Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 37

Thread: Ranting about Firstborn

  1. #1

    Default Ranting about Firstborn

    Okay, so someone wanted me to post this blog post I wrote about the first book in the Dark Templar Saga, so here it is. The short version is that while this book had some entertainment value, the ideas behind it don't stand up to scrutiny, and Golden's narration isn't all that great.

    [link removed]
    Last edited by Nissa; 07-20-2014 at 04:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Gradius's Avatar Administrator
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    9,988

    Default Re: Ranting about Firstborn

    Been looking forward to this since you started ranting about the book a while ago. :P

    Uh....okay...

    ....Uh.....inconceivable. Got it.

    ...So....like....stuff.
    So far this criticism is watertight. Absolutely watertight.

    That semi-colon up there should be replaced by a regular comma. Either that or get rid of the "but."
    Nope. A semicolon (one word) can be used before conjunctions to outrank the other commas in the sentence.

    The trouble is, the first time reader has no clue at this point who this person is, or what is happening to her.
    Your point? That's for us to find out and it builds initial interest. I can find dozens of novels that do the same thing.

    None of the vague hints here refer to anything in the next few chapters. Instead the reader has to go through a lot of stuff involving archaeologist Jacob Ramsey and his misadventures in serving under Valerian Mengsk before we find out the Preserver's name, and even longer before we find out what a Preserver does.
    Again, what is your point? Where is the rule that says we have to find out what it is the next few chapters. There are novels that don't explain things in the same book, let alone "next few chapters".

    By that point, we've forgotten all about the mystical prologue.
    If we can't remember the mystical prologue why are we even complaining about it?

    Simply put, the prologue communicates nothing that isn't better stated or shown later on in the book. It's rather like a mystical omen in a fantasy: strange, obtuse fluff that only makes sense after what it's talking about happens, making it basically useless to the person it's told to except to make that person think that the mystic is important. Moreover, it implies that this book has something to do with changing fate or time. Sure, Firstborn has plenty of flashbacks, but it's made clear that nothing seen in them can be changed. So what's the point about time splitting and turning?
    The 2 page prologue seems to be a real sticking point for you. :P

    Like I said before, purple prose is a trope and tropes are neither good or bad. It's a meaningless technique used to build interest, and pretty much everyone realizes it's tantamount to nonsense, just like Zeratul's SC1 speech, which is incidentally regarded as one of the greatest quotes from the game. It's cool if you don't like it, but stop trying to pedal it off as "critical analysis" instead of your opinion.

    Sure, Flores was too straightforward, but here we swing around to the other side, where everything is too fanciful, trying too hard to impress.
    I kind of got that vibe too.
    Turns out she has memories from Protoss who lived a long time ago, right when they first discovered the Khala. Namara chooses to reveal this to Jake so that he'll understand why he need to take this information to the rest of her people.

    That's the spine of the story, and Jake is frequently knocked out to view what Namara shows him. The stuff going on outside of his head is a lot more complicated. First of all, when Namara first zaps into his brain
    Zamara, not Namara.

    She also avoids capitalizing words like "Zerg" or "Protoss", because technically those aren't proper nouns. I've gotten into the habit of capitalizing them, so I'm still going to do it, but it's nice that Golden is adhering to proper punctuation. After all, if we really did need to capitalize "Zerg", "human" would be another capitalized word.
    I believe Blizzard in general stopped capitalizing them as soon as the SC2 era began.

    Not a one of them escapes their horrible fate. So that means any effort Golden put into their characterization and explaining their backgrounds is entirely wasted.
    Eh? You have to put effort into characterizing people you're going to kill off, otherwise it has no emotional impact and is meaningless to the reader. This is how it works pretty much everywhere.

    Also, Firstborn's primary characters are Jacob, Rosemary, and Namara. There's no need to talk about Valerian's history with his father, or his desire to explore strange artifacts. Well, unless Valerian suddenly becomes really important in the second and third books. Which is doubtful, considering that this is supposed to be a primarily Protoss trilogy.
    Valerian is definitely a primary character. He's present in all 3 books.

    The Dominion insignia flashed on the screen and Jake raised an eyebrow in surprise. Ever since they'd had their butts handed to them on a platter, the Terran Dominion had been somewhat less than dominating.

    Continuity issues abound, making the fan's head spin. And for the person who isn't familiar with Starcraft, this is bound to make them feel like they missed out.

