Adaptation Review – Altered Carbon – Halfway Point

Dog on a Path

Altered Carbon is not my favourite book, but it’s damned close. The whole Takeshi Kovacs series in fact. So far the tv series is quite good. They did tone down the sex and violence quite a bit, still might be the most violent thing on TV, and the sex is medium high on the explicitness, but it’s nothing compared to the books.

It’s odd watching what might just be the most violent and sex filled thing on television and be disappointed because it’s so tame compared to the source material.

The whole thing is noir and post-humanist and cyberpunk all rolled into one. It’s also the closest thing to live action Anime that exists – and I’m including live-action adaptations of Anime.

I’m slightly disappointed in a few specifics as well, but overall I am enjoying it a great deal.

If you like your entertainment violent and psychotic, watch it.


A Long Walk is Almost All Here

A Shack by the Ocean

I have been slowly putting my first novel, A Long Walk, on this site, chapter by chapter. There are a few left. I think three, and they are short.

The sequel is coming out soon. I’m about halfway through editing it, maybe a little more, and it’s good. I like the hero more than I like Jasper (the hero from a long). Is that weird since Jasper is a very definite self-insert character? Chad, despite being military, is more innocent, younger, less jaded.

I do think that Clyde, my villain, is less compelling than Robert in some ways, but in others, he’s more. He’s definitely more clearly evil from the start. A very different kind of villain. He’s nasty, vile, cruel, but his motivations aren’t moustache twirling. He does what he does for reasons that make sense to him and to those who follow him.

I don’t think there’s any question you would not want to spend a day hanging out with either of them… well, maybe Robert at the start. Not at the end though, not once he’s fully and completely gone mad. Clyde on the other hand, never.

It’s an interesting contrast. There’s a love story in the new novel, the only love in the first novel is friendship or parental… the closest to a romance subplot in novel 1 is beyond abusive. Love plays a reasonably large role in novel two, we get to see two people grow close together over the course of time.

One interesting thing I did in novel two is with race. The main society in novel two is genuinely post-racial. There are two categories for them, human and zombie. If you are human then who cares what colour your skin is? Sexism is, however, more of an issue and I do explore it a bit. Of course, humans have a second category, which is long-term cannibals. Those are treated as closer to zombies than to humans.

It’s a darkish world, and as I explore it there will be much more darkness. I’ve only really touched the surface. The reclamation project, which is where novel two is focused, is based on hope. It’s trying to take back the world from the zombies, trying to allow humanity to spread out again. There will be other stories. The Tales from the World of the Dead are bleaker, they concern the daily lives of average people in this world. Some will be in New Hope, the last human city, and some will be in other places where bands of humans exist. Then there will be Stories of New Hope. That series is essentially noir in a city surrounded by zombies with a shrinking set of resources. It is about the lowlives, criminals, the underground. What kind of things are people doing on the fringes of this tenuous society? After all, it’s not like crime suddenly goes away.

So far I have the primary cast for the reclamation series fleshed out. I know who they are and how they act. I have the outline of what the Stories of New Hope looks like, I know some of the major players (and they are introduced or alluded to in Resource Economies, the second book).

So, this is the future of the World of the Dead. There will also be a website soon. I haven’t built it yet because I’m trying to decide how I’m going to do that. Will it be a quick and dirty WordPress or will I do something good?


Project Ideas

The Cabin

I have several other projects I want to do right now, outside of just writing books.

I want to do a bunch of stuff on YouTube in particular. I have done very little on YouTube to date (one class I taught and a video of a bearded dragon attacking a garden gnome). However, the main project I want to add is one I call Dollar Survival. The basic premise is I take dollar store camping and bushcraft tools and try them out. They have a surprisingly large selection of stuff.

I’m trying to gauge interest right now. So, if you think this is a cool idea let me know!


