Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere Beyond The Well of Ascension.

If one shouldn’t judge a book by a cover, even though that’s basically what book covers are for then one might also try to never judge an author by one book.

Where Brandon Sanderson was concerned I did exactly that. While the first two books I read by the fantasy author, Elantris, and Mistborn: The Final Empire belong with some of my favorite fantasy novels the second Mistborn novel, The Well of Ascension, left a bad taste in my mouth that has kept me away from  all Sanderson novels since 2012.

We find Vin after having defeated the Lord Ruler, who has acted as their god for a thousand years, and being reunited with the man she loves has become an angsty teenage brat in her early twenties. Elend and the remaining members of Kelsier’s crew from the first novel don’t act any better. Then there’s Zane. Oh, Zane, you are a shitstain of a villain.

This isn’t about shitting on The Well of Ascension, and believe me, I could for at least a thousand more words. The point is, the second Mistborn book left a bad taste in my mouth that stopped me from reading anymore Brandon Sanderson novels from 2012 to late 2015.

Fellow frequents readers and bibliophiles will empathize with this. Your “To Read” pile increases much faster than your “Read” pile. Therefore, you may own a book but not necessarily have read it yet. Then one of your friends starts reading one of those books you own and it awakens a fire in you. “I have a competition in me,” you might say, “I want no one else to succeed.” They can’t finish that book before you, you’ve owned that book for years! You have the first edition!

Maybe it’s more like, you want to be part of something, a story, a world, or an experience along with your friend at the same time he’s going through it. Simultaneously, this happened me to with Sanderson’s
series and the 2nd Era of Mistborn. I had one friend who long since read The Alloy of Law and was breezing through The Shadows of Self. Another had started The Way of Kings with praise all around for it.

So, despite my apprehension, I dived in. The Alloy of Law immediatly grabbed me. I had missed with the world of Scadrial. The powers of Alomancy and Feruchemy greeted me like an old friend. The book was sprinkled with hints of a history I was familiar with.

The Way of Kings beginning was a slog through muddy swamp water. The beginning is mind-bogglingly slow but when you reach the other side it’s like walking into an oncoming storm. Everything is happening, everything is connected, and nothing will be the same. I was hooked.

I ate up books from the Cosmere like I was starving. Shadows of Self, Words of Radiance, and The Bands of Mourning were all read before March 2016 even hit. I reread the first two Mistborn books and while I still hated The Well of Ascension I knew it was one bad book out of many amazing ones.

Finally, after refusing to read it back in 2012 I picked up the third Mistborn book, The Hero of Ages. You have to remember I had already read three of the books from the second Mistborn series. I knew the fates of Vin, Elend, Sazed and the rest of Kelsier’s former crew. You’d think already knowing what happen it wouldn’t hit as hard but that third book’s ending is still devastating.

All this in mind, when I finally read Sanderson’s new novella, Mistborn: Secret History I wasn’t prepared for what happened. I wasn’t prepared for the reunion with some of my favorite characters. I wasn’t prepared for this interwoven plot that is Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere. I was blown away.

Finally, I ended my journey where I began with Elantris. That was the book that made me fall in love with Sanderson’s writing that I had somehow lost struggling to hate-read through The Well of Ascension.

Maybe, though, that break from his book is what I needed. I washed the bad taste of the second Mistborn book out of my mouth and returned to his Cosmere older and with a new perspective on stories and writing. I am highly anticipating my next chance to go exploring through the Cosmere when Oathbringer, the third Stormlight Archive book comes out.

Advertisements

A Muppet Family Christmas Blew My Mind As A Kid.

Still my absolute favorite Christmas special. When I was a kid and saw it the first time I couldn’t believe. This was before  I ever saw comic book crossovers, Flintstones Meet the Jetsons, or Who Framed Roger Rabbit? so when the Muppets walk into Emily Bear’s farmhouse and meet Doc and Sprocket from Fraggle Rock I had a lot of questions.

“So, wait, Fozzie’s mom knows Doc? Does that mean…” I didn’t have time to process when carolers soon showed up at the Farmhouse door. The Sesame Street gang? Wait, THEY  ALL KNOW EACHOTHER? Even as a kid I remember thinking “Oh yeah, Kermit is on Sesame Street. That makes sense he’d know them.”

