This is for bookelfe/skygiants. Of course. (Yes, I'm out of order.)

I’m sticking with books here. A lot of manga and anime operates on different narrative rules, so the bizarreness makes wacky internal sense. I do have to mention, though, the complete works of Kaori Yuki if you have any interest in things like random flying Heavenly whales, apocalypse by army of flying zombie angel embryos, and people getting turned into masses of writhing tentacles and kept in the bathtub.

Even so, it was very, very difficult to narrow this down to five. There are bizarre premises (“I will break every bone in my body because then they’ll grow back stronger and I WILL BE INVINCIBLE”), the sheer weight of ridiculousness in a single book (the bone-breaking book also featured the near-death of the hero’s milk-allergic brother when the hero’s cheating girlfriend ate pizza, then kissed the brother), the sudden intrusion of absurdity into a previously non-bizarre book (two-thirds sensitive exploration of sketchy power dynamics, one third EVIL BALL OF MASKED S&M SMALL PRESS POETS), and unwanted intrusions by the author’s peculiar id (of course the most desirable whores have hooves.) Not to mention Terry Goodkind's infamous evil chicken. How to choose?

I have so many contenders that I was forced to name winners in categories.

Most Stupid Protagonist

Runner-Up: Oscar, the hero of Myke Cole’s Control Point. When faced with the difficult decision of who he should get help from— a) his best friend, b) a friendly acquaintance, or c) the sociopathic supervillain who is currently locked up after going on a mass slaughter rampage but who promises to help him out if he’ll only release her from the magical wards laid on her to stop her from slaughtering everyone in sight— guess who he picks?

Winner: Summer in Mary Brown’s Master of Many Treasures, for failing to get rid of a traveling companion whom she easily could get rid of, after he repeatedly and deliberately endangers her and all the rest of her companions, including trying to kill a friend of hers in a random fit of temper. Also for ignoring all advice by people who clearly have her best interest in mind, and taking all advice by people holding up HI I AM EVIL signs, and for failing to learn from very consistent consequences, like falling into quicksand full of rotting corpses because she couldn’t bear to take her best friend’s advice that the left-hand path led to the Swamp of Rotting Corpses. Also for believing that a good excuse for stalking her dragon ex-boyfriend is explaining that she actually fell in love with him when she thought he was a flying pig.

This doesn’t have anything to do with her intelligence, but I just want to mention that during the course of the book, she lays an egg.


Once Is Tragedy, One Million Times Is Hilarity

Crazy-Beautiful, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Gee, if I'd known spilling my orange juice was this effective, I'd have spilled it in Dad's direction every day when I was younger. Then maybe he'd have made time to do things with me like, I don't know, play catch in the yard. Not that I'm complaining or playing the neglected child card. I'll never do that. I know what I've done. I know who's responsible for everything in my life, past, present, and future. Still, a little catch would have been fun, when I still had hands.



And what of me and my hands? Or, I should say, lack of hands.



I finish loading the dryer, hookload by hookload, use my hook to set the dial at seventy minutes, use my hook to depress the button.

Most Ridiculous Plot Twists

Runners-Up:

All books by Sheri Tepper. Future ones too. Every Sheri Tepper book in which infanticide is presented as the solution to the problems of the world. Also the one where the heroine turns out to be a de-aged squid-person. She might lay an egg too, I forget.

The indie gangster movie, name forgotten, in which the screenwriter’s poorly thought-through desire to add on one more surprise reveal meant that the entire action of the movie consisted of a drug lord hiring people to steal his own drugs.

The Isobelle Carmody books with the love quadrangle between two humans and two transformed dogs.

Dan Simmons’ The Rise of Endymion. The climactic revelation of the entire series is that quantum strings are made out of love.

Frank Herbert’s God-Emperor of Dune. It makes sense in context, but I still find it hilarious that the climax consists of the main character becoming a million worms.

Lord of Legends, by Susan Krinard. I still have no idea why the heroine’s housekeeper turned into a talking fox.

And finally… drum roll… the winner!

Spider Robinson’s Starseed. The heroine is paralyzed via drugs, has multiple bad guys holding guns on her, and isabout to be killed. As her last request, she asks for a moment to meditate. When they grant it, she achieves enlightenment. This enables her to become telepathic, overcome the effects of the paralyzing drug, and slaughter the bad guys with kung fu.
See post below for context, ie, if you guys don't entertain me, I can't guarantee I won't flee into the cold night in my jammies.

Last week [livejournal.com profile] lady_ganesh asked me to name and briefly describe the five worst books I'd ever read. I replied:

Oh God, SO MANY! How to choose?!

1. Robin Hobb's Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2). Almost 700 pages worth of people abusing the hero for being fat. About every 150 pages some plot peeks in, gets abused for being fat, and flees in terror.

2. Spider Robinson's Star Seed. Deus ex machina via enlightenment, space hippies, Chinese people as the symbol of evil-- and it's even worse than I'm making it sound! (The Stardance Trilogy omnibus of Stardance, Starseed and Starmind)

3. Jack C. Chalker's The Changewinds (Baen Science Fiction) trilogy. Stupid ungrammatical self-conscious creepy misogynist sex fantasy. Women are magically transformed into sex objects and love it. Other women are transformed into fat baby machines as punishment. A woman climbs naked through the sand wearing nothing but a diamond-studded holster and a six-gun, thinking "This is ridiculous... and yet, damned sexy!"

4. Terry Goodkind's stupid books. Unsexy S&M, terrible writing, clonk-you-over-the-head libertarianism, and the heroine is terrorized by an evil chicken. (Wizard's First Rule (The Sword of Truth))

5. Whichever was the last Xanth book I read. Lame puns and a leering preoccupation with the panties of little girls. EW.

Also books by Leo Frankowsky and S. M. Stirling -- misogynist tirades and violence-porn, respectively -- but I didn't read enough of those to really be able to put them on the worst list, though I feel that they belong there.

God, I'm sure I've traumatically repressed many, many more. You should also click my "awesomely bad books" tag.

Gentle readers, please name and describe the five worst books you have ever read.
See post below for context, ie, if you guys don't entertain me, I can't guarantee I won't flee into the cold night in my jammies.

Last week [livejournal.com profile] lady_ganesh asked me to name and briefly describe the five worst books I'd ever read. I replied:

Oh God, SO MANY! How to choose?!

1. Robin Hobb's Forest Mage. Almost 700 pages worth of people abusing the hero for being fat. About every 150 pages some plot peeks in, gets abused for being fat, and flees in terror.

2. Spider Robinson's Star Seed. Deus ex machina via enlightenment, space hippies, Chinese people as the symbol of evil-- and it's even worse than I'm making it sound!

3. Jack C. Chalker's "Changewinds" trilogy. Stupid ungrammatical self-conscious creepy misogynist sex fantasy. Women are magically transformed into sex objects and love it. Other women are transformed into fat baby machines as punishment. A woman climbs naked through the sand wearing nothing but a diamond-studded holster and a six-gun, thinking "This is ridiculous... and yet, damned sexy!"

4. Terry Goodkind's stupid books. Unsexy S&M, terrible writing, clonk-you-over-the-head libertarianism, and the heroine is terrorized by an evil chicken.

5. Whichever was the last Xanth book I read. Lame puns and a leering preoccupation with the panties of little girls. EW.

Also books by Leo Frankowsky and S. M. Stirling -- misogynist tirades and violence-porn, respectively -- but I didn't read enough of those to really be able to put them on the worst list, though I feel that they belong there.

God, I'm sure I've traumatically repressed many, many more. You should also click my "awesomely bad books" tag.

Gentle readers, please name and describe the five worst books you have ever read.
This is not an actual review. I do not have the book on hand, and it has been a number of years since I read it. People who own it, have read it more recently, or merely wish to share their own memories are welcome to jump in with comments, corrections or reminisciences. Paging James Nicoll...

The reason I am writing about it is that I mentioned in a comment to a different post that every time I come across anything where Asia or any Asian country is represented as the Big Evil, I recall Starseed and the moment when someone says something very much like, "So, we meet again, Robert... or should I call you Chen Po Chang?!"

Mely wanted to hear more about this book, which has loomed large in my mind since I first read it as one of the worst ever. So I will do my best to explain.

When I was a young teenager, I was very fond of Spider Robinson, and particularly of a novella called "Stardance," about a dancer in zero gravity. As a consequence of this, I read everything he wrote in a short period of time, including the less-good expansion of that novella into a novel. And then, like my father experienced after a youthful experiment consisting of drinking an entire bottle of vermouth, I became extremely nauseated, developed a violent aversion, and vowed to never touch the stuff again.

Robinson's works can have an appealing optimism and sense of loving community. Unfortunately, he loves his characters so much that he cannot bear to have anything bad happen to them, so dead characters frequently get resurrected and melancholy moments nullified. He also features many happy, stoned, touchy-feely hippies who are happily telepathic and condescend to anyone who does not wish to join them in their happy telepathic naked space orgy of loving kindness. For more details, see the post I wrote when this was all fresher in my mind:

In which I rant about vomitous space hippies; contains massive spoilers for practically everything he ever wrote, but since his surprise endings tend to be horrible, perhaps it's better to be braced for them.

