Defending Erikson versus Martin apologists – Part 2

Now, i didn’t see your posts, but from the reaction here on the board, it sounds to me like you made personal attacks.

If you read my reconstructed post and didn’t see any “personal attacks” it’s because there were none.

I imagine that Werthead considered a personal attack when I said he was making false claims and then the part at the end where I was calling people hypocritical. It was all done in context and with argumentation. There were no gratuitous personal attacks.

Again, your being pretty subjective with your response. What some have argued (perhaps Werthead has, i can’t remember), is that the series will not be done with 10 books because HALF OF THE SHIT THAT HAPPENS IN THE SERIES HAS YET TO BE EXPLAINED.

I had understood his point. Nor I have claimed the contrary.

That’s why I was calling it a linguistic problem. That’s why I said it’s subjective whether or not the series receives a proper, satisfying closure. You can’t set objectively what a reader may find satisfying or not. Nor you can say objectively if enough plots threads are resolved to match your own personal idea of “complete”.

What I pointed out and that is objective is that the Malazan series has 10 books. And while the world in there is not “over”, the series is. It has a start and an end, and it followed the pattern that was set and delivered. You people are arguing even on this.

If I make a project to build an house, set a timeframe and budget. Then I go on to build the house and in the end it takes twice the time, twice the budget, and there’s no roof. Am I allowed to call the project a “failure”?

I didn’t say ASoIaF was a failure because it sucks or because it wasn’t successful enough. I called it a failure, as a project, because Martin himself wasn’t able to match his own promises and doesn’t seem to be able to stay ahead of the thing and give it a proper closure (objectively as in: maintaining his own declared plan of writing and finishing the series in 7 books).

By “your own” definition of “complete”, ASoIaF may not be complete even if those 7 books are finished. So comparing Malazan to ASoIaF on this argument is wrong. You are using two different standards.

I don’t remember him justifying it that way. As for quality, its BEEN proven. ASOIAF is superior to Malazan in any number of ways

It’s your opinion that it is superior. And I would restrain to use popularity as a proof since even “Twilight” may end up as more popular than ASoIaF and so of a better quality. Let’s just not go there.

When I said quality has yet to be proven I intended for books past 3 (it’s with book 4 that difficulties started to rise and that many readers considered not up to the quality standard Martin set). Now that the delays are getting more important and that Martin is struggling more and more, quality has to be proven. We can’t say if in the end he will actually match the readers expectations. For now he justifies the delays in the name of quality, but quality has yet to be proven (considering that Martin may find harder to write the series now compared to 12 years ago, which is part of my argument).

Everyone here wishes that Erikson as well started to delay his books indefinitely in the name of quality. I’d be wary to suggest that. First because it’s utterly ludicrous since writers aren’t computers and you can’t simply order a writer to work under set rules, assuming that what works for Martin would work for Erikson and vice versa. Secondly because it’s not an absolute rule that a delay equals better quality.

As China Meiveille said, Martin is not your bitch. As a fan of the series, it is troubling how long its taking Martin to finish even the next book, let alone others. As for not being successful, well, some people with money are pumping considerable amounts of said money into a tv project based on the novels. But if speaking strictly about the novels, how in gods green garden do you know what his original intent was? And how, exactly, did he betray it?

Yes, I see you have a problem not recognizing the context in which I used the word “successful”.

As far as critical response, popularity and whatnot, ASoIaF is successful. Without a doubt more successful than Malazan will ever hope to be. Not only I know that but I even see very well the motivations.

I said it betrayed its original intent as in taking way longer than Martin originally planned and plausibly not being completed as Martin originally planned (as in: seven books). Erikson is planning new projects now that his first is near completion, projects set in the same fictional world, but different projects. Martin has to finish this one before he can plan another, even if a new one could be as well set in the same fictional world. Can’t you see that their situation is not the same?

Heres a concept he could have used. Cut the books in half with a decent editor, loose a shit ton of reduandant stories, and move on. And when i mean cut in half, i mean don’t have the friggin things 1000 pages nearly every book. He could have fulfilled his contract obligations by simply having 500 page books and increasing the quality of each one.

Only that “increasing the quality” is what you say.

In the same way people are saying each book should be 300 pages considering that all they enjoy are the fireworks. The problem is that not everyone wants that. Because what sets apart Malazan is not the fireworks, but everything else.

