Tag Archives: fantasy

What is Sword and Planet Fantasy?

Well, when we define things, just as we defined Epic Fantasy last month, we break down the etymology of the (in this case) phrase. And, maybe not so much the etymology (the linguistic changes the word has gone through) so much as the history of the word itself and what it is in our language today. So, in order to define Sword and Planet we must look at both of those terms individually and continue onward from there.

For most readers this should be review but swords are simply weapons. When I think of swords, I think of medieval and King Arthur and battles and war, although I know that swords have been around much longer than those times. The idea, though, is that it is connotative of this sense of historical renaissance.

Secondly, the word planet is, well, a large mass in space that is comprised of many different substances and some being able to hold life and others not. It moves around a sun and is in some sort of solar system. But, more importantly, when we think of planet, at least when I think of planet, I think of space exploration. I think of traveling and what the future is going to be like. I think of things like Star Wars or Star Trek. In essence, this word is very connotative of a futuristic world.

So, when bringing these two words together, we know that we are going to get a type of fantasy that is archaic, yet futuristic. Interesting, yes? I think so. That is why I wrote my own novel use those ideals. (However, to be fair, once I started researching this type of fantasy much more, I would say mine doesn’t necessarily fit in with it for a couple of reasons).

Alright, so now we have the definition out of the way, let’s take a look at what these characteristics are that translate from what we just broke down.

1) There is a hero, usually an Earthman, and he typically uses a sword to fight off an alien race while trying to rescue a damsel in distress.

2) Adventure. Lots of adventure. There needs to be in order to make up for the generally stock-type characters that develop in these types of novels.

3) Anachronistic situations. For example, aliens possessing the technology to use space crafts, but domesticated animals are used for ground transportation.

In fact, bestsciencefictionbooks.com sums up the major happenings of the plot rather concisely when it says in an article, “a chivalrous man is transported from Earth to an alien planet, the Earthman discovers he is the lone human, the Earthman becomes involved in a conflict between two parties (two factions, nations, or species), he picks the side with the most beautiful woman, the woman is kidnapped, the man takes his sword and goes to rescue her and along the way fights off monsters and alien animals.”

Although there are books that would fit this genre that prelude this, the prototype for this type of book was first introduced to us by Edgar Rice Burroughs through his series, A Princess of Mars. Many of you may not be familiarized with that name, but it is the recently repopularized movie about John Carter who is a Confederate officer and soldier, has taken up prospecting in Arizona after the war to regain his fortune. Under mysterious circumstances, he is transported to Mars.

And that is actually where I am going to segue into next week’s blog post. As you know I try to review a new book or movie that fits the genre each month and as my kindle is still broken I haven’t been able to review anything in terms of reading yet, but I will take a look at this newly put out movie, John Carter, and see if it truly does fit these characteristics that we have detailed here.

So, stay tuned for that. Also, I already have a general idea of the fantasy that I’ll be detailing for next month, but if you have thoughts or comments I’d be willing to take a look at them and try to come up with some alternative!

Thanks!

– Michael E. Thies

Month of March – Sword and Planet Fantasy

I’ve been thinking about what kind of fantasy to try and review, and at the very least blog about, this month and so I’ve decided to do “Sword and Planet” fantasy. I’ve chosen to do this kind because, well, it fits my own genre of fantasy that I write and I just released the cover photo of the second book in the Guardian of the Core series, The Curse of Pirini Lilapa. I figured I’d let my blog followers in on the treat as well and get a glimpse of the new cover reveal.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.56.50 PM

Hope you enjoy the cover. We will have plenty of discussion on this topic of Sword and Planet Fantasy within the coming month so stay tuned!!! Also, if you have a particular book you’d like me to read while diving into this genre a little more, please feel free to share it in the comments and I’ll see if I’m able to take a look at it!

– Michael E. Thies

February – Epic Fantasy Month

So, in light of the recent trailer for the newest season of Game of Thrones (season 5) which is featured above, I have decided to make February “Epic Fantasy” month. Now, again, this is no world official month for “epic” fantasy, but in terms of breaking up the fantasy genre a little bit more, I wanted to go more indepth with them all so each type of fantasy will have its own month.