Explanation of the space cockroach and the convenient suitcase nuke referred to in the above link; contains spoilers for a Callahan book but I forget which one )

Stardance and its sequel Starseed concern a bunch of hippies who go into space and discover an alien symbiont which enables them to live in a vacuum with no need for air, food, water, clothing, etc. They are all also telepathic with each other. Personally, I don't think that sounds all that great as long as you have a decent life to begin with, because you can't reverse the process, so you're forever exiled from Earth and everyone who's not a telepathic space hippie. Plus, I like eating and drinking.

And telepathy that can't be turned on and off at will, but instead means that you are accessing everyone's mind all the time and they're doing the same to you, sounds like a recipe for mass space murder-suicide, or at least mass space neurosis and misery, not bliss and perfect camaraderie. Here's the thing: no one feels positively toward everyone all the time, nor are all thoughts meant to be shared. If a stray thought about my fat ass or their childhood nose-picking happens to run through someone's mind, I don't want to know!

So the space hippies' smug insistence that anyone who doesn't want this has a stick up their ass bugs me, and also reminds me of annoying people at the commune I grew up in. Additionally, Star Seed has the worst ending I have ever read in a professionally published book. Possibly ever. Oh, and as prompted this entire post: Chinese people? Evil.

I am pretty sure it also contains the line, "Hands on my keyboard touch me far more deeply than hands on my vagina." I may be mis-remembering it slightly, but even so, I recall reading it and thinking, "That is the worst line ever written."

Specific spoilers for Starseed )
This is not an actual review. I do not have the book on hand, and it has been a number of years since I read it. People who own it, have read it more recently, or merely wish to share their own memories are welcome to jump in with comments, corrections or reminisciences. Paging James Nicoll...

The reason I am writing about it is that I mentioned in a comment to a different post that every time I come across anything where Asia or any Asian country is represented as the Big Evil, I recall Starseed and the moment when someone says something very much like, "So, we meet again, Robert... or should I call you Chen Po Chang?!"

Mely wanted to hear more about this book, which has loomed large in my mind since I first read it as one of the worst ever. So I will do my best to explain.

When I was a young teenager, I was very fond of Spider Robinson, and particularly of a novella called "Stardance," about a dancer in zero gravity. As a consequence of this, I read everything he wrote in a short period of time, including the less-good expansion of that novella into a novel. And then, like my father experienced after a youthful experiment consisting of drinking an entire bottle of vermouth, I became extremely nauseated, developed a violent aversion, and vowed to never touch the stuff again.

Robinson's works can have an appealing optimism and sense of loving community. Unfortunately, he loves his characters so much that he cannot bear to have anything bad happen to them, so dead characters frequently get resurrected and melancholy moments nullified. He also features many happy, stoned, touchy-feely hippies who are happily telepathic and condescend to anyone who does not wish to join them in their happy telepathic naked space orgy of loving kindness. For more details, see the post I wrote when this was all fresher in my mind:

In which I rant about vomitous space hippies; contains massive spoilers for practically everything he ever wrote, but since his surprise endings tend to be horrible, perhaps it's better to be braced for them.

Explanation of the space cockroach and the convenient suitcase nuke referred to in the above link; contains spoilers for a Callahan book but I forget which one )

Stardance and its sequel Starseed concern a bunch of hippies who go into space and discover an alien symbiont which enables them to live in a vacuum with no need for air, food, water, clothing, etc. They are all also telepathic with each other. Personally, I don't think that sounds all that great as long as you have a decent life to begin with, because you can't reverse the process, so you're forever exiled from Earth and everyone who's not a telepathic space hippie. Plus, I like eating and drinking.

And telepathy that can't be turned on and off at will, but instead means that you are accessing everyone's mind all the time and they're doing the same to you, sounds like a recipe for mass space murder-suicide, or at least mass space neurosis and misery, not bliss and perfect camaraderie. Here's the thing: no one feels positively toward everyone all the time, nor are all thoughts meant to be shared. If a stray thought about my fat ass or their childhood nose-picking happens to run through someone's mind, I don't want to know!

So the space hippies' smug insistence that anyone who doesn't want this has a stick up their ass bugs me, and also reminds me of annoying people at the commune I grew up in. Additionally, Star Seed has the worst ending I have ever read in a professionally published book. Possibly ever. Oh, and as prompted this entire post: Chinese people? Evil.

I am pretty sure it also contains the line, "Hands on my keyboard touch me far more deeply than hands on my vagina." I may be mis-remembering it slightly, but even so, I recall reading it and thinking, "That is the worst line ever written."

Specific spoilers for Starseed )
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