Different readers enjoy different things, even within the same book. You should also realize at this point that Erikson is “not your bitch”. Not writing what you enjoy the most. In the same way Martin doesn’t write stuff that I enjoy the most. But even if I don’t like especially what Martin writes you don’t see me pretending to give him writing lessons, while people here do it all the time in regards to Erikson (like you did up here).

In particular, Erikson himself made this point clear:
Some of my readers would rather I cut to the chase quicker than I do; to which I can only respond that my reasons for doing what I do continue to satisfy me, and trust me, if I am not satisfied absolutely no-one else will be. I am very deliberate in my approach, and I would humbly remind those impatient readers that their pace is not my pace; that reading is an engagement distinct from that of writing, and that at no time do I pad for the hell of it – again, I have my reasons!

By the way, while looking up that quote I found another that demonstrates pretty well how some claims Werthead made were utterly wrong. This is what Werthead says:

The Malazan Book of the Fallen was a project deliberately solicited to be a money-making series for Bantam UK. It was, literally, picked up to do the business for them that Wheel of Time did for Tor and Orbit. That’s why they asked for 10 books when Erikson wasn’t thinking about anywhere near that many and that’s why they offered him such a colossal sum of money for it.

So he says that it was Bantam idea to propose him a series of 10 books and that they convinced him through a colossal sum of money.

That’s not what Erikson himself says though:
I admit to some coyness at first. When the deal was being made for the first novel, it was a one-off contract, with first rights of refusal for the next one. It was only after ‘Gardens’ came out that I made mention of my grander scheme: ten books. And since by that point I was finishing up the second novel, Deadhouse Gates, I suspect it was seen as encouraging, in that I was able to deliver manuscripts at a decent pace, and I didn’t balk at the notion of doing one a year. It’s hard to consider the notions of everyone else involved — I was, I suspect, both confident and naive, as only unseasoned writers can be. The series never felt too big, never felt impossible, or frightening. All I knew was an immense, burning impatience. I had the arc laid out in my mind: I knew where it was going and where and how it would end and I just wanted to get there.

Also, about the series not being complete as you argued thorough this thread:
With the tenth novel, The Crippled God, the ‘Malazan Book of the Fallen’ ends. While Cam (Ian Esslemont) has a few more to write in that sequence, I do not. The two new trilogies I am signed to write share the world and its cosmos, but they do not resume the arc of the Fallen. This may seem an odd distinction, maybe even an unconvincing one, but it is sharp in my mind. The whole point of the Malazan Book of the Fallen was to deliver a self-contained series, a slice of history, and to give the readers a sense of completion when they read the last line on the last page.

Defending Erikson versus Martin apologists

Once again I was participating to an interesting debate on Westeros forum when a moderator realized my arguments were not easy to counter in a normal discussion and so deleted all my posts. *groan*

I was quite pissed because I had written a lot and I’m one of those who can’t write the same thing twice. So now I had to rebuild everything and is only a pale imitation of a discussion that I considered engaging (not just with him) and that I was enjoying.

This is more or less what it was, it appends at the end of this thread:

Me: ASoIaF (A Song of Ice and Fire, aka Martin’s own fantasy series) risks to not be realistically realized and completed.

And so does Malazan. There’s a hell of a long way to go yet.

You still don’t think the series finishes with The Crippled God though, do you? Not even the authors are suggesting that. The only thing that finishes in the next book is the Crippled God story arc. Many, many other storylines stretching back to Book 1 will be going on for many years and many more books to come.

There is no more sign that ASoIaF cannot be brought to a conclusion than Malazan can be.

The Malazan series is ten books. It is going to be complete with that last book.

What Werthead considers “complete” is subjective. It’s a matter of quality. It’s a matter of whether or not the last book will offer readers what they consider a satisfying conclusion and proper closure. The last book isn’t out so we can’t say if it delivers from a subjective point of view or not. If it’s good or not. But it’s plain naive to argue that since more books are planned beyond the main series, and since we don’t know what happened to every character, then the Malazan series is to be considered as unfinished and as a failure in the same way of ASoIaF. Or even that their situation is comparable. That’s a quite ludicrous thing to say.

The difference is that Erikson is going to finish the series and it will be out there for readers to say if it’s good or if it’s shit. He went to the point and fulfilled his promises to the publisher and his readers.
Martin instead is holding back, and justifying these delays in the name of quality. But quality that has still to be proven and not to be taken so easily for granted.

