Daily Archives: November 22, 2015

The Writer’s Battle – Are Readers In Control?

Happy Sunday, 3.5 readers.

Bookshelf Q. Battler here.

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I just read this CNN article in which George Lucas says he’s “done with Star Wars.”

“You go to make a movie and all you do is get criticized,” Lucas told Vanity Fair. “People try to make decisions about what you’re going to do before you do it. It’s not much fun. You can’t experiment. You have to do it a certain way.” – CNN

ON THE ONE HAND – I see his point.  The great part of the Internet is that nerdy fans can comment and discuss their favorite movies, TV shows, books etc.

The downside is that its a great environment to make a lot of back seat drivers.  “No!  Those two characters can’t fall in love and WHAT?!  You’re going to kill off so and so and WHAT that guy changed his mind and he’s no longer a bad guy now?!”

Hollywood listens to all this mumbo jumbo.  Sometimes that turns out well when the fans know what they are talking about.  Other times it falls flat when a director or actor or someone puts the kibosh on an idea that’s a little out there, beyond the norm, that would have paid off big time but they didn’t want to draw the fans’ ire.

Probably the most recent example I can think of is the latest Avengers movie in which Black Widow kicked ass all throughout the film and fans were like “Joss Whedon’s anti-woman!  He didn’t give her enough to do!”  Boo.  Bad nerds.

ON THE OTHER HAND – The CNN article linked to above went on to say:

“The issue was ultimately, they looked at the stories, and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans,’ ” Lucas said, presumably referring to Disney, which purchased Lucasfilm — including the “Star Wars” franchise — in 2012. “People don’t actually realize it’s actually a soap opera, and it’s all about family problems; it’s not about spaceships. So they decided they didn’t want to use those stories. They decided they were going to do their own thing, so I decided, ‘fine. … I’ll go my way, and I let them go their way.’ ” – CNN

Pbbbhhht.  Well, true – Star Wars does have a lot to do with that damn dysfunctional Skywalker family…BUT, did we really need that Sound of Music-ish scene in Attack of the Clones where Anakin and Queen Amidala prance around in love in the field?  No.  More lightsabers and space ships please.

Revenge of the Sith was pretty solid, and when I was younger, I enjoyed The Phantom Menace and Clones mostly because I was just happy to see Jedis back on the screen.

But let’s be honest, those films were more about loading up on as many quirky, merchandisable characters as possible just to sell kids toys.

There’s nothing wrong with that.  Bills need to be paid and that’s what these new films will do as well BUT I have a hunch that it will be done in a way that fans will be like “that was badass!” and “wow what a badass toy!”

The nerdy adults will be anyway.  If your kids are yelling “badass!” they probably need a time out.

I get Lucas’ frustration though.  It must suck to create this wonderful universe, bring it to the big screen, become the modern day father of science fiction and then be told by your fans that you, the creator of your own universe, are doing a bad job of running your universe.

That’s probably how Darth Vader felt when those pesky rebels started calling for rebellion.

SIDENOTE:  One other example of fans taking over that I’ve seen lately comes from The Walking Dead.

SPOILER ALERT – REPEAT: SPOILER ALERT 

Did you notice there’s a spoiler alert in effect?  OK don’t say you weren’t warned.

Glenn may or may not be dead.  The writers of the show have made it look like he totally is, but also left it open to a possible interpretation that he might not be.

Fans have been up in arms on social media, complaining that they have to wait to find out, how dare the writers toy with their emotions like this and so on.

I’m going to channel my inner Uncle Hardass and say, “get a job, hippies!”  Hell, I love that show as much as the next guy.  I’ve invested a lot of time into it.  But when it appeared that Glenn died my reaction was “Awww, that’s too bad…*pause for 5 seconds* OK I better brush my teeth and get ready for bed.”

Seriously, who has time to worry about the fate of a fictional character?  JOBLESS HIPPIES WHO NEED A JOB AT THE SALT MINES, THAT’S WHO!!!