What does this mean for you as readers?

It means that I will be discussing the ins and outs of the “Epic Fantasy” genre throughout the month. I’ll be describing it’s origins, it’s traits, and at the end, I’ll have reviewed either a movie or book for you that is in this particular genre.

In terms of Game of Thrones (written by George R. R. Martin), many people consider this an epic fantasy for its depth. If you haven’t read Game of Thrones, I will be the first to tell you that it is a GREAT series. Great actually may even be too diluted of a word for it. I remember my first time reading Game of Thrones, I was completely lost for the first 200 or 300 pages. This style, as an author, is not one you want to live by because many readers wouldn’t stick with you for that long. But, on a friend’s advice, I stuck it out through the end and I’m glad I did because as soon as I was able to decipher and place the massive list of characters George R. R. Martin includes, I was able to enjoy the book.

Not only was this book a tome, yes a tome in the literal sense (the first book was around 900 pages long), but it was huge in terms of characters and places and imagination. The depth and detail given to Game of Thrones and its subsequent books is quite spectacular and the series on HBO does an epic, pun intended, job at capturing it. Although, I do admit to pondering what they are going to do after this season because Martin hasn’t released book 6 yet and this is Season 5 which is going to cover books 4 + 5. I assume they will have enough material for at least another season after 5, but I am not sure at what point they are going to surpass the books because Martin, dreadfully and painstakingly, takes FOREVER to come out with his books. Which, I guess, is fine because its a high quality product, but as readers we just want to devour these and see how it all ends.

Also, in terms of Game of Thrones, there are multi-faceted plots that are interwoven throughout the series that also gives it a touch of its epicness. Not only that but the series span over several years. In fact, in an author’s note in the third or fourth book I believe he mentions the chronology of the book and how this series is spread out over several years of in-book time, not real time. So, that is something else we will need to look at when we decide to discuss the origins and characteristics of epic fantasy, which will be in the next two blog posts.

With all of that said, I hope you enjoyed the trailer, and if you haven’t begun reading the storyline yet, I highly highly highly recommend you start reading Game of Thrones. Like I said, you won’t fully enjoy the first book until like 200 or so pages in, but stick with it, the ending is fabulous and probably one of the most poetic last lines I have ever read.

Where Does Fantasy Stem From?

So, as I outlined in the previous blog post, this is going to be a blog mainly about science-fiction and fantasy novels and the genre that is science-fiction and fantasy. Although, I should warn you all, I have a tendency to formulate more ideas on the latter so expect more on fantasy than science-fiction.

When I think of the term Fantasy my mind immediately goes to Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin and even Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. All of these are huge fantasy novels, and all of them different. LotR is High Fantasy, GoT is Epic Fantasy and Harry Potter is a more modernized fantasy. You may disagree with these categories that I’ve placed them in and that’s fine. Much of these blend together to multiple types of fantasy in general. To add to the confusion, here is a definition of the fantasy genre I found from www.findmeanauthor.com

“Any book that contains unrealistic settings, or magic, often set in a medieval universe, or possibly involving mythical beings or supernatural forms as a primary element of the plot, theme, or setting. Something magical is almost always part of fantasy and magic may be seen in the setting or in the plot. It may even be practiced by the characters.”

Because of such a broad definition there are a bunch of subsections of the Fantasy umbrella. These include, but are certainly not limited to,

  • Romance Fantasy
  • Fairy Tales
  • Alternative History
  • Arthurian Fantasy
  • Comic Fantasy
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Epic Fantasy
  • Heroic Fantasy
  • High Fantasy
  • Mystery Fantasy
  • Magic Realism
  • Modern Fantasy
  • Sword and Sorcery

To provide the definitions for each here would be very tedious, not to mention probably boring for many people reading the blog. Also, probably redundant you can find much of this information on the internet. Here is a great blog that goes through not only the sub genres of fantasy listed above, but also many many more: http://bestfantasybooks.com/fantasy-genre.php

With so many genres of fantasy it is quite hard to really nail down the starting point of fantasy. Is the Old English tale, Beowulf, an epic poem or fantasy? Or both? If we define it as an epic poem, which it is most often referred to as, then what would the next possible choice be? Perhaps some of Shakespeare’s works like A Midsummer’s Night Dream, or Arthurian Fantasy (as listed above) with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?

