Tag Archives: Rose B. Fischer

How Are They Going to Pull Off… The Dark Tower

As I said recently, it’s getting to be time to start really thinking about and talking about The Dark Tower. Honestly, the trailers started hitting for this one very close to its release date, which is refreshing, after so many films with trailers 6 months to a year or more out from the movie’s release.

The movie has renewed interest in the series, not only in myself, but in a number of fellow Comparative Geeks. Hannah has just gotten to reading the books for the first time, after asking what she should read by Stephen King. I know I suggested the Dark Tower series, because I had asked the same question of myself a few years back: having never read any King, where do you start? The Dark Tower is so large and meta that it is representative of the rest of King’s work in many ways, making it a great starting place.

Meanwhile, Rose is re-reading the series, and on Wizard and Glass last I saw.

https://twitter.com/EvilGeniusRBF/status/866732630150193152

It’s with Rose I’ve been talking about the series the most, and it’s been interesting talking with a fellow reader and trying to recall these books. We’ve talked especially about the first book and how it functioned to introduce readers to the world, which seems particularly relevant in terms of the film.

There may be more about the books to come from Hannah, Rose, or others (Holly hasn’t read them… yet), but for now, I want to consider what we’re seeing here about the film, and how it relates to the books, and the general question of… how are they going to pull off this series?

But the first book is The Gunslinger, say please, say thankya

The thing first and foremost that I’m sure a great many fans latched onto when they were first seeing anything about this movie is that it’s called The Dark Tower. This is the name of the series, sure, which also how franchises like this seem to sell themselves lately (Hunger GamesTwilightMaze Runner, etc.).

We can perhaps blame Harry Potter (which may also come up in the books…) for this phenomenon, but his name was indeed in each book title at least. Unlike Fantastic Beasts, which seems is going to share that title with each film…

The thing is, by not calling the movie The Gunslinger – the name of the first book – they have clearly freed themselves from a slavish connection to the books. And we’ve heard rumors about a TV series, about the films being less than 7 (there’s 7 books… well, 8 now with an additional story-within-a-story book…), about them just generally trying to bring the story to the screen, rather than do a full adaptation.

Which, approaching this series from a non-traditional standpoint makes some sense to me. As it is, the series did not follow a traditional approach. For one thing, it was written across Stephen King’s career, ranging from one of his very first books to ones he rushed finished after a near-death experience, and even the more recent The Wind Through the Keyhole I was referencing above. Over this time, King’s storytelling changed tremendously.

The story also follows a main character who is not the most reliable for us to follow, and who also has a more local sense of the world he is in – a world that I think we will see visually has far more similarities to our own than Roland realizes. But for example, the middle book, Wizard and Glass, is almost exclusively Roland’s backstory as told to us by Roland.

When they started making a graphic novel series (written by one of my favorites, Peter David), they decided to approach the story chronologically, rather than as King wrote them. Therefore, it started with the events of Wizard and Glass, and then worked its way towards The Gunslinger and on from there.

It doesn’t look like the films will be following either the books or the graphic novels very closely, instead blazing its own new trail. Hopefully, they can keep it going now that it’s nearly upon us, since this film has been stuck in production hell. For more on that and some words on the potential of a TV show (and spoilers), I recommend the Wikipedia page.

The Characters

So one of the things Rose and I really got to talking about was the characters. I feel like I completely understand what happened here, as I experienced the same thing with my NaNoWriMo story that has become The Astral Chronicles (which I’ll get back to, I swear). The Gunslinger is a book with very few characters in it, basically focused entirely on our protagonist and the man he’s pursuing. There’s also young Jake, both a companion and a pawn.

Before I get back to Jake, it’s worth noting that the second book, The Drawing of the Three, addresses this problem: the three that are drawn are three main characters to join in the journey with Roland. This was a feeling I experienced after finishing my NaNoWriMo: the need to infuse the story with more main characters.

Anyway, as I mentioned above, I find Roland to be an unreliable narrator/protagonist. There’s far, far more about this world that he knows that is not revealed to the audience, or is revealed slowly over the entire series. He lives there, he’s the last of his order, he’s alone in the world. Plenty of reasons for him to be keeping things to himself, often without fully realizing he is – and often times with reason.

Still, as with most stories, a character that can function for the audience, who can pull out some information about the world the author is telling us about, who can be an excuse for exposition – that’s what we get in Jake.

