Thursday, December 11, 2014

Things I Didn't Finish - Bio of a Space Tyrant - Refugee by Piers Anthony

Bio of a Space Tyrant - Book One Refugee 
by Piers Anthony
1983 Avon Books

In future year 2615, Hope Hubris - hell, I should have stopped right there.

I didn't stop this one because of the supposedly graphic sex and gore - hell, that's why I picked it up.  The opening gang rape scene was miserably done without a drop of menace or exploitation, just a pile of cliches and distracted musings.

The main problem is that this a first person memoir written four hundred years in the future that uses what would be anachronistic turns of phrase and feels obliged to explain them in excruciating detail.  To me this is particularly obnoxious, as people today use turns of phrase from previous centuries with origins in their obscurity, and we don't have a problem.  That's how language works.

Example: "Faith attracted men the way garbage draws flies in the incredible films of old Earth" - because, presumably, either trash or flies no longer exist in the future.

I tapped out when I got to a scene where a rich man basically calls a poor woman a two dollar whore.  The narrator then goes on to explain that the dollar is still currency, and that due to various revaluations, two Jovian dollars in 2615 has the same buying power as two American dollars did 700 years previously.  And further, he had to explain how he learned these particular details of economic history in school.

What he didn't explain is why someone writing to a presumably contemporary audience would care what $2 was worth 700 years ago.  The whole thing reads like he was trying to win a no-prize from himself.  He ends up just making the inconsistencies worse instead of, I don't know, maybe rewriting it?  "You're worth two space credits, which is the price of a cup of space coffee."

I can only imagine that Anthony got lots of long, ranty letters from neckbeards complaining about these things and wanted to head them off at the pass, as the cow herders from a previous century would say as often portrayed in Earth films several Terran wars ago.  Or he had more OCD and self loathing than he did imagination and writing skill.

Sorry, this is giving me flashbacks to nerd school.  People ate this stuff up.

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