd movie: AtWoP (Destroying Thread - Mostly Jaxom POV)

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Old Apr 14 2009, 07:53 PM   #11
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Runner of Pern was twice as long as it should have been and far too predictable. THAT needed tightening up more than Skies.

A little complexity is good. I think White Dragon had a more complex plot than earlier books, but since it was well-constructed and organized, it worked well. Anne is one of the few authors who write time travel that doesn't make me go insane with rage. I wouldn't say complexity is an issue, but editing and organization. Multiple subplots and character POVs can we well-executed, and she's done it before. Jsut some were done better than others.
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Old Apr 15 2009, 10:52 AM   #12
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Runner of Pern was twice as long as it should have been and far too predictable. THAT needed tightening up more than Skies.

A little complexity is good. I think White Dragon had a more complex plot than earlier books, but since it was well-constructed and organized, it worked well. Anne is one of the few authors who write time travel that doesn't make me go insane with rage. I wouldn't say complexity is an issue, but editing and organization. Multiple subplots and character POVs can we well-executed, and she's done it before. Jsut some were done better than others.
The only one where she's really held togther multiple plots was Moreta (and DF, though that really doesn't HAVE a B plot besides the F'lar/Lessa will they/won't they of their own free will.) I just reread DQ and it's a complete mess structurally. I realized, there ISN'T an A plot--POVs shift mid-conversation, we have multiple 'climactic moments', we have characters behaving irrationally because if they don't the plot won't work rather than it being a logical outgrowth, we TOLD far too much (the theorizing/explaining after the fact of the Oldtimers' behavior, for example), we spend a LOT of time on how important the grubs are when this turns out to be another cul-de-sac in the plot....

Yet again, I would give a LOT to see the original outline or draft that Anne destroyed. She said that she realized the problem was she was trying to make it F'lar and Lessa's story, when it was really F'nor and Brekke's..well, actually, yeah, it's mostly F'lar's story. And it ends about three times. I woudl LOVE to see what the original intent was.
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Old Apr 15 2009, 08:04 PM   #13
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Several people have already said it, so I'm just chiming in here. Yeah, after the first 3 books in a particular series, she tends to peter out. She's much better at short form than long form, mostly because she's not really into creating the conflict needed because she (probably) cares too much for her former main characters.

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Tied into that...AMC is NOT good at continuing in a particular universe indefinitely. She loves to give her main characters Happy Endings that stay Happy Endings, and this makes many of the books that are continuations of a series be not nearly as good as the original books. Example...Afra and Damia from the Talent series have 8 kids. Since Afra and Damia are former-main-characters, their kids are all Primes, highly intelligent, and pretty much all handed their futures on a silver platter. The few times something bad happens to them, it's quickly rectified. This sort of thing is baaaaad for the plot of a story, and the health of a novel. Books need conflict, but any conflict she provides for the children-of-a-former-main-character is quickly rectified to make it turn out Okay. The reader knows it will Turn Out Alright, even more than you usually know when starting in on an AMC book. (I say, we need to kill all 8 of Afra and Damia's children, preferably at Mrdini hands, and watch Afra and Damia's lives fall apart due to the emotional blows. That would be wicked-fun as a reader. Of course, it would mean their Happy Ending was no longer happy. But it would provide a hell of a lot of conflict!)
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Old Apr 15 2009, 09:39 PM   #14
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

The problem is that doesn't work really with DoP, because DQ is only the second book and it's a hot mess. I realized this as I just started skimming after the Hatching, really wanting to just be done. TWD is better, Moreta is darn near perfect, ATWOP is good (though suffers from reliance on events in Renegade.)

