All posts for July 2021

関東地獄 Kantō Jigoku: Tokyo Inferno: 'Tokyo Inferno' Is Back In Print!

I'm pleased to announce Tokyo Inferno has been returned to print in a spiffy new edition, with remastered interiors and redesigned cover art!

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-30 14:00:00 No comments

I'm pleased to announce Tokyo Inferno has been returned to print in a spiffy new edition, with remastered interiors and redesigned cover art!

You can get it in recycled-electron or recycled-tree editions.

The blurb:

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Tags: Infinimata Press 関東地獄 Kantō Jigoku: Tokyo Inferno

My Road To Ichimonji Keep

How Akira Kurosawa's RAN changed my life.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-28 12:00:00 No comments

Purchase on Amazon

I picked up the new issue of Akira Kurosawa's RAN, probably one of my two or three favorite films of all time, now finally released in an edition that does it justice. I think I have owned a copy of it in every major home video format it was ever issued in. Criterion previously issued the film Stateside on DVD, but lost the rights to it when Studio Canal acquired them for all territories outside of Japan, and their version of it was so dismal I could scarcely believe they had the nerve to put it out there. Now we have this release, and it's grand to behold. But my reason for talking about it isn't a review; I have an older one in my archives here that's serviceable, and a new one on Ganriki (my other blog focusing on J-culture) that you'll want to dig into. RAN was how I had my life changed, and to rewatch it is to remember the exact process of how that happened.

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Tags: Akira Kurosawa Japan

関東地獄 Kantō Jigoku: Tokyo Inferno: Next And Last Steps

Sorry about the silence. It's been a busy several days, not least of all because I got back the proof copy for the new edition of "Tokyo Inferno."

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-27 21:00:00 No comments

Sorry about the silence. It's been a busy several days, not least of all because I got back the proof copy for the new edition of Tokyo Inferno. It looks fine save for a small issue with the spine, which I'll be fixing shortly. (My name disappears into the background; this is an easy fix.) Once that's done and I've confirmed it looks good, I should have the book approved for purchase.

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Tags: Four-Day Weekend Infinimata Press 関東地獄 Kantō Jigoku: Tokyo Inferno

The Kipple Salad Diet

What's the difference between just "jamming some stuff together" to make a story, and molding raw material into something truly new?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-22 21:00:00 No comments

Matt and I, over at his blog, had a discussion about what we really mean when we say something is "imaginative" or has "imagination". To my mind, just being able to dream up wild stuff is only half the picture; how all that wild stuff fits into a coherent whole, what its implications are, how it divides or unites others, how its past and its future diverge -- that's where the real meat is.

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Tags: Dune Frank Herbert creativity creators originality

関東地獄 Kantō Jigoku: Tokyo Inferno: Infernally Yours

The remastered "Tokyo Inferno" is on its way.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-21 12:00:00 No comments

Yesterday I put in the order for the first proof copy for the all-new edition of Tokyo Inferno, so I should be hearing it hit my doorstep in a few days. The art in the sidebar and on the book's sales page hasn't been updated yet, but that will happen retroactively after the new edition of the book is live in both recycled-electron and recycled-tree editions.

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Tags: Infinimata Press 関東地獄 Kantō Jigoku: Tokyo Inferno

O Taste And See

The hardest question: why, exactly, do I like or hate something?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-20 12:00:00 No comments

Matt B has a good insight (well, he has lots of them, this is just the most recent one):

The next time you are repulsed by something, whether it be a work of fiction, a television show, an advertisement, another person’s behavior, anything—immediately ask yourself why. Interrogate your own motivation for that repulsion and find out if you like your reasons for dislike or not. And do the same for any new thing that appears and you instantly decide you are interested in it. Set aside whatever association it has for you, just for a minute, and really interrogate the thing. Is it really that good?

Of all the debts I owe Roger Ebert, one of the greatest is in how he helped instill in me a sense of how to do exactly this. When he came up against something he liked in defiance of others, or even common sense, he went to some length to lay out why (e.g., the original Dawn Of The Dead; his praise of the film has been more than vindicated by time). When he wrinkled his nose, again sometimes in a contrary way (Blue Velvet), he also laid out why. That taught me how to use my own reactions to things as a way to understand what I was really responding to, and how to roll that forward into future experiences.

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Tags: aesthetics

The Big Rip-Off

How not to feel pre-empted when something you want to create resembles something else out there.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-17 21:00:00 No comments

Few feelings in life, for a creator, are as dispiriting as the feeling of being pre-empted. I once had a friend -- I'll call him "Ron" -- still in his early years as a creator, who spent a dismaying amount of time in a hamster-wheel of despair over not being able to come up with anything "original". Yes, "original", in scare quotes.

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Tags: creativity originality

The Rest Of The Story

A new edition of Rilke's "Letters To A Young Poet" restores the long-missing other half of the conversation.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-15 12:00:00 No comments

Purchase on Amazon

Immediately to the left of the desk where I type this (and most of my other blog posts), a shelf sits affixed to the wall that I have come to call the "forever shelf". On it are the few books I think I could take with me to the end of whatever awaits: The Zen Teaching Of Huang Po; Dunham's Man Against Myth; Natsume Sōseki's Kokoro; John Cage's Silence; Macrorie's Telling Writing; Gödel, Escher, Bach; a few others. And Rainer Maria Rike's Letters To A Young Poet, as translated by Stephen Mitchell. Letters landed on my innocent young head like a truck of masonry, and I've lost count of the number of times I've re-read it and found something new in its barely hundred pages. As of yesterday, I took the Mitchell version of Letters down from the shelf and replaced it with a new edition that is to that book as the restored version of Metropolis was to all the previous versions of that film.

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Tags: Rainer Marie Rilke

Independent's Daze

Why is it that the indie scene in music is so much more forgiving of self-production, where the indie scene in literature is less so?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-14 12:00:00 No comments

I got asked a question which I'll sum up this way: Why is it that the indie scene in, say, music is so much more forgiving of self-production, where the indie scene in literature is less so? E.g., there's far less casual hostility aimed at indie record labels (which are sometimes run by a group of one) than at self-published books.

My thoughts on this ended up spurring a major writeup, which I've reproduced below the cut.

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Tags: indies music publishing self-publishing

OK, We're Finished Here

"The ability to know when something is done is a skill."

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-12 12:00:00 No comments

The Ability To Know The End - Steven Savage

I had written the book, rewritten it, had it edited, rewrote it during editing, edited it, and took prereader input. It seemed like it’d be forever, even as time ticked down on my well-constructed timeline.

This lightning bolt of understanding led me to another realization – the ability to know something is done is a skill.

I think it was Miles Davis who said that perfection is not when you have no more to add but no more to take away. That also sounds like the best formula I can think of for when something is done.

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Tags: creativity editing writing

Roll With It

Your job when writing a story is to listen to what this material is telling you it needs to be, and go there.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-08 22:00:00 No comments

Ed Solomon, writer of the new Steven Soderbergh movie No Sudden Move, talks about how a script is a living thing:

No Sudden Move Writer Interview: Ed Solomon – /Film (

The first big inflection point after you’re finished the script is when it’s cast and the actors have notes. That’s a pretty direct inflection point. It’s a pretty overt inflection point. But really, and it’s easy to assess what those changes are going to be because you’re hearing notes verbally, or in writing, but given to you in a specific little period of time. And then you execute another draft. It’s a tricky part.

A lot of writers hurt themselves by not being open to this part when the film gets up on its feet and starts moving, it really starts to evolve. And you have a choice as a writer, either fight it, which is never a winning scenario, never, or pay close attention to how it’s moving and keep track of that relationship between your original intention and what the movie is now telling you it wants to be. And your job is to constantly be aware of how the film is evolving and write toward that. 

Novels are not movies, of course, but I do think there is a similar course of evolution with a novel. Stories tend to start as abstractions with only the most minimal amount of reification. We think about a character as "this kind of character", or visualized by way of this or that image. They don't really have freedom of speech or movement in an outline, because at that point they only exist in this half-formed way.

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Tags: Ed Solomon Steven Soderbergh editing rewriting storytelling writing

How Can You Say You Know Me When I Don't Even Know Myself?

