Read The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers Free Online
Book Title: The Anubis Gates|
The author of the book: Tim Powers
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.55 MB
Date of issue: November 15th 1984
ISBN 13: 9780441023820
Read full description of the books The Anubis Gates:A fairly common mistake made by authors is failing to be familiar with their genre. They end up retreading old ground and relying on long-dead cliches because they aren't aware of what's already been done. So, it behooves an author to get some familiarity with the genre he intends to work in, to ensure that he isn't just writing the same old story over again.
In that spirit, I thought I'd check out this award-winning early piece of Steampunk. It was a rough start. One of the first red flags in an author's prose is how often they use 'almost', 'seemed' or worst of all 'almost seemed' in their descriptions and metaphors. Such words are meaningless filler, and are usually a sign that the author is not comfortable with his own figurative language, or is trying to seem mysterious without really knowing how to do it.
We're barely a page in before Powers gives us 'a musty fetor . . . almost shockingly incongruous when carried on the clean breezes of Hampstead Heath'. Almost shockingly incongruous, but not actually shockingly incongruous. But, if it isn't actually shockingly incongruous, why not tell us what it really is like? Why use a phrase that almost describes the situation, but not quite? What is the benefit to this imprecision?
Of course, in most cases, it is just 'shockingly incongruous', and the 'almost' just happened to slip in there for no reason at all.
From there we move on to the conflicted metaphors:
"His cloak flapping behind him in the wind like the wing-case of some gigantic insect"
'Like some' is another meaningless phrase to look out for in figurative language. It's meant to sound mysterious, but really, it's just filler. Beyond that, to anyone actually familiar with insect wing-cases, this metaphor just doesn't make sense, because wing cases are rigid and held out steadily from the body during flight. They don't flap. In the case of the scarab, which I assume Powers is trying to evoke here in his Egyptian magic story, they're also shiny.
Also, why does it have to be a 'gigantic' insect? Because he's a person, and people are bigger than insects? Figurative language already has that covered. If you say 'his gaze darted about like a viper's', you don't have to continue 'but a viper with hair, and external ears, and lacking scales, and also much larger than a normal one, and with limbs and no tail, and without the capacity for natural poison'. There's a reason that explaining a metaphor that way is often done as a joke--it's simply not necessary.
Here's another one:
"[The tent] looked, thought Fikee, like some huge nun in a particularly cold-weather habit, crouched beside the river in obscure devotion."
Can you picture that? Does that produce a clear and effective image in your mind, or a rather confused muddle? For me, it was definitely muddle. These two metaphors appear on the same page, along with another one about a smile being 'like a section of hillside falling away to expose old white stone', which isn't so bad, but that's a lot of trying-too-hard similes to cram on just one page.
"Romany intoned, his voice becoming deeper as though trying to wring an echo out of the surrounding carpets"
'As though' is another vague little bit we want to be careful about when we write. I don't think the verb 'wring' works there at all. Are you imagine someone twisting carpets (with their voice) in order to try to squeeze some extra echoes out of them, because that's what this description paints into my mind, and it is not remotely working.
A few pages on, and we break suddenly into a long stretch of story exposition straight from the narrator about all this stuff that happened before, to set up the story. So, why start off with a mysterious intro where your characters are mumbling odd references to events, if you're going to explain them all a few pages later? That's a pretty quick way to kill all the mystery you had just been trying to build up.
Then, the characters themselves start delivering long pieces of story exposition to one another, even though they all know these things already!
"I'm sure you haven't forgotten how you suffered after playing with the weather at the Bay of Aboukeer three years ago."
So yeah, that's definitely enough of this book.
Read information about the authorTimothy Thomas Powers is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Powers has won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels Last Call and Declare.
Most of Powers's novels are "secret histories": he uses actual, documented historical events featuring famous people, but shows another view of them in which occult or supernatural factors heavily influence the motivations and actions of the characters.
Powers was born in Buffalo, New York, and grew up in California, where his Roman Catholic family moved in 1959.
He studied English Literature at Cal State Fullerton, where he first met James Blaylock and K.W. Jeter, both of whom remained close friends and occasional collaborators; the trio have half-seriously referred to themselves as "steampunks" in contrast to the prevailing cyberpunk genre of the 1980s. Powers and Blaylock invented the poet William Ashbless while they were at Cal State Fullerton.
Another friend Powers first met during this period was noted science fiction writer Philip K. Dick; the character named "David" in Dick's novel VALIS is based on Powers and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner) is dedicated to him.
Powers's first major novel was The Drawing of the Dark (1979), but the novel that earned him wide praise was The Anubis Gates, which won the Philip K. Dick Award, and has since been published in many other languages.
Powers also teaches part-time in his role as Writer in Residence for the Orange County High School of the Arts where his friend, Blaylock, is Director of the Creative Writing Department. Powers and his wife, Serena, currently live in Muscoy, California. He has frequently served as a mentor author as part of the Clarion science fiction/fantasy writer's workshop.
He also taught part time at the University of Redlands.
Excerpted from Wikipedia.
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