How to Fix Rogue One with the Least Amount of Effort

@6 (Erkhyan): Yeah, another friend pointed out they weren't Victories. They looked so much smaller than Vader's Imperial that I overlooked the silhouette! Should have tried to fix that before it went to press. Alas! & I like your no-prize suggestion about the shield; I'd still like a bigger revelation than "oh, we still need to take that shield down." But it's a good fi

How to Fix Rogue One with the Least Amount of Effort

@1 (Lisamarie): I'd be the last person to suggest this movie become a character study—and, in fact, none of the fixes I mention here would slow down the action; these fixes would probably even cut a decent amount of talking-head time. It's more a question of giving viewers characters to root and care for during the action. If the film succeeded for you on that score, then, hey, great, I'm glad you had a good tim! (Honestly they should have caught this stuff at the script / storyboard stage, but I can imagine some flaws only showing up in final cut—that's why I tried to hold my comments to fixes that could have been made in post, or by calling the actors back for one day of shooting.)

@2 (Kalvin): Thanks! And, yeah, that wasn't my intent, though I see how you're getting there from what I've written. I focused my critiques on Jyn because she has the most screen time, and her arc can be most easily improved with small fixes; Chirrut, Baze, K2S0, and Cassian all work on screen as is. They could be introduced more coherently, but that would require more substantial reshoots, for less reward, as people already love them. I think Guardians of the Galaxy is a reasonable comp here: I don't want Jyn any more dominant in this story than Peter Quill is in that one.

@3 (Andy): Yep! I'm the least certain about the shield idea myself. There's probably a way to make it work; right now you just have a lot of duplication of effort. (Part of the reason I'm uncertain about the shield, is that "military adventurism goes wrong, and allies often screw each other up" is a pretty major and great subtheme of the story, and the clusterfuck here feels lIke a reasonable set of bad decisions people could make in combat—but the narrative doesn't seem to treat it that way.)

@4 (bpanhuyzen): Thanks!

Haves and Have Nots in Epic Fantasy

Thanks, Seth, and the same back at you!  This was a lot of fun.  We'll have to return for Round Two soon!

