Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

It is that most wonderful of holidays filled with goblins and ghouls and ghastly things. And where will I be for all this dark tomfoolery? At work. As usual. Working for a daily newspaper can be frustrating. But for all you trick-or-treaters and costumed partiers, I'll be with you in spirit.
Most of today, however, is consumed with National Novel Writing Month and my preparations. I really shouldn't have waited to the last minute to create characters and plot this thing, but that seems to be my modus operandi. It will be interesting attempting this again after last year's break. Can I do 2,000 words a day? Will I be frustrated with myself? Will I reach new levels of joy in my writing? All will be answered in the next 30 days. Same weird time, same weird channel.
I do know that my novel will focus a giant monster, mutations and a quest. There also might be a tired, cynical adventurer in there as well. I hope I can pull it all together and make it fun.
For all of you other Nanowrimers out there, good luck and I'll see you at the finish line.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

On the Blindside by Sonya Taaffe

I've just read Sonya Taaffe's story On the Blindside over at Anna Tambour's Web site. (I like that she's been reprinting stories, I'm going to keep a closer watch on her Web site.)
The story is a look at the intersection of the mundane life with the fantastic and its long-term effects. As I read it, it seemed to me an alternate take on Caitlin R. Kiernan's concept in her story "Onion" (which is one of my favorite short stories). After reading Taaffe's journal, I see she notes that Kiernan's "Murder of Angels" covers similar material (I'm so far behind in reading Kiernan's books.) In Taaffe's discussion of the story, she looks for other works that cover similar territory, mentioning things like "Lud-in-the-Mist" and "Moonwise."
Check out the story and then read Taaffe journal entry, it's worth your time if you're interested in literature of the fantastic.

SuicideGirls interview Jim Woodring

Suicide Girls have an interview with artist Jim Woodring. (Suicide Girls is a porn site, so there may be not safe for work content there.) He's got a new book out called "Seeing Things." I love Woodring's art, it's so fantastic and playful, yet disturbing at the same time. Pick up one of his books if you've got the chance. Here's an excerpt:

DRE: You’ve been working with Fantagraphics for so long and they really seem to treat you and your work with the respect it totally deserves. Are you able to feel artistically satisfied with the work you do?

JW: Oh sometimes. There are fleeting moments of satisfaction but those are short-lived. I generally feel spurred on by anxiety and a sense that I hadn’t achieved anything. I used to have this really infantile attitude that one day I would create a picture that was so good that would absolve me from all human responsibilities. I always thought that if you were a really great artist or a cartoonist that you didn’t have to worry about anything anymore. You could knock on any door and say, “I’m Jack Davis and I’m hungry and I need a place to sleep” and they’d go, “Jack Davis! Come in.” Or that the government would say, “I was looking at Jack Davis’ income tax return. He’s not doing that well, I think we ought to lower his taxes.” I just had this feeling that if you were a success as an artist that your future would be made. I don’t know why I thought that, like I said, it’s an infantile notion. But that feeling took a long time to fade out. It took me a long time to grasp the fact that people can do work that’s as good as they can possibly do and still end in squalor and despair."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Night of the Hunter stuff

Metafilter has an interesting post on Night of the Hunter, one of my favorite movies and perfect for this time of year. It's not explicitly a horror movie, but it might as well be. The Metafilter post includes a bunch of good links about the movie, definitely check it out.
I'm hoping to someday read the book by Davis Grubb that the film is based on.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

