Posts Tagged ‘timothy zahn’

Yep, I finally got the second post up at Tome Raider about meeting Timothy Zahn. Tomorrow, I’ll have some content here. But for now, head on over to the other blog and check out my moment of glory.

Timothy Zahn 077

Huttah. I remembered, AND I posted there when I said I would. Granted it was late, and I was tired and so it was in the wee hours of Friday night, but I did post. ::Pats self on back::


Timothy Zahn 076

Timothy Zahn 077

Click on  either  picture to see exactly how this happened. The signing of the book, I mean, not the slightly blurry photograph of his signature on the inside of my mass market paperback edition of The Icarus Hunt (still an all time favorite)

Night Train to Rigel

One of the things that I had promised myself (and those following the blog) that I would do, is restart/resuscitate Tome Raider. And, so this day, I have. Click on the picture here to get taken to my review of Night Train to Rigel and then stay tuned this  Friday (January 11th) for a really cool post about Timothy Zahn and the night that I met him.

This is the part of reviewing books that I absolutely love; introducing authors  that write extremely.  I discovered Timothy Zahn on my own, during a despondent wander through the science-fiction section of the local library. I picked up his book  The Icarus Hunt and glared at the flashy cover with its odd-looking space ship and raised letters in gold. “Timothy Zahn, New York Times Best Selling Author” was written in white under a blurb about another of his works on the front cover. I nearly put it back on the shelf, I’d been so disgusted with other books that had been on the NYT’s best sellers list.

I flipped the book over, and read the back cover. Jordan McKell and his troubles didn’t seem like your normal space novel. In fact, it reminded me vaguely of The Maltese Falcon.  I moved over to one of the over stuffed blue chairs  on the opitsite side of the library’s sci-fi shelves, and began to read. An hour later, I came back to myself with a start. The library was closing. Red cheeked, I grabbed my purse and fled before the librarian turning off the lights to the check out desk.  I remember how  my heart leaped in my chest as carried the book to the car, smelling the slightly sweet paper pages and marveling at how immersed I’d been in so short a time.  I stayed up past one in the morning, reading. I couldn’t stop. It was better than the best movie.  I saw Jordan McKell, and I liked him, despite his desperately trying to make sure that I didn’t.

I immediately took to Pix and Pax an Ixel, too. I was rooting for them, even when they turned out to be drug runners for a mafia like character. I still liked them. And then my imagination kicked over in excitement. What Jordan said he was, and how he acted, didn’t make sense. Something was up. I began anticipating  where the plot was going. Sometimes I guessed right, and sometimes I guessed wrong. Mainly I guessed right. That was because of the skillful clue planting Zahn did. I began to enjoy the writer/reader partnership consciously. I was playing a game, an exhilarating game, with someone who was a master of their craft.   He dropped phases like “The sky to sunward was gaudy”* into the book as well, making sci-fi  poetic and I’d never seen anyone do that before.

The Icarus Hunt   was the first book of Timothy Zahn’s that I read, but it certainly wasn’t the last.  I picked up  Night Train to Rigel the day it released at my local Barnes & Noble  and like The Icarus Hunt, I read it in a handful or hours. It was the kind of read I wanted to slow down, to make it last longer, and at the same time, was so amazing, I couldn’t pause, not for one moment.

My review of “Night Train to Rigel” is up on thechristianmanifesto  so go and buy your copy or reserve it at the library first. Then go read what I have to say about it, and get ready for one rip-roaring thrill ride that will keep you up later than you planned and pull you so deep into another universe, you might get locked in at the library.

*Chapter 2, page 22 in The Icarus Hunt.

And while you’re at it, you’ll want to pick up this one too.

What books caught your imagination and drew you in so deeply  you were up till three in the morning, or spent the night in the library? Let me know in the comments, I’m always on the prowl for another fantastic read!

I’ve been thinking about this for a while,  but the reason that I’m writing about it is a customer at work challenged me to write about it.  We were talking about Patrick of Ireland and she said that she was delighted by what I told her, and equally delighted by my desire to share my admiration of him.

That segued into a discussion of heroes. We talked about that for some time (I work in a bookstore so this kind of conversation isn’t unusual) and when I mentioned I had started a blog for my thoughts, she encouraged me to write down some of what I had said to her.

So you’re stuck with my thoughts/mini-rant on heroes, readers and writers.

I’ll come out right here and tell you that I have stopped reading books and even stopped reading the work of an author who randomly kills off a hero, or makes a hero into a villain.  The same applies to television shows.  I stopped watching Castle because of what they did to one hero on the show. The writers thought it would be a good idea in the season finale resolve, to reveal that one of the main characters  was corrupt and doing  things “off sides” that made him as guilty as the bad guy the team had hunted all  the previous season. Then they killed off the character, barely letting them redeem themselves.

The sense of shock was visceral.   So was the reaction. They lost me as a viewer.

Why did I react so strongly?   Because I’d been betrayed, along with the other characters.  He hadn’t, until that moment, been portrayed as anything but a  ‘white hat’.  Some will argue that is just “good writing” to evoke that level of reaction. I would counter by pointing out that running over my foot with a car also will provoke a level of reaction on my part, but I wouldn’t say the person behind the wheels had good driving skills.

It’s fine to provoke thought and reaction in a reader. It’s good to do so, but you don’t need to betray them to do that.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got on writing, came from author Timothy Zahn. He said  this at a book signing I was fortunate to attend in November 2006 :  Never forget that the reader and the writer enter into a partnership the moment a book is opened.

He’s so right. One brings the words and their story, the other brings their intelligence and experience.  The writer trusts the reader will stick through the tale until the end, the reader trusts that the writer is going to have something worth saying hidden within the words.

When the writers of Castle decided to make one of the ‘white hats’ a villain, they broke one of the unspoken rules of my partnership with them. Essentially, they lied. They let me think that a  villain, was a white hat. That’s what hurt so badly. And they let me think it for nearly two years. I genuinely liked the character, and had absolutely no idea that there was anything nefarious about them.

And now, for the soap-box part of this post.


Don’t lie to your readers.  You can fool them, and surprise them, but do it within the bounds of the partnership and  in the right way.

  • If you’re going to throw a twist, give a hint.
  • If you’re going to kill off a  main character, have a really good reason for doing so.
  • Stay true to the archetype of your character
  • Don’t write something solely for the sake of provoking a reaction in your reader.
  • Deliver at the end of the story what you promised at the beginning of it.

Do these things, respect your partner and keep them safe, and they’ll be with you for a long, long time.

I promise.

Encourage one another, Scribes.