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Experiencing technical distractions August 8, 2008

Posted by thejinx in books, life, writing.
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Last weekend, we bought a Wii. This is a terrible, terrible thing for all my other hobbies. Needless to say, I am not close to finishing any new art this week. My biggest accomplishment is starting to get the hang of powersliding in Mario Kart. Curses, but that game is fun.

Unfortunately, I haven’t done a lot of writing this week, either. After having the 2007 Writer’s Market sitting on my desk for two weeks, I finally took down information on publishers and writing contests before having to return it to the library today. As such, I’ve spent a lot of time at work this week, my last as a receptionist without much to do most of the time, researching and compiling information on writing contests. It has consumed my life a bit too much at the moment, though I think my list is pretty stable now. I did write a new short story this week, one I’m sorry to say I’m not going to share online yet simply because I want it to remain unpublished for contest purposes, and I’m going to be entering some contests in the near future. Wish me luck.

I also finally read a steampunk novel.

The Difference Engine, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling – I found numerous references to this novel as a quintessential steampunk story online, so I put it on the reading list and checked it out of the library recently. It’s difficult to summarize this book, as even after having finished it, I still don’t really know what the point of the story was. In a world where the computer is invented more than a century ahead of its time, three people come into contact with an extremely powerful and mysterious program, and the story chronicles their struggles as they deal with the ramifications the program presents.

This book was a bit difficult to get into. There were a lot of period terms and the authors’ own invented devices thrown in right off the bat, most – but not all – of which I could pick up in context, but rarely on the first instance. I’ll credit the authors for effectively blurring the line between actual period technology and the devices unique to their world, but it was all a little difficult to follow at least at first. In addition to this, passages would abruptly switch tense and purpose entirely out of context to the rest of the story, and the whole last part of the story, at least fifty pages or so, was written completely different to the rest of it and seemed jarring and out of place, little say extraordinarily difficult to understand.

I enjoyed the second part of the story. Some questions, some of them very essential ones, were still left unanswered at the end of it, but the events of that part of the story were interesting enough, the narrative itself taking me into the story enough for it not to matter much. It had an effective beginning, exposition, and ending, and even though I didn’t like all of it, it did keep my interest well throughout. That a good hundred or so pages followed it didn’t really detract from the enjoyment of that segment, but I simply didn’t feel as compelled to keep reading as I did before. The conclusion of the second part of the story made me feel like the rest of it should have been denouement, when it was meant as a complete story of its own, one which never really took off the ground the way the second, and to a lesser extent the first, parts of the story did.

It was different, and I’m sure it’s more to some people’s taste than others. I found it a bit jarring, and honestly, even setting those flaws aside, I’ve read better books. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, either.

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