Wow.  I’m becoming an Uncle H. clone

What say you, 3.5 readers?  Who calls the shots, readers or writers?

Personally, it’d be a great problem to have.  I only have 3.5 readers and none of them have started calling the shots yet.

I suppose when I reach the point where people are like “We want more Yeti!” or “Alien Jones is like a hairless ALF, you hack!” then I’ll know I’ve made it.

Get bossier, 3.5 readers.  Actually, please don’t.

 

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Undesiredverse: Wanted – Chapter 19

Guzaffo’s Star Bazaar. It was a massive flying warehouse filled with merchandise that my old friend took to every port, peddling exotic goods to wide eyed local yokels. Much of it was either legal or illegal, depending on which port he was in. Officially, customs officers on every planet required him to sign declarations that he’d only sell items that were legal on whatever world he happened to land on. Unofficially, bribes went a long way in the Undesiredverse, so far in fact that most reputable law schools offered students entire courses on how to make them effectively and efficiently.

I first met Guzzy years ago, when he was bleeding out under a tree and crying out for help. As you can imagine, he didn’t simply yell, “HELP!” It was something like, “Oh wretched fate! Why you have gripped me in your clutches most foul? Will anyone, anyone at all come to the aid of a being in this, his most desperate hour?”

We were on his home world of Xerpathia, fighters on the same side in the War of the Four Hemispheres. It broke out like this:

  • The ruling party of Hemisphere One declared that marrying your sister is not only perfectly acceptable, but required by law.

  • The Hemisphere Two politburo decried that ruling to be the pits. Even though Hemisphere Two was far, far away from One, Two’s politicians loudly pontificated that it would only be a matter of time before One’s outlandish ways would cross the ocean and before everyone knew it, they’d all be marrying their sisters like a bunch of obnoxious perverts. They sent troops to conquer Hemisphere One in the hopes of putting an end to sister marriage immediately.
  • The folks in Hemisphere Three weren’t particularly interested in marrying their sisters, not due to any moral qualms but rather, because they felt that their cousins were where the real action was. An Ambassador for Three made a deal with representatives of One to form a pact against Two with an understanding that both hemispheres would become and remain safe havens for all forms of incestuous marriage.

  • Meanwhile in Hemisphere Four, the citizenry despised marriage in all its forms. “Hit It and Quit It” was their motto. That’s not even a joke. It’s emblazoned on their flag. The tribal elders of Four found themselves in a precarious predicament – side with Two and at least retain one form of marriage on their home world, or see their dreams of one day obliterating the institution altogether wither and die with One and Three coming up with new ways to bind people together. The polyamorous elders decided a truce with Two to at least retain the status quo was their only option.

Guzzy was traditionalist Two-er through and through. “Marry Someone You Had To Be Introduced To!” those brave Two-ers cried on the battlefield as they laid waste to those pesky Ones and Threes.

I was a bought and paid for mercenary and was, like so many lost souls, talked into joining a fight that wasn’t mine with a generous, steady paycheck. Unfortunately, I huffed it all away. Jesus. Come to think of it, that war introduced me to the stuff.

Like his Xerpathian brethren, Guzzy was a muscular, six-armed cyclops. His face consisted of a nose, a mouth and one colossal monstrosity of an eyeball. It made a creaking sound whenever it moved and being followed by a cyclops’ eyes is one creepy experience. Why did that war have to happen, anyway? Related or not, how anyone in their right mind would want to marry a Xerpathian is beyond me.

On that day so long ago, I patched Guzzy up as best I could and dragged him by two of the three arms on his right side. I’d of picked him up but he was too heavy. Xerpathians know how to hit the gym.

Since then, Old Guzz had really moved up in the world. He wore a finely tailored black cloak adorned with a golden medallion. All six hands had two-three rings a piece.

