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Busy Making Misery

Warning: the feelings in this post may be a side effect of my Getting Old. Reader discretion is advised.

So I think I'm getting tired of despair in fiction.

This has occurred recent with two series: George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice And Fire" and John Birmingham's "Without Warning" (first in an unnamed series). I own the full run of both series, but I find I've burnt out on both of them in the early going.

The reason? Despair without hope.

In Without Warning, America disappears. Not a spoiler, it's on the back of the book. A wave drops over most of North America, and all the people are gone and no one can get in. Overnight, the world economy is screwed. Fires unattended consume entire American cities, causing a toxic cloud of smoke that reaches to Europe and beyond. Wars are declared. There are riots and looting and chaos. The story follows several people in locations all over the world as they try to adjust to this new world.

I'm 2/3rds of the way through book 1 of 3, and I'm not sure I want o continue. It's not the writing; John Birmingham is as always an extremely polished and talented writer. It's just that, well, let me sum it up in some tweets:

Happily, my vitriol amused Mr. Birmingham:

Thinking of other series' I enjoy, like Patrick Ness' "Chaos Walking" & Brandon Sanderson's "Mistborn", both of which I fell headlong into and loved, despite overwhelming odds and heart-wrenchingly sad moments, the characters had hope, they kept trying, they had somewhere to get to, something to accomplish. In Martin & Birmingham's books, the misery seems to be the something itself.

In Martin's books, I love Tyrion, I like Jon Snow, and I ADORE Arya Stark, but in order to see what these characters are doing, I have to wade through 100 pages of People Being Creatively Horrible To Each Other Lovingly Described. No, thank you.

Admittedly, this feeling might be coming from the ever-increasing stack of to-read books next to my nightstand. With so much to read, should I really be devoting so much of my time to a book I'm not enjoying (much like, in this Netflix/downloading TV world, how one or two bad episodes can cause a series to be abandoned completely, ne'er to be watched again).

So, I thank Mr. Birmingham for his sense of humour and his previous work, but I think I'll be putting his books on the shelf for a bit.

(Also, I had this entire post composed in BlogPress, hit "Save & Preview", and the app crashed, taking my entry with it. I have no idea how much I salvaged)

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