Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Review - The Day After Tomorrow

It seems that the freak weather we've had in these parts (and in Europe) is set to continue, so I'm using that as a gratuitous (and possibly inappropriate) reason to revisit this movie.

The Day After Tomorrow is a fairly typical disaster movie, taking global warming and turning it on its head, to create a sudden super cooling effect on huge swathes of the northern hemisphere. Yes, I know, but there is an explanation given which sounds plausible enough if you try not to think about it. I guess any film that opens by plagiarising a Road Runner cartoon can't really be taken that seriously.

From there on, it really is just a typical disaster movie: the kids (led by Donnie Darko) trapped in New York, while Donnie's father treks through miles of snow to rescue them, accompanied by a couple of hardened adventurers, one of whom sacrifices himself for the sake of the mission. There's a shedload of effects, from hail-boulders to frozen helicopters crashing out of the sky. And, of course, there's all that snow - enough, apparently, to make the Statue of Liberty go all Planet of the Apes. And, of course, an incredibly cheesy finale in which the President of the USA humbly thanks the Third World nations for welcoming (presumably at gunpoint) all the refugees from the frozen Northern hemisphere.

For all that though, it's quite an enjoyable waste of a couple of hours, more so if you like effects heavy disaster movies, and despite its best efforts, it probably won't make you think too seriously about climate change (at least, not in the way five feet of river flowing through your house will).

Whether the conditions here at the moment are related to the real, actual effects of climate change, or just plain old freak weather, is not quite clear at the moment. What seems to be clear, though, is that it's not over yet.

Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction. Just, not quite as spectacular.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Writing, Bible study and discussion questions

There's been a bit of discussion over at Becky Miller's place lately about discussion questions for novels (I know, that's two 'discussions' in one sentence - bad writer!). I suspect that if I were to pay them any attention they would make me wonder if I had missed a page (or, perhaps, whether the author had missed a page). But then, I tend to read novels for entertainment above all; any thought I may give to a given 'theme' as a result is pretty much a bonus and won't necessarily have any bearing on the author's intentions.

The reason I mention this is that lately I have noticed that, when reading the Bible, I can sometimes relate aspects of it to the actions of my own characters, either the events recorded in Countless as the Stars, parts of their back story known only to me, or anticipated events for potential sequels. And I find that looking at it through the eyes of these characters, and trying to relate the Bible to my own imagined Creed, sheds some new light on things.

It is of course possible that this only works for me, because I know these characters' past and future lives, I know how the Creed relates to the Bible, and I know my intentions in creating all of this. Also, because I based my story so closely on Biblical events, I put a lot of Bible study in during the writing process, some of which it seems I retained.

I still live in the hope that some of what I have written may help others, casual sci-fi readers maybe, to make some sense of the Bible - specifically, the Old Testament. With that in mind, I may write a few short pieces for the website - why various events have been included, how and why they differ from the Bible accounts, what I learned while writing it... I should probably also explain that all the sex and drugs was included with the intention of exploring the consequences later (that way they don't look quite so gratuitous...)

I hadn't really thought about discussion questions until I read Becky's piece on the subject. I suppose it is possible that some readers might benefit from that approach, but it's not really my style. Besides, I don't want my readers thinking I missed the point.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The CSFF Blog Tour continues...

CSSF Blog Tour

Well, it seems like there's been a bit of a battle of the sexes going on in CSFF world this week. The girls mostly love The Restorer, while some of the guys are, well, less enthusiastic.

Why should that be? It can't just be the female lead. It certainly hasn't bother me in previous tours (notably Firebird), and hey, who doesn't love Buffy? Second thoughts, don't answer that. Maybe it's that she's a whiny soccer-mom - although, I'd probably relate to that myself, the number of times I feel like the hard done by housewife of the family and want to escape to some fantasy world... but that's another story. I'd probably be really whiny in Susan Mitchell's place: 'No, I can't be your Restorer. I don't even like fantasy novels...'

Hopefully, all this male/female divide means is that Sharon Hinck has gone for mom-lit* market and successfully grabbed it. And, for the sake of CSFF writers of all flavours, I hope she does attract a few readers back to the spec-fic section.

Also trying to lure readers towards the spec-fic shelves:

Trish Anderson Brandon Barr Jim Black Justin Boyer Grace Bridges Amy Browning Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Karri Compton Frank Creed Lisa Cromwell CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis D. G. D. Davidson Chris Deanne Jeff Draper April Erwin Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Andrea Graham Russell Griffith Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Heather R. Hunt Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Lost Genre Guild Rachel Marks Rebecca LuElla Miller Eve Nielsen John W. Otte John Ottinger Rachelle Cheryl Russel Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder Mirtika Schultz Speculative Faith Jason Waguespac Daniel I. Weaver

*just to annoy Mir! :p

Monday, June 18, 2007

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy - June Blog Tour

CSSF Blog Tour

This month's CSFF blog tour extravaganza is all about Sharon Hinck’s The Restorer, first book in the Sword of Lyric sequence, a sort of Christian mom-lit sword and sourcery epic adventure tale. I guess I'm not exactly the target demographic then? Well, in the hope that her publishers will one day realise that what the world wants is a Christian dad-lit space opera and give me a call... (Is dad-lit even a thing? Or am I creating genres again? Or maybe the new blog title I was thinking about?)