It’s interesting, therefore, that the promotional things I have seen so far have focused on three characters: Idris Elba’s Roland the Gunslinger, Matthew McConaughey’s Man in Black, and young Jake. So while I’ve said that they can step far afield of the books, they may not have. The additional characters from The Drawing of the Three have not appeared and may not in the film, coming in later instead (though not in the TV show, potentially, if that’s set in the past). So that basically leaves this as The Gunslinger by another name.

Introducing more main characters later to this extent could be very interesting. Not sure how it’ll work out for this series – I guess wait and see! There’s plenty about these characters that is rooted in the time they were written, as well, but there’s plenty of room for this to be a story set not in our present day. So will the characters vary widely from the book, or not?

I want to talk a final spoiler-heavy area, but I’ll do so after this image!

The End is the Beginning is the End

 

I’d heard this rumor, and I saw it stated again on the Wikipedia page… with a source.

Oh. So Stephen King is letting us know. This is a sequel. This is set after the end of The Dark Tower the book. Possibly even after the graphic novels (since in those Roland also has the Horn of Eld). Is it really the last time around? Is this King’s attempt to close the loop, to end this series once and for all?

And with it being a new loop, will there be different major life/world events that play into it? For instance, in the books there’s a focus on the World Trade Center (and Black Thirteen), and on Stephen King’s own near-death experience. Will these things be replaced by something new? Cut entirely? That’s a few years on, at this point, but it’ll be interesting to see what they do!

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Throwback Thursday – Discrimination against Science Fiction and Fantasy

So this was something of a conclusion to my posts on the definition of Science Fiction and of Fantasy, by diving into a personal and specific example of why the whole discussion mattered to me in the first place. I hesitate to share it again for two reasons: one, for the personal aspects, and two, because the original post generated a whole bunch of discussion. As such, going back to the original to see others’ opinions is a good way to get more than my single story here. Also, the personal aspects are no longer accurate.


One of my favorite things I’ve written on the blog is my series on the definition and importance of Science Fiction and Fantasy – of fictions that might be called Speculative, or Romantic. And when asked, I said that one of the things that I would most like to change in the world is people’s opinions about these genres, or maybe about genre fiction in general. However, through all of this, I lacked a solid, concrete example. An example of prejudice against Science Fiction or Fantasy.

There are a lot of things in this world that we shouldn’t discriminate against. Things you can’t control, things that aren’t a choice, things that should have no bearing on life. But then, there are things that are opinions, that are a choice, that I can go right ahead and be upset about. And for me, the one that takes the cake is being against Science Fiction and Fantasy.

So, I had said I was going to do a post about movies this week. That’ll have to wait. Because last night I got a great example of anti-Sci-Fi discrimination. And I feel the need to share, and to vent. So let me set the scene, let me rant a bit, and then hopefully I’ll have it out of my system!

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How to Build A Fictional Education System

Few things say as much to me about a culture as its education system. What a society values, it teaches to its young, and that means its values are at the core of any system designed to teach and enculturate children.

Education is a big issue right now. People are drowning in student debt, but many of them are unable to get jobs in the fields that they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire qualifications in.  We’re wrestling with questions about what education is for, what constitutes a good one, and how much it should cost.  Eventually, questions like that will (or should) filter into our speculative fiction.

There are lots of middle grade and YA books where schools function as a setting element.  Harry Potter, Vampire Academy, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid come to mind. In those stories, if education is relevant at all, it’s a catalyst for adventure or an obstacle that the characters have to deal with while trying to get what they want.  So the education systems are familiar: residential English school, American-style public school. They’re a backdrop, or a motif, not a problem in themselves.

Adult lit doesn’t spend much time on education at all, unless we’re dealing with some kind of magical initiation and training. In those cases, again, the method and problems associated with the educational system are usually not discussed beyond the protagonist whining or complaining about the hardass mentor. I’m betting we’ll see a shift in the next 10 to 15 years because more and more people are returning to school later in life, and we have increasing numbers of college grads who can’t get the jobs they want.

Check out The Foxes of Synn by Rose B. Fischer

I’m also betting on this because, in the past five years, I’ve had two long-term, large-scale spec fic projects up-end themselves and decide that they were suddenly going to start making a HUGE DEAL about how the education systems in their societies are broken, holding people back, and need to change.  Well, I’m not a political writer, and I’m not a psychic, but I do pay attention to social movements, and I listen to what is important to people.  I didn’t plan to write about education, but I figure if both of my story worlds have decided that education needs to be written about, I’m gonna go with it.

