Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm impressed.

The other day, I had that awful feeling of standing in the middle of the dining room here at Roseholme Cottage and feeling like I had nothing to read. (Folks who have been here are chuckling at this point, because that's very much a "Water, water everywhere, nor any drop..." thing.)

I saw Bobbi's copy of Hard Magic on the shelf, and I remembered I'd told her I'd read it, so I sighed reluctantly and picked it up...

It is at this point, I must make a confession: I read and enjoyed Larry Correia's Monster Hunter books largely because I was 'in on the joke', as it were. I'm fairly certain I posted in the thread at TheHighRoad.com from which the quote on the frontispiece was taken. Hell, I know the guy who wrote that quote; I've sold him a bunch of guns over the years and last saw him at that Awerbuck carbine/pistol course... Anyhow, I read those books not because I give two rats' farts about vampires and werewolves and suchlike, but because they were part of the Lore of my Tribe, so to speak.

And they were easy to read, too. Larry Correia is a writer of remarkable competency. I don't so much mean dazzling plot complexity or artful and creative use of the language, but rather the more prosaic skills that make a book readable: The skill of keeping a plot moving along without bogging down in unnecessary detail or suddenlyhavingabunchofstuffhappen because the back cover is getting too close. The skill of writing dialog in a fashion that doesn't make you have to retrace a conversation, trying to figure out who said what.

Sure, the dialog is often anachronistic and sometimes cheesy. Sure the plots and situations may be over the top. But this is (and you can see the critics' air-quotes of derision) pulp fiction, and claims to be nothing else. Larry may write pulp, and proudly, too, but his pulp is some of the most polished and clearly-written stuff in Baen's current stable of authors this side of Lois McMaster Bujold. No mean feat considering he's been at this a relative eyeblink compared to most of them.

So, yeah, anyway, I'm not into monster books, normally. I'm also not into "fantasy", whether of the swords'n'sorcery or the newfangled "urban" type and I don't care much for the handwaving involved in 'magic'. Nor do I like "noir", or detective stories. And I don't care at all for steamdieseltechnopunk, or whatever you call those stories where everybody's flying around in blimps and wearing goggles at each other.

So to say that Hard Magic is not exactly in my literary wheelhouse would be an understatement, but I had promised, and I wasn't reading anything else at the moment...

I finished it early the next morning and immediately picked up the sequel, Spellbound, and finished that in one lick, as well.

See, Larry writes stories about people. People with complex drives and goals and motives, who don't always categorize easily into 'heroes' and 'villains'. People you care about. The fact that they're people that run around on top of a zeppelin shooting teleporting ninjas with shotguns is just a bonus.

It's a genre-defying storyline, and probably one of the more original I've read in a long time. It's got the magic thing, sure, but it's also well-researched alternate history, with a sort of superhero flavor... Imagine a prose version of The Watchmen, but with fedoras and Tommy guns, and a supporting cast that runs from Buckminster Fuller to Black Jack Pershing. And the thing with shooting the teleporting ninjas on the dirigible with shotguns, which will make you realize that, no matter how highbrow your tastes, sometimes you need to just shut up and eat your awesome.

Hurry up with the next one, Larry.
.

27 comments:

Fred said...

I need to schedule some quality time to finish Spellbound...

My loaner MHI just went out to hook another one though.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Just finished EVERYTHING Baen has published of Larry's to date, and am in the midst of withdrawl. Might I recommend Baen's Free Stories 2011 for Larry's "The Grimnoir Chronicles: Detroit Christmas?" Warning! It should be read while consuming Egg Nog for that true Christmas Spirit, especially when it passes through the nostrils.

Oh, and "Tanya: Princess of the Elves" is a goody also.

Anonymous said...

Not a typical book review. :-)

Accurate and well said, though.

Jon

Al T. said...

Ditto. Buddy purchased the first and I read a couple of chapters. Hooked me good. Working on the second now.

Maureen said...

The Amazon fairy just delivered to my eagerly waiting hands all three of the MHI books. I have a week off between Christmas and New Years and plan to spend it whipping through them!!

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

You evil, evil woman. :)

You just reminded me to go to webscriptions.net to get Spellbound (I didn't have the money when it first came out), and I found that the next Honor Harrington ARC is out now, and that they have the Schlock Mercenary bundle!

I had been getting by re-reading some Terry Pratchett and Steven Brust novels. Now I need to find a second job just to feed my book habit!

Sport Pilot said...

"Hard Magic" was my first purchase of Larry Correia's book's. I'd read excerpts and what blogger's were saying and took the plunge. His other book's were quickly purchased afterward's.

Homer said...

Currently going through Dead Six, a joint effort by Larry and Mike Kupari. It doesn't have quite the smooth flow that Hard Magic or the Monster Hunter books do; whether that's my faulty impression due to knowing the characters better in HM and MHI, or the complexity of DS, I dunno. I do know that blending styles is a huge challenge in multi-author works.

I've been remiss in not getting around to Spellbound, but I want to find the back cover of DS first.

Firehand said...

You describe his stuff very well. I've got Spellbound and I'm reading it like I do the Dresden stories: a chapter or two at a time, to stretch it out.


WV='sodistas'. "Sullivan decided to hit the sodistas for a Coke."

Chris said...

I had the MHI book recommended to me by a good friend (who then was promoted to very good friend) shortly after it came out. It was the first vampire/werewolf type book I had read (not normally into that stuff), but your analysis of Larry's writing is spot on.

Whether SF or fantasy, I cannot enjoy a book that doesn't have internal consistency in its story-line. Too much of either genre fails to do that. (Yeah, yeah, I know Sturgeon's Law - 90% of EVERYTHING is crap.)

