2. I'd like to talk for a minute about a problem plaguing modern sci-fi and fantasy fiction. Authors who feel that making up words = interesting and/or good writing. Randall Munroe from XKCD and I seem to be on the same page. The number of made up words is inversely proportional to how good we think the book is. (Disclaimer: I don't know Randall Munroe, I just wish I did...is that creepy?) This leads me to my second point: Anathem by Neal Stephenson has more made up words than I've seen in a book ever. Don't give me any of this "Tolkien maked up werds all the time!" Tolkien made up entire languages. Even if you didn't like the books you have to admit that's pretty awesome. Also, the languages were there because there were different races in Middle Earth.
In the foreword Mr. Stephenson explains to us that his story doesn't take place on Earth, but rather a planet very similar to earth. I imagine this is supposed to explain the proliferation of non-existent words. It didn't appease me. The new words didn't add anything to the story and most times detracted from it. Every page or so there was a dictionary entry defining the made-up language and every time I had to stop and read one I felt the story slipping away and it made me angry.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I didn't finish the book. Perhaps there's something utterly astounding and wonderful past page 75 or so, but I didn't have the patience to go wading for it. The entirety of what I read felt like I was slogging through waist-deep muck. Don't get me wrong here; I don't mind a tough read. I like a challenge every now and again. Tolkien (again) has always been a tough, thought-provoking read for me and I love The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (The Silmarillion, however, not so much). Anathem wasn't difficult because it was thought provoking. It was difficult because (to me) it was pretentious.
That's all about that.
Happy election day, folks!