Artemis Rising

Earlier this month, I got to host an episode of PodCastle for their annual Artemis Rising event. I’ve been an associate editor (slushing, proofreading) there since January 2017. It’s so great to experience the other side of the editorial process, and the PodCastle team are a magnificent bunch of people to work with.

But this was the first time I’ve been out there in front of our audience. Eep. The story I hosted (‘Scar Clan’, by Carrow Narby) was my favourite from the Artemis Rising call (and its sister stories – one released each week in March – are all amaaaazing, so this is high praise indeed). It was an honour to be able to introduce it and share my thoughts on what I loved about it.

You can listen to the episode here, where the story is also available in full in text format.

PodCastle Episode 512 – ‘Scar Clan’, by Carrow Narby

Enjoy. 🙂

Moon

It’s one of my favourite sci-fi films. It is so underrated, probably because it’s not a huge, SFX-laden blockbuster full of action movie tropes. It’s quiet, and subtle, and intensely moving. It has an eerie quality that on the one hand is obvious (a guy living on the Moon all on his own, starved for human company), but on the other is hard to pinpoint. You expect something disturbing to happen, but it never quite does, and then when the reveal hits you see what’s been there all along and the full unsettling nature of the premise swamps you.

It asks important questions about how we value life without ever being heavy-handed or even hitting you with its own conclusions. It lets you reach those on your own, and although it’s heartbreaking, there’s a silent resignation to it. It’s beautifully shot, it feels all-too realistic, and it has the most incredible soundtrack courtesy of the delicate stylings of Clint Mansell:

I’ve been thinking about this film a lot lately, and I’m not entirely sure why it’s on my mind. It’s a masterclass in storytelling, with gentle, devastating twists and a painfully sympathetic protagonist. It’s one of those stories you wish you’d written. It deserves far more recognition than it gets.

I think it’s time for a rewatch.

Pedantics #9

Stop saying ‘but yet’, people. Just stop it.

‘But’ and ‘yet’ are synonyms. In this context, they mean exactly the same thing. Using them together is utterly redundant. If you’re doing it to sound sincere or more knowledgeable about something, it has the opposite effect. Trust me.

“I want to go to the ball,” said Cinderella, “yet I have nothing to wear.”

“I can help you,” said the fairy godmother. “But you must be home by midnight.”

The first example does not need the word ‘but’. The second does not need the word ‘yet’. See? Easy.

Now stop pairing them together.

That is all.

Panoply Reborn

This blog was well overdue a makeover. It’s a task I’d been putting off for ages, but I finally got my act together and gave it some much-needed freshening up. I’m really happy with the new look! It’s brighter, cleaner, tidier… but still retains some personality. The header image is a stock WordPress one, so I might change that at some point, but for now I kinda like it. I’m surrounded by plants at home, so this feels like an extension of my natural environment.

Onward and upward, little blog!

The Power of Friendship

I’ve written about friendship before on this blog, in terms of what it means to me from a story perspective. I’ve always been drawn to stories about friendships, just as friendships have always played a crucial role in my personal life. My friendships mean the world to me. They’re some of the most important relationships in my life, and they always have been.

But as a society, I feel like we don’t honour friendship enough. Romantic relationships are always upheld as the ultimate in personal interaction. We denigrate friendship even as we distinguish it from romantic partnerships. We use terms like ‘just friends’ or ‘friends with benefits’, as if platonic friendships don’t have masses of benefits above and beyond sex.

Just friends. Think about that for a minute. If we celebrated friendship the way we celebrate sexual relationships, such a description wouldn’t exist. Yet friends are the people we stick with through life. They’re the people we turn to in need. They’re the people we want with us when we’re celebrating. They’re the people who know us best. The people we can be our true selves with. The people who love the things we love and fight for the things we fight for. The people who’ve been with us through thick and thin, who’ve outlasted those lauded romances and hugged us through breakups. They’re the people we bond with on levels that far surpass the biological influences of reproduction.

Yet those influences are the ones we turn to, the ones by which we measure ourselves, the ones we see constantly highlighted through the media and in fiction.

I’m the first to admit I’m a sucker for a good romance. I’ll root for my favourite fictional couple any day of the week. I’m sad when real-life romances don’t work out. But fiction in particular comes with a certain expectation of romance. How often do we wait for the central pair in our favourite TV show to finally get together? How many times do we expect the platonic friendship to finally graduate to a sexual relationship? As if it’s not valid unless it does so? As if the true potential of that relationship hasn’t been fully explored until they’ve admitted their true feelings for one another and got it on?

I call bullshit on that. The true potential of a relationship lies in what those two people can achieve together. On what they share above and beyond what they have with anyone else. On what has bonded them and continues to bond them. On the absolute trust they have in each other. Whether that involves romance or not is irrelevant. When a romantic partnership has all those things, it’s one of those partnerships that’s built to last… a partnership that’s based on friendship. And friendship can, and does, have all of those things without the need for romantic attraction.

Mulder and Scully didn’t need to get together to prove the true worth of their friendship. Ron and Hermione could have stayed friends for life without getting married. Xander and Willow didn’t need to go through that weird phase of sucking each other’s faces off (at least they grew out of that one). Their friendships were amazing as it was. They had nothing else to prove. They didn’t need to ‘graduate to the next level’… they’d already reached the ultimate levels of trust and support two people can reach.

I want to see more friendships in fiction. Celebrated, appreciated, adored friendships without the need for romance. I see the Finn/Poe shipping and there’s a part of me rooting my arse off for it… but a larger part of me looking at the amazing potential to explore a deep friendship between two men. A friendship that doesn’t need to prove itself by morphing into romance. Friendship is worthy in and of itself, and I think it’s time we started celebrating that. Friendship has been an underlying theme in my stories for a long time, but I’m making a conscious effort to bring it to the surface. To really focus on it and allow it to be exactly what it is.

Not second best. Not ‘just’ anything. But among the most meaningful and worthwhile relationships it’s possible to have with another person.

Inspiration

Every so often, I come across an image that transports me into itself. It’s like the immersion that comes from good writing. The sense of being in a place, feeling it, the warmth, the scents, the sounds it evokes.

I came across one of these today. So beautiful I might have to put it in a story…

amazing-tree-tunnels-18