Correia mostly keeps it honest, with only a few rabbits (wererabbits?) being pulled out of the hat. But mostly the story and characters are so good I don't care much.

Larry Correia said...

Why thanks, Tam. That's much appreciated.

I'm really proud of Hard Magic/Spellbound/Warbound(which is the next one).

Just wait until Hugo nominating time. I'm going to go out and beg everybody to buy a membeship and nominate Hard Magic. Why? Because despite the fact that I know Grimnoir is solid, popular, and pretty darn good, I'll always be just a pulp guy to the critics. Which is why if I could get a nomination, their heads will explode. :)

Larry Correia said...

Why thanks, Tam. That's much appreciated.

I'm really proud of Hard Magic/Spellbound/Warbound(which is the next one).

Just wait until Hugo nominating time. I'm going to go out and beg everybody to buy a membeship and nominate Hard Magic. Why? Because despite the fact that I know Grimnoir is solid, popular, and pretty darn good, I'll always be just a pulp guy to the critics. Which is why if I could get a nomination, their heads will explode. :)

Newbius said...

Wow, twice the awesome of Larry commenting on your blog. :D

Concur on all points about the books. Now, if Larry would only have Agent Franks stake the 'sparkly' vampires...I would love to hear Franks' dialogue about that event.

wv: "Cythron" a corporeal spirit (submitting the PUFF paperwork on those is a little...messy)

Old NFO said...

Excellent review, and Larry does do an excellent job! Problem is he doesn't write as fast as I read... dammit...

Just My 2¢ said...

..."inside joke"...
Yup. Larry shows a great sense of humor, if you're tuned into it. I dunno what part (if any) he had in naming FBMG, but it's the best gun business name I've ever run across.

Kristopher said...

Fred: Don't bother to make a schedule.

Just be sure to first pick it up early in the morning, in order to make sure you have time to sleep.

Trust me, the next several hours will be shot.

Kristopher said...

And second on Franks vs. Twilight.

Sparkly vampires taking advantage of Seattle's weather to daywalk looks like a major emergency.

All sorts of room for federal over-reaction.

Montie said...

Tam,

I wasn't much into the genre for the MHI stuff either, but checked it out for the same reasons that you did. I was promptly hooked for exactly the same reasons as you.

I LOVE Larry's writing style, and can't get enough of either series (step it up, Larry, dang it!).

I have to admit though, "Dead Six" is my favorite thus far.
With the dual point of view narration, I wasn't sure it would flow like the other two series, but I found that I really liked it once I got into the book.

Newbius,

The cool thing about Larry is that he IS a regular kind of guy. He answers back commenters on his own blog, and responds to personal messages on his facebook page.

Tam,
Thanks to you and Bobbi for your enthusiasm about the Kindle Fire. I sprung for one and love it like you two do (using it right now, in fact).

MSgt B said...

You should get a smiley patch for that review.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I get to be part of the cool crowd too! I remember reading some of the first things Larry Correia and Nightcrawler ever posted on THR. I saved some of them even, and I recognized little bits here and there scattered through books, most noticeably Dead Six.

Keep the books coming! I'm looking forward to Legion and Nemesis...

Larry said...

And of course, having John Moses Browning (pbuh) as one of the main characters doesn't hurt...

Anonymous said...

I have read all three MHI books so far and Hard Magic. Just finished Dead Six last night and commented about it on FB now I just have to get Spellbound. You hit it on the head that Larry writes about people.
Rey B

Eric said...

I have to wait until payday. This will be the first one where I will have a little left over for me... Buying the books on that Friday at a real bookstore. No waiting for Amazon to mail me something.

Ken said...

I liked the Grimnoir short story quite a bit, and I want to read Hard Magic (also Cherie Priest's Ganymede, but I reckon there are too many dirigibles and goggles for the taste of present company).

To mix some of the virtues of Grimnoir and MHI under one cover, you might give a try to Kim Newman's The Bloody Red Baron, described by the author as a "loose sequel" to his Anno Dracula. I read the latter, not the former. It was entertaining.

Tam said...

Larry,

"I'm really proud of Hard Magic/Spellbound/Warbound(which is the next one)."

You damned well should be.

I was originally going to write "his pulp is some of the most polished and clearly-written stuff in Baen's current stable of authors this side of Lois McMaster Bujold and David Drake", but a pre-breakfast debate with my roomie convinced me that your writing is, in fact, better polished than Dave's latest efforts, too, which is damned well going some. :)

Seriously, people can whine about [scorn quotes]"pulp"[/scorn quotes] 'til the cows come home, but you make the English language your bitch like very few others in this genre ghetto. You keep witin' 'em and I'll keep buyin' em. In hardback. As fast as they come out.

Ian Argent said...

I suspect ^W know Mr. Drake make have finally gotten far enough from 1LT Drake to affect his writing. This is not a negative comment, but compare the ending of paying the piper to, say, almost any other Slammers novel.
If this allows him to write light, cheerful space opera in the RCN series, more power to him

Anonymous said...

Tam,
I guess I'll have to get to reading this author based on your review. I do have one complaint with the review. You refer to General Pershing as "Black Jack". This was a derogatory nickname applied to him by other Army officers, mostly from the South, because Pershing was an officer in the 10th Cavalry, one of Buffalo Soldier units of negro troops. The General disliked this nickname very much. He and the 10th charged up San Juan Hill with T. Roosevelt and the Rough Riders and distinguished themselves very well. Please refrain from insulting General Pershing by referring to him as "Black Jack". His actions in the Philippine War and later Mexico and in the First World War show he deserves much better treatment. Thank you, as I'll get off of my soap box now.