Russell Kirkpatrick's Journal
Today in the Russell Universe a law was passed called the 'Impeding Traffic' law. All vehicles with clear road ahead but at least four vehicles trapped behind them must pull over at the earliest safe opportunity and let the trapped vehicles past. Failure to comply will result in instant confiscation of vehicle.
The inhabitants of the Russell Universe cheered.
Look, this might be a dumb question, but why do new cars cost so much when their indicators are clearly painted on?
I've been doing a bit of thinking lately about how creativity is critically received. This is prompted by two on-line debates I've been following: the first is the increasing fan impatience with George RR Martin's delay in delivering the next installment of 'Song of Ice and Fire', and the second is reading the extreme fan reaction to the BSG episode 'Deadlock' (http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2009/02/battlestar-galactica-deadlock-jane-espenson.html).
So. You put a story out there and people don't like how it turns out. Do they have a right to be angry? Whose story is it, anyway? [Note: I have no problem with people being angry over inconsistencies or plot holes or poor writing.] I have to admit to being disappointed with GRRM's last book - for a series entitled 'Song of Ice and Fire', to have a book where none of the action dealt with either Ice or Fire was disconcerting - but it's his story. I think fans take ownership of the material far too readily, and don't extend to writers the trust they need to take risks in the interest of a better product.
Thousands of fans are upset with GRRM for taking his time. So what happens if he decides they're right and rushes the rest of the series? We'll get what GRRM believes would be a substandard product. Don't listen to them, George. Keep doing what you want. People, you may have fallen in love with his characters, but they're his, not yours. Do you know, some of his fans are even angry with him because he's fat and he might die before finishing the series (a la Jordan)? Go. Read. Something. Else. Some of the more extreme ravings of fans remind me of the Porcupine Tree lyric:
'I spend my days with all my friends
They're the ones on who my life depends
I'm gonna miss them when the series ends.'
I've had similar reactions to my own work. The funniest one was from a reviewer who was annoyed at the slow pace of 'Path of Revenge', which I thought was a million miles faster than my first trilogy. Too much scenery, he said. Well, you know, look at the clues. It says PATH in the title: odds on there'll be travelling. 'Across the Face of the World' isn't going to be set in the back yard, right? Look at the covers. Do you see battle scenes or scenery? Read the quotes. The worldbuilding's praised and it gets compared to Tolkien. Hmmm. And people are surprised the characters travel about. Travel is essential in epic fantasy. There are no high-tech devices to annihilate distance, so for different factions to experience conflict they have to travel. Simple as that.
Ooh, that's been festering somewhere inside for a while, obviously.
Over a hundred dead, at least five thousand homeless, and the effects will last for years.
There are a hundred different things I want to say about this terrible event, but I'll limit myself to a couple. First, I'm appalled at the number of comments I've heard from New Zealanders about foolish (and that's being polite) Australians not abandoning their homes sooner. We kiwis live in a green, rain-soaked land, and we don't know what it's like to have to compromise with nature. Generally we just ride roughshod over nature and get away with it because there's so few of us.
Not in Australia, not after a ten-year drought, not in 47 degree heat. These people made what they thought was the correct decision, only to discover too late that living with nature sometimes means being completely overwhelmed by it. Not a single death can be laid at the feet of those who died: all were taking what they thought were appropriate steps to safeguard life and property. This is a tragedy.
It comes home to me because a couple of weeks ago I was right there, on retreat in southern Victoria. And this time last year I stayed two weeks in Yackandandah, currently threatened by flames. I used to borrow Kylie's car and cruise down to Myrtleford to play golf. Halfway between Yack and Myrtleford was a little town called Mudgegonga, a dozen houses and a CFA station. The fire went through there yesterday, and two people died. They weren't in the middle of a forest, and they had a Fire Station right there, yet they still got caught.
Australia is a wonderful place. But part of its beauty is derived from its location on the ragged edge of human habitability. Today we've learned just how ragged that edge really is.