Why I Hate George Lucas

Over this past weekend, for some reason, Spike TV was on constantly in my apartment. They were airing the entire Star Wars saga over and over again in a continuous loop. I’d head out for errands and come back to watch Luke get de-handed. After a late dinner I watched some Jar Jar. On Sunday I watched the finale of the original while texting with a friend.

It was during this text conversation that we realized that all of the movies would be trotted out, once again, starting this spring…only now in 3-D!

My friend had one thing to say: “I hate George Lucas.”

I agreed.

But over the past few days I’ve come to realize what a strong phrase that is, “I hate George Lucas,” and I began to wonder why a guy obsessed with puppets and magic could bring such strong emotion out of me. Oh, I know there are plenty of reason to hate the prequels (ChefElf covers those far better than I ever could). I have long since downgraded all of them to “Crap.”

But it wasn’t the prequels my friend and I were watching when our issuance of hatred arose. It was the originals. The new originals. The ones packed full of just utterly absurd changes that serve no purpose. In A New Hope we get to see Jabba! Hooray! And he’s presented in a way that makes absolutely no sense and as if fucking up his physical appearance wasn’t enough, we now get a scene where Han Solo steps on the tail of the most feared crime leader in the system and nobody cares. It’s played for laughs in fact. Ha. Ha.

In Empire, R2 gets eaten by a swamp monster and spat back out. Luke, in the original, wipes mud off of R2 and says: “You’re lucky you don’t taste very good.” Now, through the magic of editing, he says: “You were lucky to get out of there.” Awesome!

And this goes on. And on. And on. It’s like a madman is at the wheel of my childhood, and instead of passing by all my favorite memories he’s randomly making right-hand turns to see things no one cares about and tell fart jokes.

And yet still, I’m not sure that’s where my hate comes from, though mucking about in my childhood memories is not a good thing, to be sure.

No. I think I hate George Lucas because the prequels manage to make THE ENTIRE FIRST THREE MOVIES MAKE NO SENSE. Obie-Wan ages forty years in the time it takes Luke to grow into a teenager. Chewbacca, who fought at Yoda’s side during the Clone Wars (apparently), never once pipes up with the slightest bit of information. Vader doesn’t bother to look for his children or old master in his hometown. Oh, and also, nobody remembers or cares or believes in the Jedi, who less than twenty years ago were a major part of the Imperial whatever the hell it was called.

And I know, these things are somehow explained in the books. I get told that a lot.

But I don’t care about the books. People are constantly plugging up plot holes using a jury-rigged explanation from material that doesn’t exist in the movies. I get angry when fans defend the existence of cities that make zero sense by conjuring up some bizarre native cultural belief that is not addressed in the films. Or how I get assured that scenes of complete nonsense are actually perfectly explainable if I know the back-stories of the characters that got made up to explain the nonsensical scenes in question. In short, I get angry when anything outside of the movies needs to be brought in to explain the movies.

Because that is crap.

Pure and utter crap. You don’t get to have legions of fans and gh0st writers scramble to cover up the mistakes you were too lazy or too blind to see, Mister Lucas. You are not a writer, if you do so. You are not a creator. You are not giving anything to your art and you are not respecting your craft.

And that is why I hate you.

Look. Here. These are some notes I wrote trying to piece together one set of scenes for Persistent Illusions (warning: there might be spoilers in here assuming you can read my handwriting):

Notes from Persistent Illusions

That’s a sequence of maybe four scenes. I wanted to make sure that my time-lines made sense. I wanted to make sure, since my characters are all over the world, that I had sunrises and sunsets occurring at the right time in the right places. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t accidentally skip too far ahead or give a character knowledge they couldn’t possibly have. I wanted to make sure that emotional responses had time to build, that fights had back stories, that breakdowns had build-ups.

I wanted to put together the best possible product I could for my readers.

I’m sure I made mistakes. And I know I fudged some things. Artists do that. But I thought long and hard about everything I fudged, everything I did that pushed the unspoken agreement between me and my readers that I’m going to be a good guide for them. And I tried as hard as I could to dim those down and I tried my damnedest to eliminate all my mistakes.