It's impossible to control what happens when people pay attention to you in numbers. Just respond as gracefully as you can.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-07 21:00:00 No comments

Here is a good article about the phenomenon called "parasocial relationships" -- the way strangers form what feels to them like deep, intimate connections with Internet personalities, specifically those who have an unguarded, unpretentious public persona. The main problem is that the simulation of intimacy is still just that, a simulation, not a substitute for the real thing. The real thing is something you can only cultivate with people you actually know, and the article hints in its last graf that the way society is set up now, we don't really have good ways to do that to begin with. So many of us opt for the shabby substitutes in a fake-it-'till-we-make-it way.

I don't think this constitutes an argument against trying to be approachable and personable. That is, the flaw doesn't lie with the YouTubers who shoot "get ready with me" videos or Twitch streamers who talk candidly about their screwups as they build something live on camera. One should always strive to be approachable, in whatever way seems fitting.

Here, on this blog, I try to be as unguarded as possible, and -- I think this is the key thing -- to demystify what I'm doing as much as I can, too. I've come to hate the idea that creativity is this Black Box that some people have and some don't, and I figured by prying the box open and dumping its contents out onto the table I could push back against the mystification of creativity and talent in my own way.

The other thing I've always wanted to do is treat my audience like a salon -- like people I could just sit down next to and chat with. An I-Thou, not an I-It, as Martin Buber would put it. You know my running joke about my fans -- "all six of them" -- is only half in jest. I'd rather have six people who really care about what I'm doing than a ton of indifferent hangers-on who are mostly there because their friends are there.

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Tags: Brad Warner Internet Martin Buber Samuel R. Delaney parasociology psychology society sociology

Pace Yourself

It took a year to produce a first draft of "Unmortal". It was worth the wait.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-07 12:00:00 No comments

Matt Buscemi just noted on his blog that he finished the first draft of his latest project (50K words, give or take). Wicked fast, I thought, as compared to me year-and-change process. "Once I complete a full outline and have all my notes in place," he replied, "then at that point, it's just a matter of knocking out the words."

This made me reflect on something Terry Pratchett was reputed to have said, something that once I heard it snapped together my understanding of my own process: "The first draft is [just] you telling yourself the story." I might have an outline in hand -- in fact, at this point, I can't start without one -- but it's that whole experience of writing the first draft that tells me what the story actually is, what it feels like at the ground level instead of what it's like to peer down at it from 35,000 feet up.

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Tags: Unmortal editing rewriting writing

Let's Blow This Popsicle Stand

When you are faced with a world this chaotic and nasty, is the only sane response to reject it wholesale?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-02 21:00:00 No comments

Back when I was what I could call a "confused radical utopian" in my worldview (this was roughly my college to mid-twenties years), one of the things that appealed intermittently to me was the idea of ditching everything and becoming a monastic of some kind. I knew full well this was impossible, at the very least supremely irresponsible.

Still, I had to confront the appeal of the idea, and it didn't take long to extract the meaning of it: when you are faced with a world this chaotic and nasty, maybe the only sane response is to reject it, to cultivate a contempt for the world and use that as your bulwark. What was even harder -- but more rewarding in the long run -- was learning to reject that idea. Ironically, I have Zen to thank for that, a path that many people associate, not always with the best of evidence at hand, with solitude.

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Tags: Buddhism Zen psychology science fiction society sociology

Infinimata Press: Projects: Take Three Stiff Drinks And Sleep For A Week

With "Unmortal"'s first draft more or less finished, I think some wind-down is in order.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-07-01 21:00:00 No comments

So saith a character to themselves in one of Heinlein's stories, as the capper to a fortnight of all-nighters. I don't drink much at all (a beer with a meal for someone's birthday is about as far as I go into a bottle of any size), but with Unmortal's first draft more or less finished, I think some wind-down is in order. And a celebration.

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Tags: Unmortal writing

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This page contains an archive of posts for the month of July 2021.

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I'm an independent SF and fantasy author, technology journalist, and freelance contemplator for how SF can be more than just a way to blow stuff up.

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