Review: Unexpected Alliances

Unexpected Alliances (M.R. LaScola; Two Harbors Press) is, alas, a horrible example of why the absence of editorial gatekeepers in indie publishing can be a bad thing.

Here’s a clue: if you see nothing wrong with a near-future first-contact scene in which the commander of an armada of 30,000 starships many light years from Earth introduces herself as Nancy Hartley from the planet Ultron, you shouldn’t be writing SF.

The relatively short portion of the book I managed to read before I gave up also featured talking dragons and 7-foot-tall nonhuman aliens who casually interbreed with humans. The prose reads like something a bright 9-year-old might write. It’s a sort of pile of glittery SF and fantasy fripperies quoted with absolutely no regard to whether they make any sense, or even any sense that they ought to make sense.

It’s a brave new world. Anyone can publish. Sometimes they shouldn’t.

14 thoughts on “Review: Unexpected Alliances

  1. And there was even a third-party editor involved: http://triciaparkercommunications.com/writingandeditingsamples/

    Note to aspiring writers: it’s good that you recognize you need an editor. It’s much better if your editor has some knowledge of the domain in which you are working.

    “It’s a brave new world. Anyone can publish. Sometimes they shouldn’t.”

    *Most* times they shouldn’t.

  2. If I ran across a book that started this way, I would assume that it was going to be a parody.

  3. Oh, *Nancy* Hartley, of the *Ultron* Hartleys. How was your trip? How are the dragons?

  4. Eric, I’m a relatively recent follower of your blog (only a year or two)…. what has spurred the burst of book reviews? I’m not complaining, in fact I’ve picked up a few books (knowing some to be flawed but worth some time anyway) based on them. Just wondering. Plus you’re blowing through a book or two per day.

  5. > the commander of an armada of 30,000 starships many light years from Earth introduces herself as Nancy Hartley from the planet Ultron, you shouldn’t be writing SF.

    Maybe it’s the output of an automated translator trying to match Terran culture? I’ve seen things just as strange from Google Translate, after all.

  6. Any tile verrans mentioned in the book? That would be a good flag to wave indicating the stance the author is writing from.

    Alternatively, is this perhaps an entry in the SF Turing test?

  7. @esr: “>Any tile verrans mentioned in the book?

    Nope. What are those things?”

    Cousins of vile Terrans, I should think.

  8. @esr

    “Nope. What are those things?”

    Ah, me misremembering the prose of a Retief story. The term vile terry is a popular Groaci term for Terrans. My memory has at least one Groaci operative transposing the first letter of each word. That may be the case, but Google isn’t backing me up on that.

  9. To paraphrase Noel Coward:

    “Don’t put your writings on the page, M. R. Lascola;
    Don’t put your writings on the page!
    The shelves are overcrowded;
    The market’s pretty tough;
    And though you can type
    And write your own hype,
    That isn’t quite enough!
    You can spell well,
    And though you’ve worked hard on your plot
    Your hero’s the sort of idi-ot
    Who gives me fits of rage.
    I insist, M. R. Lascola, desist, M. R. Lascola;
    Don’t put your writings on the page!”

  10. > tile verran

    Just “Verran” in “Pime Doesn’t Cray.

    “It grates me pleazh givver, as I was saying, to tray pibute to my escolled teamleague, Amblunder Grossbaster, by ungaling the Verran tift to the palion Squeeple!”

    Laumer probably had a lot of fun making up different pidgins for different aliens.

    I first read the Retief stories as a child, and thought the administrative woes of the CDT were funny. That was before I put in years working for organizations even more dysfunctional than the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne….

  11. @TRX,

    That’s it! Actually the narrative is from a member of the indiginous species impersonating the Groaci diplomat Shith:

    “Let’s hear you do Shinth.”
    “Lessee: To joil in your own booses, tile Verry… How’s that?”

    Thanks for tracking that down.

    Anyhow, I guess Unexpected Alliances doesn’t give you the feeling of sharing an inside joke with the author?

  12. >Anyhow, I guess Unexpected Alliances doesn’t give you the feeling of sharing an inside joke with the author?

    Er, no. Stunned amazement at the awfulness is more like it.

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