I’m not sure when George Lucas stopped caring, or if he ever did. Maybe he just got lucky in the originals. But I know that the minute you stop caring, the second you shrug and give no thought to putting your name on something you haven’t sweat for, that’s when you stop being an artist.

And to do that with your biggest project? To do that and manage to ruin your previous projects in the same motion?

No.

Just no.

I’ll never join you, Lucas.

Never.

Progress in Self-Publishing? Maybe…

Progress in Self-Publishing

I think I spotted a ray of hope for self-publishers this morning.

A lot of days I sit at my computer doing nothing more than trying to get people to pay attention to me. And not in a fun, “Look at me I’m wearing a lampshade on my head!” sort of way. In a repetative, mindless, grind known as cold-emailing.

I have numerous Google Alerts set up for terms that have something to do with my books: “Urban Fantasy,” “Independent Reviewers,” “Genre Tweaking Novels Where a Ronin Saves a Roman Slave From Being Burned to Death by Isaac Newton.”

Surprisingly that last one doesn’t prompt a lot of responses.

What I do get a lot of, though, are blogs and sites which review books or interview authors. And I sit here and send off email after email asking for reviews or an interview or a write-up. And then nothing happens.

It’s awesome. Really. Tons of fun.

This seemed like a great idea to me when I started, and it still seems like a necessary panning for gold sort of task, but very quickly the sites I was coming across began to fall into three categories.

They were either:

1. Tiny blogs with few readers who were happy to promote any book that anyone emailed to them.

2. Gibberish spewed by lunatics and organized by a somewhat artistically inclined orangutan.

3. A large, well-established blog that would take review requests but *would never review self-published titles.*

This last category always killed me. I mean, I know why they don’t review self-published books. Self-published books suck for the most part. I stand proudly in a class of authors that could be out-written by a somewhat artistically inclined orangutan if he wasn’t so swamped with requests to design new websites.

Except…except there are also authors like me. Authors who are self-published by choice. Authors who have a growing base of loyal fans because we take our work seriously, know what we’re doing, and are simply a natural offshoot of a massively flooded book market. Some of us with talent were bound to try out this self-publishing thing.

But the fact that this choice automatically shuts me out from some of the larger reviewing blogs is irritating and I always think that it would be nice if there were some caveats to their review requirements. Go read my reviews on Amazon; those are real and barely any are from people I know. But no amount of stars, no number of quotes, nothing gets past that wall of *we do not review self-published titles.*

And that’s not good for anyone. These rules have to change because more and more of us authors are trying end-arounds behind traditional publishers and, while much of the resulting pile will likely remain crap, some of that pile is going to be quality work published in a manner that will be commonplace in a decade.

So, basically the world needs to change in order to make me right. No problem.

But then, this morning, DUN DUN DUNNNN…I came across this site:

The Book Pushers

Their review policy reads as follows: “Previously we had a policy of not reviewing any self published books on the blog. This has now changed. We will be reviewing self published books, but we will only be reviewing copies that we have solicited or bought ourselves. This is due to the vast number of self published titles that are out there.”

So I still can’t technically approach them with my book, but they do review self-published novels!

Victory?

Not even close.

Hope?

Smells a bit like it, yes.

 

A Poem for NaNoWriMo

It’s November, which means it’s also National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo for short. During this time hundreds of thousands of wonderful lunatic take on the task of writing an entire novel in one month. I have never participated in this event…because it’s freaking nuts. But I do love to support all those taking on this challenge and pursuing their dreams. I usually write a little pep talk each year but this year I did something different. I wrote a poem, in the style of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.” Because that seemed like a good idea late last night.

Good luck to all you NaNoWriMo’s, this is for you:

Doubt
by
Joseph Devon

 

As you sit there never sleeping, at your keyboard often weeping,
Piling up your word count like a Herculean chore,
Late at night your face is scowling, while empty stomach it is growling,
You might sense something prowling, prowling at your cranium’s fore.
“My lack of sleep,” you’ll say, “is causing pain upon my cranium’s fore-
Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, what madness is November, every NaNoWri club member,
Lumbering like zombies as more coffee they do pour.
Wishing that the month was through, insanely they do all pursue,
A novel’s word count to accrue, accrue it in one month’s time and no more.
For all you at this task for just one month and then no more,
Please, closely heed verse five and four.

Late at night your tale grows stronger, while your face it does grow longer,
Fingers typing cross the laptop from your computer store.
As I mentioned, while you’re clacking, at the keys so madly tapping,
You might feel a distant rapping, rapping at your cranium’s fore.
Preying on your weakness as it raps upon your cranium’s fore,
There comes a monster with fearsome roar.

A word-count halting terror. Your project’s grim pall bearer,
Snorting and laughing at the plot holes you ignore.
Quickly moves this horrid beast, neither fettered nor policed,
Till your dreams lie there deceased, deceased and turned to ash upon the floor.
Your heart and dreams and vision turned to ashes on the floor.
The beast has fed, you’ll write no more.

Do take heed this warm advice, I’m trying quite hard to be nice,
Though I scare you with this monster slavering at your door.
You’re not alone here is my point, and this beast should not disjoint,
In fact he does anoint, anoint you to the club of writers all through yore.
This beast has crushed the spirits of every writer heretofore,
Its name is “Doubt” (we’ve met before).

So I demand that you take heart, as you practice at your art,
Wringing out your story like a soldier gone to war.
Proudly steel your trembling jaws, as you take on Doubt’s cruel claws,
Knowing that he gnaws, gnaws on you as well as all who came before.
Face him down, it is your right, not a task to be deplored.
Trust in yourself, and let your artwork soar.

Probability Angels Role Playing Game

Playing HeroWhile noodling over the results of sending my friend @Rolling20s to a gaming convention to do some marketing, which you can read about here, a lot of ideas have been tossed around. Some in my head, some with @Rolling20s in conversation, some with my tarot card masseuse.

One very fun idea has taken root and will become a full grown idea tree in the coming months. @Rolling20s and I are going to put together a one-off adventure for him to run at gaming conventions of Probability Angels as a Role Playing Game.

Players will get to step into the shoes of a tester, or a rotted thing, or a Guardathing, or…well whatever they want, that’s sort of the point of a role playing game, and play around in the world of Matthew and Epp. Actually, I’ll amend that even though it’s only one sentence old: since this is a one-off adventure there will only be a few set characters for people to play and, no, nobody gets to play any of the main characters.

But for the adventure I have in mind it should be a fun mix of personalities which then get inhabited by a fun mix of real people *playing* those personalities as they interpret them, and then dice get rolled. Also, players will, in the current plan anyway, be interacting with some of the higher up muckity mucks of my world. Possibly with an ex-samurai. Possibly.

Even though it’s still in rough draft form it has been a great creative stretch to do this. I’ve never made a game before so there’s a fun freedom involved. However, I want this to carry the mood and tone of the books so there’s a lot of pressure too. I had to learn a dice system, we’re using FATE if you’re curious, which took some time to get familiar with. And currently I’m very slowly figuring how best to represent the various quirks, attacks, quantum mechanics, philosophies and such in a playable game involving dice.

Weird but definitely fun overall.

For example, while brainstorming player skills, I just started writing down phrases that sounded like they fit in with the world of Matthew and Epp.

Some player skills that have already been discarded (or were written down at 3 AM and proved to be utter nonsense in the morning) are:

Condensed Gravity

Ocular Manipulation

Quark Magnetics

Bone Spur

Atomic Humonculous

So…yeah. This should be hella fun by the end.

 

 

Clock Day

Sunset

This weekend forty-eight fiftieths of the United States, or something, will change their clocks and set them back an hour. This creates confusion, tons of messed up schedules, and programming madness.

But it’s all worthwhile so our farmers can get more sleep. Or our lights can be on less. Or our daylight savings bonds can mature faster.

Why do we do this? What is the secret behind this mystery?

Yes, it’s time for me to roll out my extensive explanation of Daylight Savings Time, it’s history, it’s reasoning, and it’s seamless integration into our lives.

Click here for my old, yet always pertinent, explanation of Daylight Savings Time.