If not them, then maybe Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein novel (1818), George MacDonald and The Princess and the Goblin (1858) or Bram Stroker and Dracula in the late 1800s. All of these contain fantastical elements and fall into one of the genres listed above and pave the way for other, more modern authors today. Since Stoker there has been a plethora of vampire tales and even the whole paranormal fantasy section has come about since. MacDonald was a serious influence on the likes of Tolkein and C.S. Lewis in the 1900s and it is because of their works that I thoroughly believe that fantasy got the fuel it needed to become the epic (pun intended) genre it is today. In fact, it are the works of these two authors that propelled me to write my own fantasy novel. Growing up with the Harry Potter series my whole life has had an affected me as an individual and I thoroughly believe that that series helped to foster my love of writing and reading even more.

Still, despite these literary classics like Frankenstein and Dracula and Beowulf, I think, to some people, there is a certain stigma about fantasy. Many people claim they don’t read fantasy, but yet, have devoured up works such as Twilight and Harry Potter, that, although are definitely modernized versions of fantasy, are still fantasy. If it’s not the readers, I know I definitely experienced some bias in my creative writing courses at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire as teachers did not let us write and take part in the fantasy genre. I never really knew why this was, and to claim, as it were to them, that the fantasy genre is a “lesser” genre because of those very fantastical elements that make it unique is unfair.

Anyways, the treatment fantasy is dealt in terms of academia is a whole ‘nother topic entirely, and probably something I’ll address further into my teaching career. But, that isn’t what this blog post is about, it’s about showing everyone reading that it is nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact date that the fantasy genre began. Some may even argue the Bible for all of its fantastical elements.

What I wanted to do with this post is to show you that the fantasy genre can’t be pinned down. And, to avoid dragging on this post any more than I have already done so by means of periphrasis (okay that word was a word of the day on dictionary.com and I thought it fitting), I am going to end by telling how to tackle this problem of depth.

What I want to do is perhaps have a fantasy “genre” of the month, suggested by you, the readers. I would take a vote at the end of the month and then announce the winner the following month. So an example would go like this. If a majority of people wanted to learn more about let’s say, Magical Realism, and how it relates to fantasy then I would dedicated a month to Magical Realism. First, I would describe what form of fantasy we would be tackling for the month and I would take suggestions for works in that said category. In the following posts I would discuss more of the history of that particular genre and try to find some interesting info and I think a good way to conclude the month is by reviewing something of that particular genre and taking a poll for the following month. Given the depth of fantasy as I made apparent above, this would definitely be a way to keep this blog lively and new and fresh each month for all of you. And it would also shed more light on the specifics of a genre then merely glossing over it.

With that being said, I guess I would like for your feedback on that idea. J Since we are already halfway through January I am not going to tackle a specific genre now, rather, just merely priming for the rest of the year.

Michael E. Thies

P.S. I would like to thank Leila for commenting on my first post and giving me a good starting point for this idea. So, thanks!

Roll The Bones – Review

I am not sure why I am not able to upload an image on here, but here is my review for Roll the Bones, by Rob May. I give it a 4-star (★★★★) rating. And, here is why:

Protagonist and Dragon Killer Extraordinaire, Kalina Moonheart, returns in Rob May’s novel, Roll the Bones. And along with Kalina, Rob May’s excellent pacing and prose style.

In this book Rob does an extraordinary job of mixing fantasy and adventure, along with mystery. I am not going to lie that when I read this book I thought of Dan Brown, but without the bogged down descriptions. The reason I make this comparison is that Rob keeps his chapters short, allowing us as readers to breeze through the novel all in one sitting—a style very much similar to Dan Brown. Also, the mystery and suspense in it remind me of Brown’s style as well, as well as the ending actually, but since it is not overused and recycled continually it had a strangely organic feel to it.

The greatest improvement that I noticed in this book, compared to the first book in the series, is Rob’s ability to interweave multiple story plots throughout the novel. There is Story A going on with the election, then Story B going on with trying to find a murderer who is killing off consuls in the elections, and finally we have Story C which involves a love interest to Kalina Moonheart, Will Straightarrow and his actions throughout the novel. Now, although this may sound complex, Rob does an excellent job at tackling each story line and interweaving all three of them together into one dynamic resolution.

What jarred me as a reader, though, is when, all the sudden, we get taken back in time (that’s not clearly defined) and Kalina is remembering something that happened with her friend Ben. We go from 3rd-person limited to all of the sudden, 1st person and I didn’t know exactly why the flashbacks always occurred. Usually something triggers a flashback, but sometimes I felt as though these came on arbitrarily. On top of that, some of the scenarios were a little over the top in my opinion. For example, there is a point late in the novel, where Kal is nearly killed by a dragon and the whole place is about to explode and she and her love interest Will are taken to a tower by someone who leaves, Will leaves and both of those individuals make it out okay, but Kal has to parachute her way from the tower. I guess, why couldn’t Kal just leave easily with the rest of them? Why did this person know a parachute was going to be needed? Maybe I missed something, but it was an over-the-top instance that I think could have been planned better.

Now, did these things detract from characterization of Kalina Moonheart, or Rob May’s prose and deftness at crafting a story? Absolutely not. Rob still shows that he has a deft hand in writing and a clear voice in telling, when he crafted this novel.

 

I encourage all of you to check out Rob May’s website: http://www.robertwilliammay.com/

Also, if you want to purchase this book: http://www.amazon.com/Roll-Bones-Dragon-Killer-Series-ebook/dp/B00HUSDVP6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401226328&sr=8-1&keywords=roll+the+bones+rob+may

Supporting an Author

Hey everyone,

It is Christmas time. That means a bunch of things. It means, if you’re in college, you are on Winter Break currently and just got done with finals. (Congratulations I hope it went well for you). At any age it means celebrating time off with the family. In Wisconsin and the Midwest it means severe cold. Like, literally severe cold. Anyways, there is also one more thing it means that has been bred into us through years upon years of traditions. It means presents, family time, and a family dinner.

And, well, what better present than a gift from an author you know?! I have been in the process of getting my book up on Amazon, and guess what IT IS FINALLY THERE!!! Here is the link for that: http://www.amazon.com/The-Trials-Core-Michael-Thies/dp/0989566803/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387576205&sr=8-1&keywords=the+trials+of+the+core+michael+e+thies

 

I was pretty excited about this. But, I also bought 1000 copies of my book in order to sell throughout the new year. And here is the thing I want to express with you, us authors are broke people, very broke, so every dime of support means something to me. If you are someone who wants a book for free because you know me, I’m sorry, that hurts me even more. This is a little bit of a rant, but imagine working on something for 6 years and putting countless of hours and money into it and people want to have it for free, when it’s only $15? That’s like 2.5 dollars per year that I’m earning (not per hour or day or month). I would consider that not the greatest of pay rates. Probably the worst out there.

Anyways, with these 1000 books I now need to compete with selling them through my website, www.guardianofthecore.com and with Amazon. Amazon, I found out, is offering my book for $11.03 with Free shipping if you’re an Amazon Prime member. This is much cheaper than my 14.95 + flat fee of 6.90 for shipping. So, why should you visit my website and purchase books instead of going through Amazon? One word: Support.

And, now that I have these 1000 books, I need to start making some headway in selling them. So, here is what I am doing for the holiday season and beyond. I am selling my book for $12.50. No, that doesn’t beat Amazon prices at all. I am sorry, I will never beat Amazon prices, but I hope that if you are true supporters of me and the work and effort I have put into something for 6 years that the extra 5 dollars that you’ll spend on my book, purchasing it through the website, will not break your bank. Also, here’s another great thing that purchasing it through the website offers you and that Amazon cannot. A signature! That’s right, any book that gets ordered through my website (or directly through me if you come into contact with me via everyday life) will receive an autographed copy of the book. HOW AWESOME! If that something isn’t enough, you even get cool little “Guardian of the Core” bookmarks.

