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

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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. 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.

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

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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

See earlier posts from July 2021

Infinimata Press

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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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