Monday, February 8, 2016

Is 10 Cloverfield Lane a sequel to Cloverfield?

Is the new movie 10 Cloverfield Lane a sequel to Cloverfield? If you know for sure, please let me know in the comments because I liked Cloverfield. I didn't so much like the whole "found footage" aspect of Cloverfield (just to be clear), but I do love kaiju movies and it seemed like to me that the monster, a.k.a. Cloverfield, in the original film didn't get properly dealt with in New York City. But it also didn't seem like it was going to necessarily be completely unstoppable either. I mean...eventually humans would have to be able to stop a huge monster...right? Or perhaps it went on to destroy the world. Hmm. J.J. Abrams has got me on the hook again.

Friday, February 5, 2016

If your science fiction or fantasy story could benefit from an information dump it belongs on the small screen and not the silver screen

The glamour of movies will always shine brighter than what we see on television. However, I think television is by far a greater medium by which to showcase tales from all but the most simple stories. If yours is a story that has a plot with just a few characters in it (and it's fairly straight forward) then that's probably going to translate to film really well. But for just about everything else, there's too much information and too little screen time to devote to proper exposition. Take Game of Thrones as one such example.

George R.R. Martin has been very clear about wanting to have a movie that showcases his work. But most authors are in this camp: "please Hollywood make a movie from my book." But as can be seen with Game of Thrones, the story is too long, too involved, and has too many characters. I've heard from plenty of Harry Potter experts that have said the same thing about the movie adaptations: too much stuff was cut out. Well, television would solve this by making each book a season unto itself.

Another more recent example is Star Wars: the Force Awakens. I read on io9 that there was "going to be a scene in the movie where Leia acknowledged that her former colleagues in the senate were just as likely to want to have her killed as they were to ignore her." All of this is talked about in Claudia Gray's Star Wars book called Bloodline (which is all about Leia Organa). Assumedly, the book is there to show us that Leia really did have a bad relationship with the New Republic. Here's some text from the book:
Leia settled into her chair, picked up her napkin — and stopped.
Something was written on the paper streamer on her plate. Actual writing. Virtually nobody wrote any longer; it had been years since Leia had seen actual words handwritten in ink on anything but historical documents.
But today, someone had left this message on her plate, only one word long:
RUN.
Leia shoved her chair back, instantly leaping to her feet. “We have to get out of here,” she said to the startled senators at the table. “Now. Go!”
Don't you think that something like what's written above to provide context for the movie should have been in there? But then that opens up a whole 'nother can of worms. How much is too much information? Writers and readers hate the dreaded "information dump" but the thing is, when we create entire universes, we also create a lot of information.

So I guess what I'm saying is that most science-fiction and fantasy should just be abandoned by Hollywood so that television producers can pick these stories up, because television has the time to disseminate information. Leave stories like Seabiscuit to be adapted into movies. No information dump needed. But complex stories like Star Wars should be told in weekly installments of one hour each.

What do you think?

Monday, February 1, 2016

A cliche is only a cliche if you know it's a cliche

I have a friend that's pretty disappointed in DC's "Legends of Tomorrow" that is part of the CW's Thursday night lineup. It's a show that is following Disney/Marvel's formula of introducing characters and then having them come together in one big superhero mashup. We've got Sara Lance from Arrow, reprising her role as a former assassin. We've got Captain Cold and Heat Wave from the Flash, Atom (DC's version of "Ant Man") from the Arrow, and Firestorm from the Flash. My friend says that the writing is derivative and lazy and that the whole thing just offends him. But he also has admitted that he may be suffering from a lack of Vitamin D, working a midnight job and living in Portland where the sun doesn't shine very often. Oh and he's got a PhD in science-fiction fantasy geek, which merely means he's read, seen, laughed, consumed, reviewed, and given serious thought to every single trope of science fiction and fantasy out there. A writer has got to put in OVERTIME for him to be impressed. And that's a problem. I'll tell you why in a moment, but first back to my "Legends of Tomorrow" explanation.

