The Calm Before the Seeing

First off, let’s move this out of the way:  after mentioning yesterday that I made a video for the first time, I had, shall we say, a few requests to see me speak.  Oh sure, I’ve presented pictures of myself, but never have I gone and made a fool of myself before one of those talky camera things.  So, today, I’ll upload the video to my YouTube account and present it here for you amusement.  You Have Been Warned.

And I had a session with my therapist, the first since starting my hormone treatment.  She was happy to see me, happy to see I appear happy, happy to hear how I’m moving forward in my life.  She also pointed out a few things she noticed about me, and this is where I do a Law & Order trope and invoke doctor/patient privilege so that I don’t have to go into just what it was she noticed.  While I’m open to a lot of things in my life, that isn’t one of them.

Which brings us to writing.  It must have been a good night, because I ended up just short of twelve hundred words for the evening, setting up a new scene at the Samhain Dance.  I also mentioned yesterday that I’d written six hundred and sixty-six words to finish the last scene, so imagine my surprised when I checked my word count this morning . . .

I believe I've moved into the Condo of the Beast.

I believe I’ve moved into the Condo of the Beast.

I love seeing number like that:  Ms. Rutherford would probably tell me that the Numerologists of the Foundation would find that an auspicious sign.  Given what I know is coming next in the scene, and the following scene, and the following chapter, they’re probably correct.

Onward to the party!

 

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“Hope we’re not disturbing.”

Annie looked up along with Kerry and found Professors Sladen and Arrakis standing on the other side of the coffee table. Sladen’s costume was a simple affair: A rather plain halter top and matching brown wrap around skirt that feel to her knees, brown boots, and a braided gold and brown headband used to tie back her hair. She also carried a large fighting stick, maybe a jō, outfitted with leather bands to allow the user better control.

Professor Arrakis was far more elaborate and beautiful. She wore a bright green outfit that looked like a silk dress with a high collar and long sleeves, but Annie also saw what looked like the end of leggings just above her ankles. She also wore a helmet adorned with a feathered headband, and each wrist was covered with large gold wrist bands.

Annie shook her head. “No, Professor Sladen. We’re just sitting here enjoying the dance.” She was glad she didn’t need to raise her voice; there were enchantments in place to keep sound at a lower volume outside the dance floor, so people could enjoy the music and still carry on a conversation. “Please sit with us.”

“Thank you.” Erywin chose the chair to Annie’s left.

Deanna pointed to the empty spot on the soft to Annie’s left. “Would you mind if I sit next to you?”

She shook her head. “No, go right ahead, Professor.”

“Thank you.”

Kerry waited for both women to get comfortable before addressing Professor Sladen. “I recognize your costume—”

The right side of Erywin’s mouth curled up into a smile. “You do?”

“Yeah—where’s your Xena?” He looked around, grinning wildly.

Erywin laughed. “Either in the loo or preventing Armageddon from breaking out. She should be along shortly.”

“But your costume . . .” He looked around Annie at Professor Arrakis. “I have no idea.”

Deanna flashed Kerry a sweet smile. “You mean I’ve stumped you? I thought you knew everything.”

He shook his head. “Not everything. Not since coming here.”

“You have an honest boy there, Annie.” She smoothed down her skirt. “Razia Sultain, first female Muslim ruler in South Asia. She was the fifth Sultan of Delhi for four years, until 1240.”

 

See?  I not only give you a costume party, but a little history lesson.  And you discover that Kerry doesn’t know everything.

It’s not all fun an games at the dance, though.  As you can see when, as Kerry calls her, Erywin’s “Warrior Princess”, shows up to the party.

 

Professor Lovecraft walked up, greeted everyone with a hello, then sat in the open chair to Kerry’s right without asking. She leaned back and loudly exhaled her last breath before looking across the coffee table at both instructors. “I’m about to round up all your shieldmaidens and Celtic warriors and dump their asses somewhere north of the Observatory so they can beat the hell out of each other until no one is left standing.”

“Are they getting a big anxious for their annual skirmish?” Each Samhain the girls from the Åsgårdsreia fight team challenged the girls of the Mórrígan fight team to an “Ancestral Battle” fought with mock swords and shields. This had gone on for almost two hundred and sixty years, but in the last five years the lead up to the battle had begun to turn a lot more acrimonious, and it wasn’t unusual for the students to use the “Safe Space” status of the dance—meaning no one could be “called out” to settle their grievance with a real challenge fight inside Gwydion Manor—to start throwing a few non-magical punches back and forth.

“Coraline’s already fixed one broken nose—” She pointed at Erywin. “—that one of your girls threw, Honey.”

Erywin didn’t seem that concerned. She turned to Deanna. “I’m sure it wasn’t that bad.”

Deanna nodded as she he’d heard her fellow coven leader, but didn’t quite believe her. “Perhaps you could discuss protocol once again with them before they are unable to participate in the evening’s encounter?”

Helena nodded then stood. “That might not be a bad idea. I’ll help.” She turned to Annie and Kerry as Erywin rose from her seat. “You look lovely Annie. You’re . . .” She smiled slyly. “Good too, Kerry.”

Kerry almost laughed. “Thanks . . . Xena.”

Helena snorted. “I’m from New Zealand: who the hell else am I gonna come as?”

He pointed at her legs. “Your skirt’s a little long, though.”

Erywin stopped next to Helena as the later gave the skirt, which ended just above her knees, a tug. “Forgive me: I’m modest.” She turned and both teachers made their way through the crowd.

 

Helena?  Modest?  As with everything here, there’s probably a reason for that . . .

Also, you see the semi-informal school event that I actually blogged about way back on January 13 of this year, something I said I was going to write.  That post also included an excerpt from the first time Annie and Kerry attended Sorcery Class with Professor Lovecraft.  And here she is again, seven and a half months later, breaking up fights between the two groups of energetic fighting witches.  Just like Annie, I keep my promises.

Besides, these girls have been waiting months to kick each other’s butts.

"I'll break more than your nose, bitch."

“I’m gonna break a lot more than your nose.”

"You just screwed with the wrong Sheildmaiden."

“You just screwed with the wrong sheildmaiden.”

The Order of the Wordness

To say I didn’t write yesterday would be misleading, because there were lots of things going on in my head–I simply didn’t put any of that stuff down into the computer.  Nothing to edit, nothing to write.  First time that’s happened in some time.

And the good news is I didn’t freak out.

"I haven't put a single word in my story in ten minutes--my god, the walls are closing in!  Help!"

“I haven’t put a single word into my story in ten minutes–my god, it feels like the walls are closing in! Help!”

