Monthly Archives: August 2013

Damn Wizards, Bleeping Gods, and Serial Cosiderations

I have a wizard problem.

I’m wary of using wizards too often in my projects. For regular readers of this blog, you’ll be familiar with these sentiments. I’m not fond of returning to the same subject, or subjects, over and over again. While exempting themes, this discomfort reaches to the level of genre. I don’t want to be limited to one genre or one set of settings/ magic user/ etc.

To criticize myself (for a bit), yes there are many types of wizards I can use. There are the traditional ceremonial magician (on it), the wise (wo)man in either village or castle, the quasi scientist, mundane but for magic, or a practical super human (like in Fairy Tail). Perhaps I can use different kinds of wizards in different projects.

That could work, honestly. But would my approach be the same? Would the themes and symbols I attach to magic use be the same or different?

And there is the rub. I don’t know. My opinion on magic flip flops. In many ways, I view magic in mush the way that Howard, Lovecraft,and Smith view magic. Magic is dark and forbidden. It is inherently corrupting. But there is a part of me that marvels at magic use turned to a super power. I don’t have anything profound to say here. But if the use of magic is (for all intents and purposes) a regular super power, does that really make it magic? If not, what is it then?

Those damn wizards haven’t been the only problem plaguing me, lately, I’ve got a gods problem, too.

Maybe it is a good thing that I didn’t make it through The Lightning Thief. I’ve wanted to do a project dealing with gods for years. But I’ve never quite figured out how I want to do it.

Should I write a massive alternate history/ universe where all mythologies are true? How then, would that affect the world we live in? Especially if I get rid of that stupid masquerade? (In some cases, I can see a reason for it. But when we’re dealing with gods? Tartaros no).

Another (and less headache inducing) approach would be to just create a secondary world. Advance it so much (maybe use some schizo tech and a dash of punk- when did punk become a synonym for modernization?) and ta da! Got a setting.

To be honest, both ideas have merit. But I’m leaning towards the second idea. For one, I don’t know enough about various mythologies as I would like. And two, I feel better messing with my own made up pantheon of gods rather than risk offending anyone who still worships the old gods. (Remember, how often I complain about bad usage of Greek Mythology? I will not hold back on myself.)

So, secondary world it is. But hey, if anyone out there would like to have a crazy mythology mash up with no masquerade, let me know how it turns out.

The bright spot of my creative headaches this last week has been my answer to whether I want to publish traditionally or independently. I can do both. Novels meant to standalone (at least in my own mind) will be published traditionally, and projects meant to be serialized will be published online. George R. R. Martin might not be yo’ bitch, but I can see the advantage of regularly updating a serialized project rather than waiting four or five years for a new installment.

Of course, for single novels, that means no sequels. What you get is that. There is danger in this approach, however, in that the current preference is for novel series. But that does not mean while I may write a project to completion, it cannot be published as a whole (baring an eventual omnibus). Just look to The Lord of the Rings for an example.

One of the great things about this blog is that I can use it to talk myself through my own creative struggles. And, hopefully, gain further insight through reader comments.

Now, it’s time to go work on my practice serial. And do the dishes.

Advertisements

Of Olympians, Reservoirs, and Some Questions

When it comes to YA (still hate that name) SF, I’ve missed a lot. Largely because the glut in the genre came when I was “too old” to be interested. And, now that I’m trying to make up, I really am too old.

Obviously, I’m not talking about Harry Potter but rather Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I recently checked out The Lightening Thief  from the library. And yesterday, I finally got down to read it.

And I got about three or four pages in before I closed the book. With no intention of opening it back up.

This time, though, had nothing to do with any preconceived problems with the text. Not even my position on Greek Mythology in popular culture.

It was the structure and tone of the opening that immediately turned me off.

Seriously, playing around with whether or not the novel is “real” or a “piece of fiction” in a meta sense made no sense. And Percy’s narration? Just no.

That said, Percy Jackson and the Olympians does raise in an interesting question. Why are the Olympians in hiding? I can see it with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but not with the Olympians. Why hide themselves? Especially if it is real?

Okay, then the series will be AU rather than Contemporary and demand more work. But still!

But yesterday wasn’t completely disappointing when it came to reading. After putting down The Lightening Thief, I picked up the first volume of CLAMP’s Tsubasa. And it was freaking awesome! Mind you, I am a fan of CLAMP . . .

Anyway, my reaction to both works reveals an interesting insight. I’m not overly fond of YA. Especially in prose. But I love shonen manga. What is up with that?

Part of the answer, I think, is that the graphic story telling element eliminates the usual stylistic tone of a lot of YA that puts me off. Excepting dialogue and interior monologues, the “narrator” has little chance to talk down to the reader.

