Summer Ideas

OH MAN HAS IT BEEN BUSY AT MY HOUSE!

My son Hal came forth from his mother’s womb a couple of weeks ago, so that’s a big thing. Also: babies are awake when you want to be asleep.

But nonetheless, he is adorable and will grow to be a strong man.

His grandparents on both sides have been in and out since he was born, as well as all of his aunts and uncles. It has been a fast paced thrill ride for all involved. Especially Hal, cause about a billion people have held him so far.

All of that being said, I got to go see Pacific Rim this week.

IT WAS SWEET

It was actually really good and had few enough plot holes to be a sustainable story (should Guillermo del Toro decide to make another one).

The monsters and robots were explained very thoroughly and the action was top notch. The cgi was great and I had no trouble believing the premise or the way the world was built around the major plot themes. The sets were good, the colors fantastic, and most of all the storytelling was top notch. It was just as good or better than any mecha anime I’ve ever watched. Not to mention that it’s holding its own at the box office and will hopefully make back its budget.

So what can we pull from this? A few things that we already know, but we’ll phrase them a little differently:

Push the Limit

Who knew a giant robot movie that wasn’t based on a beloved toy line and cartoon would do well at the box office? GDT took a chance and made a really good movie. I mean this is the guy who gave us some pretty good Hellboy movies and Pan’s Labyrinth, but giant robots? This stuff is almost exclusively reserved for anime.

But it works.

How often in our writing do we stick to what we think is easy? For example, I have never written anything about time travel because I think it’s just too hard. i have really cool ideas about it, and I love Dr Who, but I just haven’t done it.

Maybe it’s time i push my limit.

Good Writing elevates Cool Tech

Giant robots are sweet no matter how you slice it. When they fight giant monsters, they get even cooler. See Voltron. Or these guys.

Don’t judge me.

Anyway, cool tech is always cool tech. But good writing makes it better. Take for example these movies. But if you have cool tech that is used well by the writing style and premise, you can capture lightening in a bottle. And if you’re remembered for a story with cool tech and not cool tech in a story, you’re on your way.

Don’t be afraid of subgenres

Aside from being a mecha movie, Pacific Rim was also heavily cyberpunk. There were bright lights of all different colors set against a very dark background (very Bladerunner-esque) plus all of the digital interfaces and the neural-link mechanics. The 3-d greatly enhanced this aspect of the movie and really gave another level to the feel of the world. I found myself immersed in the technology rather than hit in the face with it. I had no trouble believing that their world was as much digital as it was physical.

Trouble

Now the bigest obstacle i find in writing sci fi is getting anything across in writing that would be way better in a film medium. Thus we have to spend lots of time world building. I’m all for conservation of words and short story writing, but sometimes we have to use a few more words to get the setting right. So maybe write a novel if it gets the setting right.

Just a few thoughts from my end.

The next few weeks are still up in the air with content and posting. Hopefully I will have some guest posts coming up, from J. Aurel Guay for sure and possibly some others. I hope all of you are having a great summer, please let me know what you’re working on!

Hey you PUNKS! Subgenres in Sci Fi

Calling all you punks out there!
So, if you haven’t delved into the world of punk sub-genres, you’re definitely missing out. I recently finished a Cyberpunk short story that will be published in an anthology coming next month, and it was really fun.
Like all of my writing it’s probably lame, but it was still fun.
So let’s talk about some punk sub-genres.

1. Cyberpunk

According to Wikipedia, the foremost scholarly site on any subject (yeah right), “Cyberpunk is a postmodern and science fiction genre noted for its focus on “high tech and low life.”

Basically the internet rules everything and no one is really happy.

Wow. I just realized what that means. We all live in a Cyberpunk novel. Anyway.

It usually centers around characters who have to deal with the most ridiculously sad situations, and stand up to large corporations or government entities that want to control every aspect of society. There’s lots of cool technology, and the imagination can run wild.

Reference works: ‘Neuromancer’ by William Gibson, ‘Blade Runner’ the movie, which was adapted from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and the anime series ‘Ghost in the Shell

2. Steampunk

Back to our source for everything, Steampunk ‘involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether in an alternative history such as Victorian era Britain or “Wild West“-era United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy.’

It’s pretty cool stuff. I recently got some positive feedback on Facebook and Twitter, so I will be writing some stories in this genre. I think I like it so much because of the many machines. In Cyberpunk everything is cybernetic and runs on information, in steampunk, everything seems like it took a little more engineering because it runs on steam and fire. Lots of gears and clockwork, lots of trains, and oh yeah lots of airships.

That’s right, a staple of this genre are ships that run on steam, and they float in the sky instead of the ocean. Love it.

Reference works: ‘The Wild Wild West’ film featuring Will Smith and Kevin Kline (save your bad comedy comments, I’m just giving stylistic examples), ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ graphic novels and film, ‘Final Fantasy VI and IX’ are also good examles (video game)

Side note: This sub-genre also spawned several sub-sub-genres (?) including dieselpunk and clockpunk.

I know it’s weird, but trust me you’ll like it. And those of you who already do like it will agree with me I’m sure.

3. Mystery Science Fiction

It’s exactly what it sounds like.

I wrote a short story recently, and tried to make it a murder/mystery set in a Cyberpunk world. The problem was that I ran out of room! I was shooting for 5000 words, and i went over by about six or so, but instead of a ‘mystery’ it was more of a ‘noir/detective’ thing. Don’t get me wrong, it was still great to write. But Mysteries require lots of words, so shoot for a novel.

Reference Works: ‘I, Robot’ by Isaac Asimov and the movie adaptation with…Will Smith…, he must really like punk sub-genres cause Robotis pretty Cyberpunk too, and my friend Nick Thacker has written a novel entitled ‘The Golden Crystal’. It’s a mystery/thriller and incorporates elements of Sci Fi as well. I got to beta read it and I loved it.

So who’s up for writing some sub-genre stuff? I’ve been at it, and I want to do more. Let me know what you’re working on, and I will definitely keep you posted on my stuff.