The Story of a Sword

I had an idea a while back, something that came to me while I was lying in bed at night. It’s an unfortunately productive time for my imagination, when I’d like to sleep but instead often come up with story ideas. Then I struggle to record them and whatever resonance they hold for me before they slip away, and when I wake in the morning and stare at whatever I’ve written down I have to wonder why I thought it was a good idea.

Wait, no, I’m mixing this idea up with many others that I have. *This* one came to me while I was supposed to be listening to a presentation. I promptly jotted it down on my phone and emailed it to myself. Anyway, I’ve elaborated on what I think the opening of the story is and I’ll share that opening scene with you today. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s not, it’ll probably change… but first you’ll have a chance to enjoy it.

Continue reading

Advertisements

I Guess “Jacopo’s Ridiculous Liege” Didn’t Have The Same Ring To It?

This brief post is all about showing a little appreciation for The Count of Monte Cristo, both the story written by Alexandre Dumas (which I must admit I’ve only ever read in abridged form) and the 2002 movie-version of the same tale.

I watched it again recently. I was forcibly reminded of how well Dumas wrote melodramatic excitement, and impressed by the way he wove it into the very fabric of his stories. As an overweening revenge fantasy filled with now clichéd twists, there’s still something classically appealing about the whole thing.

But I admit, the standard storyline gets a little same-old, same-old. There’s only so far my appreciation for Dumas’ excellent treatment of the form will take me before I start rebelling. No matter how much the movie may claim that Edmond Dantes is the main character, the one most deserving of our attention, I can’t help but feel that he (and his frenemy Fernand Mondego) are whiny and/or stupid assholes.

No, Jacopo is the one I like best.

94a07a784e990b328746999e61fb6977.jpg

That’s right, that guy right there. Jacopo, as played by Luis Guzmán. He’s smart (if not a genius), he’s loyal, and he has his head set firmly on his shoulders. When Dantes first lays out his plans for revenge, Jacopo responds: Why not just kill them? I’ll do it! I’ll run up to Paris – bam, bam, bam, bam. I’m back before week’s end. We spend the treasure. How is this a bad plan?

This line is almost delivered as comedy, maybe at Jacopo’s expense for being so simpleminded. But the truth is, Jacopo more or less has the right of it. And that continues to be the case throughout the entire story. He goes along with Dantes because he swore that he would be his man after Dantes spared his life, but that doesn’t stop Jacopo from pointing out Dantes’ insanities and obsessions. I’m rarely happier watching this movie than when Luis Guzmán is on screen.

It’s a good thing I like watching him so much, because I think I’ll need to revisit this film again soon for some appropriate inspiration to my various swashbuckling-esque stories. It’s good stuff.

Arctic Rising, by Tobias Buckell

9780091953522

 

Tobias Buckell has made me very happy indeed.  I can’t decide whether I prefer Arctic Rising to Hurricane Fever, and I really liked Hurricane Fever (seriously, read my review).  It’s rare that I have the pleasure of reading a fast paced high-tension thriller set in a brilliantly developed near-future, let alone reading two of them back to back.  Buckell’s world-building is a tremendous draw for me.  It’s quality shines through in the ease with which he introduces the near-future to the reader; he keeps his obvious enthusiasm for the world he’s created tightly leashed, only revealing it in dribs and drabs, more often than not as an in-character rumination or observation that feels entirely appropriate.  Better yet, I didn’t find any gaping implausibilities.  I’ll admit that I didn’t take a fine-toothed comb to the books and their established background, but they hold together well enough to offer a compelling (and somewhat distressing) view of an imminent future.  If you want to treat yourself to a jaunt down “doesn’t this seem likely…” lane, and you want some hair-raising hijinks in the bargain, try either of these books.  If you don’t want to be spoiled for either book before you read it, be sure to read Arctic Rising first, though I did it in the opposite order and still enjoyed myself immensely.

Why did I enjoy it so much?  Well…

Continue reading

Hurricane Fever, By Tobias S. Buckell

NewImage4

I first heard about this book through Scalzi’s Big Idea feature on his blog.  I was captivated by Buckell‘s premise, a spy novel set in the Caribbean with a protagonist who actually lived and grew up there instead of simply going there to vacation, infiltrate, or establish a villainous lair.  It pays special attention to what it’s like to have your home relegated to the status of a playground for the wealthy, and how a pan-Caribbean federation might look in the near future.  Hurricane Fever is a fast paced delight that delivers on its premise and offers the best Bond movie I’ve read in years.  It’s a violent and active spy-thriller, and one in which the main character is more often mistaken for a member of the waitstaff than a tourist.  I found it both engaging and refreshing, and now I want to read Buckell’s other work.

Read on for more detail.  Don’t worry, I’ll protect you from undue spoilers.

Continue reading