Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Monday, February 27, 2006
Enter fantasy-author Marie Brennan with a great list-in-progress of what she calls "multicultural fantasy," i.e. fantasy novels that draw on other sources of inspiration than Tolkien's Celtic-Norse-medieval stuff. It's full of great stuff to try.
Top of my list are:
Crystal Rain by Tobias S. Bucknell
On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers
The Silken Magic series by ElizaBeth Gilligan
(Thanks to Symphony for a Devil for the link.)
Friday, February 24, 2006
Some of my fondness for it might be exceeded expectations. The trailer made it out to be an interesting, but more or less generic serial killer film. Julianne Moore shows up at an emergency room with bloody hands and tells them that she was just car-jacked. Police detective Samuel L. Jackson shows up to investigate and all hell breaks loose when Moore, still in shock, reveals that her four-year-old son was still in the car. The trailer goes on to show Jackson searching the ruins of an abandoned children's asylum called Freedomland, discovering something shocking, and there are hints that this kind of thing has happened before. And, oh, by the way, all this is complicated by some kind of civil unrest going on in the community. That's the trailer.
I'd accuse the marketers of being liars if a) that wasn't a repetitive statement and b) I could think of a better way to get audiences into the theater. Instead, I'll just say that Freedomland is not the movie the trailer advertises.
Yes, there's a mystery. It's central to the plot and the movie never becomes not-a-mystery, but it's also not just a mystery. The civil unrest that seems incidental in the trailer is caused by Julianne Moore's description of the car-jacker: a black man. She comes from the rich, white side of town, but she volunteers in a children's program in the predominantly black projects and that's where she was when she was attacked. It isn't long before white cops from her side of town descend on the projects to lock it down until the car-jacker, now a kidnapper, can be found.
The movie's not just about racial issues either. It handles them effectively and helps you empathize with the helplessness and anger of the people who are being held hostage in their own neighborhood, but there's more. Themes that really connect with me as a parent. The movie talks a lot about what it means to be a parent, the person who's responsible for protecting a child. Julianne Moore is absolutely destroyed because she wasn't able to protect her son. Samuel L. Jackson begins to rethink his relationship with his own son who's locked up in prison for commiting armed robbery with Sam's gun. And Sam also has to deal with the fact that the people in the project look to him as their friend and protector, yet he has no control over the other police who are enforcing the lockdown of the neighborhood.
There's so much going on in the movie on so many different levels. Maybe that's why the critics don't like it. They're using words like "overblown," "mess," "sloppy," and "bungled." Maybe it's a more complicated movie than they expected. Roger Ebert, my favorite movie critic, asks questions in his review that make me wonder which movie he was watching. The answers are in the film. I can't reveal them here without spoiling the film, but they're there. I just think critics were too busy or too lazy to see them.
Freedomland is a thoughtful, provocative, touching, well-acted film that avoids genre conventions. If it's rotten, I don't want fresh.
What's nice about this one is that you won't have to subscribe to Showtime or anyone else to get it. ABC has already ordered four episodes and the producers, IDT Entertainment and Industry Entertainment, are going ahead and making at least two -- and possibly as many as nine -- more. They're hoping to have it ready for a summer release.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
It's supposed to be a humorous homage to those alien-invasion flicks from the '80s that were in turn remakes of alien-invasion flicks from the '50s. Fillion should be perfect for it.
So should Rob Zombie, who plays someone named "Dr. Carl."
Mystery fans will be interested in the two adaptations of Sherlock Holmes stories, but did you know that Doyle also wrote pirate stories, thrillers, and science fiction? It's all in there.
No word on whether Keira Knightley, who was rumored to be a Spielberg favorite for the role of Richard Attenborough's granddaughter (played by Ariana Richards in the first two films), is still being considered.
This website does a pretty good job of answering that question too by recounting the life of the real Anneliese Michel. If Requiem is at all faithful to actual events, it's going to be a very disturbing movie.
They do have professionals in the organization too though. Bryan Singer, for example, serves on their "Direction Committee." According to the website, nominations are developed by committees made up (as much as possible) of equal parts professionals, academics, and fans.
The nominations -- divided up across a surprisingly large number of categories -- are an interesting review of genre films and TV shows and the folks who make them last year, so check them out and pick your favorites. Winners will be announced at the Academy's award ceremony on May 2nd.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
I didn't either, but Fangoria's got an interview with the author up right now, and when you finish reading that, you can pre-order the English translation on Amazon.
