Category Archives: Sean Golden

An End to New Beginnings…

I’ve really enjoyed this month’s Fictorians’ posts on new beginnings. As I am typing this, I am sitting in my newly finished basement, in the new house we built in 2016, and am about to head to the Superstars Writing Seminars. I’m also starting a new novel and looking forward to a new year.

Some of the posts I found the most interesting and helpful were those where the author embarked on a new direction after deciding a previous effort was not working out. Taking motivation from rejection, using a new start to rekindle a love of writing, taking a leap into a new genre… All of them were helpful and entertaining.

I hope our readers found them helpful. It was my deliberate desire to provide new writers, or writers who were dealing with difficulties and lack of motivation some encouragement and ideas.

I’d like to thank all of the Fictorians who posted, and would like to especially thank this month’s guest posters. As far as I’m concerned, you all hit it out of the park.

Now, on to Superstars!

Do Sci-Fi Movie Directors Dream of Electric Scripts?

This month’s Fictorians’ theme is “movie adaptations.”

I got lucky and snagged “Blade Runner.”

blade_runner_poster

When Blade Runner came out, I wasn’t paying attention enough to remember the obscure novella I had read at about the age of twelve. I was well into the movie before I put two and two together and realized I had read the source material. I remember thinking at the time, “When is he going to find that toad?”

That’s pretty close to a spoiler, I suppose. There is no toad in the movie. I don’t remember origami in the novella. Maybe there was some. Honestly, I didn’t remember that much about the novella. I had read it during a period of my life that I was reading three or four sci-fi novels a week. Plus classics like “Gone With the Wind” or “Moby Dick.” The novella simply hadn’t made that much of an impression on me. I had to go back and review “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” to realize just how far the movie had strayed from the original story. How far was that? Well, maybe not as far as the shoulder of Orion, but certainly well past the Tannhauser Gate.

So, since the movie is such a radical departure from the novella, you might think that would count against it as a “movie adaptation.” But I can’t say that, because “Blade Runner” the movie, is better than the novella. By a large margin, in my opinion. Ridley Scott took the basic story of a bounty hunter wrestling with the morality and mortality of “retiring” androids, and created a revolutionary multi-media experience, spawning an entire sci-fi sub-genre in the process.

There is power in the imagery of the film. The fusion of film noir and dystopian post-apocalyptic pathos simply oozes gritty, bloody, sweaty authenticity. By abandoning the original sub-plots involving Deckard’s wife (yes, wife) and their search for an animal of their very own, Scott was able to focus his grimy camera lens directly on the question of what makes us human. That gritty, shadowy vision paradoxically grants the movie near-perfect clarity.

That clarity reaches its climax with Roy Batty’s iconic farewell, sometimes known as the “Tears in Rain Monologue.”

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Time to die.

Like all great works of art, the movie has an ambiguous ending, allowing the viewer to decide for themselves what Deckard’s and Rachael’s future will be. The viewer isn’t even certain if Deckard himself is a human or a replicant. And that is the movie’s ultimate message. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. As Roy tells us, the value of life is not measured in the number of years we are given, it is measured in what we do with the years we have.

Pulp Fiction

This month’s theme is “It was a dark and pulpy night” and is intended to be an homage to the pulp stories that filled cheap periodicals at the turn of the last century. (I have to say, it’s still a bit of a shock to me to call 1900 “the turn of the last century,” but I digress.)

The problem is, I never read much pulp sci-fi. Not that I recall, anyway. When I was a kid, in those halcyon days of the sixties and seventies (of the last century) I was reading novels almost exclusively. I did read some anthologies of short stories, but they were mostly by authors I already knew, or the “Year’s Best Anthology of Science Fiction.” Mostly I read those authors that are now recognized as the giants of the genre, such as Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Pohl, Kornbluth, etc. I suppose the closest I came to “pulp” fiction was probably the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs or perhaps Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, even though that was the pulp fiction of a yet earlier century.

Anyway, the upshot is that I don’t have much to offer except some genuine curiosity. Were those pulp stories awful? Or were they so awful they were good? Or were there gems buried in the literary rubble? I suppose I’ll have to go find out. In many ways, I suppose I am the modern equivalent of the pulp fiction writer of a century ago. I self-publish my stories in electronic format, which is similar, I think, to the cultural environment those pulp authors inhabited then. And I think my stories are pretty good. So theirs probably were too. Anyway, I have to give props to anyone who has the courage to put themselves out there and deal with the reality of putting any work of art out into public view.

From what I’ve seen in the other articles on this subject and some lazy googling, it appears that the hallmark of those stories was probably a wild and vivid imagination, exercised without restraint in a world that was just coming over the threshold of a scientific and industrial revolution. There seems also to be a thread of horror or even something like paranormal influence in many of the stories.

If anyone wants to give me some recommendations of authors to start with, feel free to comment on this post and promote your favorite pulp fiction authors. I’ll check them out, and then report back here what I think of them.

The Dory Method

This month’s theme is about damage control. When I saw that in the schedule, I laughed to myself, a sort of bitter, resentful laugh. Let’s just say that my last year has been a target-rich environment for damage control. Rejection, lack of sales, family issues, job struggles, potential financial ruin, cancer, death… It’s been a heck of a year, for sure.

Back in January I think I hit the lowest point of motivation and hope I’ve ever reached as a writer. I covered part of that in this previous Fictorians post. I won’t cover all that again. Thank goodness. But the gist is still relevant to this subject, which is all about dealing with struggles, setbacks and lack of motivation.

Right now I am doing my final proofread of the third and final book in my War Chronicles series. You want struggles? I was supposed to finish this back in February. You want setbacks? I pretty much rewrote the final third of the book three times. One of the lowest points of that entire year was when I finally came to terms with how much help and support I had gotten from my brother, who passed away from cancer last year. It turns out that it is no mere platitude to say that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Really gone. Forever.

So there I was, a month late with my personal deadline for my third book, with my previously planned ending in ruins as I realized it wasn’t the right ending, my main support for working through issues gone, living in a tiny rent house while trying to build my dream home, struggling with a new job as it became painfully obvious that writing wasn’t (yet) going to pay the bills, and dealing with a ream of personal issues better left unsaid here.

I could have packed it in. I could have just said “It’s too much right now, I’ll deal with this after everything settles down.”

But here’s the thing that I’ve learned in my life. Nothing ever settles down. Things rarely, if ever, get easier. And the longer you put things off, the harder it is to pick them up again.

So my means of coping is something I call “The Dory Method.” You know what that is. Everyone knows. But here’s the thing… It works. I just kept at it, a little at a time, worrying at the story issues like a dog with a bone. Until finally, one day, weeks later, I figured out what the story was lacking, and then everything started coming together.

Working full time in a new job, while trying to build a house, and living in a tiny rent house with no privacy is no way to write a book.

But you can do it. If you just… keep writing. Just keep writing. Just keep writing.

Edison was right. Success really can be 95% perspiration. Or in the case of writing, 95% perseverance.

And the result? Warlord, coming soon to an online book retailer near you. 🙂