04 December 2013

Humpday Musings: Elysium, del Toro, and Man of Steel .

Movies: Just saw Elysium the other day, which I'd not had a chance to see at the cinema.

I wish I had. Though the movie itself is nothing revolutionary and some of its themes seem to be a tad on the nose, I really have to hand to to Neill Blokamp, whose 2 movies so far (this and the great District 9) show a really great sense of art direction, which is something I look out for in fatasy/sci-fi movies.

The opening shots of favela-like slums in Los Angeles set the mood perfectly. Dystopian world, poverty, disease, unemployment. Many of them have come to accept their life, but others would dare to dream, to look up at the stars and literally see a better world look down at them. Powerful imagery, if unsubtle. I love the barrenness of Earth contrasted with the lush greenery of Elysium (even its offices are teeming in greenery). Perhaps some changes less noticeable to mist include the differences between earth-based ships and those originating in Elysium as well as the scarification that many Elysians(?) seem to have.

As always, Neill Blokamp's fascination with interesting weapons and equipment shines through and WETA workshop have once more outdone themselves deigning credible-looking items. The addition of cunning product placement, such as Bulgari watches, pesonal Bugatti ships and Kawasaki exo-armour. Really great stuff!

Though I found the characters somewhat one-dimensional (Matt Damon's Max in particular seemed somewhat flat after a great sarcastic start) There was much I took away from the movie, as a worldbuilder. And this is something i admire WETA workshop and directors like Peter Jackson, Neill Blokamp and Joseph Kosinski, who devote as much time to creating a beautiful world as they do to the storytelling (if not more-so).

This in turn pushes me to try harder with my own worldbuilding, showing me where i might be at fault, or urging me to perhaps explore a part of the world i might not have before (immigration, exodus, diaspora and social inequality, in the case of this movie).

Music: I don't listen to much normal music. Its generally audiobooks and movie soundtracks/scores for me. I'm still obsessed with the Man of Steel soundtrack from this year's eponymous movie (The movie itself is another matter...). Hanz Zimmer has really outdone himself with this one - the percussions in particular just get me going and really help me create a rhythm with my writing. I find I actually write quicker to such a beat, though my girlfriend says I also hit the keys on my keyboard a lot louder too...

Geeky Stuff: I used to love Lego...

Let me digress for a moment and express my uter contempt for people who refer to Lego in the plural. It's Lego, not Lego's! :)

Anyway... as I was saying, I used to love Lego and experiences what is known amongst the Lego community as my 'Wilderness Years' at around the age of 12, by which point I had already been heavily into wargaming and roleplaying for 2-years, and though I like to keep up-to-date with many Lego sites (the wonderful brothers-brick.com, being one of them) which offer a lot of great ideas for scenarios and machines, amongst other things. For instance, Mihai Mihu's Cuircles of Hell from Dante, which just got my creative juices flowing so much!

I hit thirty this year and think I might be getting my mid-life crisis a bit early. Amongst other (arguably far more important) things, I got an urge to buy a Lego kit, so ordered a Star Wars X-wing fighter for m,yself for Christmas. I'm looking forward to it.

I also got my my girlfriend to buy me Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities for Christmas. One of my favourite directors, I;ve been fascinated by his production journals for some years, enjoying them so much whenever they pop up in the documentaries on his movies' DVD's extras. I'm looking forward to that one very much...

02 December 2013

State of the Nation Address

So, we’re coming up to the new year and I’ve been thinking about the blog…

What’s that? Where have I been? What do you mean where have I been? Where have you been? Oh, you’ve been right here, waiting for me?

Time to back up. I haven’t posted here in a long time! My last post was back in June when I was racing against time to get my Nanowrimo ‘winning’ entry printed up for free. I didn’t get the free printouts (serves me right for leaving it until a few hours before deadline to try and sort any wrinkles out…) but I did get 3 copies printed out, which left me with an immense sense of satisfaction.

Even just holding the book in my hands, smelling the pages and looking at all the typos in their real-printed glory made me feel giddy – giddier than I’d have ever thought possible.

A couple of people were kind (gullible) enough to read the book (many more offered but didn’t follow through – shame on you!) and I got lots of useful feedback from them (apparently I use the word ‘thing’ a lot in my writing) which I’m planning on incorporating into a final draft (well, final is such a strong word…, at which point I’ll start shopping it around to agents. If that doesn’t work out, not to fret, I can possibly avoid a lot of hassle by self-publishing.

Speaking of Nanowrimo, I took the opportunity to spend this year’s month of frenetic writing activity to start work on a sequel of sorts to Twilight of the Idols’ (or ‘Twilight of the Gods’, as I’ve since renamed it), tentatively called ‘Legacies of the Gods’ or possibly ‘Children of the Gods’.  I’m about 60,000 words in now (about half of which is an immense prologue that needs to be severely cut down), and expect ill finish at around 150,000, at which point I’ll need to bring out the trimming shears.

Anyhow, So I’ve been busy with that, a lot of simple word-building (fleshing out my world map with regions and ruins) and working on the twin-hemisphere map I’ve been slowly working on. The latter project was made much easier thanks to the purchase of a new PC (thank the demiurges for SSD’s!) which has made work on large maps a lot easier than before.

I’ve also kept myself busy with random map commissions to help finance the PC and small bits of research here and there. I’ve just about settled into my new apartment, though the acquisition of a new demon… sorry, puppy, has meant a lot of adjusting and a lot less time to myself.

(to anyone interested, her name is penny and she’s adorkable, but a raging feline coprophiliac…), something my cat isn’t very happy with.

Now onto the matter at hand.

Blogging is a difficult pursuit, one which takes a lot more time that one thinks. I’ve learnt this the hard way, as my sporadic updates will no doubt bear testament to. With a new year coming I thought I’d try revamp the blog, and come up with a schedule. Not that many people are reading, but it’s more of an exercise in discipline than anything else. Now working shifts (very shitty shifts, at that) make this rather difficult, but I’ll try stick to my targets.

So, without more digression, here’s my plan for the blog:

2 updates a week:

Humpday Musings: just me talking about whatever I’ve been up to lately, cool links, films I’ve seen, movie soundtracks I’m listening to, worldbuilding stuff I’ve come across on the interwebz etc.  I expect this entry to be quite random, with pics and weirdness. Expect general geekiness to appear here.

Weekend Worldbuilding
: Anything related to Elyden comes here. New maps, thoughts on the worldbuilding process specific to the world. Fiction. Languages. Anything along those lines. I expect this to be the least updated section J

Let’s see how this pans out…