David Louis Edelman David Louis Edelman

Grasping for the Wind: “MultiReal” the “Empire Strikes Back” of the Jump 225 Trilogy

Two new reviews for my new novel MultiReal have hit the web.

Because this is my blog, I’ll start with the review on the Grasping for the Wind blog, which is about as good a review as one could hope for. \'MultiReal\' Book CoverHere’s how John at Grasping for the Wind sums up the book:

MultiReal is an exciting and excellent sequel… This is one of those rare cases (like The Empire Strikes Back vs. A New Hope) where the second movie far surpasses the first in quality and level of enjoyment. Fans of stories that mix philosophy and ethics, with action and technology will enjoy Edelman’s works. It is a Matrix fans’ delight, and a worthy successor to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. I highly recommend Edelman as an author, and suggest you read Infoquake and its sequel MultiReal if you are looking for high-octane action, deep thinking, and eloquent writing.

John also praises the turn towards more action he sees in MultiReal:

Edelman has maintained the high level of energy from the previous novel and even ratcheted it up a bit higher… Edelman relates the action with the same skill as the speeches and it is both exciting and epic. Some readers may feel that the way the MultiReal program is used by Natch and some of the other characters may be a little too similar the action of The Matrix. However, it is amazing that a probability program could have such far-reaching implications, and cause so much upset.

Fair enough about the Matrix comparison. Unfortunately, the Wachowskis did such a good job with the concept of biologic software that it’s impossible to talk about the concept now without referring back to The Matrix. Kind of like you can’t write about a heroic quest without looking over your shoulder at J.R.R. Tolkien. Good thing I took out all of the stuff in the early drafts about Magan Kai Lee being a master of martial arts…

Finally, GFTW has some good things to say about my prose style in the book:

The writing in MultiReal has also gotten more adventurous. Edelman is willing to try new ways of writing, including a whole chapter written as a letter from one character to another… [I]t shows that Edelman is willing to take chances with his writing. An author willing to push himself to new heights in style can only be doing the same in the substance of his story, reminding the reader that he or she will never really know what is around the next bend of the story.

All the great things GFTW had to say about MultiReal took the sting out of the review by the UK website SFCrowsnest. Read it for yourself — it’s not good. I couldn’t find a single complimentary thing in GF Willmetts’ review, not even enough for a blurb on the reviews page.

Willmetts starts off by complaining about plot confusion:

It’s been a little while since I read the first book, ‘Infoquake’, in the ‘Jump 225’ trilogy and throwing myself in without a recap at the front of the book wasn’t a good idea… It wasn’t until I was a third of the way through the book that I spotted the recap as the first of eight appendixes… [M]uch of this information really needed to be incorporated within the confines of the story. It’s like looking at a painting and being told about what you haven’t seen. The skill in any storytelling is in putting the information in context and letting the picture build up in the reader’s mind. I frequently came away from reading this book thinking Edelman has internalised too much. He knows what is going on but hasn’t confided enough knowledge to the reader which is a big mistake. None of this is helped by the fact that he’s pushing so much material into the story that there is little room for the characters to breath so this time we don’t see so much depth with their personalities.

Ouch. Willmetts elaborates from there, but it’s clear to me that the reviewer never recovered from his initial plot confusion and thus never invested in the story. Which is fair criticism.

This is a reaction I’ve long been expecting from some reviewers (but I won’t pretend it doesn’t still sting). The problem is that you’ll be totally in the woods trying to read MultiReal if you haven’t read Infoquake first. And even if you have, you’ll still be in the woods if you don’t remember it very well. MultiReal not only picks up soon after Infoquake leaves off, but it extends the themes and metaphors of that book, and makes references to things that happened in the margins of it. I tried to ameliorate this problem by including a four-and-a-half page synopsis of Infoquake in the appendices of MultiReal, but I knew that wasn’t going to please everybody.

For better or worse, I’ve written the entire trilogy to be read in close proximity, preferably in one long pass. In this I was inspired by the ballsy way that Peter Jackson handled The Two Towers. Lost? Confused? Tough. Go rent The Fellowship of the Ring, and come back when you’re done.

Unfortunately, as much as I think it’s worth your time to read Infoquake and MultiReal one after the other so you can pick up the delicate interplay of plot and metaphor, I can’t very well insist that you read them that way. Pyr would never go for it, because they’re planning to, you know, sell these things. All I can do is suggest.

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  1. Cindy on June 29, 2008 at 9:47 pm  Chain link

    Well, the negative review stated a hope that the third book will make reading the second book worthwhile. So, even if the guy hates it, looks like he’s going to keep reading your books. :-)

    I thought it was fabulous. (I am, of course, somewhat biased.)

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