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Playing In Someone Else’s Sandbox (Part 1)(The Stink of Flesh) February 16, 2014

Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, End of the World, fantasy, movies, New Mexico, sci-fi, science fiction, VIPub, writing.
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Tie-in work comes in a lot of varieties and most readers don’t appreciate the problems inherent. This is why the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers was formed.

Too many readers dismiss such work as hack work. Might be, but expectations enter in that aren’t brought to other sub-genres. If the reader hates the original game/movie/comic/tv show, then any novelization is going to be awful. Similarly, if the reader loves the original source so much it is part of his life, his very soul, it’s doubtful any novelization will live up to those lofty expectations (those intensely *personal* expectations).

The challenges of adapting a work can be daunting, especially moving from a movie to a novel. In the next few weeks I’ll go over the tie-in work I’ve done for video games, card-based games, series tie-ins and some other stuff. This time I want to hit the movie tie-in I did for Scott Phillips’ The Stink of Flesh. This had some extra thrill for me since I was in the movie (even if my son gets better billing ) so could enjoy killing myself off all over again in the novelization.

I had a copy of the script but had to remember from the time spent on the set what everything around me looked like. Playing the VHS copy I had, stopping it and making notes, helped, too, but with tape this is a tedious process. When I had my notes for every scene, I looked them over and saw this wasn’t a full-fledged book. In a movie characters can, well, act. A major character never says a word. They show emotions without words. Things happen in the background that aren’t explicitly mentioned in the movie There has to be extra material in a book to communicate this. More than this, a script comes up short in terms of page count in a novel. I put in extra scenes to bridge ones in the movie and introduced new characters that fit into the strange world Scott had built so well in the movie. The “Vegetable Man” scene in the book is an example. We know what the zombies want. How do the regular, still-human people live?

The movie is on its way to becoming a cult classic. A 30-copy limited edition is just now for sale.

As Joe Bob Briggs would say, check it out. Also the novelization.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Stink-Flesh-Robert-Vardeman/dp/0976943409/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392574144&sr=8-1&keywords=stink+of+flesh+vardeman

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Durability September 30, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in death, e-books, End of the World, fantasy, gummint, history, ideas, movies, sci-fi, writing.
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Everything gets creakier as time passes. Maybe even time does. Is there an entropy affecting time as well as entropic time? Questions best left for the theorists. What is in the balliwick of writers, though, is the longevity of our work.

Fantasy is perhaps easiest since the world is entirely made up, with rules and laws and elements unique to that world. Passage of time in “our” world, developments of science and technology and geography and nations means nothing. Middle Earth has a permanence simply because it has no foot in the door of our world.

Science fiction is different. A hard science book is likely to be obsolete, outpaced by actual scientific discovery, before it is published. And the question arises whether a sf story (or a story that was sf) in earlier times but which has been outstripped by the surge of reality, is still sf. Is a story about the first man into space still sf since that event has happened in reality and it wasn’t done as in the story?

In a way, sweeping space opera stands a better chance of avoiding this issue. Smash galaxies together rather than be the first man to reach the moon. Even items that might have seemed laughable in early space opera, if the idea is audacious enough, can prove enduring. Doc Smith’s intertialess drive wasn’t about the Higgs boson. Maybe it was the Higgs anti-boson. But avoiding being too specific keeps the notion in play. Sorta.

Near future sf is hardest of all to write. I did a novel a few years back about RFID chips in clothing monitoring what everyone did (because lawsuits prevented the gummint from implanting the chips in the humans themselves). Now there are 69 companies manufacturing spy drones–for use by civilian police forces. RFIDs are already obsolete for this purpose. Cameras most places become cameras everywhere in the sky 24/7. The FBI is putting together a facial recognition database and the reason you aren’t allowed to smile on passport photos or drivers’ licenses is that smiling makes for harder recognition. Thank about that and try not to show fear.

The 1984 scenario is not being forced on us–half the US population wants it. To stay safe. I highly recommend the movie, The Lives of Others. And I want to see Barbara The days of the Stasi in East Germany are becoming the present in America. So we can stay safe.

But put fancy spy stuff into an sf book and it is likely to be laughably obsolete in a very short time. Concentrate on the characters, and durability might come your way.

I leave you with this from the ’60s.

Well, That Was Special September 4, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, contest, e-books, Free, movies, Texas, VIPub, writing.
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My mistake on yesterday’s blog. Zumaya is doing the trivia hunt but, as I can be, I was a day late and a dollar short. Actually, not $ short but days late.

