April 26th, 2007


In which I am alleged to be a speculative fiction luminary

John Klima sent around the Booklist review of Logorrhea Powell's | Amazon ] to his contributors, including your humble narrator. I was tickled by this line:

Librarian and sf zine editor Klima has corraled 21 authors, speculative-fiction luminaries ranging from Liz Williams and Michael Moorcock to Elizabeth Hand and Jay Lake.

If nothing else, I'm keeping good company. I'll link to the whole review when I can find it posted publically.

[writing] Writers live inside-out their heads

matociquala talks about changing the pace of her career, and to a meaningful degree, her life. As she says:

It's interesting to wake up and discover you've stopped being superhuman.

There's this thing that happens when you become a pro. You separate into two people -- the one who's visible to the writing world, and the one who gets up in the morning with bedhead and morning breath. That's true in any public role, politicians, actors, what have you, but unlike most of those careers, many of the qualities that make one a good writer often fail to coincide with the optimum qualities for a public person.

We live inside our heads, and those of us who perform live, in public (as matociquala and I both do) also live inside your heads -- our friends, readers, fans, and critics. People develop expectations, which translate back into the way we look at ourselves.

It becomes a career issue. What many writers, and most publishers, want is to create a franchise, something which will hook and keep readers. Think Wheel of Time or A Song of Fire and Ice. That's readership, income, and steady work. At the same time there's a desire, as matociquala says, not to write the same book over and over again.

Some writers do transcend that problem. Terry Pratchett, for example, has built a tremendous franchise with Discworld, while continuing to explore different avenues. Lois McMaster Bujold managed to write every Miles Vorkosigan book in a different style.

It's one of those things that sounds like complaining about winning the lottery. "Help, I'm published and I don't know what to do next!" One the things about this business is that the insecurities and the fears and the internal challenges never end -- like the problems themselves, they just get traded forward.

The cool thing is you can always write another story, draft another book, and keep going. The hard thing is that the world is watching. Once you hit the market and stick around a while, you've lost the comfortable invisibility.

[movies] Kiki's Delivery Service

the_child and I just watched Kiki's Delivery Service imdb ]. (This is the recent Disney dub, not sure if there was an earlier English dub.) She liked it quite a bit, though it didn't steal her heart like My Neighbor Totoro imdb ] did. I suppose I feel more or less the same way.

What I found interesting was the world-building. Not the explicit plot-driven stuff, but the visualization. The automobiles were 1930s/1940s. The trains were 1950s. The aircraft were 1920s/1930s, except for the Rutan-inspired human-powered ultralight, which was very late 20th century. The city seemed like something out of 1913, right before the First World War, if the Austro-Hungarians had been blessed with ports on the Côte d’Azur. There were television antennae on the houses, but the phones seemed much earlier. It was a nostalgic Ruritanian never-never land of cherry-picked technology, architecture and sociology, yet still recognizably anchored in our world.

All of that was utterly lost on the_child, I'm fairly certain. Sharp as she is, she doesn't have a sense of period yet. She was simply following the story. But for me, it stood in marked contrast to the very careful period setting of Totoro, or by the same token, the fabulist setting of Castle in the Sky imdb ], which made no pretense of correspondence to mundane experience. The mood of each movie, for me as an adult viewer, was heavily influenced by these stylistic choices.

I love that sort of thing in fiction, and I delight in seeing it done well in movies.