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The Unincorporated Future by Danni Kolin and Eytan Kollin book review

The Unincorporated Future by Danni Kollin and Eytan Kollin is an unimaginative mashup of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars the unincorporated futureseries, Tron and bits and pieces of Metaplanetary. Reading through it and John Varley’s Slow Apocalypse was a reminder that a talented writer can make a story where not all that much happens readable and untalented writers can take a war spread across the solar system and the destruction of entire planets and make it every bit as exciting as watching paint dry.

There were a whole lot of Unincorporated volumes before The Unincorporated Future that I didn’t read, but going by what I did read, I haven’t missed a whole lot. The story is one of those incredible never-done-before tales about outer planet colonists fighting the tyranny of evil corporations on earth. The blurbs compare this to Heinlein, but The Unincorporated Future has as much in common with Heinlein as Kevin J. Anderson has in common with Isaac Asimov.

The outer colonists are religious, not in the sense that it’s really a part of their lives, but every now and then they mention Allah and there’s a Rabbi who wanders around but does nothing useful. This gives them moral superiority when destroying planets. Moral superiority that the evil earth corporations lack when they’re destroying planets.

The Unincorporated Future is one of those showdowns between different Space-Hitlers, both of whom kill billions of people, but some of whom we’re supposed to root for, because they occasionally feel bad about it. Not bad enough to stop doing it. But bad. There’s also a Tron element in it that feels more like World of Warcraft, but that’s so lame it’s not even worth mentioning.

Some of this could be forgivable if either or both of the Kollins could actually write. They can’t. The dialogue is terrible. The cliches are rancid. And they can make destroying a planet every bit as interesting as ordering lunch. Most of the action manages to happen off-screen, even though it’s the only thing keeping the narrative going.

The characters are so one-note that they might as well be made of cardboard and hopelessly undeveloped. The dead savior is named Justin Cord. No, seriously. J.C. The villain does everything but twirl his mustache and rape his way around the novel.

What is truly sad is that someone made the decision to publish four of these, even though they would have barely passed muster in the 80s. It’s a sign of how poor the Science Fiction part of the field has become that this didn’t get tossed out the door. And you can’t even blame the Kollins for that.

The state of Science Fiction is so poor that John Scalzi is considered a major writer even though the only thing he can write is scenery descriptions. Once he starts writing people, he’s operating at Kevin J. Anderson’s level. Cory Doctorow is now considered a writer, not a punchline. So why not the Kollins. They can’t write and they’re recycling things that were cliches 40 years ago. They’re not even hacks, because hacks can at least write.

Bring ’em on.

Hugo Awards Still a Politicized Pile of Shit

05_nuke

If you’re paying attention, you know you’re supposed to be outraged because Kevin J. Anderson got nominated for a Hugo instead of Random Tor Discovery of the Month Writer.

And I would be outraged, really, if the Hugo Awards hadn’t devolved into a pile of politicized worthless shit that gave awards to worthless writers. Kevin J. Anderson sucks. So does John Scalzi.

If I have to live in a world in which Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon and China Mieville get awards for just showing up (at least they can actually write) and in which John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow get nominations for just being around (they can’t write, not on that level) then don’t expect me to care about Kevin J. Anderson and Vox Day ending up there.

Sad Puppies didn’t nuke the fridge. John Scalzi did with a Hugo for Redshirts. The last time the Hugo Best Novel award wasn’t a joke was 2007 with Vinge and Rainbow’s End. It’s been a shitshow ever since.

I can’t even say if 2015 is worse than 2011 – 2014 when everyone stopped pretending that this was anything except insider blowjobs.

Finally the Hugos will be entertaining. We’ll get to see which slate recruits enough people to give a Hugo to Charlie Stross or Vox Day, Ted Chiang or Brad Torgensen, Mira Grant or whoever. We can stop pretending this has anything to do with merit and just watch the hair-pulling and name-calling.

The Hugos have a messy history, but there’s never been an ongoing shitshow like this when worthless writers are promoted because of politics, e.g. Ted Chiang, John Scalzi, N.K. Jemsin, and when insiders create the myth that a few of their darlings are the only ones worth watching.

If fandom is going to be an adjunct of The Onion’s A/R or The Mary Sue, then let’s just kill it now. It’ll be a mercy killing.

And say what you will about Sad Puppies, any list of short stories on which John C. Wright appears and “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” doesn’t is a major improvement in the genre.

 

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