Another part of the answer may be the ages of the characters. The closer the lead characters are to the later teens, the more I like it. Remember, I hate Naruto volume one, but love much of Part 2. So, there is that.

Am I disappointed that I didn’t like The Lightening Thief? Yes. But it doesn’t do to dwell. Rather, it is important to move on. So many more books to read.

Given my problems with YA, any ambitions I have to possibly write in that genre is suspect. Should I write a YA even if I don’t like it? Maybe write a YA SF novel the way I would like it to be done?

That is, however, a post for another day.

 

The Human Division (and some House Cleaning)

To those who recommended John Scalzi’s The Human Division, thank you. Seriously, it is one of the best novels I’ve read in a while. Just amazing. 

The Human Division is set in Scalzi’s Old Man’s War Universe. The title basically sums up the theme, humanity is divided. For centuries , the Colonial Union has kept Earth a backwater, exploiting humanity’s homeworld for colonists and soldiers. But with the revelations made in The Lost Colony, the relationship between Earth and the CU is ruptured. 

Most of the episodes that make up the novel feature Lieutenant Harry Wilson and the awesome diplomatic team/ crew of the two ships named Clarke, who attempt to deal with the new reality in which the CU must use diplomacy, not force. But, in all honestly, the real plot of the novel is the discovered conspiracy to not only keep Earth permanently estranged from the CU, but to destroy the CU (and the rival Conclave). 

There is action aplenty and lots of humor. Even though the CU is less than sympathetic, I really enjoyed almost all of the characters. Wilson is a trip, Schmidt is endearing, Abumwe is a boss (she is one of my two favorite characters), and Sorvalh is the bomb (my other favorite character). 

There are only two episodes that don’t really work for me. “A Voice in the Wilderness” perhaps is the weakest section of the entire novel. It just doesn’t fit, in my opinion. Maybe i’m just having a hard time with the modern stasis that has afflicted Earth for centuries (no matter how many have passed). But it just doesn’t seem “right.” The other weak episode, in my opinion, is “The Sound of Rebellion.” I think my issue with this episode is that I think the CU won too easily. 

And that is a frustration of the various stories in the novel. Things seem to conclude too easily in the protagonists’ favors (not that it saves them in the end with a holy shit wham cliffhanger). 

I was recommended this novel because it started life through serialization. After having read it, this is not quite what I had in mind. The Human Division is more a short story collection than a novel or a continuing coherent narrative. Rather, it is more like a television series. And it works. I want more. Dammit, I want more. 

 

Now, onto the house cleaning. I need to elucidate a comments policy. Typically, I will allow anything unless it is economic spam, abusive, or too sensitive. 

If you are wanting to comment on posts made by my former co-writer (aka my brother), your comments may never appear. Largely because he was the primary editor when we set up the blog. And by now, he’s forgotten the password. 

Which also explains my failure to redesign the blog last year when I flirted with that idea. One of these days, I’ll need to make a concerted effort to get the password. 

Comic Book Men Casting, Quick Post

A few days ago, I was contacted by a producer on the television series Comic Book Men on AMC. Following the success of The Walking DeadComic Book Men follows Kevin Smith’s comic book shop, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, in Red Bank, NJ.

Currently, and for a few weeks more, the show is looking for people to feature in their segments. If you are interesting and have interesting comics, memorabilia, etc. to sell check it out. And if you want to be on TV and are interesting with interesting stuff you’d like to sell, check it out. And if you would like to go shopping and appear on television while doing it, check it out.

Here’s the website: http://www.comicbookmencasting.com.

 

Coming Fast at You, Three Posts in One Day

Part Three: Why Can’t I Get This Comic Book Post Right?

Previously, I almost talked myself out of my desire both to write and to do the art on any comics projects I had coming up. It didn’t stick. There is a desire, a need to do the art. I’m compelled. So who am I to argue?

Now, I had originally wanted to write an analytical post on LGBT comics. But I really don’t have enough background to do an adequate job. I don’t (usually) read comics by and for LGBT. 

And that led to my second plan. Why don’t I take Dale Lazarov’s article in Bleeding Cool and go from there. That could work despite my limited knowledge. 

But, would you, the reader, really want to read me review a small amount of gay erotica from Class Comics? 

So, I’m in a bit of a bind as to how to approach this. 

Maybe what I can do is discuss what I want. What I want to see and what I want to write when it comes to comics (by which I also mean manga). 

For most of you who read this blog, you know that I’ve had my eye on two projects recently, a shonen inspired series and a gay erotic comic. I’m going to set the more mainstream project aside for a bit and focus on the erotic project. 

