Sunday, September 6, 2009
I recently reread Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghost military SF Series. This is a rightly highly praised collection that has sold extremely well.
A couple of things struck me when I was trying to deconstruct the books to see why I liked them so much. Here are my thoughts in no particular order.
1. The pages crackle with high energy. The reader is taken on a breathless ride. Something is always happening.
2. The line-by-line is remarkably simple and clear. The writing never gets in the way of the story. The author never tries to show how clever he is at the expense of the reader.
3. The plots are essentially very straightforward. The action is not lost in complexities of chance or motivation.
4. There is an interesting cast of characters who spark off each other. You care about the protagonists.
5. There is no deeper message than the essential truths of people acting under pressure. The author does not try to force you to buy into his personal conspiracy theories.
6. Each book has a different theme - trench warfare, haunted house, siege, insurgency etc. This refreshes the interaction between the characters and their responses to situations. You are not reading the same book a dozen times.
OK, I am sure I have missed some points. Can you suggest other characteristics of a great action story? How much do you agree with my analysis, or not?