Someone is whining on the Internet

George RR Martin is butthurt.

What I find utterly unbelievable in this whole story is that these authors want to have the illusion of control. What a big fucking delusion. Going against fanfiction is akin religious fanatics who poke you and say you can’t, absolutely can’t have naughty thoughts, or a woman who pretends you do not look at her and imagine her naked. You can’t!

Imho, this is more a product of a writer’s hysteria than anything that makes sense.

Sure, you can go against someone who uses your characters and stories and tries to make money on them. “Making money” is for me the line not to cross when it comes to freedom of speech in all forms. Culture is universal, and it’s not universal because the law or another single individual decides so. Culture IS UNIVERSAL. It’s a fact that defies all challenges. It’s not an opinion.

So, the real point is that it’s PATHETIC that these writers believe that it’s enough to post a “FAN-FICTION POLICY” on their blogs to stop fan-fiction. This happening means that they have some huge delusion of control and the problem is their own.

You can’t control what other people think, say or write. And thanks god you can’t, even if it’s about your dear characters.

You say: if you want to write fan fiction then make your own characters.
I say: if you are so jealous of your characters then keep them for yourself.

Don’t publish them and you can be TOTALLY SURE no one will ever get them into tentacle rape without your permission.

What happens when someone makes a parody? I guess parodies exist even in commercial products. What if to make a parody one had to be authorized? It defies its purpose, like asking a politician if he would like satire being created about him.

Claims such as: When you mess with my stuff, you’re not messing with my characters—you’re messing with _me_. Are utterly ridiculous. Look somewhere else if you are so emotional. Claiming that fan fiction confuses readers and messes with your characters is disrespectful of your readers and pathetic. It’s not your choice, it’s the choice of those who decide to read it. Sure, you can suggest not to read it, but that’s the whole range of your power. The fact that people read your books doesn’t mean that now you have ownership on some of their thoughts.

What’s next? Marvel suing a kid because he drew spider-man on his diary?

Coming soon: the Bill of Rights of Fictional Characters, and a reader suing the writer because of a rape scene that was messing with _him_.

About Martin: I will continue to read your books and recommend them in the case I think they are good recommendations.

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Lost -3

After I saw the previous episode, two weeks ago, I thought the show was basically done, at least the plot-related narrative. The writers openly embraced the idea that Jack is the one among “the candidates” appointed to take Jacob’s place.

Adam Roberts wrote this at the beginning of this season:

All the smoke-and-mirrors of [Lost] are on the surface, as it were; narrative misdirection designed to spin out the franchise as long as it’s commercially profitable. But it’s all in service of a much more straightforward ‘solution’, which this final series is now galumphing towards.

In fact it seems that the four seasons in the middle were generated by plugging “science” into “mysticism”. So we got the Dharma and all the rationalization of the plot. 1 & 6 seasons got back to the mysticism and completely dropped the scientific aspect. Ideally all the seasons in the middle were filler. Or at least feel like filler now (I actually started to like Lost AFTER season 1, when the plot started to look grounded on something).

Which is the reason why every revelations this season is accompanied by some disappointment. Don’t misunderstand this aspect, it’s not something unavoidable and that is in the nature of mystery itself. It happens when mysteries aren’t properly hung onto a solid framework and are revealed as just “curtains”. They come in a gratuitous, untruthful way. Instead of being hooked onto something bigger, they are solved and then pushed out of the picture (for example: Jack’s father appearing on the island in Season 1. Jack asks the smoke monster, gets a confirmation. And so the whispers in the jungle. Explained, acknowledged and put aside. Nothing of this is contributing with purpose. It’s only done to archive questions left hanging for far too long).

What happened to Sayid in this last episode follows a similar pattern. I was never convinced that he went through a “transformation”. It was just a typical Lost “dressing” of characters motivations and purposes. I think Sayid is out the show. Meaning that the motivation of his behavior is to be looked in what we have already seen. Sayid for the whole time has never been “evil”. What happened to him was entirely un-mystical. He was resurrected by the smoke monster, so convinced himself that he owed to him. He’s evil because he thinks his destiny is in doing what Locke asks. He was being granted life, so he owes everything to Locke. His transformation is the one of someone who, after death, has lost all points of reference. The only beacon being owing his life to Locke, because what Locke did was the only “truth”. Being reborn and without a real explanation means that he lost entirely his “moral”. As if you play a video game, losing contact with the physical reality.

