Minor Reporting, an Announcement, and The Aeronaut’s Windlass

Most of my current projects are chugging along at one speed or another, but there haven’t been any real milestones. New fiction writing has happened. A novel summary was written. I leveled up a video game character some more. All necessary (yes, even the video gaming), all important, but none of it earthshaking.

I am, however, planning to run a Free Kindle deal on my latest book – Contingency Jones: The Complete Season One – from July 25, 2016 – July 27, 2016. So mark your calendars for that, because I don’t run these kinds of promotions very often. J

I recently listened to audiobook version of Jim Butcher’s book, The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass, as read by Euan Morton. This book has come under fire since its release for reasons both fair and unfair. One of the recurring complaints I’ve seen is that there are chapters told from the perspective of a cat. I think that this is a fair criticism. I don’t think it’s fair because I’ve got a problem with a talking cat, because I don’t. It’s not because I think Butcher handled the perspective of the cat badly, because he didn’t. It’s simply because it happened too often. I admit that I found myself resisting the urge to skip ahead during the cat chapters because they didn’t always convey information that forwarded the story.

That being said, I’ve also seen some criticism that Butcher was off-form when compared to his recent Dresden books, that the world building was poor and that readers couldn’t relate to the characters. To all of those I say, what a load of crap. Go back and re-read the first Dresden book, or the first book in any series you like for that matter, and you’ll discover that it’s shot through with flaws and holes that the author tried to retcon later. This is the first book in a series and, as first books go, it was very cleanly written.

The world building wasn’t brilliantly rendered, but it never is when you’re making up a universe from whole cloth. For the most part, Butcher didn’t info-dump on the readers, but included world building information as and where it could be organically fitted into the story. The world that he built was consistent unto itself and consistent with the neo-Victorian stamp of Steampunk. That approach of organic information inclusion and self-consistency is the best solution to the world-building problem that anyone has come up with so far. It’s also used almost universally by all writers. Knocking Butcher for not transcending the limitations faced by all world-building writers seems both petty and unrealistic.

Yes, some of the characters were assholes. Yes, some of the teenaged characters acted like self-involved, cocky teenagers. Some of the characters were also noble to a fault, duty-bound to a fault, and loyal to a fault. Some characters were compromised by circumstance and some were compromised by choice or position. In other words, the people in the book were like the cross-section of people you meet in real life. Some are good, some are bad, and all are flawed. If you go into any novel expecting to like all or even most of the characters, you probably shouldn’t be reading books aimed at adults.

I’d give The Aeronaut’s Windlass a solid 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it as a breezy, Sunday afternoon read for anyone who professes to enjoy Fantasy/Steampunk.

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