Month: September 2017

Print vs. Ebook

When people talk about the risks of not having print books anymore, I’m struck by how hard it is for humanity to assess risks accurately.

“It’s all fun and games until world civilization collapses and we have NO MORE BOOKS.”

The chance of civilization as we know it collapsing to the point of irretrievably losing all ebooks is low.

The risk of out-of-print books disappearing forever due to the slow, personal loss of every copy due to time and other damage is much higher.  You probably know of at least one book that you’ve lost due to flood damage, mold, etc., that you’ve been meaning to replace, but it’s not that easy to find a copy…

Out of print: someday, our grandkids will want to know what that means.  In a thousand years, it’s going to be the books that were digitized or digital in the first place that are still around, waiting to be read.

I feel like I should write a story just to go along with this post, but I haven’t yet, so instead, if you’ve liked this post, check out The Clockwork Alice.  It’s pretty meta and has some things to say about stories; that might scratch the itch…

The right “mood” for writing

Sometimes you open your heart and find only ugly things…

That’s the kind of day when I have to write.  Better the characters suffer than the people around me.

If you liked today’s post, check out my new paranormal short story, “The Rusalka,” in which our hero doesn’t know how bad he’s getting screwed…but the monsters do.  Please note, I had my panties in a wad over something while I was writing that story, too…

Why can’t we all just get along?

Something I’m noticing a lot of lately is people going, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

And that’s a great question when it comes to pizza toppings.  Personal preference is a good thing in matters of taste.

But then we come to things like the asshole uncle at the Thanksgiving table.  “Just ignore him,” people whisper as he rants, drowning out other people’s conversation.  “We just need to get along for one day.”

That’s a choice.  It’s not a neutral one.

Giving everyone a seat at the table involves conflict, and it involves telling the asshole uncles to get out of your house if they can’t abide by the rules.

Like this post?  Check out “Bad House Spirit,” my ghost story about housecleaning and brainwashing monsters.  Also a demon dog…

Adventure Fiction

I’m happy for thrillers and all, but what I really want is to be able to reliably track down good adventure fiction.  None of this wishy-washy “but thrillers are full of adventure” crap, either.  It’s not the same thing.  The Scarlet Pimpernel is not a thriller.  The Three Musketeers is not a thriller.  Michael Crichton could bridge the two genres–Jurassic Park–but mostly thrillers don’t.  So-and-so much investigate a crime for some reason before the killer strikes again is not an adventure.

Video games are actually doing better at this than fiction, possibly because the essential nature of a first-person-shooter video game is that it’s an adventure–you have to explore things, find the treasure, loot the bodies, push the big red button marked “don’t touch,” and go on side quests.  Thrillers?  Have to be more streamlined and more realistic.  Remember that moment in the first Tomb Raider where you first see the dinosaurs (in an underground cave, if I remember correctly)?  Sure, realism is acceptable in an adventure, but only if it doesn’t get in the way of the adventure.  Big blockbuster movies tend to be adventures.  Pew pew pew!  Boom!  Run run run…

Granted, too, that a lot of classic adventure stories have issues.  Captain Blood just about made me spit nails; the main character is a “hero” who escapes slavery in the Caribbean…only to look down at the black slaves and say, “But they deserved it.”

I’ve found a lot of lists of classic adventure stories; here’s a particularly good one, but the last entry is 1983.  Another one is here.  But neither one focuses on recent fiction.  Crawling through the Amazon action/adventure lists just makes me think that I need to nail down at least a personal definition for an adventure story, because a lot of those are nopes.  The characters stay in one location and investigate a crime.  The focus is on the SF/F world, not the characters’ adventures in them.  Nothing happens.  It’s a completely different genre (paranormal romance, YA coming of age, small-town historical crime fable).

So what makes an adventure story?

At the very least:

  • The character explores places.
  • It’s all about the character, not the world per se.
  • Stuff goes wrong and the character handles it.
  • Puzzles, challenges, loot, and violence would be nice.
  • Smaller episodes inside a larger episode would be nice.
  • Just as the places the character goes are worth going to, the people that the character encounters are worth meeting.  (Anybody want a peanut?)

But I’ll have to ponder more on it.

If you liked this post, try my sci-fi adventure novella, Blood in Space: The Icon Mutiny.  


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