Thursday, December 18, 2014

My Favorite Book

As a writer sitting at my table, showing off all the books I’ve written, I frequently get asked, “What’s your favorite book?”  That’s a very hard question to answer, because I have very strong feelings about all my books.  I wouldn’t have written them otherwise.  None of these are commissioned works designed to meet somebody else’s order.
So, instead of answering the question, I usually try to read the person talking to me and try to figure out what they would like best.  That usually works.
However, I’ve decided to write a little introduction to each book, telling you what I feel about it.  In essence, I’ll describe why every book is my favorite.
I’ll be posting these little descriptions every few days on my site, and then collect them all on the  wordpress archive for future reference. 

If you read them all, you’ll probably be able to make your own judgement about which book is my favorite -- at least from your perspective.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

It's Getting Crowded in the Batcave

I'm not going to talk about Batman, it was just too good a title.  But how about the Flash?  I've been watching the numerous superhero TV shows that have come out lately.  Arrow and Flash are on my mind in particular.  My how things have changed.

When I was introduced to the Flash, I bought comic books off the spinner rack in Brooks Drug in Amarillo.  The price was ten cents, for a while, until it went up to twelve.  The Flash was probably my favorite super hero.  His name was Barry Allen (there have been numerous people with that title) and he was a police scientist in real life, before he was struck by lightning and got his super-speed.

Does that sound familiar?  Unfortunately, that's about the only thing that's the same.  Now, I've come to a peaceful co-existence with the idea that superheroes get their life story re-written every few years.  I may not like it, but I can live with it.

But I've noticed a massive shift in storytelling with all of these video versions.  Ten Cent Flash was a lone scientist that worked out his powers alone, keeping his secret identity for a long time.  He solved all his problems alone. His thoughts were shared with the reader as he whizzed along at super-speed, logically discovering who and what and how to stop the disaster.

All the superheroes were the same.  Occasionally there were side-kicks to talk to, and there was often dialog with the villain, but in the heat of battle, it was the man with his own thoughts.

Switch the media to video.  Now, super-heroes are just the athletes in a complex team of actors.  There's the hacker and the scientist and the strategist -- all communicating with the guy in the suit via those invisible in the ear radios that easily have the best range of any radio I've ever seen for the size.

I can't say the super-teams are all that inspiring, where the lone individual was, to me.  And the secret identity is the first casualty.  Everyone knows.  Why do they even bother?  Do they think they can keep it a secret, when dozens of people know, including half the villains?

Every storyline is horribly complex, keeping all the personal lives of all the team in turmoil.  I can say I miss getting to know the title character.  They all seem a little flat.

Now all of this may be necessary.  Perhaps video demands a cast of characters to be a sounding board.  But contrast this with the new show Forever.  The immortal character has a lot of personal thoughts and flashbacks taking up time in the show, and I think it has made him a more interesting hero.  I wonder what it would have been if Flash had taken that path?  I suppose it's not my call.  I'm just the viewer, and a graybearded one at that.

The real people making the choice are the video production team.  Could the fact that their media is collaborative have influenced their storytelling?  Is it hard for a video crew to imagine a lone action hero?  I wonder.