The first of my rules is to break all the rules, but there is one I follow. I don’t read plot synopses or other kinds of descriptions placed by a publisher on the back cover of a book or a download website. This is for two reasons. One, the narrative of a book is linear by nature. The author decides to build up readers’ knowledge about the created world, characters and the story in a specific order and it’s been designed in this way for a reason. Being aware of what's behind the corner usually spoils the pleasure of finding out by ourselves. Exactly like getting to know a man, in the biblical sense. Taking his pants off during the first conversation may speed up the whole thing but both men and books are created for slowly delighting in them. If the cover lured you into a trap, in both cases you’ll find out sooner rather than later. BTW, it would be interesting to research if in the world there are more badly-written books or badly-written men. So far, I got more dissappointment from the latter, but maybe it's just personal experience.
Anyway. The other reason I don’t read plot synopses is, that unlike a man, usually it's enough to read a couple of the opening pages as this tells me more about the book and if it's worth my time to read than a synposis does. (Unlike books, men are terribly expensive. And unlike books at OpenBooks.com, which you pay for after you finish with them, unfortunately, men require an unsecure investment a priori). In the case of “The Benevolence Archives”, I knew how I felt after the first paragraph. It’s not long so I dare to quote it as a whole:
I have a bad feeling about this, the gnome thought.
The saloon had a bad reputation, but precious little on this backwards shithole of a planet was thought of highly. The only thing that Kratuul was known to export was exotic fevers and several deep-space-capable varieties of mold; there was indigenous life that had been rumored to have reached sentience, but having met several of the locals he was unconvinced.
An intelligent sense of humour is the best implementation of intelligence and the only valuable kind of humour. If I was sapiosexual, after a couple of sentences like the ones above I would have taken my briefs off, so maybe it's better that I'm not. But this is just the beginning of the delight provided by the author's art-of-words excellence. In real life it’s great personality that makes people speak in a brilliant way. In books, it's brilliant speaking that builds up great personalities. In “The Benevolence Archives”, even Namey, the spaceship’s AI, has an awesome personality:
THEY’RE POWERING UP WEAPONS, the boat’s AI said into Brazel’s ear.
"No way," Brazel said. "I could never have guessed. I figured they just detunneled us to show off a new paint job." RECEIVING A COMMUNICATION FROM THE BLOCKSHIP, Namey said.
SHALL I TELL THEM TO FUCK OFF? I LOVE DOING THAT.
Well, the two main characters - one of them big, one of them small, one better in getting what he wants using muscle, the other with words, one better as a pilot, the other as a gunsman, but both very, very smart and very, very cool bad-asses - pleased me more with their long-years-best-friends-and-partners dialogues than by their fast and furious combats (which are still impressive though.) I’ll tell you no more about them, their jobs and their adventures, for you have to find out for yourself. Another of my rare rules is "do as you would be done by", both with books and men, so I won’t spoil your pleasure by revealing what's behind the corner.
And one more thing. Those who recognize the first sentence quoted above are of my tribe, so I won’t name it. Those who aren’t, and aren’t allergic to Sci-Fi, will enjoy “The Benevolence Archives” anyway. Those who are allergic to Sci-Fi should also try it, probably to find out that for years they’ve been making their lives miserable by abstaining from chocolate when it was only the brown colour they were sensitised to. If you are a Sci-Fi lover and know such people, send them a copy of “The Benevolence Archives” eBook as a cure. At OpenBooks, it’s legal and encouraged. And infecting others with our madnesses is such a nice thing to do anyway.
And the second more thing. The only way to get valuable quality of what we do is to love what we do. I mean that loving books is imperative (although by itself not sufficient) for writing good books. Luther Siler is apparently a great booklover, if he made one of his characters a heavy bookaddict too. At one of the missions the guys are expecting the worst and prepare themselves to meet a person who could end their story. And suddenly they’re led into a library:
And, judging from the smell, most of the books were printed on actual paper, and not the thin polymer sheets that most of the physical books still available were created from. There were thousands of books.
"Uh... Grond?" Brazel said. "Stay with me, buddy. We still don't actually know what's going on here, right?"
"Don't care anymore," Grond said. He picked a book off the shelf and leafed through it, leaning in and inhaling the scent of the pages. "She can kill us both so long as she gives me a couple of hours in here first. She can kill you whenever, actually.