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Bakker's the Great Ordeal excerpts III: Barthes to Balzac(spoilers)


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2 hours ago, Kalbear said:

The opinions of those who have already read things aren't as valuable to me.

 

A game, Kal.

As you know, I'm on the fence about continuing the series. Things changed for me when my daughters were born, and I know you feel like you have the measure of me or at least you once felt like to.

So. Once you're done reading it, give it a thought and tell me if I should pick this back up or not. I'll defer to your judgment. 

Yes or No.  

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3 hours ago, Werthead said:

My feeling is that we shouldn't be spoiling the whole book before it comes out, especially not this one, which is best read cold and unspoiled (I think me and Pat may have teased a bit too much anyway). Spoiler discussion of the book pre-release is best-handled on the SA subforum especially dedicated to that.

Ah, come on, Adam. You're no fun! :P

I'm flying to the Canadian Rockies for a 3-week hiking trip early Saturday morning. So the interview will either go up tomorrow evening, or at some point this weekend, depending on what my internet access will look like in Banff.

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2 hours ago, JEORDHl said:

A game, Kal.

As you know, I'm on the fence about continuing the series. Things changed for me when my daughters were born, and I know you feel like you have the measure of me or at least you once felt like to.

So. Once you're done reading it, give it a thought and tell me if I should pick this back up or not. I'll defer to your judgment. 

Yes or No.  

For you? I'd defer. I am not saying to never read it or definitely read it. I think that there are definitely parts that you'll love, but disappointing parts that are not worth the wait and the odd speculation that will occur. And more importantly, if things aren't resolved well in TUC this will be something of a huge waste.

You read Ilium and Olympos, right? Remember how awesome Ilium was, and how Olympos was hugely unsatisfying? I'm not saying that TGO is like that, but a lot hinges on how TUC ends. It could turn out really well. It could really suck. 

 

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And if it's okay, Wert, I'm going to do my spoiler-free review here. I'll mark it in spoilers just in case; I leave it to your judgment whether it's acceptable or not.

Spoiler

The Great Ordeal has some incredibly interesting parts, but isn't a whole book, and the ending is extraordinarily unfortunate in its placement. It isn't a cliffhanger so much as a WTFhanger, and it answers fewer questions than it asks. 

At times it is as good as anything Bakker has written, particularly his work with Nonmen. It makes me wish he would write an honest to goodness story about aliens; not many authors have been able to capture the alien morality and perception that Bakker has with such skill. The Nonmen parts are by far the best of the book, both in what they reveal and how they work. It's worth it for that. 

At other times he transgresses, and as far as I can tell for the sake of transgression. Daniel Abraham once talked about using curry in a dish and saying how no matter what else it is, once you use curry it's about curry; Bakker uses a lot of curry and ignores it. Some of the imagery as a result I found kind of oddly comical, which I suspect wasn't the intent. Another was deeply sad for no good reason. 

I also found myself kind of bored in the middle of the book - which is a shame, because in theory those parts should be interesting; they felt repetitive and not particularly useful. A "cliffhanger" in one chapter in particular ends up being a bad ending on an entire chapter that feels vestigal. It does pick up after a while, but nothing as good as the earliest chapters. 

Mostly, like Pat said before, the problem is that the book doesn't finish so much as it just kind of stops. Not only does it stop, it stops in a place that will lend itself to a lot of odd speculation and weirdness. In fact, only one of the stories really finishes a storyline to any major degree. 

A lot of people have questioned why I read the series any more given my vitriol towards the author; it's a fair question. For me it is very similar to why I watched Lost. I didn't enjoy Lost as the seasons went on very much, but I really wanted to find out the answers to things; setting up the mystery was a big draw to me. Finding out that there really weren't answers or the answers were fairly stupid was kind of major letdown, and in the end made me regret watching the whole show. TGO isn't a letdown in that way, but it isn't answers to very much either. There are some really nice confirmations of longstanding theories of boarders - not mine - that are fascinating in their implications. But again, they aren't really big solutions. 

Also, there are a whole lot of dicks. A tremendous amount of them are talked about. Male sexuality is a very big part of the storyline, which is both interesting and totally odd at times. I will say that if you like loins rising, or heat of loins, or phalluses arching you're going to be absolutely thrilled with this book. 

There are a number of surprises in the book and how things go but for me many felt very much unearned. One was absolutely great (Wert hinted at it before), but a couple others were...uh...more than a bit weird. 

