Hawke and Moon: The Characters of HawkeMoon

Image Source: https://findtattoodesign.net/designs/884-hawk-and-celtic-moon

In celebration of HawkeMoon’s publication and “cover story” status in Storyhack, Issue 4, I’m delving deeply into the story, its characters, my process, and generally doing blowout coverage through the entire week. If you want to read the original Author’s Note for HawkeMoon written when I had just finished writing the story, here is the original blog post.

Storyhack, Issue 4 (Print): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

ebook version: https://books2read.com/storyhack4

Hawke

So, in the issue, Hawke isn’t actually depicted anywhere that I could see–which is okay–but he is very much the protagonist of the story (at least, in my mind). He is the first viewpoint character and it is his motivation to find the King’s killer that drives the story along initially. Hawke is a strange character as he is the fantasy equivalent of an “African American” in a predominately “European” fantasy world. While I don’t delve into Hawke’s backstory at all in the story, he is described as having dark skin. I would imagine in this world that there is a southern region that functions much like Africa/The Middle East (hot, arid, and the sun beats down on the land increasing the melanin of the inhabitants). The two lands probably rarely interact so I’m not quite sure how Hawke would have come into “The Lands” (the European part of the world). I doubt it would have been slavery or any real world amalgam as that concept is foreign to this world, but he was “cast out” by his tribe, so perhaps he was taken in and expected to work for his meals? Not really sure at this moment to be honest. I do know that he is doggedly determined and highly moral and this has allowed him to rise through the ranks to become Captain of the King’s Guard, which is where we find him at the beginning of the story.

Moon

Moon is the character that has really caught the attention of the editor and the artists, I think. Having read The Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb and playing (& finishing) pretty much every Assassin’s Creed game from the beginning of the franchise (except for the smaller 2D offshoots), I knew assassins as an organized group were still pretty popular, but I almost made her a thief instead of an assassin due to the moral implications of killing for money. What I finally decided was the Moon needed to be an assassin as only an assassin would risk an attempt on the King’s life (especially with a feared Captain of the Guard like Hawke protecting him), so I gave her a moral code. She only accepted contracts for those she felt embodied “evil.” While I don’t explicitly get into this in the story, you do get an implication that she doesn’t kill indiscriminately. She is more of a surgical tool and works to make The Lands better through judicious use of her skill set. However, making her an assassin came with an added benefit: she became more than a match for Hawke. Moon doesn’t play “second fiddle” to anyone and her skills put Hawke to the test–again, great for tension and challenging the protagonist. Moon would be considered a “European” (i.e., white) in this world, which is where the artists take her. I personally envisioned her as extremely pale (as in “no sun”), but the artists have made her much less pale and more normalized. Again, this is fine–I’m just noting some of the differences between the way I envisioned her and how others envisioned her. Her crescent blades are also different, but I knew they would be–that mental image was very hard to describe in words. I’m no artist by any means, but I had to draw out what I was envisioning–to my knowledge, there is no real world weapon that is analogous to the crescent blades that Moon wields.

Setting

This story takes place in The Lands. In my mind it is a loose confederation of nations ruled by a King. The level of technology is about mid 1500s to early 1600s society–with burghers and the like from Amsterdam and that area. Again, none of this is explicit in the story, but I wanted to give readers of the blog a peek into what I was thinking when I wrote the story. The Lands have older medieval civilizations, but are much more modern and moving towards more enlightened society. I don’t think there will ever be a full-on renaissance in this world, but I could be wrong.

As mentioned earlier, The Lands represent a “European”-like society, but there is also a Southern area that has people of darker colors. This society and The Lands trade with one another and do not have any animosities towards one another. I haven’t really nailed this part down, though. This would be the first thing that I would work on if I choose to expand this out into a longer work (graphic novel/novel/screenplay).

Well, that’s all that I have for now! I hope you enjoyed this deeper look at the characters and setting of HawkeMoon.

Storyhack, Issue 4 (Print): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

ebook version: https://books2read.com/storyhack4

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

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HawkeMoon is the “Cover Story” for Storyhack and is Available Now!

