Spontaneous creativity is a grail for creators, but what precisely is in that particular cup?
Some things can go on forever without becoming interminable. Some can't. Hard to tell which, sometimes.
... Under Pain Of Death
See you next year.
Is "reality" in entertainment overrated?
About the wide-eyed artists in my life, and a few shut-eyed ones.
FaceLinkTwitBookFeedSite ... Plus!
Looks like I wasn't alone in feeling that SF is losing its luster, but that just makes my job as a creator of same all the tougher.
Website Sokoban time.
Not a disaster or a game-changer, but well worth a look.
Facebook users, I'm not snubbing you. Honest.
SF is hard to write. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be so rewarding to write well.
An iconoclastic critical take on Heinlein has some truth to it, but only some.
SF&F authors shouldn't read just SF&F. Here's some other things to broaden your mind.
Is my love of a particular kind of (non-gimmicky) storytelling better than someone else's love of a particular kind of (gimmicky) storytelling?
On filming the "unfilmable", or when writing becomes a multi-media enterprise.
A look at making Cameron's blockbuster a little more thoughtful (and a little less annoying and predictable).
Let's see some live-action anime projects in the West that are shojo stories.
Why the commercial engineering of formula storytelling is killing storytelling.
Five issues facing live-action adaptations of anime, dissected.
Why is robust storytelling in movies now being conflated with risk-taking storytelling?
Why some people don't vote has always baffled me. Here are a few of my educated guesses.
Vote. Updated: Thank you. Even if things had turned out differently, I would have said that....
How I would have fixed Jon Favreau's cross-genre dud.
A further tightening of the screws, and maybe the first step in the next direction for this story.
Why we worry about the wrong kinds of plot holes in storytelling, and to the wrong ends.
A peek into the future: the first version of the cover for my novel "Flight of the Vajra".
And the lamb opened the sixth seal ...
The first draft has ended. The rewrite approaches.
With a hurricane barrelling up the coast, there's a good chance I could be offline for days on end. Between then and now, I have the first draft of a book to finish (I hope). See you on the other...
Enjoyable if not-impressively-drawn manga take on Western-style kid's action comics. (Stan Lee had a hand in it, and it shows.)
Labels, like "Buddhist" or "science fiction", are both a boon and a bane. We know this, but what do we really do about it?
It's not enough for some of us to be fans; we also have to know we're justified. But why?
Write for the world you have, not the world you wish for.
The technology of writing makes it easier to reach for the stars -- but it can't make up for the will to do the reaching.
Sorry, no-Vember sprint for me. (And some notes on those who flip up their noses at the NNWM sprinters.)
The peculiar difficulties of the second draft, especially for a writer in the 21st century.
The hazards of making a story long for its own sake are not always obvious.
Is SF better when written directly for the screen, instead of adapted from another source?
UK versions, French versions, but no US versions?
The Possibilities of Quantum Information - NYTimes.com Classical computers use “bits” of information that can be either 0 or 1. But quantum-information technologies let scientists consider “qubits,” quantum bits of information that are both 0 and 1 at the same...
What makes a story that's nominally a romance into something a little deeper and more insightful? The idea that the characters want to be more than overgrown children, for one.
What will it take for SF&F and mainlit criticism to appreciate each other? New critics, I suppose.
What I listen to when I should be working, and what I listen to when I am actually working.
Who's up for swapping their PC for a typewriter and a looseleaf binder?
Why I'm not really an MST3K fan anymore, among other things.
What should SF criticism really be doing? Just catering to fans' tastes, or expanding our understanding of the genre? Why not both?
Why mainstream moviemaking has become a race to the bottom: everything but the blockbuster has been blotted out.
SF&F are always best when they're the voice of an individual observer's insight, not simply a reflection of market demands.
John Cage's first book (and perhaps the only one of his you need) continues to stimulate, infuriate, and amuse over fifty years later.
We just upgraded to the new version of Movable Type, so things might be a little bumpy for a bit. Comments in particular are acting a tot strange. Bear with us. Update 9/27/2012 10:35: Looks like the comments problems are...
The cost of conformity, explored in a ''Lord of the Flies''-style manga scenario.
Fantasy, science fiction, or other? (Or multiple choice?)
How do we get out from under the shadow of our own idols?
The last thing we need with SF is a "humanism" that doesn't have any actual humans in it.
Creative innovation vs. audience alienation.
The difference between "best" and "favorite" is often unconsciously blurred.
Back to the build-it-yourself PC, after years away.
The "liteature of ideas" doesn't just contain ideas; it embodies them.
Please, no more "instant classics".
A "lost" Sun Ra session from the early '80s may be one of the best places to start with him and the Arkestra.
All things Spielberg, but not enough things J.J. Abrams.
Afrobeat made accessible without becoming anodyne.
On dialogue in fiction, which is less about forensics than selectivity.
On long-form work in a short-form culture.
You paid $200 million for WHAT kind of movie?
Writers should do more for each other than just supply cover blurbs; they should be honest critics, too.
On the idea that a canon is a spectrum of interpretation and interactivity rather than a fixed artifact.
Harry Harrison, 87.
Nothing new? Depends on how you see "new".
