Uplifting of Starkiller

I didn’t intend to stay up until 3am to watch the new Star Wars trailer, but when Twitter was full of ‘only 2 minutes until the trailer’ for an hour, it just happened. And it was good. Ticket sales already beat out everything including Endgame (although they opened at a more reasonable time of day than Endgame’s, so there’s that), and The Last Jedi -prompted boycott of Star Wars seems to be going well…

Rey exudes a goodness that can’t be turned to the Dark side, Kylo Ren still looks like a moody teenager with an unstable lightsaber, and the others are also there. C-3PO’s line is beaten by Carrie Fisher’s single word as the biggest punch to the heart, and Po says some stuff also.

TLJ

The Last Jedi was bad. Objectively, bad film-makingly bad as well as subjectively, bad writingly bad. Rian Johnson’s need to ‘subvert expectations’ at any cost subverted our expectations of a great Star Wars film and left many hurdles for JJ Abrams to clamber over. There’s no telling if he is up to it. Force Awakens was very good (I thought), but not without its own problems. Not least of all R2D2 waking up at the end just…because. Abrams couldn’t be bothered to think up an actual reason for it, so it just happened out of convenience. That kind of lazy writing will not save this trilogy, so who knows. I look forward to it, anyway.

Aside from the unknowable issues that may arise in the film, there are only two things I know for sure I don’t want to happen. I don’t want Rey to turn to the Dark side, and I don’t want the teen girl ‘Reylo’ obsession to come about. Both would be awful writing, and the former would be insulting to the other characters and to the whole ‘I won’t be the last Jedi’ thing.

But the latter would be real-world problematic. Kylo Ren is a mass murderer. He killed Han Solo, whom I argue became a surrogate father of sorts to Rey in the short time they were together in TFA. He tortured Po. He abducted Rey, invaded her mind, tried to kill her. He emotionally abuses her. And that’s the issue. Kylo Ren is Rey’s abuser. Disney wants this trilogy to appeal to a younger, female audience. ‘Shipping’ ‘Reylo’, as the young, hip people say, and the message of ‘sure, he’s your literal abuser, but he’s troubled and you liked him without his shirt, so it’s fine’ would be extremely problematic and irresponsible far beyond the fictional world.

Also, you heard it here first: Palpatine stole Anakin’s body and fused it to AT-ST legs and now they are a zombified horror. Definitely, no question.

December!

Pre-order Ghosts of the Fallen

Ghosts of the Fallen is now up for pre-order (ebook version only) on AmazonSmashwords, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. It will be sent to you the moment it is published on November 24.

This is a direct sequel to Blades of the Fallen, so if you haven’t read that, you can use this code to get it for 75% off ($1): TU36E.

Pre-ordering goes a long way to helping the book’s visibility on launch, so any pre-orders would be appreciated.

Kindle-GhostsCover-Med

Four inquisitors, four paths. The path of justice. The path of vengeance. The path of love. The path of fear.

The Vanguard is still reeling from Bane and his master. There are still scattered remnants of the Fallen to hunt down. But so too are there unknown elements moving in the shadows. A cult whose path to their god of war is through the death of inquisitors. An empire on the path to something terrible. And meanwhile, a familiar darkness rises anew.

The little girl with accelerated ageing asked only one thing before she died: don’t let them do this again. It was a promise they could not keep.

Ghosts of the Fallen, coming November 24, 2019

Ghosts of the Fallen

The sequel to NEXUS book 3, Blades of the Fallen, Ghosts of the Fallen is coming soon, and it is time to reveal the cover! So…here is the cover!

Kindle-GhostsCover-Med

As you can probably tell from the cover, Blades secondary characters Mara and Tillann take the lead this time. It will likely change multiple times before release, but here is the current version of the blurb:

Four inquisitors, four paths. The path of justice. The path of vengeance. The path of love. The path of fear.

The Vanguard is still reeling from Bane and his master. There are still scattered remnants of the Fallen to hunt down. But so too are there unknown elements moving in the shadows. A cult whose path to their god of war is through the death of inquisitors. An empire on the path to something terrible. And meanwhile, a familiar darkness rises anew.

The little girl with accelerated ageing asked only one thing before she died: don’t let them do this again. It was a promise they could not keep.

It will be up for pre-order very soon. In the meantime, now would be a good time to get up to speed by getting Blades of the Fallen from Smashwords or Amazon (or other places that are too numerous to link).

 

The Writening IV…With A Vengeance

It makes me cringe every time I check my site and see that the last time I wrote a blog post was in…wait, I need to check, which you don’t need to know because we’re not writing and reading in real time, but now you do know and you feel more engaged in the whole process…June last year. So here’s that update you’ve all been clamouring for (don’t check my social media for proof of this).

Fountain PenI have a mostly finished novel waiting for a last edit, which will come after I finish the novel I’m nearing the end of now. These will be, respectively, novels 5 and 4 of NEXUS. Yes, I wrote them in the wrong order. Book 4 is more space opera like the existing books, but book 5 will be a little more grounded with a thriller-ish feel, while still being part of the series. And also I want to do more of the Writer’s Guide articles. They amuse me – probably more than they do anyone else.

