Showing posts with label John Scalzi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Scalzi. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Best in Fantasy Fiction -- A Reading from "The Shadow War of the Night Dragons"

Many of the best works of Science Fiction and Fantasy are meant to be read aloud.  Ursula Le Guin describes the power of prose meant to be written aloud in her description of Tolkien's narrative prose in The Lord of the Rings in her essay "Rhythmic Pattern in The Lord of the Rings."  The essay was published in the book Meditations on Middle-Earth: New Writing on the Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien, and like the book she is describing, the essay is a joy to read.  She describes such works as follows:

The narrative prose of such novelists is like poetry in that it wants the living voice to speak it, to find its full beauty and power, its subtle music, its rhythmic vitality.
It's a wonderful description, and it captures Tolkien's work perfectly.  There are places in The Lord of the Rings where my "silent reader mind" recoils from the page, but when the passages are given voice they come to life.

Some fiction was just meant to be read aloud...and that includes John Scalzi's Hugo Nominated masterwork The Shadow War of the Night Dragons Book One: The Dead City.  Like most works of sublime Fantasy, Scalzi's true genius is revealed by the voice of the reader -- in this case Mark of  As Mark reads the pages, the reader is given the pleasure of seeing how masterfully Scalzi combined Shakespeare's opening of Hamlet with one of the most endearing story openings of all time -- second only to Once Upon a Time in its familiarity to readers -- and wraps them in a stylistic bow of genius.

I dare you to watch this video and not be moved to tears.

Do you see what I mean?  What is striking about listening to this, as opposed to merely reading it as I have done before, is that it has affected the way that I read Patrick Rothfuss and Iain Banks.  Thanks to John Scalzi, the Culture Novels will never be the same again as they are surely sequels to Shadow War.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I Can Stop Pretending to Like Dollhouse

According to Variety, Tim Minear will be working on an updated version of the science fiction classic Alien Nation for Fox 21. The show is being developed for release on the Sci Fi network in what Fox 21 hopes will be another successful "franchise revival" from the Sci Fi network.

As was mentioned earlier on this blog, I am a fan of Tim Minear's. I'm so much of a fan that I have been lying about how much I like Dollhouse. I watched every episode, out of love for the creators, but I often found myself asking the television, "Really?!" Dollhouse just never seemed to figure out what its core conflict was and never really convinced me why I should sympathize with the corporation behind the Dollhouse.

I firmly believe that Minear is the right creator for an update of Alien Nation. In the Variety article Minear states, "Twenty years (after 'Alien Nation'), TV as a whole has evolved, and you can explore issues and go deeper with subject matter than you ever could before. On cable, you can play with ambiguity. This is a place I want to be."

If I were one who believed in omens, I would certainly say that cable -- in particular Sci Fi -- is a place that Minear belongs. Minear's shows have a long history of being aired on Friday nights where they wither and die under the curse of the Friday Night Death Slot. Unlike other networks, most of Sci Fi's most successful shows air on Friday nights and this may well include Minear's reinterpretation of Alien Nation.

Sci Fi may be crazy for attempting to change their name to Syfy, but between hiring John Scalzi to work on the next Stargate show and having a show for their network being developed by Minear, the network is well on its way to once more becoming a Sci Fi network instead of a "Ghost Hunters" network.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Imaginary Conversations with Agent: John Scalzi and His Agent Discuss OLD MAN'S WAR Film Deal

Way back on December 11, science fiction author extraordinaire John Scalzi jokingly wrote -- in his AMC column -- that he "actually instructed my film agent to demand I get an extra $2 million if [Paul W.S. Anderson] attached to direct a movie based on one of my books." I found the statement amusing and commented yesterday that if the Haitian from Heroes actually existed, and could remove certain films from Paul W.S. Anderson's mind, I thought he would actually be a good director for Old Man's War and it's sequels.

As an aside, I personally find it awesome that Scalzi is essentially AMC's modern SF Joe Bob Briggs. That's pretty prestigious company to be in compadre.