Storyhack, Issue 4.  HawkeMoon by Sidney Blaylock, Jr. in stylized font.  A picture of a scarecrow like monster in a hooded cowl menacing an Assassin (Moon) who is holding her trademark scythe-like blade with a dead brown tree in the background.
Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

Wow! Just Wow! I honestly cannot believe it. If you’ve been a long-time reader of the blog, or even if you’ve just joined, you’ll know that I’m a “semi-pro” writer. I write (and hopefully, receive payment & get published), but I’ve not yet written any long works, such as novels, so I don’t yet consider myself a true “pro.” The blog was my way of both promoting my work and talking about things I like (in the interim when I had nothing currently in print), but I am also using it as a motivation/springboard to “level up,” so to speak, to get comfortable writing longer, more intricate works. While I’ve been published before (and every time is an awesome feeling!), this time my story is the cover story for Storyhack, Issue 4! This is the 1st time that I’ve ever had a “cover story!”

Storyhack, Issue 4 (Print): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

ebook version: https://books2read.com/storyhack4

Cover Story

What I can’t believe is that the editor chose my story as the cover/featured story! I knew it was first (based on the galleys), but I never once considered that it would be the cover story! Wow! I almost can’t express myself. I never expected that one of my stories would be chosen as a cover story/featured story. Not only is the cover sweet and presents a really cool and dynamic imagining of Moon, but the story also includes a interior image of Moon as well.

And it isn’t just my own work that’s cool! The whole issue looks really nice and the artwork for the other stores looks awesome. I can’t wait to read the other stories by the other authors who were selected based on the intriguing and awesome artwork included. I can say that this is truly a quality magazine and I am so happy that the editor, Bryce Beattie, selected my work for his magazine.

A Week of HawkeMoon

I hope I don’t wear out my welcome, but I’m so giddy at being selected as the cover story that I thought I’d do a week’s worth of coverage on the story. Specifically, I want to talk about the inspiration for the story, the characters, where I see it going in the future (any sequels, etc.). I’ve pushed back a couple of blog entries that I’ve already done to next week, so (fingers crossed), you might actually get two whole weeks of blog content from me this time, even though school is starting soon. I’ve actually already done an “Author’s Note” blog on HawkeMoon when I finished the initial story, but I intend to go more in-depth about the creation process and the finished product, now that it is available.

Please, please, pleasseee, consider purchasing either the print or the eBook edition–not for me, but to show support to the publisher. This is how we reward quality work and make it possible for people like me to continue to have opportunities to publish. Large corporate publishers are only interested in authors like Stephen King or J. K. Rowling who can reliably deliver large returns of investment, and so they’ll never even look at me, or someone like me, no matter how good our work is because we can’t give them huge audiences. However, if we support small presses like Storyhack, then we give opportunities to good and talented writers to find their voices and get publishing experience to perhaps become the “next” big-name writers–and I’m not talking about just me, but for all those like me who are suffering rejection after rejection for the one Acceptance/Publication that makes their dreams of being a published writer a reality.

Please feel free to reblog this post as/where necessary! Have a great week!

Storyhack, Issue 4 (Print): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

ebook version: https://books2read.com/storyhack4

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019

ReRead: Myth Adventures One Graphic Novel

Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Adventures-One-Robert-Asprin/dp/0898654149

So, today through Friday, I will be in orientation for the upcoming Fall semester (all of the Graduate Teaching Assistants are required to do Orientation every year). It generally lasts all morning and all afternoon with a break for lunch, so I thought I’d just catch on Mini-Reviews and Re-Reads to have a little fun with the blog for the rest of the week. These entries will be shorter and a lot more “fun” since I’ll be tied up pretty much all morning and afternoon for the next few days.

