A bas les aristos!

I recently read The Scarlet Pimpernel (text, audio, movie) by Baroness Orczy, and ran into a bit of an interesting philosophical quandry while I was reading it. You see, the Scarlet Pimpernel is an English nobleman who through disguise and deception rescues French nobility from the Guillotine during the French Revolution of 1792 and spirits them away to England and safety. I’ll write more about this great series of books later, but the issue that I ran into while reading the first of the Scarlet Pimpernel novels was that, simply put- I felt what he was doing was wrong.

Now some of that comes from reading Scaramouche (also an excellent novel- text, audio) right before the Scarlet Pimpernel, because Scaramouche does an excellent job of presenting the case of the crimes of the nobility in France, and exactly why they needed to be exterminated. In addition to those at home, those nobles that escaped justice were rallying support among the other nobles of Europe to attack France and destroy it’s new burgeoning republican government and once again usurp the will of the people. So how exactly was the Scarlet Pimpernel a good guy again? (He is, if you’re a noble, if you’re a commoner…not so much…And you’ll note the Author herself was actually a noble! Talk about propaganda!)

It took a bit to mentally reconcile that for me, but eventually I decided he was helping the innocent nobles (since not all were cruel overlords) to escape an overreaching new government that bordered on fanaticism, and so I decided I could accept it. However, I also came to realize that part of the reason I was reacting to badly toward the Scarlet Pimpernel’s mission was that I actually understood the feelings of the people of pre-revolutionary France (well, as much as a modern person can) because in a way I was living in a similar time.

The revolution came (in large part) because of a severe divide between the filthy rich and the poor, where the masses were literally playthings of the rich, and the government systems were tools of that inaccessible landed nobility. Being Canadian, I’ve spent most of my life happy with our system, and actually overall continue to be happy (but a little worried) about it to this day, but when I look at the situation in the USA and the world, I start to feel what those ancient French must have felt. Take a look at the USA, or should I call is CSA (Corporate States of America) where the major corporations managed to turn a financial crisis into a windfall! Where the corporations now have the Rights of a person and the ability to influence politics in a huge way, but don’t share any of the Responsibilities for any of their actions. (A corporation is a person, unless they do something wrong, in which case they’re not. Could the former French nobility have asked for better? Non!)  Where the police are tools of the rich, and a relatively minor offense of theft turns into a major case because it affected one of the corporate nobility like Apple.

And do I expect it to get better? No, worse, much much worse. The financial stability we seem to be enjoying again is an illusion, and another crisis is just around the corner. What’s sadder- that millions of people will become destitute, or that we can expect the culprits to walk away, and even profit from it?

A bas les aristos! Indeed.

Epic Sea Monsters of Tale and Legend

Since I already showed a Godzilla video earlier this week, and I’ve now shown the king of the monsters, let’s take a look at some of his subjects in these two awesome collage videos. I actually like the second one better, but the first one has neat stuff in it too! (Thanks to Richard Bartok for the heads up!)

Review of KFAT on Audio Drama Review

Well, it’s finally happened. Audio Drama Review has gotten around to setting its sites on me and Kung Fu Action Theatre. I have to say I’m pleased with the review overall, and consider it a very fair and balanced one. Go take a look when you have the chance.


Sci-Fi London 48 Hour Film Challenge

Last Weekend Sci-Fi London (UK) held an event called the National 48 Hour Film Challenge where participant filmmakers were given obviously 48 hours to produce a 5 minute science fiction film. On top of that, they were given:

  1. A title
  2. A prop
  3. A line of dialogue

And expected to work with them as part of their films. These will all be coming online on the above site over the next week or so, but I just watched one called 6am Starter on a filmmaker’s blog and was rather impressed with it. I’ve seen other “48 Hour” challenges before, but doing it with film is a new one, especially in a genre like Sci-Fi which normally has a lot of pre-production and post-production time. It’s also impressive to see how good digital cameras have become, and how well they can shoot stuff that can look almost professional- almost.

If it wasn’t so logistically tricky, I’d suggest trying a 48 Hour Audio Drama competition. The only problem there would be that in Satellite Audio Drama it takes so long to get lines back you’d need teams of actors prepped and ready to go from the moment they receive their lines, otherwise you’d never finish assembling them in time. The only other way to do it would be for the cast to meet on Skype and record that call, but god help you with the line and microphone noise you’d need to remove to make that sound good.

A Note about Matt Smith’s first episode of Doctor Who

I just wanted to watch a few minutes of it to test video quality, and was dead tired. Two minutes in I was wide awake and full of energy, and it just carried me along for the whole ride. I was a kid again, right until the end, caught up in a pure voyage of wonder. Not perfect, but damn….just…damn….Stephen Moffat you rock.

To Free or Not to Free 2- The Revenge

Last night I was chatting with a friend and discussing the audiobooks conundrum mentioned earlier this week- if you give the audiobook away for free, will they pay for the text versions or not?

My friend, commented that from his perspective in fact the reverse approach may have netted more fish- give the text away for free, and then charge for the audiobook version. His logic was that audiobooks are less effort to read, and therefore more and more people are being drawn to them out of the sheer base human quality of laziness. He felt that if people like the text, or even just the beginning of the text, they might in fact pay to have the audio version just to make their lives easier as they consume it.

He also pointed out that if something generates fans, then those fans will want to consume more of that something, and in different ways. People who read books don’t avoid the movie version, they tend to flock to the movie version- hoping for an enhanced experience of what they loved about the book.  How much would people pay for a version of the book read by the author themselves?

Now, this approach won’t solve all the problems- for one, how do you get people to read your work in the first place? Part of the reason for podcasting novels to begin with was to have a fresh medium that wasn’t cluttered with a zillion other people fighting for notice. (And even now, with lots of people doing it, it’s still a drop in the bucket compared with the number of people writing away on Fiction.net or their own personal blogs.) The ability to have your work stand out like that, and be given a chance by a lot of people who might not normally touch it is a pretty big advantage in making a name for yourself.

Another issue that would come up is the question of finding an actual publisher- as in, someone to market your books and pay the initial costs of getting them out there in bookstores. If the text is available online for free- why would they want to touch it? (Answer- they probably wouldn’t, you’d need to write a new book for them once you got their attention.) Of course, things are also changing in the e-book realm, with sites like Smashwords helping to enable people to get their e-books published across the formats and platforms. Also, thanks to Lulu.com and similar sites, if you want to do it yourself, that’s feasible too. (Of course, you could also use Lulu.com to sell the audiobook version for pay as well…)

So, unfortunately, the story is far from simple, and the issue is far from closed on the best way to market your creative writing talents online. Do you do the publisher route, and hope you don’t get lost in the slushpile? (Although this site seems to have semi-solved that problem through crowdsourcing.) Or do you take what is almost the modern independent musician route, where you give away your base product for free, and try to make your money through associated merchandise? Is there a happy medium in between?

My friend thinks it’s all about human nature, and finding the best way to navigate the base human needs and desires to get what you want. It would be interesting to know if anyone is doing it his way, and if they’ve had any success doing it as a result.

Little Gou and the Kind Word released!

After over a year and half, Little Gou is back!

I plan for this to be the year of Little Gou, with several more stories coming. Twin Stars has held the sky long enough, it’s time for some Kung Fu Action! What’s Gou up to this time? Well…

Little Gou and Sister Cat race to find the young pickpocket Mischevious Kang before the spies who hired him to pick the pocket of an Imperial Courier do!

Listen Here!