Archive for May, 2009

When I work up a long-form story, I tend to start with a bare-bones plot, and zygotes of characters that flesh out however they pop into my head. Unfortunately, I come up against a lot of my own limitations when all these components come to rest in a science fiction field. For starters, world-building.

So it’s good to have a writing partner who can fill in your weak points – for instance, Chris Braak. As his book The Translated Man (hey, you should go buy a copy!) illustrates, Braak has an exceptional talent for fully realizing imaginary worlds.

Which is all a prelude to today’s workblog, where I outline the basic plot structure of a story-to-be, and seek Chris’s advice when the details get to be a bit of a pain in the ass.



terminator 1Here we go with the time travel again.

In preparation for this summer’s Terminator franchise renewal (not a reboot!), I decided to watch the first two, realizing I’d never actually seen either of them in full. Regarding the first one, what struck me as most fascinating – other than the fact that, Linda Hamilton’s mullet aside, it still holds up pretty well – is how cleverly – even diabolically – it utilizes its time-travel aspects.


Recommended: R. Scott Bakker

Posted: May 27, 2009 in Braak

As a reader, I cut my teeth on epic fantasy.  When I was 13 and at the bookstore, I made a beeline directly for the SciFi/Fantasy section, and I don’t think I bothered picking up a book that didn’t have a guy with a sword on the cover.  Preferably slaying some kind of monster.

Of course, looking back on it, I realize that most of those cover were heinously stupid.  Just ugly, boring, pointless book covers.


Sorry for the interruption…

Posted: May 26, 2009 in Braak, Threat Quality

…my fault.  Memorial Day Weekend threw me off, and then car problems and insomnia.  Real, honest-to-god posting will resume shortly.

BSG 1Something I’ve been wondering lately: exactly how much does an ending affect the overall quality of a story? Does the conclusion ultimately decide whether the rest of it was worth going through? Or does the journey count for enough?

Put in more concrete terms: does the fact that “Battlestar: Galactica’s” ultimate ending is among the stupidest I’ve ever heard in my life – and by stupidest, I mean both “wildly illogical” and “antithetical to the themes the show had previously set up” – mean I shouldn’t bother watching the series?


Troubled by the fact that I, Braak!, only ever complain about things?  Perhaps you’d be interested in reading a review by someone who actually enjoys other people’s work!  Also, maybe you enjoy Lovecraft and scary monsters.

If any of these things are true, have a look at Laird Barron’s The Imago Sequence reviewed over at io9 by Friend of Threat Quality Chris Hsiang.

Seriously, it actually looks pretty good.  I’m thinking of buying it so that I have something to read while I’m getting my car fixed on Tuesday.

While I’m at it, I’d also like to fire off a quick recommendation of Blood of Ambrose, by my good friend James Enge.  (Haha, we’re not really friends, but I did talk to him on the internet once, and he seems pretty funny.)  It is good, solid, fantasy fun–no pretensions towards being fantasy’s A La Recherche de Temps Perdu or anything, but not mired in genre cliches, either.  He is a good man with a fun book, but his official website isn’t as cool as mine.

HYSTERIA FINAL[small]_thumbThe Wilma again.  I keep going back here.  By coincidence, this is another play directed by Jiri Zizka, and it’s another play about two historical figures that you don’t think of as being contemporaries, but really were contemporaries, meeting each other and talking about things (see my chart; in this case:  Sigmund Freud and Salvador Dali).  I don’t know if Zizka has a thing about this, or something, I don’t know.

Anyway, to be clear:  this was a good time out.  I don’t have any kind of quarrel with direction or acting or anything, because I rarely do, especially at the Wilma.  They have the resources to make everything look really good, and the means to hire talented actors.  But…