Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Books of the Week: 6/12/2012

You should feel special. I almost didn't finish this review in time, but a little voice in my head kept telling me, "Greg, you need to finish that book review! People are counting on you!" I think I need to up the doseage of my meds... Anyway, two books this week: another terrible Starcraft novel, and a poor Warhammer 40K novel.

Starcraft: Shadow of the Xel'Naga
Gabriel Mesta

This book was actually written by Kevin J. Anderson and his wife. They're just so reviled that they had to use a pseudonym. 

I honestly don't know or care what this book is about. Why ?Here is an exact transcript of my reaction to the first page: "No. No no no. Nonononono. No. No. NO. NONONONO. NOOOOOOOOOO. Sweet baby Cthulhu on a flaming shis-kebab, why? WHY?" 

Now, why would I say that? Well, in the first paragraph, "Gabriel Mesta" describes settlers as "rugged," storm clouds as "black," and thunder as "explosive," "gunshots," and "artillery." Stephanie Meyer used better descriptors than that when she was writing Twilight. (Yes, I have read Twilight. No, I will not review it for your amusement.) 

Maybe Shadows of the Xel'Naga gets better. But I...I can't read this. I'm no master writer, but to my knowledge, I've never been that cliched. Now, not wanting to give up on this book--though I doubted it got better--I looked it up on Amazon. Lo and behold, there are seven pages of almost universally 1-star reviews. Common complaints included: horrible writing, terrible characterization, almost no knowledge of Starcraft lore, and general stupidity. I agree with those reviews completely.

Krunk's Korner: WHY AM BLIZZARD HIRE SUCH HACK WRITERS? They am profitable company, they am can afford decent writers who actually am like playing Starcraft. By Crom, even Greg am write better than "Gabriel Mesta." He am cheaper too...too cheap to buy good brand pizza. Penny-pinching miser. 

Space Hulk
Gav Thorpe

I generally dislike Thorpe (this book is one of the reasons), but occasionally he turns out something halfway decent. (Like Angels of Darkness). As you might have guessed, this isn't one of those halfway decent productions.  A blunt, stupid little novella about giant spacemen in clumsy armor cleansing a space hulk (betcha didn't see that coming!) full of Tyranids, high art Space Hulk is not.

Right from the bat, this plot seems contrived. A chapter of Space Marines--I honestly don't care to look up their names--decides to take their vengeance on an unique breed of Tyranid hiding within a massive space hulk. Ok. That's dumb, but I can work with that. But! It's not the same group of Tyranids, only one that shares genetic material. So vengeance is really pointless here. 

Not only that, but high command decides to send in men who are already massive (8+ feet tall), wearing Terminator armor (extremely bulky power armor) into a cramped maze of passageways to fight an enemy that specializes in fighting in cramped mazes. Great choice. 

Space Hulk is not that well written. For the first three-quarters of the book, none of the named characters die. In that same three-quarters of a book, nearly all of them suffer weapons jams and are swarmed by Tyranids, somehow miraculously surviving. Oookaaaay. Shouldn't they be taking better care of their weapons? The high level of jams indicates to me that these Space Marines are sort of incompetent. Could that be why they lost to these Tyranids in the first place?

I suspect, from Thorpe's clumsy use of weapon jams, that he's trying to use these malfunctions to add tension. Well, he failed. I felt not an ounce of tension during this whole book. Instead, I experienced acute boredom. This was worsened by the fact that I didn't care about the characters. They weren't even 2D characters--they just weren't characters at all. 

Writing is bland, plot is dumb, characters nonexistent, and the "tension-adding" weapon jams were just annoying. 

Krunk's Korner: General of fancy space man armored army thing not very good tactician. Him claim he not want destroy hulk from space because there might be artifacts onboard. That am stupid. Artifacts not matter--not losing men am matter. They am get along without artifacts before, they am can get along without artifacts after.