Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Early Critics and The Guns of Mars

Back in 2009, when the Guns of Mars was a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, it received quite a bit of praise, but there were some detractors. Most of the negative comments came from fellow contestants, who thought they could improve their chances by writing up negative comments about their competitors. Of course, those reviews were only based on the first 5,000 words (the free excerpt Amazon displayed), so the negative reviewers often had to stretch their imaginations and make wild assumptions about the book's content.

In response, I threw together my own review, combining all of the negative comments and weaving them into a lampoon of those critics. I repost it here for those of you who haven't seen it before.

You suck! (1-star)

That sums up what I think of this writer in a nutshell. His writing is just so abhorrent I don't know where to begin. Let's start with chapter one. What the heck is going on? We're dumped right in the middle of the story, where Morgan (a guy with a girl's name?) is stranded on Mars. There's some kind of conspiracy going on, but we don't know how or why (lack of information is annoying here). He rambles on about missing his wife (hello, Elton John?), and then goes to sleep. We're told briefly about some interesting technology, like a space heater and a fancy pressure tent, but there's no technical schematics detailing how this technology works. Perhaps he is too stupid to describe the physics behind a "carbon scrubber?"

Next, we move into chapter two, which throws us back to the start of the story. Morgan sits in a classroom, learning about going to Mars (boring). A childish "colonel" comes in and acts like a prima-donna teenie-bopper, not a real military officer, and we discover she's somehow uncovered the secret to aging and reversed it? What does that have to do with Martian colonization? We also find out that Morgan is from the past, and there's virtual reality technology around? What? Too many plot threads are cropping up to confuse the feeble minded.

To wrap this excerpt up, Morgan goes home and has dinner with his wife (more boring), and we're left wondering what the heck he'll do next. Like I care!

This excerpt was boring, lacked technical detail, didn't have any gunplay (hello, Guns of Mars?), and the writer spent way too much time on character development. Who cares what these people think and feel? Let's get some action, and blow things up!

This book also looks way too complicated to be good. I mean, every complex story with such varied plotlines ends up sucking, just like that Dune series by that Herbert guy, and don't get me started on Heinlein. This writer does too much, and not enough at the same time. Not only that, but I bet he smells like turnips. Just my impression.

Such a scathing critique! It was very entertaining to throw this together back then, and I think it still stands up today. I had quite a few people complain that I spent too much time on character development, so it struck me by surprise when a recent review claimed I didn't do enough in that respect.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed this little blast from the past. Tune in next week for another adventurous review.

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