Friday, January 29, 2010


As an Aspiring Writer, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to list as many influences as I could, and how exactly the works listed influenced me. And I was right! So here it is.

I limited things to sci-fi and fantasy for convenience's sake. I'm sure I've missed a few, but c'est la vie.
  • Narnia - The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe and the Magician's Nephew - the first fantasy books I ever read. TLTW&TW haunted my dreams - literally - after I read it and it mysteriously vanished (I think my dad threw it out).
  • The television show "Gargoyles" - a huge influence; to the point where I try to include gargoyles in stuff I write in the same way fans of Tolkien include elves. Shit happened in Gargoyles; characters changed and evolved, and there were consequences to actions that didn't go away by the end of the episode.
  • The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind & Oblivion, expansive video game worlds which I spent hours and hours in. A great deal of what I write was dreamt up by running around in these worlds. Since I played them before seeing LotR, they created my taste in fantasy settings: Weird (especially Morrowind) and deep and convoluted, and damned contradictory. (In so few fantasy worlds do I see historians contradicting each other as much as they do in the real world.)
  • Lord of the Rings - but the movies, not the books; it was the acting not the writing that convinced me the characters were real, and the imagery that sucked me in. I read the books after I'd seen the last movie. I thought they were well done (no shit) but they didn't have any of the impact on my psyche that the movies did.
  • The Star Wars universe - even more so than the actual movies, since I bought the visual dictionaries before I'd ever seen one of the movies. Oh and I saw The Phantom Menace before the original trilogy. Oops?
  • Neil Gaiman's work - American Gods, Stardust, Sandman, Neverwhere - Gaiman is probably still my favorite author. He writes people that I believe are real, and thus I believe his stories are real.
  • Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett's Good Omens & Adam's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy convinced me of how important humor is.
  • The Animorphs series - introduced me, along with Gargoyles, to the idea that even in a bizarre world, horrible things can and should happen to your characters. Is also the reason I go in for psychological realism so much. Animorphs was about the costs and morality of war - not bad for a young adult series about shape-shifting kids fighting alien mind-controlling slugs.
  • George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire - what singlehandedly convinced me to write epic fantasy myself. Amazingly written characters and plot. Also reinforced my conviction that consequences matter - in other words, yes, you should let your characters die.
  • Certain Choose Your Own Adventure books (an alien world in the center of the Earth, searching for Nessie, memorable deaths on the third planet from Altair)
  • Various Mythology works - Perseus slaying the Gorgon, the Odyssey, Jason and the Argonauts...
  • The 1982 movie The Flight of Dragons - I think I only saw a couple scenes from this movie, and all I remember thinking was that the animation was lame, and how cool it was that the writers came up with 'scientific' explanations for the way the dragons worked.
  • Octavia Butler's work - Wild Seed, Xenogenesis (aka Lilith's Brood nowadays), Kindred - Wild Seed in particular struck me very hard and is one reason (besides Animorphs) that I love shapeshifters. And why great writing quality is important to me.
  • Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game - this book had a dramatic effect on me as a kid, and reading Card's how-to-write-sci-fi-and-fantasy book is part of the reason I wanted to write sf/f.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion - yup, an anime. Sci-fi. Weird shit and the best sixty seconds of a single frame with no dialogue I've ever seen.
  • Dragon Ball Z. There, I said it. One of the influences I'm a little less proud of, thanks to the crap writing. But great fight scenes. Though I never knew that sometimes thirty minutes could last literally several hours.
  • Various 90's superhero cartoon series (Batman, Superman, X-Men, Spiderman) and books about superheroes - not the comics; I almost never read actual comics as a kid.
  • Harry Potter - for all the reasons everyone else loved Harry Potter.
  • Larry Niven's Ringworld - I'd never before read 'adult' sci-fi in which I was SO engaged by the characters.
  • Jules Verne - ironically only a biography of Verne, since I couldn't get ahold of his actual books as a kid. But the ideas were very inspiring!
  • The Matrix - for the sheer joy of the visuals. I want to evoke that kind of imagery in what I write. I also liked the apparent plot depth of the first one. (I said "apparent".)
  • Battlestar Galactica - last on the list only because it's the only recent thing I 'consumed' that I've felt seriously influenced by. I loved the darkness, the complex characters, the gritty realism.
You'll notice the absence of all but two famous epic fantasy series (three if you count Narnia - plus of course the Odyssey), and not that many Great Works. Some would call this list of influences remarkably paltry - I mean, there's children's television shows and a young adult book series high up on there, not to mention video games! - but more on that in a future post.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

On A Personal Note

I just spent upwards of two hours manually deleting a whole ton of spam comments that built up mysteriously while I was off the Internet for the better part of last year.

Granted, I was also doing some other (more useful, less onerous) things at the time as well, but still. By the end I was doing it by rote and was astonished to discover that there was nothing left to delete. I thought something had gone wrong.

Oddly, the spam was mostly concentrated on certain posts. Posting On Sleep Deprivation had a little under a hundred comments sporting porn, herbal remedies, and mysterious messages in Russian. Meanwhile, my brief and inane post on Twitter generated nearly that amount in Japanese-language spam.

Why? Only the Blogger deities know. Though maybe if I spoke Russian or Japanese, I'd be closer to an answer.

Friday, January 22, 2010

On Blogging

(Stream of consciousness warning.)

You'd think I'd be a good blog person. I love the Internet, and I love babbling to complete strangers in written form. Yet, every time I get really into continuously updating some form of blog or online journal, life explodes on me. Or even if it doesn't explode, something happens wherein I lose regular internet access, and I just let the blog slide.

That happened over much of this year, actually. Part of being a homeless couch surfer (that's me!): whoever you're "surfing couches" with had better have internet. My college has internet, but I'm usually there for, yanno, school. My schedule is crazy otherwise, between the two jobs that barely fund the gas it takes to drive all over creation to get there. (Okay, only one of the jobs literally barely covers the gas required to get there. The other is very part-time too, though.)

It got bad enough that I had to go on hiatus for the script reading internship I had, because it paid nothing and wasn't likely to go anywhere until I'd kept at it for years, yet consumed lots of time (to do it right, anyway). And I loved that internship, even with the overall awful scripts I read and critiqued with more thoroughness and love than the authors seemed to put into a single scene. It was fun. My bosses liked me and my coverage. And I hope to go back. Shame.

Well, I'm temporarily living with a close friend who just got Internet. Will these mean I try keeping my blog up again? We'll see.