New Columbia Novel - J. B. Hogan


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Post December 24, 2009, 01:01:50 PM

New Columbia Novel - J. B. Hogan

I decided to make a fresh topic for this *Novel* (!) now that it's complete. I never quite cared for pure serials, so I instinctively held off on this one. But now I have part 1 all printed to go. Given the double-issue timing, I figure I'll go through one part a week and be up to date well in time for the comments.
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Post December 24, 2009, 01:11:50 PM

Torturing J. B.? That's unAmerican (maybe)

So you tease the poor fellow by starting a topic for his novel -- then tell him he has to wait a few weeks for actual comments. Sounds like a Cheney-approved "enhanced criticism" technique!

:roll:

(I can bring politics into ANY discussion. Of course, religion, the economy, torture, and climate are the OBVIOUS topics, but I'm sure there are more!)

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Post December 26, 2009, 11:03:24 AM

Waiting

Nah. More like a mean publisher.
"We'll tell you in 6 weeks if we even got your story. Then in 8 weeks we'll look at the title. We'll know in 5 weeks if we like it. Then we'll actually reply in another 5 months."

But since my Oliver Twistian forlorn laptop is behaving, I'm ahead of schedule. I'll come up with something Real Soon Now.
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Post January 05, 2010, 11:20:07 AM

Re: Waiting

Just finished New Columbia by JB Hogan.

At about 72k words, it is--indeed-a novel.

Wow!

Is all I have to say.

No kidding. I can't believe the quality and quantity of this work.

Like a lot of readers, I am wary of serialized novels. I've been burned too many times. I waited until it was all done and then cut-n-pasted it into Word to read it.

I must say that it was worth the wait. And oh yeah. . .it ain't done, quite yet. Though the ending provided is enough to satisfy the reader.

Like many futuristic and post-apocalyptic novels, the language takes a little gettin' used to. There is a tendency in 'times to come' literature to try and portray an advanced (temporally) society by using different--though parsable--terms, via the conduit of linguistic shortcuts. And NC is no exception. Slang evolves at warp speed, whereas the meanings behind what people actually need to say, remain in the geological timeframe.

It is a time-honored and worthwhile endeavor. . .but it's tricky. You can lose your readers in the dialogue if you do too much. Mr. Hogan walks the fine line with aplomb, and it works.

This story is a true picaresque tale that reminds me most of The Stand, where there is a journey across a very different United States. Mr. Hogan’s worldbuilding is consistent, new and very detailed. He’s taken the ‘If This Goes On’ theme and added an aspect of ‘What If’ that is absolutely mind boggling. His portrayal of the aftermath of the imprisonment, and subsequent execution of most of the black male population of California, is absolutely astounding. If you haven’t read it, you gotta do so to appreciate it.

There is also a subculture called the 'Erads', which I can only assume comes from the word Eradicators. These folks actually have something akin to a real, coherent social order. That they are all homicidal maniacs (from our early 21st century perspective) is not the point. They don't seem too drugged-up to function, they have a social order that respects their own, and they are actually pretty good at what they do. After a while--once you're in the zone of the novel--they start to make sense.

That they really are the bad guys, doesn't seem to make as much difference as it should. Very cool. Very different. And I have to respect the writing that makes this possible.

Mr. Hogan even has the obligatory ‘Old School’ hermit who remembers what things should be like. He’s got it all. Kind of like a 'gray wizard.'

Derivative?

Perhaps. . .but it works.

But at the ‘end’, there are still unanswered questions. Including a ‘ring’ that has great power, and which we know nothing about.

I know. . .I know. . .

In any case. Read the story. Stick with it. It’s worth the ride.

Bill Wolfe
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Post January 27, 2010, 09:13:15 PM

Re: Waiting

Bill_Wolfe wrote:Just finished New Columbia by JB Hogan.

...
Like many futuristic and post-apocalyptic novels, the language takes a little gettin' used to. There is a tendency in 'times to come' literature to try and portray an advanced (temporally) society by using different--though parsable--terms, via the conduit of linguistic shortcuts. And NC is no exception. Slang evolves at warp speed, whereas the meanings behind what people actually need to say, remain in the geological timeframe.

It is a time-honored and worthwhile endeavor. . .but it's tricky. You can lose your readers in the dialogue if you do too much. Mr. Hogan walks the fine line with aplomb, and it works.
...

Bill Wolfe


Ya'know, I think the act of reading SF itself has changed in the last 10 years with the advent of Wikipedia. Way back, perhaps in 4SJ's time, I LIKED getting smashed with carefully thought out lingo.