Funny Fantasy

Myth by Robert Asprin is a late 70s/early 80s phenomenon where writers took the uber-popular fantasy tropes of “First Wave” Fantasy Writers (such as Tolkien, Lewis, and the like) and “Second Wave” Fantasy Writers (such as Terry Brooks, David Eddings, and the like) and parodied and/or satirized the tropes in the Fantasy field up to that point. While the Myth series was fairly popular in this sub-genre for a while as was Pierce Anthony’s fantasy series based on puns, Xanth, it was really Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series that grabbed the lion’s share of attention for the “funny fantasy” genre which has only seemed to abate in the past few years to the best of my knowledge–for a time Discworld was as popular as was “Epic” (Doorstopper) Fantasy.

Myth Adventures One

In addition to prose books, the “funny fantasy” genre also branched out into the realm of graphic novels and comic books. Myth Adventures One is an early graphic novel (1985) that collected issues 1-4 of the Myth Adventures comic. I found this graphic novel in a Friends of the Library Booksale several years ago, and I really liked the story, even though “funny fantasy” isn’t a sub-genre that I read regularly–although I do enjoy the Discworld novels that I own. I’d only read a couple Robert Asprin titles before getting this one (a Thieves’ World anthology that he co-edited with Lynn Abbey), but I do like Asprin’s writing. It’s very much in the vein of Shrek (way before their was a Shrek), but still, it is that very broad humor that would appeal to kids–very into visual gags.

Do You Like Cartoony Art?

If you do, then you’ll love Phil Foglio’s artwork. Me, well, there’s some things that I love about the artwork and something’s that I dislike. I love the exaggerated facial expressions–many times the comedy is sold by the expression on the face alone. However, a lot of times, the body/figure is also exaggerated, and this often results in the character looking out of proportion or (more commonly) posed in anatomically impossible positions that draw me out of the story. Even in the cover, it looks like the main character is a giant, but the cover image is meant to convey that the main character is flying, but the sense of perspective is off, so much of your enjoyment of the story is going to come from how much you like (or can tolerate) Foglio’s art.

Overall Grade: B (85 out of 100)

There’s nothing really wrong with the story (it’s a bit complicated to follow which is why I didn’t provide a plot synopsis, but ultimately follows the trials and tribulations of a magician and his apprentice). The art, again, depends on how much you like Foglio’s cartoony artwork (think Loony Toons level of abstraction). I liked it better on the first read rather than this reread, so the humor is something may only work when it’s fresh, but I still enjoyed it.

Have a great day everyone!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration

Image Source: https://meshgh.com/2015/10/18/weekly-quote-genius-is-1-percent-inspiration-99-percent-perspiration-thomas-edison/

Before I start today’s blog, I just wanted to say thank you to the many readers who read and responded (and “Liked”) yesterday’s blog entry. It was really gratifying to see that others responded to what I was trying to express. Thanks again, everyone!

Today, I just want to take a moment to talk about what makes writing (this blog & creative writing) so much fun for me. And it comes down to a simple quote that was attributed to Thomas Edison, an American inventor who, famously, invented the light bulb. I basically follow this particular formula for every major project that I work on.

1% Inspiration

This is my favorite part of the writing process. For me, getting that initial idea is one of the best feelings that I can experience. When I’m figuring out plot, characters, themes, emotions, and the story world is both invigorating and fun all at the same time. I love coming up with ideas in my writing and I love seeing how wild and outlandish I push the concepts that I write. For example, in 20s I used want to be a Role-Playing Game designer. Every summer, I would sit outside in the scorching 90+ degree (Fahrenheit) heat and just work on a section of the RPG that I’d come up with that year (I also did the same with short stories–this is how The Ghost and the Shadow was written). Obviously, I never did anything with these RPGs, but that wasn’t the point–I was more than happy to just work on the “cool” concepts that I’d come up with for the games. Even now, I have folder after folder of concepts that I want to create stories, novels, comics, movies, etc. from because I absolutely enjoy sitting down and coming up with the ideas and the world and all the things that make the story world so exciting. This feeling lasts (for me) all through the concept phase, the creation phase, and even into the “rough draft” phase–where I put a simple version down on paper. This even applies to blog entries–I currently have 14 “drafts” in my drafts folder in various stages of completion (more than enough to have put together enough to have put out during the previous two weeks) So, what happened, where does the writing process go “wrong” for me? That (of course) is the next phase.

