Author Topic: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread  (Read 51686 times)

Muadzin

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #510 on: June 18, 2019, 04:16:51 AM »
He only ever wrote one novel, and its pretty thin at that. Most of what he wrote would be in the short story to novella range, 20-40 pages, with the longest clocking in around 140 pages. Mostly he was published in magazines and journals.

A bunch of it is public domain too: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:Howard_Phillips_Lovecraft#Works

Fair warning, he's a bit of an.... "awkward" writer, so may take a tick to get used to his voice.

That's usually a thing with all older writers and even old movies. The language and imagery they use is different then ours. Not to mention that people had so much more patience back then. They really took their time to get their stories going. And if you look at old newspapers its like seeing giant walls of text. Pictures of photos? Pff! Paragraph spacing and breaks? Pff! I love the imagery and style of old posters though. It's really superior to what we do today. Especially the ones that were drawn. Works of art!

alanp

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #511 on: June 21, 2019, 11:59:52 PM »
His dialog is horrendous, his prose is mostly sort of a dull purple, and he's often racist even by lax standards of his own time period, so "awkward" is kind of an understatement. I have a feeling that most of his influence is actually second or third hand at this point.

Writing tastes change, over time.

Jules Verne is one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time, by anyone's book, but at times 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is a very, very boring engineer's manual on what Verne thought a submarine (with magic power) should have in it's blueprint.
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juansolo

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #512 on: June 22, 2019, 01:13:59 AM »
Bearing in mind I'm heavily entrenched in the world of fantasy fiction and always have been; Lord of the Rings is bloody awful to read. Tolkien was an intellectual who thought it'd be fun to create an alternate history and a fictional language to go along with that, and it reads like a book written by someone who'd really like doing that sort of thing. The ideas within spawned a genre, same with Lovecraft, which can rightfully elevate them to legendary status. But that doesn't stop them being subjectively not very good... ;)
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alanp

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #513 on: June 22, 2019, 01:57:17 AM »
... burn the witch!
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alanp

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #514 on: June 24, 2019, 01:04:28 AM »
I hate escort missions. Especially ones with hordes of kamikaze enemies.

I also really hate it when a third-person-shooter game suddenly thinks that it's goddamn Microsoft Flight Simulator, F-16 Attack Version.

I think I'm going to drop Just Cause 3 for now, until I can get my brother to do that damned mission.
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alanp

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #515 on: June 24, 2019, 02:34:47 AM »
I was poking through some of Jay Leno's Garage episodes on youtube, and saw a "Husqvarna Motorcycles" video.

Heh, neat custom bikes are always fun. Especially if they're a bit ratty which, if someone has hacked a chainsaw into a motorbike, should be the case.

Aaaand... I got the shock of the year.

*The* chainsaw company... have been making motorcycles since 1903??? That's like learning that the Bernina Sewing Machine outfit make big rig trucks!
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Muadzin

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #516 on: June 24, 2019, 02:58:13 AM »
Bearing in mind I'm heavily entrenched in the world of fantasy fiction and always have been; Lord of the Rings is bloody awful to read. Tolkien was an intellectual who thought it'd be fun to create an alternate history and a fictional language to go along with that, and it reads like a book written by someone who'd really like doing that sort of thing. The ideas within spawned a genre, same with Lovecraft, which can rightfully elevate them to legendary status. But that doesn't stop them being subjectively not very good... ;)

They are good! It's just that our culture has changed in that we no longer have the patience to sit down for a piece of fiction that takes its sweet time. In a time where we judge persons instantly by swiping either right or left how much patience do we have for a book that takes at least a 100 pages for the action to even start?

And let us not forget that in a time where we have literally been SWAMPED by their copy cats its easy to forget how refreshing and revolutionary there were in their time. Personally I can't stand the Beatles and I find Jimi Hendrix to be a rather meh guitar player (sans his live antics), as I've grown up long after them and experienced whole generations who took what they did and built upon them. And also did great things with them. But if I had lived at the times they lived in I would probably have been MIND BLOWN!