It's more like Anne doesn't quite know how to break up a plot among books. If she's got ONE plot (Lessa saves Pern, Moreta sacrifices herself, etc) she's fine. If she knows it's going past one book, problems start.
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Old Apr 16 2009, 12:05 PM   #15
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Well, it's a generalization, and I myself don't find DQ too bad. Not like Dolphins or Skies.
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Old Apr 18 2009, 08:10 PM   #16
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Well I have seen Anne given a pass because she did not start out planning a series of books that became so popular...unlike another author of 7 books who lost many fans at the end of the 7th as what was foreshadowed failed to show...haha but back on topic
Anne might have done better if she had re read her books and eliminated some of the contradictions. Aramina as a character in the short story (Girl Hears Dragons) is okay. In Renegades she seems less interesting (The most interesting part of the book for me was the Traders and Jayge's story until he met Aramina) Aramina in Dolphins is even more contradictory than in earlier books. Lessa matures and changes yet is the same core personality...Others completely change for no apparent reason or because Anne has confused two or more characters....
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Old Apr 19 2009, 02:31 AM   #17
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I think Anne suffers from the succesful author syndrome. No editor has the guts to tell her that what she's written is a total mess and needs to be reworked before it's publishable. Do you think that any novice author who'd submit something as poorly written as Skies would get it published as is? I severely doubt it.

I'm willing to bet that Anne'd have quite a few willing beta readers who'd do it for free for the privilege of watching a script grow into a published book. Professional editors simply don't have the time to revisit older books to make sure there aren't any conflicts with former works.
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Old Apr 19 2009, 08:26 AM   #18
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Granath, you are wrong on all counts in your posts, trust me. But I will not eloborate or explain.
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Old Apr 19 2009, 08:46 AM   #19
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I don't trust you on this Hans, I'm sorry. You're going to have to explain (in PM if you prefer) if you want me to understand your POV. I probably won't share it though.

You've become a very aggressive defender of Anne of late, anyone who criticizes her writing decisions seems to be in for it. As for me, rereading Pern and Talent recently, I've started to question whether or not I can call myself a fan any longer. The glaring continuity errors that I used to shrug at, or engage in lively discussions to try and find a possible workaround, now merely frustrate me. I admit freely that I would be a lousy beta reader for Anne, since the temptation to try and steer her in the direction I'd like Pern to go would be far too strong, and thus would make the exercise merely frustrating for me personally.

Obviously Anne has the right as the author to take Pern into whatever direction she wants. However, as the reader I have an equal right not to enjoy where she's taking us. And no, I haven't changed my mind re Skies.
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Old Apr 19 2009, 11:10 AM   #20
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

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I don't trust you on this Hans, I'm sorry. You're going to have to explain (in PM if you prefer) if you want me to understand your POV. I probably won't share it though.

You've become a very aggressive defender of Anne of late, anyone who criticizes her writing decisions seems to be in for it. As for me, rereading Pern and Talent recently, I've started to question whether or not I can call myself a fan any longer. The glaring continuity errors that I used to shrug at, or engage in lively discussions to try and find a possible workaround, now merely frustrate me. I admit freely that I would be a lousy beta reader for Anne, since the temptation to try and steer her in the direction I'd like Pern to go would be far too strong, and thus would make the exercise merely frustrating for me personally.

Obviously Anne has the right as the author to take Pern into whatever direction she wants. However, as the reader I have an equal right not to enjoy where she's taking us. And no, I haven't changed my mind re Skies.

I agree that Hans has long been a fan of Anne's writing and that he supports her rights to write her stories her way, but I don't think he is the one who is being aggressive here.

It was refreshing to me that you finally clearly stated that you would prefer that she would write your stories your way.

I have never seen anything written that anyone is compelled to be a fan of Anne or her writing. It's a personal choice. If you are not a fan, fine. I do ask, however, that you stop trying to undermine the appreciation that others have for Anne's work by constantly attacking her, especially on such a personal level.
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Old Apr 19 2009, 11:42 AM   #21
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

And I'm sorry, but while I don't agree I'm not a fan any more (possibly because I only read Pern and the Ship books) I do agree with Granath than Hans, unless you're going to elaborate, no one can take a post like that seriously.

