In Which I Once Again Give Up On Being Deep

I have a project on which I am working right now and part of it is a fiction component. I’m preparing some submission packages for long-form fiction in various genres – action, fantasy, sci-fi, and post-apocalyptic. Now the post-apocalyptic one I have strong feelings on the characters and the atmosphere I am going to try to convey, but what I didn’t have for some time is confidence in the plot.

See, it’s basically a riff on the Searchers, the old John Wayne movie about a Civil War veteran in search of his niece who had been kidnapped by Native Americans. As I’m writing this piece, I’m wondering if it doesn’t need something more important. I was thinking that the search itself, each character’s motivation for joining in the search, and how each character changes as they grow more desperate was not enough. I was thinking there needed to be a bigger plot.

This is particularly odd because I’m generally very far from writing “epic” stuff for fantasy and sci-fi. I aim much more for gritty and small. I mean, my fantasy fiction has been very focused on sword noir – lower case for the genre rather than upper case for the game. But for some reason, as I’m working on this post-apocalyptic Western – and that’s really what it is – I thought I needed something more.

I can’t be the only writer that was raised on ideas of “important fiction.” I honestly thought I had moved away from that, that I had accepted I didn’t need to write “the great Canadian novel” or something of that kind to be happy as a writer. I guess it sometimes seeps back in. I guess sometimes we wonder if what we are doing has value.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a hack. I write to entertain, not edify. I’m not working on a message or delivering a statement. This story is going to be about some badasses trying to do something good with their lives, and then realizing what road those good intentions are paving.

Seriously, if I get this stuff done, that in itself will be a victory. Anything more is gravy.

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Forces spéciales Review

I’m a sucker for military movies. Heck, look at how much time I invested in watching Strike Back. So I’m often scouring Netflix for good military action. Unfortunately, while there are a lot of action movies, their military quotient is pretty bad. The weapons, equipment, attitude and tactics of the characters in these movies kills my willing suspension of disbelief. I can’t get into these movies and don’t enjoy them. Strike Back, for all its faults, meets my relatively low bar for authenticity. See, I’m not saying realism, because that’s not what I’m looking for. Make these guys look suitably SOF, give them kit that looks pretty close to something high speed, and have them use tactics that are believable for elite commandos, and I’ll watch.

I approached Forces spéciales (Special Forces) with some trepidation. I think I had it confused with another movie I had read about set in Africa that sounded ridiculous. As it is, this French venture is set in Afghanistan and the Frontier Regions of Pakistan with an opening set in Africa. So I gave it a shot. I’ve liked Djimon Hounsou in everything in which I’ve seen him, so I was relatively well-disposed going in.

This is a French take on movies like Tears of the Sun or Acts of Valour. It’s more Tears of the Sun because it has a strong narrative and that narrative is about a rescue and escape, with a lot of evasion thrown in there.

The actors look suitably bad-ass. The action is suitably believable. If you liked Tears of the Sun, you’ll probably like this, although there are subtitles, so if you can’t deal with those you’re going to have a bad time.

I can’t really enthuse about this, because it lost its steam around the half-way mark. When it became a move of survival against the elements, my attention started to wander. And, honestly, the ending flushes any semblance to consistency down the toilet. I can’t really get into it without spoiling the ending, but it makes your disbelief almost impossible to suspend, willingly or not.

So I’m giving Forces spéciales 3.5 out 5 French macho one-liners, because when it does actions scenes, it does them well. The survival drama and ending really drag down the rating.

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The Final Countdown!

Avenue of the Rams by Kieron O’Gorman

The end of the Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstarter is nigh. Get in on the action while you can. We’re at 129% of our goal. If we hit $4,500, there will be maps for the adventure. This mother is already funded and its going to happen, so get in on it while the gettin’ is good. You won’t be able to get it cheaper when it hits the shops. If you don’t have the money for it now, let everyone you know who might dig this know about it, because the better we are able to make, the better a product you’ll be picking up later.

Because even if you don’t support the Kickstarter, you’re going to pick it up later. Right?

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Nefertiti Overdrive Inspiration: the Last Legion

Nefertiti Overdrive is funded at 107% as of now. That doesn’t mean I’m slacking off. The latest update uses Aishwarya Rai’s character in the movie the Last Legion as inspiration for the Serpent.

There’s still 15 days for you to get in on the Assyrian-bashing goodness.

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Nefertiti Overdrive Inspiration: 300

We’re at 90% funded with 18 days to go, and the most recent update looks at getting inspiration from the movie 300.

What are you waiting for? Go check out the Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstarter!

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Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstartering

I would expect that if you are reading this blog you already know, but Nefertiti Overdrive is Kickstarting now, and the campaign will run until 10 February with a target of $3,000. There’s a free Quickstart to sample the game and if it looks cool, please consider supporting it.

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The Lure of Crime

My present video game addiction is Grand Theft Auto IV. I am not a fan of the cop-killing, which is integral to missions required to move the plot forward, but have come to grips with it. I really like the story revealed so far (I’m about half-way through as I understand it) of Niko Bellic, the Balkan main character. He is the kind of character I would write about in my sword noir fiction: a skilled and dangerous criminal working within a strong moral framework in a very immoral world. Like Drust and Brude from my story “A Pound of Dead Flesh,” he’s a soldier who has no war left to fight. The game’s plot very much hooks the player with the lure of crime, but for me – at least – it’s not the crimes themselves that are the lure, but the character.

Niko Bellic from Grand Theft Auto IV

Given that my preferred choice of expression – sword noir fiction – focuses on anti-heroes at best and outright criminals at worst, I am obviously susceptible to the lure of crime.

To me, these character represent the outsider. Not only are my characters at a distance from the “civilian” community, they also do not entirely belong in the underworld. Their moral codes set them at odds with their amoral or gleefully immoral colleagues. Some of my characters – like Caspan Trey from “For Simple Coin” – are respected and possibly feared. Their skills are known. They have made a place for themselves. Others – like Calum in “Flotsam Jewel” or Brude and Drust – live completely outside of all communal frameworks.

My audience for this blog (all four of you) are likely geeks and nerds who strongly identify with the outsider. That’s me too. I had a close circle of friends in high school, but most of them actually attended a different school and I “belonged” to none of the cliques at mine. I had people with whom I hung out, and they were mostly the “alternative” or “new wave” crowd (this was back when alternative was cuneiform instead of pictograms).

It’s very understandable to me why I identify with the outsider – the person apart. We’ve all felt like this, even the most socially accepted of us. That’s what happens when one is a teenager, right? The outsider is also free of restraints, except for the restraints which the character independently accepts. The character is an outsider because that character has rejected enforced or expected restraints.

Who among us would not wish to live without enforced restraints? Then again, who among us has the honour and moral fortitude to live that way and not become the villain of the piece?

You can find out more about Grand Theft Auto IV here.

Both “For Simple Coin” and “Flotsam Jewel” are available in the collection For Simple Coin available here and here.

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