November 20th, 2006

Mars from Earth

another somewhat dubious "best of" list

These things always seem like fun, until I actually start doing them, at which point they quickly turn tedious and dull. In this case, for example, I cannot recall the html for a strike-through, which is just lame, as I've known html since 1995. I blame the Bailey's. Anyway, behind the cut you will find fifty "most significant" science fiction/fantasy novels, spanning the period 1953—2002, as deemed so by no less august and learn'd organization as the Science Fiction Book Club. I'm supposed bold the ones I've read, italicize the ones I've started but never finished, underline the ones I own but never started, strike out the ones I hated, and put an asterisk beside the ones I love. Okay. Here we go:

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You will note that, sadly, there's a good deal of "classic" sf I've not read and likely never will.

I think there are some pretty glaring and horrendous omissions to this list. Just for starters:

Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Stand by Stephen King
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Burning Your Boats by Angela Carter
The Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Wicked by Gregory Maguire

And that's just for starters, mind you. I could go on and on. I could.

Bedtime for nixars. If I head that way now, I might find sleep by 3 a.m. (CaST).

all the sighs that are my life

So, yesterday I wrote 2,315 words in three hours, and I did finish "The Lovesong of Lady Ratteanrufer." What started out to be a two-thousand word story I'd planned to write in only two days grew into a 6,297-word story that required two and half times that long to write (and there's still tweaking to be done on it and on "Metamorphosis A"). But I am very pleased with it. What a strange and different (for me) bit of fiction it is. As I'd planned, it's a retelling of "The Pied Piper," but not nearly so married to the source material as I'd expected it would be. Which is to say, yesterday was a very good writing day.

That said, I must admit that I am so very near to exhaustion. Not the sort of exhaustion where one is merely very, very tired and needs a rest, but a sort I've only ever glimpsed before. A sort where the next day, the next story, seems pretty much inconceivable. I'm writing too much. I've seen no sign that the quality of what I'm writing has been suffering for this, but it's quite clear that I am. I need a sort of rest that I could only find by not writing anything at all for a few months, at least. But I am a writer. I am a working writer. And there are deadlines. And if I do not meet the deadlines, bills will not be paid. So, there can be no extended vacation from writing. Not now. Not at any point in the foreseeable future. Maybe this falls under "be careful what you wish for," though, personally, I think it has more to do with how little most writers are paid for what we do. We're forced to make up the difference in volume.

At least I am. And the trick, then, is to make every single story, every single sentence, as good or better than all those that came before, and to do this indefinitely. Otherwise, the world — that part of it which is only commerce and the cost of living and such-like — has won and I'm beaten and it has made of me merely another cog. What a bizarre concept: the cost of living. What a world men and women have fashioned for themselves when so much time must be spent making money to cover the cost of living that very little actual living gets done. But I drift. I digress. I will keep on keeping on, because that's what I do. Howard Hughes knows the score. The alternative is a cardboard box at the corner of Crack and Whore. But, I'm just saying what Bilbo said, "Thin, like too little butter spread over too much bread," or maybe I'm only paraphrasing what Bilbo said. Either way, Rivendell is looking pretty good right about now.

I have a question. Is there anyone out there who knows if it's possible to transfer my entries from Blogger to LJ? That is, all those entries before April 16th, 2004, when I opened the LJ account. I have tried to find the answer for myself, searching the bewildering array of LJ FAQs, but to no avail. Any assistance would be much appreciated.

Yesterday evening, when the writing was done, we braved the bone-chilling wind and went back to the Plaza to meet Jim and Byron for one more film from the Horrorfest "8 Films to Die For" weekend. Unfortunately, that film was J. S. Cardone's perfectly (and I mean perfectly) lousy Wicked Little Things (2006). Some idiot over at imdb actually had the audacity to label this one of the "greatest horror films of the year." I suspect it was Cardone himself. Or herself. One can never be sure when only initials are involved. Wicked Little Things was, in fact, one of the most shameless and artless romps through the fields of cliché that I have ever paid to see. I would be hard pressed to pull from this wretched mess even a single bit of redemption, and I take no pleasure saying that about a film. Wait. It had pretty scenery. There's One Nice Thing, even if the director had no clue what she or he was supposed to do with it. I picked this film because of the backstory involving children killed in a early 20th Century coal mining disaster. And the rural Pennsylvania setting. And the cannibal zombie children. I figured it would be fun, at the very least. Wrong. It was dull, through and through, and there is no greater sin for a "horror" film. It wasn't scary. It wasn't creepy. It wasn't effectively gory. It didn't make me ponder the great and indifferent cosmos looming all about us. It wasn't even fucking funny. Not even in a schlocky, bad movie kinda way. It was just dull. And dumb. I'd say it felt most like a '70s Made-for-TV movie, only had this film been made in the '70s it might have had the mivonks to go with a suitably dark ending. This is a film I would cross the street to avoid. This is a film that would give "straight to DVD" a bad name. And I'm not just saying this because of the rubber tarantula hanging in an orb web in the Pennsylvania woods. I can forgive a whole truckload of geographically-challenged, orb-weaving rubber tarantulas, if they are placed within a movie that does not suck. Or even one that knows it sucks and has some fun with itself. Do not pay to see this film. Do not rent this film. If this film gets picked up by SciFi, as it likely will, because it's exactly that dull, do not even watch it for free. About the only good that could come of this film would be a drinking game using its plentiful continuity errors. At least that way, you'd be so drunk halfway through that the dullness might not be so painful. Ah, well. At least The Abandoned was good. And we got a free T-shirt.

More Final Fantasy XII last night, almost eighteen hours so far, and have I mentioned that I'm leaving Spooky for Fran?

Time to make the doughnuts...