Like I said I worked on scenes in my head, mostly for the upcoming Act Two, but I branched out into Act Three a little.  Safe to say I know the ending of this novel–and pretty much every one that happens after this.  I’m nothing if not ready–though some would say, insane.  But there’s nothing wrong with a little crazy, right?

I might also have a few people who’ll beta read part of Act One.  I always fear that, because the last time I sent something out for beta reading the person told me they couldn’t get past the third page, and that I needed to cut the first two parts–without reading any of it, of course.  But I’m thinking about sending out the first part, then if that goes well the second, and then the third part, which is pretty much half of Act One.  Then sit back and wait for the comments to come in.

There is something that concerns me, and that’s word count.  This first book is long . . . real long.  Act One is 140,290 words, which, if I use the Harry Potter word count metric, is just short of both a Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets.  Once Acts Two and Tree are in place, this one story will pretty much end up about the length of those aforementioned novels, plus The Goblet of Fire tacked on for good measure.

Which is the main reason why I decided to publish the individual acts alone:  throwing the whole story out there would be a little insane, and I don’t need War and Peace comparisons.  (For the record War and Peace clocks in at 561,304 words, and I have read it.  You get a definite feel for war in Russia in the winter, trust me.)

But then there’s these guys . . .

We all know George R. R. Martin, he of the “Don’t Get Too Attached to That Character” school of writing.  When you get into The Song of Ice and Fire series, the first book, A Game of Thrones, is 298,000 words.  And that’s the shortest book.  Second is A Feast of Crows, which is three hundred thousand, and they go from there.  Total count for five novels is one million, seven hundred seventy thousand words, and the remaining two novels will crank this up to about two and a quarter million words.

Stephen King’s Dark Tower series started out small, with The Gunslinger ending up fifty-five thousand words–King was probably having a bad day.  The remaining novels in series ran between 170,000 and 250,000, those the last book, The Dark Tower, ended up 288,000 words, bringing the series total to one million, two hundred and ninety-five thousand words.

But if we want to talk about massive word counts, let us head over to the Wheel of Time.

Robert Jordan’s fantasy series is huge:  eleven novels, with the shortest of them being about a quarter of a million words, the saga has a total word count of three million, three hundred and four thousand words.  Now, that brings it in just short of the ten novel series, Malazan Book of the Fallen, by Steven Erikson, which has a total word count of three million, three hundred twenty-five thousand words, but after Jordan died it was decided to bring in another author to finish Jordan’s final novel, A Memory of Light.  Brandon Sanderson finished that novel, and when it was published it was cut into three novels because–have you been following this thread?

A Memory of Light was huge.  How huge, she says?  The book was turned into The Gathering Storm–297,502 words–Towers of Midnight–327,052 words–and A Memory of Light, the original title, and that ended up with a count of 353,906 words.  Let me do some quick adding here, and . . . the final novel in the series was 978,460 words.

A million word novel.  Yeah, I can see that.

Come on, little fella--let's do this!

Come on, little fella–let’s do this!

 

You throw that into the mix, along with a prequel that’s just over a hundred thousand words, and the entire Wheel of Time series is 4,410,036 words, or 684 chapters, or 11,916 pages of good, fantasy fun.

I should also point out that David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest ran five hundred and seventy-five thousand words, and I seem to remember a lot of people trying to read that–“trying” being the operative word here.  But that sucker sold, and is probably still selling today.

So, is this where I’m heading?  Writing about these kids for the rest of my life?

Well . . . there are worst things that could happen.

The World Beneath the Water

Lets roll out the new from last night, first.  It was “I’m Off Night,” last night, because after dinner and a little shopping I had zero creative energy to sit and do anything.  I knew what I wanted to write, but after a good hour of looking at the story, I finally said, “I think I’ll just sit and relax,” and did that until I started falling asleep at ten PM.  It’s not a bad thing:  sometimes you need to recharge your batteries, and if that means a night off, then take it.  I don’t have anything to do today, so it’s a good time to make up for last night’s lost time.

So what I’m going to talk about today is something completely different, and in the process of this discussion I’m going to bring up some things about a rather well known television show about zombies where no one ever says the word zombie.  There will be times when I’m gonna go all Ms. Spoilly McSpoil, so if you don’t want to read something that’s going to cause you to shake your fist at your computer screen while you scream, “Curse you, Cassie!” through clenched teeth, then read a book, listen to music, or watch some good movies–TCM will show Bonnie and Clyde, Jaws, and Alien back-to-back tonight, so you might want to keep that block open.

I have given warning–you know–

Or is that, "Don't Dead, Open Inside"?  Maybe I should check . . .

Or is that Don’t Dead, Open Inside? Maybe I should check . . .

There’s a meme that’s been rolling around Facebook of late, one that doesn’t actually involve some kid getting picked up for a DUI in Miami.  No, this is a picture of a huge iceberg, floating peacefully along while waiting for a ship to smack into it.  As you know an iceberg is pretty much under the water, a huge thing you never see, which is probably good because you’d likely get hypothermia swimming around trying to get a look-see.

The part above the water–the small part–is labeled “Movie”, while the part below the waterline is labeled “Novel”.  You know what they’re trying to say:  the parts you see in a movie are only a small part of the story that’s adapted from a novel–if, of course, the movie is adapted from a novel, and it’s not an original tale.

But this is often true.  One could point to any of the biggest movies of late–the Harry Potter films, the Lord of the Rings, the Hunger Games–had to leave out a lot of the story to get the tale up on the screen.  For some tales you need to do a four or five hour flick if you want to get everything on the screen–or do as was done with The Godfather, which took the early life of Vito Corleone and worked it up as a flash back around original material.  And in doing this, they still left out a lot of the story.  (Maybe due to threats of a lawsuit by a certain Italian-American singer and actor who’d won an Oscar who didn’t like a character in the novel who was Italian-American singer and actor who ended up winning an Oscar, all with a little help from his godfather.  Purely a coincidence, I’m sure.)

When you translate a novel to television, however, you are allowed a little more leeway, because you have, if you’re lucky, more time to develop your story.  Rich Man, Poor Man was a good example of the early television mini-series, where you could take your time moving as much of the story from the page to the screen, and stay true to the material.  Yes, some things don’t get translated well–maybe due to things that are going on inside a person’s head, or, depending on the times, there are things in the story that violate a network’s “standards and practices,” which is a fancy way of saying you’ll never get a particular scene past the censors.

This is pretty much alleviated by the advent of premium cable these days, where one can pretty much get away with showing so much that the joke has  become, “It’s not porn, it’s HBO.”  Yes, there are some things that HBO won’t show–in A Song of Ice and Fire our lovable Mother of Dragons was more like I’m Just Barely a Teen Mommy of Dragons, so she was aged up just a little for Game of Thrones.  And by “just a little,” I mean she could have appeared on 16 and Pregnant–with DRAGONS!  Which is a reality show I’d watch . . .