I have been an advance reader for professional, published, NYT-bestselling authors. I would never expect them to change entire plot directions on my say-so, but I would expect them to pay attention when I point out glaring continuity errors and logic flaws. I'm sorry, but in the latter Pern books that *clearly was not done.* If I do not hesitate to call people on it who are dear personal friends, I am not going to hesitate to say it about an author who was an on-line acquaintence.
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Old Apr 19 2009, 11:47 AM   #22
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The reasons I won't explain or elaborate are private and not to be shared. I think, no hope, you trust me enough to believe me if I say you are wrong, if not, so be it.

What I take issue with is the presumption often displayed in criticising Anne's work. Sure, you are allowed not to like it. You don't have to buy it and don't have to read it. You can say that you didn't like it here, no problem. But what I find irritating is all the people who think they know better. Anne should have done this, should have done that, she doesn't do this as she should, she did this wrong, isn't good at this or that.

We are talking about one of the most succesful SF authors ever. And she can do things how she wants to do them. I have he right to critique her work or stories (I immediately hear "fans" shouting. Sure you ca say what you don't ike and why, but please, don't presume too much, there are very few here that have the right in my opinion.

Your statement "I've started to question whether or not I can call myself a fan any longer" I find childish and silly. A
And yes, I do defend Anne because from an author I love (and as in marriage and love thats means I love the great, the good AND the less good/bad things! Maybe that might appeal to you) she has become a prsonal friend and likewise I would defend you if I felt the need (although with you there's the difference of you being active here and capable to defend yourself).

I don't think I am or have become aggressive but if you experience it that way, that's your opinion and I have no probem with that. But if you would have said that there were topics lately which I thought where like what I wrote in my second paragraph and that I reacted like a true friend would, then I would wholeheartedly agree with you.

In Dutch we have a saying that anyone sticking out their head from the grainfield is likely to get it chopped off... meaning that if your good, no better than the rest, people will immediately start to criticize you. How true that saying is. Now and always.

I feel secure in the knowledge that everything in life, and in AMC fandom too, happens in waves, things are always recurring, good and erm... less complimentary things. I've been active in AMC online fandom now for over ten years and will probably be much longer because I will never cease to be fan and definitely never cease to be friend; that's forever you see.
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Old Apr 19 2009, 01:07 PM   #23
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

One reason I (over)reacted to your previous post, Hans, is that it felt like a personal attack from someone I consider a friend. A bit ironic given the content of my post, wouldn't you say?

Saying I'm wrong on all counts in my posts is a bit much to take, though, without any explanations. I assume you're referring to the discussion in this thread, rather than all posts I've ever made here or elsewhere (that's what it felt like and why it felt like a personal attack).
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Old Apr 19 2009, 02:10 PM   #24
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It certainly wasn't a personal attack. It wasn't even what I would call an attack.
You voice a number of thoughts in your post which I personally happen to know are not correct. That's what I meant to say. Point is I will not and can not prove it to you without compromising myself and trust put in me.

No, I am not referring to all you said in this thread. I was referring only to your post right above mine (sorry for not quoting it, that might have been more clear) in which you
  • think Anne suffers from the succesful author syndrome and
  • that no editor has the guts to tell her that what she's written is a total mess and needs to be reworked before it's publishable
  • that professional editors simply don't have the time to revisit older books to make sure there aren't any conflicts with former works
I have to concede and say you are probably right with this one:
  • I'm willing to bet that Anne'd have quite a few willing beta readers who'd do it for free for the privilege of watching a script grow into a published book.
I have done this myself for Anne with some short stories but she decides whether to accept suggestions that are made, so if the stories would improve (especially if beta readers give conflicting advice) because of this is unsure.

