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Xiphias Gladius

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On "Opera Vita Aeterna", the Vox Day work that got nominated for a Hugo [Apr. 21st, 2014|01:22 pm]
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Theodore Beale, also known as "Vox Day", is a SF/fantasy author and all-around horrible person. One of his works, "Opera Vita Aeterna" was just nominated for a Hugo award; Vox Day has made it freely available to read here:
http://www.voxday.net/mart/VD_opera.epub

There has been some discussion about voting for this work: should it be judged on its own merits, or does the general hatefulness of Beale mean that Hugo voters should just reject it out of hand because Beale's odiousness automatically taints whatever he made?

Anyway, I just read it, and I offer the following blurbs, if Vox Day wants to use them for back cover quotes:
Better than "Eye of Argon"!
Almost certainly not the least deserving work ever nominated for a Hugo (especially if you count joke nominations)
Few spelling errors, and most of the words are used correctly!
Boy, that Theodore Beale sure knows what adjectives are!
Would probably have gotten a passing grade in my high school fiction writing class
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: solipsistnation
2014-04-21 06:32 pm (UTC)

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I'd seen a couple of people talking about this nomination, but I hadn't gone and seen why everyone dislikes him so much. So I went and checked around, and now I know. What a delightful fellow.
[User Picture]From: jordan179
2014-04-21 07:23 pm (UTC)

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You say you read it -- so what did you actually think of the book? I mean, I can review a work of fiction which I think sucked for thematic or character-based reasons, and dissect it -- I did so with Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy in "An American Weenie" right on my LJ. Because, based on what you posted here, I have neither any idea what Opera Vita Aeterna was about, nor whether it was any good or bad.
[User Picture]From: xiphias
2014-04-21 07:35 pm (UTC)

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I thought it was better than "Eye of Argon", that there have been worse works nominated for Hugos, that it didn't have many spelling errors, that it is absolutely overflowing with adjectives, and that Mr Foisy and/or Ms Burt would have probably given it a solid B, with notes for how to improve it.

I thought it needed a few more passes from critical readers, and could have been tightened up by about half. I thought the prose was clunky, and the story kind of simplistic. But it wasn't the worst thing I've ever read -- there are plenty of fanfics out there that are less competently written, and, indeed, I'd say that it's better than some of the things I've written.

So, I guess I'd rate it "not good."

What it's about is an elf who gets religion.
[User Picture]From: yamamanama
2014-04-21 11:07 pm (UTC)

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I disagree. Eye of Argon was at least fun to laugh at.

This is Vox's prose: "The pallid sun was descending, its ineffective rays no longer sufficient to hold it up in the sky or to penetrate the northern winds that gathered strength with the whispering promise of the incipient dark."
[User Picture]From: adrian_turtle
2014-04-21 11:28 pm (UTC)

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Do people have to enter their OWN work for the Bulwer-Lytton contest?
[User Picture]From: sparkymonster
2014-04-22 01:24 pm (UTC)

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That prose just hurt my feelings
From: Roger Christie
2014-04-23 05:09 pm (UTC)

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Was it going to be a dark and stormy night?
[User Picture]From: xiphias
2014-04-23 05:15 pm (UTC)

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Basically, Vox Day's writing is better than "Eye of Argon", but not as good as SHADOW WAR OF THE NIGHT DRAGONS, BOOK 1: THE DEAD CITY.
[User Picture]From: jordan179
2014-04-21 07:24 pm (UTC)

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Here's the link to "An American Weenie."
[User Picture]From: tigerbright
2014-04-21 11:24 pm (UTC)

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That is a most excellent essay.
[User Picture]From: jazzfish
2014-04-21 09:06 pm (UTC)

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"I eagerly await the publication of the author's last book."
[User Picture]From: yamamanama
2014-04-21 11:04 pm (UTC)

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Personally, I hope his last book was already released.
[User Picture]From: catsittingstill
2014-04-23 02:31 pm (UTC)

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Alas, still no "like" button. :-( This comment deserves one too.
[User Picture]From: catsittingstill
2014-04-23 02:31 pm (UTC)

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There is no "like" button :-( Because this comment really deserves it.
[User Picture]From: temima
2014-04-23 12:27 am (UTC)

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That made me smile, even though Beale does not
[User Picture]From: Kelly Jennings
2014-04-25 03:26 pm (UTC)

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I read it. I read it twice, to give it a fair chance, even though I think VD is a terrible person. I teach in an undergraduate fiction program at a working class university in Arkansas, so I have seen some awful short stories. VD's is not the worst short story I have ever seen, but it's not very good. The biggest problem is that he isn't writing a story: he's writing a sermon. It's all about how wonderful Jesus is. Well, aside from a very select audience, who comes to fiction for that?

Because he's not writing a story, he doesn't bother to write characters or (really) scenes; he doesn't put in realistic dialogue; we don't have any sort of dramatic tension. No one (really) wants anything. (The elf "wants" Jesus, but not really: it's just an excuse for VD to shoehorn in his sermon.) And for pages and pages and pages nothing happens.

Also, VD commits what is to me the major crime of not telling me anything I didn't already know. He "writes" a medieval monastery which I could have made up myself without doing any research at all. No surprises, nothing new, nothing to learn here. And the same for every character and every line of dialogue. It's just tedious.
[User Picture]From: xiphias
2014-04-25 04:06 pm (UTC)

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That's congruent with my take on it. I've read worse; heck, I've written worse. But I can't see that Correa had any reason to nominate it other than that Vox Day has a personality that pisses off liberals. The rest of the "Sad Puppy Slate" is full of people who are conservative and who also can, and do, write -- everything else on the slate is a reasonable nomination for a Hugo -- I don't know that I'd necessarily vote for them, but "Opera Vita Aeterna" is the only one that I've seen that I'd consider to rank below "No Award".
From: D. C. Sessions
2014-05-01 12:05 am (UTC)

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KJ, are you telling us that it's basically an SF costumed production of God's Not Dead? Sort of "Jack Chick with Elves?"
[User Picture]From: Kelly Jennings
2014-05-02 12:31 am (UTC)

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Heh. Chick Tracts at least have the virtue of being amusing. This bit of pretentious hammering on by VD was dull as when your ten year old cousin starts relating the plot of his latest video game session.
[User Picture]From: chris_gerrib
2014-04-26 03:00 am (UTC)

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Yeah, Opera is pretty underwhelming as a story.
From: (Anonymous)
2014-04-30 06:10 am (UTC)

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I'm about a quarter of the way through, but I'm dying to know: does anything happen in this book?

Spoiler alerts are fine.
[User Picture]From: xiphias
2014-04-30 11:44 am (UTC)

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Not 100% sure. I READ it, but I think I glazed out for much of the second half. I don't remember much. I think everybody dies of old age, except the elf.
[User Picture]From: Kelly Jennings
2014-05-02 12:35 am (UTC)

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No. Blah blah blah elf and priest talk theology blah blah blah a talking fox shows up blah blah blah elf and priest talk inks or something (who can remember?) blah blah blah we're out of whine wine I'll go gets some says the elf blah blah blah bog standard descriptions of a walk to town blah blah blah return to monastery OH NOES everyone is dead HOW COULD YOU DO THIS GOD!!!1!

Then a dramatic (not) flashforward tat is supposed to be Meaningful but is just as dull as the rest of the story.

Oh, this is Hugo material ALL RIGHT.

The best novella of the YEAR. On MARS.
[User Picture]From: xiphias
2014-05-02 01:40 am (UTC)

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Naw, the best story of the year on Mars is THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir. But I don't think it's Hugo-eligible until NEXT year.

Just sayin'.