In which someone is wrong on the internet

I’m behind on my email — that’s a surprise, I know — so this is kind of a blanket reply to those asking if I’ve seen Amazing Stories, and what I’m going to “do” about it.

The answer to Part One is, Yep, saw it, was annoyed, then baffled, now tired.  (For those who haven’t seen it, have a blast.  Fair warning:  Comments have been closed.)

The answer to Part Two is…Well, what on earth should I “do” about it?  Lots of other people on the internet are being outraged on behalf of Lee and Miller, and Bujold, and Wolfe.

. . .though not so much for Cherie Priest, so I hereby state that I am outraged on behalf of Cherie Priest, whose cover was kind of used as a stand-in for everything that the author of the piece doesn’t like about steampunk.  The off-handedness of it was typical of the whole piece of work, but I’m sorry Cherie was brought into it at all.

And I’m sorry that we were brought into it.  As I said elsewhere, in the author’s view, Lee and Miller have been sinning against the science fiction genre for twenty-five years.  It’s not like our transgressions are new, even if we have just now come to the author’s attention.  He doesn’t like our stuff.  Fine.

And, really, I mean that.  Lots of people don’t like what Steve and I are doing in the Liaden Universe®; that’s life.  I like to think that the people who don’t like what we’re doing have actually read one or two of the books and have thus based their opinions on solid ground, but, really, who am I kidding?

Here’s the thing though:  We all have stupid opinions (no, really, we do); but there are ways to express the stupidest of opinions without starting an internet slap-fight.

I, for instance, hold a stupid opinion with regard to Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles.  I’ll even bore you with it.

The Lymond Chronicles, as I’m told by its fans, are incredible works of fiction that stand the test of time, and many, many re-readings.  Indeed, the Liaden books have often been compared, favorably, to the Lymond novels.  It was assumed by many folks who adore the Chronicles that I must have fixated upon them at an early age, as many readers of Liad had done.

Sadly, this was not — and is not — true.  Nor did I fixate on the Patrick O’Brien books, another common assumption of my reading tastes based upon what I write.

I suppose I ought to confess right now to being a sorry scamp, with no taste for real literature.  During my formative reading years, I ingested every Perry Mason book Earle Stanley Gardner had ever penned, manymany Agatha Christie  mysteries, the works of Frances and Richard Lockridge, Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories, possibly the entire output of Dorothy Eden, Mary Stewart, Elswyth Thane, and Gwen Bristow (I probably read Jubilee Trail fifteen times, I kid you not.  I adored Florinda, the dancer with the facility for re-inventing herself, and her crazy Russian admirer, and every time I read the book I kept hoping more of their story had somehow snuck in).  I read Zane Grey; I read Rex Stout; I read Dorothy Sayers. . .but I didn’t read Dorothy Dunnett.

However, back in the day, a reader was so admiring of the Lymond books, and so insistent that they were “just like Liad,” that I thought, Well, why not?

And took myself to the town library.

Now, the town library did not have the Lymond Chronicles on its shelves. But they did have the complete set of another of Dunnett’s series, the House of Niccolo.

So, I thought, Why not?

And I took out the first couple novels in the series.

Not to put too fine a point on it, and fully realizing that this is not an opinion held by many — I hated them.

I mean, the world-building was fascinating and complete and wow — 1460 Flanders just leapt off the page; I could smell the dye — and the street  — Dunnett was that good.

But her characters?  Them, I loathed.  I spent the last half of the first book hoping Claes would die so I could stop reading about him.  Not an auspicious beginning to an eight-book relationship.  The second book. . .I didn’t finish the second book; the gorgeous worldbuilding wasn’t enough to carry the distasteful characters and the convoluted, self-serving intrigues spun by the hero.

Based on my experience with those two books in the Niccolo series, I predict that I will not like the Lymond Chronicles and I have not sought them out.  I realize that, yes, they are two different series, but I have lost my trust in the author; I do not believe that she will serve me characters that I can relate to, and for me, in terms of reading fiction, that’s a deal-breaker.

So, there’s my stupid opinion:  I will not enjoy reading the Lymond Chronicles.

Now, since this post is about being able to have opinions without offending the earth, I’d like to ask, seriously — does the opinion expressed above offend you?  Note that being of a different opinion is not the same as being offended.

If the above opinion did offend you, can you pinpoint what, precisely, caused that reaction?  Was it the choice of words?  Was it the tone of post?  Both?  Or something else?

