5 reasons to consume media outside of the mainstream

We all love Star Wars, Star trek, Battlestar Galctica, all that stuff. And that’s fine. But the problem is that there is plenty of stuff out there that’s great Sci Fi, but doesn’t get all of the hullabaloo and exposure. So here are 5 reasons to seek out things that are not readily in the mainstream.

5. A lot of it is just as good as mainstream

Dr Levenson (Carl Isherwood) and Commander Altaire (Sarah Wood)

(On the Shoulders of Giants by Kenneth Barker)

The production on a lot of indie science fiction is top notch. It’s creators are hellbent on making the best product they can, simply for this reason: they’re sci fi fans too. They want to add to the medium without sacrificing quality, and they end up making great stuff.

4. A lot of it is NOT as good as the mainstream

I once started reading a science fiction book and stopped reading it after about 20 pages. Not that long into the story, and they were already reversing the polarity to escape hyperspace. Needless to say I have never even thought about picking up this book again. I also wrote a terrible novel and never want anyone, who hasn’t already, to suffer through it. If you find one of these awful gems take notes. They are great blueprints for what not to do.

3. Pleasant surprises

I love picking up an indie novel, comic book, or movie and finding that it’s absolutely wonderful. The movie Moon with Kevin Spacey and Sam Rockwell comes to mind. I liked that movie so much I watched it again.

2. Motivation

We all need to see that it’s possible to achieve what we are striving for. And browsing through Amazon for a well written and reviewed indie sci fi novel is great motivation.

1. It’s just plain fun

When one ventures away from the mainstream, they can find magical things. These things lead to that one finding love, and expressing their gratitude towards these things. And that leads to finding more and more things to love and share and have absolute fun with. Let’s not forget why we got into this mess in the first place. It’s because we enjoy it.

The political spectrum of Dystopia

Many science fiction novels deal with a future that is united by one world government. The question for the aspiring writer of these probably dystopian masterpieces remains simple: what kind of government is it? There are a plethora of options, on all ends of the political wheel.

The answer to the question often lies within the author: what do I fear the most?

Disclaimer: I hate all of them. Don’t comment about political systems or your personal preference unless it has something to do with writing. If you want to rant about how much one of them sucks and how America or whatever country you live in is turning into it, I will become whatever totalitarian establishment you hate and delete your comment.

OK?

1. Fascism

Are you a strong independent woman reminiscent of Kelly Clarkson or Beyonce? Then you should be scared of fascism. Are you a homosexual who enjoys meeting other homosexuals? Then you should be afraid of fascism. Are you a proponent of a strong national pride coupled with far right social and moral laws?

Then you are probably a fascist…

Ok maybe not really. But the principles stand as far right and strong nationalism. The liberal author would find living like this appalling and unbearable. The Nazi author would love it. The liberal mind finds a government that oppresses people on the basis of race or social orientation sickening. This world would definitely be a dystopia for some. Think V for Vendetta.

2. Socialism

Are you a successful business man who donates to charity and enjoys the fruit of his labor? Then you should be scared of socialism. Are you a farmer who enjoys the great outdoors and the freedom to grow whatever you choose? Then you should be afraid of socialism.  Are you a poor person who thinks the government should do everything for you?

Then you’re probably a socialist…

Or maybe just a poor person. Socialism strives to make all citizens equal in every way. This takes away the entrepreneurial spirit and the drive of the open market. The conservative mind finds this reprehensible because of the economic implications. While less popular in fiction, it is definitely an inviting setting. Think 1984.

Most dystopias revolve around these two governments taken to their totalitarian extremes. The USSR and Nazi Germany are often cited as the basis for these extremes and the fears that come with them. Which makes sense because “Nazi” and “Commie” are pretty much universal terms for “I hate you”.

Conclusions

In essence, a totalitarian government is everyone’s fear no matter which end of the spectrum this government is on. That makes it great fodder for sci fi novels. Especially novels written during a World War or the Cold War.

Speculative future fiction has always been a favorite genre of mine, and I think it’s worth considering as a writer. If you need some inspiration, see such novels as Atlas Shrugged, Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, The Hunger Games, Brave New World, Watchmen, or for a more comprehensive list, click here.

So what is the answer to all of this totalitarian, far right, far left ridiculousness?

Libertarianism or Anarchism of course…on next week’s blog!

Ender’s Game

http://collider.com/wp-content/uploads/enders-game-promo-poster.jpg

 

I saw “Ender’s Game” this weekend. I was both thrilled and disappointed. As I watched the movie, I had several thoughts on story and medium.

 

SPOILERS BELOW!!!!!

 

Subplots can be make or break

If you have read the novel Ender’s Game, you know that the story is pretty complicated. In fact, one subplot is so vital to the story that it effects the end of the novel and its sequels. Ender’s siblings engage in political espionage and fearmongering, eventually leading to a global unification and takeover. This in turn allows Ender to take a team of explorers and find a new planet to colonize, leading to him finding an egg containing a “queen” alien. This gives Ender a chance at redemption for the genocide he committed.

The movie is devoid of this plot. In fact they take all of the things it leads to and kind of rolls them into one sorry excuse for an end of a movie. It ceased to be a well thought out plot and became a rushed, “let’s make this movie less than 2 hours” piece of garbage. The falling action of the movie is quite literally about ten minutes long. the falling action of the novel is at least 50 pages.

 

Medium

All of this being said, I understand that it is nearly impossible to get everything in a novel on film. Every movie would probably be 4 hours long, minimum, which is not conducive to an ADD audience. However that shouldn’t be an excuse to ruin or almost ruin a story. Film is a wonderful medium, in fact it’s probably my favorite medium. I love visuals, seeing the action as opposed to imagining it. But the written word allows a complete description and longer story. The reader is saddened when the story ends, whereas a movie ending is just another part of the experience. Seldom have I heard a general public outcry of “I didn’t want the movie to end” (crappy Hallmark movies and grandmothers aside.)

What does this mean for writers? We have the opportunity to complete a story without making compromises. A story can be as long (or short) as it needs to be, without the restraint of running time. Let’s use this to our advantage, and write better stories. If I ever sell a story property for film, I hope everyone says that it was as good as the book, but I would definitely take “The book was better.”

 

Aside from it’s differences in subplots, “Ender’s Game” was visually stunning, and it did get some of the story aspects right. The battle room, in my opinion, was spot on (even though the story was shortened). Go see the movie, and for your own opinions. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. Remember that it was written in the 1980’s, predicting things that are commonplace in our lives such as the internet and very immersive video games. All in all, I give the movie a solid B.