Willybomb

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #517 on: June 25, 2019, 02:51:21 AM »
Quote
Bearing in mind I'm heavily entrenched in the world of fantasy fiction and always have been; Lord of the Rings is bloody awful to read.

Quote
how much patience do we have for a book that takes at least a 100 pages for the action to even start?

They're bloody hard going, and that's coming from someone who read Battlefield Earth as a 13yo.  I tried multiple times in the late 80s to try and get interested in it, but bugger me, Tolkien couldn't write action to save his life, and there's far too many songs about trees and grass.  IIRC, I finally decided to do the hard slog and get through them in time for the movies.

I appreciate the effort he went through to create genealogies of people's horses but all that is meaningless if the rest of it is a sludge to get through...  I don't think it's about a lack of patience, it's more that they're bloody boring for the most part.

alanp

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #518 on: June 25, 2019, 02:59:11 AM »
I appreciate the effort he went through to create genealogies of people's horses but all that is meaningless if the rest of it is a sludge to get through...  I don't think it's about a lack of patience, it's more that they're bloody boring for the most part.

I think that most of that is because Tolkien was an academic, an Oxford Don -- he broke one of the cardinal rules when he started writing The Hobbit, and Fellowship of the Ring. He literally just sat down, and started writing, with the very first line of the book. No outline, no summary, just start writing from the beginning, proceed through the middle, and stop when you reach the end. He had to start all over again several times, when he painted himself into a corner.

So, with a combination of that, plus an academic tendency to get side-tracked...
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EBK

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #519 on: June 25, 2019, 03:45:39 AM »
One of the most tedious things I've read is the endless catalog of fish in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

I found Tolkien's work to be refreshing in comparison to that.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 03:47:16 AM by EBK »
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Muadzin

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #520 on: June 26, 2019, 05:26:49 AM »
They're bloody hard going, and that's coming from someone who read Battlefield Earth as a 13yo.  I tried multiple times in the late 80s to try and get interested in it, but bugger me, Tolkien couldn't write action to save his life, and there's far too many songs about trees and grass.  IIRC, I finally decided to do the hard slog and get through them in time for the movies.

I appreciate the effort he went through to create genealogies of people's horses but all that is meaningless if the rest of it is a sludge to get through...  I don't think it's about a lack of patience, it's more that they're bloody boring for the most part.

Everyone's experiences are obviously different. But this is how they wrote novels back then. They took their sweet time setting things up and getting going. And we do live in a time where people have zero patience for everything. If there is no instant gratification or sweet action coming we get bored and tune out. How many classic movies do they still air on TV? It's only recent blockbusters whenever I switch on the TV, barely anything black and white to be seen. Even in music the hook, the thing that grabs you and which used to be the chorus, now comes sooner and sooner. Nowadays it even seems that most songs start with the chorus.

And yes, Tolkien was no professional writer, but an university professor. Who wanted to write an epic myth in the classical styles of millennia ago. Which includes lots of songs. It just so happened that what he also created was the modern fantasy genre. I reckon that in this overstimulated day and age his work would not received as well but back then it was as groundbreaking as Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced. And if you think LOTR is slow and bad, you should try the Silmarillion, cause that is probably everything you dislike about LOTR on steroids. That is the work that Tolkien really wanted to create and from which he drew inspiration when he was asked to write a sequel to The Hobbit.


I think that most of that is because Tolkien was an academic, an Oxford Don -- he broke one of the cardinal rules when he started writing The Hobbit, and Fellowship of the Ring. He literally just sat down, and started writing, with the very first line of the book. No outline, no summary, just start writing from the beginning, proceed through the middle, and stop when you reach the end. He had to start all over again several times, when he painted himself into a corner.

So, with a combination of that, plus an academic tendency to get side-tracked...