But with the advent of the Net, it's tricky to return to the Slow Days. If there were ever a hyperlinked text to launch Apple's new iPad, this would/should be it. On any other topic I'd have gone Link Hunting... but stories exist in a curious world of the author's head, which used not to matter... but now it does, because there ARE no links!

Consider the following:
Somecops & Shadpols
BimHills/Ebon/Meshica (Are there really only like 10 towns left?)
Great Invert/Decades of Sand
Prees & Flakes & Zoners & Ebons & Tokus & Fulljohns (Oh my!)
smalltad sturches in the plezones with ginweed and chalkwater
outcits using Erad tactics to venture beyond Long Wound to the Outworld

There were a couple of famous stories highlighting the linguistic drift theme, but I now remember this (first page!) did stall me twice already because I had fits of Linky Withdrawal.

------------

New topic. I am curious if J.B. has read the Post-War novel by Norman Spinrad with True Blue Lou & Sunshine Sue. That's the mood feeling I get.
(Now, A, I leave there for YOU to look up, but wait, that's the Net again... or I let y'all suffer in "I dunno man" misery...'Cause I'm too drunk on Ginweed to go fish it out of my collection.)

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Post January 29, 2010, 09:42:27 AM

Text vs Hypertext

I finally cracked this open last night, and sure enough, it's a grand tale so far. The "Wiki" is essentially on pages 5-20. I made my own custom version with scissors and tape, and sliced out the info from the starting story thread.

It might be interesting if authors submitted a separate Wiki with their stories to appear in a different link. With an online only magazine, that could be a lot of fun.
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Post January 29, 2010, 10:42:51 AM

The term you want is "Glossary." I recall at least one science-fiction author who included one -- Frank Herbert . . . I remember having to refer to it periodically while reading Dune.

Personally, I prefer to explain mysterious terms in the context of the story by way of dialog, so that the reader doesn't have to interrupt the flow of the story to find out what's being referenced. It's more work to write that way, though; the writer has to contrive conversation just for this purpose. I have found this a fun challenge at times, actually, and there's a bonus in word-count if you're struggling to complete a thousand-page trilogy. :wink: And of course, we all know better than to turn glossary terms into info-dumps.

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Post January 29, 2010, 01:46:39 PM

Language et al.

I really like what is being done with language. Words like shadpol, goodcit, plezone et c. are really fitting for a society like that of Bimhills. It's like, if a concept cannot be expressed in two syllables or less, it's not worth bothering about. With the possible exception of chalkwater, but, there you are again. Thus these words actually help characterise the setting.

Symptoms of "Linky withdrawal" in that context give cause for concern. Are we already halfway towads Bimhills, when a concept has to be reachable by a click or two?

A question that may also be related to language, and that is actually stated in the novel: What might the number 45,086 signify? That number seems quite important at one critical point. I have been told, that in some Asian languages four is homophone to death or dying, but as for the rest...? And I might be totally on the wrong track.

The End.
Our main focus group of protagonists are in search of the mythical place of New Columbia. During their journey they visit other places. There they meet, interact with people. People with names, personal histories. People that make these places come to life, become real. Though New Columbia finally is found, it does not become real in the same way. It starts as a myth and in a way stays a myth. To me it seemed more real in the vision Ari has in Long Wound than when they finally arrive. That way at the end I lacked a sense of arrival, leaving me not quite a satified as The Wolfe might expect.

Beyond the end.
When in part two it was announced that one of the maincharcters would get a history lesson I was expecting that the author would use this as a pretext to introduce the reader to some of the historical background of the novel. Not that I think or thought that more explanation than that given during the cause of the journey would actually be needed. In fact im quite happy with what I got. Still I felt let down, when I did learn nothing new. Silly me. And it's just expectations. Not that I had been promised anything. Nothing new, that is, about the worlds history. Instead The Ring was intoduced. The ring that, as The Wolfe has pointed out, is unfinished business.

So now in my mind I have the image of a group of next generation New Columbians, possibly after council has been held at Long Wound, to set out on a journey to Toku to destroy the ring in the cleanroom where it once was created.

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Post January 29, 2010, 02:35:07 PM

Glossary Vs. Wiki

Lester Curtis wrote:The term you want is "Glossary." I recall at least one science-fiction author who included one -- Frank Herbert . . . I remember having to refer to it periodically while reading Dune.

Personally, I prefer to explain mysterious terms in the context of the story by way of dialog, so that the reader doesn't have to interrupt the flow of the story to find out what's being referenced. It's more work to write that way, though; the writer has to contrive conversation just for this purpose. I have found this a fun challenge at times, actually, and there's a bonus in word-count if you're struggling to complete a thousand-page trilogy. :wink: And of course, we all know better than to turn glossary terms into info-dumps.