Thanks for playing along.

10 thoughts on “In which someone is wrong on the internet”

  1. I am not offended by anyone’s opinion of a book, or series, or author or whatever. What offended me about ‘That post’ was that he phrased his opinion as fact. I don’t actually think there is a ruling council of science fiction to declare what is and what is not SF, but even if there is, I am sure that the professor who wrote that article is not on it!

  2. Sorry – silly phone.

    There are books of yours I don’t love – not many, but a few; mostly tropes and plots that annoy me, about characters in like otherwise. I’ve never read Dorothy Dunnet, but from your description I think that I would also dislike her books; unpleasant characters is the surest way to turn me off a book /stories.

    And both of those are opinions. I know people who read and love stuff in detest – people who share my likes in other areas. I may be bewildered by someone’s opinion of something (not just a book), but I wouldn’t be offended.

  3. Sometimes whether you love a book or not depends on the mood / life experence you’re in when you encounter it. And there are some authors whose works are so diverse that you certainly might not like them all. For example, I can believe somebody accurately saying “I love Agatha Christie” but I doubt you could do that with Joyce Carol Oates. As far as I can tell she has never written the same type of book twice; some of her books I’ve loved, some I could’t get into at all.
    Now, about Dorothy Dunnett. It is unfortunate that you encountered the Niccolo books first as they aren’t much like her other works. Most accessable are her Johnson Johnson (Dolly) mysteries (released under many titles depending on US/UK hb/pbk edition). They are fairly conventional but tightly written mystery thrillers featuring sweet young things and the enigmatic Bondian Johnson Johnson with his yacht Dolly. (Though Dolly and the Singing Bird was the first mystery I every read to violate one of the basic “rules”) They are not litrachure but worth a read if you can find them. I haven’t checked but probably out of print since the seventies.
    Ah but Crawford of Lymond! When I discovered Lymond I read all six books in three days. This meant no sleep, I kid you not. Each one was satisfying in and of itself and showed an amazing depth of scholarship about European history. Considering that I think Dunnett wrote them over about a fourteen year period I was amazed at how well the whole saga tied together. Sometimes with a narrative that unfolds like that you get the feeling the author was saying, “everything you thought you knew was wrong, boy did I ever jerk you around!” Not so here. How people who read them as they were published managed to keep exploding from the wait, I’ll never know.
    Niccolo on the other hand I just never got into. I own Niccolo Rising but never read the rest. I think basically is that I just don’t care about renaissance Flanders and Italy and the rise of the modern banking system the way I was interest in the ties between Elizabethan Scotland and the rest of Europe.
    The point of this ramble is a suggestion that you don’t write Dunnett off so hastily. But nobody is obligated to like everything, or anything for that matter. We’re talking books here; important but not world peace.
    A lot can depend on whether you are in the mood for a [juicy romance, classic noir, period comedy of manners…fill blank in here] Some of the things I’ve read and loved in past I wouldn’t read again. I too loved CS Forester but had no patience for O’Brien. And I once read Anthony Trollope for fun (not on course lists) Not many people can say that nowadays.
    When in doubt, re-read the Hobbitt? (originally encountered at age 8)

  4. Well, I’ve been waiting until I felt inspired to tell you (and Steve) how very much I enjoy the Liad books. My husband, niece, and several friends we’ve introduced to your work, they also really enjoy the stories.

    So, yes, people have different opinions. People have different tastes. I tried to introduce a friend to two of my other favorite authors (Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay) and my friend was unmoved by them. I still love my friend anyway.

    Some seem compelled to frame their opinions as facts. I think that shows their need for validation.

    So,keep writing interesting, wonderful books about characters who engage me. A slight wish list request, if I may be so bold. A book about clutch turtles would really rock. For now, I simply hope to find out what happens to Daav and Alliana and how Uncle handles it.

    Thanks for the fun books!

  5. I had the same reaction to Dunett. The OP of the Amazing piece didn’t offend me either; I just figured him for an idiot and went on my way.

  6. Read it, sighed, put it aside. (The piece on SF that isn’t SF.) Tempting to say “Who died and made you God?” to the fellow, but basically–so narrow a taste deserves pity, not even the flick of a lash.

  7. My comment disappeared? I basically said I can understand why there is discussion of the characteristic of the romance genre versus the science fiction genre. In the case of Bujold’s Civil Campaign and several Liaden books, the two genres become quite muddy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.