Let Me Tell Y’all A Little Bit About the Mohists…
@7, Nora & @11, sprungej: Thank you both! I'm glad this essay sparked good thoughts and stories. I might do more in this sort of "cartoon history without cartoons" format. It's certainly a lot of fun! @9, JoeNotCharles: I sit corrected. :) @10, bookworm: Possible! But there's a bit of historical determinism in your comment, I think—there's nothing to say the Warring States era had to end with consolidation under a single authority. A Westphalia style multi-state solution could have come to pass; that seems to be what the Mohists were tacking toward. This comes down to philosophy of government, ultimately, and I tend to be skeptical of imperial regimes. From the perspective of a consolidating imperial power, all attempts to resist it senselessly prolong violence. But the objects of that power's interest don't tend to see it the same way! (Sorry if I'm mis- / overinterpreting your comment.) @15ad: This is basically the Confucian counterargument, and it has a lot of merit. Certainly Mohism is a lot more radical in its vision of different social structures than, say, Confucianism. (Mohism has this in common with Christianity TBH—I come not to bring peace but to bring a sword, all the leave your father and mother and follow me stuff, etc.) That said, Mozi apparently also writes that we're not bound to go hunt down new people to love; this is arguing from a text I barely remember, though, so I don't know how on point it is.
Let Me Tell Y’all A Little Bit About the Mohists…
@12 Mary Beth: That is an excellent film. Oddly, I've never seen it all the way through—just pieces on bus rides and an hour-long segment we showed our philosophy class in Nanjing—but what I've seen is great.
Let Me Tell Y’all A Little Bit About the Mohists…
@4 amalmohtar: *flees, hides* Sitting through that Hannibal movie once was enough! I'm not eager for a dramatic reinterpretation starring my own grey matter! :)
Let Me Tell Y’all A Little Bit About the Mohists…
@1, Mary Beth: Craft Sequence Book 5! This is the first look my editor's had at the MS, so we'll see how he likes it. @2, curgoth: Newsletters available for subscription! Though mostly the newsletter is for letting people know when a new book's out—load-bearing posts go here or on maxgladstone.com 3. Ursula: Interesting! I need to read up on Bismarck; he's part of the whole Max Really Knows Very Little About European History situation. As far as Mozi, I don't know enough to say for sure. Since the Mohists' approach led to them siding with the attacked party in conflicts, and the attacked party tends to be weaker, they lost influence as the states involved became larger and larger and the wars closer and closer to 'total'—until at last the Qin subsumed everything. The Mohists were one of the four major political philosophies of the Warring States era, though, and their skills at siege warfare were so remarkable that they were in high demand even though local governments tended to find their whole 'universal love' thing confusing. He may have slowed down the conflict, or made it less lethal; he certainly helped smaller states survive longer than they would have otherwise.
How Do We Categorize The Nightmare Before Christmas?
@6, Lisamarie: Agreed! And it warms my heart to hear that "kids these days" still spark on Nightmare Before Christmas. @8, TomT: Quite so!
How Do We Categorize The Nightmare Before Christmas?
@3, DougL: That's why I'm interested in deep structures here—Die Hard is a bit of a reach, structurally, but some action movies do line up perfectly. (Thinking of Long Kiss Goodnight especially.) @4, hersha: :) @5, Redlander: Agreed!
How Do We Categorize The Nightmare Before Christmas?
@1. hihosilver28 - Die Hard is a wonderful Christmas movie! And I really should write that Shane Black / XMas Joy post one of these days. @2. Katharine - It's SO GOOD. I just reread it this Halloween. It's even better, because I can see more of the dynamics. Mrs. Hu's character is a bit problematic, maybe, but GAH JUST REREAD IT :)
We Three Kings Have Traveled Far, Over The Misty Mountains Cold
@1 crzydroid: We decided to cut the entire-mug-downing, for length. We'll release the extended edition this summer. My favorite part of this discovery is that the lyrics' internal rhyme schemes are identical!
Naked Singularities and the Art of Science Writing: A Love Letter to Kip Thorne
@1, LuisMilan: Yes! I would *love* to see that series. I have the sneaking suspicion it'd be too high-budget even for modern golden age TV. So many locations, so many actors... But if there's any way we'll ever get to see Magic Zombie Space Tyrant Al Capone and Uber Pop Star Girlfriend, it's that. So, here's to the miniseries!
In Defense of Indiana Jones, Archaeologist
@15. crzydroid: Fair points. Certainly, Jones Jr. stands on the shoulders of giants; he's no Grothendieckian mansion-builder. But he does, at least, get there first. (Like Lobachevsky.) @16 davidholden: That makes so much sense! Thank you for resolving (to my mind) the biggest consistency problem in the series. @17 annathepiper: Wow. Every time I re-learn that Tom Selleck was up for Indiana Jones, my mind is re-blown. It's like the Christopher Walken / Han Solo schtick, only real.
In Defense of Indiana Jones, Archaeologist