Robert Charles Wilson's "Spin" is the best kind of hard science fiction. While there are plenty of infodumps, great depictions of future science and fantastic happenings, the focus remains on the characters.
I got the novel from a publicist, but I must say I probably would have picked it up eventually on my own.
This is the second Wilson book I've read. The first was "The Chronoliths," which was fantastic in much the same way. It has a slight edge on "Spin" because the main character of that book was more proactive. In "Spin," the main character is so tied in with the people at the center of the phenomenon that he doesn't seem to have his own story. He's merely a window between the reader and what is happening to the other characters.
The book runs two parallel tracks. It starts with the narrator, Tyler Dupree, in Padang with his girlfriend Diane. He's in hiding and he's taking a drug for some unnamed purpose. Then we get into his childhood on the day the stars went out in the sky. We quickly find out that the Earth is caught up in a temporal shield. The Earth's time proceeds slowly while hundreds of thousands of years continue outside the Spin. Once science finds out the Spin is permeable, many avenues for science open. But the realization that at these speeds, the sun will swallow the Earth in only 50 years. Tyler is experiencing this with his friends, twins Jason and Diane. Jason is a scientist through and through. Diane, frightened by the spin, turns to religion.
And there is the basic conflict of the whole book. Jason keeps moving ahead, trying desperately to find out more about the spin and save the Earth. Diane, meanwhile, gets married to a religious zealot and is outside the narrative of most of the novel. But the subject of religion vs. science is always central to what is going on.
That's also something both the Chronoliths and Spin share. In both books, people scared into desperation turn to religion and strange cults. In both books, the main character must save a loved on from these cults. Wilson clearly sends an anti-organized religion message.
Wilson's book clearly cares about humanity and how it reacts to disaster. It's certainly a relevant subject to these times.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Shaken & Stirred meme via John Scalzi

Gwenda Bond has started a new meme based on John Scalzi's science fiction film canon from his new book The Rough Guide to Science Fiction. Ms. Bond lists the films and bolds the ones she has seen. (I'm surprised she hasn't seen "Godzilla" but totally agree with her that "Them" deserves to be here.)

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!

Back to the Future
Blade Runner
Bride of Frankenstein

Brother From Another Planet
A Clockwork Orange
Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The Damned
Destination Moon
The Day The Earth Stood Still
Escape From New York
ET: The Extraterrestrial

Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (serial) (I'm not sure whether I saw this. I saw a lot of these serials when I was a kid and didn't pay too much attention to the titles.)
The Fly (1985 version)
Forbidden Planet (This is a sad hole in my viewing, I know.)
Ghost in the Shell
The Incredibles
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 version)
Jurassic Park
Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior
The Matrix
On the Beach
Planet of the Apes (1968 version)
Solaris (1972 version)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

The Stepford Wives
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The Thing From Another World

Things to Come
12 Monkeys
28 Days Later
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
2001: A Space Odyssey

La Voyage Dans la Lune
War of the Worlds (1953 version)

There's some great films on that list. I may have to pick up Scalzi's book to see what he has to say about it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Beatrice and Joe Bob Briggs

Ron Hogan announced he will interview Joe Bob Briggs in New York in November. I'm hoping he's writing a transcript of this.
I've always found Joe Bob entertaining, ever since I watched his show when it was on Showtime. (It later moved to TNT and suffered from a lesser selection of movies. I'm not sure it's on at all anymore.) That's where I first saw "The Warriors" and "Basket Case III." Classic. I used to subscribe to his newsletter, which kept me up on the film career of Shannon Tweed and other such luminaries.
I also enjoyed his men's movement parody "Iron Joe Bob." Briggs has got a new book out called Profoundly Erotic: Sexy Movies That Changed History, which is what Hogan will talk to him about.
Coincidentally, I was just thinking about Joe Bob today when I was writing about King of Kong Island (on my Giant Monster Blog). Joe Bob used to always use the phrase "too much plot getting in the way of the story." And that's almost the perfect way to describe "Kong Island."

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Return to Nanowrimo

Well, it's that Nanowrimo time of year again. This will be the fourth time I've participated. The first two years, I succeeded in writing crappy novels, neither of which have I gone back to. Last year, I failed miserably. There was a lot going on, my girlfriend (now fiancee) was moving in, and my time was seriously curtailed.
This year I expect to get back on track and write another crappy novel. Usually, I start off with a general idea, maybe a character and a scene, and then ramble on in any direction I choose. This year, I may take this guy's advice and take a more planned out approach. We'll see.
I'll try to keep some kind of updates about it here, but probably nothing very in depth. Anybody else participating? (Link found at Morrow Planet.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

SciFi Weekly interviews Jeffrey Ford

Science Fiction Weekly has an interview with Jeffrey Ford. It's a good interview that goes over "The Girl in the Glass", "The Cosmology of the Wider World", and stories from his upcoming collection "The Empire of Ice Cream." The discussions of the individual short stories was very good and gave me a whole new perspective on "A Man of Light."