Saturday, January 19, 2019

Book Blogger Hop January 18th - January 24th: 290 Is the Sum of Four Consecutive Prime Numbers

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Is there anything that drives you bonkers when you're reading a book and it makes you want to tell the author a thing or two?

The one thing that is sure to drive me bonkers is when an author is writing a science fiction or alternative history story and they don't really work through the consequences of the changes they made to the world.

For example, Naomi Novik has a generally excellent historical fantasy series called Temeraire that is essentially the Napoleonic Wars with the addition of dragons to the world. The series could probably best be described as "Horatio Hornblower with dragons". For the most part, the series is really good, but Novik just didn't work through the consequences of adding dragons to her world completely, often stopping at the most obvious initial change, and not considering what that change implies. Adding dragons to the world results in some obvious changes, most notably the power differential between the European powers and the rest of the world is reduced, or even eliminated. China, for example, is depicted as having integrated dragons into their society more thoroughly than Britain, making China arguably a more potent military power than the British. African tribes have dragons allied with them that make them more than a match for the expeditionary forces the Europeans send to their continent, and so on. This all makes sense, but what doesn't make sense is that the British characters act like this is all a surprise to them. The British characters all act like they stepped out of our world circa 1800 A.D. into the contemporaneous Temeraire universe, expecting that Europeans generally, and the Brutish specifically, could still treat the rest of the world like inferiors without consequence. It isn't even like dragons are supposed to be a recent phenomenon in the Temeraire universe - several references are made to the medieval era and how people of that era dealt with domesticated dragons, and yet the British officers are consistently surprised when dragons allied to people whose lands they want to colonize pop up and spoil their plans.

Basically, the most sure-fire way to raise my reader hackles is to introduce a change to your fictional world and then ignore the relatively obvious implications of that change.

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