SUPERMAN : GHOSTS
We see a man, possibly in his later forties, walking around a highrise apartment. He is walking around in an aimless way, his hand to his head. He's talking on a cordless phone as we hear Superman (Henry Cavil) narrating.
Superman: His name was Tim. I know this because his wife said 'I love you, Tim' while she called long distance.
I heard this from two city blocks away.
I know that her name was Carol because he told her that he loved her, too. I know that Tim had two daughters. I know this because after Carol said I love you, she said that the girls missed him very much. I know that his daughters had brown hair, and freckled noses. I know this because I saw their pictures.
Time in the apartment slows down as the walls and ceiling around Tim begin to shake.
Superman: Tim was loved. He will never see Carol or his children again. He will never see them again even though I can move faster than a bullet. Even though I can fly. Even though I can lift a building Tim is dead. Because as fast as I am I will never be fast enough. I will never be strong enough. Even with all these powers at my control, Tim and others like him will die.
I hear people all over. I hear how much they hate me. How they blame me for all the destruction in their lives. They call me the Boyscout in mockery and say how my life is so easy.
I remember the names of every person who died while I tried to save them. I am haunted by them.
I wish I were indestructible where it mattered.
Tim's apartment turns to black and we see an extreme close-up of Superman's eye as the faces of all those who have died around the Man of steel rush across his pupils. We see a fast montage of faces, groups, families, friends all being torn away by explosions and energy blasts. These faces trapped in horror all blend and burn together into the back of a bald head. We pull out and see the bald head rests on the back of a well tailored suit. We pull out further and see Lex Luthor standing in front of a giant screen as athletes move across the screen.
Luthor: Usain Bolt, fastest man in the world. Dennis Rogers, pound for pound the worlds strongest man. Michael Phelps, the worlds fastest swimmer. None of these human accomplishments means anything. All of human endeavors, all of our strengths are now meaningless in the face of this illegal alien. Even the most touted of Americas heroes, this Batman of Gotham city, a vigilante capable of doing what an entire police force was unable to do when they buckled at the mercy of the terrorist Bane, is tissue paper in a hurricane compared to this alien.
He is not subject to our laws. He is not a citizen of our countries. He owes no loyalty to anyone but himself. In summation, gentlemen, he is this planets greatest threat.
Luthor is interrupted by the clearing of a throat.
Bruce Wayne: With all due respect, Mr. Luther, this alien has not shown anything other than loyalty to this country. Aside from hoping he never becomes the badguy, what could you possibly propose we could use to defend ourselves from him?
Luthor: Every suit of armor has a chink. We just need to find his.
THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP
Welcome to the NEXT BIG THING Blog Hop.
What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way for readers to discover authors new to them. I hope you'll find new-to-you authors whose works you enjoy. On this stop on the blog hop, you'll find a bit of information on me and one of my books and links to five other authors you can explore!
My gratitude to fellow author, C.V. Madison, for inviting me to participate in this event. You can click the following links to learn more about C.V. and her books.
In this blog hop, my fellow authors and I, in our respective blogs, have answered ten questions about our current book or work-in-progress (giving you a sneak peek). We've also included some behind-the-scenes information about how and why we write what we write--the characters, inspirations, plotting and other choices we make. I hope you enjoy it!
Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions. Here is my Next Big Thing!
1: What is the working title of your book?
I titled it Sin Umbre, a play on Spanish, religion, and identity. “Sin nombre” is Spanish for nameless, as the protagonist of the book has lost their identity. Umbre is the grey area in a halo of light, something we have all seen in flashlights. At the edge of the beam there is always that soft dim area that separates the light and the darkness. That's where some of the characters fall into, which plays into the idea of sin. The setting is a Catholic Orphanage in 1970's New Mexico. So you can see the title is very loaded, as was my previous work “True Monsters” original title “The Shepherds Wolf”.
2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
When I was young I remember watching Desperado with Antonio Banderas. There is a scene where a small boy exchanges his guitar every day. It is explained that this boy is a type of drug mule. Being a teenager, rebellious, full of moral outrage I started reading up about it. There wasn't much information at the time. Then about a year or so ago I caught the movie on t.v. and it reminded me about that outrage. The idea of a sleazy sheriff trying to steal orphans to turn into drug mules to pay off his cartel debts just popped into place.
3: What genre does your book come under?
