Great Disturbances, Etc.

Via Xeni at BoingBoing comes the news that Disney has just baught Lucusfilm with the intent, “to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years.”

Alright nerds, before you start catterwalling about a million voices screaming out, etc., take a deep pull on your inhalers.

Everyone despaired when Disney bought the Muppets, but the new Muppet movie was great, revitalizing the entire franchise. Clearly Lucus doesn’t care about Star Wars, but Disney does (at least enough to recognize that there’s an audience willing to fork over a gigaton of cash for a new movie or 12).

Lately Disney has recognized that what they need to do is find someone passionate about their new toy and hand creative control over, like they did to Lasseter at Pixar, and Whedon at Marvel. It’s the perfect time for Disney to find some untapped talent who grew up with Star Wars, wants to make awesome Star Wars movies, and let them at it with the sort of talent and bottomless pockets Disney can provide.

And since these new movies will need to satisfy the Mouse Kingdom and the fans rather then the whims of some old fart more concerned about fancy cameras and loud sound systems, this could very well be a Good Thing (Other than the fact that a single corporation now owns 90% of mine and everyone else’s childhood, but it was either going to be them or Time Warner, so pick your devils, children).

NaNoWriMo 2012

It’s that time of year again, when all us mad folk try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Yes, NaNoWriMo is upon us!

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to participate officially this year, as I’m neck-deep in my current project. However! By next week, I’ll be +or- 50K words away from completion of the novel-in-progress, and so will be using the NaNoWriMo format to make the final push through to the end.

Here’s my starting word count:

108856 / 162000

I’ll post regular updates once NaNoWriMo starts (along with some excerpts, maybe?) and natter on about my writing habits and process. You know, fun stuff!

You can follow along here, or on twitter: #nanowrimo

Somewhere Along the Line, He forgot He was Talking About Real People

So another Republican running for Senate has come out in favor of rape. This makes the fourth or fifth in the last couple of months. But where the other assholes were defending rape on the grounds that chics, what  are you gonna do? this guy, Richard Mourdock (R- Indiana) decided to bring God into it:

On Tuesday night Mourdock voiced his opposition to abortion even in cases of rapes, saying that a pregnancy resulting from rape is “something God intended to happen.”

+10 points for originality, I guess, but -1000 for suggesting that one of the instruments for God’s ineffable cosmic plan is to rape women into submission. That’s right up there with “9/11 was because of the gays” and saying the Titanic was sunk because there was one dude aboard that God really wanted dead, so he threw an iceberg at the ship he was on. This takes theodicy to unplumbed depths of venality and viciousness.

It’s not so much that Mourdock is trying to usurp divine authority in service of a despicable act in order to convey his own moral superiority, it’s that he doesn’t have a problem with implying that rape is all part of God’s plan, in order to ague for the role of classical misogamy in 21st century politics. If you’ve jumped gleefully off that cliff, not only do you not belong in the US Senate, but you should probably seek counseling.

The Propper Place to Start is At the Beginning

Over at io9, they’re showing off some tantalizing clips form the forthcoming James Bond film, Skyfall. And as usual, the comments have turned to the perennial discussion as to where to start as a new Bond fan.

If you just want to prep for Skyfall, go back and watch Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace (in that order, as they’re direrectly related). Otherwise, the older Bond films can be watched in any order.

However, everyone has their favorites, so here’s mine:

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, while unpopular among many Bond fans, is actually a solid movie and closest in tone and style to the modern Craig-era films. It features George Lazenby as the most serious and dour of Bonds, but he brings a humanity and pathos to the character that was often overlooked before Daniel Craig. This movie has everything people say they like about the newer Bond films, but did it in the 60s. I think what puts people off is Lazenby’s skin tight ruffled tuxedo shirt.

Before Daniel Craig, the hands-down fan favorite Bond was Sean Connery. He’s fine but really his movies are mostly interchangeable. The stand out film was Goldfinger, which features a goldbug of a villain trying to steal all the gold in Fort Knox and one of the sillier henchman, Odd Job, the hulking Chinese bodyguard with a boomarang hat.