So the Muppets and Sesame Street are all together with Doc and Sprocket. Does that mean Fraggles are part of this world too? Soon enough, Kermit and his nephew Robin meet the Fraggle gang. Then they all meet to carol at the end. All my favorite characters together at Christmas? All this needed for me as a kid was the Ninja Turtles and I would have passed out.

Before fanboy was even a word. Before Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Doctor Who, or anything else I currently am obsessed with it was Jim Henson’s creations, Disney movies, and Ninja Turtles.

I still watch this every year.

Author Sam Sykes Tweets About Writing, Characters, and Emotions (Plus My Two Cents).

You should read Sam Sykes’ The City Stained Red, Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles Series, and Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy.

Why does Warner Bros. and DC Comics Think Their Audience Are Idiots?

It’s been happening for years ever since Christopher Nolan began working on Batman Begins, but Warner Bros. thinks its audience are not nuanced enough to get multiple iterations of their characters.

It started with the Bat-Embargo that was placed on the cartoon Justice League Unlimted. The creators of that show were no longer allowed to use any ancillary characters from Batman including Renee Montoya and Harley Quinn, two characters that were created in their animated universe. Their reasoning was that children would become confused by too many different versions of Batman characters in Justice League Unlimited, Batman Begins, and their developing cartoon The Batman.

First of all, this is highly underestimating the intelligence of children. Speaking from my own experience, I had no problem differentiating Mark Hamill’s Joker with Jack Nicholson’s Joker. It was very clear there was a difference between the animated Batman that appeared on Fox and the version that appeared on the WB network. Let’s take it outside of superheroes. It was clear there was something different about Dan Castellaneta’s Genie in Aladdin: The Series and Robin William’s version in Aladdin: The Movie. This was at an age where there was no internet and I only learned why the Genie’s voice was different by reading the back of Return of Jafar’s case. Kids now have information at their fingers. There would be no confusion.

Oh no, my head. There are way too many Batman's!

Oh no, my head. There are way too many Batman’s!

Warner Bros. still doesn’t see it that way and now they’ve spread this idea to not only children but adults as well. Deadshot, a character slated to appear in the Suicide Squad film and played by Will Smith has already appeared in on Arrow as a member of their version of Suicide Squad. Once the movie was firmly into production suddenly the character had to be removed so there was no “brand confusion.” In other words, sorry audience but you’re too dumb to tell the difference between these:

Clearly they are the same, therefore I am confused on how to take in the media. Sorry Warner Bros.

Clearly they are the same, therefore I am confused on how to take in the media. Sorry Warner Bros.

This spreads out to other obvious characters such as Batman, Superman, and Wonder down to characters like Harley Quinn. It even goes as far as to spread to characters that haven’t even be slated for a film yet. In season three of Arrow, we are introduced to Ray Palmer a.k.a. The Atom. This was originally intended to be Ted Kord a.k.a Blue Beetle but because Warner Bros. might have plans to use him in a film he was not permitted to appear on the show.

Now, with the premiere of Supergirl, Warner Bros. is sticking to their plan of avoiding all “brand confusion” by only mentioning Kara Zor-El’s cousin and vaguely showing Superman blocked by sunlight. Obviously, whoever plays  Superman on the new CBS show would be confusing to those watching Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The audience might say “Hey, wait this guy look different from this other guy,” because no one else has played Superman before. Oh wait:

I'm so confused.

I’m so confused.

The worst part is that they’re not even consistent. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold both appeared in Smallville with the latter also having a prominent role on Justice League Unlimited. Development for a Suicide Squad film began as far back as 2009 yet they allowed Deadshot not only to appear in Arrow, which wouldn’t premiere for three more years after, but also in Batman: Assault on Arkham along with Harley. Harley appears in all three of Arkham games developed by Rocksteady along with the Joker. The first game in that series came out the year after Heath Ledger appeared as the Joker in The Dark Knight. No brand confusion there.

The most prominent example of this is CW’s The Flash premiering while they’re simultaneously announcing Ezra Miller being cast as The Flash for the movies. How is this not an example of “brand confusion?” Warner Bros. makes the announcement just as their Flash TV series is beginning.  You might be asking, “what if this is DC learning their lesson?” but you have to remember that this announcement was made before Arrow was forced to kill off their version of Deadshot because of the Suicide Squad film.

Marvel, on the other hand, has no problem having multiple version of their characters in film and television. They seem to be doing just fine. For writers of fiction, one of the basic rules of storytelling that is taught is never to treat your audience like their idiots. Warner Bros. needs to learn this lesson before their audience gets tired of being talked down to.

