Thursday, August 30, 2007

Don't Read This

Lot of action on the "Alex hates the chosen one" post, much of which consists of Gary reminding me that I should have put SPOILER WARNING in it somewhere. Sorry dude. Trust me -- knowing that the parents in Heroes are manipulating things doesn't ruin a thing. There are only three good things about Heroes: Superpowers, superpowers, and superpowers. And I ain't talking the USSR.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I can always trust Gary to come through when needed. 3 comments in a single day! Here, here, and here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

That Guy

Those of you who have been keeping tabs on my dream library (Todd) will be happy to know a set of 1909-10 Harvard Classics arrived today.

My feelings, like a prep school dance, are mixed. The HC are truly meant for poser intellectuals, which of course I am, but regardless I love them. I could be pressed to say I lurv them, if provided enough alcohol.

Today's fifteen minutes consisted of half a chapter of the Confessions of St. Augustine. zzzz. Here's hoping Two Years Before the Mast grabs the attention a tad more. I will, as always, keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Who does this choosing, exactly?

When writing fiction about impossible things in my own hackish way, I find myself pulled in by the gravity of the Chosen One. I'm sick of him. He was born with the power and just needs to find it. Merlin shows up to tell him who he is, and after that no one can stand against him. He's Potter, he's Neo, she's the P sisters from Charmed, and we've seen it rehashed more times than I care to stomach.

Why does Luke get to be the super-Jedi? Why does chosenness have to pass from father to son? The message "if you ain't born with it, you can't get it" just doesn't fly with me.

Trouble is, it's so easy. You build a world with supernatural qualities, and why does your main character get to be the one to use them? Because of his parents, that's why. So, for some time now I have tried to write stories where a non-superhuman obtains superhuman powers through practice and tenacity, in which anyone can be a wizard, not just people from the right gene pool.

Then I come across this article by super-genius Jane Espenson, in which she explain how to sell sci-fi.

It's a very specific type of Hero's Journey, the most potent sub-case. It's told over and over again, and it works, over and over again. Dorothy Gale, Buffy Summers, Harry Potter, Charlie Bucket, Luke Skywalker, even Peter Parker, they all fit a very specific pattern. They're living a life, sometimes a fine one, often a troubled one, but certainly one governed by ordinary rules, when suddenly the curtain is pulled back and a whole new world, or a new set of rules of this world, is revealed. And what's more - and this is the important part - in that new world, they are something special. They are The Chosen One.
And if that wasn't enough...
So here's what I think we need to do if we want to write a sci-fi or a fantasy show and give it appeal way beyond the normal boundaries of sci-fi/fantasy fandom. We need to start with an empty page of notebook paper, write "The Chosen One" across the top and start brainstorming. At least, that's what I plan to do.
Damn it, Jane! So, I need to do the precise and stated opposite of what I have been?

Thing is, I don't agree. Starbuck being Miss Prophesy is lame. In Heroes, all of the characters' parents know each other and have been manipulating them the entire time -- also lame. As soon as a show starts down the "it is your destiny" path, I lose interest. The predictability destroys the enjoyment; no matter how much a Chosen character rails against their certain fate, they always succumb* because superpowers are bad-assed. "Just be yourself" is a lot easier when your self can fly.

So, Jane, you know I love you, but on this we disagree. Give me Wedge and Xander over another mewling "why must my life be so hard, what with all of my awesome powers and all" puss. I'm sure to be Chosen is to live alone and there's some sort of proportional relationship between great power and great responsibility, but a person who chooses himself would be a welcome change.

(With the exception of Luke. It was his destiny to kill Vader. It was his destiny to join Vader. He did neither.)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Trail of the Dead

Wandering the webs, I came across the New York Foundation for the Arts site, including info on artists' fellowships. A quick perusal of the app reveals what they want from you:

"A representation of your recent artistic work within the last 5 years."

This represents a large corpus of work for, let's say, Jess, but for me? Let's see...

  • Several drafts of the Magnum Space Opus, the most recent of which being written mainly in a single month.
  • A play written under similar restraints.
  • One piece of flash fiction, sent to Artvoice and rejected.
  • One sci-fi short story, sent to a few magazines and rejected.
  • A version of Jorinda and Joringel.
  • Another short story submitted to a contest. No prize awarded.
  • Another few remarkably horrible short stories.
None of this has been published, of course. I have yet to develop the discipline to really edit stuff (spell-check is enough, right?) and there's always another ephemeral concept waiting in the wings, begging for my attention. The next project, that will be the one I really throw myself into.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


His Garveyness recently asked me to let him know what new tunes I was listening to. I think he thought he was talking to Jess. Either way, here a rhaplink for you, the contents of which are the tracks of my recent brain soundtrack. Except If You Leave Me Now by Chicago. I just couldn't.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Not entirely sure why Netflix would recommend Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election based entirely on my 5-star rating of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. The pro-environmental message? The negative depiction of invading forces? Does something fly in it?

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Usage question. The store "Sofas etc...".

Should it be "Sofas etc....", with a period for the et cetera abbreviation followed by an ellipsis?

Perhaps "Sofas etc.....", with the above and then the period which ends the phrase?

I'll ask my buddies Strunk and White, but I doubt they would deign to discuss it.


Friday, August 03, 2007

And yet another.

And now at long last I post the link to Eric's blog, The Humanist. He's twisting my melon, man.