Worldbuilding is a big deal, but only in the para-literary genres. I’ve never really heard the word used to describe Gone with the Wind. Part of me suspects that those who are not a fan of these genres use the word as a pejorative. I have no facts to back this up, it is just a feeling I have. And this felt very strange to me, as worldbuilding is something that adds so much to fiction.
Consider Ringworld. Larry Niven’s Ringworld is considered a masterclass in worldbuilding. The plot could be easily distilled to ‘people go see interesting thing’. The magic of the story is how much of said story is told in guise of the story’s setting. The four protagonists, two of whom are different alien races, go explore a massive superstructure found in space, a superstructure so incredibly massive that the four explorers are barely able to conceive what kind of civilization could have constructed it.
The above description is awful. What is missing is how all the above, and so much more, is built up slowly throughout the course of the novel. The author gets any incredible amount of plot into this book.
Right. Have I been nice enough to this book? Great. I really do see its virtues. I am not blind. But I can’t say I loved it. There were a lot of flaws present in it. There is your standard retro sci-fi misogyny, as well as an almost complete lack of character growth from most of the characters, all of whom are pretty unlikable. But fairly often I found the writing to be a bit of a slog to get through. I am not sure what it was, but there seemed to be too many conversations that were happening solely to get to that all precious worldbuilding. And there we may begin to see why some people don’t regard the term too highly.
I don’t want to sound too critical. It wasn’t all bad, but there were simply a lot of sections I found difficult to pay attention to. Others were fine though. I tend to lean towards caution in this cases. This book is a favorite in the sci-fi community, and it is generally well regarded, which does suggest that I am wrong about it. But I just too frequently found myself not wanting to really read it.
It was truly a bizzare sentiment getting to the end of this book. I wanted more. I wanted a netflix show, some movies, hell maybe even an animated series. I suddenly cared very deeply about, what people now-a-days would term, the IP (intellectual property). But I am not sure I could sit through another book. It felt like far too much of a slog. It had gotten better at the end, but I just kind of found the writing hard to deal with.