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« This Week's Acquisitions | Main | This Week's Acquisitions »

December 08, 2009


Vance Maverick

Many thanks for this, esp. the comment on The Children's Book.


I think Simmons's work is usually quite dreadful; but I think science fiction gives him room to compensate for it with striking ideas that a reader can get caught up with, and so despite being dreadful in many ways, his SF is interesting and readable. (He reminds me of Frank Herbert on this point -- awful writer, but here and there the books are good despite it, because you get caught up in other things besides the writing.) SF easily allows epic sweeps and complicated quasi-allegories -- tends to favor them, in fact; and Simmons is good at precisely those things. Good historical fiction, however, tends to involve intricate detail-work, which makes both epic sweep and anything approaching the allegory very difficult.

Seven thousand is a beautiful number of books; in ancient times only the very finest libraries would have topped a number like that. But I will not be impressed until you top twelve thousand!

Russell Potter

Agree with you on Simmons -- the Franklin expedition is my professional speciality, and I don't object to fanciful fictional treatments of it (see William T. Vollman's "The Rifles" or Sten Nadolny's "The Discovery of Slowness"). But Simmons is so far over the top that his carefully-researched backdrop is all for naught. And as for Drood -- phew! -- the voices are all wrong. Collins would never write drivel such as "some say I am a gambling man" or "Dickens had many reasons to be smug" or "Dickens still needed a woman in his house." 775 pages of this stuff is 774 pages too many, but certainly would make quite a dent in the drywall!

Bourgeois Nerd

I third the "Simmons isn't actually a good writer, but in sci-fi his ideas paper over it" sentiment.

Ten thousand books, here we come!



"Most appalling narrator in a good neo-Victorian novel: Stannard in Jem Poster's Chasing Shadows."

Jem Poster's book is "Courting Shadows," not 'chasing.' He is appalling, but I think that is part of the character; I don't think he's meant to be likeable. Don't you think?


Oops, fixed the typo.

Oh yes, I agree that Stannard is supposed to be horrific.

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