Tuesday September 23, 2014

My Reddit AMA is Live!

My Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) has been posted. As of right now you can start adding your questions over at http://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/2h8ooh, (or, for your mnemonic convenience, http://schlock.us/ama01)

I'll begin posting my answers at around 7pm Eastern time.

Ten Years: Ask Me Anything

On Tuesday the 23rd I'll be doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) in r/fantasy over on Reddit. Why? Because I've been self-employed for ten years now.
2004, September 20th, a Monday... that was my last day at Novell. Tuesday the 21st was my first day cartooning full-time.
And here we are in 2014. I think that the right day for celebrating a decade of Schlock Mercenary as my day job is the 21st, because while quitting was satisfying, I'd rather celebrate the beginning of the next thing than the ending of the previous thing. That said, here's what I wrote ten years ago on September 20th:
In the face of this new-found freedom, I’m going to spend the next 90 days pretending to be a full-time cartoonist. It may be little more than a sabbatical, or perhaps a pilgrimage-at-the-drawing-table. Then again, it may be a pretense that dictates the shape of reality. I’m not unemployed. I’m SELF-employed. Pretend that with me, please.
The game of pretend has turned out pretty well thus far. I look forward to the perpetuation of the pretense for another decade and beyond...
(note: Schlock Mercenary is 14 years and 3 months old -- the decade thing is how long Schlock's been paying all my bills.)
(cross-posted from howardtayler.com)

The Maze Runner

Obligatory Disclaimer: The Maze Runner is based on a novel written by my friend James Dashner. I have a policy about reviewing books, which basically says I only write a review if the book is one that I can recommend. Movies, though, I'll review if I've seen it and have something to say.
With that out of the way...
The Maze Runner (movie) is a pretty good character drama with science-fiction thriller elements in it. I enjoyed it, but it didn't clear my Threshold of Awesome
Why not? Well, because it's not my kind of story. And here's where my policy kind of trips me up -- I think that The Maze Runner (movie) is a very faithful adaptation of Dashner's best-selling novel, but the novel itself isn't really my thing, mostly for stylistic reasons, and now I have to tell you about a book I don't actually love.
I think that the conceit of the maze itself, in which a tiny community of young men and boys is trapped at the maze's center, is super-cool and very engaging. The film brings the maze to life in ways that fans of the book will probably love, and though the events of the book are necessarily compressed, the film gets those right, too.
But I don't love the style of storytelling in which volumes of new information are dropped on the reader or viewer right at the end. Sure, in real life there's not much foreshadowing for things that are unexpected, but that doesn't satisfy me in a book or a movie. I want "surprising yet inevitable," not "whoa, where did THAT come from?" I like the final twists and reveals to be easily explained in one or two sentences in which everything comes together, rather than long explanations which raise as many questions an they answer.
I also love settings that fully explore the ramifications of their "what ifs," and The Maze Runner doesn't really do that. There's a little bit of a Lord of the Flies feel to the glade in the center of the maze, but the glade is nothing like what I imagine an all-boy subsistence community to be like, especially not with the arrival of a girl.
But hey, I had the same problem with The Hunger Games, and those books and films have entertained a lot of people. Your mileage may vary, and now you have one of the key points of variability.
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