Monday, 21 April 2014

Source Code as Palimpsest


Singing Sunday, Sunday while the tune turns into writing Monday is Sunday this week.  I'm a day late in posting my usual weekly update on what I've been doing, watching, reading etc.

The reason for this is that yesterday we spent a day with friends having a lazy Sunday playing games (Ticket to Ride), eating snacks (yummy finger food), and watching movies (Source Code and the 47 Ronin).  It doesn't get better than that.  A big thanks to John and Rita for inviting us, and a shout out to Hilary, Trevor, David and Charlotte, Mark and Gwen, and Stuart for making us feel welcome.  Hopefully get to do that again some time soon.

Today I finished reading Wireless by Charlie Stross.  It's a collection of short stories ranging in length up to novella.  It shows both his strengths and weaknesses as a story teller.  Charlie is very clever.  Probably far too clever for his own good.  This means that he writes himself into plots he can't get out of, because of the cleverness of his ideas.  He is in my opinion a better story teller when he's constrained by the setting, which is why I prefer his Laundry and Trader series more than his space opera.

For me, once Charlie goes outside the box he is so far left field that blue sky thinking is left behind in a vacuum.  This sucks the plot into a singularity it can't escape.  In particular Palimpsest, which funnily enough has the same plot problem as Source Code had as a movie.

I had not seen Source Code when my novel was compared by one of the my writing group critiquers as  Starship Troopers meets Source Code.  So getting to watch it yesterday was good.  I liked the story, but, and the but is the important part of my statement; it tried to be too clever.  In the case of Source Code it has a moment of what my partner would call satori; a perfect moment to end the film.  It would have been elegiac; a little sad, but perfect.  The film then continued and presented a more upbeat ending, which in turn was twisted into a rug pulled out from under one's feet into a far too clever by half paradox.

Palimpsest reminds me of All You Zombies by Robert A, Heinlein.  The latter is a time loop story about gender identity, or fluidity if you prefer, whereas Palimpsest is about the fluidity of personal identity when there are multiple copies of oneself.  I think that Palimpsest is perfect as it is and doesn't need to be made into a novel.  However, if Charlie does go ahead and expand it I shall be drawn like a moth to the flames, and have to read it.  I just hope that it doesn't lose the moment like Source Code.

On the work front I've been working my way through act two, going back and adding a couple of small scenes to act one of my first novel, which is now running at 91,800 words.

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