I happen to love the show, but maybe that's because I don't take issue with cliche's anymore. Part of my transformation on how I feel about the subject of cliche came to me as an epiphany: something isn't cliche if the audience doesn't know its cliche. I know on the surface that just sounds like pointing out the obvious. But it's a bit more complicated than that and goes back to my feelings on writing in that you (as a writer) need to know who you are writing for. You need to really identify your audience.

For example, if you are wanting to be a mainstream fantasy writer then you probably should know that dragons are cliche monsters and that fanciful and strange magic systems that no one has ever heard of are important. Why? Because your audience is made up of people who have consumed every Brandon Sanderson, George R.R. Martin, Brent Weeks, and etc. book that's out there (ravenously). Just like in academia, there are geek experts (think "Geek PhD") that have been there/done that on just about every kind of fantasy and are just ready to say the following to your idea: predictable, boring, cliche, saw that coming a mile away, plot's been done a million times, and this is just a rehash of blah blah blah. That's a tough audience to entertain.

Anyway, my point is that "Legends of Tomorrow","Arrow","the Flash", and even "Supergirl" are not shows that are meant to appeal to the PhD's of Geekdom. Sure, some of the audience is inevitably captured, but I think the CW is using sex appeal (because all of its young actors are gorgeous) to rightfully draw in a different audience that hasn't ever heard of these characters. And because of that, these shows are doing really well. In other words, men and women are drawn to these shows because they see some eye candy and are staying because the cliche's grab them. Now I know that sounds weird, but think about what a cliche is. A cliche is something that is basically a good idea and because of that, everybody else got in on it and pounded it into the ground. It's the bread and butter of America. Oh you came up with a phone that allows you to install apps that do other things? Well that's a great idea and I'm going to steal it. Another example: wineries. They started making money a few decades ago and bam...there were suddenly thousands of wineries and because the competition was so vast, no one made any money and wineries started going bankrupt.

So when I see what's going on with the CW, and how I think they are capturing the attention of a whole new audience by hooking them with sex appeal and making them stay with cliche ideas that actually aren't cliche because this audience has never heard of them...it seems kind of brilliant. And I think it's something that all new writers should thing about. Create a hook with your writing. Draw a fresh audience into a genre you enjoy that's packed with experts just waiting to call you on every cliche you could ever come up with, and ignore the experts to cater to the new audience. In my own writing, I've been very satisfied with the results. Basically I've been writing gay fiction, and suddenly I'm finding that I don't have to work very hard on my science fiction and fantasy ideas because to the particular audience I've been writing all the ideas are relatively new. As an example, I've been able to write a fantasy that's pretty much character driven without giving a second thought to magic systems, and I've been getting fan mail about it. I want to use a dragon? The audience I write for says, "OMG I've never seen that," and it's really kind of cool.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share that with all of you because I've thought about it quite a bit this weekend. A cliche is ONLY a cliche if you know it's a cliche. So for me, my ideal audience is to write science fiction and fantasy for people who normally don't read science fiction or fantasy and then discover that they like it. I know that sounds hard, but I think what's harder (for most of us) is writing for an audience that has expert level knowledge of a genre and is hungry for something new. In other words, I'm saying it's harder for most of us to reinvent the wheel. So rather than try, let's use the same wheel (which we all know works) and trudge down a different path.

In conclusion, I'm saying it's not the cliche ideas that are necessarily bad. It's that you would dare to use them in front of an audience that knows better that's bad. Identify your audience first. If you truly want to try and impress an audience of experts with something that even they haven't seen...well that's on you and good luck.

That is all. :)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Is Arrow about to use Andy to kill off John Diggle? Is that who's in the grave?

By far the biggest tease of this season's Arrow has been the cut scene where we see Oliver Queen standing over a fresh grave and then Barry, a.k.a, the Flash shows up to chat with him a bit. Oliver looks angry, and I was pretty sure that it might have been Felicity in that hole. But recent events are making me think that it might be Diggle, as in John and not Andy.