As well as that, I’m writing two screenplays, holding myself back from writing a thriller series, continuing notes for a fantasy series, and wondering how long I can stay away from my short story series before the government declares it dead.

The writing of book 4 seems to be speeding up as I near the end, so I think it will probably be ready for a summer release, with book 5 coming reasonably soon after, rather than the years of waiting we had between books 2 and 3. I’m looking forward to putting these out as they are the best things I’ve written, and book 5 in particular has led me on to something compelling I want to get on with.

Playtime is over for the NEXUS characters and the galaxy is getting a lot darker.

Of Thanos and Polymer Clay

I should probably have written this right after I actually saw Avengers: Infinity War, but…I didn’t. But I have seen it and it was fine. Nothing overly special but vastly better than Age of Ultron and Civil War – each tied for worst Marvel film.

The spoilers start here, so if you haven’t seen it, skip to the superman head!

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I was wrong-ish about who would die, because I completely forgot that there was a second film, originally pitched as Infinity War Part 2. I said Iron Man and Captain America would die. I stand by that, but obviously with a conclusion still on its way, that’s the one where it will happen.

Speaking of dying, we might as well jump straight to that. It was bad. Does anyone actually believe that Spider-Man is dead? Or Black Panther? Or the entirety of the Guardians? Of course not. We know they have their own solo films on the way. Then again, the way Black Panther goes, off-screen, makes me think that the Russos never actually intended for us to believe that these heroes are all dead. Rather, I think we’re just meant to wonder how they’re going to get themselves out of this situation. The answer will sadly probably be alternate timelines or time travel, neither of which I’m fond of. But really, I think the problem is that it’s an issue at all. I know the fact that Thanos actually clicks his fingers is meant to be a shock, because that’s the big finale that the heroes are meant to prevent, but all that death doesn’t make for a sad ending. It’s too much and it’s too obviously temporary. If anything, the very last scene of the film should have been the click. Then cut to black. Leave everyone wondering what it meant and who died.

Otherwise, it was decent. Absurd that right after they find out that their friend is dead, along with an entire race of people, Iron Man and chums are cracking jokes. But that’s just the Marvel way of desperately trying to cram comedy into every gap. There are a lot of heroes to keep up with, and mostly it’s balanced well. Perhaps too much Thor and Vision, perhaps too little Black Panther and Captain America/Nomad, but generally, it was well done. Other than how they chose to make Peter Quill fairly unlikeable and Gamora little more than a token sacrifice.

AIW

Thanos himself was good. I liked the way they made him less bloodthirsty than they might have. He talks to the heroes, rather than monologuing at them. He understands and respects – to a degree – their efforts to fight him. Even when he has defeated one of them, he doesn’t kill them. He knocks out Nomad, but then just steps over him. He reaches down to the defeated Scarlet Witch, but just holds her head in an almost comforting manner. He might be mad, but he’s not 2D, cartoon evil. This is, of course, contradicted by the earlier parts of the film, where he slaughters every last Asgardian and murders both Loki and Heimdall. But still…

And then there’s the after credits scene. Nothing too special, other than A) I don’t think Fury will be one of the ones to come back, and B) She’s coming! I’ve been looking forward to the solo Captain Marvel film since it was announced, and I’m looking forward to seeing her arrive in Avengers 4. The colourful logo on Fury’s pager seemed a little over the top though. I maintain that, rather than the logo, a shiver-inducing, exciting end would have been:

…CONNECTING…

…CONNECTED…

Fury?

I’m coming.

And also that she should be in his contacts as ‘The Other Cap’. But that’s beside the point. It was good, I’ll watch it again, but I hope Avengers 4 will be better.

And now Superman:

Superman head sculpt

I mentioned before that I tried my hand at sculpting in polymer clay, and Superman was the result. I then tried sculpture 2, the main character of the book that I’ve just finished and am now editing.

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It includes this weird, Winston Churchill-looking baby. Better than the original ET-Yoda hybrid look it had before. Alex herself, on the other hand, didn’t turn out so well. Confirmed by the number of times people called her a he.

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But the finished product turned out well enough. Plenty of issues, as with the Superman head, but I at least have an idea how to avoid those issues next time.

Final-Before

As for the book itself, even when I’ve edited it, I still need to finish writing another book that has to come out before it, so it will still be a while.

Not Dead Yet

You may once again be forgiven for thinking that I might have finally succumbed to the enticing pull of the hereafter. But I haven’t. I just haven’t written anything. Which is different.

After writing about too much Star Wars, I ran out of things to write about. Infinity War? Iron Man and Captain America will die. And Loki. Cyberpunk 2077? We’ll see it at E3. And…done.

If you’re in need of any more Hero’s guides, let me know. God forbid you find yourself out in the deep blue sea, surrounded by super-intelligent sharks that can swim backwards and you haven’t read a guide on how to handle the situation.

In terms of proper writing, I have just crossed the 85,000-word mark of my fifth novel today. Which will, when released be my sixth. And it will be book five of the NEXUS series. Yes.