I would have to say that it falls into magical realism and historical fiction, in a similar way that Professor Matthew Strecher defines magic realism as "what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe." I also tried working in the idea of García Márquez, that is, by suggesting the magical in our own world.
4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I am not always a fan of book-to-movie comparisons. I like to think that the book I read and the film I am watching take place in parallel universes. That way I can read my X-men comic and not laugh at Wolverines yellow spandex costume, and then watch the movie and not get angry at changes. Film and literature are different monsters with their own needs and teeth. But, with arm fully twisted, I would say that Joseph Julian Soria (Hamlet 2) could play the sheriff character. He is a very talented actor and I think he should have more work than he gets. And this one would be hard for some to swallow as they don't view her as much of an actress, but after seeing Jennifer's Body (better than I thought) and seeing Megan Fox play terrified and scared with as much emotion as she did made me rethink the flack even I have given her. She is more than a pretty face and I think she could play Sister Isabel.
5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In a small New Mexico town a demon has come to lay claim to his own; Can evil be forgiven if it fights its own nature?
6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
It is self published. For years I buckled under rejection after rejection, knowing that my cover letter hadn't even been read, or an agent telling me they weren't looking for a new client (what?). I almost gave up writing. After reading about how major publishing companies require their authors to do most of their own publicity and marketing now, and to create a public image, then give the author 30% of their own work, I chose Indie routes. This way I know that my effort directly affects my results.
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft took me six months. Then I took Christmas off and started reading it not as an author but as a potential customer, making notes about what I liked, or didn't like. In the next few weeks I will be Beta testing first on my original Beta, and then my “Cogs” and then publishing it or retooling it as necessary.
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Every author wants to think that there is nothing like their book out there. I am the same. I would say my book shares science fiction elements of Dean Koontz's Watchers, moral absolutism elements of Salman Rushdies The Satanic Verses, with a touch of The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike. I like to use very strong female characters, questions of morality and moral choices juxtaposed against secular and religious beliefs, and contrasting now-verses-then concepts of how we view the world.
9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Many things contributed to this book: First and foremost my wife, Kay, who kept me from going off on bizarre tangents and is my first Beta, my own feelings about how wonderful this world can be even in the face of evil, and the new album by Muse. It seems that I write best after I find the right album. For True Monsters it was AWOLNation. Who knows what the next one will be.
10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I try to stretch myself in different ways every time I write a new novel. Whereas True Monsters is a gritty police procedural, The Judas Bastard is a dark vampire novel, and the forthcoming Stain Glass Memory is a surrealist look at what makes us a person, Sin Umbre has more of a sensual/emotional side and has (a first for me) a passionate sex scene. I discuss my feelings about sex and violence as it pertains to good story telling on my website.
Below you will find authors who will be joining me virtually, via blog, next Wednesday. Please be sure to bookmark their sites, and add them to your calendars for updates on their upcoming books! Happy Writing and Reading!
Chris Turner http://www.innersky.ca
Jeff Whelan http://jeffwhelan.wordpress.com/
Knesia Anske http://www.kseniaanske.com
D.H. Nevins http://www.dhnevins.com
A.D. Bloom amazon.com/A.D.-Bloom/e/B0054RE7TE
It Will Take Away Everyone You Love
In my novel True Monsters Dr. Adam Manikin, the city coroner, aids Detective Virginia “Ginny” Smythe in her quest to catch the serial killer Overman. He is Ginny's friend and confidant, as well as a makeshift off-the-books surgeon when she's stepped out of line and gotten injured. Manikin is diametrically opposed to organ donation, and his own motives against that are revealed towards the end of True Monsters, and carry over into it's sequel (tentatively titled True Monsters: The Good Hypocrite). So what is Utilitarian Bio-Ethics?
“For those whose cost of medical treatment or maintenance outweighs their total future economic value (because they are terminally ill, are no longer productive, and have no reasonable chance of becoming productive or happy in the foreseeable future), it is economically efficient to free up medical resources by not treating them. As an example of this logic, every nurse who cares for a terminally ill Alzheimer's or cancer patient, a comatose individual, or an individual in a vegetative state, is one less nurse to take care of a sick baby or a 12-year-old gunshot victim.”
The way I read that is that a passive form of Euthanasia is sought. Instead of outright killing the person Utilitarian Bioethics states that they should be left to die if the resources needed to keep them alive can be used in another “better” way.
The happiness part is what really strikes me though. How do they define happiness? And how can they know how someone feels, let alone relate that state of mind to their illness or condition?
