Friday, January 29, 2016

The Worm Turns

As my previous post indicated, I have started reading "The Worm Ouroboros" which is a fantasy novel of an older kind. A pre-Tolkien kind. In fact, he was inspired by much of this book for his own works.

But it isn't a book for everyone. I'm only four chapters in, but the story moves at a very lax place. Settling you gently into this rough yet beautiful Celtic landscape and setting with characters that are at both wondrous and terrifying. This is a fantasy that draws me in while keeping me at a distance.

In fact, I've been mostly interested in looking into pre-Tolkien fantasy recently. As much as I love Tolkien's stories, he started a trend that everyone else tightly grappled on to without carrying over any of his beautiful themes or fascinating characters. Much as I've been reading things like A Princess of Mars in regards to Science Fiction I've also been looking further back for Fantasy. Reading recent opinions on the Appendix N listing (a list of stories that inspired Dungeons & Dragons, which in turn pretty much took over the genre) has me interested in what is missing nowadays.

And reading The Worm Ouroboros really shows me there is something missing. I don't mean the archaic language (as it doesn't fit every story) or the lax pace, but the larger than life feeling of fantasy as larger than yourself and your world. A story that goes beyond. Larger than life characters that aim high, settings that seem somewhat possible but are not, and a sense of purpose and peace with this crazy magical world we might never understand but know that we will find our place in it.

It's an essence Tolkien and those that came before caught like lightning in a bottle but I don't see too often anymore. Of course I haven't read everything out there, but it is definitely not the standard of the genre anymore.

Still, this is the age of the indie book. The indie author. Anything goes these days. With the gatekeepers dying off, we could see almost anything now. And I'd like to hope we will.

As for me, well, I hope this is the year I can finally show my stuff. Will I be aiming as high as Eddison or Tolkien? Probably not. But that doesn't mean I don't have my own place out there with what I'm doing. Fantasy is more than archaic settings and dialogue. It's also a genre about superversive ideas and themes, a place for imagination and wonder, and a hope in eternity.

At least there, I hope I can aim high.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Quote Time

"Let worthy minds ne'er stagger in distrust
To suffer death or shame for what is just"

- From "The Worm Ouroboros" by E.R. Eddison

Friday, January 22, 2016

Legends of Tomorrow Premiere Thoughts

The newest superhero show by the team that brought us Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl, has just premiered on The CW on Thursday night. What did I think?

Well, it was the best premiere episode of any superhero show thus far.

Already there are critics whining about "campiness" and "wooden performances" and any other sort of nonsense. I have to wonder if any of them watched the same show I did. It's no campier than Doctor Who and it certainly doesn't feature wooden performances to any of us who have watched any of these shows before, and above all else it is the most FUN a television show has been in years.

That's right, in an age where everything has to be serious business edgy or dark and nihilistic, Legends of Tomorrow pops out of the box with a delicious Silver Age comic taste and un-apologetically delivers on action, comedy, adventure, and the most thrilling ride I've had on a TV show in a long time. Of course, this is just the premiere, so things can change, but that the staff and cast had the guts to go all out retro and fun with this show gave it both its own identity and a set up for potential greatness down the line.

Was it perfect? Not entirely, after a great first half, the show slows down a bit with a bar fight and a confrontation with a villain ends sloppier than it probably should, but those are VERY minor quibbles.

The Atom and Rip Hunter are the straight men characters that a show like this needs with the latter turning in a very outlaw-esque performance, Firestorm is both the team brain and every-man, The Hawk lovers add a romance bent, and the trio of White Canary, Captain Cold, and Heat Wave, are the muscle and morally ambiguous characters that you both want to root for and hope can grow up during their journey. For such a large main cast, every character has chemistry with every other, which not only leads to some good comedic moments but satisfying drama as well.

But the set up was so well done, the tone is so unabashedly bright and fun, and the cast is so well picked, that I welcome any future episodes with open arms. This story can really go anywhere at this point.

So I say, be wary of the critics on this one just as you are when it comes to superhero and action films. Watch it for yourself to see, but I bet if you are a fan of pre-2000 comic books at all, you will have a new favorite show to watch every week. It's just that good.

And I, for one, cannot wait until next Thursday to see more.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Tricky things

I was going to sit down and write a nice blog post, but my mind went nutty on me and I've completely forgotten what I was going to write about. Some times I wonder how I remember to get dressed in the morning.

Instead I'll just make this post about a quick update. And I would like to pray for the soul of Alan Rickman, one of my favorite actors. He will be missed.

I've been reading A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs and have been surprised at how well the story holds up despite being a century old. The best stories always age well. The writing is a bit overstuffed without being purple prose, but it is highly enjoyable. I've always wanted to catch up on the older stuff I've missed from before I was born, and this book fits into that mold perfectly. Really can't wait to get around to reading the next two books (in the edition I have, it includes all three original books) next.

What else? Oh, I started a new game of Fiasco with one of my friends. However, we've heavily tweaked the rules and tilt tables to allow for serial play and more varied possibilities in the results. I'm not such a fan of Coen Brothers movies like the game is based on, but storytelling games are fun. I decided to call the tweaked version "Endeavor" for more of a serial like name. Who knows if that will ever stick, though.

Otherwise it's been pretty slow just like every January. January is the worst month of the year with nothing to do and no one who wants to do anything, and I honestly can never wait until its done.

But I still have some weeks left to go, as do you. At least we're halfway there!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thought for the New Year

For my first post the year I thought I would try something a bit more general.

Yes, the world is in the toilet and recent worldwide events over the last week alone constantly remind us of this. Yes, people are getting more hateful and self-centered (I am not immune to this in any way, trust me). Yes, it feels like there are only bad times ahead.

But you can only do what you can do. The right thing to do, to help when you can, and to never give up when you are close to reaching your goal, is all you can do.

The world will not get better tomorrow, in fact, it may only get worse. But you aren't here to worry about that. You are here to deal with what you have to deal with, that which is in front of you. That old saying about acting locally and thinking globally is only part right. Thinking globally will not help you to act locally. You cannot change the world on your own-- no person can. What you can do is the little things tat make life better for those around you.

Speak the truth in love, fight those who wish you and yours ill, and always do what needs to be done. That may be vague enough to be confusing, but that's really all anyone can do to fix the world around them. If only I could do that more often.

Just remember that the world won't end tomorrow. You will wake up tomorrow and, God willing, you won't be blind, have broken legs, or a sudden bout of the flu. And some days that's just enough to get you going.

Sorry about the randomness of this post. It's just something I felt I had to get out there.