Friday, July 07, 2006

JED's Reborn Story

Link to the Original Story: Reborn Story - JED

Okay, I know I'm down on myself in a lot of these Author's Notes. And here's my chance not to be. I really like this world. I mean I really, REALLY, like this world. To me this is what spec fic ought to be. It is complete, self-sustaining, real, but equally mythic, metaphorical and fantastic. Things don't make sense at a very fundamental level. But that's never explained because it's beside the point. It's a mix of metaphor and reality, making the theme almost tangible and the characters vividly real. At least, that was what I was shooting for. On top of that, it was crazy fun creating this world. Starting from my previous work, all I had was some really big trees and a huge river. Now we've got philosophy, religion, geography (a little), characters, biology, and a heaping helping of weirdness, with a dollop of action on top. I likes. I'm not sure how these developments came to me. For me world building is a very organic process; stuff just falls into place. Mixing catholocism, voodoo, and calculus just seemed natural (no insult to voodoo or catholocism intended). The same goes for the river biology and the crew of the boat). I will also admit that this story is not complete. Far from it. I think it's probably about half way through, maybe less. And I am working on finishing it off. I've got another 3 pages already written and some rewrites on the intro, and when it's all said and done I will post it here as a special bonus feature. There's going to be more explanation, more strange adventure, more metaphor and more character. Plus more backdrop, cause that's what I love to do. In the end, I'm proud of this one.

I honestly think this is some of JED’s best work, bar none. Here he has his world-building powers going at full tilt, constructing an entire complete universe in just a few pages. I have to admit, I was a little confused when I saw that he chose River Driver to redo; it was a nice little story, but there really wasn’t a whole lot going on; more of an explanation of a nifty idea than a fully fleshed out creature. But, like a seed from one of his giant trees, clearly that nifty idea took powerful root in JED’s imagination, and germinated fiercely to become an entirely different creature altogether. It’s a fascinating meditation on what it means to belong and not belong in a world that is in some ways very concrete and in others, mystifyingly speculative. The only complaint I have, if it can be called one, is that there is clearly more to come; the ideas are not encapsulated in themselves, but there is much more to come. I’ve actually gotten a little taste of what there is, and let me tell you folks, it’s worth waiting for. I think there could be publication in the future of a later version of this piece.

Oh, and just had to give one shout out to my dogg John the Troll; I love that character. Genuinely human, genuinely not, straddling the lines between man and more than man and less than man, John is at once a character in a constant struggle to get a grasp on himself and very much comfortable with who he is. And he’s a friggin’ kick-ass stoic man-mountain to boot. Groovy.

JP's Reborn Story

Link to Original Story: Reborn Story - JP

I chose this pitch to rewrite for three reasons: a) I’m lazy; b) I was writing another story at the same time; and c) I felt like I didn’t properly complete the task the first time. This time, I wanted to plot out the entire story, and I feel like I did that. I’m pretty pleased with it; I’d love to play this video game. There’s still tons more to do with it, too. Giant swaths in the middle are missing, and I really liked the side characters, though most only got a sentence’s mention. In the future, I’d like to flesh out their stories and tie some of them in to the main plot.

Most of the Indian names here are taken from actual Native American words or names, as listed above. Adayesgi means cancer. The Quenteotl names are not taken from real Aztec, except for Moqueloa, which was another name for Tezcatlipoca, the cruel over-god of the Aztecs. Though Apotheosis is intentionally distinct from the rest, Jason didn’t think it worked. He’s probably right.

I would love to play this game, and I'd love to play it even more now than the first time. JP's conceptualization reminds me of the best of the old school (or should it be middle school?) RPGs - games like Fallout and Planescape: Torment and Baldur's Gate. All plot development with compelling characters and a moving story, set against a creative and vivid backdrop incorporating elements of the surreal into the rich detail of a fully functional world. Tasty. That said, I will deliver a slight criticism. I don't think it makes a good story. I love it. I really do, but the nature of a plot expose, even told as a culture myth as done here, is less than a perfect vehicle for an enjoyable story. It ends up being heavy on action and device, thick with repeated names, and relatively light on both theme and visual. No fault to him, it's just the nature of the pitch. Of all his pitches to be reborn, I would not have selected this one, simply because it is so limiting. But for what he had to work with I think he did an excellent job.