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Erastes [userpic]

and don’t get me started on Mr & Mrs Mary Sue.

May 4th, 2015 (04:33 pm)

I’m finding it harder and harder to read The Outlander series. Those who follow my Tweets (which, with the depression has been the only way I’m managing to cling onto communication with the outside world) will have noticed that the books have been making me grind my teeth. It is becoming a bit of a chore to read it, which is rare for me. For my sins, I’m a finisher, I’ll struggle on!

The book seems to be interspersed thusly:

1. cute verbiage between Mr & Mrs M. Sue which sometimes includes errors.

2. research errors

3. sex (I skip these so if there are errors there I don’t see ‘em)

4. some kind of peril which generally includes errors.

The actual story is JUST about dragging me along in its wake; It’s certainly not the kind of book that makes it a “can’t go to sleep yet until I get past this bit-page turner fascination type of thing. It’s all gone a bit dull as they loaf around in France attempting to change history (seriously, have they not heard of Paradoxes?)(surprises me, they seem to know EVERYTHING else from Latin to cypher breaking to eidetic memory knowledge of herbology)

But because of the catalogue of research errors** I’ve found SO FAR (I’m a quarter of the way through book 2), I find myself doubting every single fact that’s thrown up on the page. And that’s partly because the way she throws out “research” is so unsubtle that it stands out like a sore thumb and I find myself hitting the Browser button to check her facts:

Here’s a classic example, which had the steam coming out of my ears last night.

The bed itself was an oasis of warmth and comfort, equipped with goose-down quilts, huge fluffy pillows, and Jamie, faithfully putting out British Thermal Units like an electric storage heater.

The thing is, that sentence could have easily been described without the reference to 20th century technology – and Gabaldon probably thought she was being Oh So Clever and Anglophile by including a “British” referent.

But as she’s put in 20th century references to remind us that Claire is a child out of time WHY THE HELL didn’t she check her references? Granted, the internet wasn’t around when she wrote Dragonfly in Amber (I assume, don’t know the precise writing date, but heard that Outlander was written 20 years ago) but if you aren’t sure of a fact then don’t bloody put it in.

British Thermal Units, despite the name, is more of an American scale of heat. The British never fancied it for some reason and we use the Calorie as our unit. PLUS – STORAGE HEATERS???? They weren’t implemented into domestic homes until the 60s….

It’s (almost) excusable if there was no internet, although I don’t excuse it, because pre-internet editors should have caught many of these errors—I recall with grateful thanks and respect the grilling my editor at Running Press gave me over many many many of my facts in TRANSGRESSIONS. It seems to me that the editors of the Outlander series just accepted that anything Gabaldon wrote must be fact and that doesn’t say much for them. What I don’t understand though, is why these books haven’t been tidied up and re-edited?

It would certainly save me some enamel on my teeth.

I’ll TRY not to whine about the book any more. Although I can’t promise!


**SOME of the errors found so far.

Wolves in Scotland in 1743? Nope. The last wolf was recorded killed in 1680.
Claire compares many things to chipmunks. Where would she have seen a chipmunk?
They travel from Scotland “across the channel” in about 3 hours to France. I think she forgot an entire country was in the way!
Additionally, their friend “ferries” wines and spirits across “the channel” from Scotland. Sigh.

So many more, modern euphemisms such as “do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dollars” which is more wrong than I can be bothered to say


Posted by: Plutonian #2 (moreteadk)
Posted at: May 4th, 2015 04:23 pm (UTC)

That sounds so bad even I would have noticed. Is it perhaps an alternative universe in which England is Scotland and vice versa? Or in which the Scottish conquered the rest of the British Isles so that the rest of the world has trouble distinguishing between what's Scottish and what's British?

As always, wonderful to hear from you whenever you feel like it. :)

Posted by: Erastes (erastes)
Posted at: May 5th, 2015 07:58 am (UTC)

If she had claimed it as AU I would have happily swallowed most of it (save the distance thing!) but I checked out her FAQ page and she positively boasts about how assiduous her research was. (muffled chortling from the Norfolk corner)

Good to hear from you, too, my dear, how's things? still rosy?

Posted by: Plutonian #2 (moreteadk)
Posted at: May 6th, 2015 03:51 pm (UTC)

I'm doing well, thanks. Have taken up cross stitch. I finished the Christmas tree rug, but as it turns out I'm not finished with stitching as an activity. Attempting to grow some primulas and pansies for pots on the terrace, but finding it rather tries my patience. Takes way too long to do anything. Cats are healthy, we're healthy, various family members are healthy. Yeah, we're doing well enough. :)

Posted by: Karen (cerisaye)
Posted at: May 4th, 2015 10:44 pm (UTC)
Brent C head in hand

I became so annoyed by the series I threw in the towel after Book 3, not so much for historical accuracy and technical details just kept wanting to throttle Jamie and Claire, and they were too obviously written by an American! I then read 2 of the Lord John books out of curiosity but they had the same effect. Watched the first episode of the TV adaptation and decided not to bother with that either. I hope the Scottish tourist industry does well out of it, as at least they filmed here.

Posted by: Erastes (erastes)
Posted at: May 5th, 2015 07:55 am (UTC)

Yes! What made me laugh was her page where she said how the english and scottish idiom came naturally to her. "only to an american!" i thought to myself.

the series isn't half as bad, actually, the Sueness is toned down at least, i actually quite like tv claire whereas i could throttle book claire.

Posted by: Quiet desperation (lexin)
Posted at: May 4th, 2015 11:00 pm (UTC)

The only books by Gabaldon that I can stand to read are the ones centred on Lord John Grey. The Outlander books do nothing for me at all, other than to annoy me for the reasons that you give.

Posted by: Gaedhal (gaedhal)
Posted at: May 5th, 2015 05:35 am (UTC)
GaleLowFidelityPool (pfodge)

I enjoy the Lord Grey books, too, but I stopped the other series about halfway
through "Voyager."

Posted by: Erastes (erastes)
Posted at: May 5th, 2015 07:57 am (UTC)

I read the LJ books a few years ago and agree with you both, I liked them a lot more than Outlander - although it was sad that poor John never got a break in his love life.

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