Makes me feel guilty about this, though. So, a trivia contest run by yhos. Same question as before. What was my first published science fiction book? If you really don’t know, check my website. Email me the answer at rvardeman451@comcast.net You have one week. Ends midnight Sept 10. Prizes will be ebooks off my online store. First five will be winners! Not that you all aren’t now, of course,

Been doing family visit stuff and loving it. Hit a couple movies. I thought Lawless was ok but really liked Premium Rush, much to my surprise. That one’s a 90 minute chase scene–and they make it work. I was sorta rewriting lines in Lawless but only found one small scene I’d have changed in Premium Rush toward the end. Wasn’t built up before getting trotted onstage and eliminating it wouldn’t have affected the plot one iota (and, of course, in my feeble mind, would have improved it).

Odds and ends. Congrats to all the Hugo winners and what’s with the streaming company killing the feed because its bot detected DRM violation (that wasn’t there)? Welcome to world of robots telling us what’s legal. Robocop, anyone? Except without the human brain? Skynet won’t let us see Neil Gaiman? Everyone’s a critic, including the silicon brained among us…or are they among us, rather than being our new masters?

Something happened on Sep 1 to drive up my count 10x. Big search item? Texas State Flag.

Best joke recently: I set my DVR to record “The Biggest Loser” but it won’t record anything but Dallas Cowboys games.

Must return to the word mines. This is “my” month to start new projects rather than complete old ones. Want 2 novel proposals and 2 short stories done by this time in Oct, when I must get going on a new western. Which brings me to the cover on Karl Lassiter’s China Jack. Click on it below, but don’t expect terracotta soldiers in the book (I chose this from 3 since it appealed to my narcissistic sense and, besides, probably won’t see the light of day anywhere but on Kindle. It makes a compelling b&w thumbnail!)

Boo…Boo…Bubonicon. 44 August 23, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, Billy the Kid, conventions, e-books, fantasy, Free, movies, movies & TV, New Mexico, nostalgia, science fiction, sense of wonder, VIPub, westerns, writing.
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This weekend. Starting tomorrow! Coming amazingly fast this year–and anticipated even more since I missed last year.

Brandon Sanderson is GoH and via reports from GenCon he will make one fantastic guest of honor. Michael Cassutt is the TM and Ursula Vernon artist GoH. Wow. And George RR Martin and dozens of other writers will be there, too. But you can read all about this at the convention web site.

Want more info? Great article in the UNM student paper about us.

My schedule is packed to the gunwales. First out of the chute on Friday (that’s tomorrow as I write this!) is the Crazy Buck Rogers panel. 4-5pm. Following that I have a reading or discussion or whatever you want for an hour, 7:30-8:30PM. I’ve got a trio of stories I can offer up. A horror story (Avian Evisceration Device) from Career Guide to Your Job in Hell,, a fantasy (Memory of Wind) or a mystery mashup with Sherlock Holmes and Sir Denis Nayland Smith (Adventure of the Greenwich First Light). I don’t like to read so I am quite willing to talk about writing in general, ebooks, e-making your own, what to e-expect and all that good stuff. After all, my ebooks are now available in India via the Kindle. I can even be paid in rupees. If they offered royalties in a hard currency (say, Canadian loonies) that would be better. But I’ll take it in soft currency, ie, USD.

But wait, there’s more. There is the Cheesemagnet Panel at 9:30-11PM, if you don’t get enough cheesy movie talk in your workaday life.

Saturday the 25th? Why, yes, I have a panel 4-5PM on marketing sf via stuffing it into a teeny little niche. Instantly following that in the same room is the 5:20-6:30PM mass autographing, if your Higgs boson provides you enough mass to autograph. I don’t anticipate having much in the way of books to sell, so stock up from Nina and Ron Else in the huckster room (Who Else? Books), but I will have a copy or two of some titles (credit cards accepted). If you ask during the autographing, I will tell you how to get 44% off e-titles from my online store. Ebooks only, please, for this offer.

For most fans this would be enough. Not for yhos. Sunday.1:00-3:30PM auction. Super stuff. Super silly stuff, all auctioned off by the Bcon team of crazies (sans Gordon, alas–doctor things prevent him from attending this year)

This is coming up over the weekend. The past couple weeks have been filled. Finished 1.5 stories in a min-anthology I am doing before I speak at the 23rd Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium.

Also finished copyedits on China Jack, due out Dec 11 (you better read it quick–only 10 days from release date until the Mayan Apocalypse). And almost done on the edits for the final Star Frontier title, Black Nebula.