If you read my books and can count, you may wonder what happened to book four (which should be my fifth novel but will actually be my sixth, except in terms of release, in which case it will indeed be my fifth. Just to clarify). I haven’t written it. My books do have slightly different tones, and some are too different to write from the same mindset. These two, to, have two too different tones. It’s true. So I’ve been unable to get myself in the right mood to write book four, but book five has been going fine. It is, if you are curious, taking a pinch of the noir from my thriller, Acts of Violence, and adding it into the mix. Not so much as to bring it out of the NEXUS series, but enough that I can’t write it and a lighter, more space opera-ish one at the same time (which is entirely in the style of Blades).

Aside from this I have been doing entirely pointless things like painting garden statues. I walked into Homebase just after Christmas and came face to face with a load of Star Wars characters. Naturally, I thought: I should paint those. So I did. Well, I (badly) painted Yoda and R2 and then lost the urge.

Yoda & R2D2 unpainted Yoda & R2 Painted

Then I decided to sculpt stuff out of polymer clay, which is the natural progression of painting polystone garden statues. I made Superman. Kind of. I am now working on a full figure of the main character of my current book. So if it looks wrong…well, it’s you who’s wrong. It’s going okay, except that I have no idea what I’m doing.

 Superman head sculpt   Figure sculpt

I also have a three-legged cat now. His name is Hop.

No doubt Thanos will demand that I return to say I told you so when dust is bitten, but hopefully I’ll think of something to say before then. So…bye. Bye then.

Bye.

My Last Jedi Questions

I’ve written my non-spoiler review, my spoiler review, and now I’ll cover the things I didn’t mention in some questions left over from the hole-filled The Last Jedi. These are all SPOILERS!

TLJ

Who are Rey’s parents?

People are saying that they think Kylo might be lying about Rey’s parents being nobodies. First, I hope not. Second, I don’t think so. For one thing, I’m nearly certain she’s the one who actually says it. She already knows, and Kylo just wants her to be the one to say it. He tells her ‘Say it’, and she says ‘They were nobody’. He then elaborates a little. But isn’t the point that he took that information from her own mind?

Where are the Knights of Ren?

When Kylo Ren burned down Luke’s academy, he took some other students with him. We’re led to assume that these became the Knights of Ren. Whether this is correct or not, we know that Kylo is the master of the Knights of Ren, so where the hell are they? Are they the Praetorian guards? Are they all dead or otherwise gone? Are they just not in TLJ? Hopefully, we’ll see them in Episode 9. I’d like to see Rey take them all on, her success – or perhaps near-success – maybe even scaring Kylo a little.

Why does a certain someone lie to Luke?

Trying to keep spoilers out of the bolded sub-headings… Yoda lets Luke believe that he burned all the Jedi texts, knowing – I presume – that Rey had already taken them. Why? Just because he’s a tricksy little thing? Was it somehow in Luke’s best interests? Was it to help startle Luke back to Jedi-dom? He does, after all, change his mind at the last moment, and then is horrified when Yoda magics a lighting strike out of the sky to do it instead.

Where did hyperspace tracking come from?

Well, this one I actually have the answer to. It wasn’t just conveniently pulled out of thin air for TLJ. In Rogue One, Jyn reads out the different technologies in the Empire’s database, data store thing. Hyperspace tracking is one of them.

What were the deleted scenes?

We know there were scenes deleted – such as a whole training sequence with Luke and Rey. Would these have added more substance to the film? One of the shots we saw in promos was of Rey charging, apparently into battle, with her lightsaber ignited. Was she originally supposed to be heading to help Luke fight Kylo? Was she therefore originally meant to fight Kylo? Was Luke meant to be there in person and die? Am I reading into it too much?

What kind of lightsaber will Rey build?

The colour is an interesting question – blue, green, purple? Green might mirror Luke, while purple would be a nod to Jaina Solo. But what type of lightsaber will she build now that Luke’s is destroyed? The most obvious choice might be a staff/pike or double-bladed one, since she originally fights with a staff. I’d rather not see that. Perhaps just a normal one, or even a rebuild of the destroyed lightsaber, which will crackle and fizz like Kylo’s. Or, since she now has two pieces of the lightsaber, perhaps she’ll even build and wield two? That might be a stretch.

How is the story going to be finished in just one film?

One thing that struck me was that, to me, The Last Jedi felt more like an opening chapter than a middle one (or a closing one as people are saying). It doesn’t feel as though one more film is going to be enough time to expand on and satisfactorily resolve everything that arose from TLJ. We’ll see.

Will we ever know who or what Snoke is?

And will we care? If he stays dead, I certainly won’t – it’ll be too late. They’ll have thought they could get away with not bothering fleshing him out because they were just going to off him. That’s lazy and bad writing. But if he does somehow come back – which wouldn’t be too surprising, since he’s supposed to be so ancient that it’s a bit odd that he just dies so easily – then we’ll still need to know more about him. But I don’t think he will. There’ll be a book that covers it, stupidly.

Temple

I’m sure there are plenty of questions that I’ve forgotten I have, and I might even update this after I’ve seen it again.

What were your biggest questions either not answered by TLJ or raised by it?