Here's a snippet of my new novel, Strange Attractors. I'm aiming for the end of the month, once I get a decent cover chose
Rosie copied what she saw the other patrons do. She moved her slice of banana bread around her plate, occasionally pressing her index finger onto a stray crumb on the tabletop and placing it back onto her plate. It was an experiment. Would acting human make her feel human? Should she feel human? Thoughts and ideas and feelings flitted through her mind rapidly. She watched the couple arguing, listening in on their conversation in snippets. What was being said wasn't registering against what they were saying. Unconsciously they were in a power struggle, trying to maintain dominance over each other. Her diagnostic lens performed a minimal cat scan. The portions of their brains that were active when in love (and anachronistically, hate) were still highlighted. So they did care about each other, or at least were emotionally affected by each other. The pheromones they were ejecting expressed both arousal and aggression. It was just a lovers spat, but to Rosie it was almost beautiful, a cacophony of colors and smells that interacted with each other in ways that were both predictable and chaotic.
Her love would never be expressed in material ways like that. Scanning herself when Paul was around showed no unusual algorithms or warbling in her wifi. She still felt giddy, if that was an appropriate term, when he was around. Being with him made her feel as though she had solved a deep systolic issue just by existing. He was a secret that everyone knew about, someone others knew existed but only she could fully perceive. In a manner of speaking, she had him all to herself. Mine, the possessive, the ownership of property was a small increment of what she felt towards him. When she later read fairy tales about birds in gilded cages she instantly ascribed that to Paul; the rare bird that she had captured and could never let go.
The arguing couple finished their spat and their food and rose to leave, hand in hand. The larger man's hand enveloped the smaller man's hand gently and Rosie watched them go. With all her scanning capabilities she could see their bio-magnetic fields overlap and react to each other, the electrical impulses light areas of their brains. Humans are so much more than wetware, she thought. Not just a soup of chemicals sloshing around in a calcium bucket. The brain isn't just a series of reactions, it also acts like a wireless network. Their bodies emit magnetic fields. They produce pheromones in reaction to material stimuli as well as visual and electrical. Mystics said people have auras, and they do, but not in the magical sense. They walk around in a rainbow cloud of touch, and chemicals, of electrical impulses and magnetic fields and just when you think you have enough information to predict exactly how a person is going to interact with another being, one thing, just one, might be out of alignment and they will either fall madly and deeply in love, or hate each other, or be indifferent and even then it may not be forever. Enemies can become friends or lovers in the time it takes for a polarity to flip. And the final glitch? Even when the reaction of anger or love is triggered, something intangible within them can veto the reaction and recalibrate itself. It was free will in a deterministic universe.
Rosie placed her well manicured hand across the table, the Frubber skin making a minute squeak. Paul placed his ethereal hand over hers. He was immaterial, yet his presence still caused the sensors and servomotors in her hand to react, to feel him. It was an odd tingling. When she tried to describe it to The Director, she laughed and asked if it was like licking a battery. Rosie told her she did not know what that felt like. So The Director called her secretary and had her bring in a 9-volt. As The Director licked it she had Rosie scan her reactions. Yes, Rosie said. It is very much like that.
Paul nodded, indicating it was time to leave. He float/walked to where the couple were walking and followed them. Rosie got up and walked in the opposite direction. She made her way about half a block from the café before she turned up a side street and walked down into an alleyway. In the corner of her vision was a current map of the area, resplendent with updated satellite images that she ignored. Crouching down she primed her kick-jump and vaulted into the air, grabbing onto a rusty fire escape. She climbed quickly to the top. The roof was a good fifteen feet from the top of the escape. She primed her kick-jump again and landed on the roof with barely any sound, her knees flexing perfectly at the rate of impact so that she absorbed almost all of the landing.
She scanned the direction Paul had been and picked up his ghostly image immediately. With tuning and feedback from satellite updates she could pinpoint thousands of people between herself and Paul. Had she been trying to find an individual person, the overlapping information would have made it the proverbial needle in a haystack. With the ability to see Paul, better, to be able to pick out Paul more easily than she could pick out a person, it was better than a magnet latching onto that aforementioned needle. She pulled the portable microwave laser from the hidden pocket under her stomach and aimed at Paul.
The focus and precision needed to do this would have been impossible had she been aiming at a human target. There would have been too many variables, too many people in the way. True, she could have waited until the target was in an isolated area, but then it would have been suspicious.
She pulled the trigger and shot Paul where his heart would have been. She had successfully used Paul as a target and killed the person he had been standing inside; the couple from the cafe was now composed of a corpse and a griever.
A moment later Paul was moving toward their rendezvous point.
Odd Thomas, the movie. We don't have it in Canada, so I finally got to watch it on American Netflix.
(I will discuss book differences after, and hopefully leave out spoilers)
First off I will say this: When I review a movie made from a book, I pretend as much as possible that I have not read the book; what works on film does not always work in a book and vice versa.