And work proceeds apace on the final touches for God of War 2.

Plus work on tax accounting stuff, student mss and generally goofing off. I leave you with this. My very first published book has been e-reprinted. This is it! Grab it at this low price while you can.

My first published book!


http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&Go.x=0&Go.y=0&index=blended&keywords=sandcats%20of%20rhyl%20kindle&link_code=qs&tag=roberevardesc-20

Time Enough For…Time August 12, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, End of the World, fantasy, Free, movies, movies & TV, sci-fi, science fiction, VIPub, web & computers, westerns, writing.
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Woefully absent from these pages during the past 10 days or so, I have experimented with time management and trying to see where It All Goes. A good 3 hrs a day can be sucked up by kitty videos, Facebook and other nonproductive pursuits. The question is: do I garner enough enjoyment from these online time wasters compared with dealing in real world stuff.

While I’d rather watch the cat videos or guys getting smashed in the balls in new and extraordinary ways more than cleaning the garage or doing bookkeeping, they ought to be treated as candy. A little bit is good, a lot will ruin the waistline. I am getting more work done (and amazingly enough, looking forward to doing it) and not missing the blog quite so much.

A momentary diversion. About FB. I have been nailed finally with the Timeline format. Don’t like it, don’t see how it is an improvement, but Zuckerberg can flip us all off and there’s nothing we can do other than stop using FB. I find it useful to let everyone know what’s going on in a timely, concise way that stays around (unlike Twitter, which I have also cut waaay back on) such as the release of Sandcats of Rhyl and how it was free last week. And only $3.03 now. But I don’t want to play games and I will delete anyone posting to my page (I hate that feature letting anyone else post to my page) anything I deem unsocial. This can include but is not limited to calling anyone a Nazi (and I don’t even agree with Godwin’s Law), politics, and how “fill in the blank” is a baby killer who wants granny to eat dog food before shoving her over a cliff to steal her wheelchair. But that’s just me.

All that eats away at my time, hitting that delete button. I would rather be writing. I suppose in the old days watching TV was the time killer. Now it’s the Internet. Another fun tool to be managed. I do have the odd picture of time wasted on the Internet swirling down a drain that clogs up and then the temporal pressure gets so immense that it explodes in a Big Bang and creates a new universe. Maybe the Internet does have a purpose

How have I used my freed up time? Four titles in the Jade Demons Quartet are prepped and getting ready to be posted. A western short story is about half done. The synopsis for a new sf book is shaping up and another western synopsis is about ready to launch into writing phase. Western Fictioneers has a fabulous new project in the works, of which I intend to be a part with my novel contribution. And Empires of Steam and Rust is showing signs of life once more with new stories promised because of my time shiftings so I can pursue this.

I never thought of my time as being wasted reading, but I do watching TV, playing video games and surfing the Internet. Why is that? More to think about until next time.

Thern and Texas June 6, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in fantasy, history, iPad, movies, movies & TV, outlaws, sci-fi, science fiction, Texas, westerns, Wild West, writing.
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Or maybe Thurn and Taxis, if you are a Crying of Lot 49 fan.

But therns. I saw the supposedly awful John Carter movie again on Monday. 2D this time, a better look for the movie (the colors die in 3D, it appears). I say “supposedly awful” because that is a critics’ opinion, not mine. I liked it even more the second time. I might even try for a 3rd view before it leaves the big screen, or as big a screen as the $1 movie theater has. This is a movie that deserves to be seen in IMAX.

The look of the movie is good, the pacing is off, taking too long to get moving, but the plot is heroic fantasy and the sfx are lovely. (That adjective can be applied to Dejah Thoris, too). Taylor Kitsch (what a name!) might not have been my pick for the John Carter role, but he does fine. I even liked Woola a lot more this time around. The reworking of the original book plot makes it into a stronger movie–face it, a 100+ years makes astral projection kinda clunky. Go for that Stargate!

An entertaining movie which comes out in Blu-ray today (or soon–I don’t have a Blu-ray so don’t pay close attention). I’ve heard that there will be an iPhone/iPad app that will add to the experience. No idea what it is but this pushes the connection of home theaters and iPads a bit closer together.

Also of note are the new westerns. History Channel did Hatfields and McCoys starring Kevin Costner and Bill Pullman. I enjoyed the first 4 hrs or so but began to tire of the repitition in the final 2 hours. All this killing over a pig. Sort of like the War of Jenkins Ear. Lots of background to what sounded like a trivial reason to go to war.