Here people are being persuaded that a book taking forever is always synonymous of quality. It’s not. It is more like a hope of his faithful readers that is yet to be fulfilled. It’s suspended. A possibility but not a truth. It is ludicrous to say that Martin’s way of doing his series is something that Erikson should learn for himself and that is to be preferred (obviously assuming that it is even possible to translate a writing process from a writer to another like a program in a computer, but we’re just pretending in support of a discussion). Subjectively you can make your choice and have your preference, but no one can say if these delays are really justifying the quality of the book. Even more it’s arguable that is to be preferred a series that appears to stick to an high quality standard but that takes 20 years to get to the point, and actually not getting to the point at all, to one that stays on track both from the schedule perspective and writing intent of its writer, even if it suffers form some mistakes along the way and that sacrificed the strive for perfection to not lose anything of its deliberateness, drive and ultimate goal.

What Werthead does here is playing on semantics because he’s more interested to win an internet argument than actually understanding what I’m saying and having a normal discussion. So this has now become a linguistic problem.

How many trees you need to make a wood? 100? If 100 trees make a wood then what are 99 trees? Some trees together?

Words are just words. We use them to make ourselves understood but the words don’t mirror reality and can be used to deceive (a theme that should be well known to Malazan readers). “Complete” is solely what you consider so. It’s something subjective. You decide for yourself what you consider complete. But it is a fact that the Malazan series is 10 books. It was ten books when it was planned and it was delivered that way. So, as a project, it is complete. There are may be more books that Erikson decides to write that are set in the same world, but they would be their own projects. Projects within other projects. ASoIaF is planned to have 7 books. At this point it is not so plausible that Martin is going to deliver them and complete the series.

I will consider ASoIaF complete even if:
– Not all plot threads will be completely resolved in the last book.
– The conclusion sucks.
– Martin decides to write a sequel or prequel.

In the EXACT same way Erikson decided to write more books, Martin may decide as well (as long he achieves immortality) to write more books set in the same world. Does this mean that the series isn’t complete?

Are you saying that since now Stephen King has linked all his books through the Dark Tower now all those books are to be considered incomplete because there may be an odd character that may appear in another book sometime in the future?

What I said is that, as a project, the Malazan series is plausibly going to be completed. As a project it was “successful”, in the sense that it went as planned and Erikson delivered the goods. He wrote it in the exact way he wanted to write it. It is an accomplished thing. Fully realized. This doesn’t mean that it’s automatically great and everyone is going to love it. That’s for the readers to say. But as a project it worked. ASoIaF, as a project, was a failure. Because Martin planned seven books and is not plausible that we’ll see the end of it. It took him too long to write the thing, much longer than he thought. You can love it as much you want, but this doesn’t make it a “successful” project. Because as a project it betrayed its original intent and proved to be harder and above what Martin seems able to handle when facing human limits.

To re-rail back the discussion on the only point that was meaningful in what I was saying: I believe that Erikson wrote this series in the only way it was possible to write it. Taking more time for each book would mean stretching it over a too long period of time and it is very likely that done that way Erikson would have lost momentum, focus and deliberateness. Here we assume again that more time equals better quality. Not always, not univocally. It’s probable that the series would have gained in consistence and error-free continuity but Erikson himself decided that those mistakes weren’t a priority in what he wanted to achieve. It’s up to the readers then to say what they care the most about and if they enjoyed what he made in the way he made it.

That’s why I was saying that from my point of view it would make sense to make a revision AFTER the series is complete. Because I believe that there are significant margins of improvement and you can take care of the minor details and inconsistencies that slipped through. But the series itself, with its scope and intent, was executed in the only way that was humanly possible with a project with this scope and ambition. There aren’t better ways to do it. Stretching it over a period of 20 years would mean risking of getting swallowed and never again see the way out (not unlike Martin). Erikson proved that he could stay ahead of the thing, and demonstrated to be in control of it. Much more than any other example in fantasy.

That’s why I say it is a success. Even if it doesn’t mean that everyone is going to love it just because the writer fully realized what he intended to realize.

Then there’s the part where Werthead makes false claims in support of his theories. I knows he is well informed but he presents what are wild guesses as proven facts and people on those forums are starting to believe him because those guesses are plausible. But something plausible doesn’t make it true. Easier to believe, sure, but not true. It may be true, but we can’t simply take something plausible for granted as if it was proven.

