Monday, January 7, 2008

Time Masters 1, Part Three: Negatives

(This thread begins here.)

From most to least important:

1. (Moderate potential spoiler) A dead spouse makes a cameo appearance. The idea is that the Muiraran marital bond has kept her connected despite death. From various scriptures, including Jesus' teaching on marriage and the resurrection in Matt 22:30 and Paul in Rom 7, this seems unlikely. But what troubles me is that I've seen other Christian writers with dead people wandering into a scene to explain some plot point. The idea is theologically difficult to say the least, yet it seems to be gaining popularity.

2. Muirarans are supposed to have two hearts (reminiscent of the Gallifreyan Time Lords, though theirs are actual blood pumps), one normal, the other figurative but no less powerful. Each Muiraran Maiden has some specific heart need: some require music, as Shona does, others beauty, and so on. Zara, the wife of the current Time Master regains her power through passionate sex--yes, with her husband; but see below. I'm sure this was added to avoid the appearance of prudery, but it raises some problems:

First, do I as the reader truly need to know such an intimate detail? For that matter, there's a certain amount of "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" whenever the fact is mentioned, especially if someone has just found out. Do they really need to know? In at least some cases, I don't think so. This undercuts the emphasis on purity with an occasional leer.

Second, while I'm not the World's Biggest Perv (I doubt I'm even the biggest on my block!), I do try to think through the implications. Shona, in the absence of music from her chosen one (or even from her CD player) can "self-feed" by singing to herself. Question: how would Zara self-feed? Keep your answer family-friendly!

3. The book needs editing badly. Or perhaps it was just edited badly. In any case, the better your English, the harder it is to read. For example, IIRC, every instance of "whomever" should be "whoever"--and all but one "whom" should be "who." Then there are the dialog tags: "This quote is actually the direct object of the following verb." He said. The quote should end with a comma; it is the direct object of the verb "said." (A lot of writers do this; I've no idea why.) Another common writing error shows up: overusing fragments. At best, a sentence fragment is like an exclamation mark: strong if used sparingly, annoying otherwise. A sentence is supposed to express a complete thought. Someone who writes in fragments not only presents the reader with thoughts "some assembly required" but appears incapable of coherent thought. Also, some of the fragments invite misreading.

If this book has a second edition, as I hope it will, it would be a good time to have it edited. Likewise the sequel will be better if properly edited. Even major publishers no longer do a proper job, so authors need to make sure it's done right.

4. There are some minor linguistic and scientific bugs. Kwaku, the current Time Master, is said to have an "African" accent. That's like an "American" accent: we all know Bostonians, Brooklyners, and Texans talk the same way. Anyhow, Kwaku replaces all instances of the sequence "th" with "d." Actually, he would replace voiced "th" (the sound in the, that) with "d" and the voiceless "th" (of thin, theory) with "t."

Then there's the place where stopping a forward-moving car suddenly throws Kitty and Shona back in their seats, not forward, as Newton says. Very odd.

Tomorrow's concluding post will likely be a bit late, owing to an extra hectic schedule.

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