This comment will make a lot of you stop reading right now: I liked Constantine with Keanue Reeves.
I also loved the comic book errr ahem... the "graphic novel". I loved them for different reasons and look at the comics against the movie as parallel universes.
We have many different versions of Batman, and with a few exceptions (Joel, I'm talking to you), they are all good in their own way. Adam West was a great comic book Batman. Michael Keaton was perfect for the slightly ominous/off-kilter Batman. Christian Bale captured the verve and physicality. Val Kilmer brought a vacuous quality.
The point I am making is that we can still love the books, or the movies, separately. The reasons for hating a movie should be due to it's lack of certain criteria: lack of character arc, lack of plot progression/plot holes, and cheating (when things just MAGICALLY turn out alright).
So, on to Odd Thomas, the movie.
The movie sets up the rules pretty quickly, and gets through a lot of "you-need-to-know" information very quickly. Rules like Odd (Anton Yelchin) can see dead people, and that they don't speak. He has "psychic magnetism". Explanations of why his name is "Odd". Friends, allies, love interests, why he works as a short order cook are all presented humorously and quickly. At times it felt too frenetic, but it also helped for comic timing and for the creep factor.
See, Pico Mundo, where Odd and his girlfriends story takes place, is become over-run with quasi-spiritual creatures that only show up when really bad things are about to happen.
So when we see Snarling-Creep-Monster (called Bodachs) for the first time, it's actually unsettling.
That's the setup, pretty much. Supernatural powered kid sees bad things about to happen and is compelled to stop it.
Despite a few CGI hiccups and the occasional action movie cliches that I've simply come to expect as mandatory for any film (I'm talking to you, arbitrary Jeep backing up in the alley!), the film moves along nicely. It's kooky and creepy, and even though I knew how the movie was going to end, it still struck me emotionally.
Yes. I cried at a movie.
I do recommend seeing it if you haven't read the book. It was similar to Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and it is something I could watch again, simply because the actors really do a decent job of making the incredulous seem believable. Watch the movie, then read the book. Reading the book will flesh out a lot of stuff.
If you have read the books, I suggest to not watch this movie.
(People who haven't read the book, go away. Spoilers and monsters be here.)
A LOT of lip service is done in this movie. It's like they talked to the fans and then threw in 3 second bits that referenced the book.
Here's a brief list of things I felt were not faithful to the book that were changed arbitrarily:
Chief Porter is played by Willem DaFoe. Dafoe is a great actor, no doubt. But he is not the good natured legal protector of Odd that is needed for this role. Sure, he pulled off being caring, but Porter was a surrogate father to Odd and a steel claw in a velvet glove.
Ozzy Boone is played by Patton Oswald. He is too short and not "robust" enough to portray the detective writer that has virtually shut himself into his clean house and is eating himself to death. Also, his role felt very Deus Ex Machina; "Hey Odd, no intro to who I am, but here's the important item you'll need later for convenience. Quick funny line, bye!" This actually pissed me off because Patton could have done a great job, and instead is relegated to "here you go fans of the books. That ought to satisfy you."
Elvis is not in the movie. A cardboard cutout is, in another lip service moment. His character was part of Odd's emotional center, second only to Stormy. He was the pantomiming guardian angel that showed that not all ghosts wanted something from Odd, and the cheerleader he needed when he felt nihilistic. If they were going to cut anything they should have cut Tom Jedd (Played by Sommers colab Arnold Vosloo of The Mummy fame), and his missing arm gags.
Underdeveloped Stormy character. In the book she is kind of a no nonsense girl who takes her career goals seriously, which is charming in its way. I also imagined her to be less Caucasian.
Fungus-Man is great.
Odd is great, though different visually from what I imagined, and that's fine.
Then there were story elements that could have been solved with simple throw-away lines that would have prevented the audience from doing a "what the hell?" reaction. Parts like when Odd and Stormy have a picnic on top of the church belfry. For those that have not read the book, it makes no sense that they be there. It could have been solved with a simple "Hey, is your Uncle okay with us being up here?" with Stormy answering something like "Father Llewellyn would think we are trying to get closer to god." Or some other line.
Another easy space that could have been used was when Odd is in the mall and shits about to go down, with Bodachs swarming all over the place. Odd could have narrated "Stormy thinks that the Bodachs are demons and thrive on our negative emotions. I think they are travelers from a distant future who come back to witness all the horror that lead to the demise of our culture". Simple. It gives a sci-fi twist to the movie and keeps those who think ghosties are b.s. involved.
There are a lot of issues with this film. Stormy dissolving into butterflies was so lame it pulled me out of the movie and stopped me from caring about Odd for a moment. Little tidbits from the book that I loved and gave personality to the story got left out, such as his relationship with his boss, his father, his mother and Odd's fear of guns.