Anyway, you know what I like about Sharon Hinck? She's got the CSFF blog tourists listed on a sidebar on her blog in reverse alphabetical order. So I'm about third in the list, instead of waaaaaay down the bottom. I don't know why I didn't think of that, really.

Oh, wait, yes I do. It's because the tour's master list is alphabetical, and it's too much like hard work to fiddle with it myself. So here it is in conventional order (though I suggest you start somewhere in the J's, because they get neglected whichever way up you look at it!)

Trish Anderson Brandon Barr Jim Black Justin Boyer Grace Bridges Amy Browning Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Karri Compton Frank Creed Lisa Cromwell CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis D. G. D. Davidson Chris Deanne Jeff Draper April Erwin Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Andrea Graham Russell Griffith Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Heather R. Hunt Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Lost Genre Guild Rachel Marks Rebecca LuElla Miller Eve Nielsen John W. Otte John Ottinger Rachelle Cheryl Russel Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder Mirtika Schultz Speculative Faith Jason Waguespac Daniel I. Weaver

Monday, June 11, 2007


Change is afoot behind the scenes of my vast online empire.

Currently the empire consists of this blog, my largely ignored musings blog, the rambling fanficblog of Miner Willy, and of course my website, which has remained in a state of almost-done-ness since all the hip dislocation stuff distracted me from completing the job.

So, I will be rationalising, mainly by shutting down the musing department and merging its output with the sci-fi related musings you get here, and possibly Willy's Weblog.

Which means, as a bonus goodie for the regulars here (all three of you), you will get the benefit of my musings on life, the universe and everything, as well as my theological expositions based on the works of Douglas Adams.

Which probably means I need a new blog address, title and/or strapline. Oh dear.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Project Seven musings

So I've been thinking a bit about my current writing project. My protag's life story is starting to come together quite nicely, but I'm still not sure how it will ultimately be presented. Not being a big reader of books without some speculative element, I'm probably not well placed to start writing one. So the question remains: how to include a speculative element so that I can write the story in my preferred genre?

Some vague possibilities have occurred:

The futuristic sci-fi version

In Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard meets a younger, more evil Picard, a clone created some time in the past. Watching this recently made me wonder - what if you found you had been cloned, there was another you wandering around? What if the clone had the same character flaws and weaknesses as you, but instead of choosing to resist whatever temptation this led to, chose the easy route and embraced his dark side? What happens when the two meet?

It doesn't have to be a clone, of course; the evil twin could be from a parallel universe, or the result of a time-travel experiment gone wrong. Or a 'transporter malfunction' as happened to Kirk in Star Trek. Or some mystic force such as might be found in the Buffyverse.

We could also copnsider the possibility that it isn't a physical twin, but some kind of Jekyll & Hyde complex.

The Urban Fantasy version

One potential telling of this tale always had a hint of Angel to it. I may have struck upon an idea that adds a twist to that; although, I suspect it's probably been done before, though possibly less often than the evil twin story.

If you could wish your problems away, would you? Maybe one mistake, one bad decision, that you could have excised from your life, along with all the baggage that followed it. An addiction, or a period of illness, completely removed from your personal timeline. Sounds tempting, on the surface. But in losing the bad stuff, you lose the good that inevitably comes from it: all that you learn, the ways you become a stronger person. The people you could help when they find themselves in the same situation.

That is the central dilemma in this telling of the story. Our protag meets some kind of entity with the ability to remove the darkness of his past. Presumably this entity would, effectively, have lived through the darkest chapters of our hero's life, and be left with the emotional baggage that followed.

In taking on the ills of the world, this entity becomes a sort of Christ-figure, albeit probably a very dark one. I think he has potential for exploration - is he really a Christ-figure, or is he just removing the negative so that the positive results also disappear?

Or have I just stumbled across my next project?

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Last Temptation of Who

There seems to have been rather a lot of internet chatter about the cancellation of Doctor Who over the last few days. Pure speculation of course, and ironically turning up in the middle of probably the best two-parter of the series so far.

Spoilers follow, so if you don't want to know the score, come back on Wednesday.

At the opening of Human Nature, The Doctor is, unusually, on the run. On the run from some petty intergalactic crooks, after the life-force of a Time Lord in order gain eternal life and wreak havoc on a far larger scale. As they are, the Family of Blood have a limited time remaining, so the Doctor hides in England, in 1913, by becoming human.

And therein lies the genius of the piece. We get to see a different side to the Doctor (and David Tennant being more Hugh Grant than Tom Baker), and to Martha, who, as a young woman who is 'not exactly white', is forced to act as a servant, while actually being the one in control.

Oh yes, there are scary monsters (and one very disturbing public schoolboy), ray guns and explosions, but there is also the equally scary fact that 1914 looms just the other side of Christmas.

But against all this, and despite the fact that Martha and everyone around him need the Doctor back, having given up his life as a Time Lord, he likes being plain old John Smith and is unwilling to lay down that life. But if he settles for being an ordinary man, living a normal human lifespan, and living it happily married with a family around him, millions will ultimately die at the hands of his enemies. I imagine that is the sort of dilemma Jesus may have faced, just before stepping out of his ordinary existence and beginning his real work.

Ultimately, John Smith, like Jesus, sees what is right, and becomes more than human. And, in becoming the Doctor, he also takes responsibility for punishing his foes. The Family get the eternal life they craved - to spend alone, and suffering.