But then he understands, right when Jack explains it, that Locke is doing everything to his own advantages (including resurrecting Sayid, to then use him as an ally/tool and then proceeding to persuade everyone to join his side). Saiyd regains a purpose as he understand Locke true motives. Locke can’t kill the people in the sub, and he can’t kill Desmond. That’s why he needed Sayid to kill Desmond. Carlton Cuse commented this directly:

“There is no ambiguity. [The Man In Black] is evil and he has to be stopped…”

That’s the purpose of this last episode: they wanted to clear the ambiguity about Locke in order to prepare for the finale.

The dropping of all misdirection, as the season progressed, lead to the dropping of layers of the narrative, and the result is something that comes out weaker. Instead of acquiring solidity, this surge toward the end gets more and more shallow. Being only held together by the dramatic intensity, but more due to the spectators’ personal investment in the characters than to a story that moves toward its apex. Characters die, but the plot has lost drive and purpose. It feels as if the rest is filler to keep the very last trick for the end.

So we get to the end. It is now obvious that the duality of Jack and Locke throughout the whole show, along with the themes of leadership and faith that represented the struggle and friction between the two, is neatly flowing in the duality represented by Jacob and the smoke monster (then one could even groan at the names Jacob/Jack). It all fits so well that I’m sure there’s no possible misdirection here. We got the pattern.

Locke the believer who clings to the island and becomes the one who wants to get away, and Jack the unbeliever, who now embraces the belief and predestination and is the only one convinced he’s there for a reason.

This I was writing two weeks ago. The next episode (yesterday’s one) was focused on Jack and Locke, the next is Jacob/smoke monster. After that there’s another episode and then the season finale. They won’t stray form the Jack/Locke pattern.

Sayid (awakened to the real truth) says to Jack: “It’s going to be you.” Meaning that Jack is the true Jacob successor (Jack for the whole episode confirms this).

The finale: Locke is evil, wants to be free, and he can only gain freedom if all the candidates are dead. But he can’t kill them himself, and so needs some other way out of this. That’s our context. We get two missing pieces: the first is how the alternate timeline fits in all this, with the missing link being obviously Desmond. The other missing piece is where Widmore fits in this big picture and what he’s trying to achieve.

If you want, an italian website has published six pages of the screenplay of the first part of very last episode. I’ve read it and the script seems legit since it’s plausible and well connected with what happened previously. It’s relatively safe, with the exception of who’s there, whose presence may be a spoiler already.

The Crippled God – Latest updates

I wasn’t going to post, but there are various tidbits.

Cover: Soon we should have at least the cover for the book (The Crippled God, the very last book to come out in the 10-book series). A year ago we got the cover for book 9 as soon as someone received an early copy of the paperback edition of the previous book and this year the paperback comes out the 27 of May, meaning that someone should get the book one or two weeks before that date, and so post the new cover.

Manuscript: In February Hetan, one of Erikson’s advance reader, said Erikson planned to be done with the manuscript of the book around the end of May, early June. Pat (of Fantasy Hotlist) mailed Erikson in the last couple of days and got a direct response from Erikson: he says the target for the final manuscript is mid-June, so confirming that there haven’t been substantial delays. In the last blog update he stated he had 10 chapters left to write. The blog appeared the 10 April but evidence reveals that it was actually written almost a month before that date, so Erikson should be closer to the end.

Publication date: Amazon says the book is now planned for January but Erikson states no release has been set by the publisher. If we look at what happened a year ago, the book was done around the beginning of May and the release was even anticipated to mid-August, so this time there are good chances that the book could be ready for November. The quick release a year ago also lead to no maps being added and no appendices, so it’s not unlikely that the final volume in a long series requires extra time with polishing. It would be surely well accepted since we aren’t looking at Martin-like years of delays.

In the meantime you can read the latest blog post he wrote, where he offered us an excerpt (out of context) that was cut from the book. And it’s wonderful.

“It is said the stars are without number, and are in eternal motion,
and that the heavens forbid all comprehension. It is said that
the universe breathes as would a bellows, and that we are now
riding an exhalation of a god immeasurably vast. And when all
these things are said, I am invited to surrender to the immensity
of the unknowable.

“To this I do rail. If I am to be a mote lost in the abyss, then
that mote is my world. My universe. And all the great forces
beyond my reach invite neither despair nor ennui. In what I
am able to measure — this is the realm of my virtues, and here is
where I must find my reward.

But if you would mock my struggle, crowd not close. The
universe is without measure and the stars are without number.
And if I invite you to explore, take no offence. Be sure that I
will spare you a parting wave as you vanish into the distance,
never to be seen again.”

There’s more in there.

House of Chains and Lost (TV)

Maybe I have hallucinations but I’m seeing recurring themes everywhere. Today I watch “Angel Beats!” (anime, check my twitter) and there was a dialogue about the nature of god that seemed to resonate with some themes in House of Chains.

