Ruined by Meta

Posted on January 2, 2013


Some years ago I snagged Earth, by David Brin, from the give away pile at a library.  Loved it.  Still love it.  Earth is one of my favorite novels.  I read it about twice a year.

Since this is the internet age I Googled him and found his blog.  Which I devoured, and still do.  I follow him on Twitter.  I watch his YouTube videos.  Brin is brilliant, and loves to share his ideas.

Which is making Existence difficult for me to read.

David Brin is an author in the same vein as Isaac Asimov.  Asimov was an idea author.  The point of his stories was almost always to convey a specific idea.  Plot and character were subservient to the idea, characters sometimes almost hilariously so.  Brin also writes idea stories.  And if he does not let the ideas hold so tight a rein on plot and character they are still not equal players to the idea.

As an aside, when I am talking about idea some may say I am talking about theme.  To a certain extent that is true, but theme is always open to interpretation by the reader.  Ask 10 different readers what the theme of a book is and you will get between 5 and 20 different answers.  Idea stories are different.  If I ask you what the ideas behind Earth are, the only differences in answer will be whether something was missed.    Ideas tend to be solid, theme tends to be ephemeral.

I have read all of the ideas Brin has put into Existence, so far.  I have read them written by his own hand.  I have heard them spoken by his own mouth.  I have already run through the implications in my mind.  At some point I may even reflect on them here.  It is making it difficult for me to push through the rest of the story.

That sucks.  The book is well written.  The characters are convincing.  The plot is not contrived or forced.  But since both of those are in service to the ideas, I’m more concerned about those ideas.  Since I’ve read those ideas already, I’m not that concerned with the conclusion of the novel.

I’m having a similar issue with John C Wright.  I read his novel, Count to a Trillion, and enjoyed it.  It wasn’t great, but it was fun and enjoyable.  So I did as I do with most authors now, I went to his blog.  Where I found a person who did not resemble the image I built in my head.

I disagree with his politics.  I disagree with his religion.  I basically disagree with everything he says.

I have friends who I disagree with on politics and religion.  Having someone you can argue with keeps the moving parts of your brain from gathering rust and staying outside the echo chamber is always a good idea.  If I stumbled on his blog without reading the book I would probably enjoy it.  It’s well written and as reasoned as something trying to push religious thought can be.  But I started to see some of his thinking in the thinking of his characters.

It’s subtle, and I don’t think most would notice it without having a reason to.  That said, I’ve created a reason.

In the case of Wright, I think the solution is easy.  I just won’t read his blog anymore.  I can find other people I disagree with.  I don’t have that option with Brin.  Well, I guess I do, but it sucks and I won’t.

Outside of realizing Santa wasn’t real, this is the first time in my life having a lot of information has made something worse.  I’m not sure how to deal with it.

That is all.

Posted in: Books, Me, Writing