Archive for August, 2008

Rum & Comics

August 24th, 2008

In Cuba around 1863 the Bacardi family began to distill rum.  Their logo is a bat, modeled on the families of fruit bats that nested and swooped through the Bacardi cane plantations and distillaries.  Among Cubans, fruit bats are considered bringers of good luck.   The same bat logo is still employed today by Bacardi.

bacardi bat logo

Bob Kane’s Batman arrived in 1939 — he’s nearly 70. One wonders if there was any bit of subliminal influence from Bacardi to Kane’s Batman logo? There was an awareness of Cuba and things Cuban, particularly rum and music, back in those days that’s difficult for people who came of age in the post-embargo era to realize.

Batman Comic Logo

Forthcoming Vampire Films – London Times

August 17th, 2008

This article deals with vampires in the movie versions only, even if the movies mentioned were adapted from original novels.  It includes a brief chronology of vampires on film which can be a quickie refresher for those who have read any or all of the books published on this subject, and watched all the films.  Oddly, Buffy’s not mentioned.

This forthcoming film sounds interesting, so I’ll be watching out for it:

Meanwhile, although the vampire in Let the Right One In is altogether more dangerous, she symbolises as much the dark side of the human psyche as an external threat. “I was thinking about these two characters as though they are mirrors,” Alfredson, the director, says. “She is everything that he is not. She is awake when he is asleep: he is very afraid, she is very brave; she is strong, he is weak; she’s dark, he is blond. She is everything that he would need to be to survive. They are two sides of the same coin.”

The vampire craze shows no signs of abating. An English language remake of Let the Right One In has been announced. With three remaining books in the Twilight saga, there is potential for a vampire franchise. And although the Twilight books series is complete, Nash reveals that “Stephenie does have the bare bones of a chapter of a book provisionally titled Midnight Sun, which is the Twilight story but from the point of view of the vampire not the human girl”.

  Love, C.

“Sheet-heads:” The New Nazis

August 6th, 2008

When I recently reviewed the Summer issue of Helix SF (http://www.helixsf.com/) for the August issue of IROSF (http://www.irosf.com/), I made no mention of the controversy then [and now still] festering over Senior Editor William Sanders’ use of the term “sheet-heads” to describe jihahis/Musims/Arabs –- the target of the reference is not quite clear, although Sanders has insisted it refers only to terrorists. He has also argued that his use of this term can not be considered racist, since neither Muslims nor Arabs are strictly speaking a race; nonetheless I think it is clearly species of bigotry, as the argument is a species of sophistry.

In fact, I had for some time been aware of his use of this term, well before the present controversy. But I do not consider it my job as a reviewer to discuss or condemn the political statements of a magazine’s editor –- bigoted or not. My job is to review the magazine’s fiction and not its politics.

It is not possible, though, to pretend that politics does not exist in fiction. Fiction has always been a vehicle for political statements. But a reviewer, I believe, should critique the stories, not the politics. Analog, to take one example, often appears to be taking a right-libertarian stand in both its editorial content and its fiction. This is not a position with which I am particularly sympathetic, but I consider my job as a reviewer to consider whether a libertarian story is a good story, not whether its ideology suits me. Grounds for condemning it might be cardboard characterization, clumsy plotting, awkward dialogue, or heavy-handed polemic, but not the ideology itself. If I find a well-written libertarian story, I will recommend it as readily as any other.

Unfortunately, it often seems to be the case that there is an inverse relationship between political zeal and quality of fiction. One way this manifests is in characterization: the ideological opponent is cast as the Bad Guy. When I was a kid, watching crummy westerns on the black-and-white TV, it was always easy to tell the Bad Guys; they were the ones wearing the black hats. They were there in the story to be shot down by the Good Guy. They are villainous because they are villains, bad because they are Bad Guys. Like the Nazi.

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“MultiReal”: The First Drafts

August 4th, 2008

One of the fun little promotional things I did for Infoquake was to post all the first drafts of chapter 1. You got to see the journey of the book from something I doodled on in 1997 or 1998 to the finished product that hit the shelves in July of 2006.

I’ve now gone ahead and done the same thing for MultiReal. You can now read online the first drafts of MultiReal’s chapter 1, along with footnotes and commentary about each draft. The big difference between the Infoquake drafts and the MultiReal drafts is this: for the latter book, there were thirty-five of them. Yes, thirty-five drafts of chapter 1. Told you I’m something of a perfectionist. (Keep in mind that most of these first drafts were simply rehashes of prior drafts, and most of them are incomplete.)

Instead of posting all thirty-five drafts up on my website, I’ve chosen to simply post the best or most representative samples of the eight different directions I tried. Along with the final published version, of course.

So among the abandoned concepts you can read about in these drafts are: Magan Kai Lee as ruthless martial arts expert (draft 1), a bureaucratic smackdown between rival governments about the weather (draft 17), Horvil fascinated by advertising (draft 18), and Henry Osterman trekking off to Harper’s Ferry to commit suicide (draft 29).

Quick excerpt from draft 29, my favorite abandoned version of chapter 1:

Henry Osterman was dying.

He stumbled into the provincial town of Harper on his own two feet, a pallid scarecrow of a man, his hair greasy, his clothes tattered, his fingernails curling in on themselves like shriveled worms after the rain.

Nobody could say how he had gotten there. The roads leading to Harper had been pulverized a quarter of a millennium ago by the wrath of thinking machines run amok. Tube trains and hoverbirds were technologies for a theoretical future when the world had learned to live without fossil fuels; multi and teleportation were the pipe dreams of lunatics. To get to Harper these days, you needed either a strong horse or a boat limber enough to steer through the debris clogging the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Osterman had neither.

The city itself was barely worth the effort. A few dozen dilapidated buildings huddled together at the bottom of a hill, that was all. The more prosperous cities nearby had pieced together a fragile shell of trade from the shards of yesterday’s civilization, but so far Harper had little to contribute. Still, you could get three radio stations again in Harper, and sometimes on clear nights you could see the feeble blink of a Chinese satellite. The local music scene was bustling. Drinking water was almost drinkable. Progress.

Hopefully this will prove useful to writers looking for some insight into the process, if not for future scholars at the Edelman Studies departments of major universities worldwide.

(Originally published at David Louis Edelman’s personal blog. Feel free to comment here or there.)