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  #1  
Old 01 September 2016, 03:54 PM
Jusenkyo no Pikachu Jusenkyo no Pikachu is offline
 
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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
Jusenkyo no Pikachu Jusenkyo no Pikachu is offline
 
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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
Jusenkyo no Pikachu Jusenkyo no Pikachu is offline
 
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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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Old 29 August 2018, 01:43 PM
Jusenkyo no Pikachu Jusenkyo no Pikachu is offline
 
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I bought Empress Theresa a while back.

For those who don’t know it...here’s a taste:

Quote:
I’m Theresa, the younger daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Sullivan, and I hope it’s not bragging to say I was cute as heck at age ten. Everybody in the family said so. I was the princess in the Sullivan clan of Framingham, Massachusetts because besides being cute I was a whiz in school and had a good disposition. All the relatives expected great things from me. Nobody could have dreamed of what I would do a few years later, and nobody would have believed it if they’d been told. Prime Minister Blair said I’d still be remembered in a million years.
So modest too! The book only gets weirder, with Theresa (who isn’t an empress) encountering an alien life form that gives her strange and totes awesome powers, renting 2001 for no reason and naming the alien “HAL” (the book addresses that bizarre choice).

Oh, and she gets hit by a car and loses the use of her legs. Because that’s more plausible than falling from a tree in this day and age.
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Old 29 August 2018, 01:51 PM
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Missing in Michigan by April A Taylor. Not bad paranormal mystery, until the heroine discovers what is going on and that really makes you go "um... WHAT?!!" I'll spoil the mystery behind the kidnappings and Bigfoot sightings if you want.
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Old 30 August 2018, 04:29 AM
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I went to the "Really Bad Books" thread that Richard W linked to and I saw thorny locust's post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Is this supposed to be only books that are terribly written, or is it also supposed to be books that are terrible for what they say?

If the latter, I'd like to nominate Heinlein's Podkayne of Mars.

If the former, I still have something I'd like to nominate, except that unfortunately I can recall neither the author nor the titles. It's a fantasy series that may or may not still be around, but seemed, judging by the size and number of the books, to be popular a while back. I picked a couple of them up (at library or yard sale, so at least I didn't waste significant money on them) to try them, at which point I discovered that the author was of the school of thought that says the way to write Fantasy is to use lots of Long Obscure Words.

Which is bad enough in itself; but even more unfortunately he'd missed the part about Look Them Up In The Dictionary First. I recognized some, and then started looking up others, and sure enough: he was making no sense whatsoever.

ETA: I rather liked Go Set a Watchman. I'm a bit puzzled, however, that in all the reviews going on about Atticus being a racist, nobody seemed to have noticed that Scout is too. She's shocked by Atticus' version, yes; but she agrees with most of his arguments, though she disagrees about the conclusions to be made from them.
Could that fantasy series be Stephen R. Donaldson's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant? I do not recall that he used words incorrectly, but he wrote as though he had eaten a thesaurus for lunch.

Last edited by Karl; 30 August 2018 at 04:36 AM. Reason: ETA: Added text to ask what the series was and to italicize the title.
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Old 30 August 2018, 10:50 AM
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I thought I'd read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, but when I found Stephen Donaldson on my shelf just now I realised it was actually his Mordant's Need series that I'd read (two volumes). It just has "By the author of Thomas Covenant" on the cover almost as prominently as the actual name of the series.

I didn't find it that easy to get on with or enjoyable at the time either, as I was actively looking for fantasy I liked back then, and if I had, I'd have read a lot more. I had wondered why I don't remember some of the other problematic aspects of Thomas Covenant that people sometimes talk about though (something to do with a rape scene, I gather?)

My own earlier post is annoying me as well, because I got the definition of "palaver" a bit wrong too:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
...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.
A palaver is something that's much trickier or more complicated than you expected it to be. If you go to try to arrange something expecting it to take 10 minutes and it really takes 4 hours and you have to speak to 15 different people and go away to get evidence and convince people with conflicting ideas, then you might say at some point "what a palaver!". So "to-do" has an overlapping meaning, and it could certainly involve some argy-bargy or having a ruckus, but my definition above implies it's a fight, when it's not. But it still doesn't mean "parley"!
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Old 30 August 2018, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl View Post
Could that fantasy series be Stephen R. Donaldson's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant? I do not recall that he used words incorrectly, but he wrote as though he had eaten a thesaurus for lunch.
Not sure, but I don't think so. I haven't read the series [ETA, at least, I don't think so; I read so much I forget a lot of stuff]; but I went and looked up a few quotes, and, while I'm not wild about the style, I'm not seeing the strange and incorrect word usage I was complaining about. It's possible it just didn't show up in a few short quotes; but I remember it as being very frequent -- I wouldn't have been nearly as annoyed about just a few words over the length of a book. And it was the improper use, not just the use of unusual words, that was annoying me.
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Old 01 September 2018, 02:41 PM
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When I worked in a public library I came across a lot of books that were bad, some probably laughably bad, but the worst IMO were the ones penned by Ann Coulter. Laughably bad but horrible too. And sad that she has (had? is she still relevant to anyone?) an audience who eats her stuff up.
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Old 01 September 2018, 03:23 PM
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I remember reading an Ann Coulter book back when I was still a conservative.

I thought she was a nutjob then.
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Old 04 September 2018, 02:10 PM
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At first, I thought his books were good, but I've gotten to the conclusion that Terry Goodkind's later Sword of Truth novels were laughably bad....

because it seems to me that it's always repeating the same pattern. Somebody/something causes Kahlan to vanish. Somebody/something ensnares Richard. Richard breaks the rules and wins! Hurrah!

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