What I do like though, are big ass monsters, and that makes the Daikaiju!: Giant Monster Tales anthology interesting to me since it's full of them. Even if you don't plan on getting the book though, give the website for it a look. It's full of all sorts of cool, giant-monster goodness, including a hilarious joint interview with King Kong and Godzilla.
"I realized that what I'd been mistaking for true horror was simply terror. Horror movies should horrify, thrillers thrill and terrify. There's a subtle difference.
Let's get down to brass tacks for a minute. I looked up 'horrify' and got 'To cause feelings of horror.' Great, thanks. But for horror, I got this:
• An intense, painful feeling of repugnance and fear.
• Intense dislike; abhorrence.
Painful repugnance. Abhorrence. That works. Now, if I watch a Friday the 13th flick, I really don't feel that. Why? Because most slasher flicks are simply thrillers. There's seldom anything horrific--at least in a movie--about people being stalked and killed one at a time. But compare the feelings you get from watching a slasher flick to the feeling of watching John Hurt 'hatch' in the middle of Alien. I can't imagine anybody who didn't twist and turn when they watched that scene unfold."
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Davies has made a name for himself by writing mysteries starring Sherlock Holmes's housekeeper. It's an unusual concept, though one that doesn't particularly grab me. With The Conjurer's Bird, he's turned his imagination to another quirky mystery: the search for "the rarest bird ever recorded." The historical basis for the story is a unique bird that was discovered in 1774 on Captain Cook's second voyage to the South Pacific. It was captured, but later disappeared. Three hundred plus years later, a London conservationist tries to pick up the trail and solve the mystery.
A book about a missing bird wouldn't ordinarily catch my attention, but it's getting reviews that are making me very curious. Publisher's Weekly says that "it is to Davies' credit that he renders the novel's botanical and zoological details with an immediacy that helps along the narrative. A few farfetched plot twists aside, this is a captivating novel." Bookgasm says, "You’ll want to discover the whereabouts of that damned bird just as much as everyone in the book. This excellent novel is one of those more literary-minded efforts that doesn’t know how smart it is, making for an unpretentious trip."
If you haven't read the first Cownt story from Tales from the Inner Sanctum yet, now's your chance. All five pages are posted as part of the interview.
Friday, February 17, 2006
"No, there haven't been any overtures from the CW as regards a SereniFly spin-off. I haven't even heard the orchestra tuning up. But if they happen to come calling, I do know what I would do:
1) In order to keep the show cost efficient, we would get rid of a few things we don't need, like spaceships, floors, and Jewel. (You thought I was gonna say 'costumes', didn't you? Porn guy.)
2) Nathan is busy making movies*, but since I don't want new cast members, everybody in the cast would just move over one. Jewel (she's back!) would play Mal, Ron would play Kaylee, Morena would play Book, and so on.
3) People love a happy ending. So every episode, I will explain once again that I don't like people. And then Mal will shoot someone. Someone we like. And their puppy.
4) The actors can make up their dialogue. I'm bushed, and they're all funny, and the hell with it. Maybe I'll give them a premise to work off of, like "You're all in trouble" or "Wash has a thing". They could maybe light it too.
5) Klingons, but not alien Klingons. But still Klingons."
*Ain't It Cool News is passing on a rumor that Mal is making White Noise 2 with Katee Sackhoff, but who knows how true that is.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
"A Star Trek fan has filed for bankruptcy after spending almost $71,000 converting his home into the Starship Voyager... after flying his way through two loans and 14 credit cards in a bid to not only build his dream home, but also market the space-age renovation for other people's homes, the fan has come crashing down to earth, broke."
So, here goes:
- Always have an outline.
- Always end a chapter with a cliffhanger.
- Divide chapters into shorter scenes.
- Avoid pages and pages of internal monologue, description, or exposition. Break it up with dialogue.
- Use the verb "said" very sparingly.
- Never have characters do two things simultaneously that a real person can't do simultaneously. (e.g. "Bob said as he took a drink")
- Show, don't tell. (An obvious one, but one that I have to constantly remind myself about.)
- Begin each chapter or scene in the middle of the action.
- Chapters should be about ten pages long (when they're double-spaced with a 12-point font in Word).
- There should be about twenty to thirty chapters in a novel.
Angela's purpose in that excercise is to get you to look closely at your writing habits and drop any that don't work for you anymore. I'm working on easing up my restrictions about the outline and how long everything needs to be, but other than that, I think my list makes for stronger storytelling. A lot of them are rules that I've learned directly from other writers.
