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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Nonlinear Time Series Analysis
Thomas Schreiber, Holger Kantz
Progress: 29/320 pages
Neurodiversity in Higher Education: Positive Responses to Specific Learning Differences
David Pollak
Progress: 190/320 pages
NeuroDiversity: The Birth of an Idea
Judy Reene Singer
Progress: 52/82 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: Hainish Novels and Stories, Vol. 1: Rocannon's World / Planet of Exile / City of Illusions / The Left Hand of Darkness / The Dispossessed / Stories (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 440/1100 pages
Life and Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume 1: By Charles Darwin - Illustrated
Charles Darwin
Progress: 310/346 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 359/700 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 110/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe

Dinocalypse Now, Chuck Wendig

Dinocalypse Now - Chuck Wendig

Or Disappointing Us Now as I have re-titled it.

 

It appears that Wendig has a background in the games industry and that this book is based on a tabletop roleplaying game.

 

This is seems to make sense considering Wendig's strengths and weaknesses as a story teller as evidenced here.

 

The big plus is imagination.

 

The big minuses are everything else:

 

Writing style, characterisation, plotting.

 

The single sentence paragraphing is really irritating so I will stop inflicting it on you now, but you will have got the idea. It's like he was never taught the function of a paragraph. The Jane Austen half a large page of small print paragraphs I've subsequently been reading are muchly superior. As is the characterisation. Wendig seems to think one stereotypical trait and another stereotypical motivation is sufficient - for any and all characters. Nobody here is anything but a one dimensional cliche and redundant love triangles that don't affect the plot don't help. There are also too many protagonists, so that after an initial sequence that hangs together well, we are led off into a swamp of different locales and characters that is difficult to wade through. It comes together eventually for a decent enough finale that is then thrown away on an enormous cliff hanger that prevents anything at all being resolved. There's also a certain amount of Luggage Syndrome.

 

The thing that prevents this falling squarely into one star territory is that one strength mentioned above: imagination. The whole idea behind the roleplaying game is the recreation of the spirit of the pulp adventure stories that are exemplified by such things as the Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, Sherlock Holmes and Allan Quartermain books. Recreation with an added heavy dollop of self-aware silliness, that is. In this the book succeeds and it creates some wonderful visual imagery that made me think this would work better as a graphic novel. Bad prose would be both less obvious and less of a problem and the crazy visuals (e.g. dinosaurs and lizard men, talking gorillas and other primates, giant gem-like gates to somewhere else) would be emphasised although the plot structure and characterisation would be unaffected. Just look at the cover to see what I mean - a book full of that kind of thing would be entertaining.

 

Ultimately, though, as a novelist, Wendig fails (at least for me); I'm only likely to read Beyond Dinocalypse, the inevitable sequel, if it more or less falls into my hands, which is unlikely considering that the books are published by an indie outfit branching out from its game making core business. The idea of playing the game this is inspired by appeals to me more - and if you consider this one giant advert for that game, well, in that, Wendig perhaps succeeds.