Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Maze of Death by Philip K. Dick, The Library of America

2 of 5 stars

I am reading a group of Philip K. Dick novels. The first is A Maze of Death.

Fourteen people from across the galaxies request and receive transfers to colonize the planet Delmak-O. They are all looking for a better place, a more fulfilling place to live. Upon their arrival on Delmak-O they begin killing each other. As the killings escalate they discover to their horror that they are on Earth, a planet that hosts only two groups of people, the insane and those guarding the insane.

Philip K. Dick is known for his concepts not his wordsmithing. The dialog is terrible. (Did, does, would anyone really use the word croak as in “I'm not going to croak you.”?) Overall the writing is uneven with disconcerting jumps and starts. This could be Dick's method of putting the reader off balance, his setting the disquieted atmosphere. It was just choppy writing to me. And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Sorry that was The Beatles. In the end A Maze of Death is an average Twilight Zone episode.

George W. Parker

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Full Dress Gray by Lucian K. Truscott IV, William Morrow and Co.

2 of 5 stars.

Honestly, I read this story because of the author's name and his family's history. I thought maybe he had something new to bring to the game. I am afraid not. Although the characters were interesting and the plot promised a good story (Murder, deceit, and a struggle for power at West Point and within Congress.) ultimately the writing fizzled out.

The characters became cardboard and their behavior unbelievable. (I truly believe a powerful U.S. House committee chairman would pound his gavel, retake the floor and declare a general in contempt of Congress if he was presented with the behavior of Lt. General Rysam Slaight, Superintendent of West Point. And the bad guy, Brig. General Gibson, went from being a cold, manipulating creature to a crazy madman in about two pages so the author could finish up the book.)

On the positive side the story was readable and didn't have any of those publisher's/line editor's mistakes that so many popular stories have these days. At least someone at the office read it before they sent it to press.

George W. Parker

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell, Translated by Laurie Thompson, New York Press

This is a two star book.

It is always difficult to assign responsibility when you review a translated book. Did the author say that? Or did the translator miss say it?

Here is a an example of the writing from The Dogs of Riga. “He (Wallander) continued walking around and around the boat (a life raft), occasionally exchanging a few words with Martinsson. After half an hour he decided that there was nothing more for him to discover.”

Did Wallander really walk around the life raft for half an hour? It sounds like a lot of circling to me. Was that the author's intent? Did the translator miss something. Ultimately the line editor and publisher are responsible for that content. Here is a link to more whining about the current state of publishing:

This is the most egregious example but the story is filled with jumps, lapses and repetitions – Which police colonel is the villain, Putnis or Murniers? That must have been asked twenty times.

I picked this book up because of the BBC production of the story. The TV series is a testament to good screenwriting and the acting of Kenneth Branagh.

George Parker