Previous Entry | Next Entry

"Ray of Light", by Brad Torgersen

buzz
A couple of extracts from this Hugo-nominated novelette for your enjoyment. At one point our narrator writes of:
...risking my life and the old sub to chase a wild hair through the vast, dark ocean.
This would be a jarring enough metaphor if "hare" had been spelt correctly, as a waterlogged animal would not get very far once submerged in the vast dark ocean. With the incorrect spelling of "hair", the entire sentence is nonsensical.

Later on, when we first encounter the ray of light of the title of the story, it appears thus:
...there was a gloaming light in the very far distance. Only, gloaming wasn't the right word.
Indeed it wasn't; "gloaming" is not an adjective, but a noun which means "twilight", often more specifically "dusk". The narrator / the author may have meant "dim" or "gleaming".

This one will not be at the top of my ballot paper.

Tags:

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
katlinel
May. 24th, 2012 12:09 pm (UTC)
Isn't that the kind of thing that an editor is supposed to help with/fix? Both could be typos, easy to make, harder to spot in one's own work, but shouldn't really be in the published work.

I still gently seethe about the Arrow reprint of Heyer's The Talisman Ring which has one of the characters use "sulking around" in place of "skulking around". I checked the earlier Pan edition and it was definitely "skulking" in that. Heyer would have been infuriated by such errors.
nwhyte
May. 24th, 2012 12:16 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. Only the first half of the story is online, but it includes the "wild hair" quote. Poor show by Analog's editors.
yiskah
May. 24th, 2012 01:03 pm (UTC)
I still gently seethe about some grammatical mistakes that appeared in my second book, and which were introduced by the editor. I asked for them to be removed when going over the proofs, but they stayed in.

...hmm, OK, 'gently' seethe isn't quite the right description here!
katlinel
May. 24th, 2012 02:20 pm (UTC)
No, 'gently seethe' not appropriate here. I imagine there to be screaming and stabbing with forks.

Poor show by your editor too. Bah.
jeriendhal
May. 24th, 2012 12:34 pm (UTC)
Ouch. My own prose may be a lovely shade of beige, but at least I avoid mistakes like that.
yiskah
May. 24th, 2012 01:01 pm (UTC)
Only, gloaming wasn't the right word.

Pahahahaha! That actually made me laugh out loud at the laziness. Too right it isn't the right word, Author.
tchernabyelo
May. 24th, 2012 02:05 pm (UTC)
Ah, I had wondered (having seen those tweets) whose work you were gently skewering.

It does beggar belief that the "hair" line (believe me, it's incredibly easy to type a homonym like that, I do it all the time) got past critique and editing.

The gloaming line, though... yeah, that's just bad handling of narration.
flexor
May. 25th, 2012 07:17 am (UTC)
Damn you, Autocorrect. Damn you to Hull!
(Anonymous)
May. 25th, 2012 01:12 pm (UTC)
Actually 'wild hair' is a correct expression for a 'wild notion' or 'silly impulse' or 'foolish project' or such. It's not meant to be taken literally, though there might be a sort of pun in 'chasing a wild hair through'.

'Gloaming' might have suggested the wrong color of light, but there's nothing wrong with using a noun as a modifier, as in 'dawn light' or 'morning light'.
nwhyte
May. 25th, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
Actually 'wild hair' is a correct expression for a 'wild notion' or 'silly impulse' or 'foolish project' or such. It's not meant to be taken literally, though there might be a sort of pun in 'chasing a wild hair through'.

The correct expression that you refer to is to "get a wild hair", and it means, as you say, to have a sudden and perhaps silly impulse. That is not relevant here. Our poor narrator is pursuing his vagabond daughter - not a sudden and perhaps silly impulse, but the most natural thing in the world.

Once you are "chasing", however, it clearly has to be the animal that you are chasing. The point about wild hares, as opposed to hairs, is that they run fast and are difficult to catch. That is the narrator's problem with his daughter; she has got away fast and will be difficult to catch.

Of course it's not meant to be taken literally; that is exactly my point - the metaphor is clumsy and ill-constructed. And I don't see what possible pun there could be in "chasing a wild hair through".

'Gloaming' might have suggested the wrong color of light, but there's nothing wrong with using a noun as a modifier, as in 'dawn light' or 'morning light'.

The colour of the light doesn't come into it; it is not mentioned anywhere.

Ironically, it turns out that the light actually is dawn, so if we allow "gloaming" as a possible modifier of "light" here, the narrator is right first time and wrong to correct himself.

But, while "gloaming" could perhaps just about work as a modifier of "light" or even "the light", it doesn't work with "a light", especially not "a light in the very far distance", which is a very specific light in a specified place. The light coming from the overall sky condition could be "gloaming". A particular light in the distance cannot.

Edited at 2012-05-25 04:15 pm (UTC)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

April 2014
S M T W T F S
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930   

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by yoksel