Sunday, November 29, 2009

Insert Catchy Title Here

Another week gone by, and still no good title for a links post! Oh well.

---Sadness is the main response I have to hearing that Robert Holdstock died suddenly today, after failing to fight off an E. Coli infection. Holdstock was a writer of deep matters who combined complex ideas and symbolism into his work. Mythago Wood, his most well-known work, was really a starting point for an extended literary meditation. I would have loved to see what else he was going to do with that.

---a snippet for WIP from my current story:

“You’re a Valley Boy,” First Jay said with a sneer. “Valley’s nice; don’t get the crickets much.” He swung his hawk at his side. “They don’t let other folks come around in times of trouble.”

West Wind shook his head. “The Valley is nothing now. They’ve given in to gluttony and envy. Hogtamer’s land now.” He tilted his head at First Jay’s scowl. “Nothing there for any of us now. Hogtamer's feasted it out.”

“And that’s why he’s coming here,” Third Jay said. The folks all turned to look at him. He fixed West Wind with his glaring white eye and lifted his staff a bit, let the tattered feathers and pieces of old flags shift in the breeze. “He’s on his creature of many backs headin’ this way.”

West Wind nodded. “And he’s not the only one.”

“Skull-face,” Little Kee whispered from the dust, and now everyone looked at her. She winced from the attention.

West Wind bent down towards her and inclined his chin. “Yep, true in one. He’s feeling the pinch and looking for new souls.”

---NPR did a story on fantasy fiction today, interviewing Jeff and Ann Vandermeer. It was fine, and it contained two good tidbits for further thought. The first was the idea of fantasy being a device for talking about things that could not be written out explicitly; the second, that all literature is, in some sense, fantasy. These are both compelling ideas for me. The latter has been a notion that I have contemplated a lot lately. I mean, all fiction is specifically a fantasy, a made-up story about things the author wants to describe to us. The grittiest mystery, the dourest contemporary tragedy, the flightiest romance are all fantasy tales. Unless you are just writing down exactly what you observe with no conjecture and no induction into a narrative, when you tell a story you are creating a fantasy. Some may have a stronger link to what they represent, but all are creations of the imagination as it makes sense of things, assigns meaning, and casts people and issues in a particular, subjective light.

I'd like to write more, but it is bedtime. Dream well, all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Little Ole Roundup

I guess I need a catchy name for blog posts that are a bunch of little tidbits. Hmmm.. . .

---I got a nice #followfriday twitter boost from @revolutionsf today. If you haven't checked out their website, do so! They're really trying to make SF, in all forms and permutations, fun AND thoughtful again. Today's Prisoner watercooler chat is a great example of that.

---Our child has fallen asleep before midnight for the SECOND NIGHT IN A ROW, and as soon as this bloggery is committed I am hitting the writing folder. Need to work on the Four Horsemen thing (I'll put up some WIP when I have something intriguing to share) and get a comic idea out of my head. One of the projects I've been developing is a comic book called THE FORCE! (yeah, it needs a better title), which is about a government superhero team full of misfits who turn out to have their own agendas, led by the smartest creature to ever walk the earth, who also has his own plans. I'm trying to combine superhero action with emotional realism, and poke a bit of fun at the genre as well. I have an 18-issue story arc laid out in the most basic terms, but got some great ideas for twists that need to get plunked into the file.

---I've been obsessing over Warren Ellis' latest T-Shirt of the Week. It's just so brutally perfect. Trying to figure out affordability, because with shipping the one I want (2x,charcoal gray) is $30. Grargh. But I love the idea of the shirt itself, and I love the DIY, POD aspect of the project. It shows some of the potential for creative use of the web on your own terms. That last part is so important; maintaining artistic and to some extent financial freedom is one of the more alluring aspects of putting your art and goods out on the web.

---I commented the other day on David Pomerico's post about the future and zombies. Given that I'm writing Aetas Nex, this is a topic near to my interests and to my slightly-swollen heart. Apocalypse and dystopia are great spaces for zombies to arise, and they have a versatility that can be exploited if you're willing to innovate and break a few rules. In the case of Aetas Nex,it becomes obvious that zombies are a symptom of a larger problem, and also themselves a dynamic force. For me, that was key: zombies cannot just all be brainless shamblers. Zombies develop, sometimes in lethal ways, sometimes in ways that are uncomfortable for the regular humans to face. Once they are a part of the world, and also harbingers of something bigger happening, they become more interesting as a subject themselves, and also a dynamic plot device that can throw a lot of surprises at the reader. I think there is still some potential for zombies to be useful in SF, and not just as lurching boogeymen.

And other boogeymen as well, but that is a post for another day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Column, New Ailments

First of all, my new Forces of Geek column is up. I forgot to change the title before sending it (the topic altered itself as I wrote it), but otherwise I like this column a lot. Do comment!

Second, I have been afflicted with a series of respiratory ailments, including some weird month-long coughing affliction, that have left me barely enough energy to write a tweet or two, never mind write stories and thoughtful blog posts. It is slowly getting under control and I hope to be back to the keyboard soon. In my decrepitude I have been able to do some thinking about writing, and hit on some good ideas for continuing Aetas Nex and fleshing out the background of the main elements of the "Skull-face" story.

Third, that damned Cory Doctorow wrote a great piece on "radical presentism" in SF that is full of notions to respond to and ideas to unpack. I share his conclusion, but I think that there is much more to say about how this works.

OK, running out of steam already. More later.