    The Terran Dominion is a collection of several planets, all ruled by Mengsk. Sure, in Brood War the main world Korhal was taken out by both the UED and the Zerg, that by no means is the entire Dominion. They're not a tiny enough group for "having their butts handed to them" to not have extremely serious consequences for all of humanity in the K Sector. Keep in mind that even third person is told from a character's perspective, and someone neck-deep in archaeology wouldn't likely know the real story behind the events of Brood War, especially since Mengsk is extremely secretive.

    Also, it's pretty cheesy to say "their butts were handed to them" outside of dialogue from a character who would say something like that. It's not a good way of communicating information to a reader, besides being a cliche.
    Not sure what your point is here. The Dominion definitely got their asses handed to them, and the average SC fan should know that. It's really a wonder Mengsk is in power at all. See post: http://sclegacy.com/forums/showthrea...l=1#post182585

    Keep in mind that even third person is told from a character's perspective, and someone neck-deep in archaeology wouldn't likely know the real story behind the events of Brood War, especially since Mengsk is extremely secretive.

    Also, it's pretty cheesy to say "their butts were handed to them" outside of dialogue from a character who would say something like that
    You do realize that this is your basic first person narrator (Jake)? He's a character in the story who narrates the story. So you first accuse Jake of having inside knowledge about the brood war, except that turns out to be wrong because all he knows is the Dominion had "their butts handed to them". So then you criticize him because that's cheesy and he wouldn't say something like that. What? Make up your mind. Does he know the basics of the brood war or not?

    Also, why does Jake have trouble saying the word "temple"? Is he so afraid of anything slightly religious in nature that he'll jump out of his skin if someone stands behind him and whispers "Zeus"? Pfft. They call levels in Legend of Zelda temples, and how religious are any of those? If this over-sensitivity had any relevance to Jake not accepting the fact he has a religious Protoss in his head, it could be a fun character trait. As is, it only makes him look like a tool for no reason.
    Did you read the book? He doesn't like calling them temples because they're not a place of worship.

    Neither of these things are important to the overall plot or interesting in and of themselves.
    Do you dismiss all world-building as "irrelevant to the plot" or are you just biased against this book?

    As he stomps on some fossils of leaves and shells (what's the story behind these things?), Jake remembers the golden ratio. And this is somehow the code to get past the rectangle door.

    What?

    So the golden mean is the mathematical ratio that exists if the ratio of two quantities is equal to the ratio of the large quantity to the sum of the quantities. Or so sayeth wikipedia. Basically, the idea is that if a thing fits into this ratio, it's automatically more beautiful.
    I'll probably tire of asking this eventually, but what's your point? Nobody ever said it's "automatically more beautiful". Zamara definitely finds beauty in it (oh my god), but apart from that it's just a damn passcode. This is you projecting your preconceived biases of hating everything SC2 onto the book again.

    And then, as the blood drop loses its shape, the Protoss comes to life long enough to zap her brain into Jake. It's Namara.
    Actually it's Zamara.

    Alright I'll stop busting your chops. :P

    That, and even bad guys and black markets run on trust. Real life isnít quite like the movies. Sure, bad guysíll sell one another out from time to time, but thatís only under pressure. No oneís forcing Valerian to kill a bunch of scientists for simply working on a barren wasteland. In fact, hurting them means you have to make up some sort of lie to their loved ones about why theyíre not coming home. Itís implied that Val-val has interrogated and killed the previous scientists on Nemaka, so thatís even more people he has to cover. Add Rosemary and her generic peeps, and thatís even more.
    Zamara. :P
    You've completely missed out here. Valerian was betrayed by Whittier and his dad. This is from the book:

    "There were many things that Valerian was comfortably unaware of, and it was Whittier's duty to maintain that state of innocence. Arcturus Mengsk believes that Valerian is a bit naÔve and idealistic, despite his background, and wants Valerian to maintain that state for now."

  3. #3

    Default Re: Ranting about Firstborn

    Gradius, let me make something clear. I'm not biased against this book because it's about SC2. True, I wasn't looking forward to it because I don't trust Blizzard's ability to find good writers, but that was nothing more than a simple emotion. Turns out it has even less to do with SC2 than I thought, and even if it had, I am an INTP. I prefer logic and clarity over emotion, and an emotional bias would negate the point of me writing nitpickeries.