A complex surface doesn't always mean complex depths. Sometimes it just means ostentation.
This last slew of posts sparked some comments, some locally and some elsewhere. I wanted to touch on a few of these, and conclude my discussion of masscult in SF&F with some directional suggestions....
In my previous posts about Dwight Macdonald's concept of "masscult" and how it affects SF&F (part one; part two), I wrote about how the creation and marketing systems in place for SF&F have been affected deeply by the assumptions masscult...
More on how masscult has made SF&F into its lackey.
How a literary critic from the 1960s casts light on the dilemma of SF&F publishing today.
It all starts when near-penniless Kiriko makes the trip to Tokyo to enlist the help of lawyer Kinzo Otsuka. Kiriko is a hapless woman trying to scrape together a legal defense for her brother; he stands accused of a murder...
On looking forward (in SF) while at the same time looking around -- because that's all you really can do.
The anti-"Memoirs of a Geisha". Moyoco Anno's manga, source for the film of the same name, is a brassy and sassy tribute to a milieu that often only gets the sleeve-wringing weepie treatment.
On why good SF&F should be concerned with details, not trivia.
Why it's sometimes hard to speak up for your own work, even if you're clearly supposed to do so.
"Beat" Takeshi Kitano's novel about religion and hypocrisy is a quiet little masterwork that invites multiple readings and interpretations.
Further adventures in antisocial dating, in this sharp little psych-thriller series.
Word's custom dictionary feature falls short. Bullheaded resolve to the rescue.
On "escapism" vs. what's really often meant by that word: imagination.
When the biggest obstacle to a cultural phenomenon is the fans.
SF has its Jack Londons and Joseph Conrads, but where are its Virginia Woolfs or Thomas Manns, among others?
A manual typewriter from my younger days poses no threat to my copy of Word. Sadly.
"If you don't like it, make one yourself" is not a valid argument.
The classics aren't things to put on pillars. But neither is popular culture.
Why SF&F make things up as they go along, for better or worse.
I'm likely to be mum for the rest of the month due to a big workload and my attention span getting yanked in too many directions for my own good. You might see the occasional vault post from me, but...
SF's big weakness: worlds without much in the way of people.
Snobbism: the great defense against brain-rotting popular culture. Except that it isn't.
The myth of perfection, as misleading as ever.
The skin of a story, and what lies under it, in SF and elsewhere.
Russian SF revisited.
"... real talent manifests itself not in a writer's affectation but 'in the exactness of his observation [and] the justice of his situations.'"
Lev Grossman on why genres aren't evil.
Ambient music, before it became a joke.
What seems at first glance like a "Blade of the Immortal" clone is anything but.
In the end, SF is always about the humans -- especially the humans reading your work.
What is it that a book does better than a movie? Especially when it's SF?
What's "ambitious" about a work of fiction? Hint: it isn't the length or the size of the dramatis personae.
The creative process: it's about discovery as much as creation.
On the "relevance" question in fiction, especially SF.
Why the success of "The Avengers" is a mixed blessing.
First installment in this diabolical manga series about a high schooler's psychological torment at the hands of a female classmate.
Just enough is more, especially when showing as opposed to telling.
Why philosophical fiction doesn't have to be boring -- and why SF&F provides an ideal field for such work.
The tension between "bestseller" and "literary": still a red herring.
Decades after its release, Brian Eno's first collection of ambient mini-masterworks is still a jewel box full of gems.
We are, I think, finally beginning to see the full flowering of a literature of true native Western Buddhism. By this I mean works written by Buddhists who are Westerners first and foremost, and whose understanding of both Western life...
Laster Bangs and racism, 30+ years on. Or, how not to be another brick in the wall.
A four-quadrant approach to writing: making it both fun and deep.
When just enough is more.
What SF&F and literary fiction have to teach each other -- and what to do about them talking past each other, or learning the wrong lessons. A first attempt at stating the problem.
"Your work should speak for itself."
"You will not be boring. Or at least you’ll do your best not to be boring." What, then, does it mean to be boring?
On reality hunger an its abuses.
"Be consistent with your own aims." If your world falls apart, it had better be for a good reason.
"Write to be read." So what makes some writers willfully defy such a convention?
"Don't leave the reader feeling cheated," and how it's possible to do that as both an SF&F writer and a "straight" fiction writer.
"No grey goo" -- don't strand us in a landscape of emptiness and nothingness unless you have a really, really good reason for it. Here are what some of those reasons might be.
The love of money, the root of all evil? Well, maybe the root of a fair amount of heads-in-the-sand ignorance.
The idea that adults reading YA fiction is embarrassing or silly is itself embarrassing and silly.
"Don't write agitprop" - but first, know what it is and what stands in contrast to it.
On Human Wave SF's 2nd conceit: "Do not inspire loathing." But how can we point the way to the future without being a Pollyanna?
On Human Wave SF's first conceit: "Be entertaining!" Pitfall or paradigm?
How dystopia is just our way of saying "if you seek a monument..."
For a while I've been struggling with a sort-of manifesto that I was going to use as a banner for Genji Press (and especially Fight of the Vajra). Then Sarah Hoyt came along and beat me to it, at least...