Last I recalled the difference between Glossary/Dictionary and Wiki/Encyclopedia, is the depth of info, and I'm a depth maven. So it's not just enough to know "three types of law enforcement", I'd be looking for that more detailed level such as when Mr. Hogan goes into the stratas of economic society and the level of enforcement of each.

So speaking of Dune, I preferred the Dune Encyclopedia, which among other things included recipes for Fremen Bread.

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Post January 29, 2010, 02:50:20 PM

Re: Language et al.

vates wrote:I really like what is being done with language. Words like shadpol, goodcit, plezone et c. are really fitting for a society like that of Bimhills. It's like, if a concept cannot be expressed in two syllables or less, it's not worth bothering about. With the possible exception of chalkwater, but, there you are again. Thus these words actually help characterise the setting.

Symptoms of "Linky withdrawal" in that context give cause for concern. Are we already halfway towads Bimhills, when a concept has to be reachable by a click or two?

...


I disagree. I believe that like no time ever before, we are bootstrapping ourselves to a higher racial plane with the advent of information. The reason people dislike "newbies" is because their contributions are so far behind the knowledge curve even if the person is natively smart. Now people can race their limits to De-Newbify themselves, and come up with "easy" rather than "silly" questions.

I don't want to ask anyone "what is X" more than once an hour ever again. There's serious linguistic theory effects here.
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Post January 29, 2010, 04:07:26 PM

Re: Language et al.

vates wrote:So now in my mind I have the image of a group of next generation New Columbians, possibly after council has been held at Long Wound, to set out on a journey to Toku to destroy the ring in the cleanroom where it once was created.



The ring is too [font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Precious[/font], for that.

(Sorry, couldn't help it. . . :oops: )

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Post January 29, 2010, 07:45:28 PM

Re: Language et al.

vates wrote:
A question that may also be related to language, and that is actually stated in the novel: What might the number 45,086 signify? That number seems quite important at one critical point. I have been told, that in some Asian languages four is homophone to death or dying, but as for the rest...? And I might be totally on the wrong track.

.



Got it.

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Post January 29, 2010, 08:03:45 PM

45,086

I was born late in the evening of 08/5/45 which would have made it 08/6/45 in Japan, where I was stationed 20 years later.

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Post January 29, 2010, 08:29:30 PM

So speaking of Dune, I preferred the Dune Encyclopedia, which among other things included recipes for Fremen Bread.
I can see it now . . . an advertisement for some yet-to-be-written sci-fi epic:

" . . . order the stunning and critically acclaimed Starstung Trilogy today at your favorite bookstore! (Authorized Starstung Dictionary sold separately.)"

MUWAHAHAHA-HA-HA!

Really, I don't like the trend. Time was, that works of fiction almost never needed glossaries or dictionaries, because the book or story itself gave you everything you needed, within its context. Some of them needed a map, thoughtfully provided inside the cover at no additional charge. I think it's unkind and thoughtless -- and maybe even a symptom of laziness -- for a writer to force the reader to look up references in order to know who's who and what's going on.

Remember, "Easy reading is hard writing."

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Post January 30, 2010, 07:24:37 AM

A Starstung Dictionary by any other means...

Lester Curtis wrote:
So speaking of Dune, I preferred the Dune Encyclopedia, which among other things included recipes for Fremen Bread.
I can see it now . . . an advertisement for some yet-to-be-written sci-fi epic:

" . . . order the stunning and critically acclaimed Starstung Trilogy today at your favorite bookstore! (Authorized Starstung Dictionary sold separately.)"

MUWAHAHAHA-HA-HA!

Really, I don't like the trend. Time was, that works of fiction almost never needed glossaries or dictionaries, because the book or story itself gave you everything you needed, within its context. Some of them needed a map, thoughtfully provided inside the cover at no additional charge. I think it's unkind and thoughtless -- and maybe even a symptom of laziness -- for a writer to force the reader to look up references in order to know who's who and what's going on.

Remember, "Easy reading is hard writing."


For friendly discussion to improve Robert M's post count, I'm going to disagree here. Think of how complex our OWN culture is... and I haven't even been to Meshica! (Oops, better lay off the Saurian Brandy... JK)

I feel that was the point of the Trek TNG episode with "Shaka, when the walls fell". It's a form of fiction artificiality to magically make the remnants of culture too-easy. Perhaps Trek, Dr. Who, and your choice of another were the only series to get it right... to go so long, that *generations* of fans could grow up with the milieu, so the details ceased to be forbidding, and became mental playground of the mind. (Niven).

