Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Michael Laurits is: Drowning

Title: Michael Laurits is: Drowning
Author: Paul Cornell
Published: Eclipse Two, 2008
Genre: Science fiction, short story

Rating: 6/10

Thoughts: I have to get this off my chest first: this story is hard to read. The names feel awkward: Laurits, Lief, Nofke. There's also a lot of tongue twisting and just plain awkward phrasing. But in the midst of all that there is some interesting Douglas Adams style humour -- warring Atheist coalitions entering a minor war over whether an arrival of a messiah would change their views. Unfortunately, the funny background didn't have much to do with the rest of the story in which Michael Laurits while drowning manages to transfer his consciousness into a social network. The story has some interesting ideas, but it fails in execution and the ending feels off. Worth reading just for the one paragraph dealing with warring Atheist terrorists though.


  1. It is interesting how unpronounceable, or hard to pronounce, names can really detract from a story. Honestly, on more than one occasion, I have read a synopsis of a story and the character names have put me off to the point where I won't even pick up the book. I'm sure I've missed some great stories that way, but I don't want a character name to distract me every time I see the name on a page.

  2. I am the same way too. Especially with longer books, it is very frustrating if you have keep thinking about the character's name. That should really not be the focus while reading. Though I really enjoy cleverly named characters whose names are an extension of their role in the book.

  3. One of the few places I can recall where this wasn't so much of an issue was in reading The Silmarillion, but perhaps that is because I had watched LOTR films enough and read the pronunciation guide in the books enough to have a more clear understanding about what the names should sound like. And Tolkien, as a linguist, really didn't create a lot of 'stick to the roof of your mouth' names.