Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bad knights

Why does anyone trust the Jedi or anything they say? Why are they seen as the guardians of the galaxy. Who says? They did. Well, Obi Wan did. But I'm not sure. They could tell us anything and, via the power of their mind tricks, we'd believe it.

WattoImage via Wikipedia

Unless you are a Toydarian or a Hutt it is hard to resist being persuaded. We know they work on the weak-minded and to that Qui-Gon Jinn adds that the greedy (for which read Watto and Jabba) can resist too. But, note, that is only resistance. Not immunity. For any sufficiently powerful Jedi surely even that reistance could be overcome.

The Star Wars universe shows us it can. The for instance comes in Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 2: Episode 5 (the Genndy Tartakovsky TV series) where Padme's Captain Gregar Typho falls foul of Yoda's mind manipulation despite, you'd think, having a sound and strong mind. This scene of crude trickery triggered this train of thought and made me think rather less of Yoda.

Given all this, surely everyone would be suspicious of any negotiations carried out with the Jedi present. If they came to my planet I'd have them chained and locked up before they could say "Sith". Also I'd have the meeting filmed and watched elsewhere by independent witnesses to ensure no tricks were pulled. Any race that was immune would surely become the instant choice for a negotiator or diplomat. Droids? They might be the ones you are looking for.

It'd be great to see some Jedi try to cope in a setting where the mind tricks were off limits. Where suspicion of any use of force powers made them act like mere mortals and cope without. That'd teach the smug sonsabitches a lesson or two. Force your way out of that why don't you.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Back in the saddle

So, it's taken a while but I'm getting back in to the groove of writing and reviewing. I've re-activated my links to OWW and racked up a few favours so folks will, hopefully, take a look at the stuff I'm posting.

It does feel like I'm coming back to it from a long way away. Last year when I was in that creative surge I had made several friends via OWW and it was easier to get stories reviewed. Now, I'm going through that process of finding sympathetic reviewers again.

I have just finished one story off and hope to do a flash one before the end of the month to put me back in contention. It does mean that, sometime this year, I'll have to write two in a month rather than one. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Little Bitch album coverImage via Wikipedia

Anyhoo, what has surprised me is how much happier I feel now that I've got back into writing. I've always resisted that slightly arch declaration that "I have to write". I know I choose to do it but the rightness of that choice has been brought home to me these last few days. It could be coincidence though as getting back in to it has gone along with the best period of success I have ever had in submitting stories and getting them accepted and published. It's not just payback that is a bitch. Irony runs it a close second.

I also harbour this nagging fear that my reason for writing is just to prove I can do it. And, once I've done that to Trev's satisfaction he'll pack up and refuse to produce the goods. Time will tell, I guess.

What I do need to do is get some stories in the bag. I'm down to four that are ready for circulation instead of the eight or nine I had last year. If anymore get accepted I'll be in real trouble.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Reading redux

So it wasn't just the James Herbert books that I brought back from the visit to my mum. And over the last few weeks I've been re-reading a few of them. What I find amazing is how present to my memory they all are. Just looking at the covers I can call up names, places and incidents from all of them - though I haven't cracked the covers of any of them for more than a decade. It makes me realise how influential they were on me. The downside is that I'm spotting lots of the tropes that I use popping up in these texts. Hmm. Anyhoo.

Harry Harrison - most of the Stainless Steel Rat series. Still very enjoyable - though very light. The breezy style and insouciant charm of slippery Jim DiGriz sweeps each tale along but what I notice now is what escaped me back then. Even now I can remember

The Stainless Steel Rat Saves The World - Cove...Image via Wikipedia

reading the first page of The Stainless Steel Rat in Miss Ellison's class when I was 10? 11? She gave it to me, Nick Dodd, Mark Sanderson and Des (?) as part of a lesson on different sorts of writing. We all hated Miss Ellison as she closed her eyes whenever she said a word with an "s" in it. I'm not sure why that made us hate her but it did.

What I loved back then was the radical feel of the thing and the sheer confidence that Jim oozed; but now I see how adept HH was at using that style to skip over the holes in the plot and bamboozle the reader.

What is also fascinating is its attitude to technology. For instance, in The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted when Jim and his sidekick need to record some video ready for broadcast they go to a TV studio and use the equipment there. Now, of course, it'd be done with a camera on a phone or a web cam and posted online - etc etc. It shows exactly how stories of the future are mired in the present of their creators. But that's also quite liberating because it was never supposed to be THE FUTURE simply a future which means that pretty much anything goes.

William Gibson - Count Zero. Such a great read. Better, by far, than I remember. Just astonishing in places and so dense with ideas and insights. Now that the net is everywhere some of the supposed changes it documents make it looks a little dated.
- No cellphones.
- Using the net involves travelling to places.
- Rampant AIs
- Gods in the net
I had a sense when I was reading it that I was missing something that would become clear as I got older. Well, I am and its not. I guess I'm just too thick to catch on.

Terry Pratchett
- The Colour of Magic/Light Fantastic. My good friend Carl Berks recommended the first one to me when I was 15/16. I met him via a gaming group that I joined. Reading it again I remember the "watcher-of-the-skies-new-planet" feeling I got having read it. It was also much funnier than I remember. And the Discworld portrayed in the first two books is very different to what it becomes later on in the series. Death is murderous in these books, the Gods are much more present and there are lots of standard fantasy wallpaper to bulk out the story.
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