Tor Books and James David … The Happy Meeting of the Low of Brow
Review of Thunder of Time by James F. David
As truly mediocre writers go, James David is at the top of his field. He’s never met a modifier he couldn’t dangle; conjunctions and punctuation have no truck with one another in his world; and the difference between adverbs and adjectives is the kind of nit-picking he just doesn’t have time for.
That pairs of characters stop for a moment—as their colleagues and friends are being devoured by velociraptors all around them—to “kiss deeply and promise never again to part” doesn’t strike David as a plotting problem. Nor does he shy away from giving his non-white characters “ethnic” speech and embarrassingly stereotyped behaviors, and his ability to write convincing dialogue is right up there with … well, no, actually, he doesn’t have the ability to write convincing dialogue. What’s more, he knows just enough science to be dangerous (if you happen to know any more than him, this book will be a torture and it’d be better if you left it alone).
In short, he’s a typical Tor writer. For all its apparent success as a supplier of genre fiction, Tor apparently doesn’t waste its money on editors. On the positive side, at least you always know what you’re getting with Tor’s thriller/sci-fi offerings—mega-action; abundant, gratuitous splatter; and prose in which the universe is often multidimensional but the characters never are. All of that said, I must grudgingly admit that most of Thunder of Time is a very fun ride (though David pretty much pulls the ending out of his butt)—good beach or before-bed reading, in particular, or at other periods in which your attention level is low enough that a lot of the foolishness just rolls off.
I like books like that and—given the amount of stress we live with every day—at times I even need them. So good for David and good for Tor. I remain unclear why being a genre writer requires an author to treat the English language as though he were a T. rex and English were a medium-sized herbivore, but that’s a mystery I’m apparently going to have to take to the grave.