    Actually, the fact that I got so much nitpicking done proves the book has substance, because if it were utter crap like Shadow of the Xel'Naga, there would have been no reason to say a lot about it. So relax, okay? Sheesh.

    Nope. A semicolon (one word) can be used before conjunctions to outrank the other commas in the sentence.
    This would be a good point if it related to the part of the book I quoted. There were no commas that were necessary to outrank.

    Your point? That's for us to find out and it builds initial interest. I can find dozens of novels that do the same thing.
    All relevant parts of a book convey information. Even the poetic parts. If the prologue only conveyed a sense of setting, it would work. If it only conveyed characterization, it would work. If it only conveyed some information important in reading the story, it would work. However, it conveys nothing. It's not even interesting. It's pointless filler, but it could have been at least somewhat saved had it shown something of Zamara, and given the reader a reason to look forward to her showing up. As is, it gives the reader no reason to care.

    [/quote]Again, what is your point? Where is the rule that says we have to find out what it is the next few chapters. There are novels that don't explain things in the same book, let alone "next few chapters".[/quote]

    If the prologue had set up some sort of question that would mystify the reader and give them a reason to wonder what's going on, what you're saying would apply. Besides, my point in saying that was to emphasize how pointless the prologue is. Throwing fancy words on a page doesn't create mystery.


    If we can't remember the mystical prologue why are we even complaining about it?
    Because Golden put it in the book.


    Like I said before, purple prose is a trope and tropes are neither good or bad. It's a meaningless technique used to build interest, and pretty much everyone realizes it's tantamount to nonsense, just like Zeratul's SC1 speech, which is incidentally regarded as one of the greatest quotes from the game. It's cool if you don't like it, but stop trying to pedal it off as "critical analysis" instead of your opinion.
    *facepalm*

    Zeratul's quote is dialogue. It's something he himself would say, and it's intended to create an emotional response in the gamer. Zeratul is not writing a book. He doesn't have to convey information in the same sense.

    Christie Golden, when not writing dialogue, is writing narration. As a writer, she must convey information clearly and in a more straightforward manner, because she wants the reader to understand what's going on.

    Narration =/= dialogue. Therefore, as I said before, your comparison to Zeratul is pointless.

    Basically, you criticizing me over this is like saying it's alright for a writer to write a book like this: "And then that there ol' chicken lady sold her blue book to the blazin' man over yonder by the cutie tree." A character might say something like that, but that's no excuse for a writer to put that in the narration unless it's a gimmicky first person book.

    Zamara, not Namara.
    Yeah...I really kept getting the names mixed in my head. Zamara, Zagara, Nameka...Zagara is from Shadow of the Xel'Naga, but it got me mixed up still.


    Eh? You have to put effort into characterizing people you're going to kill off, otherwise it has no emotional impact and is meaningless to the reader. This is how it works pretty much everywhere.

    Yeah, but she didn't do a great job of it. It was just mentioning characteristics of people and then never letting them do anything. Except for the doctor. She actually got to do stuff. Most of the characters, however, just felt like extras who get mentioned once or twice and then allowed to stand like a cardboard cutout in the background. They have no payoff.

    I guess you could say it's more a complaint that they all die before getting to do anything really important to the plot. Seriously, their deaths feel cartoonish, as if Golden's explaining who they are simply out of obligation and then getting rid of them the first second she gets a chance. I kept hoping one or more of them survived somehow, but I'm already into the second book now, and it doesn't look that way.

    Valerian is definitely a primary character. He's present in all 3 books.
    *sighs*

    Well, I hope they do something important with his character, then.


    [quote]Not sure what your point is here. The Dominion definitely got their asses handed to them, and the average SC fan should know that.[Quote]

    The average SC Fan. Jake has never played Starcraft. That's one of my problems with all SC novels, really. They never establish how much an average citizen knows about the wars.

    You do realize that this is your basic first person narrator (Jake)? He's a character in the story who narrates the story. So you first accuse Jake of having inside knowledge about the brood war, except that turns out to be wrong because all he knows is the Dominion had "their butts handed to them". So then you criticize him because that's cheesy and he wouldn't say something like that. What? Make up your mind. Does he know the basics of the brood war or not?
    ....Wow. You know he's not a first person narrator, right? The book is written in third person.

