Monday, May 23, 2005

Use the Force...

I wish that I liked Orson Scott Card more, really I do. He's a darling of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. I've read some of his books, and even really liked a few of them. My particular favorite was Hart's Hope, and I read all of the Alvin Maker series. (Don't get too excited about the commitment because if they put stories on the back of my corn flakes I would read all of those, too.) I even have his autograph from when he came to our Virginia Festival of the Book. He was an entertaining speaker. But I've never been able to make it past a few pages of Ender's Game. There is a vague but insistent arrogance running under the voice of his work that irritates me.

On my first reading I found that voice very present in his essay "No Faith in This Force", a review of the religious implications of Lucas' films, "Revenge of the Sith" in particular.
Many had obviously memorized all the howlingly bad lines. They began laughing out loud just before the line was said, and applauded at the wretched “emotional” moments in the movie.

But then, walking out of the theater, they fiercely defended the movie against anyone who dared to speak against it. It might be badly written, but it’s their badly written movie.
Thanks, Orson. We love you, too. If we just replace 'movie' with 'book' then you have defined how I feel about all of your Ender's Game fans. There, how does that feel?

He does make some points about moral relativism, but he doesn't follow up with any clear logical or ethical arguments about it. Mostly he seems to be questioning why people (real people) call themselves Jedi. On their Census form, for instance. In conclusion he says:
So if a religion is known to be fictional, trains its exclusive practitioners to be killing machines, and doesn’t actually work in the real world, why do people call themselves Jedi?
Well, gosh. Could it be... no, let me think. Yes, it's true.....

Because we're BIG OLD GEEKS! It makes us laugh! We are entertained! In a time where there are so many disappointments with organized religion it is a way of poking fun! Are there seriously disturbed people who take it more seriously than they should? NO DOUBT! That's true about anything! There are just as many nutball Christians as there are role players or Jedis or Department Store Santas. Every group has it's nuts.

The only positive thing I have to say about Mr. Card's essay is that it is a also a bit of a poke at Scientology. "It’s one thing to put your faith in a religion founded by a real person who claimed divine revelation, but it’s something else entirely to have, as the scripture of your religion, a storyline that you know was made up by a very nonprophetic human being." Take that, Tom Cruise.

Oh, and remind me to claim divine revelation later this week. I'll pencil it in. I didn't realize that I just had to claim divine revelation to be taken seriously as a religious leader. That is different from artistic inspiration how? Wait, no, don't confuse me with the facts.

Mostly, though, I just hope that Kevin Smith (aka Silent Bob) writes a retort. Wise in the ways of the Force, he is.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Sidhe Walks In Beauty

The Rock Rag, November 2003
Cover Article "Here Sidhe Comes"

by Colin Graham

This interviewer had a chance to sit down with the rock band “Sidhe Walks In Beauty” before the kick-off of the North American tour for their album “Unseelie Court”. In case you’ve been living under a mushroom cap while this British sensation has taken off, Sidhe is pronounced “Shee” and is the Gaelic word for fey or fairy.

I met the three guy, one girl band at New York’s swank Casablanca Hotel. Leanan looked amazing in a little flowing blue number, while the boys Pooka, Spriggan and Boggie were all decked out in black grunge finery. The first thing I asked was, of course, “Why Sidhe?”

Spriggan replied, “Why the [expletive] do you [expletive] think, you [expletive]? We’re [expletive] fey!”

Leanan broke in with her usual charm, “And the band name is a reference to a Lord Byron poem. Since Byron is a personal friend it seemed like a nice tribute.” (When I mentioned that Byron had been dead for some time the band reassured me that he was in fact enjoying time with some friends at a fairie ring in Northern Ireland where time passes slowly and was in quite good health.)

Pooka, who had been glowering at me, spoke up. “We looked at those rock bands tearing up their hotel rooms, luring young people away from their homes to follow them, having sex with everyone within five feet of them, and we thought, what a rip-off! We’ve been acting like that for thousands of years and now some mortal brats are going to come along and make money at it? [Expletive]!”

Of course, over the years there has been the odd fairy to gain popularity in entertainment. Bryan Ferry, the son of a dryad, was a 1980s pop sensation and right now Tina Fey, a nymph, does the news on Saturday Night Live.

When I asked her about this, Leanan mused, “Tina has done a good job of toning down her natural allure. There is a real pressure as a sidhe where you wonder if you can make it without your glamour – if you can just succeed on your own hard work.”

Well, it’s certain that this great band is making it on their own hard work. Check out Sidhe Walks in Beauty coming soon to a town near you!

