The Batman preview was pretty good, and the end credits used a font I really liked.
I could try to explain why there’s been a 7 month lapse in posting, or I could launch into a review of the movie I saw last night.
I read His Dark Materials trilogy after seeing the preview for what looked, judging by all the pretty colors and the relative cuteness of polar bears, to be an excellent fantasy movie of the first installment. Surely this would surpass The Chronicles of Narnia which I found, despite the relative cuteness of talking woodland creatures, to be rather costumey and short on logic. And while I had complaints with the book (mostly with POV) I thought there was enough stuff–namely talking polar bears–to warrant an excellent film. Lyra, the main character, was not particularly well rendered in the novel, but I believed a good director would be able to smooth her out–or at least make her consistent. Mystery and bad guys and witches and flying mechanical contraptions abounded. And when you didn’t have a talking polar bear on screen, there would be more than enough talking other critters.
Hopeful, and dare I say enthusiastic, my friends and I went to the 10:10 PM showing of The Golden Compass. The best way to put our experience is with a quote from one Alex Lumans who said, “I don’t need an alethiometer to know that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back.”
Another way to put it would be to say that in the great ranking of fantasy films, Eragon is no longer at the bottom.
Nor are the Star Wars prequels.
First off, the story had no pacing. In essence it felt like one really long trailer. Scene after scene of ominous foretelling and exposition. But the reason we go to movies and not trailers is so that we can, occasionally, and if it’s not too much trouble, get some development. Sections from the book that offered the best chance for this were skimmed. Characters appeared out of thin air–literally–to give crucial information that wasn’t that crucial just so that when the same character randomly showed up in the nick of time, we wouldn’t be too surprised.
Second, the script. How these actors managed to say their lines with straight faces, I’ll never understand. According to the trivia page from IMDB Tom Stoppard wrote a draft which Weitz, the director, rejected so he could adapt it himself. Idiot. I think the worst line was, “You mean to ride me?” But it was mostly bad in context.
Third, the logic. Or lack thereof. At one point in the film the giant talking polar bear claims that his armor is his “soul”. He becomes an alcoholic when the people of a certain town trick him and steal it from him. So what does he do as soon as he gets it back? Leaves it behind every chance he gets in order to carry Lyra to some random location. Right. And if Lyra is this ultra-special child for whom lots of bad guys are hunting, why is she left on her own so often? Apparently every adult character graduated from the Britney Spears House of Daycare.
Oh well, maybe the sequel will be better.
“In the religion of flame, heaven comes when all the world is ash.” -James Maxey, Bitterwood.
Bant Bitterwood is not a hero. For 20 years he has wandered the world slaying dragons fueled only by his hate and lust for revenge. He has no higher purpose, no lofty aspirations and when he tells people his name, they don’t believe him.
When Bitterwood kills the dragon prince, King Albekizan orders the slaughter of all humans. In any typical fantasy, this would be the point where Bitterwood rallies all of mankind in a fight for survival. There would be great battles and speeches. There would be an old man who gives guidance and is eventually killed off in order to harden the hero to his task and tell the reader This is really serious. And the dragons would be standard winged lizards who all look, sound, and act pretty much the same.
Fortunately for us, James Maxey is not a typical fantasy writer. Bitterwood is not a hero. Albekizan is not just a blood thirsty evil doer. And most of the novel is told from the point of view of other characters. The dragons themselves are artfully rendered and given specific characteristics to explain their function within dragon society. And Mr. Maxey is also not afraid to include biological specific effects of an individual’s death.
Mr. Maxey also has a singular talent for creating characters that are not perfect, nor does he try the old trick of making a mostly perfect person with one tragic flaw. They’re human, or in some cases, dragon. They make choices, some bad, some good and deal with the consequences. But they are always interesting and captivating and, even when they’re ordering the genocide of an entire species, sympathetic.