Then there are some obvious analogies directly between the book and Lost. Especially this last season of Lost. Consider also that the book came out in 2002, so well before the TV series could influence it.

Some strict analogies in House of Chains with Lost:
– there’s a mysterious island (Drift Avalii) said to be inhabited by spirits.
– this island moves. It “drifts”, moving in a kind of elliptical path.
– Not openly stated, but it’s almost sure that time passes differently on the island.
– Some boats end up crashing against it (and disappear).
– The island holds some kind of power, and there are guardians stationed there protecting this power.
– Interesting: contrarily to Lost, the guardians have failed their mission. Only one guardian is left.
– These guardians are very sad and miserable, since they had to sacrifice their whole life to the task.
– The guardians are obviously immortal (if they aren’t directly killed, I guess).

Then there is this other main plot thread:
– A god is trapped unjustly and only wants to be free.
– The god, who originally wouldn’t want to mingle with human affairs, is forced to seek allies.
– He finds his allies through analogies between theirs and his own story. So people who also were trapped or suffered in their lives.
– If the god is freed, the world ends.

Some of these themes have already been dealt more clearly in the 4th book of a 10 book series than Lost four episodes from the game over. And in the books this is just a small part of a much bigger picture, as if you take everything that Lost is and then attached it to a much bigger universe where there are a huge number of gods struggling for power instead of just one.

The majority of themes in Lost, like faith, belief and destiny, are also heavily featured in the Malazan series, with more facets and perspectives added.

House of Chains highs and lows

About the lows, I’ve rambled a bit on the forums. The summary is that there are some small aspects in this book that are a bit disappointing and that seem to form a pattern since they all have in common the use of the more supernatural/fantastic elements of the plot. Previously I got a similar feel from the Seguleh in book 3, that I consider a rather arid concept that made my suspension of disbelief creak. This third book keeps a very high level that particularly shines when it comes to “down to the ground” characters and plots (all the scenes in Aren and around Tavore) or evocative and cryptic ones (Trull and Onrack in the Nascent), but seems getting a bit dull and dumb when the fantastic elements and badassery show off comes into play. And it seems coming into play more often and more bluntly than in previous books. In particular a scene that had a great potential was kinda wasted and thrown away (meaning that the magic element completely killed the dramatic intensity, instead of enhancing it).

Then I read a few pages further that redeemed the little perceived damage that was done. Not only the “banter” between Trull and Onrack is amusing because of how the two characters clash while yet having things in common (and sometimes think themselves different while they are similar, so a great job with subtle perceptions of both), but the dialogue is revealing and also rooted into something deep and true. I loved the tone and implications, and admire the presence of humor even when the theme is serious, without ruining it.

Some quotes that stay true out of context:

‘It is believed,’ he said slowly, ‘by the bonecasters, that to create an
icon of a spirit or a god is to capture its essence within that icon. Even the laying of
stones prescribes confinement. Just as a hut can measure out the limits of power for a
mortal, so too are spirits and gods sealed into a chosen place of earth or stone or
wood… or an object. In this way power is chained, and so becomes manageable.’

‘Do your bonecasters also believe that power begins as a thing devoid of shape, and thus
beyond control? And that to carve out an icon – or make a circle of stones – actually
forces order upon that power?’

Onrack cocked his head, was silent for a time. ‘Then it must be that we make our
own gods and spirits. That belief demands shape, and shaping brings life into being.’

After a moment, Trull Sengar followed. ‘I imagine you know little of what it is like to
see your kin fall into dissolution, to see the spirit of an entire people grow corrupt, to
struggle endlessly to open their eyes – as yours have been opened by whatever clarity
chance has gifted you.’

‘True,’ Onrack replied, his steps thumping the sodden ground.

‘Nor is it mere naivete,’ the Tiste Edur went on, limping in Onrack’s wake. ‘Our denial
is wilful, our studied indifference conveniently self-serving to our basest desires. We are
a long-lived people who now kneel before short-term interests—’

‘If you find that unusual,’ the T’lan Imass muttered,’then it follows that the one
behind the veil has need for you only in the short term – if indeed that hidden power is
manipulating the Tiste Edur.’

‘An interesting thought. You may well be right. The question then is, once that
short-term objective is reached, what will happen to my people?’

‘The stone has been shaped to encompass them, Trull Sengar. No-one asks the spirit
or the god, when the icon is fashioned, if it wishes entrapment. Do they? The need to
make such vessels is a mortal’s need. That one can rest eyes on the thing one worships
is an assertion of control at worst, or at best the illusion that one can negotiate over
one’s own fate.’

‘And you find such notions suitably pathetic, Onrack?’

‘I find most notions pathetic, Trull Sengar.’