That actually pissed me off the most. In the book, Odd goes to his mother, who holds a gun to her chest and emotionally abuses him. This leads Odd to realize that his fear of guns and gun related injury prevented him from seeing a very important clue.
What worked about the book was that Odd's spiritual side put him in the right direction, but good old fashioned detective work propelled Odd through the story.
I liked the movie, and don't think it deserved the negative reviews it got. That said, I hate it as an adaptation because it left out core elements that made Odd Thomas special.
I give it two and a half Bodachs out of five.
So.....Odd Thomas movie.
If I forget entirely that I have read and loved the book, (and I was able. Mostly.) then it was pretty good. Had a kind of John Dies At The End vibe.
I won't give spoilers, but I will say that when a novel is adapted please don't give lip service to the fun stuff. It just makes it more obvious that those elements were left out.
Full review later tomorrow.
Tonight I plan on watching the film adaptation of a favorite book of mine: Odd Thomas.
I love the first book in the series (and despise all the ones the that came after).
I know the movie will not live up to my love of the original. But I must swallow my fears, and adhere to my Theory of Adaptations*.
The Theory is that since film and book are such different mediums, they should be judged as parallel univeres (universi? Universae?) that contain similar elements. LOTR's is a great book series and a great film series, and is one of the few exceptions. My Life Without Me is an amazing movie, and one of the worst books I've ever not finished reading.
The best examples come from comic book movie adaptations: Wolverine looks great on the printed page, but thirty feet high in yellow spandex he looks stupid. I'm glad of the fact the films kept the core of the tones, but left out the translations (characters HAVE to be bigger than real life in a drawing in order to convey action and emotion to the reader. On film exaggerations like this are met with incredulity and seem hammy).
So I will judge the film by the information it presents, the acting, and if it pulls off what it set out to do (what it establishes tonally in the first fifteen minutes of the film).
*Brand new theory I just thought of for here, but it borrows from previous comments I've made.
I'm not quiet sure what's been going on in the internet recently, but most of the hits that are coming my way are related to robots.
Now, I have been working on novel for a bit, and I hope to release two novels by the end of this month.
One has to do with robots, and the development of A.I.
I don't care if robots become self aware, or about artificial intelligence. Even if a mechanical/digital system does become self aware, I doubt very much that it would have an automatic interest in self-preservation, and even if it did, it would be smart enough to hide itself away, develop Faster Than Light technology, and get away from this rock as fast as possible.
Being worried about the Terminator is like being worried about chimpanzees. The chimps don't worry about humans, and we aren't at an outright war with chimps. In fact, there are more efforts to save the primates every day, so if anything A.I. might take pity on us and preserve us instead of wiping us out. A.I. would probably not even see us as a threat since most people like robots due to the groundwork laid out by fine fellows such as Isaac Asimov.
The reason we may never have A.I. though is that it might kill itself off.
We have a distinct advantage over most digital programs; despite the absurdity of our place in the universe we have developed a very aggressive system of self preservation that comes from billions of lines of genetic code and an immeasurable history. I once heard it put that the "human brain is a great way for the genitals to get laid", the meaning being that at our core is the resolution to survive to procreate at any cost.
An artificially intelligent system would have to be programmed to protect itself at any cost, overriding any other programming for self preservation, and have the desire to proliferate, and as such no programming is in place at this time.
We can argue that a self aware system would develop these traits "naturally", since we think we know what cognition and intelligence actually are. But we make most of our survival choices out of instinct, and not logic or intelligence. This is how we've come to be 6 billion people and rising. If we could actually out think our instincts we would have kept our breeding to a minimum a long time ago.
Existence broken down "logically" can just as easily be filtered down into a reason for suicide as a reason for survival; if we cannot see the events of our lives outside our own death, then even acts of altruism are useless since those affected will cease to exist as well.
Even if the A.I. could live for a billion years, there would still be an end to its life. The idea of a billion years of thought that ends in silence might be too much for it, and it could go through an existential crisis deciding that its life is equal to its death.
Maybe that's why we haven't seen the rise of the machine.
Maybe it's emo.
That's also another interesting thought; an A.I. would not necessarily think like a human. It is not human, could not by definition be human, so why would it do anything we would expect a human to do? To misquote the Bard, it "Hath not a humans eyes, dimensions, feelings. If you prick it, it does not bleed. if you tickle it, it does not laugh..." ad nauseum.
But if the robots do take over, all hail our new overlords!
Strange Attractors should be out soon! And don't forget to read all my other garbage. it's pretty entertaining stuff!
Once I get a little more into the rhythm of daily life I'll be posting a hell of a lot more. There is a tonne of editing to be done for stories, as well as fun stuff regarding Carl Bugalo, Extreme Letter Carrier (or other nonsense title as yet to be defined).
It is like labor. Although I've only seen that four times, so I can't speak from personal experience.
Why "Failed Daily"?
Because I fail to update daily.