Monday, October 12, 2015

The Games by Ted Kosmatka

This stunning first novel from Nebula Award and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award finalist Ted Kosmatka is a riveting tale of science cut loose from ethics. Set in an amoral future where genetically engineered monstrosities fight each other to the death in an Olympic event, The Games envisions a harrowing world that may arrive sooner than you think. That's from the blurb of the book. Unless I'm reading it differently from other people, I took it to mean that the novel itself was a Nebula Award finalist. For those of you who have no idea what the Nebula Award is, it's a very prestigious award for American science fiction writers. It's a very big thing. To be even a finalist for the Nebula Awards is a very big thing. Oh, and did I mention that it's a very big thing? Which was why after I finished The Games, I hunted down the Nebula Awards nominee list, perturbed that this book had managed to be nominated and thinking that perhaps there was a drought of science fiction books in that year. Which was when I realised that this novel had not been nominated for a Nebula Award. Ted Kosmatka did get nominated for the Nebula Awards for Best Novelette for his story, Divining Light, in 2010. I have no idea if that sentence in the blurb was written to be deliberately misleading or if it was unintended. Why did I think this book didn't deserve a Nebula nomination? *Sighes* The book had promise. The premise is nice. Nations genetically modify monsters and send them to compete in arenas every 4 years. But nothing much really happens in the book. The actual "games" referred to in the title of the book is covered in a few pages near the second half of the book. The rest of the book consists mainly of subplots that don't really mesh well.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Endgame: The Calling by James Frey

James Frey is the guy who wrote a Million Little Pieces and published it as a memoir. Yes, the guy who fabricated large parts of the supposed memoir. He's also the guy who formed Full Fathom Five, the publishing company that was outed for it's extremely limiting contract with writers in 2010. (Incidentally, said contract does not require James Frey to credit an author, and there's also a confidentiality clause for the writer, so in light of that, the true author of Endgame: The Calling is suspect) Ok, the author(or supposed author) is a bastard. Let's move on to the book. Yes, Endgame: The Calling has been compared with The Hunger Games. And there are similarities, like there being only one winner, and the age of the participants. But there's also multiple points of view, and players employ different means to achieve their aims, and even have different aims. That's not Hunger Games, that's Battle Royale, but set on a world-wide stage. The premise of the book was something I liked. There's a puzzle, there's 12 players, and they race to solve it, forming alliances and employing various means to hinder the other players. There's even a real-world puzzle involving an actual cash prize tied in, and my impression is that there was extensive research conducted in writing the book. But. The heart to any puzzle is logic, and logic is constant. Inconsistencies in a story, one designed to be a puzzle, really irk me. In a knife fight, a player has been trying and failing to hit his opponent, another player. And then he realises something and wanting to ask the other player a question, he grabs her wrist. A player whose family runs a criminal empire and who starts off thinking he can and will kill off the other players enters into an alliance with the first player he meets and sticks with her all the way. And what exactly are the players? Players have better hearing than normal humans, and better reflexes and strength, except when they choose not to train them. There is only one eligible player from each tribe/bloodline at each time. Eligibility can be passed to another member of a tribe based on the decision of the council(for one tribe, it's possible that it's different for different tribes). There was a period of time when one tribe had no eligible players, and there was only an 11-year boy left. People can be adopted into a tribe. The game has been played before and it involved 12 players. Like I said a few paragraphs back, I liked the premise of the book. But I think the execution of it could have been better. As it was I was disappointed, not because it wasn't good enough, but because I felt that it could have been better.