Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Like Seinfeld, This Is A Column About Nothing

I realized I haven't posted anything in nearly three weeks. A messy, horrible month in December combined with some frenzied Warhammer 40K miniatures work plus a total lack of motivation RPGs-wise has left me with pretty much nothing of substance to write about. However, as we learned from Throw Momma From the Train, a writer writes, always. Without further ado:

- I re-read Sci-Fi author Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn trilogy over the holidays. It is truly an amazing work. I read this book about a year and a half ago, and wrote a column about it back then, so I won't repeat myself much except to say that even if you're not a Warhammer 40,000 player, this trilogy is still an amazing piece of science fiction and great gaming food for thought. I'm currently re-reading Abnett's Ravenor trilogy, a sequel/spin-off/successor to Eisenhorn. While a great trilogy and excellent fiction, there is something about the more focused, prosaic style Abnett uses in the Eisenhorn books that appeals more to me.

- I got the new Star Trek movie on DVD for Christmas, and watched it again. I saw it several times in theaters, including once on an IMAX screen, and was very impressed with the film overall. While I prefer TOS to the later spin-offs, I am no Trek purist, and found this movie quite enjoyable. One of the comments on the extra features that I found especially thought-provoking was one of the producers talking about how they decided to look at the very vibrant, frenetic look and feel of Star Wars (the originals as well as the new movies), and tried to see what they could bring from those to the Star Trek universe while still remaining, at it's core, a "Star Trek" film. I leave it up to you to decide if they succeeded or failed in that regard, but I can see in the film (such as the fight on the space drill, or the shootout in the Romulan cargo bay) where those influences came into play.

- This re-viewing of the new movie has me once again thinking of a Star Trek, or Trek-esque, campaign, either using T&B rules (which would suit the freewheeling spirit of the Trek-verse nicely) or some other rather flexible rules set. However, utter lack of motivation has kept me from delving into this idea further.

- Grapeshot and Grognards has been on standby for several weeks now. It's not that I don't want to work on it, and I've typed up a fair amount of material on characters and have some good ideas relating to massed casualties and other rules additions, but getting it out onto the screen has been frustratingly difficult.

- Speaking of frustration in writing, over the break I watched the first season of David Duchovny's Showtime series Californication. I was surprisingly engrossed in the first season, and curse Netflix for not putting season two on instant viewing. I've always had a soft spot for shows or movies about struggling writers (Barton Fink, anyone?), and I saw in Duchovny's character that conflict that all writers face; the struggle between fanning the flames of creativity in one's spirit, and being able to channel that fire in some meaningful way to produce something substantive that can be handed to another and appreciated. I realize now that I wrote more in high school, in terms of content at least, fiction-wise than I have probably in the last five or six years. It's incredibly frustrating to know that you should just be able to sit down at a computer or a notebook and write consistently every day for a little while, but at the same time, just not being able to make oneself do it.

- I find it fascinating that I can go a week and a half without being in my office doing "work", and produce nothing in terms of personal writing or RPG work, but as soon as I'm back to work and have things work-related to do, I'm here writing this column when there's half a dozen other things I could be tending to (and a couple of things I'm multi-tasking on even now). I guess for me my greatest motivation to do actual personal writing work is to avoid doing real, professional labor. Go figure. What would happen if I was ever paid to write for a living? That's a scary thought, considering...

- My players are clamoring for another session of our Castles & Crusades campaign. I would love to run one, but again, trying to find the energy to figure out what sort of meat-grinder I want to put them through is difficult. I'm thinking I want them to suffer through a nice fat multi-session dungeon crawl; it's just a matter of putting pen to paper that's bogging me down. Maybe I need to dig through a few old Dungeon magazines again to find a few good ideas...

All right, that's that for now. Since I'm back at work after the holidays, I'm sure I'll be posting more often. Time to see if that writer's block will finally begin to break down in the face of Real Work.

5 comments:

Old4Eyes said...

I can safely say my pile of Dungeon magazines has provided inspiration during moments of creative block!
The main difference between Eisenhorn and Ravenor imho is Eisenhorn moves from one pole to the other in what hes willing to do to get the job done, whereas Ravenor is a bastion of faith....I've read both a couple of times and always come across bits I missed previously.
Anything by Dan Abnett is worth a read - the latest Gaunts Ghosts book (Blood Pact) was a complete change of pace for the series.

Badelaire said...

Well, the way I look at the two, the Eisenhorn series is about Eisenhorn and his change over time. It's written from his perspective, and as a memoir no less, and stays that way through the entire trilogy, and while his entourage is important, they are firmly in the background - Eisenhorn and Eisenhorn only is the central character.

In the Ravenor series, you move between his first-person viewpoint and several other third-person viewpoints, making Ravenor much less of a central character. Yes, the series is named after him, but the novels are just as much about Nyal, Kys, Swole, Thonius, and the other investigators as they are about Ravenor - in fact, there's probably just as much, if not more, "screen time" devoted to each of the other main characters as there is devoted to him.

Ultimately, I find the Eisenhorn books to be more "literary" dare I say, while Ravenor's books are more like a stereotypical series of cool sci-fi adventure novels. Both are equally good, but I find Eisenhorn more of a read for the enjoyment of the writing itself.

Robert Fisher said...

For me, the thing about the Star Trek movie is that it is so good that any nitpicks I’d have actually feel as trivial as they are. It makes me wonder whether it was just a fluke or if there’s some secret sauce they need to share with the people who make all the shows that I do nitpick.

Joseph said...

I would just point out that Castle of the Mad Archmage would work quite nicely in C&C...

Badelaire said...

@Robert: I know what you mean about the nitpicks. I had someone try to complain to me about how the nacelles of the Enterprise weren't designed like the old ones, and the bridge looked like an Apple store, yadda yadda yadda. It really felt like the ultimate complaint was "it's not exactly like the same old low-budget sci-fi show I love". Well...too bad, folks.