Monday 22 February 2016

Underwhelmed of Devon

Excuse me if I don't get up, but I'm finding the latest, greatest news in physics, the confirmation of gravity waves, a tad, well, underwhelming.

I know I should be excited by the effects of two black holes merging 1.3 billion light years away like neopolitan ice-cream in the sun (okay, neopolitan has three colours, but its the best analogy I can think of off the cuff) but, seriously, if the effect is about the same as a bacteria farting, why bother?

I'm very much of the opinion that science is not helpful to science fiction.  Each discovery may confirm a particular hypothesis, but discounts a potentially large set of ifs, buts and maybes.  By confirming gravity waves as something that affects atoms like, say, me breathing lightly on the Rocky Mountains, we've just made rips in the space-time continuum through which four-dimensional alien matter can pour not just less likely but, somehow, sillier if I were to suggest it.

And rips in the space-time continuum through which four-dimensional alien matter can pour is what I deal in.

However, on a slightly more exciting note, Night Lights: An Anthology of Short Fiction: First Contact, Conspiracy, and Space Opera, in which I have the story Shooting the Messenger is out now from Geminid Press LLC.  Buy! Buy! Buy!

Thursday 11 February 2016

Glad I'm not going mad

Why not a War of the Words?

So, the BBC is planing a glossy new version of War of the Worlds.  (At least, I'm sure that I read that somewhere recently, but Google brings nothing up about it, although they are planning an adaptation of Len Deighton's SS-GB, about which I'm mildly excited).

Still, I'm going to proceed on the basis that I haven't imagined it.  It will, after all, be the 70th anniversary of his death this summer, to be celebrated shortly after by the publication of a sequel to War of the Worlds, the book having gone out of copyright.

But, let's assume the BBC are to produce a new War.  A great piece of writing; that opening monologue, whether read by Richard Burton or Morgan Freeman.  A landmark book.  Wikipedia lists ten films that it's spawned, plus a rash of telly and radio.  And let's not forget the mass hysteria and panic following the Welles radio play in 1938... that never actually happened.

And there's the basis of my issue.  It's been done before.  Over and over.  Good story, although we can debate whether the ending is a deus ex machina or early postmodern irony.  But there are so many new stories out there.  God knows, I'm trying to lever my goods into a crowded marketplace.  There must be at least one decent, filmable story by an untried writer?  Why not have a War of the Words to find a new voice?

The BBC is brilliant at bringing on new talent.  I'm immensely proud of my BBC artist number, garnered for a brief satirical sketch on Weekending some twenty-plus years ago.  I could just walk into Broadcasting House into the open writers' meeting for the show and pitch.  I download the Radio 6 Music Introducing podcast, new music by unsigned bands who just send in their wares.  It's what public service broadcasting is about, people.

It's one of the aspects that makes the BBC brilliant.  So, why so conservative here?  I'm not even sure whether the Wells brand is strong enough these days to make it an economic decision; if anything the choice (if it's really been made and I didn't dream it) smacks slightly of laziness.  I'm not sure that I'll be watching...


And, talking of levering my goods into a crowded marketplace, PunksWritePoems Press have taken my story Litterpicking on the Moon for their Don't Wait 'til Doomsday anthology.  Which is nice.