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Today, I am no less inclined than I was yesterday to gaze upon the process of editing one of my novels with anything but a mix of dread and annoyance. But the black funk of yesterday has lifted enough that I think I can at least write a civil blog entry.

Yesterday, I finished with the editorial letter from Anne (my editor at Penguin) for The Red Tree, the last few items on her list of questions. Only a few items, but they took the whole day to address. A little bit of new text was written, but I didn't bother adding it up. The word count, I mean. At this point, the only thing left to actually write is an author's note. But I do have all my own editorial notes (mostly line edits) remaining to go through, and also those that Spooky's dad made when he read the novel. But that's it. It has to be back in NYC on Monday, at the latest. And then I can move on to Sirenia Digest #39, and, after that, I think I get a week off. Oh, the last thing I did yesterday, work-wise, was print out a fresh "typescript" (I loathe the phrase "hard copy") of the book, because the original is so marked up in red it has become impossible to read many pages.

I am not a believer in the writing-workshop maxim "Do not be afraid of producing a bad first draft." I do everything I can to get it right the very first time. And, mostly, it works. I can only go through anything I've written so many times before it ceases to hold any interest for me, and I cannot work on something that does not interest me. If I were the sort of writer who did multiple drafts...well, I'd never have gotten beyond The Five of Cups, back in '92-'93. Speaking of which, we have a copy of The Five of Cups in the current eBay auctions, and we haven't offered a copy in quite some time. It's now selling for idiotic prices on Amazon. Ours is a little better. And I'll even personalize.

And I should mention the lottery to benefit the Shirley Jackson Awards again. I have donated a complete, signed set of the ROC mass-market paperback editions of my novels: Silk, Threshold, Low Red Moon, Murder of Angels, and Daughter of Hounds. A chance to win costs you only one dollar. The lottery ends February 23rd.

Ellen Datlow's forthcoming anthology Lovecraft Unbound, which includes my story "Houses Under the Sea," has sold to M Press, and will be released in October. It also includes short fiction by Joyce Carol Oates, Elizabeth Bear, Holly Phillips, William Browning Spencer, and many others.

I'll throw in a quick "review" of movies and television from the last two or three days. Well, movie, singular. We saw Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk. I liked it, though not as much as I liked Iron Man. But there just wasn't the opportunity for Edward Norton to deliver the sort of performance that Robert Downey, Jr. gave. I should add, I am not a fan of the Hulk, hated the '70s series (I was just a kid back then), never read the comic, and did not see Ang Lee's film. I think what I liked most about this adaptation was the way the filmmakers managed not only to make the Hulk seem like a solid thing existing beyond the confines of CGI, but the way they imbued the character with a personality, something more than "Hulk smash!" I just can't get used to Liv Tyler without the ears, though. Also, we saw the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica, "No Exit," and I loved it. Dean Stockwell was really superb, in his tirade against Ellen. I have days like that. And sure, there's an infodump, Sam's memory getting jarred and all, but I thought it was handled as well as an infodump can be handled, made part of the story and then truncated. Also, we saw "The Good Wound," the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which was fine, not stellar, but okay. The highpoint was Garret Dillahunt's performance as John Henry, asking those pesky questions about an inefficient god. And, finally, we saw the premiere of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. While it was not nearly as bad as I'd feared it would be, I was not hooked. Awfully bland fare for Whedon, and I know the network dicked around with the original series quite a lot, so that's no surprise. If the show lasts a whole season, I'll be mildly amazed. When Whedon is at his best (Serenity, Firefly, the last three seasons of Buffy, the last couple of seasons of Angel, Dr Horrible, etc.), I am a great fan. This is not Whedon at his best. This is Whedon so watered down that he is almost unrecognizable. Far too much has been told upfront; we should have been given a mystery to puzzle over for at least a season or two.

Okay. Platypus and dodo say it's time to get back to line edits. I am only an extension of their will.


( 11 comments — Have your say! )
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 17th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)

I think it'll find its feet, in the next couple of episodes, though, and if I recall, correctly, Mr Whedon got a full season, in order, on The Same Night Each Week, worked into the contract.

Sadly, no network ever signed off on a contract it couldn't worm its way out off. Just think Wolfram and Hart.
Feb. 17th, 2009 06:08 pm (UTC)
Far too much has been told upfront; we should have been given a mystery to puzzle over for at least a season or two.

I think there are some mysteries in there; the doctor with the scarred face (who was easily the most interesting of the characters we've seen so far) and her reaction to Echo's attempted touch, for example. Did Echo cause those injuries? Is the doctor a former Active, who was injured on the job and then retired? What's her relationship with the amoral programmer guy? I think Joss has seeded the background with some interesting things to explore, though I agree that the overall concept has been terribly watered down by the network.

Although, come to think of it, wasn't early seasons of Buffy kind of like this? You had the central conceit of a high school girl who slays vampires, but was there really anything beyond that initially? (I say this as someone who tuned into the show around season four, so I really have no idea.)

I think Whedon tends to start small, much like a novelist, and lay the groundwork of the characters and the setting before really starting to shake things up. It's anyone's guess whether FOX will be patient enough to let that happen.
Feb. 17th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)

I think there are some mysteries in there

Certainly, there are. But this isn't what I meant. These are very little mysteries. I was speaking of a much greater mystery. I'd have loved to see a story that kept the "dollhouse" hidden, showing us only the constantly shifting lives of its inhabitants, and the government agent's effort to figure it all out. In time, then, we could have learned what was what, and maybe by Season Two, actually seen the "dollhouse." As it stands, we know what's what, pretty much, details aside.
Feb. 17th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
I'd have loved to see a story that kept the "dollhouse" hidden, showing us only the constantly shifting lives of its inhabitants, and the government agent's effort to figure it all out.

Yes. I haven't even seen the first episode, and I would have found that a fascinating approach—so that we were never sure what was playacting, what was programming, what was misperception, with room for none or all of the above. And locating the audience inside the agent's head, as opposed to apparently in the programmer's.
Feb. 17th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)

You can see it on Hulu, as well as on the Fox website, I believe.
Feb. 17th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
You're right; that would have made for a much more interesting story. Tricky to pull off, but it would've been worth it, and Whedon could certainly have pulled it off.

One wonders what the original pilot was like, before the executives at FOX intervened.
Feb. 17th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC)

One wonders what the original pilot was like, before the executives at FOX intervened.

I'm a little confused on this point, but I think the second episode to air is the original pilot episode. I might be mistaken.
Feb. 18th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC)
Here, have Tilda Swinton with white hair and cowboy hat. It's probably as close as we'll get to Tilda-as-Nebari.
Feb. 18th, 2009 06:10 am (UTC)

Damn, she just keeps getting hotter. I'd have made an icon from that, were it not watermarked.
Feb. 18th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
I'm going to keep an open mind for Dollhouse but my immediate reaction echoes that of the unimaginative FBI(?) agent who essentially questions the whole premise, presumably on behalf of the viewers, and the answer if I recall was something about "perfection." I don't get it--don't understand why, for example, you would download a kidnapping negotiator's personality rather than just getting a kidnapping negotiator. For one thing, what happens the NEXT time you need a kidnapping negotiator? Your downloaded construct didn't learn anything from the last time, did it? Or can the construct remember and learn?

I agree it wasn't compelling viewing. And I was dismayed that Angel's "Fred" is a lab worker again. Granted she must have a lot of back story with those scars. But I would have opted for something 180 degrees different. Maybe too early to tell.
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
Have you seen the reports on new fossils at LeBrea?

( 11 comments — Have your say! )