Better is A&E’s Longmire. A modern day western with cowboys and sheep herders and Indians and six-gun totin’ marshals set in Wyoming, or maybe Montana. The pilot was a bit contrived, making me think the bad guy would never have been caught if he hadn’t used an antique rifle and instead relied on a .30-06 but the show has promise. I’ll tune in again.

Not Just Another Dead Teenager Movie April 17, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in death, fantasy, movies, movies & TV, sci-fi, science fiction, sense of wonder.
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Cabin in the Woods is certainly more than that. I saw the trailer and thought it had some small, itty-bitty twist. Wrongo. I’m not going to spoil anything here, so read on, stalwart souls.

Joss Whedon has taken a lot of ideas from his other series and mixed them together here. There’s some Dollhouse and definitely some Buffy tossed in with Cube and any number of dead teenager movies. By that I mean the predictable cast of characters being knocked off one by one. “We’re safer if we stay together, so let’s split up so the machete-wielding maniac in the hockey mask can kill us one by one.” That plot has been used repeatedly. Only Whedon tells us why in this movie, and it makes sense.

Other than the nifty ending which is not the one you’d expect anywhere along the way (and the scene where a guy is impaled by a unicorn–or maybe the flesh eating merman who has a blood blowhole in the middle of his back), Whedon makes use of every trope imaginable. But he explains them so they are reasonable and makes fun of them and has some nifty characters.

What impressed me was the technique in the movie. Every time you are sure the characters are out of danger or know what’s going on, Whedon ups the ante. More death, more blood, unexpected twists. But I sorta wish, along with a character in the movie, there’d been more of the flesh eating merman. That’s a critter not seen before. Whedon is a master of pacing and playing on the “shock factor” (which means you jump, even if you know the scare scene is coming up–for me, that was the way I went through Jaws. Predictable scare scenes and they were still enough to make me yelp.). What makes Cabin different is the mixing of genres. It’s a dead teenager movie with the blonde slut, jock, geek, stoner and virgin, but they fight back. They are meant to be pawns and rise above the chessboard. But it is also an sf movie. And a horror movie. And the final scene is something else entirely.

The movie was caught up in the MGM bankruptcy so spent two years on the shelf. Glad it escaped.

I am still leery about The Avengers. Too many heroes spoil the broth. After seeing this one, though, Whedon might surprise me pleasantly there, too.

Wrath of the Titans or maybe just Miffed Titans? April 1, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in fantasy, movies.
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In anticipation of my huge lottery win (hey, I matched the megaball # 23 and won…$2. If only the other 5 numbers had cooperated.) I shelled out the double digit ticket price and saw the 3D version of Wrath of the Titans. Not worth the extra $ for 3D but I’m finding that true of most movies. Be that as it may…

The trailer looked good. And the cgi in the movie was great. The actual rise of Cronos (sorry for the God of War spelling) out of the mountain was impressive, as were the 4-armed 2-headed critters. But the humans were a bit dense thinking Greek fire would work against creatures spawned from a volcano. I kept flashing back to Cronos in God of War crawling around on all fours in the desert. And this titan certainly didn’t look like Gaia. Ares might have been straight out of God of War, as were comments about gods and their worshippers. Interesting speculation (perhaps inadvertent) on how dead humans’ souls go to the underworld but the gods simply cease to be (turn to dust, actually–but the implication is that they don’t have souls)

And this is Wrath of the Titan*s*. Where were the other titans? Only Cronos shows up.

What it did look like was some set designer trying for authenticity in what should have been a lavish epic. Humans living in mud and thatch hovels, including the queen, was probably historically accurate but I wanted vast temples and palaces and stuff. You know. Stuff.

The labyrinth was clever and visually engaging. But the fight scenes were not well done. I think it was a minotaur Persesus killed, but I couldn’t be sure. Very murky. The scenes from the underworld were all lava and fire and darkness. Nice. Zeus being shackled and slowly turning to stone. Great. Having to bring back Bubos from the original Harryhausen movie reminded me how much technically has changed and how little attention is spent on actual plot or dialog. (And I’ve always wondered–was whoever named the mechanical owl Bubos aware what a bubo is medically? What it even means in Greek?)

Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes were good, tho not with a scene as good as in the prior movie. Rosamund Pike is luminous and blonde and lovely and totally miscast as Andromeda. Mostly she stood around making cow eyes at Perseus (Sam Worthington). Not the appearance or behavior of a Greek warrior queen.

