Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I Would Also Like to Note:

Halfway through Vellum: The Book of All Hours, I already hate* Hal Duncan. More once I finish.

*In a damn-you-for-writing-a-book-this-good kind of way.

Inappropriate Plan of the Day

Looks like Rumsfeld is planning to commemorate 9/11 with a parade and a concert.

As Long As We're Trading Incendiary Quotes

Adult fiction recognises that the contemporary world is a complex, difficult place with demands on our reasoning that require careful consideration. I have nothing against Harry Potter or any of his genuinely juvenile followers - children should be bursting with juvenility - but his adult disciples are little more than cowardly escapists.

OK, here's the thing. Like a book or don't like a book. But WTF is the deal with the galloping contempt of this editorial (and incidentally, the Bookslut blurb that pointed me to it)? Mr. Brian Hennigan claims to have nothing against HP or the kids that read him. I don't believe him. What he's saying is, That sort of dreck is fine for the unsophisticated and naive tastes of the young.* Which is bullshit of the highest order, because kids are neither of those things. Besides which, this whole "when I became a man, I put away childish things" sort of thinking really sticks in my craw. (Or would, if I in fact had a craw. Not sure where these quotes come from; Matthew the raven?) I submit that there is nothing "cowardly" about a healthy measure of escapism, and that most adults could stand to be a bit more childlike.

*Note that I don't accept the premise that HP is simple or easy; I think the series, particularly as it continues, becomes more and more morally complex. It's still overwritten, though :-)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Times, They Are A-Stayin' the Same

Walter Mosley writes about the Watts riots 40 years later, and what we should have learned from them. Also found: a dispiriting Thomas Pynchon essay published about nine months after the riots. I'd love to believe that things have changed for the better since that time, but I don't think they have, much. It's significant that MLK Jr. was assassinated not during his campaign for Civil Rights, but rather as he was beginning his Poor People's Campaign.

One person trying to make change right now is Cindy Sheehan, who is prepared to camp outside G.W.'s Crawford, Texas ranch for his entire five-week vacation until he agrees to speak with her. Sheehan's son Casey died in Iraq, and she's become a committed anti-war activist. twistedchick has an exhaustive rundown of the situation, and the intimidation tactics being used by the Secret Service and the local sheriff's department. It's a 16-hour drive from here to Prairie Chapel Road in Crawford. I've got Friday and Monday off. I've been thinking about it.

Incomplete Thoughts

1. Superpowers is a manuscript. 600+ typewritten pages. I think it's some of my strongest stuff, but then, I wrote it. Oddly, it has the tonal structure of a Hong Kong kung fu flick, which was not something I did consciously. (Too many viewings of Fong Sai Yuk and Swordsman II? Nah, no such thing.)

2. New story taking shape, first in a while. Every time I write a new story my thoughts on writing have changed, which is both scary and cool. Collaborations are part of this, I think. Structure and foreshadowing and paying off what's set up. Tricky when you're doing speculative stuff, because the rules aren't always clear at the beginning. And you have to have rules, even if you're breaking a lot of them. I remember talking about this with Barth at WisCon a couple of years ago, how you can't mess with traditional structure effectively unless you really understand it; you might be bored with straight-ahead storytelling and want to be clever and avant-garde, but if you don't know how it works you can't subvert it. Like demolition engineers taking down one building without touching the others around it. Maybe sometimes it's necessary to fit into the box in order to raise questions about the need for boxes? (Remembering A Season of Mists, and the cardboard-box Lord of Order--if you put Chaos in a box, is it contained, or does it just destroy the box? Rambling, sorry. Maybe I can say something coherent later.)

3. Finished some assigned reading and started Hal Duncan's Vellum, which is, yeah, like nothing I've read before. OK, it's like some things, but it's also wholly original. No complete thoughts yet, just Wow. Good onya, Hal.

4. Can I be done with school now instead of waiting until May? Just wondering.

5. Congratulations to all the Glaswegian Hugo folks. Good to see awards going to worthy works; too bad they can't give out multiple awards in some of those categories, though. 'Nuff said.