Friday, March 9, 2007

Congratulations, Mack Maloney

OK, so I'm still sick, and although I still have some writing to do, I thought I'd take a break for a couple of hours and read something for a change. I started rooting through my bookshelf and came up with...

Starhawk, Book 2: Planet America, by Mack Maloney.

I don't know why I grabbed this book. I remember reading it the first time, and finding it awful. For that matter, I have read the first two books in this series, and they are both awful. But when I saw it on my bookshelf, I felt the perverse urge to read it again.

Yeah. It's still awful.

I won't go into detail on the plot (I'm sure some of you out there have read it), but it's a meandering, nonsensical science fiction/adventure novel with a ludicrous premise and the most inane dialogue and characters I've ever found in a work of fiction. From the amnesiac fighter pilot Hawk Hunter, who has built a faster-than-light F-16 out of thin air, to Pater Tomm, this book reads like it was written by throwing words in a hat and drawing them out one by one. Seriously. It's reminiscent of those creative writing exercises you used to do in high school and college, where the instructor would give you a list of words that had nothing to do with each other and you had to write a story or poem focusing on those words and tying them together.

After reading the first few chapters again, I decided to check this writer out and see what else he's done and how his books have been reviewed. This guy has written and published almost thirty books! He wrote the Wingman series, the Chopper Ops series, the Superhawks series, and the Starhawk series. The only one of these that I've had a brush with is Starhawk, the one I've been talking about today.

I just couldn't grasp how the person who wrote this complete dog of a book I'd been reading could have published thirty novels. Again, the only ones I've had the pleasure of reading are the first two Starhawk books. Perhaps his others are more noteworthy. I decided to look up some reviews.

And what did I find? The Starhawk books... these books that I found nearly unreadable, and almost laughable in content... got four and five stars in every review I could find! Even the only reviewer I found that had bad things to say (childish writing style... unbelievable or just plain wrong science... lack of talent...) said that the books were interesting and engaging!

Am I just missing something here? Or is this maybe one of those sub-genre things that you'll either like or hate, like my brother's favorite Mack Bolan series of books? Is this a case of a writer having found his niche, or am I just a big loser for not liking these books?

Honestly, I really don't like saying negative things about other people's work. That's why I don't really review books very often. Oh, if I feel strongly about something, I'll toss up a bad review somewhere, and I suppose I can get pretty caustic. (You should read some of my old reviews on Kryptonsite about Chuck Austen's run on Action Comics... Yowza!) But these Starhawk books are just BAD, in my opinion, and yet they receive almost universal praise!

I have to give Maloney his due, though. Whether I think his books are bad or not, he's gotten publishers to buy almost thirty of them. He's built the kind of writing career I can only wish for. According to his website, he began writing in 1984 and has been writing full time for a living since 1987. He's obviously doing something right; targeting the right editors, hitting the right niche market, appealing to a specific yet broad range of fans, something. He appears to have over a million copies of his books in print, and he's still writing and selling his work to publishers. Kudos to you, Mack Maloney, on having the life I want.

But man, I don't like your books.

Someday I hope someone writes a post just like this about my books. While I may find Maloney's books awful, a LOT of people out there obviously love them. One person's opinion doesn't make a book bad, and if someone ever writes a review like this about me, it will mean I've done what Maloney has done. Made a career out of writing novels.

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