“It took until 2006 for the advance to be paid back”
“it took significantly longer than expected for the series to make any money.”
“it’s not doing anything even remotely like it was commissioned to do.”

These are rather precise claims he made. I asked him to prove these claims and he deleted my posts instead. This is why I say that he makes wild, rough guesses and then pretends that we believe them. A lie that is made of parts that are true is a lie that is plausible, but still a lie. Werthead’s behavior leads to believe people here that “he knows stuff”, when instead he makes wild guesses that originate from true things he knows. Then he repeats those guesses across multiple forums over and over and over and over till he himself is persuaded that they are true. He brainwashed us and himself. And again I repeat that HE IS well informed, if he only stuck to things he know and didn’t make up the rest.

That’s the point where I said that the Malazan series should have taught him to not believe of truths that are made-up. He’s like Karsa before the journey, with the difference that he makes up his own lies.

I also commented that I saw plenty of times on those forums people comparing Erikson’s books to “anime” or “comic books” as a way to diminish their value and ridicule them in a way they believe is so subtle and smart, when instead it is really not.

That’s why I said that it’s a proof of how it seems the great majority of people are deeply hardwired hypocrite.

They read “fantasy” so they are ready to spring up and proudly defend the genre when one of those “fantasy versus serious literature” arguments comes up. They defend their own garden. Ready to go against those who call fantasy as a lesser form of literature and mock books that have magic, wizards and trolls.

But then they themselves have no concerns calling the Malazan series “anime in book form” or “literary comic book” as a cheap way to diminish its value and reduce the books to just a bunch of spectacular scenes. It’s the same as usual: people mocking what they do not understand in order to celebrate their own stuff and elevate it above the rest.

Next time your daddy mocks your fantasy book collection just remember that you are no different.

A note on book review blogs ‘n forums

As you can see from the sidebar I got stuck on the review of “A Game of Thrones”, that was never written. One reason is that I’ve read various reviews of it that I considered quite on the point. On the other side I have a critical position to it that I don’t know how to put without being misunderstood or without sounding overly negative. And falling in The Trap. Then I’m also lazy.

The Trap.

When I was back reading fantasy, two years ago now, I craved for opinions to direct my interest to The Goods. Swallowed entire forums and blogs. Got the handle of where the whole genre sat, and started reading. All that feedback was precious, and reflected in what I read. I saw a point. Now I see it all too well. Too much.

Two years pass and instead of seeing the freedom of knowledge I see the cage. The super-structure. The same blogs that I had read with interest and (proven) trust now hold no novelty. I know what they are going to say about a particular book well before the review appears. I see hidden agendas. I see prejudices everywhere, pre-established opinions. I see, in general, a lack of truthfulness. A lack of clinging to The Point (that is, giving an immaculate, sincere subjective-POV & analysis on a book). Basically: an honest emancipation from this or that trend, from this or that hidden intent, from this or that cultural/tribal sub-stream.

Forums, all forums are modern tribes. They have their habits, their pre-constituted roles, their rituals. And they also have their functional rivalries with this and that, and their hidden or manifest purposes and intents. The thing has boundaries, and what’s within takes the shape of The Cage. And they fall in The Trap.

That is: being ready to see prejudices in this and that, but, somehow, completely incapable of seeing the exact same prejudice that exists in slightly different form. So it gets predictable. You see people that take the shape of their Cage. When you can see that Cage what it says stops being interesting. You know what it’s saying. You know how the brain is rigged, and that it has boundaries.

There things stop being interesting that they start being functional.

What’s being written stops having a point for what’s the implied manifest intent (the immaculate & sincere subjective thing of analysis & opinion) and falls in the mind trap of justifying a certain pre-existing stance. It strengthens the tribe. Make it legitimate. Make it rise above. Upheaval and rebellion against heretics and/or rival tribe. In spectacular specularity.

That’s the point where you have to pick sides or get annihilated (or put aside, or branded as Troll). The Cage doesn’t admit ambiguity or neutrality. Or truthfulness, that is. The act of sincerity and objectivity. Or at least self-observation on 2nd or 3rd level to detect the blind spot.

So I was stuck there, finding a way to give an opinion without simultaneously building a Cage & secret intent around me. Doubting about my writing and myself. Got stuck.

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged: