Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My College Now Has More Nerd Cred Than I Do

Seems that Columbia, my alma mater, has acquired the entire original Elfquest archive - drawings, scripts, notes, finished sheets, the works!

When I want there, it was filled with People in Black who smoked clove cigarettes, wore ear clips and listened to Depeche Mode. Now they actually have a Graphic Novels Librarian.

I was born too early. Sigh.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ditching a Whole Story Line

So I've been futzing with this urban fantasy for a couple of years now. I have a story arc that makes sense and is appropriately creepy. It works. Or at least it should...but I can't quite make it happen.

I think I've figured out why. I really like the world I've set up, and the story line will take my protagonist out of that world pretty quickly. So I'm considering Going Back to Square Two - that is, keeping all my characters and worldbuilding, but using a different story.

We'll see...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Have I Mentioned "Argo" Before?

No, but I HAVE mentioned my favorite science fiction novel of all time, Lord of Light. And as it happens, the team that rescued the six diplomats in the "Canadian Caper" that is the basis of Argo used a screenplay based on Zelazny's revisionist Hindu-Buddhist technofable.

Bizarre coincidence-

Until you read some of Harlan Ellison's essays in Watching. Then you realize that many of the 20th Century's massive classics of science fiction - Dune, The Stars My Destination, Lord of Light - spent decades in the tortured Hollywood half-life known as "turnaround" - optioned over and over, adapted and re-adapted, and almost never put on-screen. Yeah, Lynch did Dune - but various Dune adaptations had been floating around the industry for more than a decade before it was produced. Stars My Destination had come even closer to production than Dune, and it's never been made.

Foundation, Stranger in a Strange Land, et al had all made the migration from SF classics to mere literary "properties," each one accumulating a development biography along the way. In their own way, they had a "legend" in the same way that CIA cover identities do...no wonder they were attractive to the fake producers.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Read This Book! ("The Annotated Alice")

The Annotated Alice
by Lewis Carroll
With very, very illuminating notes by Martin Gardner

There's a reason the Alice books have lasted so long. They're "whimsical" of course, and "imaginative," but that wasn't nearly enough. After all, Victorian England was just slopping over with treacly, sentimental juvenilia - Little Lord Fauntleroy, anyone? - so it wasn't as though Carroll (aka Charles Dodgson) was stepping into a desperate market.

What keeps them going, I think, is a darker undertone (who can forget Humpty's suggestion to Alice that "with proper assistance, you might have left off at seven") and the fact that so much of his madness had an order of its own - as Gardner points out, a specifically mathematical and logical order. Even when we don't understand Carroll's jokes directly, we sense there's more thought behind them - and Gardner's excellent notes lay it all out. It's well worth the $20.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Decadent Valentine's Day Anti-Revolutionary Cadres!

Wow, how do I get some of that debauched Valentine action? The Western version sure hasn't helped me much.

The Russia Meteor

Chelyabinsk? It's Tunguska all over again, I tellz ya.

People have been doing wild Tunguska theories ever since it happened - it as a micro black hole; it was a chunk of neutronium; it was a speck of antimatter. I don't think that will happen this time, but it is interesting to consider that the Soviet government sited the Cosmodrome - their version of NASA - in Central Asia specifically because huge chunks of rockets and missile could rain down there as "meteors" in case there was an accident.

So maybe those Russian Soyuz rockets are now getting as scary as our shuttles did, right before the end...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Quit Popes

Dante had some harsh words for popes who quit. They're not even allowed in Hell:

(28) Whirls on the air forever dirty with it
(29) As if a whirlwind sucked at sand. And I,
(30) Holding my head in horror, cried: “Sweet Spirit,”

(31) What souls are these who run through this black haze?”
(32) And he to me. “These are the nearly soulless
(33) Whose lives concluded neither blame nor praise.

(34) They are mixed here with that despicable corps
(35) Of angels who were neither for God nor Satan,
(36) But only for themselves. The High Creator

(37) Scouraged them from Heaven for its perfect beauty,
(38) And Hell will not receive them since the wicked
(39) Might feel some glory over them.” And I:

(40) “Master, what gnaws at them so hideously
(41) Their lamentation stuns the very air?”
(42) “They have no hope of death,” he answered me,

(43) “and in their blind and unattaining state
(44) Their miserable lives have sunk so low
(45) That they must envy every other fate.

(46) No word of them survives their living season.
(47) Mercy and Justice deny them even a name.
(48) Let us not speak of them: look, and pass on.”

(49) I saw a banner there upon the mist.
(50) Circling and circling, it seemed to scorn all pause.
(51) So it ran on, and still behind it pressed

(52) A never-ending rout of souls in pain.
(53) I had not thought death had undone so many
(54) As passed before me in that mournful train.

(55) And some I knew among them; last of all
(56) I recognized the shadow of that soul
(57) Who, in his cowardice, made the Great Denial.
(58) At once I understood for certain: these
(59) Were of that retrograde and faithless crew
(60) Hateful to God and to His enemies.

Dante's son Jacopo wrote that Dante meant Celestine V, who resigned in 1294 after only five months (of apparently poor administration). He also founded the order of Celestine monks and has since been made a saint. So clearly Dante and the Church had some issues.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Question for you historians-

-if a warrior is famous for using some giant weapon in battle - like, say, a Dane axe - what would he keep around for street fighting and close quarters? The same axe?

I'm betting on a long knife or short sword.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

More Weather

I remember a time when winter was simply miserable in monochrome. The temperature dropped to 25º F in December, and stayed there until March. It would snow after Thanksgiving, get dry and nasty in January(beware the black ice) and then wet and muddy and 40º in late February. You know, reliable.

Now it's hurricanes, superstorms, 50º in January, and then a blizzard.

When I was a boy....mutter, mutter....

Oh, Happy Day!

It looks like it wasn't my hard drive - just my hard drive cable, coming unattached.
Cable re-attached, computer ready for pickup today at noon.

Snoopy Happy Dance!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Learning to write-

-is, on at least one level, learning about yourself. Not in a "voyage of self discovery" way, but in learning how you work, and how that's different from how you'd like to think you work.

I've been futzing around with the second half of the opening to Hero's Army (the sequel to The Wrong Sword) for literally months. I never got past that point. Just kept returning and returning, fine-tuning prose that didn't need it, inserting scenes that weren't necessary. I couldn't get past it.

I finally figured it out.

1. There was no reason for the protagonist to stick around, but I had pages and pages of him doing just that.

2. Unlike other, smarter writers, I couldn't just stick a pin in the damned thing and come back to it.

Got to get better about that.

Dead Hard Drive

In case you were wondering about the post gap, that's why.
Dead Hard Drive.
DHD.
Errrg.
I think I've lost about six weeks of work.