Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Location Scout Mysteries: An Interim Report

A while back, Janiece asked if Jeffery Deaver's Location Scout Mysteries got the film business right. I read Hell's Kitchen, but there was really little film business involved, so I wasn't able to answer that question. What he did put in was mostly not good, and I think he researched NYC in Cleveland. You can read about that here.

I also promised to read Shallow Graves, the first book in the series where presumably there would be more movie insider stuff. Guys, I'm 26 pages in and I'm not sure Jeffery Deaver has ever actually seen a movie. Yup, 26 pages in and he's gotten one thing right and a bunch of things wrong.

I'll wait until I finish the thing to post in detail, but I don't think its going to be pretty.


Jeff Hentosz said...

Actually, I think it will be pretty ... hilarious! I hope you're keeping a list of the bass-ackwardness — this reviewing being one of my favorites of the many public services you provide.*

* I'm surprised you don't qualify for some type of federal funding.

Nathan said...

I was making a note of every mistake, but I stopped in favor of the most egregious "I don't know WTF I'm writing about" instances. I assure you there will be enough fodder remaining.

I'll warn you, however. This might take a few days. I read slower when I hate.

John the Scientist said...

I think this ought to be a UCF regular feature - Jim and Janiece will rip apart military themed books, MWT and I'll do the science ones.

"Write what you know" has become "write what other people don't know".

Nathan said...

Are there enough "behind the scenes of movies" genre books out there to make this a recurring theme? And I allowed time off to recover from self-inflicted injuries brought on by reading them all?

John the Scientist said...

Oh, we can rotate this so that it's a once- a month thing and none of us is on the hook more than once a quarter. Three months enough tiome to recover?

I'm just about to rip into the guy who wrote "The Serpent and the Rainbow" becuase of an interview in "Discover" magazine.

Jeff Hentosz said...

You could also branch off into movies about movies, e.g., Singing in the Rain, The Stuntman, State and Main, etc. Much more ore in that mine, I should think.

Janiece said...

Poor Deaver. I'm sorry I brought it up.


Nathan said...

Its o.k. Janiece. Every once in a while, I need to suffer for my rant.

Tania said...

Would you please add "I read slower when I hate" to your list of quotes on the side? Please?

Random Michelle K said...

Someone can start with one of my least favorite books: Jurassic Park.

I can rant about Michael Crichton for HOURS.

And then there was the mystery series where a secondary character, a teacher, had the time and money to TAKE A MONTH OF LEAVE in the middle of the school year.

MWT said...

Hmm... at the moment I'm going through a pile of books by authors recommended to me, and as it turns out they're pretty good, so ... unfortunately not much to rant about. I just got done with Old Man's War - I could attempt a nitpick of it if anyone really wants? ;)

(Next up is American Gods by Neil Gaiman...)

Nathan said...


Done and Thank You.


Careful which nits you pick with OMW. Most times I've read reviews with complaints, they regarded things that become clear in the later books.

I enjoyed American Gods a lot.

John the Scientist said...

I've got a few nits about OMW - mostly about then portrayal of nanotech.

Nathan said...

Pick away, John.

Most of that stuff is beyond me, so I wouldn't mind hearing about it from someone who understands it. I have no idea how good Scalzi's science is, but the stories IMHO are some of the most enjoyable SF coming out these days. It is, as he's said himself, accessible.

MWT said...

Well, my biggest nit to pick would be that it doesn't actually have an ending. And it isn't so much a story as it is a string of events that just kind of stop after a while. Being as strongly plot-focused as I am, I found that a bit annoying.

On the other hand, I'm apparently incapable of writing endings to my own stories, so maybe I should try that too - just sort of trail off after 300 pages...

Nathan said...

Well, my biggest nit to pick would be that it doesn't actually have an ending.