The reason reading gives us a thrill like nothing else: it sticks its graphics where the sun don't shine.
How to market yourself without feeling like a creep.
Is it wrong to want to improve yourself?
Being plugged in has already become a way of life. Does it just get worse from here?
Why is it only innovation when mainstream literature does it?
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. Or could be. Or something.
When is writing most like acting? When you're getting out of your own way.
What it was about 1982's explosion of moviemaking that is making so many of us misty-eyed.
Why SF forgets that the way we do our laundry is just as important as the way we travel between the stars.
Fiction isn't just about making stuff up. SF is even less about such things.
Picking up where Tokyopop left off, it's Onizuka before he was the Great Teacher.
Is it OK to cheer if someone you hate dies?
It's harder than you think to recognize your own biases.
Kentaro Miura and Buronson team up for a collaboration that's if anything even worse than the last one I saw from them.
Yasutaka Tsutsui ("Paprika")'s satire on the afterlife remains stuck on the level of an interesting idea rather than a fully-developed work.
A love letter to Japanese monster movies, with some clever mythology of its own that could support a more ambitious story.
If No Longer Human somehow managed to take Osamu Dazai's furious little novel and make a bloated bore of a movie out of it, Picaresque ends up doing the same thing with Dazai himself. It's a biopic that touches on...
If SF is really about "now" rather than the future, does that make it also about contrasting the literature of "now"?
A glitzy and hollow adaptation of a book that was anything but those two things.
No cellphones in the future, and no computers either. Just connectivity and computation, for better or worse.
I like to think that maybe someday there will no longer be such things as sculptors and composers and film-makers and playwrights and poets. There will only be artists.-- Tom JohnsonJohnson, a longtime music critic for the Village Voice, wrote...
From authoritarian heroes to egalitarian ones.
Why Foreign Bestsellers Often Fail in Japan | Publishing PerspectivesAn interesting piece on the mechanics of publishing in that country. One of the oddities about bookstores there -- this I can confirm from my own experiences with Japanese bookstores here,...
The manga adaptation of Japan's "Requiem for a Dream" comes to an unforgiving close, just as it should.
The end. And it’s a fitting end to a manga series that’s always stood poised on the knife-edge between sweet fairy-tale simplicity and the tougher sensibilities of stories for mature audiences. Black Jack might well have been Osamu Tezuka’s finest...
Yoshihiro Nishimura paints the camera lens red yet again with his retake on "28 Days Later" and "Doomsday". Sorta-kinda.
Sometimes wanting to be a writer is the worst way to be a writer.
Why Should Libraries Focus on Popular Books? « Annoyed LibrarianLibraries should concentrate on collecting books that people might want to read, might even enjoy and benefit from, but don’t know about, and then promote them like crazy. The bestsellers are...
Painfully long-winded (three hours and change), this docudrama about one of Japan's most notorious and violent political factions wouldn't be worth the attention if it wasn't for the fact that longtime director / agent provocateur Kōji Wakamatsu was at the helm. The...
The further (and ever the more over the top) adventures of Great Teacher Onizuka, as he tries to turn around a whole special school full of kids abandoned by their own parents.
One kind of perfect.
Living forever: human aspiration or cosmic crock?
My rationale for why I don't plan to write sequels. (I could be wrong.)
On giving the gift that you made, and on what "making" means.
Ambitious attempt to place the Buddha in, and outside of, his historical context as a thinker and philosopher.
More choices in entertainment means more competition, all against all.
Osamu Tezuka's gender-bending fairy tale, now in English, was worth the wait.
On character in SF, especially bad character.
When SF addresses religion.
Write genre fiction, not just "fiction". We'll be better off for it.
Will they abolish money in the future? Don't bank on it (ho ho).
It's the beginning of a new project, and a new way of talking about it.
Writer's advice that doesn't stink.
I've added category-specific navigation to the "Next" and "Previous" links at the top of every article. This way you can easily browse back and forth between movie reviews, books, etc. Turns out there was a very easy way to do...
Sexual violence misused in the arts, continued.
Intriguing look at how Buddhism was equated with nihilism in 19th-century philosophy, for reasons more to do with politics than the intellect.
The first program I ever used for word processing was WordStar 3.3, which came with the PC clone my father brought home from work one day. For perspective, this machine -- the Panasonic Senior Partner, it was called -- was...
Between bouts of work, work, work and work, I've been straightening up both the house and the PC. Over the years, one's user documents directory becomes a stupefying toxic waste dump of digital effluvia. I've been unearthing half-started projects that...
While grousing elsewhere about the Akira live-action adaptation -- which now mercifully seems to be off the table -- I used the term "insider's hubris". This was a phrase I coined a while back to describe the kind of disconnect...
I have had an essay in the works for some time where the core thesis is that most SF (and fantasy, but I see more of this in SF than fantasy) is written by and for people who read mainly...
Deadline has a nice piece in the "what the hell happened to the movies?" category, with the telling headline "Brands, Budgets, & Bankability Still Don’t Explain Why Studios Are In Crisis." One issue that comes more to mind when I...
Science fiction, rebooted.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind