Where I’ll Be: Escape Velocity 2019

Wow, has it really been over a month since I’ve posted anything?

Okay, well, I can’t go into everywhere that I’ve been, but I can tell you where I will be this weekend: Escape Velocity!

Escape Velocity 2019 Promo from Museum of Science Fiction on Vimeo.

I’ll be part of two panels and one performance….

Friday @ 8:20pm: Alien: 40 Years of Fright

I get to chat with Charles de Lauzirika all about Alien and such.

Saturday @ 3:30pm: Nostromo 2: Electric Alien Boogaloo

If you don’t know about Jabberwocky Audio Theater‘s live performance lovingly sending up Alien and Buck Rogers, you clearly haven’t been to our website.

But even if you didn’t know until now, join us as we give you more sci-fi references than a Cyberman can shake a Dalek plunger at.

Sunday @ 12:15pm: So You Want to Make a Film? A legally-sound producer’s guide

For those of you who aren’t adverse to making lists and know that producing a film means you need to know what Inland Marine insurance is, this is the nitty-gritty (albeit lightning-paced) panel for you as we go through the unglamorous aspects of filmmaking.

Interview about Jabberwocky Audio Theater

Time for a little shameless self-promotion. Most of my writing these days is for Jabberwocky Audio Theater, so when a sci-fi writer was looking to interview other sci-fi writers about their writing, well, that’s what I talked about.

I also muse about Star Trek vs. Star Wars, sci-fi authors I like, and other fun topics.

Isaac Asimov Predicts the Distant Future of 2019

Back in 1983, prolific writer Isaac Asimov was asked to imagine what the world would be like well into the 21st Century: 2019 to be precise.

Now, considering that much of his prolific writing was science fiction, it’s well worth reading. Remember, this is the guy who wrote the Foundation series which had the field of “psychohistory” that was able to predict future trends. I found his predictions to be prescient in some aspects and hopeful and others. I suppose someone might find that in and of itself unremarkable, but just as with much of Asimov’s fiction, the fun part comes from how he analyzes how society fashions itself.

Get to Writing, the Asimov Way

Lest Monday’s post seem insufficiently motivational, I figured I’d pass along this article by Charles Chu about how Isaac Asimov managed to be such a prolific writer.

In case you’re not aware, Isaac Asimov wrote hundreds of books… and not just in science fiction, for which he’s perhaps best remembered. In fact, his books cover most of the categories covered by Dewey Decimal Classification.

Not only that, he seemed to love to write. He wrote voraciously like some people read (and, of course, being a voracious reader enabled that).

So take a look. From ongoing learning to getting out of being stuck, there’s some good takeaways.

Motivation and the Midlife Crisis

This is for all the Gen Xers out there, irretrievably in their 40s and 50s, facing Monday with Garfield-level malaise.

Here’s an article by Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic which I missed when it first came out in 2014, but seems to have hit me at just the right moment… and it might be just the right moment for you all as well.

In feature story fashion, it goes into the anecdote of 40-somethings seemingly successful, yet nevertheless unsatisfied into some deep data about happiness and something known as the “U curve” which has been studied for some time now.

Basically, one’s happiness often dips right about now –it’s not just a Gen X thing– and goes back up later in the 50s into the 60s.

The really interesting thing I found from the article was that this phenomenon has been observed across cultures and even in other species of great apes (apparently, we all don’t feel so great at the same point in our lifecycle).

The motivation part of it comes deeper in the article where it’s speculated that the subsequent upswing in happiness (thus making the U curve) comes from a re-calibration of what one values of life — which is comforting, though I understand if that feels more like comfort in the Vulcan logic kind of way.

The Music of DOOM! er, the Doomsday Machine

One of my favorite episodes of the original Star Trek and, I would argue, one of their best overall episodes, was the action-packed season two entry, “The Doomsday Machine.”

A significant factor on why I believe it should be ranked so highly is because of the episode-specific music composed by Sol Kaplan. Viewers may recall the original series re-used a lot of music cues as a cost-cutting technique. The fact that they don’t do so here underscores (pun intended) how a composer can really bring a story alive.

Composer Shem von Schroeck has an hour-long video that goes into the music and the episode in depth. The first 10 minutes are discussing and demonstrating some of the themes Kaplan uses. The next 50 are a special annotated version of the episode itself, highlighting which music is used when. It really gives you an appreciation for how much art and craft goes into composing for the screen.

That Game of Thrones Theme, Tho

I posted yesterday about Marvel movie music, which I found interesting since –while I’ve collected movie soundtracks since I’ve been little, I haven’t gotten around to getting any of the Marvel soundtracks. (Though I do remember the Avengers “fanfare.”)

One recent soundtrack that I have gotten, however, is Game of Thrones, composed by Ramin Djawadi.

Spencer Kornhaber writes about Djawadi, his composing, and his fame, in a recent article for The Atlantic.

Say, what about the Marvel movie music anyway?

So, I talked about comics and Captain Marvel specifically so far this week… and that got me thinking more about the Marvel Cinematic Universe and then I thought of “Every Frame a Painting’s” critique of Marvel’s movie music.

You may recall me raving about the YouTube series on the occasion of its end, but in any case, this approximately 14-minute video gives you a bit to ponder.

Which Captain Marvel is Which?

Both of these comics are quite real. It’s okay if the one on the right is completely unfamiliar.

So, I was pontificating about the future of the comics industry yesterday, but I realize many of you are more concerned about a more pressing issue:

What’s with all these Captains Marvel, anyway?

Perpetual pop culture historian and comics writer Mark Evanier gives an illuminating and succinct account.

Arguing for the Golden Goose, Comics Edition

One trend I continue to follow is the decline of “mid-tier” creative works, whether they be “mid-budget” movies or “middle tier” novels.

I touched on this just over two years ago when I was looking at the film Warcraft in particular and film budgets in general. At the time, I also noted how the erosion of the mid-budget movie and how a similar trend seemed to occur with “mid-list” authors.

Now, superhero movies in general are not likely to be modestly budgeted these days: they’re too tempting to be used as tentpoles by the studios. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought in over $7 billion. Disney’s not about to abandon using them as tentpoles.

But what about the the medium where these superhero stories first appeared: comics?

Now, going into the whole state of the comics industry, what the direct market is, and so on, is more than I can cover briefly or authoritatively. Suffice to say, fears regarding a dire fate of the comic industry have been around for a couple years, the direct market business model seems to be poised to change, and, well, stats back up the thought that the market is struggling (even with bright spots).

So all that made the article I read about Marvel comics editors advocating for different tactics recently at SXSW all the more interesting.

Parts of their argument is that comics –even if they aren’t as all-fired profitable as their big screen offspring– serve an important function as idea incubators. In a sense, they’re narrative R&D projects. Certainly, good periodic comic books and graphic novels aren’t the cheapest things to produce — many an indie creator colleague has made me aware of that. But they are a darn sight cheaper than bankrolling a $120 million tentpole movie. And in fact, just about all the tentpole movies owe some of their “genetic material” from the comic form.

Another way they could be thought of is as the “narrative farm teams” for some of the bigger budgeted stories. And, of course, I’m thinking of that mainly for the business folks to better reconcile the numbers. The creativity and storytelling on display in so many comics is not “minor league,” but bean counters usually don’t care if a comic book was emotionally impactful, just how many units it sold. So whatever keeps the presses rolling.