Posts Tagged ‘Science fiction’

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into… the Twilight Zone.

I brought in the first day of the New Year locked on to the SyFy channel watching the Twilight Zone.  I never realized how much I appreciated these black and white 30 minute episodes until this past weekend.  Seeing the brilliant Rod Sterling make sci fi magic on the screen prompted me to discuss the two big reasons why The Twilight Zone is one of the best TV series  ever (I really do mean ever)

It’s all about the Story Telling

I would take the cheesy martians, toy spaceships, and black and white episodes any day because the story telling is amazing!  It’s like taking a flash fiction piece and putting it on screen.  You have to be an excellent writer if you only have 30 minutes to hook your viewer, tell story, reveal a moral, and provide an ending no one could see coming.  There are movie writers out there that can’t do that in a two hour movie!  Special effects don’t mean anything unless there is a great story to back that up.  Because they didn’t have CGI back then, this show had to have great stories.

The Underlying Social Issues

In the episode Number Twelve Looks Just Like You the year is 2000, where every girl at 17 undergoes a physical transformation to be beautiful and perfect (not that far off huh?).  One line that stuck out to me was when the main character, who didn’t want to go through with it, said that if everyone is beautiful, no one really is.  In The Little People it explored the danger of man’s God-complex when he discovers a world of little people.  And we can’t forget the poetic justice in People Are Alike All Over, when a man explores Mars to find Martians that look just like humans.  I could on but I just loved how each episode used a farfetched story to convey a not-so farfetched social issue – in 30 minutes!

Watching the marathon made me long for the days of purposeful storytelling which is being sacrificed more and more these days to flashy special effects and picture perfect actors. 

What about you? Are you a big fan of the Twilight Zone?

 

Photo courtesy of:  www.theofantastique.com

Christmas is almost upon us my friends and the holiday madness is only moments from starting!  So I thought it would take this time to share some of the cool artwork from Frederic St-Arnaud an artist I just discoverd after coming across this first picture.  If his work doesn’t get your creative blood going I don’t know what will!

Click to view full size image

Click to view full size image

Click to view full size image

 

Totally awesome huh???!!

All photos courtesy of: http://www.starno.net/

en.gigazine.com

After my weekly meeting with my publishing team/business partners over at Visual Adjectives, I received a very hard lesson in world building – a lesson that is practically making me start from scratch.

You see at my first world building go around, I delved into the social histories, came up with some noteworthy customs, and covered things like climate, vegetation, and animal life.  I had a ton of fun, thinking of things on a whim and taking real world things and twisting them to my own fancy.  My work began on the ground, so to speak, starting with my hand drawn map and taking a region at a time.  I spent about a good two weeks on my research and then went back to my novel , tailoring it to my findings.

That was a few months ago.  Now numerous meetings and a professional editor review later I’m told that my story is great but my world needs work.   After going through my friend SM Lawrence’s epic fantasy novel series the Endaeria Chronicles that is so detailed I’m almost intimidated, I had to agree.  She covered things I hadn’t even thought about and if I had, I probably wouldn’t have made my novel go under the serious re-constructive surgery I’ve been putting it through this past month.  It hit me that I wasn’t as far along with this story as I thought I was and my deadline of having the professional editors have my entire manuscript in their hands by next month was clearly out the window.

My pity part didn’t last too long though because my team came to my rescue.  We started from the very top – the planet.   When you think of your world, especially if it remotely resembles Earth, you have to think about your planet’s relation to the sun,moon (or moons in my case), and in what geographical biomes your continents exist in.  For instance, my planet Epsilon has three moons which are relatively the same size.  Having three moons means that the tide changes along the coastlines will change more frequently, which affects the way of life of my coastal cities.  My main city Epsilon is located very far from the planet’s equator, so that place has to be very cold, almost tundra like (so there goes my scenes of lush green grass, tropical fruits, and Romanesque dresses!)

Yes, I did take the easy way out when it came to my world building, placing everything neatly into what I wanted it to be.  The way I had, though, didn’t make any sense, especially to those die hard fantasy and sci-fi fans that would probably tear me apart if I left the world how it was!

So the moral of the story – when you begin to build your fantasy/sci fi world, start from the very top of your planet by asking yourself these few questions:

  1.  How many suns and/or moons are there?  Where are they in relation to your planet?
  2. Where is your equator line?  What land mass does it cut through?
  3. Your continent(s) position in relation to that line will determine its biome.  What type of climate does each region of your world have?

By taking the time out to answer these few simple questions, I was already on my way to a more believable fantasy world by providing real world anchors my readers can relate to! 