Basic cable has gotten into the act as well.  Breaking Bad was a true gem of drama, with a story and characters that was at both times compelling and revolting.  This was, however, an original show, and the story could develop as slowly and fully as the creator/producer liked.  And that brings us to the real iceberg of this tale, The Walking Dead.

"I don't speak with an English accent.  I'm from Kentucky; no one from the South speaks with an English accent."

“I don’t speak with an English accent. I’m from Kentucky; no one from the South speaks with an English accent.”

At the moment the AMC show is three-and-a-half seasons into a four season run, with a fifth promised.  It’s done very well in ratings and has a loyal, sometimes fanatical following, but that’s to be expected with any fandom.  The show follows this guy, Sheriff Rick Grimes, who wakes up from a gun shot-induced coma and discovers that, no, he’s not in Indiana, he’s in the middle of the Zombie Apocalypsetm, his family is missing, and everything he’s known has gone straight to hell.  In the process of the first episodes he finds his family, a group of survivors, and most of all his best-I-left-you-for-dead-and-I’m-bangin’-your-wife-friend and former partner from the force, Shane.

The show has followed the meta plot pretty closely:  they find Atlanta messed up, they find  Hershel’s Farm, they find The Prison, they find The Governor, they fight The Governor, they lose the Prison, and as of right now they’re On The Road looked for each other and safe harbor.  Since it’s been stated they run into the traveling trio of Abraham Ford, Rosita Espinosa, and mullet-sporting Eugene Porter, the metaplot will have them heading northward to the Alexandra Safe-Zone, where life won’t exactly become any easier for them.

I’ve only watched the show off and on throughout the years.  I usually haven’t had the time to watch the show, though these days I find there is more time in The Burg for relaxing, so I have watched episodes off and on.  I’ve also been an off-and-on fan of the comic, which has run since October, 2003, and is now up to Issue 120, with a confirmation of printing through Issue 132.

In terms of iceberging, this story is the perfect iceberg.  There is so much that has been set by the wayside in order to get the story on the screen.  About half of the Prison story was removed, for example, which could have been an entire season in of itself–instead of, say, a whole season of hanging out on The Farm.  That season could have seen Hershel losing two of his kids to his zombie kid in the barn, Tyreese’s daughter and boyfriend messing up their suicide pack, the beheading of Hershel’s twin daughters by crazy prisoners, Tyreese giving Rick a beatdown and throwing him off a second-story walkway, Carol deciding to do Death By Walker–

Wait, what?

Like I said, there were a lot changed to move the story from the comic to the small screen.  For one, they got rid of a few characters:  Hershel had a huge family, and he pretty much gets to watch six of them die almost right before his eyes–the last one, his son Billy, does when he takes a bullet to the head during the Woodbury assault on the prison. There are a few prisoners who make it as far at the Woodbury assault but no further, and one of two Woodbury defectors also meet their end at that point as well.  Dale–he of the famous show’s Dale Face–survives well beyond the Woodbury assault, only to be eaten by cannibals while on the road to Washington, D.C..  He is also the one who loses a leg, but since Dale was long-gone by the time of the show’s Prison Time, that leg bite went to Hershel.

Oh, and the Show Rick swears a lot less than that Comic Rick, but that’s because It’s Not HBO, It’s AMC, and while the show may be able to get away with a “shit” and “asshole” now and then, having Rick throw out the word “fucker” every so often wouldn’t go over well, and tell Michonne and Tyreese that the Woodbury folks “have fucked with the wrong people!” is pretty much HBO fodder.  And there’s a few sex scenes, because even when you’re surrounded by the undead, there’s always a moment for sexy time, right?

"This is my resting bitchy face.  I'm really not as bad as I'm made out."

“This is my resting bitchy face. I’m really not as bad as I’m made out.”

And then there is Lori.

If there is a part of this ‘Berg I find way the hell off, it’s the way a few of the women are portrayed.  In the original story, Lori is concerned, she’s protective of her family, she admits to having had sex once with Shane but no more, she makes it through Judith’s birth, becomes a protective mother–and then dies in about as gruesome a manner as one can imagine.  If it’s any consolation, her death–and the death of another–leads to the death of The Governor, but by that time Lori’s a Walker in Training and gives no shits.

The Show Lori, however . . . when your character is made out as the worst thing in a world full of undead looking to eat you and your loved ones twenty-four/seven, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, until the day you join the shambling herd, there is something seriously off.  By the end of Season Two most viewers, given the choice of having their face gnawed off by a hungry Walker, or having Lori ask them if they saw Carl in the house, would say, “Hey, Walker:  you want a side salad with my face?”  No way was she ever getting Mother of the Year awards, and given the narrowness of that field in the story, it’s a pretty damning indictment for her character.

The same thing was done with Andrea.  On the show she was something of an annoying pain in the ass who got separated from the group, was rescued by Michonne, went to Woodbury, hooked up with The Gov, waffled back and forth with the, “Is he good, is he psycho?  I can’t kill him, the sex was pretty good,” line, and ultimately ended up dead due to her own kind of stupid.

"No, I never shot a redneck by accident.  If I shoot him, he ain't gettin' up!"

“No, I never shot a redneck by accident. If I shoot him, he ain’t gettin’ up!”

This is more the way she really was:  kicking ass and forgetting the names as soon as they were dispatched.  And that scar on her face?  That’s from taking a rifle shot to the head, which sort of kinda put her out of action just a little in the final Woodbury assault.  But, in the comic story, Andrea’s still alive, still kicking ass, and pretty much Rick’s girlfriend at this point.  A lot of her personality in the original story got ported over to Carol, who, on the show, you learned not to be near if you had a bad cough.

I can understand some of the changes that were made:  it’s basic cable, you only have so many episodes in a season that can air, you wanna cut through as much of the Peyton Place stuff as possible and stick to the action, and you never know how long your actors can stay with you, so sometimes you kill off ones where they shouldn’t die, and keep around those who should have died because they’re good for the story, which is to say fans like them, and fans equal viewer, so go with that.

That, ultimately, is why you have the iceberg when you translate a story to a screen.  Reading is one thing, the visual medium another, and a lot of the people doing the viewing aren’t necessary going to be doing the reading.  There are a few exceptions to the rule–Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings instantly spring to mind, as well as a few superhero movies based upon other comics–but in the case of TV, it does seem that you have a lot more people who watch the story, and are surprised as hell when one tells them that what they’re watching was based upon a book, or in the case of TWD, a comic.