99% Perspiration

Okay, once I get to this stage, the enjoyment of the project wears off quite a bit. I guess, for me, its because at this stage that I realize that the project is never going to reach the actual “potential” that I have in my mind for it. No, that’s not true. Reflecting back, I think that it is more that now I have to continually “shape” the work in order to get it to match the potential that I think it had when I created it and I that “refinement” process isn’t nearly as easy and as “fun” as it was during the inspiration phase. In the inspiration phase, ideas seem to flow, like water from a fountain, and my pen/pencil, or my computer can barely move fast enough to get the ideas out. However, once we move to the perspiration phase, then its really like work, trying to “dig” ideas out and get them to work correctly. For the most part, I push though this phase, but it is hard. This one isn’t nearly as fun nor as enervating as the inspiration phase. For example, Dragonhawk was based on a book cover that I’d had since childhood and I had the idea for ages. However, I did a lot of work for that story: I wrote multiple outlines for it, I “built” it from the ground up (sentences to paragraphs to sections, meaning that the outlines went from bare sentences, to more elaborate paragraphs, to still more elaborate sections), I wrote character sketches for the two main protagonists, I revised it heavily to get its word count down, I stuck with it even when there were sections that didn’t seem to be working well and fixed those before sending it out, etc. (all which speaks to the quality discussion of yesterday’s blog). I remain convinced that it is the only story that I’ve ever had accepted on the 1st try because of the work that I put into making it into the story that I’d envisioned in the inspiration phase (and tangentially because I actually took the time to write out my characters and created a character sketch for them). This happens in my blogs as well–I don’t just treat these like “tweets” and quickly throw them up on the site just to get them done, but craft them like mini-essays. While necessary in order to get anything done and not be a “dreamer” like I was in the days of my (many) failed RPGs, this phase is simply work and isn’t as much fun as the other phase.

1% Catharsis

So, yes I know, this now adds up to 101%, but (for me) this is also a necessary step that Edison didn’t articulate, but probably should have. This is the phase when the project is complete and has been published (or turned in or posted). The sense of catharsis that I feel is akin to the euphoria that I feel when I originally began the project. The release of tension and the successful completion of the project is something that a writer is always trying to capture. I can only say that it is probably akin to the “runner’s high” that marathon runners experience as well. I felt this after my first publication of The Ghost and the Shadow and I’ve always trying to recreate this experience. I will say that it never quite reaches the level of when I first start a project–I suppose because of the tedium that I go through to actually get the project written in the first place, but still, this final phase is an important part of why I chose to write in the first place. The euphoria of beginning a project and the euphoria of finishing a project help to give me a buffer to get through all of the hard times actually working on the project. Without the inspiration and catharsis phases, I doubt I enjoy writing nearly as much as I do.

My goal now is to take what I’ve learned over these past two years and to apply them to longer and longer works so as to move into the realms of novels and books and become the writer that I always dreamed I might become. Crossing my fingers that it happens, but I’m also putting in the 99% perspiration to try to actually make it happen as well.

Hope you have a great day!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

Unintended Vacation

Image Source: https://me.me/i/when-youre-overworked-broke-with-no-social-life-and-someone-3cb5624d1d1b41ef8a97ec1e8d5378c7

Sorry for the last two weeks. I haven’t actually been on vacation–far from it. I’ve actually been simply overworked in the last two weeks of the Summer semester. I’m great (no false modesty here folks), but I’m slow. I’ve discovered that when I blog, I essentially must do one of two things: 1) set aside an hour every day in which to blog (not ideal, but the way the blog mostly gets written) or 2) write the blog entries over the weekend and set them to “pop up” on a daily basis (ideal, but at an hour an entry that usually means 5 hours out of my weekend–which after a rough week like last week, is hard to do).