For one, John's younger brother was brainwashed by Damien Darhk, who has powerful magic on his side (the kind that makes even Constantine wary to tango with him). For many of the episodes this season, Andy has been imprisoned in the Arrow cave being not only a very petulant little brat, but a complete supporter of all that is evil. His older brother, John, eventually seemed to win him over bit by bit, but I think this is all an act. And last night's episode ended with the heroes basically winning (with the exception of a major character death in the leader of ARGUS), and Andy was pretty instrumental in that so now everything's forgiven, and it's all "high fives" and "fist bumps" on the way back to the Arrow cave. Only that's not how any of this works.

My Spidey sense is tingling (I know, wrong universe). I guess George R.R. Martin said it best when he told writers to "kill your darlings," and I'm thinking that's what the show is about to give us. I mean, John Diggle doesn't really serve a purpose anymore and having his own brother kill him is like another season of storylines. John used to be the "voice of reason" for the show, but that's more or less been co-opted by Felicity who was the star of Wednesday night's episode where she had to deal with all the fear and depression she incurred by not being able to walk again. In a way, Felicity and Arrow proved why they are perfect for each other and there really isn't room for John's character in the show anymore. To be honest, the cutaways to anything that have to do with John's storyline are kind of boring when compared to the greater storyline of Damien Dahrk and what's going on with Malcolm Merlyn and his army of assassins.

Of course, it could also be Felicity's mom that's in the grave, or Laurel's dad, but John Diggle being in that grave makes the most sense to me. I don't think Arrow would ever be the same after that death, kind of like the Batman was when Jason Todd (a.k.a. Robin) got killed by the Joker in the comic book four part series "A Death in the Family." That was the breaking point for the Batman, and he became "the Dark Knight" for so many years after that. And believe me, I was consuming them all because the stories were SOO dark.

So who do you think is in the grave? Are you with me or against me?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Gal Godot's Wonder Woman has stirred up five different controversies and a movie isn't even out yet.

I'm really excited for Batman vs. Superman this March (March 25th to be exact), and I think most of that stems from the fact that I'm really looking forward to Wonder Woman. But do you know the controversies?

1) People have complained that the actress playing Wonder Woman (Gal Godot) is too thin and that her arms don't have muscle. Hmm. I beg to differ on this one as artists over the years have shown that she's not really this super-built, muscular woman. I mean, this is how she looks like in the comic books:
And then compare/contrast this with Gal Godot as Wonder Woman...
I think she looks pretty accurate to the one pictured in the comic. Although Linda Carter made an amazing Wonder Woman, she may (in fact) have been a little more curvy than the Wonder Woman in the comic books.

2)  When Wonder Woman gets her own movie, it will be set in World War I and not World War II. Everyone knows Wonder Woman rescues Steve Trevor and fights the Nazis! Eh, I think exploring World War I affords many opportunities not fully explored in film (especially given that the bulk of Wonder Woman seen on tv was from a seventies series, part of which explored World War 2 and then part of which continued in modern times with Wonder Woman driving a Mercedes). World War I was born out of intolerance, greed, and colonial expansion. It will just be a world of men being awful to each other in general, instead of the Axis fighting the Allies in a contest of pretty much "clear cut" good and evil. And World War 2 has been done to death. World War 1 just sounds so much fresher in context with good storytelling.

3) Wonder Woman may have a pet tiger than she can talk to (and can communicate like a person).  When this rumor broke, so many people were outraged by it. But honestly, what's wrong with having an animal on screen that can talk? This is a movie with superheroes? She's a comic book character that has a major villain called Cheetah. Why is a talking cat such a big deal as long as it looks great on film? People are so silly.