NaNoWriMo Day 28 – This is the End My Friend

Ridiculous cuteness

Okay, I’m done. There just wasn’t more story to go with. I hit the conclusion and found out that I just didn’t have very much more to write. So, NaNoWriMo is done for this year and I’m back to writing… exactly the same amount I was, but without a website tracking the number of words to provide goals for me. Okay, so that’s not true either. I write using a tool called apollopad which lets me set daily goals and tells me how long my current streak is.


NaNoWriMo Day 17 and Thoughts on Violence in Media

Grindhouse themed shoot

Still making my word count every day. I’m over 40K in this book. It’s going quite well.

That’s not the focus of this post.

Violence. A lot of our media is about violence, it features in so many of our shows and movies, it’s the main focus. It’s a strange form of violence, sanitized in a weird sort of way. Violence as a PG 13 form of entertainment.

In the seventies, there was a weird form of cinema called Grindhouse. It was often bloody and violent. It was more violent than mainstream cinema in a time when mainstream cinema was bloodier than it is today. Not more violent note, bloodier.

The thing is, the violence in those movies, it had consequences. There was no pretence. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t happy. It was desperate, and sad, and bloody.

In our modern version, the sanitized violence is fun, larger than life. Everyone who has a face or a name is fine, everyone who dies is faceless, less than human. No genre is more guilty of this than superhero movies. Pretty, harmless, the stuff from the seventies wasn’t like that. People died in terrible ways. Now, they just kind of aren’t there.

What we have now, it’s different.

Yesterday I started watching The Punisher.

The violence is the opposite of the sanitized, consequence-free violence in the rest of the Marvel universe.

The violence in the Punisher is never consequence free. No action is ever consequence free. Neither is inaction. It’s a level of dark nothing else in the MCU even comes close to approaching. It’s violence that feels like the real thing. No slow-motion ballet, no shaky cam, no slow-mo heros walk looking like badasses. In The Punisher when people get hurt they can be immobilised for days, they can come close to death.

You might cheer for Frank Castle, but mostly you don’t, instead, you feel pity, sorrow, maybe empathy.

This kind of violence, I think it’s needed, I think it shows people that violence truly isn’t the solution, or at least it’s a solution with far, far too high of a price tag. The Punisher, more than anything else I’ve seen from the MCU, is an anti-violence show. The extreme violence of it, the unflinching nature of that violence, it’s the antidote to violence, not something that encourages it.

Watch the Punisher, if you have the stomach for it.


Stranger Things

Black and White House

Stranger Things season 2 is out now. I’m not done, still working on it, but I was thinking about why the series works.

A number of people have blamed nostalgia for it, but I think that’s missing the mark. I mean, half the people watching the series weren’t born when the era it mimics happened. They aren’t nostalgic for the eighties, they never saw the eighties.

There are reasons it works better as an eighties story, and that has to do with what changed in the nineties. It’s a standard of modern horror that for some reason the monster isn’t in the million or so selfies each of the characters would have taken. There’s some reason that the characters can’t call each other, despite having a communication device on them at all times. That started to happen in the nineties. Hell, the computer revolution happened in the nineties. In the eighties, most computers weren’t connected to anything else.

The sense of claustrophobia of a small town with monsters doesn’t work when that information would be worldwide in minutes. The idea of this monster escaping the notice of the world at large is ludicrous from our perspective now. In the eighties it made sense though, you could have an isolated small town. However, other than that the tech isn’t that different from our world today, and while the fashions were a bit off, they weren’t so foreign for the average person that they feel strange to us today. Even the seventies seems weirder. Not only that, but many brands from today still exist, so you can do a fair bit of product placement (and they do in Stranger Things, but they do it pretty well).

None of that is the reason Stranger Things is so good though. It’s so good because it’s compelling. You care about the characters. Okay, in Season 1 you don’t care that much about Will himself, but the rest of the characters are incredibly compelling. There is also no stupid. The characters don’t behave like idiots. They don’t have meta-knowledge but they are still smart people working with the best information they have.

The writing is brilliant, the pacing is brilliant, the narrative choices the characters make are incredible.

It’s truly one of the best things on right now. I would say best things on television, but of course, it’s on Netflix, and not on television at all.