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February 23rd, 2010 - Phil's Rambling Rants

February 23rd, 2010

February 23rd, 2010
12:59 am

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Book review: The Red Wolf Conspiracy
One more review for tonight: The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V. S. Redick.

This is the first book in a probable trilogy.  We run out of pages just before we get to the Big Event we've been heading toward all book.

This is an interesting world with several sorts of non-human people in it.  The two main viewpoint characters are engaging, and the individual chapters are tight and engaging.  Unfortunately, the story as a whole is too complex and confusing.  It's a tangle of plots in both the literary and standard sense of the word, and there's an unfortunate tendency to give us little bits of the story from too many viewpoints.  I may be being a little too harsh on this book, because I've been distracted by stuff I've been doing on line, but I have trouble remembering what's going on and I was bothered by the shifting views of apparent loyalties as different layers of conspiracies got revealed.  But against the idea that maybe I just needed to be paying closer attention, I'm beset by some apparent inconsistencies in the plot.  The story is centered on a really, really big sailing ship, but some of the descriptions of just how big it is don't ring true against some of the details.  The ship is really fast, except when it waits around inexplicably for characters to have adventures on shore.  And there is a Big Surprise about the red wolf of the title, which was so obviously set up for the reader that the characters come across as collectively stupid for not seeing it coming.

There is a lot of promise here, but a lot of problems as well.  I'm not quite sure if the story is too complicated, or if it just needed a little more tough editorial love to get it to the point where it really works.  6 out of 10.

I want a plot summary down here, but it would take hours and I need to go to sleep.  Perhaps I will actually add it tomorrow.

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TimeEvent
09:09 pm

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Avatar again
A coupla weeks ago, there was a story on NPR about how, even though it's still raking in money hand over fist, Avatar is soon going to be disappearing from theaters because there are only a limited number of 3D screens and they're contracted to start screening Alice in Wonderland starting March 5.  I wanted to be sure I saw it again while I could.  If I made myself wait until I actually found someone to go with, the odds were I'd miss it.  I left the clinic after my allergy shot at about 2:30, and I knew there was a 3:00 show, so I just went.

I knew the story well enough that I didn't need to see it again for that.  The plot and the main characters aren't that good anyway.  I wanted to see the world, the wonderfully imagined ecology, the breathtaking scenery, and above all, the critters.  And now, I'm again crying over the heartbreak that that so-perfect world isn't real.

I know that this movie has already made an obscene amount of money, but I can't make myself begrudge James Cameron a dime of it.  Even though everyone loves to tear down this movie for its too-familiar plot, its ham-handed message, its cardboard characters, and a few holes in the science and worldbuilding which (though trivial compared to the usual Hollywood movie) are undeniable, I have to say that if you have any visual sense of wonder at all, you owe it to yourself to get out and see it.  Don't concentrate on the people (human or Na'vi), and don't try to think critically about the script.  These will only distract you from the really good parts.  Treat it like the art show at a con.

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