And what's wrong with making a buck? I said Wiki, you said item-for-sale. A Wiki emerges organically. And like the recipe for Fremen Bread (which was hopelessly NOT important to the story, hence my picking it), once we allow ourselves to stop worrying over copyright as obsessively and let each other play with our settings, we'll all have more fun.

To go with Hogan's novel, I wan'na see the spinoff story of Bobby S's adventures!

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Post January 31, 2010, 03:51:59 AM

Printer

P.S. I got my home printer working, so I don't have to wait until work to print an episode a week.
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Post January 31, 2010, 11:41:26 AM

Tolkien, Lotus. dBase and Microsoft

J. R. R. Tolkien provided hundreds of pages of appendices for the Lord of the Rings. (This was probably an improvement on, say, Melville's Moby Dick, which had whole chapters on whaling -- a practice carried on by John Norman in the later Gor novels (viz. Wagon People of Gor, etc.).)

Those of us old enough to remember the early days of personal computer software will recall the "Que" books that many used to figure out how to use Lotus 1-2-3 and other popular software -- because the manuals provided by the software publishers were unreadable.

Now we have Guides and Compendiums for every popular TV series or movie series, and "... for Dummies" and "Complete Idiot's Guides" for everything else.

In dodging the infodump bullet, we walked right into a pit full o' merchandising "sold separately" (insight not included).
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Post February 01, 2010, 09:56:43 AM

Appendices, FanFare and more

Right, Tolkien managed to set the bar on auxilliary material as well as the fiction itself. I never actually read the supplements, but their mere existence struck me as a young'un as the coolest thing since Homer popularized the sequel.

So per my earlier comment, I actually had the wrong word one time - it would have been interesting to have an InfoBloc as an appendix, which is author supplied.

But before actual wikis, I was thinking of Fandom. (I still think Galaxy Quest is close to the last word on that. Ya'Know, I really don't hear much about Olde School Fandom anymore - maybe its time has passed.)

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Post February 01, 2010, 11:31:24 PM

Re: 45,086

jbhogan22 wrote:....J. B.


P.S. I kept mistaking you for James P. Hogan.

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Post February 01, 2010, 11:37:30 PM

Re: Post-WWIII stories...

TaoPhoenix wrote:...
New topic. I am curious if J.B. has read the Post-War novel by Norman Spinrad with True Blue Lou & Sunshine Sue. That's the mood feeling I get.
(Now, A, I leave there for YOU to look up, but wait, that's the Net again... or I let y'all suffer in "I dunno man" misery...'Cause I'm too drunk on Ginweed to go fish it out of my collection.)


Having finally logged a second reason to rummage, I found this item in the stacks. (Noting that no one else did the web search first... and which would have completely sunk us before the web.)

"Songs From The Stars. "

As yet a third through JBH's tale, I now feel like it's a blend of Spinrad's book ... and of all things, Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth!

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Post February 02, 2010, 12:05:46 AM

Neither one

Tao,

I've never read either the Spinrad book or Battlefield Earth. My influences for New Columbia come from several different sources but not from these books. Actually, the individual sections of my book owe more to films than to books. Each major section of the book is actually my take/my version of a different type of film that I wanted to do my way.

The sci-fi writers that I really like are Heinlein (especially when I was young), Asimov, Herbert, and most of all Arthur C. Clarke. I don't believe my book much resembles any of theirs - at least I don't think so. They are all far more technical and gifted than I am.

J. B.

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Post February 02, 2010, 02:48:44 PM

Great Minds Alike

Hi JB.

Apparently Great Minds converge on some ideas then.

At about the half way mark I can't tell how wide your geographic area is. But presuming Toku equates somewhere to British Columbia and/or Yukon, you'd share a similarity with Spinrad that if there were a WWIII, and Decades of Sand, perhaps the Sierra Nevada and/or other mountain ranges would partially contain radiation, and the ocean exposure would clear a western belt first.

Toku/BimHills (Beverly Hills)/Meshica(Mexico) would be the same kind of vertical strip.

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Post February 05, 2010, 03:12:45 PM

Final Run

I plan to finish the tale this weekend.
Meanwhile, can the Hitchcock MacGuffin be a conceptual idea instead of an object? Here it was "The Rebellion", which in fact wiped out, and became two poor folks huddling in a cave, leaving the characters lurching without a purpose. (In fact, this happened in the Spinrad book too. )

Meanwhile, I'm not sure what I think about a device like that. Maybe it's fun about 5 times, but then it could feel like ripping off the reader.

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Post February 06, 2010, 12:23:16 PM

Finished

Nice little yarn.

Interesting how it goes easy on the high concept stuff. The whole tale is a giant chase event like some sort of cannonball run.

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