4) Wonder Woman's costume. Apparently people are kinda/sorta torn over the whole sword thing and they're also upset over the wedge heels. In other words, wedge heels are inappropriate for a person to fight crime while wearing. I dunno, they look okay to me. And let's not forget that she's got gifts from the Greek gods.
5) Wonder Woman is 5,000 years old, basically retired, and very jaded about mankind. So yeah, this broke this weekend, and I'm not sure how I feel about this latest revelation. But really old characters can be a lot of fun because they know so much. It also will make it so that she's not some innocent lass when it comes to dealing with the patriarchies in the world. I think it is a fresh take on the mythology of the character and enriches her for future stories.

So what do you think? Do people just like to bitch about Wonder Woman, or is this whole thing going to be a disaster?

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Undead Road by David Powers King is the most awesome kind of buzz that's kinda like honey for the mind.

This is the cover for David Powers King's new book, The Undead Road. It looks incredible, right? I love how there's so much yellow, because yellow isn't really used on a lot of books (to this extent). And the color choice is perfect. How do I know? Because I read the book and my review of it is below. But before I get to that, I want to inform you of all the pertinent details:

Title: The Undead Road: My Zombie Summer: Part One
Publisher: Dashboard Books / CreateSpace
Ebook Release: January 2nd, 2016
Paperback: January 26th, 2016
Cover art by Steven Novak
Edited by Reece Hanzon

I know you were waiting for the blurb so here it is:

Nothing brings the family together like a zombie apocalypse…

Fifteen-year-old Jeremy Barnes would rather watch a zombie movie than shoot a real one, but he has no choice if his family wants to survive the end of the world. Their plan? Drive across the infected United States to a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without a scratch, but their trip takes a complicated detour in the middle of Nebraska when they find Kaylynn, a girl who can handle a baseball bat better than Jeremy can hold a .45 Berretta. And when they stumble into a sanctuary, Jeremy soon learns that Kaylynn is stronger than she looks—a deadly secret lies inside her.

After the radio picks up a distress call from Kansas City about a possible cure, Jeremy’s parents go with a team to investigate. They never return. The only way to find their parents is for Jeremy and his sister Jewel to rely on a dangerous girl who might just turn on them at any moment.

Amazon
Amazon.CA
Amazon.UK
Amazon.AU
CreateSpace
Kindle Store

And then there's this "genius" quote that makes its appearance on The Undead Road:
Oh and there's a contest! Here are the details:
Visit davidpowersking.com and leave and comment and/or tweet about The Undead Road (at least once) for a chance to win a free ebook. One out of every 10 comments and tweets is a winner! Use the Twitter Button below to ensure the author will see your tweet. Thank you!

If the button doesn't work for you, please post this text:

"Nothing brings the family together like a #zombie #apocalypse..." #scifi #horror amzn.to/1RT8xly .99 cent #kindle! @DavidPowersKing

Now, the ebook version of The Undead Road is on sale Jan 25th-29th (that's this week) for .99 cents in the Kindle store

Oh and there's a Blog Tour! The hosts are:


About the Author: 
David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to be a writer. He is the co-author of the YA fantasy novel WOVEN, published by Scholastic. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He currently lives deep in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

You can click on the below links to be taken to:

And now, without further ado, here is my review:

There may be some light spoilers so please proceed at your own peril.

I think "The Undead Road" is a story that shows Mr. David Powers King has got the chops to be a world-class writer (as if that weren't already apparent with "Woven," the book that's being published by Scholastic). His take on zom"bees" is something I've never heard of in any zombie fiction (and I'm familiar with quite a lot of it). It almost reminds me of a cross between "The Walking Dead" and "The Borg" from Star Trek, only Kaylynn is ever so different from the Borg Queen. And it's really clever!

To be clear, I never saw any of that coming either. The whole buildup and reveal at the climax was also great. I loved the way Mr. King controlled the pacing and the tension. One example is using shorter and shorter chapters to heighten the action that's coming full force at the reader so that you don't even notice you're plowing through page after page. Fantastic! This book deserves to be made into a movie. Seriously. My take on the perfect director for this is Guillermo del Toro, but I may be biased just a wee bit.

I will never look at an apiary in the same way again. The Undead Road is the most awesome kind of buzz that's like honey for the mind.