Thursday, 28 March 2013

In space, no one can hear the music

I've written before about how I'm just writing down the film playing in my head.

Every morning I know I have to drag myself out of bed because Chris Evans is playing the Big Screen Belter; a song from a movie. Today's was some generic 80s crap that wanted to be in Top Gun, but wasn't. And then, later, he played Matt Monroe's song that will forever be linked to a Lamborghini Miura driving through the alps (until it crashes).

So, real film has a massive advantage over a book in that, for the foreseeable future, books come without a sound track. Often we don't notice the music in a film, but it sets the landscape and the tone. I particularly love In the House, In a Heartbeat, used in 28 Weeks Later, building up into an almost unbearably long crescendo. Often you can predict what's coming, especially scary bits, from the music. Danny Boyle (must have a film out as he's on everything at the moment) said the other day that, in his new film (I was right), he leads up to a particularly shocking moment by making the music much quieter so that the jump is much greater.

If Echo was a film, what would the opening theme be like? The themes to the films I like seem to fit perfectly - the growling menace of Alien, the opening fanfare in Star Wars. I think I might go for a counter tenor piece, something off the beaten track rather than being upbeat and uptempo. Echo isn't really an upbeat book.

Bill, write me something will you?

Monday, 25 March 2013

Nobody wanted to travel on the Philip K

In Echo, I introduced the concept of the Visionary Ship - colony ships that carried hundreds of thousands of people in suspended animation across the galaxy to found a new civilisation. The Ships were the Bradbury, the Wells, the Heinlein and the Asimov. All named after authors who could, arguably, be called visionaries. Book two revolves around the search for the lost Visionary ship, the Clarke.

There wasn't a ship named after George Lucas. Although he was the saviour of science fiction, there are not many people who would think of him as a visionary. However, there appears to be a fine line between making stuff up in a subject that you clearly know nothing about - the Kessel run in 12 parsecs makes plenty of people shout "No!" - and being a visionary.

Something that's mentioned in passing in the films (although it's developed more in the written cannon), is moisture farming. On a planet with two suns, water is obviously going to be critical. Most rational people would dig boreholes, but no. Lucas decided it's extracted from the air. Yeah, right.

There's a place in Peru where it hardly rains and water is a real issue. They've built an advertising billboard and installed equipment that will condense water vapour from the air. It produces 96 litres of pure water a day.

Perhaps we could forgive the Kessel run. But we can never forgive the other crappy changes. Don't forget. Han shot first

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Too much information

Looking at a few of the blogs I follow, the last couple of months seems to have been a bit of a desert, so I don't feel so bad that I haven't written anything online for quite some time either.

The excuses are mostly around work - the current NHS reorganisation is coming to an end and, this time, the blood on the carpet isn't mine but there are less people and more work. And then there's the fact we weren't able to do anything to the house last year so we've started at the top and we're working our way down.

But you don't want to hear about any of that, so I'll talk about the real reason I've not been blogging. I've been writing! E2 didn't get finished while we were in Lanzarote but it moved on a long way and the end is very much in sight. I've struggled a lot with how E2 is going to end and how it would lead into E3. And then, today, it came to me, in a flash (actually in the shower, but that's probably too much information). I know the rest of E2 and what E3 is about.

I'm not far from needing Cathy Helms at Avalon Graphic to do me a cover, which is very exciting, and from handing over the draft to my first readers, which is less so. Echo was very well received and I'm a bit nervous that E2 will be a disappointment. I don't really know what it was in Echo that people liked and whether I've managed to keep it. No pressure.

On a completely unrelated note, Ashley McCook suggested a book to me. If you liked Echo, you'll like Shadow of the Wraith by Ross Harrison. Check it out.

Yanking my chain

I've just finished a Clive Cussler novel. In it, one of the characters is standing next to Lambeth Palace looking across the river at Buckingham Palace.

Is anybody else screaming, right now?

I've commented before that one of the benefits of writing science fiction is that I can make stuff up. It appears that, in normal fiction, you can do that as well.

I've stood outside Lambeth Palace. If you've never been, it's on the South Bank of the Thames and the view is dominated by The big square tower (Victoria Tower, if you're interested) and the clock tower that houses Big Ben. Both part of THE PALACE OF WESTMINSTER.

You can not see Buckingham Palace from Lambeth. Don't know if Cussler's ghost writer is too lazy to spend five minutes on Google street view or is just ignorant. We have a view that people from other places (OK, America) misrepresent the UK as a place where everybody speaks like Dick Van Dyke and it's so small that you can walk from Dover to Nottingham, via Hadrian's Wall by nightfall to sup with your father.

But then, we also have a view that much of America is populated by gun-toting ignorant rednecks.

I would offer that our view of other peoples and places is shaped by what we see on the box and much of it is incorrect. In the same vein, as a pharmacist I hate the, infrequent, depictions of my profession and I suspect that policepersons and doctors shout "No!" at the telly even more often.

So, if the telly is blox, do we, as writers, have a duty to get stuff right?
Well, no, probably not. But I reserve the right to shout at lazy morons who don't do their homework.

That's why I write science fiction