I’ve recently begun reading Bleak House, a Charles Dickens novel. While I almost always enjoy Dickens novels, with the partial exception of A Tale of Two Cities, the funny thing is that I don’t really read his books for the stories.
This might seem like a little bit of a slow story to some of you, and that’s okay; I don’t want every story to involve a lot of action in the traditional sense.
It is worth noting that “overpowered” cannot really be defined on an absolute scale. Rather, it is more useful to discuss characters being overpowered on a relative scale. If you make your hero a goddess, and all of her enemies are mere mortals, you don’t have much of a story, but if all of her enemies are also gods and goddesses, then that character is no longer overpowered. This raises the interesting intellectual exercise of trying to write an interesting story about the relationship between two omnipotent and omniscient beings, but I don’t think tiny human brains are adequate for such a task.
if you haven’t heard the phrase “training montage,” you’ve probably encountered one. They are pervasive in modern storytelling, especially in speculative fiction, to the point where the only techniques that might be more overused are prologues and flashbacks. Like prologues and flashbacks, they are overused for a reason, serving several valuable purposes in the narrative process, but so many of them have been done, with only mediocre execution, that the technique itself has become tiresome.
Like many nonfiction books, including several that we’ve reviewed here on the site, Parenting Is a Contact Sport suffered from a severe case of repetition. It wasn’t a long book, but however many tens of thousands of words it contained, I could pretty much communicate the same message in a single sentence: have a relationship with your children. All of the chapters, all of the awkwardly personal anecdotes that were supposed to be hacking my brain and convincing me of the author’s message, could really have been reduced to just that statement. Granted, some elaboration is useful, but I really don’t think that quite so many words needed to be used.
realistic, sympathetic, capable, and not-terribly-annoying youthful characters, of which the failure of Wesley Crusher (from Star Trek: The Next Generation) as a character – good in concept, but poor in execution – is emblematic. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about recently because I’ve experienced several poorly done youthful characters in recent media I’ve consumed, and because I’ve been thinking about a character in Fo’Fonas (Wraith/Revia, for those few of you who have read the rough draft). I was even thinking about it enough to read a book on parenting, but more on that in this week’s review.
If I had to distill Blindsight down to a single, central theme, it would be that of self. What is the concept of self? How does it relate to the concept of what is human? What is the origin, function, and cost of self-awareness? How does it relate to free will, and does free will exist, or is it merely an illusion? Watts seems to have created the entire novel as a thought experiment to explore these concepts, and he leverages two lenses to accomplish that: the various neuro-atypicalities of his characters, and the distinctively intelligent but unaware aliens. Either of these ideas alone could have easily been the foundation of a compelling novel. Combining them together made this one both more compelling, and more challenging, and is in many ways at the core of my personal dichotomy over Blindsight.
how much I struggled with the writing, and why that was. I won’t rehash those difficulties here, but the result was that I was put far behind on my writing for this episode, barely even starting it before the month began. Plus, part two proved to have its own difficulties, some related to the troubles with the first part, and some entirely original, which led me to even write August’s episode out of order (which you will read about when episode twenty goes live next month). The short version of this post: Contaminant would really benefit from my new staging revisions methodology.
It's almost considered too blunt to say that someone died. Instead, we might say that they passed away, or that they passed on, or that they lost or gave their lives. Some might argue that the difference between those wordings is slight, incidental, even meaningless. After all, in cold facts the end result is the same. Yet those words are different, they mean different things, and we use one or the other to convey different meanings - this is especially true of the last two examples. The difference between losing a life and giving a life may be subtle, and yet it makes such a difference in how the person and the event is perceived. One makes the death a tragedy. The other makes it heroic, because it expresses that there was a choice involved, it gives the individual agency.
As I think I said when this episode was first released, or at least when I did the review of season one, A Prime's Place doesn't entirely fit with the rest of Blood Magic. Despite that, it is one of my favorite episodes. It's short, it's a very tight viewpoint, its heavy on character and short on plot. I knew going into my revisions that I wanted to make minimal changes to it, and I retained that conviction throughout my re-read.