I don’t mean to call anyone out or make people feel uncomfortable lol but if there is one thing that annoys me more than other things, it’s asking for a free copy of my book. It’s not like I ask you for a free “insert service here”. Anyways, I’m not saying “BUY MY BOOK! IT’S SO AWESOME!” but, what I’m saying, is that if you do ever plan on purchasing it in your life, please order through my website to help support me more as an author than what Amazon would support me (since they take a % of my profit). And, if you don’t plan on purchasing my book, which is cool, reading isn’t up everyone’s alley, you can still support me by telling people who do read and that you know about my book. They are probably going to be bored over winter break so tell them about my book! It’d mean a lot to me. If they ask you for reviews you can show them this website: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18242825-the-trials-of-the-core

With all the said, thank you for reading. I hope I didn’t offend anyone with my rantish topic but I hope you all understand the position I am in as an author. It’s not like I get paid an hourly rate to do what I do. I hope you all have a happy holidays and if you purchase one for yourself, or your friend, I hope you enjoy it!

An International Review

Hey everyone,

So, more good news. Another review came in this one was from a, Nadia Batista, who lives in Portugal and has read my book. She gave it a ★★★★ 4 Star review on Goodreads. That is awesome on so many different levels. Hopefully it starts picking up some international steam now. That would be fantastic. There is a bunch of things that need to happen before that happens, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

With that being said, here is the link to the actual blog post. http://eu-e-o-bam.blogspot.pt/2013/12/li-ate-pag100-36.html  What I post below is the rough translation of what is posted in the blog post. Keep in mind that I do not speak Portuguese nor does my mom. She was a Spanish teacher for 35+ years and there are similarities between Spanish and Portuguese so that is why I say this is a rough translation. Where she got stumped, we went to Google Translation.

 

1st part – First sentence on Page 100:

-> “If water is blue, why must this one be red?”

2nd part – What does the book deal with:

-> Trials of the Core tells a story of six youngsters who compete amongst one another in order to become Guardian of the Core.

3rd part –   What have I found until now?:

-> You are going to enjoy the book more than one expects. In spite of that at times it reminds me of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, this is going to be quite agreeable literature.

4th part – What does the protagonist find?:

-> There is no protagonist in this story. Amongst the six competitors the story is told, not favoring one more than another. Now, how much to like all the characters…that is another story.

5th part – ??? No idea. Couldn’t understand this.

6th part – Are you going to continue reading?

-> Of course.

7th Part – The last sentence of the page:

-> “Everyone else had to travel by foot – but time was no issue for him now.”

 

I was very excited for this review. As a first-time author, not really knowing what to expect going into this whole process, I find it really really interesting that people from other countries are enjoying my books. That makes me feel good on a whole different level. Again, I think a big reason for this is because this book deals with the issue of self-realization which is an issue that is global, and not just in an isolated pocket.

Spread the word about, The Trials of the Core, to your friends. Also, don’t be afraid to check out the website at www.guardianofthecore.com.

Thanks for reading!

A Delayed December Launch :(

Hey everyone,

Alright so this is the saddest thing in the world to announce (at least for me) but I have been promoting my official book launch for December 10th, for forever now it seems. And alas, I do not believe it is going to happen (unless a miracle happens). In truth, I am not sure when it is going to happen anymore. How did this fiasco happen? Well, that, my friends and followers, is what I’m going to explain because I was quite distraught when I read the news.

So, with self publishing, we publishers have a few options to go with to let our books have the chance to be distributed nation-wide. Those options are CreateSpace (CS) or LightningSource (LS). There are probably others, too, but these two are the main players. Anyways, I went with LS because they offer a return policy, unlike CS, which is very important to get your books into bookstores, some bookstores are hesitant not to take books without a return policy because it is a rough economy out there. Also, LS does not put that they are the publisher on their books like CS does.

