This is one of those books that was recognized by many as one of the finest fantasy books in the last fifty years. Of course, as I was reading it, I realized it could’ve been a GREAT book. One of the best fantasy novels ever written. But there wasn’t enough story to sustain such a massive bulk (I’ve never read a 600 page book that was so long).
There was lots of good stuff in there. His ability to create new races, new monsters(especially noteworthy are the Remade, former humans who are recreated with spare parts, or rearranged –usually as some form of ironic punishment) is unrivaled. New Crobuzon, his city, is so richly detailed that you could actually believe this was a real place.
He fell in love with his city. The novel (especially the first third) was more travelogue than story. Even in the final climactic battle scenes, he’s still describing the architecture, social and economic backgrounds of the neighborhoods. I found that I could skip entire pages and jump back into the story without any problems (at one point, I actually skipped ahead 25 pages and found the characters in exactly the same situation).
As for his language — again, loved it and hated it. Some passages were so beautifully described. High literary value. Then others…his language bloated…perhaps a little too in love with a thesaurus. Words like immolated, susurrus, effluvia, inchoate…were rife on every page. I know, I know, he probably likes those words, maybe even uses them in everyday speech, but they pull me right out of the story. And his love of adverbs — arrrrgh! Example: “It plunged absolutely precipitately into the water”. Sure, that’s only two extra words, but do that for every sentence, and you’ve just added 100 pages to the book.
The story boils down to a very simple concept — a scientist unwittingly unleashes a horror upon the world. Said scientist now must hunt down horror. The End.
You know…this isn’t a phenomenon relegated soley to the realm of literature. A lot of people can’t seem to get past their love of the mundane, and it’s lead to a bloating of all manner of media.
Until the late 80’s, most rock/pop songs were 3 minutes or less. The average album was only 45 minutes (which was all you could fit on an LP).
Movies were 90 minutes, and the rare one was 2 hours.
TV shows were usually self contained affairs (think Magnum PI, Knight Rider, or even the Dukes).
Heck, Stephen King’s books were 300 pages.
It’s the damn 90’s that ruined everything. Movies got bloated (thanks Titanic…you stupid piece of crap). Songs became longer, side restrictions were gone and you got an extra 15 minutes on a CD. Books became epic journeys again (thanks Stephen King’s The Stand), and TV series got all intertwinefied with practically everything taking on Soap Opera style season long arcs.
You can even see it in the Harry Potter books. The first one was a nice comfortable 200 or so pages. The second was a little longer, the third a little longer than that, but the fourth was like a 600 page massive volume, and the fifth, sixth and seventh have each been even LONGER!
Somewhere in there everyone forgot the Less is More rule.
I dunno Brian music-wise the 70’s gave us the epic Zeppelin song, and prog-rock muscial diatribes. The 80’s gave us pop. And the 90’s gave us mallpunk Sum 41, Good Charlotte, AFI etc etc, all delivering the two minute hit. Add that P2P has all but killed the idea of album, and I think music is has been steadily delivering less for more since the 90’s.
I think you’re about to see the 4 hour movie die a loud death, what with dwindling box office sales, You Tube and the advent of user-submitted content.
Brian — you are so right. The Stand? It was the 90s when they re-released it — with an extra 500 pages. 500 pages! That’s bigger than most books (BTW, I never read the original, only the re-release…and I didn’t get it…but I bet I would’ve thought differently if I would’ve read the original).
The Titanic…is that when all this started happening? You know how many movies I won’t see simply because they’re too long? Now if it’s not close to 3 hours you’re not getting your money’s worth.
Ppph! on that.