@4. annathepiper: Excellent, and noted! I too am fine with regarding the novel as less-than-canon. And I kinda do want to watch Crystal Skull just for fun—I can do the same thing I do with certain authors' sequels to their own books & treat it as fanfic that happens to be by the creator. @6. ChristopherLBennett I *love* the notion of white hat treasure hunting.
In Defense of Indiana Jones, Archaeologist
@3. mutantalbinocrocodile: I know!! The only thing that gives me pause is a desire for the eventual excavators to do it *right,* which to my mind means apolitically, transparently, & with full involvement of the international academic community.
Can We Do it Better? Writing Last First Snow
@19, Puntificator: July is the date I have in my head, but I'm not sure if that gels with the date on Tor's production calendar. Thanks for reading!
Can We Do it Better? Writing Last First Snow
Ack! This is what I get for leaving a thread unattended. :) @14 Danielrixy: Thank you so much! Keep reading. I don't intend to stop, well, ever. @15, Casejord: You're welcome! Only apologies for the delay on this second round. To answer your question: I consult with my editor about possible ideas for the cover, and the result of our brainstorming goes to the art department, and ultimately to Chris, who works his magic based off the pitch. I wait to see the covers like I used to wait to unwrap Christmas presents. @16, GuruJ: I just finished the second draft of Book 5, currently Four Parts Untitled. You won't have to wait forever. But you should read the other books in the meantime! :) @17, Pilgrim: Thank you! I love Cat and Abelard myself. I was very pleased that I could work Cat into Full Fathom Five. As for the future, plans are being planned!
Can We Do it Better? Writing Last First Snow
@Casejord: It would have been very cool to see Ms. Kevarian through Chris's eyes. I'll need to write more books with her so he eventually has no choice. And yes, The King in Red would certainly present a... departure... for Chris. Though I feel confident he'd manage! @MerchanterPride: Enjoy!
Can We Do it Better? Writing Last First Snow
@Brad_Tug: Thank you so much for the support! Fingers crossed re: rocket possibilities. And yeah, I'm not sure I'd like to live in the Craftworld either. It's an incredibly cool place, but a bit, um, lethal.
Can We Do it Better? Writing Last First Snow
@5: There's a big difference between living in a modern constitutional monarchy (you don't say where you grew up, but I'm unaware of any absolute monarchs where the royal family would claim Wotanic descent, though, you know, learn something new every day!) and living in a medieval state like staple epic fantasies describe, of course. As for the question of why write fantasy that corresponds to our lived experience but is nevertheless fantastical: secondary-world fantasy's the perfect rhetorical foundation for writing about real but invisible forces and their effect on history. (For example: the King is the Land trope reifies the general truth that good monarchs pay attention to civil affairs, while bad ones don't.) Alternate history implies that such invisible forces don't in fact exist—since the alt-history story purports to tell what would happen if they did—which is different. Secret history in the Tim Powers model recounts how history was shaped by occult forces, but that's also not quite my goal: the forces that interest me are invisible not because they're hidden edge-case stuff, but because they're too damn big to be seen at normal human distances. Fiction set in our ostensibly magic-less reality doesn't quite work either, since to focus on these abstractions I'd have to slosh a ton of ink on theory, which tends to be the enemy of drama. Subcreated fantasy end-runs around these issues by externalizing metaphor. Take, for example, Elizabeth Bear's Eternal Sky books: the world-redefining social effects of colonization rendered as a literal transformation of the sky over conquered territory! Or NK Jemisin's Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which reifies the threat of weapons of mass destruction by presenting them as chained gods. These are obviously not the only issues at play in these books, but the same effect could not have been accomplished in a more mimetic setting. So I get to play with existentialist theology and network dynamics and Seeing Like a State-style reality imposition directly, in my own subcreation. Also it's fun.
Can We Do it Better? Writing Last First Snow
Thanks! I'm so glad you've enjoyed the essays—there will be more to come in the near future. As for jump-on points: I've tried to make each book stand on its own, Discworld style, so you can read them in any order. Three Parts Dead is probably the most traditional starting point, since that's where all the world systems are put forth for the first time, but you shouldn't have any trouble coming on board at Last First Snow—especially if you're used to in medias res storytelling in the vein of Pratchett etc.
Can We Do it Better? Writing Last First Snow
@PrinceJvstin—I know that now! Writing an Elayne-and-Temoc-centric book was so damn fun I can't even tell you.
This is How I Numbered My Books and I’m Sorry
@6, 8, 12: I hope they're readable in any order, but if there is a best order, it's probably publication order, which is the order in which I write / read them. Though if any of you have access to books before they're written, please let me know—it'll save us all a lot of time! :) @11: Yes, but you're my kind of horrible person. @5: You're right about Godzilla. My mistake.