Comments on

Writing without a clue

Original entry posted: Fri Aug 5 18:20:17 2005

Corvus @ Fri Aug 5 14:05:53 2005 EST

I love reading that opening selection of Snow Crash aloud! "Rock and roll on a page," is the prefect description.

Thomas @ Fri Aug 5 14:20:17 2005 EST

Yeah--the closest I ever saw anything come to the opening of Snow Crash was the lobby seen from the Matrix. Complete joyful excess.

Thomas @ Fri Aug 5 14:53:36 2005 EST

Seen, scene.

It's all the psaym.

Dana @ Tue Aug 9 12:51:39 2005 EST

Good writing in Snow Crash, excellent expository scenes, I loved it. But I also really enjoy being left in the dark for 200 pages, it gives me something to think about. Try reading something by Lloyd Biggle for the Heinlein/Asimov era version of this technique. It's far from new. Heck, try reading Henry James. ;)

Thomas @ Tue Aug 9 13:58:39 2005 EST

I think there's a difference between being left in the dark and a stubborn decision not to explain the setting. For example, A Fire Upon the Deep (and Vinge's other novels) took forever to actually explain what was going on with their unconventional aliens, or the "zone of thought" setting. But there were plenty of clues dropped, so the reader eventually figured out with certainty what it meant.

I guess I was being hyperbolic here--there are times when I don't mind being left in the dark either. But I don't want to spend the entire book feeling like I've walked into it halfway. Perhaps my problem is more with Stross and some of the authors like him: I never felt like I was brought completely out of the dark. I still don't know for sure what he means by light cone, or what the characters' motivations are.

I'll check Biggle out. Any specific recommendations?

Psuedo-trackback, by Thomas @ Thu Aug 11 16:13:20 2005 EST

SF Signal post with interesting discussion spawned from here.

Johnny Pi @ Fri Aug 26 14:27:16 2005 EST

I find Stephenson so appealing because he so obviously seems to revel in ideas and attempting to communicate with his readers. He doesn't try to obfuscate (though at times his explanations might confuse) - instead he travels the height and width of an idea and asks you to join in on the ride. And maybe learn something.

Cryptonomicon is my favorite of his books. I'm working on the Baroque cycle - they're simply fucking amazing (though tough for me BECAUSE of his love of exposition - and the crazy in-depth history lessons).

Sometimes its easy (especially in science fiction) to outthink yourself - that is, you speculate so far that the story becomes more science-fantasy. I don't think that's a bad thing, necessarily, but it can be jarring.

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