I guess if it were up to me, I would have preferred to wait until TUC comes out and someone else reads and reviews it. There will be plenty to talk about, and I'm very eager to hear what others theorize on, but at this point I am not sure that the payoff is going to be worth the investment. 

 

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Just now, themerchant said:

"Incredibly interesting parts", i might just buy it then.:)

Baztek it's invite only for those that have read the book/Succumbed on the slog.

 

>prolonging my slog like this

turning into fuckin' Sarl over here m8

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7 minutes ago, Baztek said:

>prolonging my slog like this

turning into fuckin' Sarl over here m8

The day will come :)

I've chosen not to pollute myself with an ARC,only 3 of "regulars" at the Second Apocalypse forum left I believe. Although it was over sic 10 days ago. I don't mind the excerpts etc, that just puts a wee sweetener on the anticipation.

I went Sarl ages ago, i'm just quieter than him :)

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12 hours ago, Kalbear said:

Am also curious how the rest of y'all would like me to proceed.

I'd like for everyone, not just you specifically, who has read the book, to be extremely hesitant about posting anything that could come across as spoilerish. I feel we have already heard more than enough about this book whilst reading this thread, and the last. I understand that this will stifle discussion but we are in a weird phase right now where an increasing number of people have read the book, while the majority won't be able to do so until 5 /6 weeks from now at the very earliest. I think the reviews from Pat, Wert and over at SA have told us more than enough about the story lines. I've already picked up a few things which I'd rather have found out myself. What I am getting from it is that it will be awesome and also half a book. It continues all the storylines, every one of which I am interested in learning more about, though I was somewhat saddened to hear Meppa is hardly in it.

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11 hours ago, Darzin said:

So that's why the discussion over there has slowed down.

Yeap :(. Poor timing, all things considered. Though, we have fifty plus new members right now due to the ARC giveaways. Hopefully, some of them stay and the regulars make them feel welcome regardless that the regulars can't really participate - you know, like I tried to for almost two years ;).

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15 hours ago, Kalbear said:

You read Ilium and Olympos, right? Remember how awesome Ilium was, and how Olympos was hugely unsatisfying? I'm not saying that TGO is like that, but a lot hinges on how TUC ends. It could turn out really well. It could really suck. 

Yeah. When I think about it [as you've prompted me to] I'm still a little salty over how badly Simmons shit all over the promise of Ilium with it's sequel. 

[grumblegrowl]

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5 minutes ago, JEORDHl said:

Yeah. When I think about it [as you've prompted me to] I'm still a little salty over how badly Simmons shit all over the promise of Ilium with it's sequel. 

[grumblegrowl]

Me too. Ilium was so very cool. Olympos was so very shitty. 

And again, not saying that TGO/TUC will do that. I'm saying that TGO doesn't resolve a whole lot, and unlike Pat or Wert I don't see it as a slam dunk that it's setting itself up to have the climax to end all climaxes. I can see ways in which it would be awesome - but I can also see ways in which it could be deeply unsatisfying to me at least, and I'm not sure which way it'll go. The unearned twists and resolutions do not make me as optimistic.

Also, if you're the kind of person who doesn't care as much about the mystery or getting answers and cares a lot more about the spectacle and imagery, this is definitely a good book. The nonmen sequences are incredibly cool, and honestly should have been one of the preview chapters instead of what we had due to how interesting and well-written they are. His Homeric battle sequences are in top form. There are continued shout outs to Happy Ent that I'm sure he'll love.

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16 hours ago, Lord Patrek said:

I'm flying to the Canadian Rockies for a 3-week hiking trip early Saturday morning. So the interview will either go up tomorrow evening, or at some point this weekend, depending on what my internet access will look like in Banff.

Thanks, @Lord Patrek! Enjoy hiking in Banff, such a great place!

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1 hour ago, Kalbear said:

Also, if you're the kind of person who doesn't care as much about the mystery or getting answers and cares a lot more about the spectacle and imagery, this is definitely a good book. The nonmen sequences are incredibly cool, and honestly should have been one of the preview chapters instead of what we had due to how interesting and well-written they are. His Homeric battle sequences are in top form. There are continued shout outs to Happy Ent that I'm sure he'll love.

Ent. pfft. That doddering old perennial. 

How much Nonmen content is there, comparatively?

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5 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

It's about a 4th of the book. 4 total chapters. Pretty much all of them are packed with stuff.

That's almost temptation enough right there.

The Whale Mothers though, man...

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