Personal attack? I think you know better than that. You are still my friend even if you indeed stop to be a fan but I still find it a silly remark. Being able to use emotion and intonation of voice might have helped to say this better but alas, it's one of the big disadvantages of the internet... though I would have said it to your face too had you been sitting in my living room again
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Old Apr 19 2009, 02:26 PM   #25
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Apologies if this isn't something I'm supposed to say but at the start of some books, usually in the Thanks/dedication section Anne has mentioned that some long-time fans have proof-read and corrected some of the books. I think that might be what Hans is refering to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheryl View Post
I'm more forgiving of this with the Pern books, because I find the universe so fascinating that I like to see Pern as a whole and get glimpses of all these different characters. With Tower, while I enjoy them I'm less interested in the world-building aspects of the books and more interested in a good story about 1-2 central characters.
I think that might be why a lot of the 'problems' with the series mentioned in this thread have never bothered me; to me the Pern series is about the Planet. The story is told through the eyes of various key people because it's nessesary for the plot to make sense to us, but it's not really about the people, at least not as individuals, so it doesn't matter too much if there isn't one main character or group of characters. Renegades definately does have too many characters and jumps around too much, it's been ages since I read it but if I remember right it'd have done better to focus on the villans and shift the stuff told from Jayge and Aramina's perspective could have been added into 'Girl Who Heard Dragons', or a book of it's own. But aside from that I've never had a problem following any of the books.

And whilst it's definately a clear case of 'end of one storyline, start of another' I like the post-ATWoP books because it's such a huge change I feel like we need to see what happens afterwards. The entire structure of human society on Pern is geared towards defense against thread and whilst we've not actually gotten beyond the end of the last Pass the books set after 'Weyrs' give us some insight into how things will change and move on after that rather than leaving us wondering with nothing to go on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D. M. Domini View Post
Several people have already said it, so I'm just chiming in here. Yeah, after the first 3 books in a particular series, she tends to peter out. She's much better at short form than long form, mostly because she's not really into creating the conflict needed because she (probably) cares too much for her former main characters.
I'm torn on this one, I do agree to some extent but at the same time I do like to see happy endings. Not overly happy in the sense of everything working out exactly as all the main characters wanted, but I don't like books that end with a characters life in tatters and them feeling lost and conflicted because it doesn't really feel like an ending if they've still got a bunch of problems. Also the point of a lot of SF/Fantasy books is that the plot is a massive, once in a lifetime/era/ever thing - it's not something that can keep happening over and over without getting utterly rediculous. One reason I've never like soap opera's is that you just wouldn't have that many problems happening to the same small group of people. The Star Wars books are beginning to go down that route as well.

Having said that children are totally seperate characters to their parents in my eyes. There is no reason the parents can't go through Major Conflict 1, resolve it, settle down and have kids and then 10, 20, 30 years later the kids can go through Major Conflict 2, and so on.

The Pern series has a slight exception with regards to Thread because the whole point is that it's a reoccuring problem, but that's rarely the focus of the books. With the exception of DF, CoP, DD and to some extent ATWoP it's more of a background issue.
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Old Apr 19 2009, 02:54 PM   #26
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Thanks for the clarification Hans! That certainly cleared things up a bit. I wouldn't ask you to reveal anything you've been told in confidence, but being a bit more specific certainly helps to get the point across.

Anne has indeed thanked many people in the forewords of her works, but I'm afraid that I can only conclude that either she didn't take their advice to heart or they did a sloppy job, considering how many Anne-consistencies manage to slip through into the final version...

I must admit that I've never read any author who makes quite so many continuity errors or whose characters develop in an unexplained manner for plot reasons, and certainly not with as much enjoyment as I have read Anne's books over the years. I still enjoy revisiting old favorites, even if the feeling is sometimes akin to the pleasure you get from picking at a scab.

These days I enjoy Anne's short stories the most, because there the flaws in her writing are much less noticeable. Mostly they deal with one or two main characters, inconsistencies in comparison with other works are less noticeable, and she has to focus on one plot rather than a mixture that can easily become confusing.
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Old Apr 19 2009, 05:28 PM   #27
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