If You Want To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions Start Them Now.

People don’t like seeing Christmas decorations when Halloween hasn’t arrived. We all hate hearing about Black Friday before Thanksgiving has even arrived especially when stores try to convince us to shop the night of Thanksgiving. Christmas ends and suddenly we’re thinking about our New Year’s Eve plans and how we can make it less disappointing than the year before. It’ll always be disappointing because it’ll never be as magical as it is in your brain.

Everyone makes New Year’s resolutions, including the people who say there New Year’s resolution is to not have one. The problem is the majority of us don’t keep them. For most of us, January is cold, we’re still broke from Christmas, and goddammit, every treadmill at the gym is taken up again. We decided on that one special night when we countdown to the new year that the next will be different but different can be difficult.

So instead, let’s just start our New Year’s resolution now that way when January 1st hit we’ll already be on track during the regular days of our lives instead of making promises we can’t keep on the tail end of the Holiday season. Here are some of mine.

But wait, I’m not going to do this alone. So for all of mine I’m going to make some suggestions of resolutions some people who I’ve encountered should make for themselves.

We did it you and me liquor

  • I’ll either figure out how to “fake it until I make it” or just give up on faking it entirely and dedicate endless amounts of time researching on how just to make it.
  • Drivers, when making a turn, you will go completely in your lane rather than staying halfway in mine blocking me from going forward.
  • I’ll keep the words in mind “You can only control yourself” whenever my life feels out of control.
  • When you see someone reading a book you won’t ask them “What are you reading?” or strike up a conversation especially if you don’t know them. If you’ve read the book, you’re permitted to say “great book,” and continue walking when they don’t engage.

YesAndNo

  • I’ll completely shut off once a week. Desktop, laptop, tablet, television, and smart phone completely turned off. I’ll write in notebooks and read on the floor if I have to keep my devices out of view.
  • You will stop playing videos and music out loud in public places with no regard for the people around you.
  • I’ll take a walk once a week and not to work out or lose weight but just to be outside.
  • Fall and Spring in New York, you will have those moderate temperatures you’re known for instead of flip flopping between being too hot or too cold all the time.
  • I’ll say yes just as often as I say no and vice versa.
  • You will take no for an answer.
  • I will go to BookCon, NY Special Edition, New York Tolkien Conference, and New York Comic Con.
  • Con-goers, you will shower, wash, and put on deodorant before a convention. It’s already hot enough.

Sogood

  • I will find, pitch, attempt, or whatever I have to do to find some freelance writing work. It’s something I have to try to do.
  • You will stop asking English Majors “But what are you going to do with that?”
  • I will go to Madison Square Garden. I will go to a stand-up comedy show. Not just some random night at Carolines but for a comedian who is touring that I love.
  • Stand-up comedians living on West Coast, you will come to New York.
  • When I go to BookCon, NY Special Edition, New York Tolkien Conference, and New York Comic Con I will say hello and talk to new people.
  • New York Comic Con, you will have more authors coming to your con.

theandys

  • I will think better of myself.
  • You will also think better of yourself.
  • I will only buy one book after I’ve read three I’ve never previously read.
  • Favorite authors, you will release the next books in your series in 2016.
  • I will write every day. Five of those days will be for four hours each day.
  • Everything else, you will stop distracting me from writing.
  • I’ll give up coffee for one month, maybe two, and deal with the caffeine headache.
  • Coffee mugs, you will stop tempting me with your bad puns and pop culture references.
  • I will write and submit a short story, even though I hate short stories.
  • Words, you will stop before my short story turns into another novel.
  • I will follow and comment on someone’s WordPress blog including someone who follows this one.
  • Pizza, you will stay exactly as you are. Maybe be fewer calories.
  • I will fill at least four notebooks front to back.
  • Pens, you will stop running out of ink just as writing is going so well.
  • I will allow only ten minutes to take it personally when friends and family criticize my book or just plain don’t like it.
  • Game of Thrones season six, you will be better than season five.
  • I will talk less about writing than actually writing because “talking about the thing isn’t the thing. The doing of the thing is the thing.”
  • Time, you will stop passing by so quickly.
  • I will break out of more comfort zones.
  • Comic book readers, you will stop being so afraid of change.
  • I will spend less money on things and spend more on experiences.
  • Experiences, you will stop being so expensive.
  • I will draw a map of the world from my book whether I can do it well or not.
  • Knicks, you will at least have a 27 win record this season.
  • I will communicate better with friends and family.
  • You will keep asking me when my book is going to be finished, it reminds that I need to get my ass in gear.
  • I will start my second book.
  • New Year’s Resolutions, you will stop making people feel guilty when you become unrealistic goals that no one can keep. Instead, you will become goals that people work towards all year to better ourselves.

snoopdoggheadshake

Changing the Dark Tower V: The Final Book and Modred: All Hype, No Substance.

