I’m currently reading Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. It’s a somewhat interesting, yet disappointing, read. The interesting bit is because of the subject matter. It’s about 16th century scientists and philosophers Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. And others, of course. I have no idea how historically accurate the book is.
But here’s what I can tell you. It is absolutely not necessary to put every single ounce of research into a novel. And having parts of the book in the present tense and other parts in the past tense doesn’t work all that well, although, really, it’s the present tense bit that doesn’t work at all. And infodumps, even when in the form of letters, are still boring infodumps. And vicious editing to cut the deadwood is so absolutely essential to make a better story. And having a point to a story really does help move things along.
I wish Neal had learned those things cuz, I gotta tell you, from Quicksilver, it’s absolutely obvious that he didn’t.
The only reason I’m still reading, despite the awkward kludginess and boring bits, is because of the subject matter, and that’s completely separate from his fairly awful style in this book.