Monthly Archives: December 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Some Thoughts

DANGER WILL ROBINSON – SPOILERS AHEAD – DANGER!

 

 

I MEAN IT!

 

 

 

DON’T LOOK ANY FURTHER….

 

 

Okay, I’ve seen The Force Awakens (TFA) now, and I’ve had time to sit, think and contemplate…

What did I think?

In short – I liked it. I liked it a lot.

Was it perfect? No, it wasn’t (I’ll come to that), but it laid an excellent foundation from which to build the the rest of the trilogy on.

What Worked:

  1. The new cast as a whole were great. Daisy Ridley I felt was excellent as Rey, as was John Boyega as Finn. Both brought a good balance to their roles that capture both the seriousness and the humor that Star Wars is about. I also liked Poe Dameron as the hot shot X-Wing pilot. Was he a bit too “cool for school”? Damn right he was, perhaps a little too “cool”, but on the whole he served the role of jock pilot perfectly.
  2. Kylo Ren…..Kylo, Kylo, Kylo. Loved this guy. A wannabe  Vader with temper issues. I liked the fact he wasn’t ice cool and totally evil. He was conflicted, and he showed it well. He also wasn’t an unbeatable bad a*s either, as shown when he nearly got his own handed to him by Rey near the end. Although to be fair being shot by a bowcaster AND having lightsabre wounds already will hinder a person, Force-imbued or not.
  3. The effects were suitable enhanced for the modern area, but they didn’t feel too CGI (I’m looking at you, Prequels!) either. They captured the world of Star Wars perfectly, and the action felt real enough without getting too Private Ryan.
  4. A lot “worked” for me overall. Rather than justifying individual points here, let’s just say the cast, the effects, the world – on the whole, they just worked.

What Didn’t Quite Work:

A few things really, although none of them were too bad in my opinion.

  1. The plot beats. Basically this was Star Wars: A New Hope with fancy bells and whistles on. We follow a young person (Rey) stuck on a desert planet (Jaku), who’s plucked from obscurity when she happens upon a droid (BB8) carrying essential data for the Resistance. She then joins up with the Resistance and assists in their mission against the Death Star – Premium edition. If we change Rey for Luke, Jaku for Tantooine and the Resistance for the Rebellion we have A New Hope all over again. Sure, there are also many differences, but the core beats are the same.
  2. A Stormtrooper wielding an anti-lightsabre type weapon. Really? I mean, really? The Jedi, lightsabres etc are considered myth now, so when someone signs up to stormtrooper training school is there really a class called “Light Sabre Defense with a Lightning Stick – 101”? Did you see the size of that weapon? Why would a storm trooper carry that around in a battle, just on the off chance he ran into a lightsabre-carrying opponent? And what are the odds that Finn lost his blaster at that moment? A quick blast on that trooper would’ve ended that scene then and there (think Indiana Jones and that guy with the sword – bang!)! Yeah. I didn’t like that one.
  3. Luke. Not enough of him, although I understand why. If he’d been in more he would’ve stolen the film from the newbies.
  4. Starkiller base. Yes, it’s powerful. Yes it can destroy an entire star system but to design the same thing, again, with the same stupid design flaw allowing it to be blow up from some central power regulator type thing, that’s uncool. Where does the First Order get its architects from? Did they not look at SharePoint for the lessons learned logs from the past 2 death stars? Doh.
  5. The New Republic. Where are they? Why aren’t they fighting the First Order? The Resistance are sort of painted as an extremist faction funded by the NR but with plausible deniability. What’s that about? And who – WHO – leaves their entire fleet round one planet just in case something catastrophic happens? It would appear they do!

Random Thoughts

  • Rey is Luke’s daughter. Kylo saved her from the Jedi massacre and left her for dead. Luke left her on Jaku so that she wouldn’t be exposed to the Force and it’s machinations anymore.
  • Rey will go to the dark side. Did you see her when she was fighting Kylo? There some powerful emotions there. I suspect she might’ve killed Kylo if the world hadn’t split in half!
  • Let’s leave Leia out of it now. With Han, erm, doing what he did, we don’t need them anymore. Let’s move on with the new team. We need Luke, obviously, but hopefully he’ll just be the new Obi Wan and nothing more.
  • Kylo must come to the light at some point. He’s got a great journey to evolve over, I’m sure. Heroic sacrifice beckons at some point, mark my words.
  • Snoke – who the hell is this guy? He’s obviously strong in the Dark Side, but where’s he been all this time? Is he Darth Plaguesis? Someone else? Perhaps he’s a corrupted Luke clone from the hand that vanished in Empire Strikes Back?

