In my opinion, Dark Knight is the finest superhero movie ever made. There’s something about the way it builds its own Batman mythos, borrowing minimally from the comics but adding its own twists to make a great movie that you’d love even if you perhaps weren’t a superhero fan.
Avengers on the other hand is a movie for fanboys. And ordinarily that would be a worry. You’d picture this big, soulless movie, with fanboy moments crammed in, trying to tick boxes instead of telling a story. And when you consider that this movie features the leads from three previous Marvel movies… well, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this thing had ‘mess’ written all over it before the ink was dry on the script.
It occurred to me whilst driving home the other night that we live in the first age without heroes. A combination of greater openness, social media and press intrusion means that we no longer hear a one-dimensional description of people portraying them as true heroes through and through in the classic sense of the word. That soldier who risked their life to save their comrades commits domestic abuse, that Olympic sports star has been found cheating on their partner. That nurse who went to some disaster ravaged country to help give aid has a conviction for drug abuse. Instead heroes have been replaced by heroic acts.
The day job took me to a disaster recovery site yesterday, the idea being that if something happened to a main site, staff could up and migrate to the disaster recovery site and carry on working. But until that happens the place is almost empty. It’s a fantastic site and incredibly eerie. I went into the toilets and had to switch on the lights, the fluorescent bulbs flashing and clicking a few times before coming on fully. It felt like it was taken directly from a horror movie. It’s like a real equivalent of the prison from The Walking Dead comics.
There comes a time when a project needs to go from brainstorming and planning to the actual writing. I’m more than a little scared because ideas for books normally swim in my head for years, growing and mutating. However, this project, which has the working title of “Fool’s Gold”, didn’t exist a little over a month ago.
As regular readers know, in my spare time I’m an avid Geocacher. Whilst day job changes and moving have really hit my numbers this year, things are settling down and I hope to hit the big 10,000th find sometime in the near future.
In the meantime though, I’ve penned a piece about the sport / hobby / madness for Andy Remic’s Ultimate Adventure magazine. So if you’ve ever wanted to know more about it, now’s the perfect time. Best of all, the magazine is a free download from the Ultimate Adventure Magazine Website and besides dodgy pictures of me finding geocaches up the top of telegraph poles and under waterfalls, the magazine features other articles, various interviews, pieces of fiction and kit reviews. Be sure to check it out!
We’ve all seen those landscape paintings in charity shops. Those ones that look like they’ve escaped some 1970s living room. There’s no denying that the art is well done, but there’s something about the tone or the palette that just makes them feel tired and old.
A friend linked me to this article on Twisted Sifter on a couple of artists who are buying these old landscape paintings and adding monsters to them. I love the whole art clash going on here, the idea of taking something as old and tired as a landscape painting and giving it new life and making it into something fresh.
There’s been a big kerfuddle in the press lately over Star Wars – The Old Republic, the new MMO from EA and Bioware. It appears that some… well, let’s face it, homophobes …have got all bent out of shape because there are now *shock* *horror* homosexuals in the Star Wars universe… and they are kissing and everything!
Hooray, I say! It’s about time.
It feels slightly pretentious saying this (OK, so it feels massively pretentious!), but I think it’s important that creators let this be known about the worlds they create. Maybe (and most likely) our works will die with us unpublished, or maybe they will still be read in five hundred years time spanning various different media, reinvented and reinterpreted. Whichever it is, I think it’s equally important to be clear to save any arguments, as well as make a statement surrounding diversity.
I wanted to write a little bit about the brainstorming work I’m currently doing on my next project.
It’s swords and sorcery which is a little different to the epic stuff I normally tend to write. At least that’s what it’s starting out as, because especially at this stage, everything can and will change.
I’m going into this with just a little bit of fear. You see, I’m trying to keep a big picture view. I must have at least 20 book ideas right now and I’ve begun to see a little of the style of storytelling I have. It’s fast-paced with loads of character and action and with a clash of sub-genres in a way that isn’t just New Weird. I want to make sure that in writing a swords and sorcery book that I don’t effectively cockblock myself commercially from writing those other novels.
Not sure if something is wrong with me or if I’m coming down with something but I’m falling out of love with Epic Fantasy. For years, I would say my subgenre of choice was the Epic. I love the whole ‘bigness’ of it all – vast casts, vast worldbuilding and story with such massive consequence. I want it bigger with greater consequences. I want it to take my breath away.
But lately nearly every epic fantasy I’ve read, just fails to deliver for me. The only exception has been Steven Erikson’s Malazan books. I can’t put my finger on just one problem with the others but it’s as if the orchestra is too big for the conductor.
I’ve thought about books I’ve truly loved over the last few years, not just at the time but ones that have stayed with me and proved to be just as excellent during a second read through. And most of them have been swords and sorcery rather than straight up epic fantasy. Lies of Locke Lamorra is a true masterpiece and my favourite debut last year (and a book I just would not shut up about) was Douglas Hulick’s Among Thieves.
True, in this sub-genre blending world that’s not exactly a huge shift, but for me it’s a significant one. I don’t know what impact this will have on my own writing, but my current project that I’m plotting is definitely more a swords and sorcery story than an epic fantasy one. I doubt I’ll totally drop the epic elements as I continue to flesh out ideas so it’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out.
George R R Martin talks about two archetypes for writers: Gardeners and Architects. The architect will plan and plot their story, knowing what happens to who from beginning to end before ever writing a single word. The gardener however will go in blind, knowing only the barest of details and discover the story as the write.
In truth, most writers sit somewhere between these two polar opposites. But the approaches are so vastly different that people usually identify with one extreme or the other.
I’ve always thought myself a gardener, although one that does a lot of thinking. I will have a good idea of the milestones of the story and the overall arcs of both character and story, but anything inbetween is up for grabs.