This July LightningSource split off into LightningSource and IngramSpark (IS). IngramSpark is where they transferred all of their self-published authors, like me! Now, this is fine, I don’t have a problem going with IS. However, I did not take time to read thoroughly the time delay it would take from the time it is submitted on IS to the time it actually gets put up on websites like amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com. I though it would be an instantaneous process like LS, however, it is not. With that being said, I just approved everything a week and a half ago. This was all before I knew the fact thtat a new, never before published author like me, can expect up to 4-6 weeks to get out onto Amazon. Now, I have NO IDEA why the heck there is such a lag or delay in this process (it’s electronic after all). But, so far, my book is not up there yet, and I don’t really know when it’s going to be up there. So, if you were planning on buying the book, The Trials of the Core, on Amazon you will not be able to until I find out that it’s up there. When that happens I will let you know.

Anyways, there is my plight. So, maybe it’ll be up on Amazon tomorrow, but I doubt it. But, do not fear, there is still hope! You can order the book from my website, www.guardianofthecore.com and not only will you get the book sooner than what Amazon would deliver, but you will also get a personally autographed book, something that Amazon cannot give you. So, go there, check out the site, and if you feel inclined to buy, then go for it 🙂

For other aspiring authors out there who are reading the blog, keep this new timeline in mind when you are planning your book’s release date. I do not want to see any other authors affected by this like me.

Ender’s Game: From Book to Movie

enders_game_2013_movie-wide

Alright, so I am disappointed to admit this but until the movie gained popularity, I had not read Ender’s Game even though it is considered to be a staple in the science-fiction genre. Needless to say, I bought the book on my Kindle and I read it before seeing the movie. I always find it fascinating when books get turned into movies and I think that is really any author’s dream (or nightmare if your book gets murdered as much as Christopher Paolini’s Eragon did). With that being said, this is my review of the book and movie as a conjoined identity.

Compared to the book, the movie falls short. Not even falls short. Falls into an ABYSS. It’s very sad to see such a great book that has a lot of potential to be a great movie, end up not being that great at all. I would have to say it’s the second word book-to-movie translation I have ever seen, behind Eragon (I’m convinced those people didn’t even read the book cause of how awful it was). Anyways, before you start criticizing me for badmouthing the movie, let me get a chance to explain the problematic elements the movie offered.

  1. I thought the movie was too short. I look at the time and it says that it was 114 minutes long, but it did not seem like that for me. I could have sworn it was only around an hour and a half and definitely could have been improved by being increased by at least another half an hour. If this length is correct than this movie suffers from misdirection in defining what is truly important in the storyline. Those are the next points that I will be addressing.
  2. Technically I guess the largest flaw of this movie is the fact that they did not describe the anscible or what it does. They make reference to it but do not make an effort to tell us what it does and simply assume that everyone watching the movie knows what it does. This I would consider the biggest flaw in the movie because it is the crux of the whole ending of the story! For those of you who haven’t read the book, the anscible is a device that allows people to communicate faster than the speed of light. This is the dues ex machina that allows Ender to control the entire star fleet at the end that are universes away. Also, when we find out that it was no simulation that Ender was facing, but the real enemy and the ansicble is the thing that made his directions seems to be in real time, it brings a certain sense of realism to the science-fiction element. With this element not being explained thoroughly we, as viewers, have no clue how this “simulation” ended up being real or how that can even happen without removing ourselves really really far out of the story (suspension of disbelief at its finest).
  3. The battles that made up a majority of the story, end up hardly making up any of this movie. Ender is shown doing one battle in the movie. Then all the sudden he is ready to take on a whole fleet of alien without any more training. That is too contrived. I understand you need to cut things to fit a book into movie form, however, a few more battles would have engaged the audience more and also would have shown Ender’s skills develop as a tactical genius. Plus, it would have created emotional unrest in us as we see all of his friends graduate (although we really know they just graduated to command school to where Ender meets them again). Because of this brevity we don’t get to see the strain it is putting on Ender and therefore cannot really connect with him as a character and so when he is having a hard time going to command school and needs to go home and his sister Valentine talks to him, we don’t really understand why he is so distraught.
  4. One last change that really made me upset is the fact that this “Giant’s Game” that is also a considerable part of the book, is skimmed over. The game is described in great detail but the “End of the World” part is not. What Ender struggles with is this, and he doesn’t struggle with it in the movie. In fact, he solves it the first time. And the “End of the World” that actually ends up being a whole different planet in the book, ends up being on the same planet where the Space Command School is set up. A site where they said they had traveled through all the tunnels and exterminated all of the “buggers” as they are called. Little do they know they missed one bugger and her offspring (which is going to repopulate the race that Ender just genocided). Okay, this may be believable if the fact that the place that they didn’t scope out fully is the one that is located as close to the Command School as possible. How does this one go without being looked at extensively??? Really??? Come on now producers, think that through!!!
  5. And finally just a few pet peeves that annoy me when it comes to translating anything from book to movie or tv show. Why do you need to change names if they are going to be the exact same characters? Granted this didn’t really happen a lot with Ender’s Game but there is a man named “Dab” who I am pretty sure isn’t in the entire book and just thrown in there as a filler character. But, for example, an issue where it becomes more prevalent is when Game of Thrones changed Theon’s sister from Asha to Yara (which I guess would have been too confusing with Bran’s wilding mentor Osha).

