Robota, by Doug Chiang and Orson Scott Card

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Robota, by Doug Chiang and Orson Scott Card

Postby Omphalos » Sat Dec 27, 2008 12:47 am

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Though the venerable name of Orson Scott Card is associated with this week's book, the project was the brainchild of its illustrator, Doug Chiang. If you believe the introductory material, and I have no reason not to, Chiang has been playing with the concepts behind the story for the better part of his life. I suppose its just kismet that he was able to go on to such wild success as a graphic artist, eventually becoming an art director at LucasArts and managing the art projects for the second trilogy of Star Wars movies. This story concerns itself with Earth of the future, rather than a galaxy of the past, though. With a serpentine plot, this book has just enough problems with it to take it down to an average rating, but also has art that is fantastic enough to catapult it back to the top; at least for some. For me, three out of five stars, though without the illustrations it would rate much lower....Please click here, or on the book cover above, to be taken to the complete review..
Something is about to happen, Hal. Something wonderful!

-James C. Harwood, Science Fiction Writer, Straight (March 5, 1956 - May 25, 2010)



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Postby SandChigger » Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:37 am

Hmm...doesn't sound like it would do it for me.

Of course, I have this incredible block when it comes to anything Card.

Which is a shame, because I really liked his early stuff. :(
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Postby Omphalos » Sat Dec 27, 2008 10:34 am

I bought an ex-library copy, because I was pretty sure it was going to be bad when it came out a few years ago.
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-James C. Harwood, Science Fiction Writer, Straight (March 5, 1956 - May 25, 2010)



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Postby Liege-Killer » Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:37 am

I've got a set of prints of some of Chiang's Star Wars art I picked up years ago from a Barnes & Noble clearance rack. I always thought I might frame some of them, but never got around to it.

Sounds like he's a good artist who routinely teams up with poor writers. :lol:
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Postby The Phantom » Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:42 am

i've gotta say I still don't understand all the Card bashing. you can disagree with his (somewhat extremist) views on a whole variety of topics, his religious activism, and his motives, but I just don't understand how someone could purport that he is a bad writer. His ability to create an immersive, far-reaching universe with strong characterization and driving plot is proven, and he's at the top of the pile when it comes to modern sci-fi writers.
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Postby Omphalos » Sat Dec 27, 2008 1:45 pm

This is actually a pretty good example of bad writing on Card's part. There are highlights, but overall its just crud. I wont repeat what I put into the review, so take a look and you will see what I mean.

I think that he has a fatalistic style that really doesn't change too much from work to work. He is often cynical, and just to the right of satire sometimes. I would say he would be an excellent writer if his writing reflected a broader point of view. As it is now, the only alternate mode for him is protectionist tinged with a bit of self-righteousness, especially when it comes to his Mormon SF books like The People of the Fringe. His writing style works good in books were the major themes are the triumph of an underdog that is threatened with death that comes back and commits genocide, but not in other settings, like in his Women of the Bible series (I have read one) or Alvin Maker (read one, could not stand it, but I hate fantasy generally) it does not work so well.

His short stories are generally excellent, but he is primarily known as a novelist, so that is how I rate him. And I will happily admit that Ender alone gets him a spot at the top of the heap. But he does have his deficiencies, and he does have a serious monkey on his back because of his outspoken opinions. But that's just the way fandom works in SF. There is no getting around it, ever, and he knew it going in.
Something is about to happen, Hal. Something wonderful!

-James C. Harwood, Science Fiction Writer, Straight (March 5, 1956 - May 25, 2010)



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Postby Liege-Killer » Sat Dec 27, 2008 3:14 pm

Ender's Game is a great novel, but nothing else of Card's I've tried has impressed me in the least.

And that was an opinion I had before I ever had any idea of his political/social/religious views.
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Postby SandChigger » Sat Dec 27, 2008 6:45 pm

I don't believe I've ever said he was a bad writer. I enjoyed his short stories that appeared in OMNI magazine, which is where I first learned of him. I think the only one of his novels I've read is Songmaster (or something like that), which may or may not be that good but I enjoyed it at the time.

I don't remember why I stopped reading his stuff or paying attention to his career (I'm pretty sure, though, it wasn't a conscious decision); probably just got interested in other things/writers, etc. Somehow managed to miss the whole Ender gig as well.

The next time I see his name is in connection with his wingnut beliefs and Mormon bullshit. Nyah, not interested. Mormons aren't Christians (but then Christians aren't really "Christians", either ;) ), they're like Scientologists a hundred years down the line; I got other bullshit that's more fun to attack.

He could be the best writer in the world, but I pass. My loss and I can live with it. :)
"Chancho...sometimes when you are a man...you wear stretchy pants...in your room...alone."

"Politics is never simple, like the sand chigger of Arrakis, one is rarely truly free of its bite."

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Postby The Phantom » Sun Dec 28, 2008 6:58 pm

thanks for the insights Omph. I can agree with a bunch of what you're saying regarding the patterns in his writing. I also tried some of the Alvin maker series but I too hate most fantasy and didn't find it interesting. As for "Ender alone" do you mean Ender's Game only or the series? Ender's game was good as far as military sci-fi goes and the characters he built around Ender/Valentine/Peter, but my personal favourite is Speaker for the Dead by far.
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Postby Omphalos » Sun Dec 28, 2008 7:30 pm

I actually meant the first three books in the Ender series. I really like Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide (took me a bit of time on the last two, but I'm there now). I have a bunch of the shadow books and a bunch of the ancillary stories, and I like what I have read, but its not quite as good as those first three books in the main series.

Ive got that one set in the time of Ender's Game from Bean's perspective sitting in the pile, and I have high hopes.
Something is about to happen, Hal. Something wonderful!

-James C. Harwood, Science Fiction Writer, Straight (March 5, 1956 - May 25, 2010)



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Postby The Phantom » Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:15 am

Omphalos wrote:I actually meant the first three books in the Ender series. I really like Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide (took me a bit of time on the last two, but I'm there now). I have a bunch of the shadow books and a bunch of the ancillary stories, and I like what I have read, but its not quite as good as those first three books in the main series.

Ive got that one set in the time of Ender's Game from Bean's perspective sitting in the pile, and I have high hopes.


have you read children of the mind as well? it's a tad weaker than the rest of the Ender series. the Bean quartet is alright, but I highly prefer the Ender books. Ender's shadow is as strong on characterization as Ender's game in my opinion, and the rest of them are almost pure military drama rather than sci-fi. I enjoyed the latest book, Ender in Exile, which ties some characters from the stories together. A War of Gifts (one of those ancillaries) wasn't too good and Card's religious side kind of takes over in it.
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Postby Omphalos » Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:44 am

Ive just read those three plus First Meetings, but I have a bunch of them in the pile. Havent gotten a copy of the new book yet, but a Boarders around here is going tits-up so I might pick it up this week.
Something is about to happen, Hal. Something wonderful!

-James C. Harwood, Science Fiction Writer, Straight (March 5, 1956 - May 25, 2010)



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Postby The Phantom » Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:46 am

Omphalos wrote:Ive just read those three plus First Meetings, but I have a bunch of them in the pile. Havent gotten a copy of the new book yet, but a Boarders around here is going tits-up so I might pick it up this week.


it was pretty good, but more closely resembled the bean quartet than the Ender books in its narrative style. I think i'll wait a while till used copies show up and buy it then. I didn't find it worth 20 bucks for a new copy.
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