Unfortunately for you, this book won’t be published until July. But when it is, you should buy it and, if you’re like me, you’ll finish it in one sitting. Because to be quite honest, I think James Maxey could write a grocery list and I’d still want to read it.
To find out more (and read the first chapter), visit
Sometimes the movie is better than the book. The Godfather, The Princess Bride, The Neverending Story, and, dare I say it, Lord of the Rings.
And so it is for Eragon.
First off, the dragon is just about the cutest damn thing ever created with computer graphics. Seriously. If you see her, you will want her. Trust me.
Jeremy Irons is the best Obi-Wan since Alec Guiness, and the boys who play Eragon and Eragon’s cousin (whose name is odd and therefore I can’t remember) could be Heath Ledger’s younger brothers.
The first half hour of this movie was shaping into a damn fine film. Then they ran into a little bit of a logistical problem. The plot from the book.
In the novel, Christopher Paloneyfancypants (as I have renamed him), sends his D&D group down the river of self-discovery and necessary swordsmanship lessons, has them stop in some random city on a quest for accounting books on trade routes (or something else equally boring), and then some stuff happens. They rescue an elven princess. Some more stuff happens. Obi-Wan dies. They reach some the rebel base, and there’s a big battle. The end.
There were a lot of things in the book the writers needed to cut because the book was stupid but that doesn’t mean that they needed to rush to end of the film like Peter Jackson and George Lucas were chasing them with fiery lightsabers. 30 more minutes of development establishing the characters of Murtagh and Gallbatorix (a name, which as one reviewer put it, sounds more like a drain cleaner than an evil King), the plight of the Varden, and other general world building matters would have gone a long way.
The movie and the book relied on the same basic premise: once a dragon enters the room, you don’t give a flying rat’s ass about anything else. While this may be true, it doesn’t make for a memorable film.
So instead of a really, really great movie… we’re left with pretty good one. It’s entertaining and fun and did I mention how cute the dragon is yet? Hopefully it’ll make enough money to justify the two sequels and the director and writers will remember that thanks to Peter Jackson, fantasy films can run longer than 90 minutes.
Sorry faithful readers (that means you, Mom). It appears that I have neglected this blog for quite a while. So let’s get through some quick and dirty updates.
Received my contributor copy of Margie. It’s gorgeous.
Received my contributor copy of MYTHIC 2. It’s gorgeous.
Wrote my first short story in over a year, submitted it to Clarkesworld Magazine and got a really nice rejection from editor Nick Mamatas. Some have said that his rejections (which come in the form of critiques) are unusually harsh, bordering on cruel. Many more have said that his comments are incredibly accurate and helpful–often pinpointing the errors that the author doesn’t want to face.
As for my rejection, he called my story “funny, charming and sharp at the same time, very engaging”. I know it’s still a rejection but I can barely suppress my desire to dance around. He also gave some suggestions to strengthen it before sending it on to the next market. They were general comments about fleshing out details and characters rather than major restructurings so I have high hopes that I’ll be able to place it somewhere. Oliver thinks that I should try for lit markets, but I honestly don’t know. It’s not uber-speculative, but it’s also not uber-realistic. Mamatas didn’t say anything about the speculative element or seeming lack thereof, so I may go ahead and exhaust the list of spec markets before I start sending out to the literary ones. If Oliver’s reading this, he’s probably shaking his head. Shake away, boy. Shake away.
Today I received my 12th (give or take one or two) rejection from a literary magazine.
Still no word from AGNI. And I have other poetry submissions out at Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and The Georgia Review.
According to the website, Margie Volume 5 (with my poem “The Love Boats”) will be released on October 30.
MYTHIC II (with my poem “Bluebeard’s Second Wife) is available for order from
Dreams & Nightmares 74/75 (with my poems “Aliens Built Table Mountain” and “[Insert Title Indicating this is a Poem about Bluebeard the Wife Murderer, not the Pirate]”) will be going to the printers soon.
On a somewhat interesting note, the two Bluebeard poems were written and sold roughly a year apart, but the second poem has beaten the first to press. When/if you read the poem Second Wife, you’ll know why this is so amusing to me.
On Wednesday, October 18th I’ll be reading my poetry with two other grad students in the Student Center. Not that anyone who reads this blog lives near Carbondale and could come. Or would want to.
Mike Allen has updated the Mythic Delirium site with more info on Mythic II. It includes samples from the anthology and a direct link to pay pal to purchase the book from Mike.
This evening ABC showed a special on how teenage girls are using cell phones and computers and other technological gadgets to destroy the lives of their schoolmates.
I’ve been preaching the meanness of girls for a while so this is nothing new to me. Hell I’ve done it. My cousin Ellen and I used to call our little cousin Caroline ’step cousin’. No reason. We just did. She didn’t like it; we did it more.
Neither of those cousins read this blog, so I’ll just apologize to the universe. It was cruel and wrong and what can I say. I’m a girl.
I’ve always said it’s because we’re socialized to be non-violent. If a guy gets mad, he’ll hit you and move on with his life. If a girl gets mad, she destroys you. Strips you of your friends, your self esteem, and sometimes gets you to switch schools. If women ruled the world, there would be no wars. Because there would be no people. We’d have killed ourselves off or we’d be so busy crying all the time we’d forget to populate the planet.
Another problem is parenting. (Not you, Mom) At a certain school that shall remain nameless, there was a clique of girls known as the Elite 5 (even though there were 7 of them… don’t ask). They didn’t like a particular girl in their grade, so somehow they managed to get the rest of the entire class to stop speaking to her. Now what I heard from friends, and some adults, the girls acted in a manner similar to their mothers. The same pettiness. The same tendency towards exclusion. The same attitude.
Not every upper middleclass woman acts as if she walked staight off the set of ‘Desperate Housewives’. But some do. So is it any surprise that there’s a generation of their clones going through school right now? Just watch an episode or two of ‘My Super Sweet Sixteen’ or ‘Laguna Beach’ (If you can stomach it. I suggest painkillers. Strong ones). Watch the teenager. Then watch the mother try to live vicariously through her daughter. Sad.
Fortunately my mother does not act this foolishly. Probably because quite frankly, a poet’s life is not that interesting. How many action flicks have you seen entitled ‘Poet Wars: Revenge of the Sestina’?
Anyway, back to girls. Are they evil because of society? Their mothers? MTV? Innate corruptibility of the double X Chromosome?
And in other news (wherein Hel completely ignores the need to conclude her thoughts), Stephen Colbert had the Ambassador from Hungary to the United States on his show regarding the vote (which he won… twice) to name a new bridge in Budapest. My life is officially complete.
I don’t expect all of you to run out and order them. Except for you, Mom. I’m thinking copies of both would make for great Christmas presents for the whole family this year
In my defense I went on vacation for a couple of weeks. Then I had to spend a week or two getting my life back in order once I returned to Carbondale. Then I had to get ready for the new school year.
I can’t even use the excuse of ‘Well nothing happened so I didn’t have anything about which to write.’ LOTS happened.
I went to Trinoc Con with Oliver where I finally got to meet Lee Kontis, Steve Savile, James Maxey all of whom I have previously only known through Codex. I got to see Ed and congragulate him in person for taking over as Editor for Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show–and I think I deserve extra points for not bursting into green flames of jealousy.
I took Oliver to the Sound where he witnessed the carnage of mullet fishing. He gets extra points for meeting my entire family and seeming to enjoy himself.
Oh and I sold a poem to
Oh and today my poem went up at Strange Horizons with a new title (some people were thrown by the phrase ‘Lower Schoolers’):
Also today I started the semester. I teach at 8 AM Monday thru Friday. I ordered my students to bring caffeine with them to class. Diet coke, coffee, or vivarin. I don’t care what it is so long as it’s legal. They seem bright, and enthusiastic, and they laughed at my dumb jokes. I’m excited about the class. For now.
8 AM. Dammit.