No-one's perfect. Anne is a genius in some aspects of writing, but she still has her flaws. I don't think she's the greatest writer technically, but I'd say she is definitely above average for the genre. IMO, her strongest point is her ideas, and her weakest an inability to wrap up a plot and leave it there. Her best books (again, IMO - let's just let that stand for the rest of the post, to avoid repetition) are those which focus on new settings and characters. The early 9th pass books, the short stories, the first books in any given pass (this is my explanation for the far higher quality of Dragonsdawn, RSR and Moreta relative to Renegades, Dolphins, Skies... ATWOP had a more focused plot and sidesteps some of the flaws of the other later 9th pass books). As far as inconsistencies go, yeah, we can tear the science apart, and we're justified in doing so for as long as Anne chooses to categorise her novels on the SF side of the SF/F divide - but that doesn't make them bad stories, just not as rigourously researched as other Authors might manage. A better researched story is not necessarily a better read. However, a lack of internal consistency is less forgiveable. Sure, it can be hard to keep track of everything, but it's not like the other books aren't right there to hand to check the details on. If someone like me can manage to search out nitty-gritty details with no preparation over a weekend for one of Cheryl's quests, can't I expect similar standards from an author? The flipside, of course, is that despite trying to be totally canon consistent myself, I let a few errors creep into Dragondays when writing that, so I know how easy it is for things to slip unnoticed under the radar... But hey, surely a character list and timeline is basic stuff?

Anyway.

I read Anne for the world, and the early keystone ideas in a given sequence of books. Sensawunda stuff. For character development I read Bujold, for a delight in the language I read Kay, and for hideous complexity that actually hangs together coherently over a ten-book series I read Erikson. Anne's well out of my top ten in each of those latter categories, but it's her sandbox I choose to play in. I can't compliment her enough for that.
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Old Apr 20 2009, 03:06 PM   #28
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danikat View Post
I'm torn on this one, I do agree to some extent but at the same time I do like to see happy endings. Not overly happy in the sense of everything working out exactly as all the main characters wanted, but I don't like books that end with a characters life in tatters and them feeling lost and conflicted because it doesn't really feel like an ending if they've still got a bunch of problems.
Oh I agree--I like happy endings too. Robin Hobb, for example, tends not to give her characters Happy Endings, and although she's a great author, it can get wearying.

Quote:
Having said that children are totally seperate characters to their parents in my eyes. There is no reason the parents can't go through Major Conflict 1, resolve it, settle down and have kids and then 10, 20, 30 years later the kids can go through Major Conflict 2, and so on.
Yes, this is how I envisioned it. It's been a few decades, so there's room for something major to pop up again. Nothing wrong for throwing the old characters for a loop. But it stays too pat, too happy, and the conflicts that occur seem rather trivial for me. I mean, yeah, bad stuff happens--Rojer has his Dinis killed, Thian gets attacked personally--but it all gets resolved.
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Old Apr 21 2009, 08:15 PM   #29
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

I have to confess that my favorite aspects of writing are part of what makes Pern (and the collected works of Ursula K. Le Guin) so interesting to me: the invention of entire new worlds and societies, species and geographies. I have copious notes on the geological history, mythology and anthropology of various possible story ideas, and maybe a page listing some characters, and a page or two each for main characters, and maybe a plot outline if that particular world is lucky, all of it hand written and shoved into folders. So I can understand why keeping facts straight when trying to work from that is annoying. However, once there's a rough draft part of the rewriting process is looking for inconsistencies in the basic world-building I'm engaged in. Small mistakes are understandable, but the displacements of entire characters and established histories like what's found in MHoP is much harder to justify, imho. But then, I never fell in love with Robinton the way most of the fanbase, including Anne it sometimes seems, have, so if we play the "How I would have done it" game, I probably never would have centered an entire novel around him. Different tastes.
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Old Apr 23 2009, 08:04 PM   #30
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

I just found Elizabeth Moon's "PaksWorld" blog, where you can read her thoughts on the process over the last year; she's writing more books in the "Paksenarrion" world, and tells about finding issues like those just described.

You also get a few sneak peeks...
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Old Apr 24 2009, 04:19 AM   #31
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Great blog, isn't it?

Her other, personal, one is good too.
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Old May 12 2009, 05:44 PM   #32
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Posts about writing original fic and killing characters off split into separate topic found in the Exhibit Hall.
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