Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What I did on my Summer Vacation--Part 2

Of course I've done other things besides reading. Besides all the holidays and family events and the sudden need to change web hosts and losing a two (or was that three) week's battle trying to set up a multi-site installation of Drupal for my new author's site (and a couple other sites--hence the multi-site thing. I'm may just stick with flat html.) I have been working on some stories.

A group of us have been meeting once a month to critique stories. I brought the first 10 pages or so of my zombie novella and, even after hearing someone else read it, decided I actually still like it. Even though there seems to be little chance of finding a magazine to publish a science fiction story about zombies in space, I think I'll go ahead and submit it anyway, just to waste postage.

November is getting closer and closer. I was hoping to have the rest of my novel mapped out before then, but I haven't made much progress there. I did, however finish the map I mentioned in an earlier post and it has helped me straighten out a lot of things involving time and distance in the story. Here's the thumbnail version.

Speaking of zombies, I had made a good start on a zombie RPG. It was intended as something of an experiment to see if I can incorporate all the design choices that I would normally reject and to see if I can make them work. Part of the reason for this is because the issue of zombie infection which would make a character from a traditional RPG too brittle to play for long, so I thought a more indie-narrativist approach would work better. I even toyed with using a d6 die pool, as in Ron Edward's Sorcerer RPG (I don't normally care for die pools, but...) I wanted to keep the mechanics fairly minimalistic. I pretty much completed the character description system, but got hung up on the economy of "hope". I hope to get back to it eventually, but I have a secondary web-design contract job to occupy what little "spare" time I have for now.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What I did on my Summer Vacation--Part 1

Ok, I don't actually have the time or money to take a vacation--I haven't in a very long time--but with the price of gas these days I suppose that doesn't come as much of a surprise.

I did finish some of my reading though. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell turned out to be a wonderful book, though some major plot points were left unresolved. I hope that means we'll be seeing a sequel. I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for it.

I also finished both A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords and am about halfway through A Feast for Crows. I've enjoyed them, but I have to confess that I haven't bothered to buy any of them and am only working through the library's copies. The first two books (Thrones and Kings) had a nice tragic Fall of Rome type quality to it, but the third book reminded me of a certain John Gardener quote:
“Real suspense comes with moral dilemma and the courage to make and act upon choices. False suspense comes from the accidental and meaningless occurrence of one damned thing after another.”
It's not that there wasn't suspense, but by about the third or fourth time that Arya escaped, got captured and escaped again, well it became somewhat tedious. And when two key characters from her family get killed...well, the whole story is a slow blood-letting so you kind of stop caring who lives and who dies after a while. Other characters disappeared and seemed forgotten for 100,000 words at a time. One rather sympathetic character just got killed--but it happened off-screen which left me filling a little cheated. It might have been better to devote some novels to specific individual characters rather than trying to weave all these plot strands together just a few at a time.

I've heard terrible stories from fans of Robert Jordan's work. I never made it past the first book myself, but I've heard that even his fans felt that he sold out or lost control of the series at some point. I hope GRRM doesn't do a Jordan. He's got a massive story going on. I hope he can keep track of all the story threads, devote the time to each that they deserve, and still keep the story focused on the parts that move the overall plot forward and that he doesn't just follow characters wandering around the landscape for no reason.