    Basically what I was trying to say is that I want to know what Golden meant by "had their butts handed to them." It's a very generic statement that doesn't convey what happened or what Jake knows about it.

    Did you read the book? He doesn't like calling them temples because they're not a place of worship.
    1. Jake hasn't been to the artifact so he doesn't know that.
    2. It's very common for people to call old-looking structures temples. I just watched a let's player on youtube call part of a level on Star Fox 64 a temple.
    3. It's extremely weird that an archaeologist, someone who has likely had the chance to investigate old structures and appreciate them for what they are, would be afraid of a word that's commonly associated with his line of work. It says things about his character.
    4. His dislike of temples doesn't appear to have relevance to the story.

    Do you dismiss all world-building as "irrelevant to the plot" or are you just biased against this book?
    Hon, may we please keep this at least somewhat impersonal? Throwing around the word "bias" doesn't make anyone's point clearer.

    The point I was making was that these attempts at "world building" were really boring. And aren't even world building, because they don't develop the world at all. Maybe you could call them character developing moments, if they, y'know, actually developed some of the characters.

    Besides, if there's going to be a diversion from the story, it needs to come after the real plot has kicked in, giving the reader a break into something new. Now, if the situation with R.M. being a fallback leader had some importance to the plot, like R.M. later leading the scientists or possibly some other group of people, it would help this bit be relevant. As is, it doesn't develop the world, and it doesn't develop the characters.


    I'll probably tire of asking this eventually, but what's your point? Nobody ever said it's "automatically more beautiful". Zamara definitely finds beauty in it (oh my god), but apart from that it's just a damn passcode. This is you projecting your preconceived biases of hating everything SC2 onto the book again.
    I mentioned the golden ratio at two different parts of my review. The first mention was simply to establish that it's there, and emphasize the later point. If the golden ratio had really been nothing more than a passcode, I wouldn't have cared. However, the book establishes that it's some sort of beautiful, mystical, secret of the universe thing that the Xel'Naga find important.

    I'm saying what you're saying, really. The golden ratio doesn't mean anything, so it's weird that the book says it does.

    I don't understand why you're mentioning SC2 here. This has nothing to do with SC2. Gosh, I mention that someone said this book had something to do with SC2, and now it's some sort of important point. Look, I am perfectly capable of putting SC2 and this series into two different categories. They're not even written by the same people. Will you ease up already?

    You've completely missed out here. Valerian was betrayed by Whittier and his dad. This is from the book:

    "There were many things that Valerian was comfortably unaware of, and it was Whittier's duty to maintain that state of innocence. Arcturus Mengsk believes that Valerian is a bit naÔve and idealistic, despite his background, and wants Valerian to maintain that state for now."
    Are you absolutely sure this is from Firstborn and not one of the later ones? I don't even remember a person named Whittier even being in the book. I'm trying to keep an open mind for later books, so no spoilers, please.

  4. #4
    Gradius's Avatar Administrator
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    9,988

    Default Re: Ranting about Firstborn

    Quote Originally Posted by Nissa View Post
    Gradius, let me make something clear. I'm not biased against this book because it's about SC2. True, I wasn't looking forward to it because I don't trust Blizzard's ability to find good writers, but that was nothing more than a simple emotion. Turns out it has even less to do with SC2 than I thought, and even if it had, I am an INTP. I prefer logic and clarity over emotion, and an emotional bias would negate the point of me writing nitpickeries.

    Actually, the fact that I got so much nitpicking done proves the book has substance, because if it were utter crap like Shadow of the Xel'Naga, there would have been no reason to say a lot about it. So relax, okay? Sheesh.
    I don't understand why you're mentioning SC2 here. This has nothing to do with SC2. Gosh, I mention that someone said this book had something to do with SC2, and now it's some sort of important point. Look, I am perfectly capable of putting SC2 and this series into two different categories. They're not even written by the same people. Will you ease up already?
    Don't take this personally. I'm not trying to attack you here. Like I said before, it's a little weird that you talked about how you were going to hate the book and that it was probably going to suck before you had even read it. Just saying. Į\_(ツ)_/Į

    This would be a good point if it related to the part of the book I quoted. There were no commas that were necessary to outrank.
    Yes there are. Here's what the sentence would look like if we put in a comma:

    "The concept would challenge some minds, the Preserver knew, but her mind had been destined to hold such contradictions as things being separating and having no separate identity."