It’s an interesting thing to look at from the point of being a writer.  I’ve seen more than a few Facebook threads that go, “If your story is made into a movie, who do you want to play your characters?”  A better question may be, “If your story is made into a movie or television show, what would you be okay with getting changed or dropped?”  After all, your story would end up someone else’s iceberg.

And there’s so much water in which to hide.

Ringside with Buttercup

After all the excitement yesterday it time to rest up, relax, and spend a little time back in at the casa.  Spending four hours on the road can become a tiring experience, so by the time I rolled back to the apartment I wasn’t in the mood to do anything but veg and maybe watch a little television, and hope for a good night’s sleep.

The sleep I got.  The television was pretty lame, as there wasn’t anything good on, so I let it play in the background.  A couple of the flicks on were five hours of BS stuffed into two hours of celluloid, but since everything is digital these days, you can do that with compression.

Oh, and there was writing.  I finally put all my new kids in their respective covens, so no more worrying about who is suppose to be where when I need affiliations.  I also figured out who isn’t returning for their B Levels, because I do think ahead.  I’m like that; always planing for the future of people who don’t exist.

This also means the writing is back on track, with over a couple of thousand words written over the weekend.  The word count total–as the novel finishes up the Chapter Nine Thursday classes and moves into the Chapter Ten Friday morning participation–is one hundred nine thousand, two hundred ninety-nine.  I’ll pop up one hundred ten today, and it would appear, with this short Chapter Ten, and two more to go, that I’ll finish this first episode of Book One in another fifteen thousand or so words.  Yes, one third of a story clocking in at one hundred twenty five thousand words–no problem.  Happens every day.

It’s not a nice return for Kerry, however.  He spent the night in the hospital, and the other A Levels didn’t know what was happening with him.  No, they didn’t rush to his bedside:  this is a bunch of kids who hardly know each other.  No bonds formed here yet.

When he does walk into class–which happens to be “Self Defense for Beginners”–he gets asked how he’s doing.  He also starts getting teased by a couple of boys because when my Dark Mistress of All hauled Kerry off to the infirmary, he was doing a bit of the moaning and crying thing.  One even went so far as to tell another girl who was sticking up for Kerry that “sure, you’d cry, that’s what girls do,” and ended up getting all the female types in the room to shoot death laser eyes at him, thereby insuring he’ll never date an A Level girl at any time during the next six years.  (As a side note, the girls in the school outnumber the boys by a little more than four-to-one, something that Kerry pointed out with great glee.  Yes, at Salem, It’s a Girl’s World–and they will let you know it.)

How does Kerry deal with this?  He turns to Annie and starts quoting lines from The Princess Bride.  Fortunately for him, she’s seen/read it, and she start quoting what she remembers, and they end up playfully chasing each other around the huge, open room with a sparing mat in the center.

Kerry doesn’t say that quote.  You know which quote I’m talking about, don’t look at me like that.  That’s not one of my favorite quotes of the movie, and just like in the flick, it gets said over and over so much in real life that when I hear it I just sigh and pretend I’m atomizing the person.  No, the one I prefer is when he yells, “I want my father back, you son of a bitch!”, due in part to the intensity Mandy Patinkin delivers.  He admitted that when doing the scene he was reminded of his own father’s death, and the memories were getting to him when he uttered his lines.

Besides, I almost always think of Mandy as Rube Sofer from Dead Like Me, the middle man for the Reaper who always meet at Der Waffle House to discuss what souls they’re going to take for the day.  Rube, who is always trying to get Death to stop in for dinner and who swears at him when he doesn’t like something on the list of people they’re taking before they die.

"This job is killing me. Yeah, I went there . . . (checking list) Whadday say your name was?"

“This job is killing me. Yeah, I went there . . . (checking list) Whadday say your name was?”

And who tries to offer words of wisdom to new Reaper Georgia, who’s first assignment is to take the soul of an eight year old girl who dies in a train derailment, and decides not to, that it would be better to let her live:

Dead Like Me: Pilot (#1.1)

George: If you want her to die so bad, you do it!
Rube: [angrily] I can’t, no one can except you. Death is non-transferable, she’s your mark. Only you can do the deed.
George: Well then, barring any unforeseen accidents, I’d say she has another eighty years.
Rube: Yeah, well you believe me, that’s eighty years she doesn’t want.
George: What is that supposed to mean?
Rube: Her fate was sealed the moment she got onto that train. Her soul expired. You know what happens when you keep a soul around after its time?
George: No.
Rube: Same thing happens to milk. It spoils, goes bad, souls go bad in all kinds of ways.
George: But…
Rube: [continues to speak in quiet anger] If you’re having trouble comprehending the severity of the situation, why don’t you consult Webster’s on the definition of bad? If you don’t take her soul, it’s going to wither and die and rot inside her. I’ve seen it happen. Do you wish to condemn her to that?
George: [crying] She’s just a little girl. She can’t die, it’s cruel!
Rube: [gently] It is cruel. It’s cruel she won’t know what life’s really like. It’s cruel that she’ll miss out on so much love and pain and beauty, and that’s sad for everyone in the world except for her. She won’t give a rat’s ass, she’ll be doing something different. That’s just the way it is.

Good ol’ death, always a comfort.  And the Reapers will show up at Salem soon enough.

You can bet on that.

I’ve Seen the Saucers

Oh, Hai!  It’s Soufflé Girl once again but this time I’m on the road.  Well, my machine isn’t a dud, all stuck in the mud, so that’s a good thing in my favor.  That might have given you a clue, so I’ll tell you straight out:  I’m in New Jersey, and I’ve been on the road since four-thirty, and as it’s now eight AM, you do the math on how long I’ve been traveling.

Why am I here?  Because no one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might scrutinize the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of our empire over this world. Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us . . .

And if you don’t recognize those lines–which are not mine, as if I need to say it–you need to turn in your sci fi geek card if you have one, because you just suffered major alien invasion fail.

I am just south of this somewhat fuzzy-looking, early morning field–said picture taken at seven AM with a mobile phone and a pair of semi-shaky hands.  It’s actually a park next to a pond just outside of Princeton Junction, NJ, which is just to the east of Princeton, home of the famous university and professors.  It doesn’t look like much, does it?  Really, it isn’t.

GM Field 01

So pretty in the morning light . . .So why be out here at dawn’s early light.

Because of these guys:

 

Why you gotta come down here an cause a ruckus?

Why you gotta come down here an cause a ruckus?

That is the marker set at one end of the field to commemorate that this place is, indeed, Grover’s Mill, NJ, and on October 30, 1938, Orson Wells decided this joint was as good as any to start the alien apocalypse.

For a little background:  The Mercury Theater On the Air radio troupe decided that for their Halloween broadcast they’d do a modern-day reenactment of H. G. Wells’ War of the World.  Rather than place the story in England, where it took place in the novel, Orson moved the local to the U. S., and had the Martian War Machines first touch down outside Princeton, NJ, so he could play the part of the smarty-pants scientist who comes in, sees them crawl out and start mowing everyone down before heading for New York–sure, Philadelphia is much closer, but even Martians knew no one wants to go to Philly ’cause they’ll get booed.  “You only killed two hundred with that heat ray?  You suck!” Tough crowd.

During the broadcast it was announced that what people were hearing was a presentation, but if you missed like the first ten minutes of the program and only heard the simulated death and destruction, you might assume you were hearing the real deal.  I mean, it’s not like anyone had an Internet where they could get the shit spoiled out of the program, so you had to go on faith that what was playing was legit.

Some people, apparently, thought just that.

Now, there are all sorts of stories about what happened that night.  I have stories from my maternal grandparents that people were in a panic that night, though they didn’t know anyone who panicked–it was always some guy who knew a dude who’s wife’s best friend went crazy.  There is a well-known story that a woman in Indianapolis ran into a church where services were being held, told people New York City had just been destroyed and it was the end of the world, but if you come from Indiana–as I do–you’ll know that’s also known as “Thursday Night”.  Jack Parr was working in radio at the time and he told the story about how people called him and asked what was happening; he told them it was just a radio show, and eventually some of the callers accused him of covering up the invasion.

Since 1938 a bit of investigating has been performed, and it’s safe to say that the majority of the, “People were ready to kill their families!” stories are anecdotal.  One of the things that Wells took advantage of was timing the “Martian Invasion” part of his broadcast to start about twelve minutes into the show.  Why?  A popular show on the NBC Red Network would start a musical number after the opening comedy sketch, and Wells wanted “station flippers” to be confused by what they were hearing, and stay to find out what was going on.  That Orson:  always the showman.  Tell us what Rosebud really meant . . .

Most of what we know about the program today is due, in part, to bad human memory and the media blitz that followed in the weeks after the broadcast.  Though the stories dropped off the front pages in a matter of days, over twelve thousand articles were written about the broadcast, and one might say the media played a big part in making a huge star out of Orson Wells.  Though a lot of people remember this shot:

You Martians! Get off my lawn!

Proof positive that someone was so taken in by what they heard that they were gonna start blastin’ those war machines.  Except it’s a staged photo:  someone from Life Magazine paid the guy to pose for the picture so they’d have something to run in their next issue.

That doesn’t mean that someone didn’t do any shooting . . . behold!  The Martian War Machine!

Jump back, Hoomans!  I'm here to kick ass!

Stand aside, Hoomans! Mars needs Women!

What you are looking at is something that is pretty hard to see these days.  It’s an old water tower that was used by the residents of the area in 1938.  Legend has it that a few people were out that night trying to figure out what was going on, saw this thing in the woods, and took a few shots in its general direction.  The reason I say it’s hard to see normally is because it now sits on private property, and the trees normally block the view of the tower.  So, by visiting when the trees are bare, one may see the war machine in all its, um, glory.

There you have it:  my visit to the site of the alien invasion landing site, and I’ve lived to tell the tale.  There are a couple of other places here in New Jersey I’d like to visit, and I still have one location in Pennsylvania that will take me at least a good seven hours of driving to get there and back, and if I’m going to spend that much time on the road, I may as well head back to Indiana.  But these day trips are good for getting out of the apartment, and how many chances will I ever get to see something like this?

We now return you to the regularly scheduled program, already in progress.

A far better look at the Martian Memorial, not taken by someone with shaking hands in the early morning light.

The Measure of My Tales

Facebook is a place that is often overtaken by–as a friend of mine once said–insane, time wasting crap.  Come play this game; look over this list of movies and tell us how many you’ve seen; watch this video of dogs and cats living together and you’ll see something you never expected; find out which murdered character you are from Game of Thrones.  Not to mention the ads I get suggesting that I’ll find happiness with insane racist conservatives who are also cannibals.  Okay, maybe that last is an exaggeration.  Maybe.

There is one thing going around at the moment–no, not that, but if you do have it, medicine will clear it right up–asking people to mention the ten books that have stuck with them.  As in, what did you read and it’s still there rolling about in your head like a ricochet from the novel Firestarter?  I haven’t mentioned anything about this on my wall, because I have to think about what I’ve read.  There are so many tomes I’ve gone through over the decades that picking just ten books out of thin air isn’t easy.  As I told a friend last night, “I think I’ll blog about this,” and wouldn’t you know, here it comes.

One thing, however:  this isn’t going to be just a list of ten books.  There will be ten items, but don’t expect ten books.  Why?  Because I follow my own rules, and it’s my blog, so–slipping on my sunglasses–deal with it.

Here we go:

1.  Earthlight and A Fall of Moondust, both by Arthur C. Clarke.  As I’ve mentioned before, these were the first adult novels I read.  I picked them both up in a two novel omnibus from the local library, and got right into reading.  I was seven, and I was fascinated by what was inside.  The Moon was a real place, there were people there, there were interesting things happening, and you even had ships sinking and people requiring rescue.  This is what got me hooked on reading in general and science fiction in particular, and if you notice an over-abundance of science fiction on this list, blame Arthur.

2.  The Threat: Inside the Soviet Military Machine, by Andrew Cockburn.  The 1980’s were scary times, sometimes even more scary than the 1960’s.  Not only did you have a ton of saber-rattling on both sides of the Iron Curtain, but I was constantly being reminded by people I worked with that the Commies were coming to destroy our way of life, and if we had to go nuclear on their asses, so be it.  Then this book came along and, in a few hundred pages, laid out the case that while the Soviet military was large and impressive, it was pretty much a paper tiger on the verge of falling apart–much like the Soviet Union did a few years after the publication of this book.  It taught me that one should do their research before heading off to state things as absolute–something Facebook Nation would do well to learn.

3.  Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank.  Yeah, lets talk about blowing shit up in a big way, shall we?  This was one of the first nuclear apocalypse novels, and I read though this story maybe a dozen times.  This was the novel that got me thinking about writing big stories, creating world changing events.  I even started planing my own nuclear apocalypse novel not long after one of the readings of his novel, planing out first and second strikes on the U.S. using an old Rand McNally road atlas.  I never wrote that novel, but I was pushed there, and this is the books that made me want to wipe out the world.

4.  The Scream and The Bridge, by John Skipp and Craig Spencer.  Horror doesn’t get any better than this.  Skipp and Spencer grabbed my attention, pushed me through the emotional wringer, and let me know in no uncertain terms, yes, there isn’t such a thing as too much.  While I probably read The Scream a dozen times, I’ve read The Bridge once.  Just once.  Not because it’s a bad novel–oh, no.  I’ve read it once because it’s so damn disturbing that I can’t bear to read it again.  And yet, I can’t forget the story.

5.  Danse Macabre and Different Seasons, by Stephen King.  What have we here?  Non-fiction and fiction together?  Yep, we do.  Danse Macabre is a written history of horror up to that point–1982–and Stephen lays it out for you:  where it came from, how it got to where we are now, and what it did for him.  Different Seasons contains, in my opinion, three of the best stories Stephen has ever written, proven by the fact that they ended up becoming the best film adaptation of all of his stories.  The last story in the collection is also good, but when compared to the other three, it becomes the literary equivalent of, “I’ll just wait over here in the corner.”

6.  At the Mountains of Madness, by H. P. Lovecraft.  I should say “Anything by Lovecraft,” but I need one story, and this really was the one that cemented me as a life-long fan of the crazy old racist.  When I read the description of what was found at the forward camp, I felt the cold, I heard the wind, I saw the way light was warped and tortured by those terrifying mountains of madness.  Even though there has been talk over the years about a movie, it’ll never match the mental images I have of this story.  This was also the story that pushed me into role playing, because the moment I heard there was a Call of Cthulhu game, I was like, gotta have this now.

7.  Watchmen, by Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins.  This story set the bar for graphic novels, and it’s yet to be topped.  Superheros who were real, an alternate world where we know who killed Kennedy and Nixon remained president for a long time because he won the war in Vietnam, and a naked blue guy who treated time and space like it weren’t no big deal–this is the sort of story that needed a twelve-part HBO mini-series to get right.  Even today, after many readings, I still get chills when I read, “I did it thirty-five minutes ago,” and I’ll get misty eyed when I turn to Episode Twelve and the opening panels before the title, A Stronger, Loving World.  Why?  Because I wish I’d written and drawn that.

8.  The Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat, by Harlan Ellison.  Come on, as much as I rave about the guy, you knew he was gonna end up on this list.  The two volume collection of the television reviews he did for the Los Angeles Free Press, written between 1969 and 1971, these were the stories that hooked me on Harlan, and taught me that writing should be personal, you should throw your body, mind, and soul into everything you do.  And if you gotta swear in your writing, then piss on it:  swear.  Do it in an entertaining fashion, however, or you’ll come off like a twelve year old with Tourette Syndrome.

9.  Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clark.  Yeah, he’s back, with one of the greatest novels ever written.  Yeah, that sounds like hyperbole, but read it and you’ll see I speak the truth.  Seriously, when someone tells me they’re into science fiction, I ask them how they feel about Childhood’s End.  Most of the time I’ll get, “Huh?” which is disappointing, but it at least gives me the chance to tell that person they have to read it.  If, however, they tell me that didn’t like it–or worse, didn’t get it–eh, I have nothing else to say to said person.  You have no imagination.  You’re talking about the Devil, more or less, coming to Earth to oversee the evolution of humanity into something universe-spanning, which happens in a scene that been ripped off by both V and Independence Day.  This is another of those stories that leaves me in awe and weeping at the same time, because it’s too damn incredible.

10.  The Gaea Trilogy:  Titan, Wizard, Demon, by John Varley.  Every time I start to world building a story, I want it to be as good as the world created in The Gaea Trilogy.  Yes, Cassini has proven there aren’t any living Stanford Toruses in orbit around Saturn, but who cares?  These are an incredible trip into another world, where you have living beings inside another living being who’s pretty much a god that can do anything she likes.  To this day Cirocco Jones and Gaby Plauget remain two of my favorite characters of all time, because they are real, and it’s led me to make my female characters live and breathe the way these two do.

 

There you have it:  ten books, more or less–mostly more–that have remained with me to this day.  Are there another ten?

I’d be lying if I said no.

The Circle of Drama

Back on Wednesday AMC began running every episode of Breaking Bad, with a intermission here and there to keep people from jumping out windows because they were depressed, I suppose.  Because there are so many things going on with me over the last few years I haven’t been able to watch the show, but I’ve known of it, and I’ve been fortunate enough to catch the last eight weeks of the series, which comes to an end this coming Sunday, 29 September.

Because of this show we now have ever high school chemistry teacher in the country being asked if they know how to cook meth, which is probably not a good thing, but it’s better than no questions at all, I suppose.  And it would appear that Albuquerque is one of the major drug capitals of the country, and a good place to buy up some bankrupt fried chicken shacks.

The one thing it has done is bring drama, and that’s because the writing is just so damn good.

Getting home from work I was able to catch the last four episodes of Season Two:  Over, Mandala, Phoenix, and ABQ.  Two of these episodes made up a grouping of four that foreshadowed an event that closed out Season Two, and the last scene in ABQ foreshadows an event that will close out Season Four.  It’s all there:  life, death, getting hope, loosing it all . . . and watching people turn into monsters before your very eyes.  (And those four episodes were Seven-Thirty-Seven, Down, Over, ABQ.  Now you know how the season ends.)

I love great writing.  One of the reasons I don’t watch a lot of television is I’m not much for the product dealt.  Think of it along the lines of the Sky Blue that’s cooked on Breaking Bad:  you get the normal crap that’s all over the place, and then there’s the crank that’s ninety-five percent pure.  Finding that Sky Blue drama is rare, but when you do, you sit on that stuff and love the ride until it takes you down.

One of the reasons I decided to take a creative writing course in the late 1980’s was due to hating what passed for good story telling on TV and at the movies.  My ego was just enough then that I thought, “I can write better than most of these hacks,” and I still have that personal belief that if you work at your craft long and hard enough, and you’re willing to learn from the crap you first churn out, then you’ll end up producing something good, maybe even some great stuff.  Work at it long enough, and you’ll produce a few lines of Sky Blue quality stories.

If you’re luckier, you’ll do that for a while and end up feeling guilty about what you’re going to do with all the money you make.

None of us start out being true artists of our craft; it takes time to get there, it takes work.  It’s rare that any of us are gonna drive the RV out into the desert and produce some totally pure produce the first time out, and do it wearing only our underwear.  But if we work at it long enough, we may just become artists of our craft.

Or we can get wasted on our own product.  That’s always an option.

The Nonsensical Fantastic

I belong to a lot of groups.  Some are about writing, some about things science fictiontiony, some about makeup and clothing, some about how to cook the best meth.  (No, that last is just a joke.  A joke.  Does anyone remember laughter?)

