Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

War veteran, engineer, pilot, and the first human being to walk on our moon, Neil Armstrong was an inspiration and a hero to us all. And now, another one of our heroes has taken the greatest leap of all. He has ventured off to a better place.

Neil, may you see wonders greater than the moon, and witness the highest beauties in creation. You will be missed. You have done well, and you will not be forgotten.

Advertisements

Craziness, Quirkiness, and Storytelling

There seems to be a lot more craziness in speculative fiction with the self and independent publishers getting so much more attention. Craziness meaning “everything and the kitchen sink and Cthulhu and steampunk and superheroes and werewolves and…” all crammed into one novel. And honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredible that writers have new opportunities to break away from the mold and unlatch their stories from genre conventions. It gives them more chances to be original, to entertain readers, and give their creativity free reign. I’m just worried that the focus of speculative fiction will move from “tell great stories and be original when possible” to “take all that is adored by geek culture and mash it together.”

When the story starts to look less like a harrowing tale of fantasy or science fiction and more like a written collage of everything featured in the last five episodes of Felicia Day’s “Flog,” I get a little nervous. Nothing wrong with Felicia Day, though. She’s awesome.

I’m a little wary of these types of fiction because there is a higher danger of the story’s quality and the characters’ depth falling prey to quirkiness and ADHD worldbuilding. That doesn’t always happen, of course. Some masterful craziness has been done, like China Mieville’s incredible 2000 novel Perdido Street Station. And I am confident that there is someone out there who can tell a great story about a ninja zombie pirate and his Victorian-dressed steampunk weapon-wielding girlfriend fighting psychic dragons in an alternate 1945 New York City that has been devastated in the wake of a Martian invasion.

But do you see how exhausting and confusing it is to get through all of those ideas, just to give the setting and larger story conflict? You’ll have a lot on your plate trying to tell a quality story through that Sargasso Sea of adjectives and mishmashed details.

Again, I’m not saying “Don’t write that story. Ever.” Merely asking you to proceed with extreme caution. Be sure you have a captivating story first, one that can uphold the weight of everything you intend to add.

Or maybe I’m just slow to catch up. Heck, the wildest thing I’m doing is putting dinosaurs in a far future fantasy world, and I’m wondering if even that much is a stretch.

Mars Curiosity Rover: A Great Victory for NASA

Just got the word from the live web broadcast: The Curiosity rover has safely touched down on Mars. Way to go, NASA! This is a historic moment indeed. The most sophisticated, versatile, and largest rover in space exploration history has begun its mission in earnest, and I couldn’t be happier.

The Shadow of Curiosity. Reminds me of the Monolith from “2001.” Cue the theme music! Photo courtesy of NASA.

God be with the team overseeing this probe’s incredible mission. Curiosity, may you go find and do wondrous things. This is our first step toward larger and better things. May humans join you in person before long.