(I Also Write Children's Books!)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

That Sequel You Wanted

The draft of At Least I Didn't Blow Up OUR Moon, sequel to Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm A Supervillain and the second book of the planned five part Inscrutable Machine series, is written.  I finished writing the last chapter last night, although when I say 'finished' I mean I spent all of yesterday from getting up to going to bed writing, producing a whopping 13000 words.

The book is done.  I am still reeling.

If you wanted to know, the last chapter involves angry men with spears, an eleven year old in homemade power armor, telepathic jellyfish, grappling hooks, and two of the ugliest, sweetest star-crossed lovers you ever did meet.

Oh, and blowing up a moon.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Random Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Three quarters of my brain is on finishing up At Least I Didn't Blow Up OUR Moon (my publisher wants a different title, alas), but here's an excuse to post something.

Although what should I say about Guardians of the Galaxy?  It was enough fun that I didn't analyze the writing while watching, which is rare.  So that's a strong recommendation, I guess.

There is something I can talk about.  I didn't think about this until after the fact, but I'm impressed by the characterization of the heroes.  They followed the writer's trick of giving someone a strong trait, and then fleshing them out underneath to try to create someone who is really like that.  It worked.


The hero, Star Lord, was one of the weaker examples, and they still did pretty well.  His overt trait was trying too hard to be cool, which made him a bit of a stereotypical schlub.  They fleshed him out by not taking that too hard.  Oh, they gave him interesting background story, but those are facts.  What counts is the display of character.  He might stumble a lot because he pretends to be even greater than he is, but he was a good fighter, brave, good with tricks and traps and treasure hunting, and when he wanted to he could charm the pants off someone - which made it believable that he mostly used that skill to charm the pants off someone.  The best thing for him was that he learned.  When he failed to seduce Gamora, he dropped it.  His interest remained, but he'd figured out not to push.  When Rocket proved his competence, Star Lord trusted that from then on.  In general, he was not an idiot - you could just easily mistake him for one because he tried too hard.

Rocket Raccoon was my favorite example.  He's supposed to be a gun crazed criminal, and he is, so they made him one.  He is competent.  Relentlessly competent.  Not superhumanly competent, but very good at what he does.  When they get sent to prison, he blows it off saying he's escaped from 22.  It quickly becomes clear that he probably has escaped from 22.  He knows how to fit in, what the weaknesses of the system are, and he plans, deals with obstacles, and takes advantage of opportunities.  He makes guns as a hobby, and they are downright scary.  He hides his pain completely.  It comes out when he's drunk once, and before and after he blows it off with vague mentions, like stoic people tend to.

You can't talk about Rocket without talking about Groot.  It's easy to focus on the 'I am Groot' joke, but the movie goes much lighter on it than I expected.  They focus more on Rocket and Groot being joined at the hip, or at least at Rocket's hip and Groot's ankle.  They are partners, and you can see why.  There is infinite, automatic respect between the two.  Rocket pretends Groot is his conscience, and Rocket is good at dealing with a universe of animals that Groot clearly finds confusing.  I was not expecting the portrayal of Groot as childlike, and it was a great touch.  He's not stupid, and he's not pure - he clearly enjoys violence - but he's simple and looks for opportunities to be kind in simple ways.  By the end of the movie, you have no doubt that Groot would die for Rocket and Rocket would die for Groot.

Drax the Destroyer started out two dimensional, and they made him three dimensional by portraying someone who had made himself two dimensional with his desire for revenge, then ran face first into a universe where that doesn't work.  He was constantly caught up short in situations not covered by 'kill my enemy', and having to learn from them without losing his central purpose.  His confusion when finding out he could not hope to defeat Ronin in hand to hand combat was particularly poignant.

Gamora I admit they dropped the ball on.  Not that she didn't have a personality, but they presented a bunch of facets of her person that they didn't explore at all.  The whole 'Daughter of Thanos' thing was mentioned repeatedly, even a plot point, but they only dealt with the rivalry aspect of her relationship with her sister, and she didn't seem as tough as she should be.  Similarly, they mentioned but didn't much explore her hate for Thanos and Ronin and desire to betray them.  On the other hand, she was not a shoehorned love interest.  If anything they subvert that.  Star Lord hits on her, she rejects him harshly, and topic over time to move on to her relationship with her sister.

Okay, writing nerd time over.