Over the last few days a thread popped up in one of these groups, and it made my head hurt.  Without getting into too much detail, someone decided that, for their story, they needed a Hollow Earth.  Not only did they need one, but they needed it bigger, and they needed populated . . . and they needed it to occur naturally.  They also wanted to know if the people on the inside of the world would ever know that their are people on the outside, and if the people on the outside would ever know about the people on the inside, and could they detect each other like they would an earthquake, and . . .

Ouch.  My head hurts.

I know what you’re thinking:  “Cassie, you’re being a bitch.  You’re gettin’ all up in this guy’s stuff just because you think the primary plot element of his story is crazy.”  Yeah, I’m like that.  I look at things that aren’t and say, “Hey, you know if you don’t have a spinning molten metallic core in your planet, you’re never going to have magnetic fields, and eventually everyone dies.”  I know–bitch, right?

I am the first to admit than when I want something in a story, I go for it.  Magic?  Sure, why not?  I’ve done it in one story, and I’m going to do it in another.  Superpowers?  You know it, because I know I’d look great in a boob window.  Psychic abilities?  I have a whole series I could write around a couple of ladies who possess them.  How do all these things work?  Damned if I know, because it’s all stuff that’s happening at quantum levels of nature, and you need to get people brainer than me to puzzle that stuff out.

Tell me you have a naturally occurring hollow planet, or that you’re packing up your planet and moving to another system because everything’s used up, and I start looking at you funny.  Because there are some things that just aren’t meant to be.

Suspension of disbelief is something all writers have to deftly balance when working their craft.  You can throw a few pieces of Handwavium into your story to make it fantastic, but if you maintain the internal consistency of the world, things’ll be groovy.  (And Handwavium?  Yeah, that’s a real word.)  But if you do something stupid like, oh, I don’t know, synthesize someone’s blood and discover that it’ll bring people back from the dead hours after they croaked, then you’ve officially crossed the border into Bullshittia without your passport and there’s no coming back in one piece.  (This also goes for dumping a dead body on a newly created planet and having it restore someone to the age they were when they died.  Yeah, the border guards should have stopped you.)

Nothing wrong with the fantastic.  We love to read it, love to wallow in it, too.  But we own it to ourselves to keep it somewhat real as well.

Otherwise someone like me comes along and . . .

The Group Fade

There was something goofy with the computer last night, because I’m trying to edit and it’s making everything on the system drag.  Not to mention I was in one of those, “I do everything at once!” modes last night.  And my hair was driving me nuts, too.  What is causing this?  It’s not a full moon, that’s for sure.  The aftermath of a blue moon?  A change in the weather?  The impending end of Breaking Bad and the downfall of the Heisenberg Meth Empire?

Don’t want to say it’s aliens, but . . .

I realized yesterday that this coming Monday is Labor Day, and I’ll be spending it in The Burg alone.  In the past I was always around family during holidays, even when working in The Undisclosed Location.  This time–no.  Too far to drive.  I suppose if I were crazy enough I could leave out Friday night, spend ten hours in the dark driving, and arrive home about one in the morning–only to turn around and come back on Monday.  But that’s not how you do it.  That’s a waste of time and money.

I suppose I’ll get through  Maybe it’s time to explore . . .

I haven’t started writing anything new yet, but I think this weekend could be the time to start.  I’m getting to where I want to do something, but I don’t want to start on a novel or novella.  I don’t want to spend a month putting another thirty thousand words down, because I’m going to turn around and do that in November.  I’ve decided I will attempt NaNo, but I’m concerned I’ll actually “win” it this year.  Anymore it’s not about winning or losing:  it’s about writing a good story.  It’s about doing something you can publish–

Which, speaking of publishing, I need to get on my own stuff.  I need to do one last edit, then hand out my story and see about getting a cover.  I’m slacking there, but it’s not as if I haven’t had a lot keeping my busy of late.  The last month seems to have gone on and on with non-stop fun, though with September coming in things are starting to settle.  I think the next few weeks will see everything getting into a normal swing.  And once that happens, then I can start doing something else.

But I want that short story written.  And with it an article or two I’ve been sitting upon.  It need to be done.  And soon.

There was something in my dreams last night that I found unusual.  I was standing on the edge of something–building, hill, don’t know.  And there were thousands of people in an area below me, all of them mumbling something.  I looked out over them, then waved my hand and told them, “Go.  Leave.”  And they turned and started walking away, still mumbling, making their sounds.

I have no idea what that’s suppose to mean.  Was I looking over the past and telling it to leave me the hell alone?  Was it the present?  Were they the people I knew or know?  Or was it, you know, just a dream, one of those things where strange things happen–

‘Cause I was also stripping in the dream, too.

I didn’t look half bad.

Mortal Changes

After a weekend of working on various things, it’s now time to–get back to work?  Seems like only Friday I was looking forward to a relaxing time of doing nothing.  Which doesn’t happen around here, because if I’m doing nothing, then I’m probably sleeping.  Correct that:  trying to sleep.  Here I am, up at four-thirty again this morning, and my head is feeling a tad woozy.

One day I’ll go to bed at ten-thirty and wake up at six.  It will happen.  But today is not that day.

I was reading film reviews on Something Awful–’cause if you’re going to read film reviews, you may as well read something that’s gonna be funny, or at least sarcastic as hell–and they were doing a review of The Mortal Instruments movie.  While they didn’t care for it–they did give it a four out of ten rating “As a Piece of Absurdest Humor,” so it’s got that going for it–they did mention the fact that “Cassandra Clare”, the pen name for one Judith Rumelt, got her start penning Harry Potter and Lord of the Ring fan fiction.  They also mention that there’s more than a passing resemblance between some of the characters in The Mortal Instruments, and some of the characters and passages in the HP fanfic, all of which was pulled from the Internet as soon as her publishing career got started.

As Neil Gaiman has pointed out, fan fiction is writing, and anything that gets people writing is a good thing.  He’s also said he doesn’t care if you do fan fiction of his work, because, hey:  nothing you’re going to do is going to impact anything he’ll do to his characters.  He probably wants to stay away from Coraline slashfic, however . . .

His point about fan fiction is well taken, however.  It’s very likely that Neil never reads it, or if he has he’s sort of skimmed over it and thought, “Hum, yeah,” and moved on to working on his HBO adaptation and Doctor Who scripts.  And he’s correct:  there’s nothing millions of words of fan fiction will do to his characters that will reflect what he’s going to do to them, so why sweat it?

I wonder how he’d feel, however, if someone wrote a million words of Sandman fan fiction, put the character through some interesting changes–like having him get hammered in a strip club while watching his sister Death gyrate to some Millie Cyrus crunk as she’s making out with a demonic Taylor Swift–and then, a year later, finds a book called, Sleepytime Sam, the Dream King.  Book One:  Down and Out in Sister Stripperville.  Oh, sure, it’s just a coincidence the characters bear a little resemblance to his . . .