Lots of people work that way. *cough* Jar Jar Abrams *cough* I don't think Tolkien did it that way. That is no way any academic works. If anything academics pay incredible attention to detail. Way too much attention then most. And the War of the Rings books that his son Christopher released showed us the early drafts for the books. In the end LOTR went through the same process as any novel, it got written, then rewritten, rearranged and rewritten endless amounts of times before it got released. Where Tolkien differs is in his style and pacing, which is more abstract, with more attention to detail and the worldbuilding then the characters themselves. If anything Middle Earth is a character in itself, and the best developed of them all. You really get a mind's eye feel for Middle Earth, way more then for any of the characters themselves. And the pacing differs because once the Hobbits finally get going it comes to a full stop again with Tom Bombadil, then picks up, only to split into two different narratives as the Fellowship breaks up. Most writers would adopt a leap over style where they would devote one chapter to Aragorn and Friends, then one to Frodo and Sam, and alternate all the way to the end. Yet Tolkien commits the cardinal sin of completely splitting up their adventures into separate books. The fact that he made it work is testament that the dude could write to keep his readers engaged. Although it remains to be seen if that remains to be case in our over stimulated times.

juansolo

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #521 on: June 26, 2019, 08:11:21 AM »
They're bloody hard going, and that's coming from someone who read Battlefield Earth as a 13yo.

I pity anyone who made their way through that turgid shite. I can't remember how old I was when I read it, but I remember being massively frustrated by the sheer stupidity of the main character. I'm supposed to be vying for this dude who is, by any metric, a complete idiot. Horrible, horrible book. Genuinely the first thing I ever read that I thought 'I could write a better and more compelling story than this...' and it not be me boasting. I think most people with a grasp of language and an imagination could.
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lars

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #522 on: June 26, 2019, 08:37:19 AM »
This guy has superpowers. That guy has superpowers. She has superpowers. And this group of people have superpowers. They all get together and throw their superpowers at each other for 3 hours, but nothing actually happens because each superpower cancels the other out. Someone suddenly remembers an ability they have that they didn't just use right off the bat. The villan gets away again. The "good guys" cheat death again. Billions of dollars of property damage occurs.
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juansolo

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #523 on: June 26, 2019, 09:24:29 AM »
This is a comment on corporatism more than anything else. We like to think that film studios make them out of the love of the medium and everyone just wants to make the best film ever. But that's simply not the case as it's all a business and all business cares about is making money. Which is why when something is popular it's thrown back at you over and over again until that particular format has been done to death. Same happens in the video games and music industry.  Which is the thing they all strive for, find the thing with the most mass appeal, keep selling it until people grow tired of it then move on to the next big thing.

Which is why I watch a lot of independent films.
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midwayfair

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Re: Just Saying -- the soapbox thread
« Reply #524 on: June 26, 2019, 03:26:38 PM »
I can't understand most dislike of Tolkien's writing, even if I can accept that it's not everyone's cup of tea. I feel like some of them are just received wisdom. Tolkein is a damn good writer.

LOTR doesn't take 100 pages for the action to start. The action becomes progressively more sinister as the hobbits get further from their home, until they are literally trudging through hell on earth. The first chapter's like 30 pages in small paperback pages and it's the only mostly frivolous part of the book (even though some important things about the ring's effect on people are shown at that point), but necessary because it bookends the Scouring of the Shire, and shows what actually got damaged in the war.

The prose is often beautiful, despite its actual simplicity. The dialog is consistent with the tone of the rest of the book, which is more than can be said about most fantasy writers. The book is thematically consistent not just with itself but with another thousand pages of legendarium, and its level of detail rewards casual reading as well as the deepest possible probing. It's one of the most popular books on earth, and we can't all be wrong. It's also the subject of a great deal of serious literary criticism.

There aren't plot holes. There aren't characters just going around doing nonsensical things against their nature because a plot demands it. There are shades of gray (people often ignore them), even among the main characters, and even in a world with actual, literal embodiments of evil and good walking around.

Tolkien mentions the lineage of ONE horse. People still keep track of stuff like that, you know, and I'm not even talking about people whose military culture depends on horses ...

Also, lol at the idea of Tolkien not being a professional writer. The dude published quite a bit during his life and it was still only a fraction of the stuff Christopher dug up after his passing.
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