Posts tagged ‘Jim Butcher’

GROWING OLD WITH NEW TECHNOLOGY

I’m getting older.  Okay, we’re all getting older.  But I’m already old getting older, and I’m a writer.

In the future I plan to write a piece looking at science fiction writers and the gadgets they envisioned long before they came into existence.  That led me to consider my present situation, an older science fiction writer trying to keep up with the current bounty of new devices.

Recently I attended a talk given by an author describing her work and during the presentation she mentioned how she made sure her characters used a cell phone.  For that is what we all do now, except for me.  I considered all my stories.  None of my characters ever use a cell phone.  Perhaps it’s because I do not own a cell phone, never have.

I’m kind of a private person, substitute introverted for private, so if I had a cell phone and it rang, I probably wouldn’t answer it.  That’s normal, right?

I look at the world around me and am amazed at the devices in daily use that we take for granted, especially the younger ‘we’.  Look at the increasing power of the personal computer, to say nothing of the various tablets and such.  To give a feel for the changes I’ve witnessed, when I was in college I used a slide rule to calculate.  I’ll give the younger of my readers a chance to reach for their dictionary.

Technology is changing at a tremendous rate, knowledge gained faster than ever before.  For example, and this is ancient history, man stepped on the moon just 66 years after he first flew.  You had people alive who knew a sky containing only birds.  Those same people got to see and hear rockets setting off into space.  That is truly remarkable.

The point is, it is difficult for an ‘older’ writer to keep up with the current technology and weave that technology into their stories.  At least it is for this ‘older’ writer.

As a side note, Jim Butcher creator of the Dresden Files, a writer I admire and whose work I devour, uses an interesting device to overcome this problem in his urban fantasy series.  His character, Harry Dresden, is a wizard, and any time he comes near a modern electrical device that device self-destructs.  What a great backdoor!

As for my work, I guess I’ll just have to invent my own technology.  After all, that’s what we science fiction writers do.

February 18, 2014 at 7:16 pm Leave a comment

GEORGE R. R. MARTIN VS JIM BUTCHER, PADDING VS ACTION

In my last piece where I discussed how my approach to reading a book has changed since becoming a writer, I mentioned that I noticed that some authors overwrite. They add a vast amount of unnecessary detail which pads, and in my opinion, slows down the story.
I, on the other hand, feel I don’t give enough detail. I have had stories rejected where the editor said that it wasn’t a story but an outline. I hope to remedy this and will discuss it my approach to the ‘fix’ in a future piece.
The example of an author that gives far more detail in his stories than I feel is necessary is George R. R. Martin. I know this may ruffle some feathers and that he is all over the bestseller lists, but I stand by my observations.
I have read a couple of his books and what I find is an opulence of description that is totally unnecessary. If there is a banquet, he describes in great detail what people are wearing. There is nothing wrong with this, but to go on and give the history of garments and belt buckles I find does not add anything to the story and slows down the action to a crawl.
Another fault I find in his very popular series is a total lack of advancement in technology and the life of the characters. In one story he talks of a sword that has been in the family for a thousand years and is in use by the current generation. In the course of a thousand years, shouldn’t some advance been made in warfare, for better of for worse.
I have read another fantasy series, The Codex Alera, by Jim Butcher. His stories are fast paced and not padded by details that add nothing to the story. His characters use ‘furies’ which are natural powers of the earth. In one story he explains that the culture once used an advanced technology which is now long forgotten. Since the discovery of the ‘furies’ the technology became obsolete. I find this detail more satisfying than believing that no advancement has occurred in a thousand years.
These are the observations I have made as a writer. If you want, let me know how right or wrong you think I am.

July 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm Leave a comment


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