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a void.

November 30, 2009

Seems to me there is a lack of good stories out there. Empty spaces where good stories should be, where they need to be. Yes, there are many great novels and comics and movies and so forth, but the majority of fiction publications and movies being produced are just no good.

Most mystery novels are just about identical to each other. This goes for fantasy as well – at least the sword and sorcery type fantasy especially. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were the masters of magical lands – with their Middle Earth and Narnia stories. Just about all other books in that genre are derivative. So many have maps in the front, and characters with strange names, and plots involving magic and quests and that sort of thing.

A few of these series have been interesting. I really liked the original Dragonlance books by Margaret Wies and Tracy Hickman, and there were a couple spin-offs of these stories, almost all which they wrote, and a few Forgotten Realms novels, written by other authors, that were actually good.

Other than that..hmm.. a series by Lloyd Alexander featuring a hero called Taran, which I enjoyed when I was in grade school.. And.. the Earthsea books by Ursula K. Le Guin. I loved the first one, didn’t care for the second one much.

I guess the Dragon Riders of Pern series could be considered somewhat original, but I read part of the first one and thought it was awful – these books have been massively successful, but I just didn’t like the first one.. the dragons were being used to burn up meteors or something like that… which I thought was stupid. I don’t know why, but certain authors catch on with women but not with men. The writer of the Dragonrider novels was very popular with girls I met back in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, but I met few guys who liked them.

Piers Anthony wrote some fantasy stories which were rather original, or so my brother said. I only read the first of the Xanth novels, and thought it was alright.  Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books might be interesting. I read part of the first one, but just wasn’t that interested. I think I will try Pratchett again later, since one of my all-time favorite novels, Good Omens, was co-written by him and Neil Gaiman.

I haven’t read much other sword and sorcery fantasies. I’ve read the backs of many books and leafed through them, but put them down quickly and in disgust.

Modern fantasy.. magical goings-on set in a present day setting – there are some good stories in this sub-genre. Neil Gaiman is the master of this type of story.  He wrote The Sandman graphic novels, and such books as Neverwhere, and American Gods.

I consider the Harry Potter books to be modern fantasy. I read the first two and liked them, but was concerned about the remaining novels having a rehash of the same plot.. oh no, it’s Lord Voldemort again…. and again.. and.. again..

But, I’ve seen all the Harry Potter movies except for the most recent, and will be watching that one as soon as it comes out on DVD. I do enjoy those stories.

There’s a brutal sci-fi/fantasy series called Shadowrun. I don’t know if those novels are still being written or published.I found the majority of them to be not worth reading, but, apart from some heavy violence, there were 4 of these I really really enjoyed. Shadowrun is a true mash-up – stories set in a cyber-punk future, with elves and dwarfs and dragons and wizards thrown in. You might get an ork with a bionic arm and a smart-gun with a targeting computer linked to his brain fighting a wizard complete with spell books and pointy hat. Oh yeah, some of these stories are original.

But… in general, I would say there is a definite void – a certain need for more good stories! I find it veeerry difficult to discover excellent authors that are new to me, and tend to end up re-reading books by Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Philip K. Dick, Michael Gruber,  and, to a lesser extent, Ursula K. Le Guin,  Madeleine L’Engle, Ray Bradbury, and Robert Crais. Once in a rare while, somebody will suggest an author I haven’t heard of, and, rarer still, I’ll find myself enjoying several books by that author. It is also rare for me to pick out books in the library by authors whose works I’ve not yet read, and enjoy those books. That’s only happened with one author so far – Michael Gruber. I thought his book Tropic of Night was amazing – brilliant – but didn’t like his others much.

I look and look for great books, great graphic novels, and great new movies coming out, but don’t often find them, and feel dissatisfied. I re-watch certain movies over and over again too, such as the Wes Andersoon films – “Rushmore,” “Royal Tenenbaums,” etc. – I haven’t seen his new movie, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” yet. My other favorites?  “Lost in Translation,” “I Love Huckabees,” “Wonderboys,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Stranger Than Fiction,” “Juno,” “Old School,” The Hellboy films, “Constantine,” “Wolverine,” “Blade 2,” “Iron Man,” “Spirited Away,” “Ghost in the Shell,” and a few others.

I sometimes think I should take it upon myself to write some great stories. Somebody has to. Something fantastic, or at least really good, that is well-written, fairly original, enjoyable, and not reminiscent of all the derivative crap out there.. the repeats, the re-makes, you know what I mean.

Here’s my trouble : I’ve never written a complete story in my life. I’ve done over 30 pages of a not-all-that-original graphic novel (although parts of it were certainly unique, and I have my own drawing style, so that helps), I’ve come up with story ideas that fit on one page, but never finished a narrative. Fiction comes easy for some people (but not good fiction, evidently). Not me. I have some vague ideas that are original .. mostly for a science fiction story or stories.. but..

here I sit.. writing a blog…

After work today,  I read for awhile, and watched “Wolverine” for the fourth time, and have avoided even trying to write fiction, or drawing.

Complaining about something is infinitely easier than creating something..

But there’s a void. I’d like to fill it, at least some small part of it,  and I just might like to make a living doing it too.

If I can..

If I will.

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