Not that I’ll have to worry about any of this.  I doubt that anyone will start ripping off my characters and write stories of their strange escapades, ’cause anything you can do, I know I can do better–and I love being strange.  I need to open up the strangeness stuff a little more, ’cause I feel I’m getting rusty.  Maybe it’s time to write my magnum opus about gay cuttlefish shapeshifters–

Oh, wait:  it’s been done.

The Ballad of Butthurt

Once again I’m ripping off Genesis for the title, though when they were putting And Then There Were Three . . . back in late 1977, the term “butthurt” wasn’t in the common vernacular.  It didn’t exist, and it would be another thirty years before it enjoyed widespread popularity.

And if you are wondering what butthurt is, go to Taco Bell, order one of everything from the menu, consume, then wait about an hour for the enviable reaction your body will demand.  Thirty minutes after that, you’ll know the meaning of butthurt–

Or you could just spend time on the Internet listening to fandom rage.

Which is what happened yesterday concerning the casting of a certain award winning actor–of course I know he won for directing and producing, but he won nonetheless–getting picked to play one of the most iconic, and of late overused, superheros.  The announcement was made in the middle of the night, as if Zack Snyder knew what free hell he was unleashing, and wanted to get up nice and early so he could monitor Twitter for the insanity that would follow.

Insanity did follow, for if there’s something the Internet is good for, it’s expressing one’s rage in the fact that a guy who appeared in one crappy superhero movie is probably going to appear in another crappy superhero movie.  At least it wasn’t his wife getting picked for a Wonder Woman movie, as there likely would have been more than a few gratuitous rape comments thrown in, ’cause if there’s one thing some fans know, it’s that they’re justified in throwing around rape and death threats.

We are talking about a movie that will cost $200 million to make and it suppose to be out by 2015.  For which, at this moment in time, has no script, no story–but like that’s ever stopped anyone from making a picture.  If you’ve followed this saga you know that Zack is using Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns as the basis for his story, showing the adventures of an older and somewhat burned-out and disillusioned Bruce Wayne setting out on one last set of adventures to tie up loose ends, and how Superman, the eternal boy scout and now-government agent, is sent to bring Bruce under control.  We all know how this ends (I’m saying this next in my River Song voice, so you know what that means . . .):  Bruce, figures out how to kick Superman’s ass, and does.

Miller has been called in to “advise” on the movie, which may or may not be a good thing.  On one hand, The Dark Knight Returns has been hailed for years was one of the greatest stories in the Batman universe, and for graphic novels in general.  On the other hand, twenty years later Frank penned All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, which was about as insane a story as one could ever imagine, complete with a wimpy Superman, a murderous Wonder Woman, a Black Canary who gets sexually aroused by violence, a Dick Grayson who is kidnapped, held hostage, and at one point told by a certain Caped Crusader to catch and eat rats if he’s hungry . . . and the main man himself, who is cruel, violent, even sadistic towards others–and, because of this introductory line, ends up becoming one of the most famous memes on the Internet.  Sure this is all pretty brutal, but it’s not like Batman hasn’t killed anyone before . . .

When it’s all said and done a movie will get made.  It will either bomb harder than the Dresden fire storm or make a gazillion bucks world wide, some people will love it, some people won’t, and haters gonna hate.  It’s not like it hasn’t happened before:  Micheal Keaton was ripped a new one by fan when he was selected by Tim Burton to wear the mask, and this kid who’s only played gay cowboys is gonna play The Joker?  What a disaster that’s gonna be!  Seems like there’s been more than a few actors and actresses who’ve been at the center of this fandom ire

None of us can see into the future, so none of us know the outcome.  We can imagine it, but unless you got the TARDIS warmed up and ready to set out, the 2015 movie scene is only conjecture.

There is only one sure thing we can say about Ben and the casting of this movie

Now if you’ll excuse me, I got some editing to do.

 

Late Night Downloads and Star Smashing

Crazy times yesterday, let me tell you.  So many things happening all at once, and coming to a head today and tomorrow.  It keeps a girl busy, you know?

Though there’s been little mention of the activity, the editing on Couples Dance continues.  Two-thirds of the chapters are now clean and done, with four remaining–which means not a lot of work, right?  Wrong!  Three of the four chapters are among the biggest in the novel, accounting for almost half the story–about twenty-four thousand words total.  That mean there is considerable editing ahead of me, even if it is only four chapters.

Up to this point the editing has been great, and I’ve learned to look hard at what I’m doing and make certain things are right and tight.  I’ve caught a few bad quotation marks, lost words, stuff that just doesn’t seem right.  I’ve removed the “suddenly”s and “very”s from the story.  I’ve even taken a couple of passes at two chapters because I was certain tenses were all messed up, and I wanted to sleep on the story before looking at it again.

Editing is fun.  Really, I wouldn’t lie.  Yes, it sounds like a lot of work, because it is, but your story needs this work.  It needs your eyes to fix things like spelling and tenses and things that, when you read them, simply don’t make sense.  The editor on the other end of the Internet can’t always know what you, the write, wanted to say, and you lose time if they’re sending you a block of text with the notion, “The hell is going on here?”

That’s time taken away from the work in progress you’ve got before you at that time.  And you don’t want that.

Not only that, but once more I’m up early with things bugging me.  This article I’ve spoken of–well, a couple of them, actually–I’m laying in bed and it’s like four AM, and there are idea flowing through my head that simply won’t let me sleep.  And out of nowhere comes this thought:  “Hey, if I make that Lensman sunbeam gun, will that 9.15e10 megatons per second of energy it generates really destroy a planet?”  Most people wake up imagining some warm hotness lying next to them; I’m thinking about blowing up planets with a sungun.

You know where this is going, right?

Once the computer was up I start the Google, looking for a calculator to convert megatons to joules–and, what do you know, I find it.  I plug in the above number and end up with 3.82836e26 joules of energy.  Now, you’re probably wondering how do I know if this is enough energy to blow up a planet?  Because I wrote an article some time back about using energy weapons in science fiction, and I gave the amount of energy needed to overcome the “binding energy” of Earth’s gravitational field and let the planet come apart completely.

And that number is 2e32 joules.  Now, it is said that the energy from the Sunbeam is designed to melt the planet, so if you look at the energy being delivered, yes, indeed, in about a minute or two you’ll deliver enough energy to melt an entire planet to the point where it’ll pretty much come apart.  Maybe.  It might be a little more than that, but the concept is workable.

I’ll leave the proof of concept to you.