20 November, 2012

What's the Deal With... This Quote, It's Just So Bad

I was going through my books, as I'm want to do every now and then (alas, I'm just a kid with his toys), and I came across my copy of The Ghost Brigades, the sequel to Old Man's War by John Scalzi. Sadly, I still have yet to read it, but I couldn't help but laugh at this quote on the back of the book...

Says the Dallas Morning News:
"If Stephen King were to try his hand at science fiction, he'd be lucky to be half as entertaining as John Scalzi."
Wow, where to begin?

First off, "If" Stephen King wrote science fiction? I'm pretty sure I could make a compelling argument that ALL he writes is some type of science fiction, but at least we can agree on The Running Man, The Long Walk, The Dark Tower, THE STAND, even The Tommyknockers and I haven't even touched his short stories. I'm sure plenty have a much stricter definition of science fiction than I do, but even so, something of King's would probably fit.

Wikipedia, bastion of wisdom that it is, literally says, "Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction!, and fantasy." (emphasis and exclamation mark added)

Sadly, if you know anything at all about science fiction, you immediately discern that the Dallas Morning News knows nothing about it. Whoever wrote it went, "well, I know Stephen King writes lots of stuff..." ...and that's about the extent to which this person thought through this comparison.

I'm not quite sure what they're going for either, but I think it's that Scalzi is a pretty hilarious writer and entertaining in a comical way, which Stephen King does not attempt to be at least as far as I've experienced...so that doesn't quite fit either. They're like night and day comparisons here.

I'm also sure that whoever included the quote on the back of the book thought, "well the quote does positively compare the author to Stephen King, so that obligates us to put it on the book."

This reminds me I need to read more Scalzi, but probably not for any possible connection to Stephen King. :)


Anonymous said...

Plus, Stephen King can actually write dialogue and three-dimensional characters, a feat that Scalzi - despite all the hype - has yet to learn.

He writes fun space adventures, sure, but even daring to compare him to a master storyteller such as Stephen King seems like an insult!

Bryce L. said...

I can't say I've read enough Scalzi to make those claims, but I also can't say I haven't heard those complaints before either. :)

Unknown said...

Of Scalzi's back catalogue I've only read Redshirts, and I enjoyed it an awful lot - meanwhile I'm a paid-up member of the Stephen King defense force - but you're quite right, Bryce: this cover quote is a stretch. King seems to have become a byword for popularity in genre - plus he's a household name - and much as it pains me to say, simply suggesting Scalzi and he are in the least alike probably does drive sales.

Also, King can too do comedy: see 11/22/63. Granted it's a different sort of comedy than Scalzi's self-aware shenanigans.... but still. There are many forms of funny. :)

Bryce L. said...

Hi Niall, how's it going! :) I'm glad you agree, I thought this was really bad, but you know it helped a sale or two. It's almost as bad as comparing Lord of the Rings to EVERYTHING remotely fantasy.

I should really give 11/22/63 a read seeing as I'd love to see some King comedy.