Why So Slow

In a word: QUALITY. That’s the one thing that my friends (those who know me) can’t understand about me. I like to take my time with things in order to make sure that I get them right. Yes, I’m an American, but you wouldn’t know it. This is going to seem like a slam on my nation, but it’s true: Americans prefer speed over quality. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but it’s true. If Americans can get both, then they will, obviously, but as someone who’s dealt with the public for 17 years, I can say that many (obviously not all) prefer the quick answer to the right answer. Americans hate wasting time and are always rushing hither and thither and they hate to be slowed down by anything, even (in some cases, by the truth/correct answer). Sure, if the quick answer is wrong and costs them money, then most of my countrymen and women will be angry, but just as likely, if there’s no money involved, then they’ll take the wrong answer just because its quick.

That’s just not me.

Advantages and Disadvantages

So, in American society, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to being slow (or preferring quality over quickness). The advantages is that I tend, over time, to be as good, if not better than others in whatever I put my time into. Doesn’t mean that I’m automatically (automagically) going to be better, but because I take my time, start from the ground up, learn deeply, take the “hits”/”mistakes”/disappointments, and then keep going, I usually have a better average than others. Of my circle, I’m the only one who is technically a “professional” writer. Sure, others have publications or who have written full novels, but none have actually faced rejection upon rejection, revised their stories, or dealt with the realities of the publishing world, over and over again until their work sells. They dismiss the level of difficulty of what I do because, since I’m so slow, they never actually see all of the hard work and the stages that it takes to get things done. For instance, I have to teach an English class in about 2 weeks; first day of class is the 26th. However, my final paper is also due on the 26th as the professor wanted a paper that would be great and one that we could use to present at a conference. So, instead of doing 1 thing like my contemporaries, I have to do 2 things. There are some who have already finished their one thing (prepping for school or finished their paper). I, on the other hand, am in the middle of working on both of them. They will be ready on time and will be at a high level, but I’m sure there are others who would look at me and think that I’m not capable of doing the work–everyone else is already finished, they would argue, why aren’t you? Nevermind that I have a blog, a short story, reading (personal and school), yard work, housework, a weekly 4 hour commute, church, errands, and any number of other commitments in addition to trying to rest and recover from the work week–and that doesn’t even cover the work I’ve done to get set up in my school’s brand new class Doctoral Readings (which could be its own blog entry).

The Price of Quality

There is a price to be paid for quality, though. It means that there is never enough time to do everything that you want to do, in the manner that you want to do it.

The editor of Storyhack sent a link to the proofs in a dropbox file about 2 weeks ago–just before my inadvertent vacation from blogging. I glanced over them and told myself I’d get back to them as soon as I could, but wasn’t able to do so. I’ll look and see if they’re still available to edit (I doubt it mightily, but I just didn’t have the time to do it properly until now), so if it gets published, it probably won’t be the way I wanted it. Again, this is a source of frustration–why couldn’t it have been sent earlier in the summer when time wasn’t at so much of a premium? I don’t know, but I do know that it came in at exactly the wrong time for me to give it my full attention, so I’ll just have to shrug and have it printed not like I wanted.

Still, there’s not a whole lot that could be done. If I’d done the edits on time, then I wouldn’t have completed my Annotated Bibliography (which earned an A, btw) or the Final Exam (haven’t gotten the grade back yet), so I have to prioritize. And if that ticks people off, well, then I’m sorry, but that’s simply the way my life works. I’m still working on the Work, School, Life Balance and maybe one day, I’ll get it figured out.

Well, I’d better wrap this up. I’ve been writing now for almost an hour and a half (this one is as long as 2 normal blog entries), but I thought I should explain my absence. To be honest, it will probably happen again sometime around Aug. 26th or so, but hopefully it won’t be as long this time.

