I use this blog as a soap box to preach (ahem... to talk :-) about subjects that interest me.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Authors' Mistakes #28 - Peter James

The blurb on the back cover of Peter James's Perfect People defines it the perfect thriller.  But I found out, as I almost always do, that a reasonably interesting story was marred by editing errors.  Not too many, but enough to annoy me (but then, I am very easily annoyed...)

# Page Description
1 2 "The deck drops away beneath him, then moment later is rising, pressing up on his feet like an elevator floor, heaving his stomach up against his rib cage".  It seems that neither James nor the book's editors have any notion of Physics.  And they have never taken a fast elevator either.  When an elevator quickly accelerates upwards or quickly stops its descent, its floor needs to exercise an increased upward pressure on the sole of your feet, which, in turn, transfer that pressure to the rest of your body.  When your pelvis pushes upwards against your internal organs in order to make it go faster upwards or slower downwards, you actually feel as if your stomach were pushed down!  It is when you quickly stop an upward movement or quickly start a downward movement that your stomach, so to speak, hits your throat.  But in that case, your feet, rather than being pushed up, might actually come off the floor.
2 16/17 The first page of a document is marked "Page 1 of 16", but after showing it to Naomi, Dr Dettore states that the document contains "another sixteen pages".  Well, are they 16 or 17?
3 140 "Just as silently as they had surfaced and struck, the Disciple of the Third Millenium seem to have faded back into ether".  Grammar mistake: "seemed" should replace "seem".
4 242 John reads and sends emails from his computer and plays chess with Gus in Brisbane, but, according to James, "he didn't leave the computer online either here or at the office".  James must know that computers can communicate with the rest of the world only when they are online.  He probably meant to say that John switched off the computer or disconnected it from the network when he wasn't there.  But it is an example of very sloppy writing.
5 263 "John, she was accusing you and I of being responsible".  Please!  Is this how we are supposed to talk nowadays?  Do we also say "she will kill I" and "she saw I?"
6 283 Phoebe was writing a Word document on her computer.  Her mother, to stop her, "walked over to the wall and yanked the plug out".  Yeah.  The problem is that Phoebe's computer was a laptop.  Laptops have batteries, don't they?
7 290 "Was this her way telling them".  The "of" between "way" and "telling" is missing.  Or do people speak like that?
8 415 While in Rome, "He walked over to the window.  It was a huge, heavy old sash, double-glazed".  Well, I lived in Rome for longer than 30 years and then visited it several times, staying in several hotels.  I can testify that sash windows, new or old, do not exist in Rome.  Actually, I never saw one in Italy.  Perhaps some Americans or British living there import them to feel at home, but I doubt it.  And in Rome I never saw a double-glazed window either.
9 416 "You have a reservation on Alitalia flight 1050 to Dubai".  But Alitalia flies (and has always flown) to Abu Dhabi, not Dubai.
10 426 "...into another elevator.  John's stomach dropped [this is right].  Then, moments later, the floor pressed up against his feet".  Again the feet pressed up?  James and the editor seem convinced than this is what happens when an upward elevator stops...

To top it off, the prose was not fluid at all.  It was quirky and dry.  It was not a pleasure to read it.

For your reference, here are the links to all past “Authors’ Mistakes” articles:
Lee Child: Die Trying
Colin Forbes: Double Jeopardy
Akiva Goldsman: Lost in Space
Vince Flynn: Extreme Measures
Máire Messenger Davies & Nick Mosdell: Practical Research Methods for Media and Cultural Studies
Michael Crichton & Richard Preston: Micro
Lee Child: The Visitor
Graham Tattersall: Geekspeak
Graham Tattersall: Geekspeak (addendum)
Donna Leon: A Noble Radiance
007 Tomorrow Never Dies
Vince Flynn: American Assassin
Brian Green: The Fabric of the Cosmos
John Stack: Master of Rome
Dean Crawford: Apocalypse
Daniel Silva: The Fallen Angel
Tom Clancy: Locked On
Peter David: After Earth
Douglas Preston: Impact
Brian Christian: The Most Human Human
Donna Leon: Fatal Remedies
Sidney Sheldon: Tell Me Your Dreams
David Baldacci: Zero Day
Sidney Sheldon: The Doomsday Conspiracy
CSI Miami
Christopher L. Bennett: Make Hub, Not War
CSI Miami #2 (Robert Hornak)
Jack Greene & Alessandro Massignani

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