Zero Point

Zero Point by Neal Asher

Zero Point, the second novel in the Owner series, continues the story about Alan Saul, his war against the Committee, and his search for his sister. Having destroyed much of the government and their military power, he brings his station on a course away from earth and the danger it might pose. And on earth, the struggle for power is already commencing, with the slaughter only hours past.

Continue reading

Last Colony, The

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

The third book in the Old Men’s War Series by John Scalzi brings back beloved characters, notably John Parry, who made the first book such an enjoyable experience. He’s not lost his humor while getting shot at in the wars of the CDF, but it comes through much less than in the first book. The whole story is darker than before, which should come as no surprise. The Conclave went through and humanity stands at the brink of extinction. Or so you might think. Continue reading

Daredevil

Daredevil

The 13 episode Daredevil TV-Series by Netflix is the best thing to happen to superhero movies/TV. It is miles above any other similar series (most prominently Arrow and Flash) and Netflix builds a quality franchise overshadowing anything else with superheroes. This will be the series others will be weighted by and it sets a precedent that movies or series about superheroes don’t need to be unrealistic drivel winning you over with lackluster action crammed into every nook and cranny while pushing ridiculous relationship issues where grown adults appear to have been transformed into inexperienced teenagers.

Daredevil is pure quality: The action is great, the fightscenes are brilliantly choreographed, the hero is human and fallible, the writing is superb, and the villain is as deranged as he’s a victim of his own past.

I’m not that much of a fan of anything on the movie or TV screen. Writing or art in comics appeals more to me, but this series won me over the first time I saw the amazing intro. I got sucked right in into this dark world where one man tries to do what’s right and save his city. He does so much more believable than the Arrow, who gets thrown through a room into a concrete wall and sufferes nothing but some ill-acted pains he can shake off near instantly. Daredevil gets beat up and you actually see some wounds, believe him when he’s down and sruggling to get up because everything hurts so much.

That vulnerability makes him appeal much more to me than the near indestructability of the Arrow or the Flash. We’re finally seeing a hero bleed and shows you some real injuries. It’s brutal and has more in common with Game of Thrones than any other superhero series in this regard.

I’m not one to often like the lines in movies or series. Don’t get me wrong, many movies or series display genius ability to find the right lines at the right time. The majority, however, does not hold a candle to what you might read in a book. It at times goes so far as to seem borderline out of character for any human being. This series manages to draw me in with superb acting paired with lines that simply fit. No hyperbole or ridiculousness, simply great writing delivered as to make the characters seem human. At times I loved the dialog between Foggy and Karen more than the rest of the series, even the impressive fighting scenes.

The fighting choreography in this series is amongst the best I’ve ever seen. I’ve sneered at the bizzarre fighting in Arrow, where the hero is jumping around like a 16-year-old girl trying for gold in gymnastics. Or take the Flash, who seems utterly unable to make the best use of his (absolutely overpowered) abilities and runs around like a headless chicken. The fighting in Daredevil is dark and dirty, realistic (up to a point, as he’s still a superhero), and captured in brilliant takes.

 Daredevil is everything I want TV, and especially superheroes, to be. I love that the series will get a second season next year (hopefully all episodes released on the same day again) and am very interested to know who will be the villain this time. I have my suspection, but you never know. It’s dark and realistic, has great actors fitting into their role perfectly, the best action I’ve seen, and is a real quality work. The series is not for the squeamish, however. There are quite a few scenes that made me wince, and I’m not normally affected by something like that.

It’s a series you need to watch. Even if you might not be into superheroes. It’s on Netflix and it’s well worth to get at least a one-month subscription to watch this one series. It’s become one of my favorite (none-comedy) series and ranges easily on par with Game of Thrones for me.

Plans in a Story

This will be a short post in regard to something I’ve been mulling over for some time now: The making of plans in novels. Planning is something you’ll do a lot when writing a story, but there’s another layer to it: Your characters will make plans to. This post goes into the two different kinds of planning and what they mean for both the author and the reader. As such, it hold interest not only for fledgeling writers, but for reader who want to understand a the structure of a story more intimately too.

Many stories, especially in the (military) fantasy genre, come to a point where the main characters are planning something. It doesn’t really matter what they plan, but it’s often (and most prominently) either something to do with war (strategy and tactics) or something to outsmart a bad buy.

Such plans come roughly in two forms:

  1. The plan is made and explained.
  2. The plan is hinted at, but never explained.

To give you an example:

Our heroes have to defeat an army.

1.) would go something along the lines of this: The hero explains to his staff, that they will outflank the enemy army through the surrounding hills while holding them in place with the main body.

2.) would be the hero telling the staff that he has a plan. Nothing more will be said, at least to the reader. The explanation for the battle will be done off screen and the reader might only get a few comments, often along the lines of “this will never work” without the reader knowing what “this” alludes to.

Now, let me tell you that plan 1. will not work, while plan 2. will, even though plan 1. might seem brilliant when explained and the reader knows nothing about plan 2. The question here is why will that hold true for nearly every time you’ll either construct such a story element or read it in a book.

Since I’ve heard about this “rule”, I’ve tested it again and again and it always held. Whenever the heroes of a story planned in detail, something would go wrong. If they don’t do it and you only get the sense that something unexpected will happen, it will most likely work perfectly.

That’s due to the fact that, if you explain a plan in detail, there would be no need to show its execution. That would be doing the same thing twice. Do you think that would be interesting? You read about the plan, every aspect of it, and later see it go right as planned, without any deviation. That would be boring. There would be no need to actually show the action, when it’s known what will happen from the strategic meeting beforehand. Much more interesting to have such a brilliant plan only to have it go bonkers right from the start.

The reverse is true for 2. Since you don’t know what the plan is (you only know it will be crazy and hopefully nothing like expected), you can go into the action unspoiled and watch everything unfold with clear eyes. Instead of listening to a plan, you’ll actually see the plan in full motion for the first time. You’ll also have no idea what the next step for the plan would be, so everything holds tension. Where in 1. you’ll know that the plan is to get captured and then have a droid throw you some hidden light sabers, in 2. you’d see the heroes get capture and ask yourself “what now?”.

Of course, there are always variations of this “rule”, but you should be very careful in breaking it. As I said, if you use 1. and the plan works, you might find yourself telling the same part of the story twice. It’ll also lack the tension you can create with option 2. In most stories, making plans will be down to these two options, with 1. being a failure the heroes have to work around, and 2. working brilliantly (for the most part).

If you read your next story (or write your own), pay heed to how the author handles planning, it might give you a deeper understanding of how stories are constructed. This might not be for everyone, but I’ve found the more I understand of the process, the more I can appreciate authors and their storytelling.