The core of Utilitarian Bioethics believe that someone should be valued depending on their ability to contribute to society and live a full life. Under their evaluation, disabled people, simple people, uneducated people etc. are all “nonpersons”.
They believe these “nonpersons” should be left to die, or in worse cases culled, so that “normal” or exceptional people can take their places and improve the world.
They use these kinds of arguments:
“Now that the human genome has been decoded, the ramifications of a utilitarian ethic go far beyond socioeconomic and legislative reform. In era of post-genomic medicine, they extend to control of the pleasure-pain axis itself. By unravelling the molecular substrates of emotion, biotechnology allied to nanomedicine permits the quantity, quality, duration and distribution of happiness and misery in the world to be controlled - ultimately at will. More controversially, the dilemmas of traditional casuistry will lose their relevance. This is because our imminent mastery of the reward centres ensures that everyone can be heritably "better than well" - a utopian-sounding prediction that currently still strikes most of us as comically childlike in its naïveté. However, unlike perennially scarce "positional" goods and services in economics, personal happiness doesn't need to be rationed. Within the next few centuries, a triple alliance of biotech, infotech and nanotech can - potentially - make invincible bliss a presupposition of everyday mental health.”
If that still confuses you (and it took me a few reads to get through the wordiness), basically they think in the near future we will be able to manufacture happiness using a combination of biological science and advanced computer technology. Until that day comes, however, a survival of the fittest-esque regime should be put into place that allocates resources to the happy, strong people and allows the “weak” to die out.
In a way, Utilitarian Bioethics is simply another form of Nazism. Breeding out the “nonpersons” to create a perfect race. The main difference is that they don't make death camps and round up their prey, they simply ignore them into destruction.
Let's all remember that Hitler was born healthy, and Stephen Hawking is confined to a wheelchair. Utilitarian Bio-ethics would have tossed Hawking to the proverbial curb. It is a fact that even if we understand the entire genetic code of a human being, we still do not know how they will live their lives. The same Adolf, had he been born today and in different economical standing may have become a charismatic, upstanding President of the U.S. Or a janitor.
In the forthcoming novel Dr. Manikin will be placed against someone who is for these actions, though I do hope to give the idea it's fair say. Sometimes the characters believe contrary to what I think or believe, and that can be very frustrating. I know that Detective Smythe and Mayor Oldsole will be supporting characters, and so will the City of Victoria itself as a microcosm of the world at large.
Please research Utilitarian Bioethics further yourselves if this outrages you too, and remember it in case it is brought into use by a government any time in the future.
In my novel True Monsters Detective Virginia Smythe has to call favours from her longstanding political ally Rob K. Oldsole, fictional Mayor of Victoria and supporting character.
His character can be defined as a “Good Sociopath”. To understand what I mean by that, let's examine the traits of a “normal” sociopath.
To a "high-functioning" sociopath, every single action he (or she) takes is mechanical. It's devoid (by and large) of emotions; of human feelings; of sincerity; of compassion. Everything has an angle; every action is carefully-calculated. They anticipate your moves; they plan five, ten, fifteen steps ahead. In their heads, when they look at the "chess board" of life, they "know" what their moves will be under all kinds of scenarios (in the board).
"Normal" people are highly-influenced by emotions, and feelings. If something bad happens, when they cry in angst, they really feel like crying. When they are worried, they look worried; when they are sad, they look sad. If someone hurts their feelings, they look hurt. When they express an opinion (most of the time), that's really what they believe. In other words, with "normal" people, what you see, is what you get. They are genuine.
To a "high-functioning" sociopath, "normal" people are chumps to be manipulated and taken advantage of.
They observe you; they analyze you; they find out what makes you tick. They find out what your believes are; they play on your emotions. If you are motivated by praise (as most of us are), then he praises you; he tells you how smart are; how good looking; how friendly.
And once he gains your trust, he manipulates you and uses you to get what he wants; to get ahead. He uses every tool at his disposal in every single step of the "game" of life, to get what he wants. When that tool is the ability to manipulate people is all he has, then that's what he uses. When that tool is raw power over you, then he'll use that.
Because of the nature of "power," "normal" people could never, ever, be in charge; rule the world; rule the top organization, and businesses, and society. The "high-functioning" sociopath will always be in charge, unless, of course, we are some how able to build an Utopian society.
I do think that there is a difference between these "leaders" that rule (everything.) And the difference is their motivation.
