After reading a number of SF novels from the last few years, I keep getting frustrated at what feels like a failed renaissance of the genre. I enjoy the emphasis on real world politics, innovative science and weird but believable theories, now that time travel, hyperspace and robots are pretty much exhausted. Many books seem too much "Crichtonized" – trying to match the formula that blends larger-than-life characters involved in a limited version of world-changing events. What they end up doing is create and develop great concepts, throw some characters into them, and eventually shift the focus from the general picture into their personal stories.
Robert J Sawyer is a good writer, however most of his books leave me with a feeling that they would have made awesome short stories but were fluffed up into full-length novels. Greg Bear blew me away with the first half of Darwin’s Radio, but after two thirds of the book, it had turned into some forced love story adventure with no real depth. Cradle of Saturn by James P Hogan did almost the exact same thing. Dan Brown… after Digital Fortress, I wonder how the hell he is even allowed near a wordprocessor.
You could probaly say that Arthur Clarke or Asimov’s and characters and plots were shallow, or Heinlein and Card’s too extreme, and you would be right – but at least they were consistently tied into the story, and not suddenly distracted into forced moral and ethical rollercoasters.
Ahhh I don’t feel I explained my problem with these books adequately. Which proves I certainly am NOT a writer.
In the wake of GDC 2005, weblogs are more active than ever, which means lot of stuff to read and enjoy! Forgive me this bit of cynism, but sometimes, random quotes ARE a good substitute for depth of thought.
Greg Costikyan: "Iwata-san has the heart of a gamer — and my question is, what poor bastard’s chest did he carve it from, and how often do they perform human sacrifices at Nintendo HQ?"
Keita Takahashi: "Video games are not important. If video games were to disappear, the world would never miss us"
Chris Crawford: "It takes enormous discipline to sit down and force myself to continue working on a project that the entire world – my wife included – thinks an utter waste of time. I take no creative joy in my work, nor any optimism that it will ever produce the results I hope for. I work now out of towering stubborness, and out of desperate fear of the thought that my life’s work – and therefore my life itself – has been an utter waste of time."
My trip to Scotland is over, about two weeks roaming around the highlands and Edinburgh. It was great fun, weather was not too bad, and I was left wanting more! Hopefully I’ll upload some piccies soon.
Thanks to Coque for the link to this article that details the history of Topo Soft. Every time I read about Stardust I want to bang my head on the wall for the multidirectional control system that Jose Manuel Muñoz proposed us – it was quite original and we loved it, but in hindsight, it made the game quite frustrating to play. That man really had unique ideas… if only I could describe his initial design for Stardust, you’d wonder why did we turn it into a "standard" vertical shooter. Ahh the times…
Lots of stuff to catch up with, including Devil May Cry 3 on the PS2 which came out yesterday, preparing a lecture for the next month at the Universidad Complutense… and fixing my desktop PC, whose motherboard (I think) broke before the trip.
Edit: this song is too funny, being passed around privately but you may be able to find it: tripod-lovesong.mp3
Edit II: Devil May Cry 3 is great! Dante is back for good, after the crappy DMC2. My thumbs are sore already.
Some stuff coming from GDC:
Raph Koster’s keynote transcription
More as I come across them.