    Looks odd. The semicolon makes it flow better. There's no rule that says you can't have a semicolon here.

    All relevant parts of a book convey information. Even the poetic parts. If the prologue only conveyed a sense of setting, it would work. If it only conveyed characterization, it would work. If it only conveyed some information important in reading the story, it would work. However, it conveys nothing. It's not even interesting. It's pointless filler, but it could have been at least somewhat saved had it shown something of Zamara, and given the reader a reason to look forward to her showing up. As is, it gives the reader no reason to care.
    Completely and utterly subjective. It's clearly talking about Zamara, how important her mission is, etc. If you don't think that's relevant you have no way of backing that up.

    Again, what is your point? Where is the rule that says we have to find out what it is the next few chapters. There are novels that don't explain things in the same book, let alone "next few chapters".
    If the prologue had set up some sort of question that would mystify the reader and give them a reason to wonder what's going on, what you're saying would apply. Besides, my point in saying that was to emphasize how pointless the prologue is. Throwing fancy words on a page doesn't create mystery.
    Your position is inherently contradictory. First you say:

    "The trouble is, the first time reader has no clue at this point who this person is, or what is happening to her"

    And now you criticize it because it doesn't "give them a reason to wonder what's going on". So...which one is it? Again, seems like you're just trying to hate on the book for no reason. Not an accusation, just an observation.

    Because Golden put it in the book.
    ...and it was explained later on in the book. Again, what's your point?

    *facepalm*

    Zeratul's quote is dialogue. It's something he himself would say, and it's intended to create an emotional response in the gamer. Zeratul is not writing a book. He doesn't have to convey information in the same sense.

    Christie Golden, when not writing dialogue, is writing narration. As a writer, she must convey information clearly and in a more straightforward manner, because she wants the reader to understand what's going on.

    Narration =/= dialogue. Therefore, as I said before, your comparison to Zeratul is pointless.
    You just randomly made up this completely arbitrary distinction. Who cares if it's spoken dialog or not? We are getting in Zamara's head while she is thinking these things. Technically, protoss don't have mouths to speak with, so there is virtually no difference anyway.

    Yeah, but she didn't do a great job of it. It was just mentioning characteristics of people and then never letting them do anything. Except for the doctor. She actually got to do stuff. Most of the characters, however, just felt like extras who get mentioned once or twice and then allowed to stand like a cardboard cutout in the background. They have no payoff.
    I thought you said she wasted too much time on characterizing those people? So which one is it?

    And dead characters generally have no payoff by definition. :P

    I guess you could say it's more a complaint that they all die before getting to do anything really important to the plot. Seriously, their deaths feel cartoonish, as if Golden's explaining who they are simply out of obligation and then getting rid of them the first second she gets a chance. I kept hoping one or more of them survived somehow, but I'm already into the second book now, and it doesn't look that way.
    Fair enough.

    The average SC Fan. Jake has never played Starcraft. That's one of my problems with all SC novels, really. They never establish how much an average citizen knows about the wars.
    So what's the problem? All he said is that the Dominion got their butts kicked.

    ....Wow. You know he's not a first person narrator, right? The book is written in third person.
    My mistake. My point was the narrator voice changes with each character. It's an omniscient third person narrator who can dive into the heads of the characters, like an over-the-shoulder perspective. There is...absolutely nothing wrong with that, and authors do it all the time. -_-

    Basically what I was trying to say is that I want to know what Golden meant by "had their butts handed to them." It's a very generic statement that doesn't convey what happened or what Jake knows about it.
    Fine with me. I think we both know the more they'd elaborate on it the more they'd screw it up.

    1. Jake hasn't been to the artifact so he doesn't know that.
    Since it's inconceivable that he could have read papers on the subject, with it being his line of work and all? :P

    2. It's very common for people to call old-looking structures temples. I just watched a let's player on youtube call part of a level on Star Fox 64 a temple.
    3. It's extremely weird that an archaeologist, someone who has likely had the chance to investigate old structures and appreciate them for what they are, would be afraid of a word that's commonly associated with his line of work. It says things about his character.
    4. His dislike of temples doesn't appear to have relevance to the story.
    It's not a temple!

    That's why he doesn't like calling them temples. The only thing it says about his character is that he's a rational human being.