When those doors open to the Dark Tower at the end of Stephen King’s final volume the journey for Roland and his Ka-Tet will come to an end. The journey, however, is not without its hiccups and so here are some suggested changes for the “The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower.”

My posts on “The Wolves of the Calla” and “The Song of Susannah” focused more on criticism rather than changing those volumes. Most of the changes of “The Wolves of the Calla” are the result of changes in earlier novels, like introducing Father Don Callahan in an earlier book. With “The Song of Susannah” the changes suggested were cutting and pasting bits from “Wolves of the Calla” for the beginning, and the beginning of this final novel for the end. This would give the sixth book a more coherent story from beginning to end. Now let’s talk about the beginning of this novel. Obviously, there will be spoilers.

Continue reading

When the Audience is Bored of A-Listers, The B-Listers Will Inherit the Superhero Movies.

For an indeterminate amount of time, comic book fans have been ranking their heroes (and villains) like celebrities with  “A” through “D” rating.

In DC Comics Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have always been A-List heroes. However, characters like Green Lantern, The Flash, and Aquaman have fluctuated, falling to B-Listers in the 90’s, then rising again to A-listers in the mid-oughts.

Marvel is a bit stranger. In the early oughts, Brian Michael Bendis disassembled the Avengers for a good reason. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America struggled as B-Listers in the late 90’s. Thor had been killed off, Iron Man was turned into an alcoholic and then a teengager  and Captain American in general seemed directionless. The rest of the Avengers just didn’t have the popularity of their other franches.  Marvel spent years building the Avengers back up to A-List characters, and thanks the  X-Men and Spider-Man being licensed to other film companies they had no choice but to build a movie universe on the back of the Avengers.

If they had owned the licenses for those two powerhouse franchises, Iron Man would not have been the first cinematic universe film under their own film company. They took a character, Iron Man, which the mainstream audience did not know and turned him into one of the biggest characters they currently have. They did it again with Guardians of the Galaxy, which people knew even less than Iron Man. Likewise, 2003’s Daredevil was an embarassment as far as movies go but Marvel took the franchise and turned it into the most watched and highest rated show on Netflix.

By regaining, rebooting, and revitalizing the Spider-Man franchise they’re also pushing back the inevitable. Marvel knows this, that’s why movies like Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel were merely pushed back rather than replaced by Spider-Man movies. Then, with the rest of the Defenders series on Netflix they’ll turn Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist into characters people know essentially raising their ranks from B and C-Listers into A-Listers. They took a character like The Vision and made him the most standout character of Avengers: Age of Ultron. They took a character like Ant-Man and made a entertaining and successful movie about him, which some people found laughable when announced.

On DC’s side it is a bit more worrisome, as far as movies go. Thanks to the success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, Warner Bros. believes the grim and gritty approach is the way to go as far as their own cinematic universe goes as evidenced by their dark approach to Superman in Man of Steel, the trailer for Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad. This may work at first, but the novelty of it will end quickly. What makes The Flash television series so refreshing is how far away from the Batman tone it is. It’s optimistic, funny, light hearted, and colorful. No dreary colors, no over serious faces, and 90% less angst.

The novelty of Suicide Squad, and Batman v. Superman has a problem. If it wasn’t for Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman the appeal of these movies is what they’re doing differently with Ben Affleck’s version of Batman, and Jared Leto’s version of the Joker. This’ll only last so long. They need movies with different tones with different characters. If they try to Batmanify characters like Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman (which is what it looks like they’re doing anyway) people will become fatigued. Marvel realizes an Iron Man movie should not have the same tone as a Captain America movie, but does Warner Bros. realize that?

The B-Listers will eventually inherit the Marvel movies but if Warner Bros. relies too much on the success of Batman to see what is unique about their other characters they’ll be doomed to fail before they even begin.