Speaking of which, the thing that got me thinking about this today is that someone just pointed me towards Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing. Click the link for Leonard's insights about each of them, but here's the short version:
- Never open a book with weather.
- Avoid prologues.
- Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
- Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”
- Keep your exclamation points under control.
- Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
- Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
- Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
- Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
- Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
He sums them all up in this one rule: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
Good advice that I'll be adding to my other rules.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
On Coffin: "I've changed the nature of my company. I'm now not developing movies for other directors... there are only a couple of projects that I will continue to be involved with that we did develop and COFFIN is one of them. The reason for that is because Guillermo del Toro is one of my best friends and we've never really worked together. I mean, we always feel like we're working together because he gets all involved in my stuff, I get all involved with his stuff, but not in an official capacity. So, COFFIN is definitely not dead and Guillermo says he still wants to make it. He's just finishing up his Spanish film right now."
On Planet of the Apes: "...when you deal with a studio and it's their asset... it's their asset. And I should have learned that lesson with PLANET OF THE APES because I had a great... great idea with PLANET OF THE APES, but it was Fox's asset. Even though I was supposedly developing it we didn't see eye to eye and they sort of picked up their marbles and that was that. They turned out, I think, possibly the most egregious film that they could have on that subject..."
On AvP: "It becomes more metaphorical or more comic book. I don't mean comic book in a negative way, I just mean that it's working at a kind of mythic, metaphoric level as opposed to really trying to immerse you in reality."
It was record-breaking in it's popularity when it was first released in Russia a couple of years ago, though American critics are divided about it. The film's got a dark, creepy look to it though, and it seems to be more adventure-oriented than something that tries to disturb with horrific imagery, and those are both positives for me. "Shocking" imagery has lost it's effectiveness on me; I'd much rather see someone artistically kicking vampire booty.
The movie goes into limited release in the U.S. this weekend. Unfortunately, the Twin Cities aren't part of that wave, so I'll have to wait until March 3rd like the rest of the country.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Shut up. It is too. And I'm not the only one who thinks so.
It's too late to order them and get them out for this year, but Cartouche Press has some purty Cthulhu Valentines that you can get for next year. They've got art by guys like Ash Wood and Christopher Shy, so you know they're gonna be nice. Stock up now so you'll be prepared to tell that elder god in your life just how you feel.
Also in honor of this special day, I'd like to remind you that Boom! Studios is producing a Cthulhu Tales anthology. It's got a Keith Giffen story in it and is illustrated by guys like Andy (Easy Way) Kuhn and Andrew (Fused Tales) Ritchie. Monsieur Ritchie also illustrated one of my chapters in the forthcoming Three Days the Devil Danced graphic novel, so I've got a personal connection with this one.
And finally, my Valentine's Day present to you: Cthulegos! Guest-starring Doctor Who, a Dalek, some zombies, Jedi, Indiana Jones, Dumbledore and maybe Fox Mulder.
Monday, February 13, 2006
My wife discovered Xena: Warrior Princess during the show's second or third season and turned me onto it. We fell in love with the cheesy effects (both sound and visual), the corny humor, and... well, Lucy. She's sexy, she's tough, she's smart, she's funny. How can you not be in love with her?
That's why I was thrilled when she appeared in an episode of Battlestar Galactica earlier this season, and it's why I'm even more thrilled that she's been signed on for a ten-episode arc in Season Three.
But even before then, she'll reappear on the show in guest-star capacity in the Cylon-centric episode that airs February 24th. Battle on, Xena.
Friday, February 10, 2006
The sequel's called Power of the Dark Crystal and it's set centuries after the first one. The plot is about a girl who's made of fire and steals a shard of the crystal in order to repower the dying sun.
I'm more of a Labyrinth guy, but The Dark Crystal was a fun movie and a sequel sounds good to me as long as they can recapture the imagination of the original. Unfortunately, that isn't a given with the Henson Company since it's founder passed away, but with Tartakovsky involved, there's much hope.
Sometimes, like with Titanic or Cinderella Man or Walk the Line, there's a purpose to showing all that misery. I'm into that. If you can show me perseverance in the midst of suffering, that's encouraging. But I rarely know that going in, so I'm a little shy about those kinds of movies.
I say all that to say that the planned biopic about Alfred Hitchcock is one that I won't hesitate to see. I know nothing about the man's life or how happy or tragic it was, but in this case that's the point. I want to know more about the man who brought me The 39 Steps, Foreign Correspondent, and Psycho. They've chosen the perfect guy to play him in Little Britain's Matt Lucas. And it's also got Obi Wan in it, so it's got that going for it. Which is nice.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
The first one is a Dracula sequel sub-titled Asylum, out March 8th. There've been enough other Dracula sequels, prequels, and alternate versions that yet another isn't that exciting. I've still got The Historian sitting unread, for crying out loud.
