Review No 4. of Unwrapped Sky

Recently I received a third review, which was fairly devastating, and I may yet share it. In the meantime, there’s been a fourth, lengthy review by bookaneer (Carly) over here.

Here are a couple of sections from it.

My favourite aspect of the book was the worldbuilding. The sheer breadth of imagination is staggering; the world is inhabited by minotaurs and sirens, by the fishlike Xsanthians, the peculiar Anlusian New-Men, and the skeletal and partially disembodied Elo-Talern. Within the city, the philosopher-assassins muse about the world and kill people on the side, while desperate factory workers risk invasion from the Other Side each time they invoke the thaumaturgical components. Life in Caeli-Amur may be brutal, but it remains one of the more habitable places in this harsh world. Mutant refugees flee the corrupted northern wastelands, the abandoned city of Caeli-Enas gleams from the depths of the oceans, and across the savage landscape lies Valentis, trapped in the iron grip of twelve pitiless sorcerers. Even the basic philosophies felt strange; the characters see their souls, their humanity, as a product of their memories, so losing memory becomes a kind of death.

What’s interesting, and something I guess I didn’t see when I wrote the book, is that there is a consistent criticism about the world-building. Here’s how the latest reviewer:

At the same time, the sheer breadth of the worldbuilding meant that details were necessarily a little scant. I would have liked to understand what made the three fields of thaumaturgy incompatible; in our world, any layman can explain in a sentence why relativity and quantum are contradictory, but all we are ever told about the fields is that they require incompatible worldviews and that crossing the streams is dangerous. I was also fascinated by the New-Men; I would love to know where they came from, what their goals are, and how these “new” people were created in the first place.

This is a fair criticism, I think. Part of those details will be in the second book. Others in the third. But I clearly wasn’t aware that I’d got the balance wrong for the first book. Of course, you don’t want to include too much information. It’s important to leave section not filled in, because this allows the free play of the imagination of the reader. A reader likes fragments of a puzzle which slowly come together. Seems I left just a few too many as fragments. But the feedback is really useful and will make me a better writer, I hope.

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