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Neverness: Zindell is to Sci-Fi as SRD is to Fantasy
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Immanentizing The Eschaton


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lord Foul wrote:
I like the philosophy used in movies of "waste not a frame." Look at an exposition as a chance to show character development/background details/tension. Stuff it with something that increases the emotonal impact of the real events.


I like that idea Foul.

Can't say the punctuation bothered me Nav, but then, I'm a fan of both comma's, and long sentences, as some of you may, or may not, have noticed. Wink

Great books. And I really think the next one, The Broken God is even better.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While, as you imply, long sentences are not, so long as they contain something of substance, as a rule, objectively bad, they do, it seems, cause, for some, a bit of an attention problem.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just found out that ahimsa is a Sanskrit word and principle (Hinduism I'm guessing).

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even with nothing more than having read the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, and some entries in religious dictionaries, it's clear that the whole Neverness cycle is hugely Hindu. What amazing job Zindell did!

Just as Le Guin did for taoism in Earthsea.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed, and speaking of which Fist, you wouldn't happen to have a soft-copy of the Tao would you?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't be at all surprised. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could I trouble you to be so kind as to e-mail it to me in that case? The GF is very keen on reading it.

Would be most grateful.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are several translations here: www.religiousworlds.com/taoism/ttc-list.html
I'm sure there is no best translation. Reading many is the only way to go.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome Fist, many thanks. Will download a couple. Very Happy *bows*

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I got Neverness in the mail today. I bought it entirely on your high recommendation, danlo. So if it's not good, I expect you to pay me the $0.75 I spent on it! I've read the first dozen pages or so. It hasn't really grabbed me yet, which is a little disappointing. But I've just barely scratched the surface, so I'll give it a chance.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found it a fairly quick starter myself, a lot seemed to happen very suddenly. I still prefer the the follow-up, The Broken God though.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am late coming to this thread. I read all 4 books on danlo's recommendation a few years ago, and liked them very much. There's even a surprise at the end of the last book -- well, it was a surprise to *me*, anyhow....
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm nearly done with Neverness. I suppose I should wait until the end to post my opinion, but I can't help myself. I'm disappointed so far (about 4/5ths through).

What the hell was that Spoiler:
100-200 page diversion to a Neandertal tribe! WTF?
I'm not saying it wasn't good--it was actually the best part of the book so far--but it has no place among the rest of the book. It could have been expanded into it's own book, and would have been much better that way. I LOVE the depiction of Spoiler:
a primitive human condition, the exploration of our physical, animal nature. This section was brutal, real, and poignant. And viewing it from the perspective of futuristic space-faring humans living with this tribe was brilliant: it really helps the reader think about his own apparent distance from this primitive state, and how illusory this distance actually is.


But in terms of the rest of the novel, this section utterly fails. And the fact that Spoiler:
this mission literally fails within the story
doesn't help the narrative situation, it merely acknowledges the literary failure. The excuse to take on this mission is EXTREMELY flimsy, and no one questions its worth or scientific merit. No one tries to propose alternate interpretations for Spoiler:
"in mankind's oldest DNA."
No, Zindell is so eager to write this portion, all he gives as an excuse is one line of cryptic, poetic urging from a super-intelligent entity, and off go the main characters to Spoiler:
physically, painfully alter their bodies and embark on a deadly mission which is doomed by its narrative goals (i.e., to show the brutal truth of human existence).


And then the rest of the book deals with mathematics. Okay, that's an unfair summary. It is actually a bunch of contrived scenes for the sole purpose of allowing the narrator to ask himself questions like: am I free? Why does math work so well? Is war bad? Why do I rub my nose so much? How I hate Soli!

Conclusions: one-dimensional, cardboard characters, disjunct story lines, and a plot that is contrived for the sole purpose of allowing the author to pose a barrage of basic philosophical questions. I prefer my philosophy to be a little more below the surface, more symbolic and essential to the plot, not in the form of 3-page paragraphs of internal dialogue. But that's just me. I'll chime back in once I'm done. Hopefully, the conclusion can rescue this mess of a book.


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the author does a good job of telling a story about characters who concoct a dubious mission and then earn their just rewards for doing so.