The next step is filling out your World Building Table of Contents, which my friend Ms. Lawrence lays out brilliantly in her blog post today!

Have any of you writers experience some world building hard knocks like I just did?

I’ve finally fallen back into reading for pleasure again and with all these new books I plan on reading and writing about, (such as this one I reviewed last week) I can’t forget about those books that made me fall in love with the sci-fi and fantasy genres in the first place!  When I was kid through high school, I read a lot!  I took a lot of english literature courses and had such awesome teachers who taught me how to truly appreciate the classics.  I learned from reading those books how plot structure worked and what it meant to have fully developed and relatable characters.  The stories are timeless and whenever I sit down to write, it’s always my goal to have my work be just that.

So here is an ode to my five favorite science fiction and fantasy books that always hold a special place in my heart!

*all summaries are courtesy of Goodreads.com!

 

amazon.com

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle:

Meg’s father mysteriously disappears after experimenting with the fifth dimension of time travel. Determined to rescue him, Meg and her friends must outwit the forces of evil on a heart-stopping journey through space and time. A commemorative edition with an Introduction by the author. A Newbery Medal winner.
 
I identified with Meg so much and I’ve read this book twice already.  I also have the other two book in the trilogy in an awesome box set.  Though the concept of time travel was a little hard to grasp the first time around, I appreciated the second time!  This book never gets old and I will probably pick the book back up and read it again!
 
 
 
 
 

amazon.com

Beowulf

 
Composed toward the end of the first millennium of our era, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel’s mother. He then returns to his own country and dies in old age in a vivid fight against a dragon. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the end of the twentieth century, Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface.” “Drawn to what he has called the “four-squareness of the utterance” in Beowulf and its immense emotional credibility, Heaney gives these epic qualities new and convincing reality for the contemporary reader.
 
I read this book in high school in the Middle English version.  That alone was a challenge but once I got through it, I totally loved the story.  It is a classic epic story with Grendel as the menacing monster, his mother a wicked and conniving temptress, and a hero who seeks nothing but glory.  It doesn’t get more fantasy than that!
 
 

sfgate.com

1984 by George Orwell

 
Portrays a terrifying vision of life in the future when a totalitarian government, considered a “Negative Utopia,” watches over all citizens and directs all activities, becoming more powerful as time goes by.
 
The scariest version of reality TV with Big Brother always watching and people waging a war they know nothing about.  I did my first literary analysis on this book my senior year of high school devling into the underlying concepts, meanings, and uses of symbolism, I truly appreciated this work that I would have otherwise found rather daunting to read.  I may revisit this book again.  I mean its 2010 and the concepts this book explores aren’t that far away from real life!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
 
The epic battle between man and monster reaches its greatest pitch in the famous story of Frankenstein. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor himself to the very brink. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship …and horror.

Forget the commercialized version of Frankenstein because this one was downright scary!  I can still remember the scenes of Victor gathering dead body parts!  This story sent chills up my spine, taking me on Victor’s journey to absolute madness!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Animal Farm by George Orwell
 
A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned–a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.
 
Orwell makes this list again because behind this seemingly children’s story are underlying themes, ideas, and concepts that are utterly fantastic. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your turn!  What are you favorite classic books?

Photo courtesy of: http://www.ssflibrary.net

I know that the obvious answer to the question of whether an author should read in the genre that they’re righting one is Yes.  However, there’s a little more to it than that and because there is, I answer this question a little bit differently.

For me, I made the conscious decision that I wouldn’t read in my genre while I was writing the first draft of my novel.   I even went as far as not to really look at any movies within in my genre (as well as I could anyway!  I’m a movie buff!).  I did this because no matter how hard you try, you can’t help but be influenced in some kind of way from a book or movie.  I didn’t want my novel’s concept to be a conscious rip off of someone else.  It’s easy to read a scene in one book and say “Oh, I want a scene like that in mine.”  I wanted my story to grow on its own, find its own scenes and scenarios.  I wanted to get the core of my story down and be my own.  There are so many great stories and movies out there in the realms of Fantasy and  Sci Fi and I didn’t want my inspiration to become a reiteration of something else I read or saw somewhere. 

Now that I’m done with my first draft and I’m  satisfied with my core plot, I can now read books out there in the same circle that I want my book to be in.  (By the way, if you have any good recommendations on a books, please let me know!).  I can  just be inspired because I already know my story is solid and the direction of the series is crystal clear.  It’s easy now to appreciate a book for its story and what it offers – instead of constantly comparing it to mine!

What do you guys think?  If you were (or are) writing a book in a genre, would you still continue to read books similar to the one you’re writing?