    Hon, may we please keep this at least somewhat impersonal? Throwing around the word "bias" doesn't make anyone's point clearer.

    The point I was making was that these attempts at "world building" were really boring. And aren't even world building, because they don't develop the world at all. Maybe you could call them character developing moments, if they, y'know, actually developed some of the characters.
    Ok. Obviously you're entitled to your opinion. But you agree that the story hits the reader on many emotional points, so ask yourself if that would still be the case if, for example, we didn't get to know Jake's crew, etc.

    However, the book establishes that it's some sort of beautiful, mystical, secret of the universe thing that the Xel'Naga find important.

    I'm saying what you're saying, really. The golden ratio doesn't mean anything, so it's weird that the book says it does.
    Why do you think the book says that?

    Are you absolutely sure this is from Firstborn and not one of the later ones? I don't even remember a person named Whittier even being in the book. I'm trying to keep an open mind for later books, so no spoilers, please.
    It's from Firstborn. Page 114 in my book. 135 on the PDF.

  5. #5
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    6,895

    Default Re: Ranting about Firstborn

    Upon a very, very quick cursory glance, your words seem less like a review and more like a "how I would have done it differently" essay. A lot of things you bring up, to me, don't seem to be bad things. Not even good things. Just things. Things that are neither good nor bad. I don't see how a quick prologue is really a problem unless you had very strong expectations stemming from them and were disappointed with how the story went. That has to do with your experience, not the book. I can't tell you how many "epic space conflict with aliens" science fiction I've gotten excited about because I thought there would be battles with aliens and stuff, only to find that 95% of the book is human politics. Disappointing, yes, but, when I "review" it (click the number of stars ) I don't take away from it just because I wanted something else. It seems to me you do the opposite.

    I've already gone into the golden mean topic and some other things before so no need to get into it again, but, really, it feels like you're just giving reasons why the book went different than you would have wanted or would have done yourself, not what it could have done better or did inadequately.
    Last edited by TheEconomist; 07-06-2014 at 06:05 PM.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Ranting about Firstborn

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    Completely and utterly subjective. It's clearly talking about Zamara, how important her mission is, etc. If you don't think that's relevant you have no way of backing that up.
    ....The prologue conveys no useful information. It's too fancy for its own good. This is a plain, simple fact. Quite frankly, how can you back up that it is relevant?


    Your position is inherently contradictory. First you say:

    "The trouble is, the first time reader has no clue at this point who this person is, or what is happening to her"

    And now you criticize it because it doesn't "give them a reason to wonder what's going on". So...which one is it? Again, seems like you're just trying to hate on the book for no reason. Not an accusation, just an observation.
    *reads again*

    How exactly is that contradictory? A segment of writing can have more than one error. I'm saying both things at the same time: that the prologue gives neither characterization nor a reason to wonder. The existence of either would give the prologue importance. Neither exist, so there is no importance.


    ...and it was explained later on in the book. Again, what's your point?
    Tsk tsk. Sometimes I think you're arguing with me just to argue.

    My point is that the prologue should just have been cut. It adds nothing to the story, and I'd rather just read about Jake than mystic fluff.


    You just randomly made up this completely arbitrary distinction. Who cares if it's spoken dialog or not? We are getting in Zamara's head while she is thinking these things. Technically, protoss don't have mouths to speak with, so there is virtually no difference anyway.
    I made up....an "abitrary" distinction....between dialogue and narrative. Heh, this reminds me of the time someone thought I made up the word "micromanagement." Wow....just wow, dude.

    Okay...okay...did you read my full point there? Zeratul's speech was good not because it was "purple prose", but because it was his own story, and it was something he himself would say. And it was performed by a good voice actor. But you know what? Zeratul's statement makes very little sense on a communication point of view. It doesn't have to, because Zeratul is not responsible for telling a story.

    A character, and indeed real people, will mess up when talking, by making it too casual or too fancy, or by making up their own words. Try, however, reading a book that has way too simple, too fancy, or too many made up words. Any words that are not dialogue are words that the writer has to use to make the reader see, feel, touch, and even smell the world that they're in. Thus, the words used have to be effective. However, all of the characters in that world think it's real. Therefore, they're only responsible for sounding like a person who would live in that world. They don't have to be clear, straightforward, or grammatically correct.

    In other words, it's not Zeratul's job to tell a story, so he can say whatever the crap he wants.

    Besides, why do you think writers will talk about how they're either better or worse at writing dialogue than normal narration? It's because these are two different skills. Therefore, the distinction exists.

    I thought you said she wasted too much time on characterizing those people? So which one is it?

    And dead characters generally have no payoff by definition. :P
    I guess I could have been more clear. What happens is, Golden says things like "Kendra, who as all of twenty-four and who often lamented the lack of attractive men on the digs, chuckled." She's not expanding on the characters, she's just saying their characteristics and hoping the readers get the idea. And she wastes a lot of pages on it. Quite frankly, she should have taken the whole leadership issue with R.M. and scrapped that for the sake of developing these guys. Page count =/= development, basically.

    No, no, quite the contrary. Well written deaths have payoffs of some kind. They propel characters into action, scare them off, change a perspective on what's going on, or establish a setting. The deaths of Jake's team should have paid off in his emotions. Think about it. Jake has an alien in his mind that set loose a crazed cannibal. That cannibal is responsible for the deaths of his friends. Ergo, Jake has a reason to feel responsible for their deaths. It's arguable whether or not he really does bear that responsibility, but he's got reason to feel guilty or angry about it. And he never gets guilty or angry. Instead he's passively accepting of the entire situation, which is very bizarre.

    My mistake. My point was the narrator voice changes with each character. It's an omniscient third person narrator who can dive into the heads of the characters, like an over-the-shoulder perspective. There is...absolutely nothing wrong with that, and authors do it all the time. -_-
    Lol. I like your emoticons. While you do have a point, what I was saying was that her "dive" implied strange things about the existence of the Dominion and what exactly happened to it. After all, the Dominion does have multiple planets associated with it, so if their "butts got handed to them," then what the narration is implying is that several worlds were really badly hit during Brood War, when all we see in the game is that Korhal got conquered twice over. It doesn't really mention other Dominion holdings.

    Since it's inconceivable that he could have read papers on the subject, with it being his line of work and all? :P
    Still not enough proof it's not a house of worship. Besides, if Valerian didn't tell Jake or his crew that they weren't the first people there until they were on the way, then Jake hasn't read the documents on the artifact yet.

    It's not a temple!

    That's why he doesn't like calling them temples. The only thing it says about his character is that he's a rational human being.
    Again, the word "temple" gets thrown around a lot. It's got pretty generic connotations these days, and judging from Valerian's use of it, "temple" also has generic connotations in this book. My point was not that the artifact was or was not a temple, but that Jake's irrational fear of the religious is very odd when studying ancient things means encountering religious artifacts at times. People who study the past have respect for the past, even if the people who lived back then believed in different and even wrong things.

    Besides, the word "temple" made him uncomfortable in an of itself, which implies things about who he is as a person and what he believes, because not everyone is fearful of words that imply the spiritual. Basically, part of an archaeologist's job is to be open minded. It doesn't seem very open minded to reject something because it makes one feel uncomfortable. This characteristic could have been used to a really interesting angle, as once Jake gets a Protoss in his brain and experiences the religious/philosophic history of the Protoss, it could have had a huge effect on how he sees everything. Having him confront his unbelief would be really interesting.

    To boil it down, this really is something that should have been a bigger issue in the book, or not used at all.

    Ok. Obviously you're entitled to your opinion. But you agree that the story hits the reader on many emotional points, so ask yourself if that would still be the case if, for example, we didn't get to know Jake's crew, etc.
    Yes. It's more the latter part of the book that's emotional. The crystals and interacting with them, the mini-khala with the humans, and Jake reading R.M.'s mind are all really good. The first 100 pages could disappear and have no emotional impact on the story.

    Hm, let me see if I can explain things a bit better. Golden talks about Jake's crew, but in a way that's like watching Hayden Christiansen in the Star Wars prequels. Sure, he's on screen for a long time, but nobody feels anything for his character because he's so boring. Jake's crew? Yaaaawn. It's not enough the reader knows they exist. They have to care.


    It's from Firstborn. Page 114 in my book. 135 on the PDF.
    Okay, let me look it up again. Oh, okay, I get it. Y'know, it would've made more of an impact if Whittier were a bigger character or if we knew what exactly Whittier was doing, but whatever.

    But still, my overall point still applies, just to Mengsk instead of Valerian. Betraying people means spending money and time covering one's tracks and alienating those that are suspicious. It's a dumb idea. Instead, Mengsk should have allowed Valerian to talk to Jake (the second book clarifies that Valerian just wanted to talk to him -- kinda wish that they'd clarified it in this book) and then attempted to take Jake once he was in Val's custody. After all if Whittier really is Mengsk's agent, so much the easier.


    I think I get the difference between our perspectives, Gradius. I'm looking at the writing technique of the book, whereas you seem to be more into...well, actually, I'm not sure. How about talking about your opinion of the book?

  7. #7
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    6,895

    Default Re: Ranting about Firstborn

    Quite frankly, how can you back up that it is relevant?
    I can't remember if it is relevant or not. Like I said, it's been probably about six or seven years since I read the book, but I don't remember ever having the impression that it was irrelevant so maybe I do disagree with you. I don't know, but that's not the point.

    The point is that your review seems to be more about what you would have done differently or things you wish the author had done different, instead of talking about the pros and cons of a book, which is what a review is supposed to be. What you're doing seems to me to be something else.

    I spend a lot of time reading reviews and the authors of these reviews always review a book based on its own merits, not on what the reviewer wishes had been done differently. For example, a series I've been enjoying a lot lately is The Expanse series. In book one, the series shows lots of promise of a lot of deep sci fi concepts with aliens and deep space exploration, etc. Ultimately, the next few entries actually become more about human squabbling than anything else. I did not read the book for this kind of subject matter so I was disappointed (Gets better by the fourth book though, IAC). This effected my experience of the book but it does not alter the quality of the book, which is still one of the better sci fi series out right now. If I were to review the book, I would review it based on how well it tackled it chosen subject matter, not bash it because its not what I personally wanted.

    I hope I'm being clear.
    Last edited by TheEconomist; 07-06-2014 at 06:12 PM.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Ranting about Firstborn

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEconomist View Post
    Upon a very, very quick cursory glance, your words seem less like a review and more like a "how I would have done it differently" essay. A lot of things you bring up, to me, don't seem to be bad things. Not even good things. Just things. Things that are neither good nor bad. I don't see how a quick prologue is really a problem unless you had very strong expectations stemming from them and were disappointed with how the story went. That has to do with your experience, not the book. I can't tell you how many "epic space conflict with aliens" science fiction I've gotten excited about because I thought there would be battles with aliens and stuff, only to find that 95% of the book is human politics. Disappointing, yes, but, when I "review" it (click the number of stars ) I don't take away from it just because I wanted something else. It seems to me you do the opposite.

    I've already gone into the golden mean topic and some other things before so no need to get into it again, but, really, it feels like you're just giving reasons why the book went different than you would have wanted or would have done yourself, not what it could have done better or did inadequately.
    If you want to say that, alright. To some degree, I really do want to rearrange things in what I read, if the story itself is weak. It's the editor inside me, trying to get out. It's not that this book isn't what I want (well, it isn't in the sense that I'm normally a nonfiction reader), but that I want to make it work and so I attempt to.

    However, that doesn't mean this book doesn't suffer from two particular problems -- that Golden isn't the best at describing things, and that events are arranged for the least amount of tension. No one's really reacting to anything. Jake doesn't freak out to have a Protoss in his head, or that she's using him to kill people. Zamara doesn't feel weirded out by being in a human male mind. R.M. is way too calm about killing the man she trusted and who apparently saved her from a life of addiction.

    Weird.

  9. #9
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    6,895

    Default Re: Ranting about Firstborn

    Those kinds of things you're going to need to go to a more complex series of books with a better world to work with. StarCraft novels, and media tie in novels in general, are not the place for those things.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Ranting about Firstborn

    Wait, I have to go to a more complex universe to get better narration and character development? I'd get you if what you were saying was that Starcraft doesn't have rich worlds or philosophical intrigue, but emotional interaction between characters is really a given for any story, and so is not over-explaining one's characters with really blunt statements. In this regard, even the amateur novel Volition Agent was much better than Firstborn (though Firstborn, overall, is a much better conceptualized book). Unless you're saying that Blizzard's novels have a right not to try, which I doubt you mean.

Similar Threads

  1. Firstborn Criticism (The 1st Protoss track)
    By Crazy_Jonny in forum StarCraft II Discussion
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 07-30-2010, 05:28 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •