Jul 1, 2008

Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman

Alongside Night

Maybe I'm not enough of an economist to get this book, but good god. As far as I'm concerned, you could lock all copies of this one in the same underwater vault where I'd like to hide everything ever penned by Ayn Rand. If there is one thing I hate more than whiny libertarian characters, it's underage, endlessly noble, upperclass libertarian characters who believe in anarchocapitalistic revolution.

Seriously. The story was no great shakes. The protagonist bumped along, the sex interest was ideal in every way (she can fight! she can fuck! she believes in the ideals of open markets and hates taxation!), a few people died to make the reader feel that the economic revolution was justified, and so on. Blah blah blah. I got mine, screw you.

final thought: Not worth reading, not worth any further blogging about.

26 comments:

J. Neil Schulman said...

Dude,

I finished my first draft of Alongside Night in 1976, when I was only six years older than my lead characters. Pardon me for being white and the son of a concert violinist instead of black and the son of a street musician. But I did make my hero's teacher and the general in charge of the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre both black, my hero's best friend and his agorist uncle Jewish , and the head of the Agorist intelligence service Chinese --so there goes your implication that my book was somehow racist. Oh, yeah. I also made the chairman of the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre a woman. So my book wasn't sexist, either.

Why is Alongside Night worth reading three decades after it first went into print?

How about because the projections I had in the book of the future have been on the money? A European Union (I called it Eucomto) and a common currency (I called it the "eurofranc"; they call it the "euro"); street gangs running entire sections of major cities; inflation running rampant (you filled up a gas tank recently?); foreigners buying up American real estate and businesses.

I was on the money.

So if you can judge my creative output, tell me what of yours I can judge. Fair is fair. You have any published books? Made any movies? Won any awards?

Just checking. I always like to know the accomplishments of the people who feel themselves qualiied to go on the web and crap all over people who have actually done something to make a difference.

downtown guy said...

Whoa, there, bub. What, do you sit around all day responding to critiques of your work as soon as they are posted?

Where did I say word one about race? You need to learn to read for comprehension. And how does having a woman in a position of power not make your characterizations sexist? Go check out Heinlein - I love the guy, but he's a textbook example of how to write powerful women from a sexist base of thought. Heck, Lor might as well be a Heinlein female - beautiful, smart, devoted to her man, needing of protection in the end. Which isn't surprising, considering your connection to him.

You were on the money? Buddy, you were just extrapolating like the rest of the sf writers. I've read a lot of dystopian fiction, especially this year, and a good chunk of hit a lot closer to home than Alongside Night. Go check out some William Gibson, or even John Brunner if you want that '70s feel.

Fair is fair? What is this, The Legend of Billie Jean? You published a libertarian political discourse set as a novel. I read it and described my reaction. If you don't want critique, don't publish.

Look, your characters are two dimensional, your outcomes are unlikely, and your story telling bored me. I'm sure other paranoid libertarians love you, but to me you come across as something of a hack.

Also, editing your own wiki page to make it more positive? Oh, man, that's just funny.

J. Neil Schulman said...

I was working on Google when your prepackaged anti-libertarian screed against my novel showed up, and I decided to make you my son.

Pay attention. You might learn something if you can get over yourself.

The cover endorsement I got on Alongside Night was from Anthony Burgess, someone who should know something about dystopian fiction since A Clockwork Orange is considered as good as any ever written.

Since you can't tell the difference between the amount of blood, sweat, toil, and tears needed to write a publishable novel -- as compared to blogging a review of one -- here's what Anthony Burgess had to say about my novel:

"I received Alongside Night at noon today. It is now eight in the evening and I just finished it. I think I am entitled to some dinner now as I had no lunch. The unputdownability of the book ensured that. It is a remarkable and original story, and the picture it presents of an inflation- crippled America on the verge of revolution is all too acceptable. I wish, and so will many novelists, that I, or they, had thought of the idea first. A thrilling novel, crisply written, that fires the imagination as effectively as it stimulates the feelings."

Credibility score:

Anthony Burgess: 1
Anonymous Blogger: 0

downtown guy said...

Dude, the ability to write does not necessarily endow one with perfect taste in literature. Oh, no, Burgess and I don't like all the same dystopian fiction! Oh, the shame. Pft.

Since you can't tell the difference between the amount of blood, sweat, toil, and tears needed to write a publishable novel...

Look, you can spend two years sweating your ass off to build a house out of paperclips and popsicle sticks, but that doesn't make it a well built house. Effort does not automatically equal quality. Honestly, even with the awkwardness of the word "unputdownability", Burgess's little blurb there is better written than Alongside Night.

J. Neil Schulman said...

You have readers, too. They can be the jury.

Ms. Moon said...

OOOOHHHHH! I love it!

downtown guy said...

J: so far, it appears we're all fairly amused by your response.

Ms. Moon: I told you this was some funny shit!

white rabbit said...

Dear meeeeeeeeeeee.....

Temper! Temper!

Why didn't he just ask for your real name so he could use it for a character with double incontinence and breath that would drop a skunk at 100 yards instead. That's proper writer's revenge - not self-justifying polemics...

I got away lightly, didn't I? ;)

downtown guy said...

Maybe he thought he'd have a hard time working that into a book about how OJ was framed.

I got away lightly, didn't I? ;)

Well, you know, I actually enjoyed your novel. That's the difference.

J. Neil Schulman said...

Mr. Keogh,

When I read something from anyone describing himself as a "barrister" these days I tend to make sure I'm not being asked to process a check from Nigeria; but that aside, do you have an American cousin named Ethan Keogh? He played the action lead in the recent feature film I made, Lady Magdalene's.

Neil

white rabbit said...

J: You little feature film dropper, you....

No - we're not related as far as I know. Ian Fleming namd the Bond villain 'Blofeld' after someone (father of the great and glorious Henry Blofeld - okay, google him) who annoyed him.

Now that's the way to do it - not toys out of the pram left, right and centre...

ps - what does the J. stand for? Just asking...

Mr Pineapples said...

Hey J Neil Sherbet...do you wear a hat 24/7? If so..what about your hair?

Why are you lnking barristers with folks in Nigeria?

All of a sudden

Ms. Moon said...

Man, I wish I had his props. Really. I do.

Kylie said...

Ouch :)

Regarding Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange is one of my favourite novels, but that doesn't mean I would regard his opinion any more highly than that of a random person I met on the street.

It seems to me that Schulman is suffering from that terrible malady of thinking he is better than the rest of us (with the exception of Keogh) because he is a published author. Unfortunately for him that doesn't make his opinions any more 'right' than the rest of us.

I would be interested to know why Schulman decided to become a writer and get a book published? I should think authors would have to be thick-skinned because no matter how much one is lauded critically there will always be negative reviews.

Oh, and I loved the paperclip/popsicle stick analogy!

downtown guy said...

Pineapples: They don't have the Nigerian scam on your side of the pond?

J. Neil Schulman said...

The "J" is for "Joseph," my maternal-maternal great-grandfather, a Kabbalah scholar and Prohibition-era rumrunner. If you believe in genetic predispositions, probably explains a lot. :-)

The picture is actually the headshot my agent is using to try to get me acting work.

I became an author because some damn fool told me you could make a decent living that way. It's still true, if your surname happens to be King, Rowling, Brown, or Grisham.

In my circle, we tend to name our villains after the other writers we drink with. It's called "tuckerization," after the late great Wilson "Bob" Tucker.

I'm now convinced more than ever that O.J. Simpson did not commit the murders for which he was tried. But I am also convinced that the alternate scenarios I examined in my book on the subject have been set aside by one with enough physical evidence for an indictment and trial. Short of a willingness to spend his life in prison for the double murder, O.J. Simpson has done everything he can to keep the media focused on him, and only him, as the perp. From day one, O.J. framed himself to protect his oldest son, Jason.

The person who broke the case -- including recovering the murder weapon -- was Dallas detective William C. Dear, who first wrote a book on the subject and now has made a documentary titled The Overlooked Suspect. See the web page at http://www.theoverlookedsuspect.com/. The film won "Best Documentary" at the Backlot Film Festival this past April.

Kylie, if you want to know whether you need to have your appendix taken out, is the opinion of a "man on the street" of the same worth as a physician? If your car won't start, will an auto mechanic be better at getting it going than a random stranger? Who's better at judging whether a soufflee came out right, a sous chef or someone whose expertise is sticking a frozen dinner in a microwave oven?

Yes, Anthony Burgess's opinion is worth more than yours ... or mine, for that matter.

I once saw an exhibition of sumo at Madison Square Garden. All the wrestlers present held the title of grandmaster.

There was one grandmaster, however, who was able to clean the clocks of the rest of them without breaking a sweat. His name was Chiyonofuji Mitsugu.

Yes, Virginia, some men are better than others at what they do and that makes them more qualified than laymen to judge the work.

Anonymous said...

I think it speaks volumes about an author who would attack a small-time blog review within ONE HOUR of its posting.

J.Neil, Authors might once have been impressed with your writing.

But,what've you done recently besides our troll our friends blogs?

roboboy

Mr Pineapples said...

hey downtrod guy....yea they have that scam....

Ben R. said...

I believe the picture on "The World According to J. Neil Schulman" website says it all.

downtown guy said...

I figured. Those crazy scamming Nigerians.

Kylie said...

So if no-one else's opinion is worth anything (and I refer specifically to downtown guy here), why get so upset about his negative book review?

And comparing an appendectomy to a book review is a little ridiculous, isn't it?

For the record, if you want to be a successful author, it's probably not a good idea to insult the book-buying public. I would never get put off reading a book because of one bad book review, but I would certainly get put off by a book after seeing such comments directed to other readers.

J. Neil Schulman said...

roboboy said, "I think it speaks volumes about an author who would attack a small-time blog review within ONE HOUR of its posting."

Sorry, I didn't realize good manners require a decent interval.

"But, what've you done recently besides our troll our friends blogs?"

Made a movie.

Kylie said, "So if no-one else's opinion is worth anything (and I refer specifically to downtown guy here), why get so upset about his negative book review?"

For the same reason I'm answering you.

"And comparing an appendectomy to a book review is a little ridiculous, isn't it?"

Not at all. Both human bodies and books can have an appendix.

"For the record, if you want to be a successful author, it's probably not a good idea to insult the book-buying public. I would never get put off reading a book because of one bad book review, but I would certainly get put off by a book after seeing such comments directed to other readers."

Thanks for the advice for me to be more mercenary and less caring.

Mr Pineapples said...

hey it's Neil J Sherbet J

You got too much time on yo hands bro?

J. Neil Schulman said...

Mr.Pineapples,

No less than you, since we're both here.

Mr Pineapples said...

Oh me Gawd....Mr Sherbet.

Are you a wagg like Mr P?

Yes - you bleedin' well are a wagg. You are out-P-EEING the P

Listen me ole Sherbet:

P has not read your book - but P senses that it is a fine piece of work.

Keep up that good work and

Let's have your autograph

white rabbit said...

I'm beginning to find Mr P amusing...

Should I seek professional help?