World Building Pt. 2 – Bend Don’t Break

Building a world from scratch can be difficult. As I said the last time, you’ll find that each detail needs to be woven into the world and into other details as you evolve from the central point. But, while this is the natural course of events, one has to remember that there are still some restrictions to just how far you can go.

Some time back I wrote about the fact that everything needs to be rooted in the real world on some level. It’s not that you should be restrained from letting your imagination go wild. But as you let that imagination run wild, there will be details that are going to need to be there for the sake of just making it feel like something people can relate to. A truly abstract world is not one that anyone will be able to recognize, understand, or become attached to. They may analyze it, deciphering it a bit at a time, but as they do they will inevitably do so by comparing it to the real world. No matter what you do, someone will try to tie it to the world they know – and that’s not a bad thing, just a natural one.

So the question is really… how far can you go before it starts to become unreasonable? Continue reading World Building Pt. 2 – Bend Don’t Break

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All You Have To Do Is Try

As I type now, late to updating for the day and passing up a more substantive post I could have done, I find myself wanting more than anything to respond to… a tweet. As minor as it might be in the grand cosmos, there was something about this tweet I saw a few days ago that stuck with me. And no, I won’t post that tweet here, because I’m not trying to start shit. But I did feel the need to address something it brought up.

There are a few truths about writers that we have to accept almost universally. The first is that we’re usually going to dislike our old work, it goes without saying, and anyone who doesn’t dislike their old work has often either stagnated or is impressed with the fact it was readable back then. It doesn’t mean you have to hate it, you just can’t look at it as positively as you once did anymore. When you look back at what you did years ago, it’ll always feel a little embarrassing because you’ll see the marks of your improvement and wish you could have written it today instead of before you knew better.

The second thing is that even our most successful individuals happen to have some problems. The number of writers who are high strung, alcoholic, or just “out there” is pretty high. Not everyone, mind you, but there’s always some little voice that doesn’t quite accept where they are. J.K. Rowling released books under a pseudonym for a while after her success because she wanted to prove it was her writing and not her fame that got her where she is. Considering she’s the first author to become a billionaire simply from writing in the history of writing, it takes some neuroses to question whether or not you earned it. Unique as she is, she’s far from alone there.

And, because of those two details, the third thing we have to accept is that we’re always going to need find ways to cope…. So let’s go ahead and not crap on anyone’s coping mechanisms, okay? Continue reading All You Have To Do Is Try

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Alternative Mythology: Creation Myths of Central Africa

The Fantasy Genre has long been dominated by the religions and customs of countries touched on by the Crusades. While this makes sense, with the familiar image of a knight wandering foreign lands being key to the genre itself, there has been stagnation in recent times. As such, I’ve taken it upon myself to look into the cultures of the world and find fascinating details about other mythologies often overlooked by the genre we so love, seeking out Alternative Mythologies.

As I continue my little academic journey to learn of new mythologies and find new material around the world, we finally leave the West African region and enter a region where nature has firmly established its dominance – The Congo.

congo

Named for the massive river that runs through it (deepest in the world), the Congo River Basin is one of the three true “rulers” of the African Continent. Along with the Sahara and Kalahari deserts, the lush jungles and wetlands of the Congo region dominate a considerable chunk of land and, to this day, it is one of the largest undisturbed rainforests on the planet. And yet, despite the fact the jungle has clear control of the region, several cultures formed within these lands, each carving a path for themselves and establishing their own unique worldviews.

And all of those have to start somewhere… Continue reading Alternative Mythology: Creation Myths of Central Africa

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Popular Science

My whole life I’ve been something of a nerd. I’ve been pretty honest about that on this blog. But the thing that I never quite talk about is just how much Issac Asimov impacted my life as a kid. No, not his fiction books, but his non-fiction.

You see, while everyone remembers Issac Asimov for his fictional works about robots and space, he was also quite accomplished as a non-fiction author who put together books about science. In fact, he wrote a few directed at kids and I loved the hell out of those things when I was younger. Other kids in my school would be drawn towards the likes of Goosebumps, I found myself sitting down with science books telling me about a world more fantastic than I thought could be possible – one we could touch. It was the work of Asimov and others like him that showed me things that I never thought possible. That’s what I’ll always really remember him for.

