In case you are thinking otherwise, I was not scouring the text for these solecisms, setting out to set you up, but like all people who are preparing a review I was keeping notes throughout the reading. The protocols around a first novel by a young writer do matter. I kept noting all the bad stuff (much more than reported here), but I was looking for good bits with which to try to encourage you. I found none. It gradually dawned on me that I was wasting my time. Barricade was unyielding in its awfulness. It was a book I did not wish to write about.Christopher Priest is less than complimentary about fellow science fiction writer Jon Wallace's Barricade.
t’s one thing to beat a kid up on his (or her) first day at school, it’s quite another to carve your name into their forehead with a straight-edge razor. It's the worst sort of grandstanding, designed to cultivate an infamous reputation. It is ugly and unnecessary.SF reviewer Damien Walters disagrees:
We need writers and reviewers like Priest who have the expertise and willingness to reflect back the problems in modern genre fiction. Because the problems are very real. Violence of the flattened, meaningless kind Priest pinpoints in Barricade is endemic in the genre. Too many books are trying to be action thrillers or First Person Shooters when neither of these are what books are good at doing.Jon Wallace meanwhile, doing a blogtour to promote his book, talks about his main female character and why she is the way she is, one of the main sticking points in Priest's review:
Then, in my late twenties, I came to write Barricade: my first real attempt to write a complete novel: the perfect opportunity to showcase my improved skill at creating proper female characters.Fellow writer Suw Charman-Anderson is unimpressed:
Only something odd happened: I ended up doing the complete opposite. The lead female character, Starvie, is in many respects a construct of unrealistic male expectation and base desire. Why? Because she was designed that way.
Many authors talk about being surprised by what comes out when they write, but the unexpectedness of their creative process does not relieve them of responsibility for what the final story says. Wallace wrote Starvie because he wanted to, because he chose not to stop himself, because he didn’t change her, or Kenstibec for that matter, as he edited and rewrote his work.Finally, Cora Buhlert notes briefly that compared to some German reviewers, Priest is a pussycat.
His juxtaposition of his efforts to write “believable, fleshed-out female characters” with the fact that he “ended up doing the complete opposite” implies that this was some sort of freak occurrence, inevitable and outside of his control. This is Wallace glossing over his conscious decision to write Starvie exactly as she reads, it’s him attempting to abdicate responsibility for how she turned out by blaming… what? The story itself? It doesn’t wash.
« Older A 9-minute Dutch animation about a daughter who re... | Fuck yeah, floppy guys!... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments