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Neverness: Zindell is to Sci-Fi as SRD is to Fantasy
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quick, Malik23, hide!

Danlo, look over here.

Wink

Have you ever seen a book by A.A. Attanasio called Radix? It's remarkably similar to Neverness in theme and style, and very good too. Like Neverness, when you finish reading it, you feel like you've experienced a higher state of enlightenment. Arguably AAA's masterwork, in case you know him by his Quantum Physics/Arthurian legend books that he's more recently published.

www.amazon.com/gp/product/0553254065/002-0317845-1646413?v=glance&n=283155
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, looks fascinating WF! Thanks for the link! Cool
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wayfriend wrote:

Have you ever seen a book by A.A. Attanasio called Radix?


I read radix in the eighties, then found it again a few years ago. I loved it -- the images and characterization, expecially of the young protagonist as "Rat" and then how he grows and changes throughout the book. I think more character growth in this book than most. I wont give away anything, but well worth reading, and Very memorable.
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danlo, I didn't diss this book. I said I was disappointed, and went to great lengths to justify my opinion using examples from the book. I gave not only negative examples, but positives ones as well. That is clearly not dissing. This is a critique.

As for the personal jabs at me "being on something," that's exactly why I took a break from the political threads. It is entirely unnecessary to suggest that there is something wrong with me just because I have a difference of opinion. After all, I didn't say anything bad about you because you liked it.

Quote:
Bardo, for one, is one of THE most fleshed out (pun intentional) characters ever created in literature.


I'm stunned by statements like that. I honestly don't understand this opinion, because you're clearly well read. All Bardo does is complain that Mallory's ideas are dangerous, screws women, drinks a few beers, and farts when he gets nervous (I'm serious--there are multiple instances of this "character development"). Other than that, he adds absolutely nothing to the story. His character doesn't change, even after all the brutal events he finds himself tagging along (despit his whining). He's the Gimli of Neverness (movie Gimli, not the book).

Quote:
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).


I can give nothing else but my interpretation, just as you. As for spoiling this book, well, I come here to talk with other interesting and intelligent people about books (among other things). What's the point of reading them if we don't discuss them? Besides, perhaps the "controversy" will only spark more interest. But I don't mind at all if the admins want to spoiler tag my posts here.

BTW, I DID say I wasn't done yet. Maybe the ending will change my opinion.
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 2:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

if it helps, ,just because of the last few posts, I have to go and read it.... thanks!
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, I'm sorry, I'll back off a few. I was suggesting you use spolier tags. I was spoiling too, in a way. I wasn't basing my opinion on the Bardo in Neverness, I was basing it on his role in the entire series. Actually, Bardo is the only character present in all four books. You're right to say that he is kind of buffoonish in Neverness but there's still alot more to him, and your know it. His past is not just a skate on a glissade, aside from his boisterous exterior many things trouble him: from the conflict with his father and family as a Prince of Summerworld to his love for Mallory and even his bedwetting at Borja...and there's still more to it.

You're obviously looking at the book from a much more analytical perspective than me. My problem with the book is that I see too much of myself in it. I identified emotionally and automatically with Mallory. I am fricking Mallory (but he's a very complex matter altogether) My best friend Rodney is Bardo and my mother is, or was Moira--I s*** you not. I was sent to an Academy, my dad was away on continual lenghty business trips...sound familiar? Again I'm sorry I attacked you in anyway--it's just that I do unfortunately take this book/series very personally and seriously. Well spoilers or not I have to agree with you, you did get some intense discussion going. Cool

Malik23 wrote:
All Bardo does is complain that Mallory's ideas are dangerous, screws women, drinks a few beers, and farts when he gets nervous
he also smokes tolache, loves Yakonian Firewine and is a great conissuer of intergalactic art and music. Wink

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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's the thing. I don't think you can read Neverness as a "stand-alone" book. It's more like a prologue for A Requiem For Homo Sapiens.

Bearing in mind that I haven't read The Wild or the War in Heaven yet, Spoiler:
I was saddened to a large degree by Bardo's development in Broken God, by the changes he undergoes.

(I really hope he comes to his senses and snaps out of it.)


Personally, so far the Fraveshi are my real favourites.

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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danlo, cool. I didn't realize the book was so personal for you. In addition, you are viewing it from a perspective I don't have: you've read the books which come after it. I WILL continue reading this series, for I agree that it has great promise.

None of us can help bringing our own personal reference frame to anything we read. And because we are all here for our love of SRD's work, perhaps we take for granted that our personal reference frames are after all very different, despite this one basic common ground.

Personally, I can't help but read books in terms of an analysis of their merits and faults because I'm comparing it to my own book, and to the process of writing in general. I'm trying to learn this craft, to explicitly define what works for me and what doesn't. I'm putting in about 6 hours a day on my book, and I've been working on it for ten years. It is at the forefront of my thoughts any time I read something--especially something similar like Neverness--and that's not going to change until it gets published. If you want, you can even infer a little jealousy in my personal reference frame, because Zindell at least got published, read, and loved by smart people like you. Perhaps I'm too hard on him for purely personal reasons. (But I like to think not).

I will say that I love how Spoiler:
Mallory develops all the skills of his Order, not just the ones specific to pilots. I've been thinking of a convincing way to make my main character develop powers beyond what has been experienced thus far in his world, and the temptation to give him omnipotence must be avoided (because it's boring and ludicrous). Zindell does a good job of making Mallory's "enhancement" believable because it's an extension of skills already present in the narrative universe he's created. So there's still the "holy shit!" factor in watching him gain new powers, and yet it never falls into cliche because he doesn't immediately become all-powerful.


I'll go back and spoiler tag my previous posts, too.
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Malik23 - get an Avatar. Just curious as to what you'd have. Go on, join the club! Wink
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Malik, all that I can add to this is that, as Avatar said, Neverness is a prologue to the three books which follow it.

Spoiler:
The trip to visit the primitive tribe is of key importance to what will folllow.

The mathmatics are the basis of how the pilots find their way through the galaxy. Only greatly gifted mathmeticians can become pilots; you will find out more about this - the qualitfications and training of pilots - in the next book.

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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Malik23 - get an Avatar. Just curious as to what you'd have. Go on, join the club!


I prefer to let my words be my avatar. A picture is so static and limited. How can one image represent me? I supposed I could just post a picture of myself--but if I did that, I'd be tempted to post one of my shirtless, muscles flexed, self-indulgent pictures. And that might be too intimidating in places like the Tank. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Neverness is not a prologue. It stands up quite well on its own. I don't think a sequel was intended as it was written ... but just because one was, doesn't make it a prologue.

I thought the world-building around the Acedemy was very good. The characters were good. I kinda thought that Timekeeper was rather well done. Bardo is almost cliche but Zindell gives him enough style to make him stand up. The vision of space-travel was good. (Yeah, a lot of his ideas were plundered from Radix, but heck, that's sci-fi, dwarves and giants etc.)

I think Malik just didn't like it. Doesn't mean its bad or week or a prologue.
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read Radix when it was first published in the early eighties. I found it overwrought myself. I agree that the Rat section was the best, but I thought it faltered after that.

And if I had a dollar for every time Attanasio used the word "smoked" as a descriptive term, I could retire!!!! Razz
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thinking about it, I think he referred to himself as "SugaRat", something like that.

I remember later:

Spoiler:

when he became an elite special ops kinda dude, and then went back to his home to see his Mom and she didnt recognize him. I also remember not getting the ending at first...


edited to add comment:

I just bought a copy of neverness (used, Amazon.com) and am looking forward to reading it. The reviews on Amazon are mostly good, but are somewhat mixed. I dont always agree with reviews. Anyway, thanks for the advice.
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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, Malik, although you did say some positive things about it, overall, you most certainly did diss it. Hard to conclude that it's things like "one-dimensional" and a "mess of a book," and expect to give any other impression.

But that's ok. All get to have their own feelings about it. Don't worry about danlo, he's known for such reactions. Heck, we love him for them! Very Happy

And I'll even agree that parts of the plot are "contrived for the sole purpose of allowing the author to pose a barrage of basic philosophical questions." But, imo, the way he barrages us with those questions is amazing, and more than makes up for it. It doesn't get much better than:
Quote:
-Oh, ho, listen, Man, and we'll tell you everything! Do you hear the waves whispering the secret? We know you know, Man. The secret of life is just sheer joy, and joy is everywhere. Joy is what we were made for. It is in the rush of the nighttime surf and in the beach rocks and in the salt and the air and in the water we breathe and deep, deep within the blood. And the sifting ocean sands and the wriggling silverfish and the hooded greens of the shallows and the purple deeps and in the oyster's crusty shell and the pink reefs and even in the muck of the ocean's floor, joy, joy, joy!
We sometimes need to be reminded of such things. Very Happy Like when Sargon takes over Kirk's body.

I want to address one point in particular: the mission to the Devaki.
1) The thing is, the level of enlightenment, technology, and knowledge that humanity possesses at any point in time (real or fictional) is not reflected in all people of that time. Take our time. In some ways, Bush might be considered the most powerful person in the world. But many think he is also an idiot, and that he makes stupid decisions. With all of history's lessons to learn from, how can we possibly have all the problems that we have? Well... Because we do. That's the way people are. The characters of Neverness aren't necessarily brilliant in any ways, even though they have access to greater technology and more lessons from history than we have.

2) I'll tell you the other reason when you finish the book. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist, I looked up "dis." It seems to have two basic meanings: to insult, and to criticize. It seems to have come from, "disrespect." I don't think I insulted it, and I don't think I disrespected it. However, I do think I criticized it. Saying that a character is one dimensional is a description, not an insult. Saying that something is a mess (i.e., cluttered, disjunct, disordered, etc.) is also a description. [Now saying that Bardo is the Gimli of Neverness, that might be a tad insulting. But I meant it humorously.]

Let me be clear: no disrespect intended! I truly admire what Zindell attempted to do. I just do not like his execution.

Clearly, the part you quoted is beautiful and sublime, as are many passages within the Devaki portion. However, what you quoted was not really an example of "barrage of basic philosophical questions." After all, this wasn't even one of Mallory's internal dialogues. An example of what I was talking about would be:

Quote:
What is mathematics? Where does mathematics come from? How is it born? What is inspiration? From where does it come? Why do the Darghinni, who are as alien as aliens can be, think according to the same logic as human beings? What is life? What exactly was a Lavi set? What was a point-source? Was I sure I understood the difference between a Lavi set and a discrete Lavi set? How could I show the mappping was one-to-one? Where does the flame go when the flame explodes? Why should man seek justice in a universe which is manifestly unjust?
etc.

(The above quote is a compilation; I pulled these sentences from various places within the book.)

You make some excellent points about the state of enlightenment of humanity in general vs individual humans. I agree. However, the individual humans in question were supposed to be some of the best and brightest of the future. Besides, generalizations which hold for humans today can't accurately be made of future humans who have the technology to rewrite the very "programs" of their brains.

However, I can immediately see a counter-argument to my point: if we're talking about humans who are so different from us that our generalizations no longer hold, then we're no longer talking about humans, and what's the literary relevance to our lives? Perhaps my expectations unrealistic.
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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To me asking those questions are starting points for the reader to start thinking, become a Journeyman themselves and be pulled into the process. I've studied many religions, philosophy and a little quantum physics-so I can follow along with that-I am nowhere near as adept at math as you are. For a base layman those questions are important for me to understand the more complex fenestrations, mapping, zazen, etc...

