Hello, Don’tRead Faithful! I’m starting a new feature on the site–I wanna do more indie titles, so I thought I’d devote some Wednesdays. sure, it’s not a great rhyme, or alliterative, but you try coming up with a catchy Indie-themed title!
(By reading the above statement, you hereby waive all rights to any catchy, Indie-themed title you may think up and said rights and title become the property of J Ensis and DontReadBooks, Inc.)
Th3 5cr1ptl1ng5 (or The Scriptlings to those of us who don’t 5p34k L337) is billed as a “lovechild” of Magic and Science, and it is very apparent (and mentioned in the author’s bio) that it is an homage to famous comedy sci-fi/fantasy writers as Terry Pratchett, Monty Python, and Douglas Adams.
It’s basically about how magic is similar to computer programming. This is a pretty high concept for people unfamiliar with computer code, but you’ll be fine as long as you suspend that disbelief.
Why I Picked It Up
I was initially drawn to the cover and the title, as both were evocative and original. A ‘Scriptling’ could be just about any damned thing and I kinda wanted to know what it was. I did not actually notice the L3375p34k title until I began to write this review, however.
What I Like About It
The best thing about Scriptlings so far is the voice–I could sense the influence of Adams from the first paragraph. The humor of his writing is often imitated, but rarely have I found it so successfully done. This book is funny and quirky in the droll way of Adams and Pratchett. There’s even footnotes for fans of the many many found in Pratchett’s Good Omens.
The manuscript is also very clean–no typos did I find–which helps the humor greatly.
I’d have to say the thing I like best about it is how Suciu starts his world-building on page one. We’re set in contemporary Canada, but there’s this underlying magic world that’s different from those we’ve seen before, yet still comfortingly familiar.
What Could Be Better
For starters, there’s nothing at stake.
The humor is droll–spot on even–and it’s the only thing that’s keeping me reading at this point. Modern fiction is all about the ‘in-medias-res’ of the plot–getting the action of the story going from page one–because that’s how you keep people engaged. I feel Suciu could have injected a little more plot into his early pages.
A comparison to Adams is, again, inevitable (because the author chose to compare himself) so I urge you to recall that while Adams was amusing us with his witty observations about Arthur Dent’s boring morning, he was ALSO building tension by showing us the encroaching bulldozers ready to tear Arthur’s house down.
Because the sample is so short we get two brief glimpses into our main character’s psyches, but not enough time to connect with either of them. The sample ends in an abrupt cliffhanger, with just a HINT that there could be a plot, but we don’t get any sense of what’s gonna happen next.
Cliffhangers work best when you give people clues about what’s gonna happen next, then withholding the result until you buy the book, or you tune in to next week’s episode, or what have you.
This works because people can guess and they want to see if they’ve guessed right.
Also, the fact that we’ve not yet bonded with our characters doesn’t help the cliffhanger’s efficacy.
But the WORST thing about this book–UNFORGIVABLE–is, hands down, that it’s not available on the Nook!
In case you weren’t aware, I own a Nook.
Sure, you can buy a paper copy at B&N’s website, but I want an ebook, dammit!
It is available in print and for the
GLORIOUS KINDLE MASTER RACE Kindle.
Anyway, I hope it comes out on Nook soon, cause I don’t wanna wait for my print copy in the mail. I might see if it’s out on shelves tonight and update.
*UPDATE – An exploration of Suciu’s website revealed this title is available on Smashwords, so if you have some computer skills, you can get this book on your Nook. I have rescinded my judgement, and now ruled Suciu’s “Nook Overlook” sin forgivable.
If you’ve read, or wanted to read (or written) Th3 5cr1ptl1ng5, give a shoutout in the comments!