Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wherein SIB gets all literary on your ass

I got hurricaned good. No power for 9 days, then no internet for another few. Let me tell you folks, the Amish are suckers, man. I took this time to do a little reading by candle light. What'd I read? Oh, lots of things.

I re-read Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls and loved it more than the last time. I read Steve Martin's Shopgirl and while I wasn't blown away, I liked it (much more than the short story in his collections of humorous essays which is otherwise brilliant). I read Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep and Neuromancer and discovered that I like cyberpunk. And I read this:

Kevin J Anderson, if you folks don't know, is the great defiler. He moves from franchise to franchise I love soiling them and then laughing himself to sleep thinking of the pain I've experienced as a result of his hackery. He's written god awful Star Wars novels. He's written Dune novels so bad Frank Herbert would spit in his own son's face for for being so inane. And now he's gone after Superman.

Wendy Pini once said of Byrne's Krypton that he'd created a world that deserved to be destroyed. She referred to the fact that his was a cold and ugly place that lacked a heart. I echo her sentiments in my review of Last Days Of Krypton. It is a world that deserves to be destroyed. But not because it lacks love. But because every single person populating it is a fucking moron and the universe is better off without them.

Jor El, Zor El, Lara and Zod take center stage and every event in the book is a result of their acting on their own stupidity, naiveté or just plain blindness to the glaringly obvious. And when that is not the case, it's the result of another character taking advantage of their stupidity, naiveté or just plain blindness to the glaringly obvious.

Zod is absolutely defanged, taken from him is his history as a general and ambitious and accomplished military leader, to be replaced by a scheming bureaucrat whose attempts at subterfuge are cartoonish and ridiculous. Most appalling is that they succeed, painting the people of Krypton as a whole as absolute idiots for falling for them.

Zod comes to power through taking advantage of a weakened government due to a great tragedy and then gives himself temporary powers he refuses to relinquish, constantly taking more and more freedoms for himself and robbing the citizens of theirs. You don't vote republican, Kevin, we get it. It wasn't subtle when Lucas did it in the Star Wars prequels and you shouldn't go throwing your shoulder out patting yourself on the back for using it now.

Lara in the silver age was an astronaut. How cool is that? Here she's a free spirit artist who lives on a commune with her parents. Yeah. She's a damned hippie. So Jor El and Lara are a straight laced socially awkward guy and a wild free spirit trying to get him to loosen up and embrace life. That's not Superman, that's Dharma and Greg.

Krypton blowing up. Oh Good lord. We know the planet is going to blow up. That's how this works. But Kevin wants to keep you guessing! So at different points in the novel we're lead to believe it's going to be destroyed by internal pressure, nuclear missiles, a comet crashing into it, the sun going nova, and a device being thrown into its core. Planets should not be this damned slapstick.

OH! And the "in-jokes"! They are appallingly bad. Not so subtle references to the films that pull you right out of the book. At one point Zod says "If i could make the world spin backwards and go back in time" and about a dozen other equally hilarious gems like that pepper the book.

There are also things that just make no sense given the context. The explanation for the symbol of the House of El. And I just know he thinks this makes him the mayor of Clevertown. It's the S shield we all know. An S inside an irregular pentagon. He explains is as being "the serpent of deceit trapped in an inescapable diamond." That would be a reasonable explanation. ON EARTH. The serpent as a symbol of deceit is from human culture! "But Thomas!" you say, "More than one Earth culture sees the snake as being untrustworthy, maybe it happened there, too!" "Fair enough!" I reply. But it still doesn't work. The S shield is diamond shaped, but only AS WE CUT THEM. Diamonds are not naturally shaped like that! They're shaped like rocks! Because that's what they are!

In short, i give you this to illustrate how bad this book is, and I swear to god I'm not making this up: the description "He had fists the size of large rocks," is used. Really? That's all it takes to get published?

You're a bad man Kevin J Anderson, and I hope for the good of all serial fiction franchises laws are passed against you owning a computer.