So, I’ve finally worked out the schism and problem.
There are two types of zombie literature: first-world and second-world. One works and the other really doesn’t. The term ‘first-world’ means ‘set in our real world’. And ‘second-world’ means ‘set in its own made up world’. Instinctively, which do you suspect is best? Well, for my money, here’s how it is…
First-world zombie literature sees the zombie explained as plague or epidemic. It works as a metaphor for ebola or radicalisation. You might think it explores the problems of today’s world in an interesting way. But it doesn’t really, to be honest. In first-world zombie literature the same jeopardy is repeated over and over. Pretty boring. The zombies are mindless. They have no variety. There is no uber-zombie. Yes, there might be a search for ‘patient zero’ (as in the World War Z movie), but it never provides an insightful revelation about our species. I got series 1-4 of The Walking Dead for xmas. Wow, I had to work hard to get through it. Repetitive to the point of viewer-becomes-a-mindless-zombie-just-to-tolerate-it-anymore. The writers ran out of jokes in series 1, they had to think of inventive ways to kill zombies just to keep some sort of variety, blah, blah.
Now, your second-world zombie lit is another kettle of undead fish altogether. I’m not just saying this cos my book Necromancer’s Gambit kickstarted the new wave of zombie lit back in 2008 either. (Alright, I am a little bit.) The point in second-world zombie lit is that the focus is usually the necromancer. The necromancer is a magician with an ‘intelligent’ aim. They often serve a God of the Dead too, so there’s a larger philosophical framework. Larger existential questions (the meaning of life and death) are implicitly explored too. And even the zombies can be smarter – they can be thinking revenants. So there can be more malice and humour.
And there you have it. Second-world zombie lit rules. Forget your survivalist gun-lobbry first-world nonsense. You might wonder where the Resident Evil movies sit then. Well, the Red Queen serves as organising intellect and the world is soooo post-apocalypse that it’s effectively unrecognisable from our own. Resident Evil is therefore second-world, or so I’d argue. Or it’s a hybrid. A third way. I like it anyway. See you in the next world!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 39,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Click here to see the complete report.
So, Walking Dead series 1&2. Not convinced, but I shall shamble onwards with it. Even so, it means that the Dalton award for the best new series of last year goes to… Wayward Pines. Scream, wail, gnash and moan all you want. There is no appeal process and no recounting of the votes. Wayward Pines.
As for this year, Mr Robot and Jessica Jones are veeery strong contenders. The Man in the High Castle lost its way a bit, sadly. The score on Rotten Tomatoes is too high. Yes, it is.
I have now written 25K of the novella. Should be done by end of Jan. And with two publishers lined up, could/should be published in 2016, all being well. There will also be a follow-up to The Book of Orm in 2016… as long as the publisher can stick to the schedule.
Beyond that, there may a few surprises in store. Then again, there might not be. I’m fairly sure I’ve got Nadine good presents for her birthday. If in doubt, I’ll just distract her with more steak.
(Vague spoilers) So, just seen Star Wars The Force Awakens (and doesn’t quite roll over and go back to sleep again). It was thoroughly entertaining and had relentless tempo. The characters are well-drawn, albeit reboots of characters who are already very familiar – indeed, there is a strong theme concerning the ‘eternal battle’ of good v evil, and a sense of the same story repeating over and over. And the ‘lifted’ plot may be a concern for some (older) viewers.
That being said, there are modern twists (around relationships and gender roles) on the old story. The lead character is female and doesn’t need saving by males. The heterosexual incipient romance is neatly side-stepped. And the midichlorians are expunged from Star Wars canon – we are back to the force being a religious thingymabob that can’t quite be defined – this move is hugely important as it removes the privileged bloodline narrative that seemed only racist in the second of the trilogies Lucas made.
So, overall then, this is a decent film for fans and new fans. But it is not a world-changing movie. Did I expect more? Always. Was it fair of me to expect more? Probably not. Will I see the next one? Assuredly. Score from me: 8 out of 10. May the force be with you!
Saw the movie ‘Carol’ last night. Top-notch film-making, and Cate Blanchett is sure to get an Oscar for her title role. It’s the story of a married woman (with a child) falling in love with a shop-girl. We then see how they both suffer socially for their relationship. It’s a period piece set in 1950s America (or around then) and done beautifully. Warning: this film is quite distinct from the classic book upon which it’s based. 9 out of 10 from me.
Just heard that the UK wastes more food than any other European country. 15 MILLION tonnes a year. Strikes me as too much. Supermarkets are the main offenders, of course.
Shut up, Dalton. Tell us about your writing! Alright, alright. I’m all but halfway with my new novella. Should be done by end of Jan 2016, I reckon. And off to London to see a publisher this week – they seem interested in taking on Lifer, which would be cool. Finally, I’ll be putting out another short story collection with Kristell Ink next year. So plenty busy… and then I’m doing my PhD too, and getting married. Sold my house. All change!
Steve Jobs is an extremely well written film – as you would expect of Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, Social Network, etc). The dramatic intensity never lets up, and there’s a proper beginning, middle and end. It runs over two hours, but you really don’t notice – and want it to carry on. In fact, it’s masterfully done, organised around three acts and a set of themes and motifs that shift their relative importance with each act (the Walkman, the need to start product launches on time, the importance of image, being an adopted child, the position of friends, etc).
Michael Fassbender plays the eponymous Mr Jobs and does a fine job – mixing wide-eyed genius with cynical businessperson. It’s a delicate balance that would elude many an actor. Kate Winslett (as the long-suffering assistant to Jobs) is just as mesmerising and easily matches Fassbender. Finally, Seth Rogen plays Steve Wozniak magnificently, representing the hippy, open-system approach/philosophy to computing that was so at odds with Jobs’s closed system obsession.
So, this is a movie for geeks, people fascinated by the nature of genius, business-minded people and people who love a well-told human drama. Trust me: there aren’t gonna be many better films this year (and I say that with Star Wars in the offing!). It’s an 8.5 out of 10 from me.
Well, the panel I was on, ‘Religion in fantasy’, was the best attended of the three days. A bigger audience than for the interview of the guest of honour the day before. My panel was scheduled for 10am on the Sunday, when any right-minded audience should have been in church. LOL. But here’s the thing – religion had been the elephant in the room for the whole event. The panel was the ‘elephant-panel’ really. And it was a great discussion, with such luminaries as Juliet E McKenna and John Connolly, to boot.
More important than all that, though, was I got myself a couple of small book deals for next year. Phew. Cos I was wondering where the next ISBN would come from. So I’m working on a follow-up collection to The Book of Orm and a rather splendid novella (yes, I do say so myself). The Orm follow-up may feature some big-name authors, but that’s still in discussion. And then I’m meeting Canelo Publishing in London soon – Lifer might yet see the light of day!