What makes a story engaging? It’s something I’ve been wondering as I make my way through Samuel R. Delany’s Babel-17. It’s a science-fiction novel from 1966 about a young linguist, Rydra Wong, trying to decipher the language – codenamed ‘Babel-17’ – of an alien Invader. It’s a novel that’s very much focused on ideas and has very little colour. The thing it most lacks, in my opinion, is memorable characters.
It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post for my own website. What can I say? I’ve been extremely busy with my editorial duties at Karwansaray Publishers and have only recently started to feel like I’m getting a handle on things. I’m planning on rebuilding this website, as well as building a few new ones, in the not-too-distant future, so great things – I hope – are ahead.
But the reason for writing a new blog post is this absolutely asinine article over at PC games website Rock, Paper, Shotgun. It’s written by Alec Meer and has the kind of headline that makes you scratch your head. Without even a hint of irony, Meer declares: ‘I wish Mass Effect was like The Expanse.’ I’m utterly baffled. I simply don’t understand why you would complain, in this instance, about X not being (more) like Y for reasons that I will briefly explain below.
Spring is the time to clean out the house. I’ve emptied the attic (for the most part) and given away a few boxes’ worth of books. One of the books that I’ll never give away is The Ultimate Dinosaur, edited by Byron Preiss and Robert Silverberg, and published in 1992. I got this book as a present when I was still very young and very much into dinosaurs. It’s a curious book, and noteworthy.