Bond Aficionados are divided on the Roger Moore films. Some of them are downright silly (Octopussy) while others attain a strange surrealist quality that is fun in its own right. For my money, The Man With the Golden Gun is the epitome of the mid 70s surreal take on Bond. It features Christopher Lee as the titular golden gun wielding assassin, his superfluous third nipple, and Herve Villechez as his dwarf henchman. There’s a protracted chase scene through the canals of Thailand, where Bond picks up a racist American on vacation form Louisiana to gawk at the funny looking Asians, a pair of schoolgirl karate experts with a Bruce Lee-analog uncle, and a secret base inside the lopsided wreck of the Queen Elizabeth. Also, the plot revolves around a solar powered laser gun. It’s awesome.

If you feel the need to be a completist, you’ll have to endure the Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan era, where Bond sort of lost steam, as these were all made in the late 80s and 90s. It wasn’t his fault really. The Cold War was winding down and stateless terrorism had yet to become a real threat. Bond just has no real purpose in these movies, and that crept into the subtext, with rather contrived plots that existed solely to prove Bond was still a necessity, and, relying on tech McGuffins and unlikely bond girls who serve no purpose. Also, an invisible car for some reason. Goldeneye is probably the most enjoyable of these films, as you at least get a small but scenery-chewing performance from Alan Cumming as the nerdy computer scientist.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go see if The Man With the Golden Gun is streaming on Netflix.

Lessons Learned

So, instead of writing today, I spent all day reformatting and republishing my novella, The Lives of Perfect Creatures. Apparently, when I initially uploaded the files to Amazon, there was some sort of glitch that peppered the text liberally with typos and weird characters. The persons responsible have been sacked, and further formatting duties will be overseen by Ralph the Wonder Llama.

The problem seems  to stem from the fact that while you can make a Kindle ebook by uploading a Word .doc, you shouldn’t, because it runs your prose through a wood chipper first. A Microsoft product doesn’t work properly? Who knew, right?

Which is why today was spent uploading the text back into Scrivener and fiddling with the settings until I could output an .epub file that didn’t look like shit. The upside is, 1) I now know how to format an ebook directly from Scrivener, which will come in handy for future projects, and 2) I now have an .epub edition of my novella ready to go for when the exclusivity window on Amazon expires, and I can push it out to the Nook, iBookstore and Kobo platforms.

What I’m Reading

Not the cover of the edition I read, but a striking cover anyway.Last week, I was floundering. I had just finished rereading The Hobbit, which is such a magnificent, sweet, fun adventure tale that it needed something comparable to ease me back to down to the mortal world of books that are still entertaining, even if they don’t shatter your world and rebuild it anew. It didn’t help that the new trailer for the Hobbit movie hit the day before I finished reading the book. After that, how can you go back to reading anything less epic?

Eventually, I settled on Our Kind of Traitor, by John Le Carre. My first impulse is to say it’s like Tolkien for adults, but that’s not true, as the two authors have next to nothing in common, other than that they are both British and both amazing authors.

John Le Carre doesn’t write fantasy, he writes gritty, spy stories of the stale beer variety. No gadgets and snappy one liners. No fancy tuxedos or alluring but dangerous women who end up int he heroes bed anyway. Nothing is shaken instead of stirred. These are thrillers with a minimalist tone, a real politik eye, and a sense of beautifully tragic nobility. And they are amazing.

Le Carre’s prose is diamond sharp. He somehow manages to be evocative and imbue color and character with just a simple turn of phrase or prosaic description. I don’t know how he does it. There’s not a single extra word anywhere, and yet he evokes an entire world in the way a character enters the room, or plays a tennis match. It’s brilliant, and as a writer, gives me something to aspire to.

And his plots are fantastic little clockworks that effortlessly fall into place, making perfect sense, even as scenes move back and forth in time and place and montage together like a prose film playing in your mind.

The thing is, I’ve now read a selection of Le Carre from across his oeuvre, spanning 20 books and 45 years. And the prose is as clear and precise in Our Kind of Traitor, which came out in 2010, as it is in The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (1966). That sort of consistant craft is soemthing for any author to aspire to.