His ship was on a steady course and his crew, which consisted of hundreds of his old world relatives, puttered about performing odd jobs. Guzzy was in his element as he barked orders at them.

“Those sycronic multameters require a sensitive touch, Bovo! You can’t simply cram them up any old…Hey! Corastmere, who told you to touch that flavensol? It’s worth more to me than you are! Put it back!”

“Osho vo volo volo tee keerama, Guz?” a worker asked as he walked up with a crate filled with smelly rotten fish heads.

“Throw them away?” Guzzy replied.

“Gepo.”

“Why would I throw them away, Vrash?”

“Epto bek, tee keerama!

“Yes I’m aware they’re smelly rotten fish heads,” Guzzy said. “They’re a rare delicacy on M’ak Slor! I can get three hundred thousand credits a pound for them there. Take that back and keep it out of it the freezer. The smellier the better.”

“Aspppttt bokwallat!” Vrash said rather rudely as he stormed off.

“Oh really?!” Guzzy shouted. “Another outburst like that and you’ll be on the unemployment lie, Vrash! I don’t care if you are my favorite aunt’s son!”

Guzzy looked at me and rolled his eye. He took a seat on a crate and wiped the sweat from his brow. I took a seat next to him.

“Ahh family,” my old pal said. “They were the first to accuse me of turning my back on Xerpathia and the first to beg me to help them when our world became unbearable. I try my best to lift them up from their lowly stations in life and they treat me as though I were the underc rust on their boot heel.”

“Are they cool?” I asked.

“What?” Guzzy asked. “Oh yes. Certainly. They’re backward hill people who don’t even believe in translator chips. They just think everyone should speak Xerpathian. They haven’t the foggiest notion who you and your friends are.”

“Good.”

“I on the other hands have half a mind to turn you in to the Cabal and buy a planet of my own to retire on,” Guzzy said.

We looked each other over. It isn’t easy to win a staring contest with a cyclops. I flinched first.

“Ahhh, I got you!” Guzzy said. “No, you are safe and welcome here…though I fear I must insist on bidding you a fond farewell upon our next port of call…”

“Ureq?” I asked. “Guz, we need to get to Earth.”

“You needed to get off Malostet,” Guzzy said. “You’re off. The conundrum is solved. Surely you cannot expect me to put myself at any more risk by smuggling you through eight more ports?”

“You could just skip your stops and take us directly to Earth,” I said.

“Do you have any idea how far in the red that would take me?” Guzzy asked. “Absolutely not.”

I clasped my hands behind my head and leaned back. “Well Guzzy old boy I don’t know what to say. I’m happy to chill for eight days but I do need to get to Earth one way or another and I’ll need some kind of incentive to forget some of the more interesting war stories I could tell Mrs. Sarki.

Guzzy’s eye grew wide. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Wouldn’t I?”

It was a low card, dealt from the bottom of the deck, one I regretting pulling on a friend but I was in a bind.

“So be it then,” Guzzy said as he rested his top right hand on my shoulder.

Jones and Mystery Woman walked in.

“Roman, we need to swap out our implants,” Jones said. “In fact, Guz, if you could spare some supplies…”

“My ship is your ship,” Guzzy said. “Take what you need. Jambri!”

One of Guzzy’s relatives turned around.

“Fah?”

“Show our guests to their quarters.”

“Mosh bi,” Jambri said as he waved all of his hands, bidding us to follow him. Jones and Mystery Woman did. I hanged back a moment.

“Voss, when will you ever learn the only one you need to look out for in this world is yourself?” Guzzy asked. “Risking your life for some prostitute you just met at a shai bordello…”

“I don’t know what it is, Guz,” I said as I watched Jambri pick a candy bar off a shelf and offer it to Mystery Woman. She sniffed it, licked it, then proceeded to bite into it with the wrapper still on. Jones educated her on the proper way to eat junk food.

“…but there’s just something about her.”

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