All the way through I kept putting Kratos into the Perseus role. Give it a real plot. Put dialog in the mouths of the characters. With the spectacular cgi, this would have been a memorable movie. As it stands, I remember the labyrinth and Cronos rising up and hardly anything else.

See it on the cheap in 2d. You don’t need the occasional rock or spear coming out of the screen. Don’t expect much (and if you have to choose, see John Carter instead).

And happy April 1. I leave you with this, perhaps the best April Fool’s joke ever:

Barsoom! March 7, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, fantasy, movies, movies & TV, nostalgia, science fiction, sense of wonder, space, Texas, Wild West.
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Saw the 3D version of John Carter last night and enjoyed it a lot. There are few movies that need 3D, but ones with huge vistas and gaggles of cgi attacking armies nudge into that category. I’m not sure it’s exactly necessary, though, and if you saw only the 2D version you wouldn’t be disappointed. (I won’t even mention the truly deplorable Princess of Mars since John Carter is light years better)

The tharks are incredible. Wonderful thought behind how a 4-armed goober would act and move. They seemed skinnier than I pictured them but Barsoom, after all, has a lighter gravity and that’s why John Carter can leap tall buildings, etc. But, perish the thought, Dejah Thoris was well endowed and not the least bit undernourished looking. (The actress, Lynn Collins, had a weird accent, but IMDB said she was born in Texas, classically trained in NYC and lives in London). My one complaint about her role was that, unlike ERB’s description in the books, she didn’t go around nearly nekkid enough.

The voice talent for the tharks was a known quantity in Thomas Hayden Church and Willem Defoe while the onscreen live action actors were, to me at least since I don’t watch Friday Night Lights, unknown. Oddly, Taylor Kitsch (what an unfortunate name) who played John Carter is a Canadian who plays a Marfa high school football player on tv?

The dog critter Woola was fun and the airships definitely unusual, though Roy Krenkel sorta formed my images of them in the Ace editions back in the ’60s. The white apes are nothing like I envisioned them, but in a way this was a throwaway scene.

The plot is pure pulp but one great improvement over the books was how the Therns were pictured. The writers worked them into the story, indeed made them the driving evil force, and gave us something better than astral projection for John Carter to get to Barsoom. Very clever, very well done, especially for the payoff at the end.

A lot of interest in Barsoom-esque stuff out there now. Stephen D Sullivan has his Elf Princess of Mars and a book I did a cover blurb for is Nathan Long’s Jane Carver of Waar, a most enjoyable book..

If only we could read our pulp stories under the light from Barsoom’s twin moons…

Blatant Poppycock! And Balderdash, Too! March 5, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, ideas, iPad, iPhone, movies, movies & TV, music, web & computers, weird news.
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The NYT business section has one of those articles intended to inflame, further driving home the point of newspapers is to…sell newspapers. Good on them for that, but the ereaders that were supposed to be their salvation haven’t stanched their not-so-slow decline. So, this article is mostly self-serving on their part and not a little “dog in the manger” kind of opinion.

More people get their news (or what passes for it–there is something seriously wrong with journalism when The Onion delivers more pertinent news than the MSM.) from the Internet now. The NYT, especially their dead tree editions, are struggling and such articles as this on how ereaders will promote illiteracy are their reaction. Get their declining readers to nod knowingly, feel superior to those poor illiterate e-ignoramuses and then turn the page feeling good about their intellect.

The basic idea is that having such power as an iPad in your hand will force you to stop reading an ebook and go right to Angry Birds instead. You won’t look at that textbook; you will instead choose online porn (at UNM, there’s not much difference in some departments–the former head of the creative writing dept just lost a lawsuit protesting another professor’s B&D website).

I still read dead tree books while watching TV. How is this different since the god-box (the remote) is at hand, too? Must be I’m illiterate already? Reading at the beach? Yeah, you dig right into those pages to the exclusion of everything else happening around you. The mode of reading has nothing to do with how you respond to distractions around you, but this might be too arcane for the typical dead tree NYT reader to understand as they stare fixedly at their smeary print pages.

If anything, I am reading more since I fired up my iPad 18 months ago. And I’m still loving it. I got my mother a Kindle. Her eyesight’s not as good as it once was. She can still read cranking up the font size, something she cannot do with a print book. She’s still reading as a result.

Consider the NYT opinion piece as Cheyne-Stokes breathing on the part of a dying medium: paper news.

Cracked analysis of paintings