Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 07:32 on 07-03-2012, Arthur B
PC Gamer seems to have discovered that it's highly unlikely you'll be able to get a good ending in Mass Effect 3 unless you play multiplayer.

I'd already decided to hold off on getting ME3 until the face import bug gets fixed (my Shepard has an awesome face and there's no way I'm going to play 3 without it), but between this and all the other questionable-sounding design decisions I'm seriously questioning whether I want to get it at all. :/
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at 06:51 on 07-03-2012, Ibmiller
I'd say it was a plane made out of concrete cinderblocks. Including the guidance computer hardware. :-) But then, I'd classify most current major fantasy epics similarly (Song of Something Hot and Something Cold, yes).

Though I freely admit to not wasting time on either of those...so perhaps it's unfair. Won't stop me from making the characterization, though.
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at 19:26 on 06-03-2012, Arthur B
A mistake.
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at 19:11 on 06-03-2012, valse de la lune
What's The Wheel of Time then, a concrete house?
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at 18:33 on 06-03-2012, Arthur B
I have The City and the City on my to-read pile (and it's terrible of me to have had it waiting there so long since it was a present from someone), and I'm actually impressed with how thin it is - I'd say it's safely out of brick territory by most reasonable standards.
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at 18:29 on 06-03-2012, Andy G
Anything less is merely a pebble.
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at 18:29 on 06-03-2012, Andy G
In fantasy terms, a brick is anything longer than the entirety of The Lord of the Rings.
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at 18:27 on 06-03-2012, James D
Some bricks are pretty small, though! And I have plenty of books larger and thicker than bricks. What is that? A double-brick? Brick-and-a-half? This system is seriously flawed.
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at 18:00 on 06-03-2012, Robinson L
I'd classify anything over 600 pages as a brick, 500-600 is dangerously-close-to-brick, 400-500 is not quite a brick, but still a daunting commitment unless I already have a compelling reason to read the book in question.
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at 16:12 on 06-03-2012, Ibmiller
Robinson - what qualifies as a brick? I mean, the two Mieville books I read (Un Lun Dun and Kraken) both weren't terribly long - I wouldn't put either of them over 400 pages.

And after looking them up, I am so wrong I am boggled. Both over 500 pages. How did they feel so short? Perhaps it was how short I thought the story and characters deserved? My bad.

However long they are, though, they aren't super difficult to read. Just super annoying.

Jamie - your skill with titles leaves me in awe. However, it seems that Mieville is more likely to write "Something Completely Different But Actually Very Similar" or "Something Nostalgic That Hates What It Imitates." At least, that's what reviews tell me.
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at 09:16 on 06-03-2012, Jamie Johnston
Oops, formatting fail, sorry. I guess I used p-tags rather than I-tags round that second pseudo-title. I plead 'small phone big thumbs'.
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at 09:14 on 06-03-2012, Jamie Johnston
Not sure where I lie in the Hemmens classification of Miéville-feels. I read Perdido Street Station and neither hated it nor found it greatly satisfying. I'd read something else by him if it came well recommended or if someone gave me a free copy.

I probably slightly preferred the world-building to the plot and characters, or at any rate I'd be more likely to read Some other people do stuff in that city than

The further adventures of those same characters in various different places

. But I'd be still more likely to read Another Miéville book with a new and equally / more interesting setting and also a plot and characters that are generally said to be rather good.

Regrettable he doesn't seem to have written books under any of those titles.
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at 07:32 on 06-03-2012, Arthur B
I think the difference there is that on the whole I think Lin Carter enjoys precisely the level of recognition and respect his writing deserves in the wider SF/F community, whereas Mieville is loudly celebrated to an extent his work doesn't really merit.
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at 01:58 on 06-03-2012, Michal
I came to Mieville with my expectations lowered by Ferretbrain and absolutely loved him.

