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Dear Internet,

I realize you are trying to lure me back, but I am not missing you. Much. Writing is good. Montana is delightful. Suck it, ‘tubes. I would say, “Try harder,” but I know you will, so let’s just agree to let me go for a few more days. kthxbye.

Search Strings

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Here’s a treat. Recent search queries that resulted in people visiting the Potemkin Mosaic (and I’ve taken out some of the un-interesting ones like “begins” and “dream”).

– black fluid coming from mouth of dying person (twice!)
– psychic anchors
– vicg-d azyr
– decode 415 251521 11141523
– knights head images
– oil painting of man s face in hand held mirror
– raven dove tattoo
– poison message spam
– historical background of suit and hat hanger stand
– knight to c3 opening
– goodbye nora
– mirror mirror on the wall bitch queen
– neal von flue
– i just cant break myself away. i can feel her on my skin i can taste her on my tongue
– phantom veil fabrics
– turn the taps on and blood comes out dream
– the symbolism of a chicken
– king’s pawn gambit
– antique norse sailors
– spirtual armor
– extra tall slim storm lanterns
– how many years of school to be a oneirologist
– safiq al-kahir
– sensory deprivation study
– hand been bitten off in a dream

* – “neal von flue” – It’s nice to see that folk are looking for his art. Yeah for Neal.

* – “goodbye nora” – What prompts someone to plug that in to a search engine?

* – “safiq al-kahir” – Since I invented this guy, I wonder why it crops up in the search engine as if someone didn’t know where to find it. If you know the name, one would think you’d know the source. Right?

* – “how many years of school to be a oneirologist” – I’d like to know the answer to that one too, and which school offers the degree.

* – “turn the taps on and blood comes out dream” & “hand been bitten off in a dream” – Boy, those who hit the Mosaic asking for help on their dream symbolism are in trouble. Sorry about that.

* – “decode 415 251521 11141523” – Sorry about this one too. I’m running a different replacement scheme.

And some of them are odd searches for things I don’t recall being in the Mosaic, but I know are showing up PSYCHOBABEL, which causes my brain to twist itself in an even tighter contortion trying to keep this all straight.

Watching the Watchmen

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So, Empire Online has a shot by shot breakdown of the Watchman teaser, which has a lot of direct matches to the Dave Gibbons’ art. And this really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Zach Snyder demonstrated with 300 that he gets the whole ‘comic book as storyboard’ approach, and at this point, offering anything less than a bunch of images that are iconic from the Watchman book would be just fueling the fanboy fire about how badly he’s going to fuck it up.

Firstly, let me just say that, as a string of images go, the teaser is a very nice bit of eyecandy. It’s captivating, confusing, filled with lots of motion (and people getting kicked), and says, “I am two hours of eyeball porn.” It does the job of bringing interest to the project for those who know nothing about it, and on that front: aces, Mr. Snyder. You have done well.

However, I can’t quite figure out how he’s going to do any better than “The Alan Moore Film That Sucked the Least.” Granted, the bar isn’t all that high, but the Watchmen has been such a fevered part of the comic reader’s landscape for a generation (really, twenty plus years now), that any attempt to do anything other than transform every panel into a moving picture is going to piss someone off. Even Nolan’s re-imaging of Batman has taken two movies so far, and they’ve barely gotten into what makes Batman the viligante that he is. How does Snynder think he is going to beat the ire of the foaming fanbase?

The film is going to be an adaptation. It can’t be anything else, or it will be a mess as it tries to cram all of its substance into anything less than three hours (and, really, for all of Snyder’s presumed pull with the studio, do you think they’re going to let him turn in something longer than three hours?). He’s already said the Black Freighter is out, and that’s a given. That’d be the first thing I’d cut too.

[William Goldman once said, when asked about trying to translate Stephen King to the screen, that you have to be willing to cut everything but the tone and the intent, otherwise you’ll never fit it all in; he was talking about Misery, and no one bitches much about the edits on that one. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire cut, what? three chapters from the beginning and ditched all the Quidditch stuff, and no one noticed, because the story was still there on the screen.]

I guess my interest in the Watchmen film isn’t that it is going to be a faithful recreation of the book, but that it is going to be an interesting interpretation. When you look at Kubrick’s Lolita or Lyne’s version, you don’t watch them for how well they cleave to the book, but how much insight the director’s vision gives you into the material, how much you learn about your own understanding of the book by seeing someone else’s interpretation. I don’t care much for Cormac McCarthy’s style, but No Country For Old Men is a book I know backwards and forwards because the Coen Brothers’ version offered so many points to discuss about artistic choices.

This is wishful thinking, I know, but maybe we could look upon Snyder’s version of the Watchmen as that sort of opportunity: a place from which to discuss how choices and interpretations transform artistic expression, and how our reactions reveal our intent and our identities.

Quote of the Day

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Michael Moorcock: “It does us no harm to escape from time to time but it can be dangerous to confuse simplified fiction with reality and that, of course, is what propaganda does.”