You have the sociopath that's motivated by pure greed and lust for power. Those are usually the tyrants that rise to the top to rule many societies. That would characterize much of the power structure in the U.S. today, where you have a sociopathic pack of hyenas (as it were) at the top of the power structure, in the form of criminal Wall Street bankers, and organizations like ALEC, etc. And the sycophantic, money-grabbing and corrupt political power structure (both major parties) that use their power to manipulate, subjugate, exploit, and now beat up peaceful protesters in the face (by the new "brown shirts" that are now the "white shirts" tools of the system).
And then, of course, there is (what I term) the "Good Sociopath."
The good sociopath interacts with "normal" people much in the same way that the "bad sociopath" does... There are no emotions involved; every move is calculative (20 steps ahead); he (or she) knows what to do (or how to react) given any particular situation.
However their motivation is different. They are not motivated by greed and lust of power. They are motivated by an altruistic world view. They understand the awesome power they have over others (by the fact that they have no emotions, by and large), and they seek to use that power to help bring about (what they believe is) a better world.
My take is that the "bad" high-functioning sociopaths outnumber the good ones, probably 10 to 1, and that's because since they are mainly motivated by unadulterated greed, you'll find most of them in the "business" side of things, versus government.
What I term as the the "Good Sociopath" usually becomes useful to societies in times of social strife and struggle against oppression.
The reason for that is because, being as much of a sociopath as the oppressors, he understands the mindset. He understands how they think. He anticipates their next moves, and prepares for it. Again, everything is mechanical, automated, devoid of real human emotions, and hence, extremely efficient and effective.
He understands where the "weak" spots are in the power structure; he accurately understands what power (or lack thereof) is available to him, and how to use it.
And the most important part of all, he would know the right moment when he has the power and influence to completely annihilate his opponent, and when that time comes, will do it without hesitation, and without compassion.
This is essentially the character of Oldsole. He is in a position of authority and uses his influence to manipulate people and events to bring about change or peace within his community. He is uncompromising and every word is a statement.
In the third novel of my True Monsters series, Mayor Oldsole will feature as the main protagonist.
The second novel is yet to be written for this series, but it will feature Dr. Adam Manikin and his character will be fleshed out in regards to utilitarian Bio-ethics.
Is murder immoral? This plays into my novel True Monsters quiet significantly. To a nihilistic philosophy all morality is subject to personal preference, while to others (numerous others) it is something outside of our own will. This is something that Overman (the murderer in my novel) addresses, and Detective Virginia Smythe wrestles with.
Murder is wrong and the Earth is round.
The difference between "the earth is round" and "ice cream is good" is one is a statement of fact, the other is a judgement. Statements of fact like "the earth is round" are more or less tautological (assuming they are true)- "roundness" is a feature of our concept of "earth." So if we ask "Why is the earth round?" the answer is "because it's the earth." That it is round is a given of it being the earth. However, saying "ice cream is good" is not subjective if you add the hypothetical "if we are talking about taste" and the qualifier "to me." "If we are talking about taste, ice cream is good to me" is an objective truth (unless I am lying)- who could argue with what I say I enjoy? But there is nothing in the concept of "ice cream" that makes it so. I must apply a subjective judgement to make this statement true.
Now look at it this way. We are discussing the nutritional benefits of certain foods, and I say "Ice cream is good to me." This is not an objective truth, because I am not making a judgement. "Unhealthy" is included in the concept of ice cream, so there is no judgement to be made. Here we add the hypothetical "if I want to be nutritious." The statement becomes "If I want to be nutritious, ice cream is not good for me." This is true because the feature "unhealthy" is included in the larger concept "ice cream."
As this applies to murder, there is a tautological objective truth. Murder is loosely defined as "an immoral killing." "Immoral" is a feature of the concept of "murder." So the answer to the question "Why is murder immoral?" is simply "Because it is murder." However, the question of "Is this specific killing immoral?" (i.e., is it murder) requires a possibly subjective judgement, which also requires a hypothetical. "If we are interested in maintaining society," is a possible hypothetical here. "If we are interested in maintaining society, then that specific killing is a murder" does require a subjective judgement, but comes very close to a sort of objective truth. It does leave us open to some grey areas (like capital punishment and abortion), but in my opinion it's as close as we can come to an objective statement on why killing is wrong (Outside of the concept of the sanctity of life, where we could go on endlessly on what life is more sanctified than another in terms of capital punishment and abortion).