The pilots in question-Mallory & Bardo may be some of the best and brightest but they're haunted individuals-many other issues are clouding their thoughts as opposed some of their hyperfocused peers, such as The Sonderval, Delora or Li Tosh. Mallory represents "old world" alpha males, there's such a fire in his head that his thinking is not often all that clear--he's really not the best and the brightest but he works like hell to overcome his obstacles. I don't think his mind ever really clears until he's worn down by Dawud and has his brain restructured. He had a really messed up childhood and his mother is quite the headcase too.

Aside from the fact that The Broken God is such an incredible book it (as Duchess said) outlines the overall process of preperation in applying to the Academy and exactly what it takes to make it through Borja and Resa. Cool


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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
To me asking those questions are starting points for the reader to start thinking, become a Journeyman themselves and be pulled into the process.


You are probably right. If I were just starting out in my own philosophical journey, then these questions might resonate with me more deeply. I used to think it was truly amazing that the universe can be described with something as abstract and "pure" as mathematics, that something so utterly physical fits the patterns of something completely immaterial. In the days before I became a nihilistic skeptic, it was a beautiful mystery. Now I think it's merely an example of the weak anthropic principle--i.e., since lifeforms complex enough to ask such questions exist in this universe, this is necessarily a universe in which such serendipitous correspondance exists; a universe that DIDN'T conform to such order wouldn't produce life--no mystery, just a fantastic, meaningless coincidence. Perhaps there are billions of other universes in which such a correspondance does not exist. However, in those universes, creatures like us will not develop to ponder their meaninglessness.

But that is coming from a jaded philosopher who has spent so much time on these questions, I find it difficult to have that first spark of amazement reawakened. So maybe that's my fault.
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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe one of the reasons characters may seem "one-dimensional" is that there's so damm much going on in the book. It's a busy galaxy! Razz Zindell introduces us to so much so quickly that the pace of the book may seem a little headstrong-almost a new language in terminology-boom: the Quest, incredible descriptions of the city, the concepts of Earth being so lost in time as to be mythical, life without the wheel and weapons, how thickspace came to be and how to manage it, things going on on other planets, the intrigue of family histories, the histories of pioneering pilots (such as The Tycho and Jemmum Flowtow) and how humans became intelligence field god-entities. Not to mention all the different alien races, religions and lifestyles.

We have a link to the short-story Shanidar at Ahira's Hangar, my Neverness themed board. I think it was originally written in '82 or '84 and published in Orson Scott Card's Future on Ice and L. Ron Hubbard Presents the Writers of the Future collections. Zindell, apparently built Neverness and it's universe around this coffeehouse recollection of the Alaloi and the Devaki tribe. It's interesting that Zindell says that his work, including the Ea Cycle fantasy series is based on Arthurian mythos. I felt that but didn't totally see it when I first found the book in '92. Quest: Holy Grail, Old Arthur: Soli, Morgana: Moira, Kalinda: The Lady of the Lake, etc... He's also cleary borrowing devices from Dune as well--but then again Dune blew away the sci-fi landscape at the time, so that can be forgiven. I haven't read Radix so I don't know there. Maybe they were all borrowing each other , saying "...man, help me!-I don't think anyone can be the next Herbert."

Just wait till you finish the next three books: A Requiem for Homosapiens and see why some wags claim that J. K. Rowling freely borrowed many of her motifs from Zindell. Wink

As a poet I was probably swept up in the romance of the whole thing, Zindell's worldcrafting, names and terminology. The Warrior-Poets seriously blew me away! Very Happy

I know what you mean by jaded, I was on the verge of becoming so when I first read Neverness. As a grudging optimist the book resonated so personally in me that it's helped keep my eyes wide open. I'm convinced there's meaning to it all.


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PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2006 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, what can you do? Somebody once asked what those of us who love Frank Miller's work thought was so great. I gave some examples, and he replied that it didn't change his mind. But it wasn't intended to; I was simply answering his question. That's the way it is with preferences. Some people like something, and others don't. I doubt many people who don't like, say, the Beatles ever come to love them. That's just the way we are, neh?
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