The essay, “Starship Stormtroopers,” was written in 1978, and when I look at the news-tickers these days, I can’t help but think that this is applicable to much more than genre fiction now.

Unplugging

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I’ve lost my sense of Zen. Too much Internet noise and the like, I think. I’m going offline for some time. This is a locked post as it is really no one’s business but mine and the family’s, but as some of you might wonder about my lack of hyper-availability over the next space of time, this’ll be why.

I’ll show up to talk about Lightbreaker, naturally, as the publicity machine never sleeps. 🙂

Later, y’all; enjoy your summers.

Jack O’Connell is my hero

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Jack O’Connell, whose Word Made Flesh is one of my favorite books from the last decade, is sitting in over at Jeff Vandermeer’s site this week. His opening salvo is about his “baptism” into the Fever of The Word. It is something infectious, mind you, and it makes me want to either (a) invent a time machine so that I can go back to that same time of my youth and re-experience some of those initiatory moments into the glory of language, or (b) drag my son to the bookstore and make him pick out a book. “That one, damnit! You’ll read that one. Tonight, and you will learn to love it!” Which is a terribly draconian way to try to re-invent a moment of time that has passed, and probably not a very effective method.

I think I’ll default to (c) and go home and find The Resurrectionist from wherever it has disappeared in my office. Less quantum math in that choice.

[For those unfamiliar with Jack, Ellen Datlow put together a rundown on his novels that is a good primer. And, ah, yeah, I never read The Skin Palace. Huh, well I guess I’d better sort that out.]

The Rolling Five Question E. Sedia Interview

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Ekaterina Sedia has a new book coming out, The Alchemy of Stone. In an effort to spread the word about it, she embarked on a crazy, globe-spanning circuit of blogs and websites, stopping long enough to answer five questions before darting off to the next one. It is sort of like speed dating, or being assaulted by a hummingbird, or a literary scavenger hunt. For a brief moment, she is here, and here are the five questions she answered for me.

(Previous Q & A’s can be found at Matt Staggs’ Enter the Octopus, Paul Jessup’s House of Wind-up Toys, and Jonathan Woods’ Blood-Tinged Eyeball of Doom.)

1) When talking about the soundtrack for The Alchemy of Stone, you mention a predilection for songs about “horrible love or decay.” Is decay and/or disrepair an integral part of the steampunk/clockpunk atmosphere? (Or, if you’d like to dodge being pigeon-holed in that “genre,” consider the question against your invented world.)

Well, decay is inevitable consequence of artifice, technology, and mechanical development — only living things are self-maintaining, and the problem with many of the technology-oriented movements is the failure to anticipate the inevitable breakdown. It’s not even the seeds of its own destruction, it is nothing but destruction.

2) Is the alchemy (either your invented one or the historical model) a means of repair? And if so, how does the Emerald Tablet’s homeopathic maxim: “As Above, So Below” inform your novel? (Or not, as the case may be.)

Ah, dear Hermes Trismegistus. As it happens, the maxim is not explicit in The The Alchemy of Stone, although there’s a certain theme of things being reflected in each other — for example, the death of gargoyles is mirrorred in the destruction of the city which is mirrorred in the destruction of automatons etc etc. However, the book I am currently working on explicitly talks about microcosm and macrocosms and eggs and aludels . . . and I probably stopped making sense to anyone who is not interested in Alchemy, so I’ll take the next question now.

3) How do these metaphors/historical references contrast with your own creative process? You mentioned earlier that some books require more prior plotting. Is this a detailed process (scene by scene), or is it one that grows from an aggregation of distinct elements?

I’m certainly a lot less systematic than the alchemists of old. I don’t do scene by scene plotting, but I tend to think in terms of pivotal scenes — places where different threads need to come together, where important revelations occur, stuff like that. Once I know where those are, I can write toward them. With some other books, I have a general shape in my mind, maybe a page worth of plot, but not much else.

4) What sparks a creative idea? A visual cue, an auditory one? How much of a spark do you need? Does it require time underneath the conscious layer to fully gestate?

It depends. Visual or verbal more likely than auditory. Sometimes, purely intellectual. I usually need some time to let the idea gestate, but some come more readily than others. The House of Discarded Dreams, for example, took forever to acquire its current shape.

5) What’s your favorite bit from The Alchemy of Stone that got cut?

A funeral scene. I’ll say no more.

(Next stop: Mary Robinette Kowal)

Lightbreaker: The Soundtrack (transcript)

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Julie K. Rose has posted the full transcript of the interview about the Lightbreaker soundtrack. The podcast from last week is meant to give you a taste of the tunes, and in the full text, I go on (for a bit) about the actual pieces.

I am, after all, about to geek out on a bunch of songs no one has heard in reference to a book no one has read, and I’m going to try to do so without offering spoilers. Yeah, good luck with that, I know.

It’s just shy of *cough* 3000 *cough* words of me trying to not give spoilers. It’s like going to the zoo and watching the monkey dance to a song only he can hear. Endlessly fascinating. Tell your friends!