Monday, December 17, 2012

Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1950

I have another Retro Review on Black Gate.  This one is a review of Galaxy's November, 1950 issue (which was their second issue).  Check it out!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

This weekend, my wife and I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  Neither of us have gone to the movies to see anything in 3D, so we thought we'd try it out.  Honestly, I think I could have watched it in 2D without missing anything significant.  But I'm not a 3D fan, so take that with a grain of salt.

As for the movie itself, I felt like it moved too slowly.  Beyond that, I disliked the added dialogue.  By that, I don't mean that the dialogue needed to match the book verbatim, but the additional verbiage was full of bad jokes.  For example, Bilbo refers to something as being crochet, and one of the dwarves says he loves that game, if you've got the balls for it (or something along those lines).  Gandalf relays a tale of the Took who could ride a horse and how he decapitated an enemy in battle, knocking the head into a rabbit hole (which I think is directly from the book); then he adds, "And the game of golf was invented as well."  Golf - in Middle Earth?  By far, the worst offender was the goblin king, who traps the party and asks what Gandalf will do, and when Gandalf responds physically, the goblin king replies, "That'll do."  Oh, it was horribly cheesy.

Now, I did like some aspects: I liked the scene with Bilbo and Gollum, and I liked seeing Erebor in all of its splendor.  Oh, and the plot with the Necromancer was intriguing; that's one thing I wish had been explored a bit more within the novel.

How would I rate the movie?  Well, it wasn't bad.  But it wasn't good either.  It's not a movie I feel like I need to see again anytime soon.  And it gives me pause on whether or not to see parts two and three in theatres.  Because with a young family, three hours out of the house is a luxury, so we're very cautious in how we use it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Matthew Wuertz on Facebook

For those not already aware, I have a Facebook page as well:

I like using Facebook for quick links or quips.  It also links back to posts from this blog.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Touch of Speculative Humor

I think some speculative stories need an injection of humor.  I'm not writing about stories that are entirely comedic; instead, I mean fantasy and science fiction stories that include humorous breaks.

I enjoy humor, and I enjoy making humorous quips with friends and family.  And I find that just as laughter breaks the tension in real life, so it does in fiction.  But that's the catch - by employing humor, it will break any existing tension, even if only momentarily.

Here are some dos and don'ts around speculative humor:

Don't use cliches.  Take my elf; please.  No, please don't.  Perhaps a character uses cliched humor as part of his/her identity; that's fine, but it will have a different effect.

Don't use humor you don't enjoy.  If you're trying to force something to be funny, it won't work.  It's like twisting someone's arm and ordering them to laugh. 

Don't expect everyone to match your sense of humor.  What's funny to you may not be funny to me.

Don't break up all tension.  Tension can be a great thing, like taut strings on a violin that's perfectly tuned.  There are movies that bug me because the director/screenwriter decided that the tension was perhaps a bit too much, so they injected something silly because there was humor earlier.  For example, Gimli's part in the movie adaptation of Lord of the Rings went a bit too far at points; yes, we get that he's short, but please don't break the tension of Helm's Deep. 

Okay, so this is just a list of don'ts.  So use caution with humor.  Add just a touch as needed (if it's needed at all).  It's a noticeable spice within your story's ingredients, and if you add too much, your story risks becoming a long-running joke.  By this, I mean that your intent wasn't to write a comedy, but because your plot became rife with silliness, you're left with a mess that audiences can't connect with.