Summary

Like I said, I liked this a lot. I think it’s an 8/10. A good start, bridging the old with the new. I can’t wait for the second installment, and am looking forward to the other films in the anthology too.

Right, back to writing. Forgot about that for a time…

Advertisements

Paperback edition out now – at last

Well, after 14 attempts (and several shouting matches with my computer screen) at converting my proof manuscript into a pdf that looked right in the CreateSpace digital viewer, I’m pleased to say that I’ve finally managed to get Message Bearer out and available in paperback as well as Kindle.

I don’t expect many sales from this version, the price required for PoD (Print on Demand) seems a bit on the excessive side to be cost effective, but at the very least I get to own a few “real” copies that I can share with friends and family.

Also, I learned a few lessons formatting the word document to be fit for use on CreateSpace, and found a few good links in the process which I’ll add to the blog later as these proved to be a godsend! I thought I knew MS Word until I encountered this particular challenge!

Anyway, I digress, the link is below. If you prefer your books in dead tree format then please take a look 🙂

PS – I need to link the ebook and paper versions together on Amazon, as at the moment they don’t appear as alternate options for the same book. Yet another challenge on this self-publishing roller coaster!

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

AuranChronicles_CVR_LRG

25,000 words…

Another milestone reached as Auran Chronicles #2 ploughs on with merrily abandon.

I’ve hit one of those critical “what if”  moments now that always happens and threatens to blow my carefully planned outline to smithereens!  It’s such a cliché but when those characters get formed on your head they really do things that you didn’t plan for!

Annoyance.

So,  on this occasion I’ve decided to follow Cade to see where his way of working takes the story.  So if the novel goes crazy from this point on it’s not me you blame.

It’s the characters…  ☺

 

 

 

 

The proof has arrived!

The proof of Message Bearer arrived this morning courtesy of CreateSpace. I’m very chuffed, it’s great to see it actually “in the flesh” for the first time rather than existing out there in the digital ether!

I might have to tinker with the chapter heads slightly (they appear too far up the page for my liking) but aside from that I’m very pleased with the outcome!

Cover_real

Schrödinger’s Cat, magic and the Auran Chronicles

Perhaps a bit metaphysical this post, but magic, and its role within reality, plays a key part in the ongoing mythology of the Auran Chronicles.

When I first started writing Message Bearer (Book 1), I wanted a magic system that could in theory exist in the real world of today. As much as I love the various systems out there (the stored magic of the AD&D, the Will and the Word from the Belgariad and so forth), I wanted something that you could explain away with actual science.

Well, sort of… (this is fantasy after all!)

The origins of the magic system used in the Auran Chronicles can be traced from my layman’s interest in quantum physics, specifically the “observer effect” often referenced in the thought experiment known as “Schrödinger’s Cat”. I won’t go into the full details of this (look here) now, but the key points, as adapted for the Auran Chronicles, can be summarised as thus:

  • Reality only exists because we “will” it to be so. Literally, if a tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one around, does it make sound? Answer = No. There is no tree. There is no forest.
  • Our minds are the decoders of reality, with our senses being the methods by which we assimilate this information.
  • Reality as we know it is basically a consensus of rules, built upon many years of human learning.
  • Those who can use magic in the Auran Chronicles are not only aware of this consensus, but also have the ability to challenge it, with variable levels of success.

Which leads us to:

Computer programming.

By day I’m an IT consultant, and my magic system built upon quantum physics complimented nicely with a concept known as Object Oriented Programming. Again, I won’t go into this in detail, but basically this allows for an abstraction layer above the underlying machine code that allows programmers to plug in to systems without having to know the complexity underneath. They have access to a library of objects, each serving a different function, and then call them as they see fit.

With the Auran Chronicles quantum physics and object oriented programming work in tandem, without actually being referenced as such. A mage has access to libraries of patterns that can affect reality without having to access the actual “machine code” behind it. The only issue then is challenging the consensus maintained by the subconscious minds of the observers.

But that’s for the magi to worry about…