I think this is the case with a good many of us; I like a few authors that have been utterly dumped on in Ferretbrain articles, while I have a sort of seething resentment towards Michael Moorcock, who is held in pretty high regard here (ditto Jack Vance and Fritz Leiber, unfortunately, and probably worst of all...Jeff Vandermeer).

However, as for Mieville, I've voiced my opinions often enough, I think. He's at once an interesting author and a highly irritating one. I actually got angry at The Scar because it felt like the book would just never end. And Perdido Street Station...was a 200-some page pulp novel that somehow mutated into the montrosity that it is. I also don't appreciate adjective-loading as a cheap way of being "arty", which early Mieville did. A lot.

Essentially, if I see a book of his at the library I read it, but I would never buy one. And even this isn't quite true, because I borrowed The City & the City and didn't get more than a few pages in.

HOWEVER, he is an author who causes strong reactions, which is far better than a mediocre author who only musters a "meh". I mean, the mere mention of his name seems to have set you all off. If I mentioned, say, Lin Carter, the only reaction would've been some pointing and laughing.
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at 00:15 on 06-03-2012, Robinson L
Mm, so do I; didn't take the TeXtFactors to tell me (though they certainly did their part). Maybe that means I should get around to actually reading Mieville one of these days. Hmm. Has he written any non-bricks? (I'm cool with Really Long Books - provided I can obtain them on audio from the library and have someone else doing the bulk of the work for me.)
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at 00:13 on 06-03-2012, James D
Well what the fuck does "the literature of ideas" mean anyway? A good character is an idea. A good plot is an idea too. There's a difference between a 'fluff' idea, a one-off detail that only serves to flesh the world out a bit (like flavor text on trading cards), and a major idea that is central to the story. I don't know if speculative fiction is 'the literature of ideas', but Mieville writes the literature of fluff ideas.
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at 22:44 on 05-03-2012, Axiomatic
Daniel, the TextFactors have established, to my satisfaction, that I have low tastes in literature.
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at 22:31 on 05-03-2012, Arthur B
Yeah, this is why I'm embarrassed by buying into the idea that speculative fiction is "the literature of ideas", and hence crappy plots and dull characters are OK. If ideas is all you've got you've got a pretty impoverished literature right there.
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at 22:22 on 05-03-2012, Dan H
I just can't hold "having more ideas than he has plot for" against a writer.


I can. Maybe I'm a horrible, soulless person, or perhaps I just hung out with the wrong kind of RPG nerd but I'm extraordinarily uninterested in ideas, because ideas are easy.

The thing about tiny dancing copper coin golems or people with armour made of scabs is that there is nothing else to add. Once you've written the five or six words it takes to convey the idea to a third party, you have nothing else to say.
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at 22:15 on 05-03-2012, Arthur B
Mieville, to me, is at his best when he's just throwing crazy-cool ideas at the page (People with armor made from scabs! The Malarial Queendom! Nomad bird people with libraries strapped to their backs! Rocks that evaporate and condense together randomly! A magic order that works by sacrificing your own memories to feel your spells! Tiny dancing copper coin golems!) and not really caring too much about the plot.

Proposal for the ideal China Mieville publication format: a box of index cards, each card containing Mieville's writeup of a single idea from whichever fictional universe, world, or London he is playing with right now. Story and worldbuilding are for the reader to infer as they shuffle the cards.
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at 22:09 on 05-03-2012, James D
Usually I wouldn't either, but in this case the ideas are so many and the plot is so weak that I just have to.
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at 22:08 on 05-03-2012, Axiomatic
I just can't hold "having more ideas than he has plot for" against a writer.
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at 22:01 on 05-03-2012, James D
Er, my post was directed at Dan's. Took too long to type it out and other people snuck in there!
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at 21:59 on 05-03-2012, Andy G
I came to Mieville with my expectations lowered by Ferretbrain and absolutely loved him. Perhaps because of the lowered expectations! I've only read The City and the City of his novels but I really like his political stuff, including that article which sparked this whole discussion!
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