The next in the series, The Wolf Man: Hunter's Moon (released April 12th) sounds more unique. I loved Lon Chaney, Jr. as Lawrence Talbot and have always thought that the character deserved a sequel about just him and his relationship with his dad instead of sending him rushing headlong to meet Frankenstein's monster. I doubt that this will be that story, but I'll be reading in hopes that dear old Claude Rains at least makes an appearance.
Creature from the Black Lagoon: Time's Black Lagoon (coming June 7th) is the one I'm most nervous about. It's based on one of my favorite movies of any genre and they've set it in the future. I guess you could argue that Creature is a science fiction movie, but I've always enjoyed it as an adventure. I'd rather DH Press have hired someone like F. Paul Wilson to write it. Someone who knows how to combine adventure and horror. Still, curiosity demands that I give it a lookie.
There's not much information about Frankenstein: The Shadow of Frankenstein or the Bride of Frankenstein and Mummy novels that are in the pipeline, but I reckon I can look forward to them with the same mixture of nervousness and excitement that I hold for the others.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
They started with a non-fiction book called A Short History of Myth, which sounds dry, but probably isn't. The next two in the series sound strong enough that my confidence in A Short History of Myth is boosted.
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood retells the story of Homer's Odyssey from the point of view of Odysseus's wife Penelope. According to Canongate: "The Odyssey, draws to an end with the slaughter of the Suitors by Odysseus and Telemachus, the hanging of twelve of the maids who have been sleeping with the Suitors, and the reunion of Odysseus and Penelope... what led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to? The story as told in The Odyssey doesn't hold water: there are too many inconsistencies. In The Penelopiad, Penelope provides the answers."
The one that really tickles my fancy though is Weight by Jeanette Winterson. It's the behind-the-scenes tale of why Atlas really got stuck with the job of holding up the world and what he did with his time off when he tricked Hercules into temporarily taking over. And according to Bookgasm, it all somehow ties into the Russian space program. Check out the Bookgasm review for some great lines from Hercules (Heracles, actually) that show him for the misogynistic bastard he is.
The problem now is that I've got so much stuff stockpiled that I'm never going to catch up with just one update a day. And by the time I get to a particular item in the pile, it's usually old news, and that's no good.
So, I'm going to ramp up my posting here and try to get through the stockpile more quickly. Once I've caught up, I'll just post stuff as I find it, so that some days I'll have multiple posts and some days I'll only have one. I've got more confidence now that there shouldn't be any days where I've got nothing to talk about. I can always go back to yapping about my work if I need to fill space.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Seems someone's trying to get a second season going of Firefly, but unfortunately, it's not Joss Whedon. An "independent production company and core group of Browncoats" have set up a website to measure fan interest in a second season of the show. They seem pretty intent on setting it up as some sort of pay-by-the-episode thing, like On Demand or a DVD Episode-of-the-Month club or streaming download for the computer.
Like everyone else, I'm skeptical. Skeptical that they can come up with the money to buy the rights, skeptical that they can rehire the actors, skeptical that they can afford the effects, skeptical of the quality without the involvement of Whedon or the other Firefly writers and creators. But, hey... I wish them luck. I want to see more Firefly; I just want it to be Firefly and not fanfic Firefly. If they can do that, I'll pay for it.
Monday, February 06, 2006
But here's a story that sounds perfectly fascinating and I don't know if I'm ever going to get to read it. She Loves Monsters is a novella by Simon Clark about a guy who inherits a share of a famous, lost film named Vorada (sort of like Lon Chaney's London After Midnight). The guy (Jack Calner) tracks down the filmmaker, a director named Christopher Lake who's a cross between Chaney, Tod Browning, and H.P. Lovecraft.
According to the publisher's website: "As Jack Calner approaches the remote country house where Lake has exiled himself his car strikes a naked woman. The body he expects to find vanishes... Christopher Lake isn’t what he expected. Neither is the famous lost Vorada."
There's also a mysterious handy man whom the website describes in a very clichéd way, but I won't hold that against the author. His combination of mystery, horror, and history is exactly the kind of thing I love to read.
The problem is, it's a limited edition, hardback novella. It's sold out, but even when they still had copies available, they were asking $35 a pop. $35 for a novella? Hopefully, someone will include it in an affordable collection at some point.