Now, as in any review or critique there needs to be some positive elements, right? Yes, that is right and Ender’s Game does have some moments of brilliance here.

  1. I thought the cast was appropriate minus Bonzo who I thought was going to be taller (especially since he’s older) than Ender. Also, I pictured him to be bigger. Was not expecting such a scrawny kid.
  2. I thought the fact that they did not choose to include the internet domination of Ender’s brother and sister is a good thing. I don’t think this really carried the book story any further and it definitely would have caused a drag in the movie if it were allowed to sneak in. That was an excellent choice by the producers.
  3. The graphics and animations were really well done. The buggers were shown very well and I though the “Giant’s Game” that Ender plays in the book was translated very well to the movie screen minus the fact that they didn’t go into enough detail with it.

All in all I would give this book to movie translation a 3/10. The graphics and cast are what got in the three. But not defining the anscible clearly and demonstrating a clear lack in Ender’s training which is probably 75% of the actual book just shows a clear negligence on the part of the producers. I would still have to say that my all-time favorite book to movie translations would have to be the Harry Potter series. The producers and directors did a fantastic job at those, and if my book, The Trials of the Core, ever gets chosen to become a movie someday, those are the people I would want to have it done.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you read the book? Have you seen the movie? Both? How would you compare the two?

What can be Improved Upon in English College Courses (Part 1)

So, there are a few things that have been bugging me for a while now. This blog post actually gets a little long so I’m expanding it into multiple parts. Part one talks about writing courses in college, although all of this can probably be applied to high school writing courses as well.  Part 2 will focus on courses I think that should be added to the college curriculum. And, who knows, maybe I’ll expand this into a part 3, as well, topic yet to be determined.

Firstly, why is there such a tendency to curb the way we college students write? I understand that different people have different taste in genres, but I believe each genre should be an acceptable format to write in during a college writing course. We come there to enhance our skills after all, not to write something that has no interest to us. I’ll use my college experience as an example here (and I know many colleges are focused around the same way), in my junior level creative writing prose course we were meant to have a portfolio at the end of the semester with 3 short stories in it. I had an awesome teacher who allowed us to write whatever we wanted. . . Initially, anyways. I decided I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and I’ll write a short story that coincides with my larger piece that I’m working on, my novel. I loved it. I had an awesome time writing it and I feel as though much of the class enjoyed it (that last part could be due to the fact that I consider myself a decent writer). Anyways, 2/3 pieces I wrote for that portfolio turned out to be short stories that supplemented my novel, The Trials of the Core, which is a fantasy piece.

In my senior level creative writing prose course my teacher strictly forbade anyone from writing fantasy short stories and decided to stick with literary prose. Okay. I don’t mind literary prose, I can write about anything, that’s what practice will get you, but if I had a choice what would I choose? Probably my fantasy stories and again work on things that are going to compliment me later in life. Now, the problem here?

The problem is that my senior level creative writing teacher forbade us to write on anything other than her specific interest even when we had two pieces we needed to turn in at the end of the year. My junior-level teacher did not. To me a solution could be that, yes, you can write a story genre specific to your choice, but then you must also write another story that is not in your typical genre. This forces us as writers and readers to do a couple things: (1) As writers, we find our voice in different genres. We are exposed to a wider range of writing, and as such, become better versed in all aspects writing. (2) As readers, we learn to look at different types of literature and judge it in the genre that it’s in. We see the shortcomings of a specific genre, and the strengths of another. We learn to analyze differently and perhaps even take what’s specific in one genre and merge it with another (for example, merging an idea of fantasy into magical realism). (3) As teachers, you should be able to discern good writing from bad writing no matter the genre. Even if it’s something you don’t typically read, you know a good sentence when you see it—it is not as abstract as poetry is in my opinion.

I am pro-fantasy writer, a definite advocate, and so I hate it when teachers tell me I can’t write a specific way and there are typically a few reasons: (1) Fantasy is about world building and you don’t have enough time to properly world build in a short story, (2) You need to deal with magic and supernatural elements, that again, take a long time to explain and not suited for a short story, (3) there may be creatures in it that we cannot suspend our disbelief to.

Great…

Here are some reasons why we should be allowed to write fantasy (but you can apply these reasons to other genres as well): (1) The ability to create a delicate plot structure. Just think about it, imagine how much planning and timing it takes for fantasy authors to juggle multiple plot lines in a single story. J.K. Rowling had 7 books in her series, Harry Potter, and although I doubt she had all 7 outlined when she wrote her first book, she had a good idea of where she wanted the story to go. As fantasy writers we need to think about things that happen in the first book that will affect the second book, third book, and so on. That is hard! And a reason why if we can practice that in short story format, utilizing the setup-payoff technique, we are going to be well off when we actually start our career after college. (2) World building. I don’t think there is another genre (perhaps besides science-fiction) that worldbuilds like fantasy does. This is a trait that can carry over to ANY GENRE. We as writers are writers, first and foremost, but I’d scoff at anyone who says that as a writer they are not an observer—a people watcher, a world watcher. If you can dream up or think up these fantastic settings that are, for the most part, imaginary just think about how well you will be able to do describing something that takes place in Smoky Mountains, Tennessee. The language we use is the same, the reality is that in most other fiction, it literally is reality that is the difference. It’s there. Tangible. (3) To further recognize how to deal with not only cliché characters, but hackneyed scenarios. This is huge in genre fiction. In romance you have the love triangle and the most known one is the High School quarterback dating the head cheerleader and then this other undiscovered girl comes in and attracts the quarterback and they fall in love. For fantasy it’s the idea that an orphan will be the one to save everyone. And so on and so forth for the other genres. But, writing these short stories in these different types of genres allow us to practice creating different archetypes of characters, because we don’t want the predictable love triangle. By listening to others’ feedback who aren’t maybe versed in the genre as much as we are, we get an outsiders perspective which might just be the thing we are looking for when it comes to changing up our pacing, style, tone or perspective.

Well, that actually happened to be a lengthier blog post than I intended it to be, but it needed to be said nonetheless. So, there you have it teachers and professors, don’t limit your student’s creativity just because you don’t like a particular genre. Instead, embrace it. Allow them to write perhaps one of there 3 portfolio pieces in a genre of their choosing but then encourage them to go outside their norms and write in something else. This will only create better writers, better readers, and better analyzers. We as students are thirsty for variety, thirsty for knowledge, and that sort of thing is taken away when our writing habits are dictated. I think Plato says it best when he says, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Know one thing, you know nothing, know many things, and you are on the write path.