The Doctor’s Day is Coming: Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special

Another Castle

With less than a week before the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special, the BBC has teased us with some preview shorts. We will soon find out what had happened during the Time War and what this “Not” Doctor or “War Doctor” has done.

As much as this past season was filled with action and adventure, it has not been exactly cohesive. We won’t go into re-capping every episode, yet, we’ll take a look at the two halves of this past season.

Season 7-1

As we first see our intrepid heroes after the Doctor has left them: our sweet, married companions, Amy and Rory, were on the verge of divorce. It’s not until the Daleks put them and the Doctor back together, and during this adventure Amy and Rory finally talk about their problems. During this, we are introduced to a new companion , or sort of. After the “Asylum…

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Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Review: The Perfect Remake

Check out my Yamato 2199 review!

Another Castle

Remaking a classic is a pretty dicey proposition. Remaking a benchmark title is madness. Thankfully, the creators of Spaceship Battleship Yamato 2199 threw caution to the wind and faced the challenge head on. The result is a loving tribute to the 1974 anime that’s faithful without slavishly rehashing it.

Story

Story wise, things are identical. An alien race, known as the Garmillans, have pummeled the Earth with radioactive bombs. The effects appear irreversible until a second alien race arrives from the planet Iscandar with a miracle cure. The catch? The cure is only available on Isacandar. To get it, the Earth needs to send a ship across space. And not just any ship–an old WWII battleship remade and outfitted with Iscandarian technology. Sounds simple right? Travel several hundred light years to an unknown world with a superior enemy trying to stop you. Oh, yeah–do it in just one year. If…

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World-Building: All Fiction Has a Touch of Speculative Fiction

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Painter Bob Ross once said, and I’m paraphrasing, that the first tube of paint you buy comes with a license to create whatever you want. The same is true for writers. Instead of paint, our license comes with that first blank page. The page is our canvass, words our paint. While Mr. Ross painted scenes that look familiar–mountains, rivers, meadows, and the like—he always said they were figments of his imagination. Again, I see the parallel to writing, particularly speculative fiction. World building is the term we throw around a lot—the need to create a fictional world. Sometimes our stories take place beyond Earth and sometimes they don’t. In either case, we’re still spinning them from ether.

Once upon a time, authors created fictional cities, towns, even countries instead of using existing ones. Today, we still come across the occasional: ‘set in a fictional town of…’ but I think that’s becoming the exception to the rule. More and more often, writers are setting their stories in real places. Not only do I appreciate that, I’ve done it myself. It creates an immediate familiarity for the reader, but at a price. Unless the author is incredibly lucky, he probably hasn’t been to every one of the places he uses. And if he has, I doubt he’s spent enough time to truly understand their quirks and character.

In my book, I set a key scene on a Himalayan mountain called Kanchenjunga. I’ve never been there. I researched it, but that’s not substitute for an actual visit. So, what’s an author to do? The answer is to create a fictional place inside a real one, making it as realistic as possible. That’s the important part—as realistic as possible. The truth is, it’s not real. It’s an alternative reality, as much speculative fiction as Middle Earth, or the Wizarding World, or Narnia. I HAVE been to Tokyo, but that was over 20 years ago. While there, I didn’t go to Ginza station.

So how do we deal with all of that? The trick is adding enough description to, as Bob Ross said, “give the impression of something”, without overdoing it. Too much detail can be a problem. It’s a difficult tightrope to walk. As a writer, I hope my readers get enough of a feel for the setting, while understanding that my Japan, Miami, and Nepal are as fictional as my sky castle, volcanic palace, mountain-sized fortresses—not to mention talking dragons, thunderbirds, and stone giants. The characters’ pasts and cultures too. While editing a later draft, I stressed over cultural issues, correct language usage, synchronizing time zones, etc.

After one frustrating bout of writing, my daughter frowned at me and gave me a great piece of writing advice. ‘Dad,’ she said. ‘Your characters are ancient gods. Their culture and language are right. They’re the standard. They’re problem is that they’ve been out of touch. It would be like King Arthur showing up today. He’d act weird. He’d talk funny too. At least to us.”

Good advice, though not as she intended. What she meant was, either you buy what the author’s selling, or you don’t.  She did, and if we writers deliver our best work, our readers probably will too.

‘Roger Rabbit’ Creator Gary K. Wolf Discusses Life, Loves, and ‘Who Wacked Roger Rabbit’

Another Castle

It’s hard to believe Who Framed Roger Rabbit? first hit theaters twenty-five years ago. The book on which it was based is also celebrating — this time with the first new Roger Rabbit story in nearly a quarter century. On November 22, Gary K. Wolf, the author of Who Censored Roger Rabbit? and Musa Publishing will release Who Wacked Roger Rabbit? exclusively as an e-book. Another Castle sat down with Mr. Wolf to talk about his works and his inspirations.

The world knows Gary K. Wolf as the author of the iconic Roger Rabbit. But the man behind the rabbit is much more than that. Mr. Wolf served in Vietnam as an air commando. He volunteered for a two year tour to boost what he hoped would be a career in the US Air Force; saw the horrors of combat, and realized he had no interest in the military. That…

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