Friday, February 03, 2006
It's still down pretty far on Del Toro's list apparently, so there's not a lot of information about it, except that's it's being conceived as a 3-D film. That should sound cool, but frankly I've always been disappointed in 3-D movies. The gimmick always overshadows the story.
I tend to trust Del Toro though, so we'll see.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Planet of the Apes: The Ultimate DVD Collection is coming out March 28th. All the movies (including Burton's, but we'll forgive them for being complete), the entire TV series, and the entire animated series.
Look at all this stuff:
Disc 1: The original Planet of the Apes in animorphic widescreen, THX certified, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS. Includes commentaries by composer Jerry Goldsmith, actors Roddy McDowell, Natalie Trundy, Kim Hunter, makeup artist John Chambers, and text commentary by Eric Greene, author of Planet of the Apes as American Myth.
Disc 2: Planet of the Apes bonus disc, including Behind the Planet of the Apes 126-minute documentary, a documentary promo, makeup tests with actor Edward G. Robinson, Roddy McDowell home movies, dailies and outtakes, several other featurettes, publicity materials, film reviews, posters, and galleries.
Disc 3: Beneath the Planet of the Apes in animorphic widescreen, THX certified, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby surround. Other features include a cast page, trailers for all six films, behind-the-scenes photo gallery and web link.
Disc 4: Escape from the Planet of the Apes in amimorphic widescreen, THX certified, Dolby Digital 5.1. Other features are similar to disc 3.
Disc 5: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes in animorphic widescreen, THX certified, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby surround. Other features are similar to disc 3.
Disc 6: Battle for the Planet of the Apes in animorphic widescreen, THX certified, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby surround. Extras are similar to disc 3, but also includes an interactive game and CD-ROM content.
Disc 7: The first four episodes of the Planet of the Apes television series: "Escape From Tomorrow," "The Gladiators," "The Trap," and "The Good Seeds." Also includes TV spots and photos.
Disc 8: Episodes 5 to 8 of the television series: "The Legacy," "Tomorrow's Tide," "The Surgeon," and "The Dragoons." Also includes TV spots and photos.
Disc 9: Episodes 9 to 12 of the television series: "The Horse Ride," "The Interrogation," "The Tyrant," and "The Cure." Also includes TV spots and photos.
Disc 10: The final two episodes of the television series: "The Liberator," and "Up Above the World So High." Also includes TV spots and photos.
Disc 11: The first seven episodes of the animated series Return to the Planet of the Apes: "Flames of Doom," "Escape from Ape City," "Lagoon of Peril," "Tunnel of Fear," "The Unearthly Prophecy," "Screaming Wings," and "Trail to the Unknown."
Disc 12: The final six episodes of the animated series: "Attack from the Clouds," "Mission of Mercy," "Invasion of the Underdwellers," "Battle of the Titans," "Terror on Ice Mountain," and "River of Flames."
Disc 13: The 2001 version of Planet of the Apes, including commentary by director Tim Burton, composer Danny Elfman, Tom Rothman and Richard Zanuck. It includes an enhanced, interactive viewing mode with behind-the-scenes on makeup, special effects, cast and crew, and location shooting.
Disc 14: Planet of the Apes (2001) bonus disc, including 23 featurettes and six documentaries: Ape School, Makeup Testing, Costume Testing, Shooting on Location, Scoring the Film, and Ape Movement. Also included: eight interactive multi-angle sequences, four quad-angle/4-way audio split vignettes of makeup testing, apes reactive testing, costume testing, movement and stunt testing, five extended scenes, an HBO "Making of" special, TV spots, trailers, and a music video.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Unhappy with recent Star Trek product (and who could blame them?), or the lack thereof, Trekkies are doing it for themselves these days. Fan fiction isn't enough for some folks though, the producers of Star Trek: The New Voyages are actually putting out an episodic show with the goal of finishing the tale of Kirk and Spock's initial five-year mission.
My first impulse (as it is anytime I discover fans more hardcore than myself) is to mock, but I have to acknowledge the guts of these folks to not just put this stuff out, but to try to replace Shatner and Nimoy in the process. And not only that, but George Takei and Walter Koenig have volunteered to play Sulu and Chekov in a couple of episodes and David Gerrold, who wrote for the original series, is now writing for this one.
I'm afraid to even try to download episodes over my crappy dial-up connection, but whether the show's any good or not is isn't that important to me. I don't write fan fiction and I don't enjoy reading it, but these guys have taken it to such a different level that I have to clap just for the effort.