In the past, I've written a couple of imaginary conversations like this Elektra review or this imaginary exchange at the Los Angeles Farmer's Market. I think that they are fun, and would like to do them more often. In fact, I'm going to try -- on a semi-regular basis -- to write imaginary conversation between entertainment figures and their agents. We'll see if you find them as fun as I do.

Combining the pleasure I get from writing imaginary conversations with the sinister thoughts that entered my mind after reading Scalzi's comments about Anderson, I submit to you the following.


It's a wintery day in the countryside outside Dayton, OH. JOHN SCALZI sits in the window of his writing room looking out at the snow covered landscape. A deer meanders through the landscape. JOHN SCALZI smiles and looks down at YELLOW DOG who is sleeping at his feet.

The phone rings.



John! I have great news! We've optioned OLD MAN'S WAR and it has been fast tracked into production by New Line Cinema.


Really?! That's amazing news. What does the contract look like?


They're offering $2.175 million up front with 2% of net profit.


Net?! That means I'll earn 2% of nothing. Even YELLOW DOG knows that.


YELLOW DOG doesn't even know what town he's in, but that's why I counter offered with 2% of gross, script oversight, and rewrite authority. They caved...but...




Well...the reason they offered the $2.175 million is that I have had to activate your Paul W.S. Anderson clause.


The Haitian really exists?


No, but that's why there is a $2 million in front of the $175 thousand.






Yes. Now I can fulfill every genre writer's dream?




There are certain genre giants, I call them "THE GREATS," who have all shared one thing in common...


Yawn...I think I hear my other line ringing.


They have all owned vast tracks of land with inspiring names like Goldeneye, Tarzana Ranch, Skywalker Ranch. At last! Mwah ha ha! Heinlandia shall be built!


Heinlandia sounds too much like Scandia. I could never sell any of your IP, if you lived in Heinlandia. How about Steinland?

Or Hayden Place?


Huh?! What are you doing on this call?


I am always patched into the lines of writers I edit. Helps me make sure they are hard at work and not watching deer meander through pastures when they should be writing. I could never edit a writer who lived in Heinlandia, it just sounds silly. How about naming your tract after your hard working and dedicated editor?


Bah! Dammit! Fine. I'll name it Valentine Ranch. If you can't figure out why, you aren't worthy to be an SF editor or my agent.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

John Scalzi on Worst SF Film of Past 12 Months

Over at the AMCtv website, SF author extraordinaire John Scalzi gives his opinion regarding the worst SF film of the past 12 months. His choice of AVP: Requiem is what some might call a "gimme," but Scalzi's analysis of the film is full of the insight and humor that Scalzi fans know and love.

Two of his comments stuck in my minds eye as particularly noteworthy. The first is his statement, "there's bad, from which campy enjoyment can still be wrung (see: Speed Racer), and there's joyless, depressing bad, which this movie oozes." Never mind that I actually believe that Speed Racer is not merely entertaining, but also good. Leave that aside and the sentence manages to convey just how awful Scalzi found AVP:Requiem to be. He "shows rather than tells" as our English professors continually pounded into our heads. The thought of joyless and depressing ooze has a nice Lovecraftian feel to it. It's almost as if Scalzi is saying that the act of watching AVP:Requiem can provide viewers with full knowledge of true cosmic horror. Good meaty stuff this.

The second striking comment, more a set of comments, was "Paul W.S. Anderson, [is] a director of such general hackery that I've actually instructed my film agent to demand I get an extra $2 million if he's attached to direct a movie based on one of my books." Now I would love for Scalzi to receive an extra $2 million for having any of his books made into films. I don't need there to be a reason except for Scalzi's authorship. But it strikes me that he's being slightly unfair to Paul W.S. Anderson's actual ability to make an entertaining film.

Before you jump through the screen and choke me to death, let me assure you that I am not some kind of Anderson fanatic. Cinerati didn't exactly fawn over Deathrace, though we did find it entertaining. I just think that the director of Event Horizon and Soldier might be a good fit for The Ghost Brigades. We just have to bring the Haitian from Heroes in to remove things like AVP, Mortal Kombat, and the various Resident Evil films from Anderson's mind before production begins.