CAPS LOCK RAGE
I’ve publicised it in various places already but if you’ve read Winter Song by Colin Harvey – and if you are a BSFA member, you have no excuse – please pop over to Torque Control to join in our discussion.
Whilst reading online reviews of Harvey’s novel, I came across this review of Andy Remic’s Kell’s Legend. It is really quite remarkable:
This is a book that goes past normal violence into MEGAVIOLENCE(tm). We know we’re reading violence like we’ve never seen before BECAUSE IT TELLS US SO. MEGAVIOLENCE(tm) has hacking, crushing, hammering blades LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE. MEGAVIOLENCE(tm) hits THROUGH people (sometimes in ITALICS) and then hits the person behind them. IN THE FACE. MEGAVIOLENCE(tm) has a sentence that is TWENTY-SIX LINES LONG (page 389-390, if you care), because MEGAVIOLENCE(tm) DOES NOT FUCKING CARE ABOUT YOUR PUSSY RULES OF GRAMMAR. MEGAVIOLENCE(tm) HIT YOUR GRAMMAR WITH AN AXE. AND THEN THE PUNCTUATION BEHIND IT.
This novel, Remic’s first for Angry Robot, saw him doing a Morgan – as Jon Courtenay Grimwood has just done – and crossing the aisle from science fiction to fantasy. The difference is that whereas Richard Morgan brought his political and social concerns to blend with classic sword and sorcery and contemporary epic fantasy, Remic appears to have merely brought his extreme misogyny to a brazen re-write of David Gemmel’s Legend.
Now, I haven’t read Kell’s Legend so maybe I shouldn’t say anything. However, I have read Bio Hell which is one of the worst novels I’ve read and shares the three insurmountable flaws Jared identifies. These are:
- Stunning incompetence at all aspects of writing
- A vile attitude to women
- No evidence of revision or editing or even basic thought
The reason I mention this is not because I enjoy poking the hornets’ nests but because it got me thinking about the fantasy blogosphere. After reading the Pornokitch review I quickly searched for a few other reviews. Those are the first two hits on Google and you will notice they are markedly different to Jared’s review. For example, James Long – one of the most respected British fantasy bloggers – concluded his review by saying:
Kell’s Legend is a rip-roaring beast of a novel, a whirlwind of frantic battles and fraught relationships against a bleak background of invasion and enslavement. In other words, it takes all the vital ingredients for a good heroic fantasy novel and turns out something very pleasing indeed.
I’m sure this is an honest response to the novel but I do wonder about the range of responses on the fantasy blogosphere. It often seems quite narrow. There has been a bit of hand-wringing recently about the David Gemmell Legend Award recently but I see that as the symptom rather than the problem itself. As Mark Charan Newton keeps saying, where is the discussion about the books? And (I would add) where is the discernment? Fans of good fantasy literature should be able to acknowledge that Gemmell was a serviceable writer at best (just as Robert Jordan was a mediocre one). Likewise, fans of good fantasy literature should be able to acknowledge that Remic is an unreadable writer at best. If the world made sense Kell’s Legend would never have been published. Instead, in our world, the sequel is out now and to add insult to injury it has one of the worst covers I’ve ever seen.