Have a good day!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

12 Monkeys (Mini-Review) — Some spoilers

Bruce Willis with a bald head and a red light shining from one eye.
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12_Monkeys

So, I watched 12 Monkeys over the weekend (the movie, not the TV show–although I will take a look at it one of these days now that I’ve seen the movie). I will do a mini-review, but there will be some spoilers that I simply can’t avoid–you can’t talk about the movie without talking about it in terms of its ultimate narrative structure (which, once presented, is a “spoiler”). I will leave the major spoiler points to the end, so if you don’t want to be spoiled be sure not to read to the end of the post. Unfortunately, I can’t guard against a search engines picking up the words in the spoiler section, so you have been warned.

Party Like Its 1995

So, Twelve Monkeys is a movie that I’ve wanted to watch for a while. I’ve heard about it spoken in reverence in the sci-fi community as some sort of harbinger of where sci-fi was heading. And in some ways that was true–this is an older movie after all. However, this is one that never came to streaming and when it originally released, I remember it being just as DVD was hitting and the prices were fairly high.

Not What I Was Expecting

This movie wasn’t quite was I expecting. I was expecting a sci-fi neo-noir futuristic thriller/mystery about the finding of a plague. While there are elements of this in the movie, it isn’t the primary focus. This one has a “concept” (more below) that it adheres to and a narrative structure that was fairly unique (for the time). I have to say that, honestly, I was a little disappointed by it as there have been many, many imitators that I’ve seen over the years, and that has blunted my enjoyment of the movie, as well.

Spoiler Warning–The End

Okay, so this is your final warning, STOP READING NOW if you want to stay unspoiled on the movie.

—————————————————————————————————————

Okay, here goes: this is the movie that popularized a certain type of time travel story, “the bootstrap paradox” story. Okay, what is a bootstrap paradox–literally, it is a time travel story that is both self-fulfilling and has no antecedent. When we enter the story, the plague has already happened, and then we see the way the plague happens when we go back in time with the protagonists. However, the idea of the plague was brought back to the past and that’s how the it gets started (this is simplified). So the plague is started by going back into the past (don’t go back to the past, no plague–no antecedent) and as it plays out, it happens just as the protagonist “remembers” it (self-fulfilling). Why am I spoiling this movie to talk about the end? Because it set the stage for the multitude of “time travel” stories and “boot strap” stories that permeated the landscape for (at least) 10 years after this movie released. Now I understand why there were so many movies that featured this time travel arc. This movie is influential in the genre, that only “ended” with Bruce Willis in another time travel film, Looper. However, in between 12 Monkeys and Looper, there were a ton of time travel/psuedo time travel films released (you can find me talking about them in a post from a few years ago: https://sidneyblaylockjr.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/where-you-end-is-not-where-you-begin-time-travel-in-movies/

12 Monkeys is where all these movies got their ideas/start, so it is a “referential” movie in the field of science fiction (time travel films) and has influenced films for over a decade.

Overall Grade: C

I might have rated this higher had I seen it earlier. However, so many later movies that I watched “stole” (paid homage/or more kindly, thought they could do the idea even better) that much of the movie’s uniqueness had already been worn through. It also doesn’t help that I’d already read many of the concepts in Sci-Fi novels even before the movie originally released. Generally speaking, its Short-stories–>Novels/Graphic Novels–>Film in terms of progression for Sci-Fi ideas. Want to be on the cutting edge, read sci-fi mags and anthologies, want to see the idea propagated to a mass audience, wait for the film. This is one that, at its time, might have made more of an impression (as it did to the countless filmmakers of successive time travel stories, but now, if you seen any of the recent time stories of the last 10 years, Source Code, Deja Vu, etc., then you have a pretty good idea of where the story is headed.

ReRead: Star Wars X-Wing Rogue Squadron — Battleground Tatooine

X-Wing Fighter destroying a Tie Fighter over an alien world.
Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/Battleground-Tatooine-X-Wing-Rogue-Squadron/dp/156971276X

So, I reread Star Wars X-Wing Rogue Squadron (Rogue Squadron) over the weekend. I haven’t been reading much on my own except for school nights, but I thought I start to reread my collection once a week.