As for the point, well, that's like putting LFB down after the rape scene and saying, what's the point? Wink

Different books have different things to value. I think Neverness' value is in the writing and in the author's entertaining conceptions of awareness.
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I think the author does a good job of telling a story about characters who concoct a dubious mission and then earn their just rewards for doing so.


I think the only one concocting dubious missions is Zindell. Very Happy I just don't find it plausible that after 100s of years of scientific achievement, the best minds of the future could embark on an expedition so uncritically and unquestioningly. If the point was to show how humans are falliable, then this point could have been made much better. No, I think the point was to show the brutality and harsh reality of man's physical, animal existence (which was done well). You can usually tell an author's goals by looking where he spends the most effort, and Zindell definitely does not put much effort in showing how smart men can fail. He just has them fail because it's necessary to his larger philosophical point--and unfortunately, not necessary to the plot or the characters. After all, Spoiler:
Mallory's death isn't final. He spends very little time grieving for his dead lover and lost son. Not a single mention of his son after his death!
Zindell is not writing about people. His characters are just vehicles for exposition. The Donaldson of sci-fi? Hardly.

I don't mean to trash a book that others here love. I do appreciate what Zindell has attempted, and I love philosophical fiction (I'm writing some myself). Perhaps because s.f. and philosophy are such deep interests of mine, this is why I'm so critical. I've had to struggle against making some of the same mistakes he makes here.

Go back and read pages 448-458. They contain a ten page exposition on the nature of mathematics and the main character's wish to prove the continuum hypothesis. Now don't get me wrong--I love math, especially philosophy of mathematics. I have several nonfiction books that deal with nothing but math and logic. But this 10 page block of inner dialogue on the nature of math comes just after the main character has lSpoiler:
ed a failed war in which many of his fellow pilots die--including his aunt and best friend!!! Does he mourn his failure? Does he lament the death of his best friend? No, he thinks about math for ten pages.
I suspect that this lengthy passage is justified in the author's mind because at the end, Mallory Spoiler:
proves the hypothesis.
A smaller amount of inner dialogue might make Mallory's effort seem insufficient. But why does he have to prove this hypothesis just after Spoiler:
his friends died at his command? Is it necessary to the present situation? No. He does it just because he it's a puzzle that he thinks would be cool to solve, to have the fame of being the first to do so. It comes out of the blue. However, it does make things convenient for Zindell, because in this off-topic musing, Mallory solves a problem that just so happens to allow him to win the Entity's favor so it can tell him yet more philosophical stuff.


I guess the positive side is that if people like THIS, then they are going to love my book. Very Happy


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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Malik23 wrote:
I prefer my philosophy to be a little more below the surface, more symbolic and essential to the plot, not in the form of 3-page paragraphs of internal dialogue. But that's just me.


You're not the only one. I've always said exposition is a bad thing.
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must say that the math was the part that gave me the most problems. Although I found it interesting, I still had the feeling that I was wading through it.

However, if you look at this book as a jumping off point for the trilogy which follows it, it does save it in a sense. No this book in particular, but the greater story.

And that's why I preferred A Broken God.

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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have any of you read the Assassin series by Robin Hobb? SHe is magnificent! Its a triology about a boy (fitz) who is the bastard son of a prince of thre FarSeer clan.

Her story, charactererization and suspense are just incredible. She went on to write two more trilogies based on the same world, LiveShip Traders and The Tawny Man.
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course I disagree with almost everything Malik23 just said except for the Devaki interpretation. I know a Warrior-Poet who'd like to know your address. Twisted Evil Mallory, Moira, Bardo and Soli, for example, are hardly one dimensional characters-Bardo, for one, is one of THE most fleshed out (pun intentional) characters ever created in literature. I'd like to know what you were on when you read it so I can avoid whatever it is in the future. This is not excuse making but this book was written in 1986 in the aftermath of Dune and the throes of Startide Rising there wasn't, really, any good Sci-Fi out there the, except in spots. The quest is very clear and very well debated. I think you need to reread. I'd really like to see you try to say the same thing about the Broken God.

I really try not to dislike anybody on the Watch-so I better invoke my vow of ahimsa quickly. I tend to take many things too personally and dissing Neverness seriously upsets me. I'd really, seriously, like to know what you are on man. (oh by the way what's the point of encouraging others to read it now that you've blabbed out 1/2 of the plot (as YOU interperate it).


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