28 September 2013

The Land of Meh: Rethinking the Skolian Saga, Catherine Asaro

Follow-up to Primary Inversion
With the leaves on the verge of turning, the squirrels on a full-scale deployment to bury as many nuts as possible and me keening over the colour "grey", I have slipped into the land of meh.  You know that land, the one at which everything is fine but fine never is fine enough. Over the past months, my gleeful boasting of discovering new authors, with long catalogues of works to sift through have drastically, and depressingly fallen apart. It feels as if I was captured in a magic reading bubble that once having read, blogged, and subsequently proclaimed amazing, popped as soon as I reached out for the book two or three or book four. As with songs, there seems to be a trend for one hit wonders in the SF world which in turn leads to massive sales and acclaim for a series that in truth should be re-evaluated and proclaimed, meh.

It is best to be truthful from the get go, the Skolian Saga is falling to pieces around me. I know, I know this is the same universe that brought Primary Inversion which I still stand behind as a must read. But as the more books I put on hold through the library, and then eventually sign-out, take home, read, and return I am left with the desire to read more of them hoping to uncover that what so impressed me with the first read from Asaro's works. Unsure at who is at fault, the author or myself, I spent the last two months plowing through the saga, feeling rather bored and rather annoyed. So what is the problem, or is there a problem at all. Maybe it is fall, or maybe it is me or maybe the world is not perfect and not all writers are Herbert


what's with the cheese-ball cover?
All the elements that make Primary Inversion such an enjoyment becomes trite after book 3. Asaro's story-telling is a redundancy of romantic ideals, sexual exploitation and fairy tale plot twists that worked only the first time. There are parts to the Skolian Saga that deserve acclaim:  the Juggernauts, the conception of inversion,  the archaic quality to the Ruby Dynasty. However world-building is complex and what I am discovering is some authors who pour their creativity into this type of SF are writing beyond their capabilities. 


Asaro's strength lies within the world of science. She has that wonderful knack and mind to express laws, theories and hypotheses to support her ideas. Rather than taking on the universe the books would be better if Asaro honed in on smaller scenarios, less grand scale visions which subsequently would result in a more intimate and true expression of the world she is trying to develop. The Skolian Saga becomes less of a space operatic adventure and more a tale of disconnected ruling families, and wealth that feel less SF and more romantic in genre.