I was thoroughly satisfied by Star Trek Into Darkness. It’s not perfect, but I had a blast and it mostly hit all the right emotional beats for me. It’s pretty much impossible to talk about it further without spoiling things for anyone who hasn’t seen it, and what’s the point anyway? I liked it. You might, too! Or you might not! I hear some people liked Prometheus, so all bets are off at this point.
At the very least I think we can agree that Zoe Saldana needs to be speaking more Klingon, amIright?
Speaking of star-based franchise paradigms, I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about Star Wars much here. Like all right-thinking people, I grew up on Star Wars and it influenced me massively. Then the prequels and the over saturation and the 3rd or 15th special editions came out and over the past decade or so I’ve gone from voracious consumer to completely apathetic Star Wars nihilist.
Occasionally I smirk at a Star Wars reference, but that’s about it.
With news that the rights have changed hands and sequels are in the making, I felt the stirrings of the ancient ways, though. Just a little. No more Lucas means fresh creative talent, new editorial, new artistic blood. And this is what Star Wars needs more than anything.
Rather than go on and on about it, I’ll just compile a few bits of art that remind me of how awesome Star Wars can be. Will it be this? Probably not. But it’s nice to dream. This is more about tone and artistic style than a particular story or character. You’ll want to expand these.
Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, by Phil Noto
Classic Ralph McQuarrie. Can’t beat the original.
Unless maybe you’re Frank Quitely
Funky Beats, by Jim Mahfood
There. Done. I assume someone out there is listening. We’ve laid it out for you.
In a few hours I’ll be heading out to see the latest Star Trek flick. I’m on lock down to avoid spoilers, but I’m getting good vibes! Hoping it makes me feel better after Iron Man 3 delivered several swift brutal kicks to my midsection.
So today I came across this, the original 1967 writer’s guide to Star Trek. It’s a blast. There is a lot of great material, especially at the beginning, on what makes for good science fiction. I haven’t had a chance to go through all of it, but here are some real gems, like
IF YOU’RE ONE OF THOSE WHO ANSWERS: “THE CHARACTER ACTS THAT WAY BECAUSE IT’S SCIENCE FICTION”, DON’T CALL US, WE’LL CALL YOU.
The less [science fiction terminology] you use, the better. We limit complex terminology as much as possible, use it only where necessary to maintain the flavor of the show and encourage believability.
IMPORTANT: The writer must know what he means when he usesscience or projected science terminology. A scattergun confusion of meaningless phrases only detracts from believability.
(This second one would have been nice for some of the later series to follow, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Incidentally, I’ll be at the Dallas Comic Con this weekend and might meet, among others, LeVar Burton. If I do I can’t guarantee that I won’t break down into a blubbering emotional wreck trying to pass on a Reading Rainbow/Star Trek fan fiction manuscript.
(Note to self, get to work on Reading Rainbow/Star Trek crossover.)
Podcast extraordinaire Folly Blaine has turned oldie-but-goody “Apotheosis Cake” into an audio story. You should go check it. She breathes new life into this story that came out…five years ago? Good gods.
I don’t remember a whole lot about writing this story It was based on a prompt: Begin a story with “[Someone] loved [something], but this was ridiculous.” if I recall correctly. Which I think it was from Stephanie who of course has a rock band now because if you’re my friend that is eventually what happens.
And I believe I had a powerful need to include the words apotheosis and ziggurat. The noblest of goals, surely?
Trivia: this story earned a place in Every Day Fiction’s second Best of anthology, if you wanted to buy a copy. You should. It’s good stuff.
Friend, former roommate, and fake uncle to my child Alex is working on a documentary about stand-up comedy and the potential offensiveness thereof that needs some financial assistance. You should help!
I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy, though I wish there were venues for it in my vicinity. There’s an Improv, and occasionally the big acts will pass through at the House of Blues or some-such, but there aren’t a ton of great dives you can just go to on a random weekend night and see too-soon-for-prime-time comics working on their craft.
Or maybe there are and I just don’t know about them? (Not that I really have time for that anyway.)
Stand-up has a lot in common with flash fiction. You’ve got to refine things to the sharpest, most concise version of this story (and most of the great jokes are stories). The best jokes of all can imply a whole story with just a few words. I think a lot of people overlook the writing portion of being a comedian, but they have to work on that shit. Even if I thought I could write good jokes, I’m not sure I would ever be up to the performance aspect of comedy.
I actually just wrote a story featuring stand-ups and jokes. It’s probably pretty offensive, but my gauge for these things is broken. We’ll see if it goes anywhere.
What I’m actually more worried about more than edgy jokes is that the reader has to project a lot of acting onto the characters. You can only insert so much into the text to indicate how dialogue is supposed to sound. There’s a contract you have to make with the reader - roll these words around in your mouth until you laugh. Emphasize this syllable, not that one. Please time this right. Please make this funny for me.
Got around to watching Defiance, Sy Fy’s new video-game-tie-in series. It’s a pretty cool setting, I think, but man alive do they need to throw out the Big Book of Cliche they’re writing from. Not a single character or plot twist was a surprise. One trope after another. For a planet that has been colonized and even terraformed by multiple alien races, it’s a predictable place. I may give it another episode or two. You always have to give pilots and first seasons a little leeway.
So I’ve come across this fascinating study (thanks to a podcast I listen to, The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe) that examined the frequency of emotional mood words in literature over the past century or so. They found that, generally speaking, use of emotional language has decreased since 1900.
My initial thought is that this is an artifact of the shift in writing styles – we use a lot less adjectives and adverbs than our predecessors. That’s usually where a searchable mood word would be, right? Today, when we see “he said angrily” we cringe and mentally delete the angrily. I don’t know if that’s something they accounted for, or if you even could efficiently account for it. I see there’s an email for the author. Maybe I’ll ask!
What struck me especially was that the mood of fear: “Notably, the mood of Fear, which declined throughout most of the early century, has increased markedly since the 1970′s, in contrast to the continued decline of other moods.”
There’s also this. A bunch of smart people talking about things they fear, and far too many of them are afraid of technology.
We are terrified! Mostly for no reason. Though, since we are currently living in a state of perpetual for-profit war, we’ll probably have quite a few legitimate fears coming up in the next few decades.
Anyway. Fear is something I think about a lot when I’m coming up with stories, particularly science fiction. The easiest sci fi story in the world to write is one where the science and technology backfires and everything goes wrong. But when I start to write one of those I stop and don’t have the heart to finish it. I don’t want to present science like that. I want to present science as what it is – simultaneously mundane and wonderous. It can be troubling, can raise ethical concerns and what not. But to just have every story be “Oh gods it’s turned on us and now we’re going to die what have we done?” is problematic. I love Terminator and Jurassic Park, but don’t want those to be the default setting for my science fiction.
Sorry for the absense! My life has changed rather drastically in the past eight weeks. It has been crazy.
I got laid off. You may or may not recall the last time I switched jobs. This involuntary bit is new to me, and not something I care to repeat. It was not entirely a surprise, though I did think I had more time. I’m not someone with an excess of funds stashed away for such events, so things have been a little yeesh.
But. I managed to score a new, better job, and as I close in on the end of the second week at the new place, I’m positive the future is brighter than it was a couple months ago.
So far, there is an acceptable amount of chocolate and inappropriate jokes to be found.
Writing! I have to assume that’s why you’re here. All like two of you. Now that I have an income again, I’ll shortly be signing up for Duotrope. I have several stories that have gone off-line that I’d like to get up again. Also, the investment in Duotrope will, I’m hoping, spur me to get producing again. Also also, a new job means something resembling a routine and schedule again, which is helful in producing as well.
I’m also working on an all-new, all-different project that I hope will turn into something pretty special. I won’t say more for now, in case it doesn’t pan out. I’m having fun working on it, though, and hope you guys get to see it. It’s probably a few months away, at least.
Re-print of “The Organization” has just gone live over at The Story Shack. You can read it! So go!
The Story Shack has been kind enough to accept another reprint from me, “The Organization”, a fun little story originally published at A Thousand Faces. This story hasn’t been available in a while, since A Thousand Faces shut down, so I’m pleased it’ll be out there again for people to read. I felt like it didn’t get the attention it deserved before.
More on that when I know a publish date!
Newly decorated columns greeted Detective Finees as he crouch-walked under the tape. Faded yellow stripes, neat in lines on both the floor and support beams of the old parking garage, now drenched in some poor bastard’s buckets of red. Continue reading