We do demand a justification for the conclusion that the world is round, which is that when we look at, it is in fact round. Believing it to be round is not a justification. We don't demand more of moral judgements. In both instances, we want there to be some justification. We might say that murder is wrong because to allow murder would make society less happy than if we prohibited it. That would be an objective basis for concluding it.
Of course the issue is not quite so simple. We don't, in fact, determine that murder is wrong because we find that it fails under Utilitarian principles (or any theory for that matter). We first itemize what we intuitively know to be immoral, and then in hindsight we construct a theory that attempts to explain why those items are on our list. Should the theory place something on the list that we intuitively know should not be there (e.g. we should kill an innocent person to calm our irrational society), we then tinker with our theory or disregard it altogether. This means that our justification is really nothing more than an attempt at an explanation for our intuition.
Anyhow, this may be beside the point. The question remains whether the wrongness of murder says something about the world at large or whether it simply says something about particular humans and their disdain for murder. If I say that murder is right and you say it is wrong, are we disagreeing, or are we simply telling one another whether it is right or wrong to us (much like ice cream may be good to you, but not to me)?
Well, if we determine whether the world is round by looking at it, and that is adequate, don't we determine whether we or others feel murder is wrong in a similarly non-subjective manner, by "feeling" as we do and ascertaining what others think by asking them or observing their reactions and conduct? We don't as far as I know demand that, once we have looked at the world and have seen it is round, we further establish that the fact we have looked at it is sufficient justification for our claim that it is round. Nevertheless, we require justification for the claim that murder is wrong above and beyond the fact that we are horrified by it. Horror is not enough in the one case; looking is enough in the other. I would say the wrongness of murder does say something about "the world at large" because we humans are very much a part of the world, and what we are considering is human conduct. I understand of course there may be those who maintain that murder is just fine, and there are those who commit murder, but might this be accounted for by the fact that the data under consideration (humans) are complex, and the inferences or conclusions to be drawn are thus necessarily less precise than in other cases? Most humans deplore murder. Most worlds are round. Why should most humans deplore murder? Why should most worlds be round? It seems we insist on asking the first question, but not the second.
Evidently we treat our own desires and conduct as special cases. Do we do so because we continue to believe that we are somehow apart from everything else, not subject to the same rules governing other parts of the universe?
My conclusion is that ice cream makes morality very sticky.
Spice Or Creep?
So I wrote my first "erotic" scene in the book I am working on. I wrote it while at McDonalds.
Creepy? Or not?
It wasn't like there were tonnes of little children running around, it was mostly seniors. My biggest worry was that what I was writing would cause me to get turned on, and then I wouldn't be able to leave for a while.
I kept feeling odd, because I don't even like sex scenes in movies, I don't see the point. the only movies I've seen where it was integral to the plot was in Crank, with Jason Statham, and the reason for that scene was because he had to keep his adrenaline up or his heart would stop.
In this I think the fact that the characters have sex is important because it makes one character rethink their entire life (without giving too much of the plot away. Don't want people to read this, then read the book and be all like "Wha tha Hell? Bitch done tol me what happened!")
It was the gratuity in which I wrote. I'm not worried too much if my mother reads it (she can rot for all I care), but it isn't something I would want to show my kids. Ever. Even in fifty years, or after I'm dead.
I have to think that my words will be read by my children, and I would prefer them to be inspired by what their father wrote. I don't want to cheat story, either. Just because love making in books and film make me uncomfortable doesn't mean that my characters, the story arc, or anything else should suffer. I bring enough of my beliefs and predjudices to the table, I don't need more.
I believe that stories aren't written by authors, but through authors. So yes, our personal brand or style will be in the story, but that should be where it ends. We sing the song, we don't write the lyrics (I know, confusing in a literary sense).
I hate when an author uses a cheap ploy or uses the Dues Ex Machina to save the story or character. That's part of why I chose my pen name as Judas X. Machina, I wanted stories with a twist that wasn't a cop out. Like the dreadful third Hunger Games Novel. Tho I do like it used comedically, like in Life of Brian where he's saved from falling to death in 33A.D by a passing alien spacecraft.
New title for novel
So I publish, try to market (including a radio ad), and find out that my book has the same title as some ex-American's 30 page ebook porno.
Yeah. That's cool.
She won't change it, and I need to make sales, so I have a new title and an old cover, lol.
True Monsters (the Shepherds Wolf) is on sale now!
Why "Failed Daily"?
Because I fail to update daily.