Time for another Liarbyrd's Pithy Book Review. Today's subject: Newton's Wake: A Space Opera by Ken Macloed.
The title had a lot of promise. (Space opera!) And the premise is cool (singularity, post-human technology, a lost "colony" on a distant planet.) But add all these elements together and the whole thing falls flat.
It's bad. Simply a terrible book. First problem: too many characters. As a reader, I find it had to care deeply about the problems of a dozen main characters. Too much is a bad thing. Pick a narrator and stick with it. The one character who might be considered the "central" character is Lucinda Carlyle. Apparently her family is some sort of space mobster outfit. Fine. She's a criminal. I can tolerate that. But she is dumb. Not just dumb, but intolerably dumb. Dumb. Dumb. For example, she buys a spaceship from Political Faction X. It's a good ship, despite their different politcal beliefs. While planet side, another Political Faction X ship appears and steals her ship.
Lucinda's conclusion? P.F. X stole her ship.
The reader shouldn't be smarter than the narrator and the reader should not be giving more information than the narrator has. It just makes the rest of the plot kind of tedious and lacking suspense. I knew who stole her damn ship immediately it took her another chapter of being told by other characters before she got it.
Second problem: half of the characters are Scottish and the dialog is written in a fucking dialect. What the fuck?! I hate dialects written phonetically in fiction. Nothing is more jarring than having the eye stumble over "dae na" and trying to decipher it. What the hell did the characters say? It tears the reader away from the act of reading and makes them conscious of reading. Breaks the magic, if you will.
And might I add, that lots of writers think that dialect is okay because Mark Twain did it. Well, they're wrong and Mark Twain was wrong. This does not add "color" or make the characters vivid. It makes reading work and drains the story it's power to hold the reader's attention.
And the third problem is that due to the crowded narrative with all the characters, the action and "political intrigue" is just plain confusing. I honestly have no idea what happened in the last fifty pages, I just know it's over. Thankfully.