SciFiNow review

Posted by Ricardo

writer and blogger

17 Replies to “SciFiNow review”

  1. Ricardo:
    We, the readers, are the ones who should be thankful, for having someone so masterfully excite our imaginations. The proof is that I can indeed read one of your books (or some books of the Harry Potter series, to name another block of mammoth books) in 1 or 2 sittings – thus proving how non-objective are the needs of the body (food and rest, mainly). This is no feat of mine, but of yours, the writer. *bows deeply*

    Altough I agree with Rem on the trilogy-spawning demon that has taken over literature, I don’t think Rem’s counter-example is aimed at what Ricardo was saying deep down: a well thought-out and innovative world does need lots of words to be described. And if it’s not thought-out or innovative, it’s up to us, the readers/consumers to vote with our wallets: let us make sure such authors/publishers do indeed ‘starve’. If they do not starve, that says something about our culture, and about our cultural needs; about why people read Fantasy and SciFi in the first place.

    I was indeed talking about Perfume, a brilliant masterpiece, that takes on so many unusual things (smells, first and foremost) – and that was recently butchered into a stupid Hollywood movie, a Politically Correct one, alas. A book that’s all about the construction of identity through metaphors – and such powerful ones! It’s one of those small books that leaves you yearning for more and feeling fulfilled at the same time, it’s a shot of literary adrenaline up one’s brain… Which isn’t to say that only small books accomplish that – your trilogy isn’t certainly easy on the senses, now is it? *grin*


    1. My poking was indeed not directed at Ricardo –

      I’ve always resented the notion of Fantasy as ‘escapism’, as a comfy, non-demanding escape from difficult daily life… But increasingly I come to the conclusion that this is true for the average reader of Fantasy. Have you noticed how stagnant covers for Fantasy-books are? Nothing has changed the past 30 years – still the same glossy oil-paintey covers with almost children’s book topics and imagery… While if you look on the literature shelf, you see fresh, innovative, covers for intelligent, adult people.

      I’m all for escapism, but it should be worth it. If it’s not innovative in plot/character, it better be very, very well written. To be honest, I rather pick up an old detective (Hammett, Chandler) to escape.

      While Ricardo’s books offer an ‘escape’, it’s not a comfy one… And that’s okay, since they’re not meant to. What I like about these books is that apart from the joy in reading them (either in one go or spread out), these books have a longer life – the themes and thoughts (and the world) stay with you after finishing reading.

      I’m afraid that if you let ‘Fantasy readers’ vote with their wallet, there’ll be even more Wheels of Times… I think that Ricardoi’s books may have a better life outside of the genre (in the literature-shelf, if you will).

      I’m done now. 😉


      1. Rem,
        I do agree with your points above, but the truth is that we have no other choice but to ‘let’ people vote with their wallets. That’s how capitalism works, and book publishing is a capitalist activity, at the moment at least, so no going around that.

        What we can indeed to is try to educate the audience, to show some refinement and finesse. Obviously reading Ricardo Pinto is part of that *grin*.
        But these kinds of reviews aren’t helping that. If good books get criticized for not being Tolkien knock-offs, then I’m kinda losing hope on this… Maybe places like might help change this by creating a more personalized experience, but one never knows…

        All in all, I just hope people like Ricardo Pinto don’t give up.



        1. ah! but what makes publishing a capitalist activity? Surely it’s the requirement (up until now) of manufacturing and distributing the physical objects in which books have resided. I suspect that the advent of ebooks is a game changer…

          yes, reading Ricardo Pinto is obviously showing refinement and finesse….. *wide grin*

          I don’t really see this review as being a bad one. Mostly he states all kinds of positives, with the caveat of pace – which people will know if it matters to them or not – and the mysterious: “at times serious flaws” – whatever those may be *grin*

          I’ve no intention of giving up… though, it has to be said, that the kind of support people like you and Rem have been giving me is helping a lot with that… :O)


          1. Daniel Cardoso 1st May 2010 at 12:47 am

            The history of book publishing (and here, allow me to speak ex cathedra) after the advent of Gutenberg’s press is a history of profit seeking, and one of its most direct effects was the consolidation of specific “print languages” from several smaller idioms that were widely used but were economically inneficient.

            The burgoisie was the social class behind the monetary investments in printing, and they very much expected a return. Where there is a limited supply and there is demand, there you see economy appearing (economy of infinities is impossible). I hope that e-books change the game, but I have some doubts, as I see e-books being sold at more expensive price-points than their paper counterparts. And unfortunately I disagree that it’s not the need for distribution that makes it a capitalistic activity (and the ‘ebook more expensive than book’ seems to agree).
            Rather, it is:
            1 – The need for publicity (and that the Internet can easily change – well, not easily, but you get the drift);
            2 – The scarce resource in books is not the physical object, but the story-telling, the inventiveness (or the lack thereof), the need for someone to re-hash and re-present discourses of a mythological and identitary nature; in short, the competence of the storyteller (as subjective as it may be) is what people pay for, primarily, and from there the social – and hence capitalistic – value is derived.

            Piracy is helping change this when it comes to music, but in the literary world, it might take longer. Quite longer, I’m afraid. But, then again, let us please all hope I’m wrong. I want to be.

            (OTOH, it’s almost 1 a.m. and I’m preparing a conference/debate for tomorrow, about “Homosexuality, Promiscuity and Polyamory”, so maybe I’m way off-base.)


  2. It annoys me endlessly how books have to be “fast” and “paced”. Newsflash: books aren’t movies. Damn critics.

    The inner ramblings are fundamental to the readers’ need to both love and hate Carnelian!


    1. *wide grin* of course you’re right… one of the joys of books is that they can be anything they want… any length, any speed, from any perspective – as I always say: they’re still the best virtual reality that we’ve got – in so far as they’re the only way we have to entirely immerse ourselves in an experience – from the ‘inside’…

      as for your comment about the “inner ramblings” *guffaw*

      one final thought about pace. Some aspect of a slower pace does (in my experience of writing = the Stone Dance *grin*) suggest a lot of words. And a lot of words means a lot of time writing. And this long time neither suits me – because, as my agent said to me: “you’re no spring chicken” *wide grin* – because there are a LOT of books I want to write. But, critically, it is also the case that the commercial environment seems to demand a reasonable rate of book writing. The general explanation for this is that ‘otherwise people forget you’… Now, all of these things are, it seems to me, linked directly to the furious pace at which we live our lives. It is that pace that I would suggest dictates the pace of films… and not the other way round. Though I do see that an argument could be made that they form a positive feedback loop…

      In short: pace is part of our times… and, however reluctantly, we all have to respond to it to some extent. The Stone Dance is that rare thing: a story that doesn’t allow its times to dictate to it what it should be… Enjoy that, because I’m not sure I will be able to write on this scale again – not if I want to get other books published…


      1. Being from Comunication Sciences, I’d go with the feedback loop: a faster life leads to a need for faster media (both the need for “realism” and volume of info per unit of time) and the faster media enable a faster living experience. As to which came first, I refrain from commenting.

        because there are a LOT of books I want to write” – Well, I do hope you live a long time. 😛
        But still, quality over quantity. Patrick Süskind comes to mind… *mumbles*

        Also, what’s with the “(sometimes serious) flaws”? The Stone Dance reads like an obsessive-compulsive’s dream. (That is, I might add, a compliment!)


        1. I’m planning on living a long time – so you’re just going to have to put up with me!! :OP

          always quality… which is why I am currently trying to develop a way of writing much shorter books…

          what’s your point about Süskind?

          happy to be a purveyor of fine obsessions to the OCD community *grin*


          1. I agree with most of what Rem said.

            Also, my point about Süskind is that he has some 3 or 4 books (granted, not a lot) and only one of them is actually worth anything. So you could erase a quarter of his work from the face of Earth and Litterature would be none the poorer.

            And we don’t put up with you – we (at least I) eagerly await what you have cooking and then devour it in one or two sittings.

            I think commenting so much on your blog will make me re-read your books – again. Right after I’m through with Stieg Larsson…

            To sum it up, and repeat ad nauseam, one of the best things in the Stone Dance is the political, cultural and geographical complexity. It takes words to make it work. Many words. And I love that. A 800-page book (in English, not my mother-tongue) takes me some 12-15 hours to read, and can be read in one sitting. If I’m paying, I want to pay for something good and that lasts long enough. Not one or the other. Long-winded and pointless books scare the heck out of me, and small but brilliant books leave me wanting another ‘fix’.


            1. First, let us all give praise for readers like you… If you want to know what it is that keeps people like me going for years, alone, barely scraping a living – it is the joy of putting our creations into the minds of people who really ‘get’ them…

              As for Süskind, you must be talking about Perfume – which I consider quite a masterpiece. So much so, that I reread it recently because it struck me as a perfect example of what can be achieved with a shorter book.

              I’m amazed that you can read one of my books in one sitting – especially not in your mother tongue…!!?


      2. I don’t think I agree with you…
        – Many writers (of Fantasy, mainly) manage to bilge out huge novels, with many words, and they crank ’em out pretty fast (one, sometimes two, doorsteps a year). This doesn’t say anything about quality, of course.
        – From a reader’s perspective: when I’m looking for something ‘non-genre’, I often happily find a story which is told in a single volume of about 300 pages. And yet, it’s hard to find something of that length in Fantasy, since everything seems to come in trilogies (or 14-ologies). Apparently, readers WANT their stories to be long, even if it means that it’s padded out. Likely this is a Tolkien-inspired “Thou Shalt”.

        Based on the above, I think that the issue with Stone Dance is not one of too many words, but of too difficult words. The language is not always easy, the characters are not ‘black hat and white hat’ (or, to stay with Fantasy, grumpy dwarf, haughty elf, emotionally scarred mage, plucky and sexy woman-warrior, wanderer who is a king in disguise). The fact that there’s not some trinket to be found or gotten rid of by a motley band may confuse readers.
        As I’ve noticed, average lovers of Fantasy and scifi and the like are strangely reluctant to embrace change.


        1. I think you’re right that the equation: fantasy = length, is down to Lord of the Rings. It was long and let’s face it most fantasy following it copied many aspects of it religiously (including your rather amusing list of required characters) including its length… Of course there is a perfectly valid reason why fantasy books are so long – the requirement to describe not only the narrative and characters AND the setting but ALSO the way that world works. This is not nearly as much the case for sci-fi, for example, where at least the laws of nature are maintained…


          1. I think that your argument that it has to be long to describe how the world works doesn’t really hold, since the cod-medieval world so often written about surely needs no introduction.

            You’re right that it *should* be necessary, and it works like that in your books, but I think the simple truth is that when a writer would arrive at his publisher’s with a stand-alone Fantasy book, he’s kindly requested to spin it out in a trilogy.
            Fantasy readers (in general, Stone Dance readers excepted) seem to be wanting “More of the Same”, and are a good marked for these trilogies (and trilogies-of-trilogies… Farseer-chronicles, Thomas Covenant, Wheel of Time).
            It’s not that I disagree with what you say theoretically, but the reality is disappointing.

            Oh, and I’m too lazy and easily bored for trilogies! 😉


            1. *grin* yes, indeed, the cod-medieval world is a good counter-example… In fact, a lot of pages could be saved by people saying at the beginning: Once upon a time, in a cod-medieval/tolkienesque world….. *wide grin*

              What I should have written was: “Of course there is a perfectly valid reason why fantasy books should be so long…”


  3. 3 Stars? Robbery!

    It’s not as if he manages to tell us why there’s 2 stars missing – Perhaps because it’s ‘not for everyone’, but then no delicatessen-restaurant ought to receive a Michelin-star!?!

    My guess is that in the review he’s been fair, but in the rewarding of stars he had his personal preference influencing it.


    1. by “delicatessen-restaurant” are you referring to this? *grin*

      I suspect the stars were lost for lack of pace – and that seems to me a reasonable point. The Stone Dance is not ‘racy’ *grin*… and, of course, I don’t want to agree with “needless exposition”, but Mr Rundle did find a lot to like and that’s no bad thing… :O)


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