So, when I realized this was happening in my work, I took a step back and started asking myself some hard questions. What is the purpose of education? David’s tackled that here in a Feminist Friday Post and here in an analysis of education in Naruto. What does the ideal education system look like? Who should have access to education, and who should pay for it? Is education really the social equalizer? The more questions I asked, the more I didn’t have good answers – and I still don’t, but that’s okay with me because I never want to preach to my audience.  I want to pose questions and let my readers make up their own minds.

I decided to get more purposeful about the education systems in my universes, though, and to that end, I came up with a list of “ideal education system criteria.”

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Long Running Media Franchises and Trends: Do Geeks Get Burn-Out?

I’ve noticed that I get sick of long running franchises (and even entire genres) a lot more quickly than most of my geeky friends seem to. I’ve always known that there was a point at which I would just be “done” with something and not be able to tolerate watching, reading, or even really hearing much about it anymore. The first time it happened to me was with He-Man and She-Ra back in the 80s. As much as I loved them, I Just. Couldn’t. Take. Anymore.

In fairness, that might have had to do with how often they were on and how many different stations were running the SAME EPISODES. My siblings are quite a bit younger than I am, and if they were left to their own devices, we would have watched the same four episodes 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. There’s only so many hours of pink furry underwear and sparkly horses a kid can handle before her brain implodes.

Maybe I just got conditioned to have a low tolerance for repetition. I do eventually get over my “done-ness.” I rediscovered He-Man and She-Ra in the early 2000s and I even blog about them now. Still, once I’ve reached the burn-out point, I need a long time to recover (longer, it would seem, than most folk) and I have a shorter tolerance than I did before.

To give some more recent examples, I was reaching burn-out with urban fantasy and particularly vampires around the time that Twilight first caught on. At this point, if I hear or see mention of a vampire/urban fantasy/paranormal romance series, I actually feel vaguely queasy. What I would like to say is, “Seriously? Are we done yet? What else can POSSIBLY be said with this subject?” I know that’s not fair or polite. I’m sure there’s plenty left to say and do with it. Several of my writing friends are still working in this genre, and my tongue has its own suit of armor now.

I don’t know exactly when I hit the burnout point with superhero movies, but the last one I actually liked was released in 2006. Iron Man, if anyone’s curious. Since then, my reactions have ranged from indifference to a desire to hit myself with a hammer. Obviously, most of my WP friends are pretty rabid about comic book tie ins and the superhero genre right now. (Again. Tongue. Suit of armor. Possibly an Iron Man suit.)

If you know me at all, you know I love Star Wars. I think I hit the burnout point on the franchise around 2010 after I spent several years involved in collaborative fan projects. I’m touch-and-go with SW now. I can blog about it or read about it in spurts, but I’m having a very hard time working up any enthusiasm for new SW media. I just…don’t care, even though I should.

Last year, I discovered the Disney Fairies franchise. I watched the first four movies in rapid succession and loved them enough to blog about them. Some of my friends did as well. People started sending me links to other blogs about them as well. Then, the fifth movie came out, and, I realized I just didn’t give a shit anymore. I’m sad about that, but I’m pretty sure that at some point in the next couple of years, I will care again. I hope so.

My point in writing this is to say that I’ve observed that most geeks seem to decide they like something and want to read/watch/experience every possible permutation of it and analyze them all, sometimes for years at a time. I think I do that, but I seem to want to do it in smaller doses. I need a lot of time and space between doses, too. It makes me curious. Where is your burn-out point and what will trigger it?

This post was by Rose B. Fischer. Help thank her for her guest post by heading on over to her eponymous blog and giving her a follow! But first, answer her question down in the comments below!

Discrimination against Science Fiction and Fantasy

One of my favorite things I’ve written on the blog is my series on the definition and importance of Science Fiction and Fantasy – of fictions that might be called Speculative, or Romantic. And when asked, I said that one of the things that I would most like to change in the world is people’s opinions about these genres, or maybe about genre fiction in general. However, through all of this, I lacked a solid, concrete example. An example of prejudice against Science Fiction or Fantasy.

There are a lot of things in this world that we shouldn’t discriminate against. Things you can’t control, things that aren’t a choice, things that should have no bearing on life. But then, there are things that are opinions, that are a choice, that I can go right ahead and be upset about. And for me, the one that takes the cake is being against Science Fiction and Fantasy.

So, I had said I was going to do a post about movies this week. That’ll have to wait. Because last night I got a great example of anti-Sci-Fi discrimination. And I feel the need to share, and to vent. So let me set the scene, let me rant a bit, and then hopefully I’ll have it out of my system!

One Does Not Simply Discriminate Against Science Fiction and Fantasy

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