My initial idea was a type of slice of life inspired by my college years. But the more I thought about the idea, the harder the time I had finding a plot. I want to write something more than the romantic and sexual misadventures of a promiscuous young gay man. 

Idea B was centered around an island and a criminal enterprise. I don’t want to go into too much depth here, though. I like the idea. It would give the characters more to worry about. But, there is a huge issue. How economically feasible would it be to set up such an island? 

So, I’m stuck. Until it hit me. Why not just use one of my other ideas that involve a gay protagonist? Or modify another project. And then sexy it up. That could work, I think. Or soap up the first idea. 

Going on a tangent to discus art, I know that I need practice. A lot of practice. But I can build up my skills while writing novels. (One of these days, I need to blog about my idea notebooks). 

To get back on subject, the kinds of comics I want to write and read have LGBT characters. But they’re not overly concerned with what could be called an LGBT common culture. 

Take Class Comics. I like some of the art, but the writing is, often, atrocious. There’s that same quality to it that reminds me of Dryland’s End that I just cannot stand. I don’t quite know what it is, but it is just downright off putting. Maybe there’s too much camp. (Remind me to revisit the issue after I’ve read more comics by and for LGBT.)

To be honest, I’m not happy with this post either. But it will have to do. So ends my three posts in one day. 

Now I need to go get the laundry.

Coming Fast at You, Three Posts in One Day

Part Two: Expanding on My Beef with Harry Potter

That raises the question If I’m already too prejudiced against the series to give it a fair reading.  And, to be honest, I may very well be. 

There are a number of issues from my previous post on the Harry Potter series that I’ve had time to think about and wished I’d expanded upon in the earlier post. 

I have an issue with Harry being abused. Now, I understand how it was missed, or overlooked. But I still don’t like it. 

And I really don’t like the fact that Harry comes out of it as if the abuse largely never happened. I don’t like the fact that the Dursleys’ treatment of Harry is rendered comedic by the horrors of Hogwarts. I detest the fact that the Dursleys (and the neighbors of Privet Drive) allow for a bigoted narrative to have impetus. Baring the Grangers, are there any “good muggles?”

The politics of Harry Potter have been well remarked upon. Though I’m not sure how rigorous the analysis has been. 

I do know that Rowling is, herself, on the left wing of the British Labour Party. And I can accept that she intended a more left wing reading of Harry Potter, though I don’t think she succeeded. And the reasons why would make for an interesting paper.

For me, there is a marked lack of critical thinking in the series. Does Harry ever challenge Dumbledore? It’s his life being ruined. While Hermione may be brilliant, does she ever look critically at what she’s read? 

Furthermore, the issue of Dean Thomas still bugs me. I get why Rowling did what she did. Hermione has to be a muggleborn so that her brilliance can be shown and explained (she’s trying, and failing, to fit in). But I don’t like the fact that the five person band (with sixth ranger Luna) are all white. That there are only a handful people of color who only have small roles in the series just bugs me. (Yes, Shacklebolt becomes Minister and McGonagall becomes Headmistress, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of representation.)

So, what are the odds that I’m going to hate Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Probably very high. But I will make an effort. And blog about it. 

Coming Fast at You, Three Posts in One Day

Part One: Research and Projects

I’m about to start writing The Goetic High, my first novel. This novel is contemporary fantasy, maybe urban fantasy given the setting. At the same time, I’m researching medieval history and culture for the next project, The Lion and the Hare.

I may be jinxing myself, but I want to write a bit about The Lion and the Hare. That project will be a fantasy of epic historicism. And featuring a protagonist probably never seen before in fantasy. Certainly not epic fantasy. 

I’ve gotten a fair amount of research done. I’ve learned a lot. And I know where I need to go for further research. But, I’m kind of tired of so much medieval history. 

I need a break. Luckily I only have one more book on my docket for the moment. 

Fickleness is one of my major character flaws. Life would be so much easier if I could focus on a project and follow through on it. But, I grow bored easily. 

What I’ve decided to do is write one project and research the next. Right now, I’m getting ready to write The Goetic High and researching The Lion and the Hare. Once I’ve got that finished, I’ll work on writing The Lion and the Hare and start research on Two Cities. And so on. 

In a way, I don’t know how potential publishers will deal with me. I have no real interest in limiting my writing to a single genre or subgenre. My first novel is contemporary fantasy, the next (maybe series) is secondary world, the third is hard science fantasy (I think), etc. If I go with a traditional publishing model, I hope I can get away with just using my own name rather than a silly amount of pen names. 

Despite my exhaustion with the research (and the frustration of over using interlibrary loan), I’m having a blast with this.