Here I was writing a long, rambling piece on TDKR when I stumbled onto Genevieve Valentine’s review, which is broken up by movie stills every couple of paragraphs like a Cracked.com article, and I realized that no one would want to read 2000 rambling words on a Batman movie without even any pics to break up the text.
Let me see if I can shorten this up a bit: The way I see this movie (and the other two parts of the trilogy) is that it would have been an interesting story on the way people’s ideals fail them, if I had any faith that he understood that was the story he was telling.
Oh, there’s a lot of talk about tough choices and impossible situations, but it’s all rather incoherent. At the end of Batman Begins, Batman tells Ducard that he won’t kill him, but he doesn’t have to save him, either, which is complete bullshit in contrast to the way he treats The Joker at the end the The Dark Knight.
At the end of The Dark Knight, Wayne and Gordon drum up a complete lie about Harvey Dent because the people of Gotham City need Dent as a symbol. Nevermind the way they tried to kill the fellow who planned to reveal Batman’s secret identity; apparently, Dent-as-symbol wasn’t operational yet, or something. And nevermind that the scene on the two ferries had already demonstrated the Gotham’s citizens–even the criminal class–were basically decent people. No, we had to watch Gordon and Batman spackle over Dent’s crimes for the so-called good of the city.
One of the best things about these three movies has been the way Gotham has been handled. It has a very real sense of place and a character all to its own. In the first film, when Gordon, Batman, and Dawes all work outside the system, it’s because the system is the enemy. The system in Gotham is so corrupt and dangerous that they have to move very carefully in taking it down.
In TDK, Gotham is still only partly cleaned up. There are cops selling information to the mob, or are being coerced in other ways. The struggle that Dent, Dawes, and Gordon face is that they are trying to make use of a system that sometimes betrays them.
But in TDKR, Gordon and his new protege Blake are still talking about working outside the system. Gotham is pretty much cleaned up. It’s “peacetime”. And they’re still not willing to do their policing with the law.
It’s one thing for a vigilante like Batman to operate outside the law (and kudos to THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN for addressing this nicely). In BB the cops were the enemies. In TDK, the cops had an uneasy alliance with Batman. In TDKR, they’re enemies again thanks to the lie Gordon and Wayne cooked up. It’s not until the power structure of Gotham has been stripped away by Bane that he can return again as a hero.
But you know what? There’s a point at which heroes who dedicating themselves with overthrowing a corrupt power structure has to replace it with something just. They have to work within that new power structure, or what is it worth? These three Batman movies want out authority figures to be eternal insurgents.
Let me transition to something else that might seem trivial: Batman operates outside the legal structures of law and order, but he has limits for himself. He doesn’t punish criminals. He stops them and turns them over to the police for arrest or he pushes them out of their place of power. He doesn’t execute them.
It’s a refreshing change to hear Batman tell Selena Kyle “No guns. No killing.” midway through TDKR, especially after all the lethal violence the Marvel pre-Avengers movies have doled out.
But how does Bane finally taken out? Not by Batman’s non-lethal methods; Kyle drives up in the batcycle and shoots him (along with a quip).
It’s similar to that scene in TDK where Batman refrains from killing the Joker on the street and ends up at his mercy, only to be saved by Gordon. In the comics, Batman’s idealism might make his life harder, but it doesn’t make him fail. In TDKR, if Kyle hadn’t violated his ideals, Gotham City becomes a smoking crater.
There’s an interesting story to be told about violating your ideals for a greater good mixed in with all this talk about masks, symbols, trust, etc, but since Bane’s final defeat is played off like standard Hollywood gun heroism, I don’t even know if Nolan recognizes that it’s there.
I have a short story available in the anthology Tales of the Emerald Serpent, which is now out as an ebook (Amazon) and in paper (Lulu). I posted a teaser for the story (title: “The One Thing You Can Never Trust”) when the anthology was doing the Kickstarter thing, and now the whole thing is available.
I don’t know if there’s a Harry Connolly “type” of story–I kinda hope not–but if there is, this one is it. It’s plotty, kinda dark, full of ruthless characters, and a bit like a crime story.
You know, in case you wanted to read something else I wrote.
Charles Stross blogged about writing a novel in Scrivener and I thought it was an interesting read. Okay, I skimmed the part where he talked about LaTeX because Jesus, what the hell is that even and I pretty much don’t need to know.
Anyway, he’s right about many things: there is no way to do the track changes thing that people use MSWord for. That means I either have to a) switch over to Scrivener to type out all the changes I want to accept in MSWord, or b) import the edited Word document into a new Scrivener project (or into the old project, which I haven’t done because .scriv files are already HUGE), or c) accept that the .scriv file will not be the most recent file.
I’ve been doing a) which is annoying but feels satisfying, too, like keeping a tidy desk.
Also, I don’t have the same issues with the compiling process. Yes, there’s a helluva learning curve. Yes, it’s annoying as hell. Still, with enough trial-and-error I was able to create a handful of very clean epub files, without any hand-coding at all.
The floating word count window? AWESOME. I seriously love it, especially the way I can set a due date for the draft and it will tell me how many words I have to do per day to make that goal. I can even go in and mark certain days of the week as non-writing days. That’s good. I wrote about that some time ago: You can see the progress bar in this screen cap post.
Something else I like is that I can import web pages into the research section. I can dl the Wikipedia page for “Pansy Craze” or “Samurai” then while I’m writing (my internet is always disabled when I write) I can easily
Finally, one thing Charlie doesn’t mention is one of my favorite things: Custom Meta-data. See, when I was writing the Twenty Palaces books, I drove myself to exhaustion trying to keep track of what Ray had in his pockets: Did he have money? How much? Did he still have a gun? Whose was it? Had he stolen a car? What make again?
It was crazy-making and involved a lot of tedious fact-checking back through the book. But! With Custom Meta-data I could easily make a line for “Money” and keep track. Or “Gun”
In Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts, I used Custom Meta-data to keep track of the two protagonists’ time lines. (They diverge late in the book.) That’s the sort of thing that drove me to distraction in earlier work.
Anyway, Scrivener is way too complicated, but I just ignore all those complicated parts I don’t need, just the way I did with MSWord back in the day. Plus, I’ve figured out the search thing that used to make me nuts.
I’m still working on the first draft for King Khan, and I swear that progress bar thing is really helping my productivity (not to mention the easy access I have to the synopsis). Yesterday’s word count was 3.3K which is huge for me, and today’s was 4K, which is unthinkable. So, you know, pleased.
making books personal: harvest of fire Twenty Palaces words
by Harry Connolly
On her blog, novelist Ally Carter wrote a letter she wished she could send to herself back when she was just starting out. I thought it was funny and interesting enough that I stole the idea. Being me, this particular letter might not have the wide applicability that Ms. Carter’s does but I’ll share it anyway: a letter to myself in 2008.
First of all, old self, today isn’t the day your agent sent your first book on submission. That was back in mid-January some time. So yeah, this is late. Then again, you’re the guy who received a birthday card that his sister had bought for his birthday the year before then never got around to sending. You’re a Connolly; you’re used to it.
Second of all, Twenty Palaces was not rejected because of the story. It was the writing. You haven’t realized this yet, but you’d be better off not sending it to your agent or editor. The truth is, you made a big leap in your understanding of the language while you were revising Harvest of Fire, and you haven’t realized yet how rough that earlier book is. Seriously. Keep it to yourself until after you have a chance to revise it.
Third, don’t bother scrounging for reviews. Interviews are great. Definitely do that Big Idea piece for John Scalzi. Guest blogging is also cool (in fact, ask around if anyone would like you to guest blog).
But that thing where you spend hours and hours looking for reviewers, working out what sort of books they review, try to judge their readership, contact them and mail off books? Just don’t even bother. You’d be better off spending that time working on new books or being funny online.
In fact, being funny and/or interesting online is really the best marketing you can do. Have fun with that and skip the reviewers. The ones that find and review your work on their own will be good enough, but beyond that it’s too big a time sink.
Fourth, you aren’t really going to find yourself joining a new community of writers and genre fans, the way so many others seem to. Don’t worry about it.
Fifth, and last, I’m not going to spill the beans about how well your books are going to do, but I will say this: Write the books the way you think they should be written, and don’t agonize about it too much. Whether you succeed or fail, you’ll at least be doing it on your own terms.
Okay, that wasn’t the last. Here’s the last: You’ve worked pretty hard to get to this spot, but you’re going to have to work even harder to stay there.
making books: a blessing of monsters King Khan publishing words
by Harry Connolly
She has notes for me (of course) but they are surprisingly light. And there’s no rush.
Can I just let out a huge PHEW! here? It’s sort of an odd book, and I’m glad she’s enthusiastic about it.
Now to work on King Khan so I can start Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts 2.
making books: everyone loves blue dog harvest of fire man bites world publishing
by Harry Connolly
I’ve been sitting on this news for about two weeks as I tried to get some further information on it, but SDCC is this week and I’m not going to wait any more.
Now, I didn’t know this was going to happen. I didn’t even know there was a audio deal in the works. I went back to my email and searched for the word “audio” and found that the only mention was back in September 2009, when my agent mentioned in passing that she had received a note of interest from an audiobook company, which she forwarded to the publisher (since Del Rey had retained the rights).
After that, I never heard a thing about it until last month when I went to Amazon.com to create a link to the book and notices a new line in the “editions” box. I know there are some authors who are pretty heavily involved in the creation of their audiobooks, but I knew so little about it that I’ve been telling people there was no chance of an audiobook because of low sales.
So! The question you might be asking is “What about Game of Cages and Circle of Enemies? Will they be out as audiobooks, too?”
Unfortunately the answer is still “I don’t know yet.” I’m still waiting to hear back, and I don’t expect an answer on the week of (or after) SDCC. However, when I do hear, I’ll blog about it.
I should also mention, apropos to yesterday’s post about whether book reviews actually sell many books, that the initial note of interest was based on early positive reviews, so reviews can have that sort of positive benefit at least.
By the way, author and bookseller Michele Sagara weighed in on the review conversation yesterday on my LJ. She’s a smart person and if you don’t follow her you should.
This time it comes from Publishers Weekly’s article about the effect of NYTimes reviews on non-fiction titles. Reading the article, it seems clear that reviews on their front page for books that weren’t already planned to be blockbusters were worth nothing more than a few hundred sales on the week it came out, with the exception of one book on economic inequality. That book not only sold well on the week it came out, but sales continued to go up.
What does it mean? Well, inequality is one of the more popular ways of talking about our political problems at the moment, so I’m guessing the readers who were prompted to snap up that book on the week it was reviewed started telling others about it.
In other words, the review was only useful because it helped spur the only marketing that really matters: readers talking to readers.
My last (maybe) day of the raw veg only “fast” and I just took a very hot, long shower.
Normally that would trigger a massive hive outbreak and unbearable itchiness, but today I only have the ugly red welts. I seriously have more spots than a cheetah.
However, the itching is almost non-existent. I call that progress, but I don’t know if it means I should continue on or not. I’ll discuss it with my wife later.
I’m part way through the second day of my “unjuice fast,” in which I partake of a juice fast that focuses on ingesting large amounts of green veg and nothing else, except without actually juicing them. Instead, I’m setting a large bowl of uncooked, undressed greens beside me and chowing down.
Yes, it’s been difficult. (Details, and some digestive TMI, behind the cut) more »