I won't claim to have any encyclopedic Scalzi fanboy knowledge of his books, but I read OMW twice and don't recall feeling cheated of an ending. I was, of course, aware that there was "more to come", but I felt like it had an ending. I'm too lazy to dig it out and have another look, but if you want to remind me how it ended (or didn't), I'm open to be convinced.

For everyone else reading past this comment. I am hereby authorizing huuuuuge spoilers. If you haven't read Old Man's War, you've been warned.

MWT said...

Well, it all started when he joined the CDF. Then he got a new body and made a bunch of friends. Then there was a series of "middle" style events wherein he kept going to different planets with different enemy aliens on them that he had to kill. And he kept getting promoted each time. And he met Jane during those excursions. Then there was more of the going to different planets thing, albeit revisiting two races previously introduced this time. Then he and Jane went their separate ways and he got command of a platoon. And that's where it ended (or more accurately, stopped).

That's a series of events, not a single tightly plotted storyline. Granted they were very entertaining events for the most part. But everything didn't all wrap back up and tie into each other in a true ending (which Scalzi is also perfectly capable of doing, because he did it with Agent to the Stars).

Correct me if I'm wrong, but he wasn't originally planning to write a trilogy when he put this up on the web for all to see.

Nathan said...

I'm fairly certain that ATTS is the one he put up for free and that OMW was the first book contracted. I'm also fairly sure I've seen that he always envisioned it as book one of a trilogy.

I did feel like it ended just fine. On the one hand, the "series of events" did two things in my view.

1. You learned a bit more about the character in each chapter as he began to know more about himself...and his doubts.

2. I didn't feel like any of these "series of events" happened in a vacuum (no pun intended). Other characters wove in and out. Previous events had new light cast on them.

Lastly, I clearly understood that there were questions raised (or hinted at) that would be addressed in later books.

I have a feeling you'll be more satisfied with The Ghost Brigades. It probably has a more solid ending if that's what you're looking for.

MWT said...

Both were put up on the Web. Agent to the Stars made a bunch of money, and he was going to do the same with OMW but then PNH saw it and made an offer and so he took it down again almost immediately.

And yeah, I'll probably be getting the rest of the series as they come out in paperback.

John the Scientist said...

Nanotech: the robots that move out and form the parachute from space.

Problem 1: Nanobots are nano-sized. If it exists on a nano-scale, it moves at nano speeds. It would take longer htan the free fall to get a nano-sized bug from a backpack to the top of the forming chute. That's also the reason why Crichton's grey goo can't exist in the virulent form he potrayed. Possibly tou could accelerate faster, but it would take a lot of energy. Where is that stored? In a nanobot? Or on the soldier?

Problem 2: Nanobots in concert. The bots would have to hold on to each other via chemical bonds in order to keep the cute from ripping them back into component bots under the air pressure in the chute. Where does THAT energy come from? And how fast can those bonds form?

Nanotech: The rifle ammo. Same problems. They switch ammo types on demand. Where does the energy come from to do that. transforming matter takes a lot of energy. Also, how fast can you switch ammo types? Individual molecules undergo reactions rapidly. Bulk matter? Not so much.

When he's talking about astronomy, he's pretty good (at least he knew what a Lagrange point was, but then he wrote an amateur astronomy book), but other stuff is sketchier.

Nathan said...


It may make me an irredeemable doofus, but I choose to overlook such problems with imagined "future-tech" (where I have the science to have a problem at all). Who's to say nanobots won't achieve the ability to move in nanoseconds. Who's to say they haven't discovered some way to draw power from distant starlight? These aren't (as far as I know), imagined tech that defy any known, laws, just tech that takes advantage of stuff we don't know yet.

I'm surely not as critical of a reader as you are, simply because I don't have the science, but isn't every SF book that includes any FTL travel breaking known laws? Is that bad science or imagining currently unknowable tech? Where do you draw the line?

And should there be SF for folks (like you) who know better and other SF for the likes of me, who willingly suck up whatever fantasy is thrown out there?