But to say I was one of the few would be an understatement. Like I said, most kids in my class were looking at the likes of Goosebumps and were a bit baffled by my interest in all things space, robots, and dinosaurs. You look at the way our society treats science and you could honestly say that was true of the whole country for a long time. But then, as the internet started to grow, something started to change. Suddenly science could become a meme and that meme would be awesome. Hell, look at this picture of Pluto and realize how many times you’ve likely seen it this week.

pluto_color

But while this kind of enthusiasm has been spreading, a counter-opinion has been growing as of late as well. Essentially, I’ve heard far too many people say that fans of places like “I Fucking Love Science” aren’t, in fact, fans of science – just memes. Too often I hear these people complaining about this popularity of science and science fiction as being just an internet fad. Basically, it’s the more important version of the ridiculous “fake geek” argument that always crops up.

But, you know what? If we’re ever going to get off this rock, we need that fad. Continue reading Popular Science

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The Female Ghostbusters – Competing With A Ghost

Months ago there was an uproar on the internet as the nerd community started to lose its shit over the fact they were going to do an all female cast for the next Ghostbusters film. Frankly, it was embarrassing for all of us as we watched parts of our community lose their god damn minds. But, after a while, it started to subside and people returned to sanity where they just stopped giving a shit about what gender their Ghostbusters were. Unfortunately that peace was short lived and this picture came out to light a brand new fire under the ass of assholes.

Ghostbusters_1

About now some people are going to roll their eyes and assume that I have some sort of gender politics bullshit reason for seeing these people as assholes. But a lot of these people are failing to recognize the fundamental flaws in the very basic structure of their argument. Not only is casting it as a female group not going to ruin the franchise, it’s probably the only way this franchise was ever going to get off the ground again. A lot of people are crying and saying this is ruining their childhood and destroying the legacy of “Ghostbusters”. But you know what actually “ruined” Ghostbusters?

Ghostbusters_ii_poster

Yeah, that thing. And I’m going to be honest with you, Ghostbusters II shows us exactly why the cast has to be female. Continue reading The Female Ghostbusters – Competing With A Ghost

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Socializing With The Living

It’s been a while now since the last time you got out and about with people. There were some hiccups in the past, people weren’t too thrilled with spending time around you. Who can blame them? You have some odd habits, a strange sense of humor, and don’t even get me started about your sense of fashion.

plague doctor

But it’s a new day, a brand new start for you with brand new people. They don’t know anything about you, so you can be anything you want to be now. Your past is behind you and the future’s bright. You’ll be able to grab life with both hands and squeeze it for all it’s worth.

Okay, maybe that was some unfortunate phrasing, all things considered…

But it’s still the truth, this is your time to shine. All you’re going to need to do is make sure you don’t repeat some of your past mistakes. In fact, with a little bit of adjustment you may just survive the modern social scene. All you need to do is not fuck it up! Continue reading Socializing With The Living

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Good Sci-Fantasy vs Apologetics

By now it’s likely no secret that I like a little peanut butter in my chocolate or vice-versa. If you’ve followed the blog, I write about Science Fiction and Fantasy almost interchangeably at length and I’m pretty adamant that Clarke’s Law is true. For those who don’t know what that means, any science sufficiently advanced is virtually indistinguishable from magic. It sums things up pretty well for me because the world’s worked that way forever. When we couldn’t understand lightning bolts, we thought gods did it, and certainly there are things in the universe today that we don’t understand which are still being attributed to higher powers.

rushdie
I’ll never tire of pointing this out

The rule’s a simple reminder that any time you go really advanced with your crazy Sci-Fi tropes you’re practically skipping into the realm of Fantasy. But the same is true in the other direction, something I’ve always held near and dear to my heart. If you were to take something truly magical and then approached it with science in mind, there’s a lot of it that just happens to click really well. Hell, I wrote whole books and countless tweets about the concept.

So Sci-Fantasy is, to me, a natural genre. A lot of people out there believe that you can’t really blend these two and that you end up ruining both in the effort to avoid choosing either. But from where I stand, science is fantastic to begin with, it may explain everything, but those explanations are wonderful in so many ways we never could have imagined. Don’t get me wrong, I still love some robots, but I can definitely see the allure of wanting to make some of the things from legends of old into something tangible.

Just one thing… Continue reading Good Sci-Fantasy vs Apologetics

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