One of the Few Star Wars Graphic Novels I Own

Surprisingly enough, I don’t own that many Star Wars graphic novels (although I plan to increase that through used bookstore purchases) as graphic novels became a “thing” after I was already moving away from “comics” in general and moving more into “writing/creative writing.” It may have been a good thing since most of the Star Wars comics/novels/graphic novels have been “removed” from canon once Disney acquired the license. However, I still like to dip into the world and universe, even knowing that most of the work is no longer “relevant” to the Star Wars world.

Good Story (Even Without the Lightsabers)

I tend to be a “lightsabers” kind of guy, meaning that I really like the ligthtsaber combat in the films. However, I also like the space combat as well. I feel that the new films have focused more on space combat than lightsaber battles, but I’d still like to watch them. And that extends into the graphic novel realm as I enjoy reading about the adventures of Rogue Squadron which is what this graphic novel is about. The story was good–not great–but good, as was the artwork. Finally, I thought the inclusion of a hard to find second story at the end was a nice touch.

Overall Grade: B (85)

While it could have been more dynamic, I still enjoyed the setup and the resolution of the story. Its a fun, “popcorn” story and one that I enjoyed. I’ll definitely look for others in the series.

Sidney

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Fantasy vs Reality

Pictures of Batman and Spider-man, fantasy representations (artistic) vs real life representations: two men in suits climbing over a low white wall.
Image Source: http://themetapicture.com/fantasy-vs-reality/

While reading an article (“Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”) for an annotated bibliography that I have to turn in for class, the author Chris Hildrew references the theories of Doug Whitley who explains the differences between fantasist, realist, and anti-realist. These were fascinating to me and I want to take moment to explore them in context to my own life and works.

Fantasist

So, this one is easy — Hildrew says that this is where the world or elements in the world are presented as “extraordinary.” This is where I find the most enjoyment. Yes, there should be an element of realism to ground the work, but I like things that I cannot see/experience in real life. This is where I live, this is where I work, this is where I breathe. One of the first books that I remember reading and enjoying on my own is a book about a car with the fins and tail of a fish and it “swims” underwater. While I, unfortunately, cannot remember the title or author (if anyone knows please leave it in the comments–you can even leave it in the comments of an unrelated post if this is closed as I want to know it so badly). There are books that I enjoyed so much, such as The Girl with the Silver Eyes that are a part of this Fantasist idea.

Realist

This one is also easy as this is one where real life is recreated and nothing extraordinary happens. I feel that there is a reason that this is called “mundane” by J. K. Rowling, but many more people love this representation of reality than fantasy (which they associate with children)–unfortunately, it seems that many critics (movie or otherwise), live in this space and prefer the concept. It goes without saying that this is my least favorite of the representations that Hildrew talks about.

Anti-Realist

Finally, the Anti-Realist is a very interesting paradigm as they are interested in showing the artifice behind movies (for example), although this could be extended to illustrating the those who remove the artifice. The example used in the article was the showing of movie cameras and boom mics in order to illustrate that a movie is a made thing that is constructed by people. I find this mode to be fairly interesting because (generalization here) many Americans (especially the ones that I come in contact with) don’t like to know how something is made (especially if it is entertainment). However, rhetoric is all about breaking things down and figuring out how they work. Now, I’m not mechanically inclined, so I can’t break down physical things (outside of computers). However, I can break down writing and reading fairly well and I’m able to understand the purpose behind things that I read or see, so the Anti-Realist structure appeals to me.

Any, thanks for allowing me to talk about this concept as I found it interesting. Have a great day!

Sidney

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    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
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Robin Hood (2018) Mini Review (No Spoilers)

Robin Hood and Azeem stare out into the distance as arrows fall around them on cloudy black night with orange fire at their backs.
Image Source: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/film/blame-game-of-thrones-for-the-useless-new-robin-hood-movie-1.3705686

I hate to do negative reviews for movies. Yes, yes, I know there are lot of people, both in print and in video (YouTube and where ever else) who love to savage a movie (I assume because it shows how “elite” they are in film and their eruditeness), but I’m not one of them. I recognize that a film is the result of a lot of hard work by individuals coming together to collaborate on a creative endeavor. Robin Hood (2018), was one of those movies, however, that simply did not come together based on the quality of the writing and choices made by the director.