(c) 2003, Sue London, – November 2003 Bad Fairy Challenge for the Science Fiction Writer's Online Writer's Workshop

Thursday, April 28, 2005

No One Ever Told Me...

No one ever told me that science fiction writing was easy. No one except me, of course, and I always go out of my way to prove myself wrong. Two years ago I decided that writing was my chosen profession. All I had to do, after all, was sit in a chair and write, two things I was champion at. I convinced my unwary step-sister to join me in the pursuit of the published word... and the firm squelching of our delusions. It would only take a year, I said benignly, to write our first novel. "A year?" wailed my co-writer. "But, I wanted a sports car next month!" Her enthusiasm and expectations for writing we a bit colored, shall we say.

But, undaunted determination drove us toward our goal. We would have that novel written within a year. Fighting against enormous odds - daily writer's block, our unparalleled talent at finding something better to do, our misunderstanding of literature - we strove for the one thing that really mattered: the money. No snippy artist's integrity here, we were on the scent of monetary gain.

Into the fourth rewrite of the eighth chapter we were seized with a sudden realization. We didn't know how to get "the book" published. With some joy we dashed from our typing room - what once had been known as 'the study' was now considered a chamber of horrors - and ran pell-mell to the library. We pored through books and books (and books) about writing. We begged the librarian to let us stay all night. Not to read, we said, but so that we wouldn't have to stare our typewriter in the face (or the keyboard) again. Our librarian thereafter regarded us as a sort of oddity.

Before that novel was finished, the constant strain was telling on us. We couldn't hold a level gaze against any book. We shielded our eyes from the friendly dictionary and thesaurus. We were ashamed of our ineptitude. We somewhat wished that an alien from one of our plots would come alive and kidnap us, taking us away from the Land of Constant Typing. Our perfectionism made us agonizingly rewrite the chapters "just one more time." We were exhausted, yes, but we could not stop.

I will have to say that in those two years our style has improved considerably (our typing definitely has). Our technique has soared to formerly unknown levels. Grudgingly, I admit that writing can be satisfying. The pay isn't in dollars and cents alone. One word to the amateur, though. If you are thinking of becoming a writer because it won't be a strenuous job ("hey, I think I'll write me somthing and make a few thou"), then think again. You would be better off becoming a marathon runner.

(c) Sue London, 1985

Friday, April 01, 2005

Jot Doggerel Verse With Alacrity

I've been going through my old files which are full of writing crud, including this little piece of doggerel verse. The tempo is fun, but I think the counts are off. I'm sure my brother the English Lit/Poetry guy would freak out. But I like it. Since I was probably 14 when I wrote it I feel like I can cut myself a break....


Astrological considerations are many, I can see,
After delving into the depths of this banality.
Whether you were born in the year of the dragon or the rat,
The year of the this or the year of the that.

Where you were born and where you live now,
Your exact time of birth at your former locale.
The positions of the stars and the moon and the sun.
Was there a lunar eclipse? At what time was it done?

The transits of planets between each of your houses,
And the years that typify horses and mouses.
The sign that was at the horizon at birth,
Can somehow affect your overall girth.

And that sign that was setting can also apply,
If you can chart its location far up in the sky.
There's also the lunar affect to be counted,
And various other things as yet to be mounted.

The position of Pluto in its aspect to Saturn,
Trined with Neptune in a peculiar pattern,
Favorable with both Jupiter and Mars,
Though Venus does not quite agree with your stars.

And Mercury is having his quibbles too,
Although his degrees from your sun are really quite few.
This all has a stake in your business relations,
How you treat your best friend, and the family vacations.

And there are also career points as yet to be mentioned,
As your sign could be clumsy although well intentioned.
And you have to decide if your sun or your moon,
Or your ascending sign is your true self illumined.

As all of this has some part in the plan,
Of the stars and their pulls on the creature called man.

8/28/10: This is now an entry in the Poetic License Blog Hop.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Steps I've Taken

I'm approximately half-way through the three years Mark Twain extolls we should try writing to see if it takes (or if chopping wood is what we're meant for).

In the fall of 2003 I pulled together a lot of the writing I had and put it online. I joined the science fiction/fantasy club for a year. I had been on their email list for years and remain on it today. It was fun to review others' writing and have my own reviewed for awhile. But something inside of me insisted that it wasn't my path.

This year I've been working on a tv series with a co-writer so I signed up for IMDBPro and some other screenwriting sites such as Trigger Street. On the fiction/non-fiction side I got the 2005 Writer's Handbook to see what I might be able to place.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Script Buddy

I found a cool scriptwriter's tool called Script Buddy. The simple version is also FREE!!!! The co-writer and I are working on some script ideas and it makes it very simple to share info between us and make updates.