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  #1  
Old 01 September 2016, 03:54 PM
Jusenkyo no Pikachu Jusenkyo no Pikachu is online now
 
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Default Laughably bad books

I see there aren't any threads with zero replies here, so new thread!

The only one on my mind now isn't really anything more than "mediocre", although I do have some Amanda McKittrick Ros that I should get into.

That book is Project Mc2, a novelization of a mediocre Netflix miniseries. I give it props for trying to cultivate girls' interest in STEM fields and having Danica McKellar, but the plot is just too laughable even for a kids show. Even more annoying is the repeated attempts to show they are "down" with the target group (in the book, this extends to the chapter headings being abbreviations that are explained in the footnotes).

(Just so we're all on the same page here: The story is about a teen superspy named McKeyla McAlister who is assigned to a small town to protect a prince who is going on a space flight. Along the way, she meets up with chemistry enthusiast/budding chef Adrienne Attoms, young hacker Bryden Bandweth and teen MacGyver Camryn Coyle. Yes, the irritating alliteration is lampshaded--it's the best we could get for a Pythagoras reference.)

Actually, as I was writing that above paragraph, I thought of another novelization that counts: High School Musical. This one's so out-there that they list the lyrics for the songs, even when the songs are not diegetic. And then they go the extra mile and say Zeke's singing ("Stick to the Status Quo") without mentioning what he sings. It should be noted that the rest of the books don't actually cover the songs, and only mention them when they are diegetic (they don't even bother naming "Humuhumunukunukuapua'a").
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Old 01 September 2016, 04:12 PM
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You forgot to mention the highly symbolic names (the chemist is named atoms, the hacker bandwidth).

For me, it would have to be Out of the Dark by David Weber. Normally a good writer, he fails on this one. It starts out to be a fairly standard "conquest of Earth by aliens goes badly" story. The aliens decide to obliterate humans with a bioweapon as they see that conquest would be too difficult. Their plans go awry when vampires turn out to be real (including Vlad the Impaler) and have even more magic powers than in classic mythology.
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Old 01 September 2016, 09:03 PM
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There was a Really Bad Books thread recently which might cover a lot of the same ground, although I guess "laughably bad" does keep out the classics that people just don't get on with...

So far as I remember, the only consensus reached was that Piers Antony was probably a good place to start looking.
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Old 01 September 2016, 09:47 PM
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The thing about Piers is that he's not bad in a funny way, he's bad in a "I can't unsee that and don't ever let this guy be alone with a teenage girl" way.
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Old 02 September 2016, 12:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
You forgot to mention the highly symbolic names (the chemist is named atoms, the hacker bandwidth).
The miniseries never calls attention to that.
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Old 10 January 2018, 01:59 AM
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I've read the first three books in the EJ12: Girl Hero series. The series is about a ten-year-old girl named Emma Jacks who is secretly a spy for an agency called SHINE. This agency goes up against an agency known as SHADOW, who are out to do evil environmental things that rely on easily-decipherable codes. Oh, and the technology used can decompose, which as each book reminds us, is useful but results in farts.
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Old 10 January 2018, 02:11 PM
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I may get hate mail for this, but I submit the original Gunslinger book by Stephen King. I had always been a King fan, but I was unpleasantly surprised at how bad the descriptions and situations were. I don't have the book with me, but I recall descriptions such as the townspeople wandering around like "pallid balls with eyes". I also didn't understand actions such as Roland executing an entire town and his 'relations' with Sylvia. The parrot Zoltan also seemed rather random. The violence seemed to commonplace and casual for me to understand or appreciate. I was also turned off by the way people spoke, like "Thankee-sai", without much explanation or connotation.

I had read the book quite some years ago, and it put me off reading the rest of the series, until one day I picked up a later book in the series when I was in need of reading material. I was quickly hooked and enjoyed the rest of the series. Even though they had odd ways of speaking and mannerisms, I was much more easily able to understand it in context. I then reread the first book and was repulsed by it once more.

I've heard that the revised version is much better, but I haven't read it. I was going to chalk this book's awkwardness up to a novice writer, but it's not clear to me if King wrote the manuscript early and set it aside or if it was after hits such as Carrie.
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Old 10 January 2018, 04:56 PM
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I remember trying to read the first Gunslinger novel when I was in high school and being bored enough that I didn't finish it, which was spectacularly out of character for me back then.
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Old 10 January 2018, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom View Post
I may get hate mail for this, but I submit the original Gunslinger book by Stephen King. ...