The Scripting “Steals” All the Fun

So, it looks like Robin Hood (2018) was trying to go for an anachronistic tale in the vein of A Knight’s Tale, starring the late Heath Ledger. Now, for as fondly as that film is received currently, there are still a lot of problems with it that I will discuss in the next section. For this section, the quality of writing of the script simply was not there (for me) and really worked against the story. Yes, the second major area that I’m studying while working on my PhD is film, but I will say this: I’m still learning about film (probably will be for the rest of my life, but that’s okay). I don’t know every film nor do I have ALL of the historical movements down (yet–though I’ve bought a book that should help–more on this in a future post). However, even I could see quite a few reference points for the script. Telling your audience that this “isn’t the Robin Hood you know” still doesn’t alleviate the need for you as a writer to craft a believable tale. Credibility went out the window when there’s a “machine gun” like ballista/crossbow that pins down Locksley’s “squad” at the beginning of the movie (well, honestly it was gone with the anachronistic “draft notice” that Locksley was sent within the first 5 minutes of the movie, but that’s just piling on). This beginning part has shades of any recent war movie that’s come out in the last few years. One review referenced The Hurt Locker, while I saw shades of Black Hawk Down as well. Once Robin is back and becomes “The Hood,” I saw (way too many) parallels with The Mask of Zorro (especially in terms of story construction) down to the concept of a “mine.” One of the “carriage chase scenes,” even seemed shot like the motorcycle chase scene from Skyfall. I looked up the writer, while there are two listed in for the screenplay, I chose the one who was also listed for the “story” as that one is the one who has usually come up with the story and “pitched” it to Hollywood (usually through an agent, but possibly himself or through some 3rd party). However, I could find very little for this writer online, so I”ll be very dubious should I see his name listed on a future film.

Anachronism “Robs” the Movie’s Realism

So, in addition to the poor screenwriting of Robin Hood (2018), the choice to lean into it through anachronism pretty much sealed its fate. Anachronism rarely works well except in a comedic sense, such as Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Since that movie is a comedy, we know we’re supposed to laugh when we see an anachronistic element. The problem with anachronism (especially in Robin Hood 2018) is it ignores realism and tries to be “relevant” and “edgy” by telling a contemporary story in a contemporary way with contemporary elements mixed in with historical elements. I would argue that the only reason it worked in A Knight’s Tale is that the technique hadn’t been used in so long outside of comedy and it had a fairly likable protagonist in Heath Ledger. Also, it’s source material wasn’t as obvious as it pulled a bit from The Canterbury Tales and it did not (pay “homage”) to scenes/plots from other movies. However, as I recall, the original reviews weren’t always great. Even now, the Rotten Tomatoes score for it is 58% (79% for audience) and that’s with time coming to “mellow out” some of the film’s detractors. Robin Hood (2018)’s Rotten Tomato score is (as of this writing) if 15% (41% for the audience). Simply put–if you’re going to be anachronistic–it would probably be better just to create a “contemporary” version of the story, however contrived. At least, this way you’d get to tell the “contemporary” story you wanted without all the “historical” bits getting in the way.

Overall Score: F (59 or below)

This is the first movie on the blog that I’ve ever given this score. The only other movie I would have scored this low (for strictly artistic reasons–and not for political reasons) would have been Happy Feet. “Political reasons” just means my own personal ethos in life–there are films that I don’t agree with in message, content, and whatnot, but I’m cognizant to realize that my ethos works for me and not for everyone else, so even though I didn’t enjoy the movie, I’m mature enough to see the “qualities” of those movies.) Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with Robin Hood (2018). I was taken out of the story from the very beginning and even the set pieces seemed derivative. Again, I hate to throw this movie “under the bus” as it were, as many people worked on it and the actors do a fine job. However, the script was simply too derivative and the anachronisms too pervasive for me to enjoy and get invested in the movie’s world or story.

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

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