I’ve been really unproductive for the last 18 months. I mean seriously, one piece of flash fiction in rough draft form and that’s about it. I’ve been talking to Maggie lately about these failures to produce and the act of talking to another writer actually got me motivated to sit down and do some work- 6 pages Monday! I think the best part of the conversation was finding out that she was nearly as unproductive me. To be fair, she just had a baby, but really, is that any kind of excuse?
I also dusted off some of the old stories a couple of weeks back, did a bit of tweaking, made two submissions- one to Clarkesworld and one to Apex Magazine. That was a real victory for me as I’ve practically abandoned my own rule #2: Submit, submit, submit. Even when you don’t want to, you must submit. I think that was Heinlein’s rule #1 because he figured it was more important than the writing and he wasn’t one to be bothered by existential issues. I attribute the recent spate of submissions to getting a nice email from Benjamin Rosenbaum in response to a comment I made on his website. He wrote the story, “A House Beyond Your Sky,” which I believe first appeared in MFSF or Strange Horizons, was Hugo nominated and ultimately included in G. Dozois’ Years Best #24 (arguably an even more prestigious award than the Hugo even if you don’t get the little rocket ship). I read it when if first came out then reread it recently as I have been working through every Years Best (I have them all!) and it was and still is one of the best ultra high concept short stories I’ve ever read. Do yourself the favor. So anyway, email exchange with Mr. Rosenbaum- two submissions. Chatter with Maggie, 6 new pages. The lesson seems obvious: me need to talk to other writers some time.
Now for what I’ve been doing other than writing: Watching Star Wars: Rebels
I watched the first two episodes of the animated/rendered prequel… sequel… postquel… prostquel, whetever, because I was curious how the Diz would handle geekdom’s most sacred intellectual property. My biggest concern was actually put to rest in the first three minutes. Ladies and gentlemen- we have a body count! When I saw the first storm trooper get a blaster to the chest and roll off his speeder I thought, “yeah, I’m sure we’ll get a background shot of him ‘struggling out of the way,” But No! Dead, dead, dead! So *phew*, this is at least PG-13 meaning that the odds of another Jar Jar fiasco went down by 4%.
Dead bodies were not the only hi-light in the new series. The AT-ST transport ship in ep2 was really satisfying to the “kid” in me that still fetishizes his old snowspeeder and considers the fact that he never got the AT-AT toy to be one of his greatest childhood traumas (and I grew up in a hollar). The resident astro-droid, Chopper, is actually hilarious; it’s like an R2 that smoked and watched porn. ***MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW*** There is the classic rule of five in the cast, the main hero, Ezra, joining the four erstwhile “rebels” in the first episode, although all the characters (not counting Chopper) are highly competent cardboard cutouts that borrow their pathos from back-story, i.e. “The Empire killed my family! -or, Order! -or, Race!” Our hero, Ezra, is what you might call a Diamond in the Rough, but those pesky imperial guards think he’s nothing but a Street Rat. Luckily he’s whisked away to A WHOLE NEW WORLD…
…Yup, Disney plugged Aladdin into Star Wars. I’m not even making this up. One of the other characters calls him a “street rat,” which is an apt epiphet; he was a local petty thief that made mischief in the international bizarre, stealing fruit and “messing around with those stupid guards,” but… wait, am I talking about Aladdin or Ezra? It’s all Disney to me.
Anyway, I need to get back to work so I’m not doing an all out critical analysis of this thing. Here are a few notes:
It’s set five years before A New Hope, so that would be like 1971. It has a Jedi voiced by Freddie the Princess Jr. who is way more like the “New Hope” Jedi than the “Phantom Menace” Jedi in that he ain’t nothing special. He is also the least Zen cosmic ninja monk in the franchise. The other characters are made out of wood including the villain, Agent Kallus (Really, Kallus? But it’s better than the name they wanted to use: Stand’ard Villain) who’s got the 70’s facial hair down, and I mean 1870’s. He could have been Chester A. Arthur’s running mate.
The lack of character development and complexity may come from over reliance on the Star Wars mythology and back story combined with this being the first two episodes. More evolution may ensue, but what I find most worrisome is the lack of compelling narrative development. The stories progress with the feel of a “choose your own adventure” book, and not one of those fancy late 80’s CYOA books either. You remember those? They had like, hit points and dice and crap. As if D&D with other people wasn’t humiliating enough. I digress. Without empathetic characters to give stake to story everything feels inevitable and pat. It’s like watching a video of a roller coaster; it might be exciting, if I felt anything.
There you go. I won’t apologize for being hard on a “kid show” because as my father always said, “If you got the balls to kill a man, then you owe it to them to present a cogent and compelling narrative.” He was a good dad. And hey, it’s fucking Disney, they could afford any writer they wanted. They could pay Vince Fucking Gilligan to go all Walter White on this thing. Now that was a Dark Side!
Something tells me I should be more careful. I’m not dealing with Lucasfilm anymore.
good to be back. Sorry for the hiatus. hit me up if you need/want to I always love hearing from you,
submit, submit, submit