I've heard that the revised version is much better, but I haven't read it. I was going to chalk this book's awkwardness up to a novice writer, but it's not clear to me if King wrote the manuscript early and set it aside or if it was after hits such as Carrie.
I actually mentioned that in the earlier thread, so I'm not going to send you hate mail! I've not read the original, only the revised version, but here's the relevant part of my post from the other one:

Quote:
Also - and this is not an example, but I think it may once have been - I'm currently reading the first volume of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger. My edition is the rewritten one from 2003, with forewords that King wrote after he got hit by the van and decided he needed to get on and finish the series, and it's certainly not a bad book in the sense of this thread - I'm enjoying it. But everything I heard about the first volume of the series back in the eighties and nineties was that it was weird, hard to read, disconnected from the others and that you kind of needed to slog through it and get to the second one before you could appreciate the story. And the things King describes rewriting suggest (reading between the lines a bit) that he'd realised it had a lot of problems, he originally wrote it when he was still learning to be a good writer but might have been aiming too hard for "literature", and he cut out a lot of pretentious, overblown nonsense - as well as streamlining it and adding more foreshadowing and connections to the longer story.

I can see enough parts that he left in that suggest what he might have cut out - for example, the gunslinger uses Cockney slang in places, but uses it wrongly. He uses "gob" to mean "eye" when it means "mouth", and is constantly using "palaver" as though it means the same as "parley", when in fact it means a to-do, perhaps an argy-bargy or a bit of a ruckus.

Of course there's no reason for these words to mean the same thing in the story's universe as they do in English, but it's like King picked them for "colour" without quite understanding what they meant. Like if an English writer wanted an exotic word to describe a fried-egg sandwich and decided on "grits". That would be annoying to people from parts of the USA no matter how often you might try to say "but grits are fried-egg sandwiches in this world!" (I'm not quite sure what grits are, but I know they're not fried-egg sandwiches). Or like the way George RR Martin seems to think that a rasher of bacon is a side of bacon, perhaps... maybe in the USA "rasher" is an uncommon word for "a large, indeterminate amount of bacon", but in the UK it's a common word with a specific meaning that's different from the one Martin uses, and I get the impression that Martin is using it because he thinks it's an unusual word that sounds suitably historic, rather than because it actually means something different in the USA.

Anyway, the rewritten Gunslinger is a pretty decent read so far, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, but I can see that in its original version I might have thought it was terrible.
(And even the rewritten one has its problems. The series as a whole is a good read but I'm still not sure he quite managed what he was aiming for.)
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Old 10 January 2018, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom View Post
I may get hate mail for this, but I submit the original Gunslinger book by Stephen King....
As you've seen, you aren't getting hate mail for not liking a particular Stephen King novel. Have not read The Gunslinger, I can't comment on that one. I can, however, include Cujo. Terrible novel. I use it as an example of a movie that's better than the book (not that the movie was great cinima).
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Old 10 January 2018, 05:36 PM
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I personally loved The Gunslinger. One thing to note is that they were originally published as five different stories, published in a magazine (I think the Magazine of Fantasy and Sci-Fi, but it could have been Playboy). It took him a long time to write, and the first story was written before he had published anything. The things you mention, Phantom, are all in that first story.

I have a few hilariously bad books, but I won't mention one of them because a relative wrote it. It was Pulitzer Prize winning in comparison to the worst I've ever read. That one is called .1.1.1. Living Nightmares, by Alucard Longshanks (yes, that is seriously the pseudonym he went with). This is a book of "true" stories of things that happened at various workplaces, mostly one I worked at. There was a lot of information that was wrong, a lot of stuff that only served to hurt people that were still working there, and a bunch of bizarre, why would anyone care stuff. But the worst part was the writing itself. It was written by committee of "Longshanks" and a number of his friends over the course of a day and a lot of drinks, then submitted to Amazon self publishing without an editor. I cannot really get across just how bad the writing is.

Last edited by Darth Credence; 10 January 2018 at 05:37 PM. Reason: ETA - I read it well before his accident, so it was the original.
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Old 10 January 2018, 05:36 PM
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One "non-fiction" book that I found laughably bad, but just had to finish, was The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time by Preston B. Nichols and Peter Moon. I actually bought it at a bookstore that hosted discussion groups about the alleged incidents therein, with - IIRC - authors and original participants.

Not only did the book expect you to blindly accept the (discredited) legend of the Philadelphia Experiment, it was poorly written and told in a confusingly non-linear fashion that helped to hide the many instances of bad logic and incorrect history.
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