Thursday, May 31, 2012

Current Reading

Since I blogged about something that I read recently, I thought that I might blog about what I'm planning to read in the near future.  So, here we go.

  • A Clash of Kings - I've been wanting to start into A Song of Ice and Fire for a while now.  Now that I've read A Game of Thrones, I want to see what happens next.  This will also help give me a better buffer against spoilers, which only really became an issue with that HBO series; I don't know whether it will press into the territory of the later books, but I'd rather be safe about it.  
  • A Princess of Mars - This is mostly because I've recently acquired an interest in the planetary romance genre.  Most references to that genre seem to relate the Barsoom series as among its defining works, so I thought that I'd give it a whirl.  
  • Dune - I saw this classified as planetary romance, as well, and I've been meaning to read it for a long time, anyway.  
  • a collection of brothers Grimm fairy tales - At one point, I picked up three books of fairy tales.  I've finished two of them, but I still need to read this one.  Of course, original fairy tales from the brothers Grimm are also of interest to me, anyway.  
  • the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft - This has been on my long-term to-read list for quite a while.  Discovering The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast gave me a new motivation, and also an order (chronologically by date written), though I've fallen behind.  
There are a great many things that I mean to read that did not make this list, of course.  Off the top of my head, there's The Colour of Magic, a Calvin & Hobbes collection that I picked up, Sandman, the first few Wheel of Time books, re-reads of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and those are just books that I own.  These, though, are my short-term items.

Regarding A Game of Thrones

WARNING:  The following post contains spoilers for the novel A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin.

The spoilers leaking out of people due to the popular HBO series A Game of Thrones bumped the novel up on my reading list.  I finished it recently, so I thought that I'd share some thoughts on it.
Overall, I liked it.  The perspective characters were used effectively.  The story also seemed to effectively convey a world in which magic once existed, but now was all but gone, at least in the main area.  I was actually a bit relieved when the corpses found north of the wall turned out to be revenants, since I was starting to worry that there wouldn't be any actual magic involved.
I suffered some disappointment near the end, though.  For one, when Drogo learned of the king's orders to assassinate Daenerys, and committed himself to taking his khalasar across the sea, I was like thinking, "Alright, this is going to happen."  But then, it didn't.  Also, when Dany's child wound up being stillborn, it of course raised questions about the nature of prophecy in the world, but I think that I was even more disappointed when I read the description of it, which included scales and everything.  We could have had some kind of draconic dude in this story and we didn't?!
Well, at least the dragons hatched by the end.  Those eggs were such a tease.
It sounds like I'm complaining but I think that that's because it's easier to specify what disappointed me (not necessarily "disliked") than it is to specify what I actually liked.
That said, don't get me started on how crappy Mirri Maz Duur's plan was.

P.S.:  Are all of the books going to include the title (maybe minus the leading article) in the dialogue?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How to Make a Justice League Film

So, DC has been having some issues lately, among which are problems with their attempts at getting in on the whole live-action theatrically-released superhero film thing.  The latest word is that there won't be a Justice League film.  Still, if DC wants to make a Justice League film, then here are some thoughts about that:
Firstly, DC will need to pick one of two directions.  They can either make serious films or make silly ones.  (It would be too difficult to copy the balance of seriousness, action, and humor that Marvel has without appearing to outright copy Marvel.)  Based on the success of Nolan's Batman trilogy, it seems like that could be a good route to take, so I'll pursue that with this train of thought.
Who exactly is in the Justice League will depend on a few things.  You'll want heroes who are recognizable, and cool, but also who aren't too far out of scale with one another.  Superman is obviously a must-have in a DC property, so that sets the bar pretty high as far as power level goes.  Green Lantern has the right power level for that, but it would have to be Hal Jordan, and that would likely require a reboot if we're to take him sufficiently seriously.
Here's a short list for consideration:

  • Recent iterations of Aquaman are actually cool and he's pretty badass; in addition to his own (admittedly limited on this scale) powers, he's the king of Atlantis, and thus commands an entire submarine navy whose technology appears to at least match that of the surface-dwellers.  The main risk with using him is that older people will remember him from his presence on Super Friends.  
  • J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, is actually a prime target for a film adaptation these days.  Between CGI and motion capture, a greenish-skinned shapeshifter could be done without breaking suspension of disbelief.  
  • Batman is a problem.  He's definitely cool, but it's hard to scale him up without disturbing the coveted suspension of disbelief.  It might be necessary to leave him in Gotham for this.  
  • Captain Marvel is a problem, but for different reasons.  Aside from the whole name thing, he's basically a magical counterpart to Superman as far as powers are concerned.  Being a match for Superman is one thing, but actually matching him for most of his powers (strength, speed, toughness) is another matter.  
  • Captain Atom could use some screen time.  He'll be especially stand-out if DC doesn't give Superman heat-vision.  Go nuts on the bloom.  
  • Wonder Woman could fit if DC could figure out how to dress her.  But, hey, it's not like we actually know what the ancient Greeks wore into battle or anything.  (Pro tip:  Say the phrase "ancient Greek lasso" out loud.)  
  • The Flash could work if DC ensures that he's faster than Superman.  
  • If audiences are OK with someone who's expressly a magic-user, then DC could do a lot worse than Dr. Fate.  

If DC goes the sillier route, then here's a short list for that:

  • Hal Jordan Green Lantern, as-is
  • Wally West Flash
  • Aquaman (silver age style)
  • ... Wonder Twins?  I don't know, just grab a handful of supers and be done with it.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sudden Short Story 31

"... The thing that seems to stand out the most in your portfolio is the matter of your private library."
"Well, I have a private library, but I have a great many private expenditures for my own benefit that aren't profitable in and of themselves.  I assume that you're referring to my public library."
"What do you mean when you say 'public'?"
"I mean just what it sounds like I mean.  The library is open for anyone and everyone to use at no cost.  Most of the books can be checked out, at no cost, so long as one has a library card, which also has no cost.  It's a public library, and, as I understand it, the last one in existence."
"But... aside from your staff, who are paid to do so, nobody ever enters or leaves the building except for you."
"Well, that's probably why it stands out on my portfolio.  Not only is it the least profitable of my ventures, but it actually loses money.  The staff - librarians, cleaning crew, maintenance - aren't working for free, you know."
"Well, from how you explain it, it wouldn't matter if you had a thousand people checking out a thousand books a day for a thousand years, it would still lose money."
"That's correct."
"But, for all your market genius, for all your ingenuity, why haven't you figured out a way to monetize it?"
"Because... It's a library."
"I'm afraid that I don't understand."
"Nor does anyone else, it seems, and that, I find, is the saddest thing these days."