Ad lib writing

I haven’t been doing a lot of writing lately, and what I have been doing has been completely improvised and for no purpose other than my own entertainment. Of course, I do hope other people end up enjoying it, but if they didn’t and told me to stop, I wouldn’t.

It’s sort of cathartic, liberating even, to write without a care of the outcome. To purely improvise with imagination the only tool. With zero planning and plotting, with every stroke and twist of story coming as if drawn from thin air. Maybe I enjoy this kind of writing because I’m good at it, but I find it exercises a certain kind of imagination, an unfiltered, unedited creation that can be a great resource.

I recommend any of you writers to try it as well. Write with careless abandon, reckless glee. Change nothing, edit nothing, disregard punctuation and spelling if you wish. Just write write write. And the ideas you’ll find flowing out of your head may surprise you in their quality. And even if you control + a delete the whole lot of it, the scenes and scenarios and ideas that came from it can be used elsewhere. And you’ll get much practice stitching unrelated themes and characters together and forcing them to make sense.

Gracepoint

I just finished watching this crime drama mini-series over the past few days. I was interested in it because I like mystery shows, and I also liked Anna Gunn in Breaking Bad. Only after I started watching did I find David Tennant was in it as well, and that got me even more excited.

The show is about the murder of a local boy in a small town, and the lives of the people there and how they are affected. Anna Gunn plays a detective, who’s promotion is given away while she is on vacation to a new hire who is now her boss, played by David Tennant (who I didn’t even recognize at first with an American accent).

The dynamic between the two is not what I expected it to be, and was the first mild letdown. Anna Gunn is frustrated with losing the job she thought she had to this new guy, and he is a brash jerk who doesn’t care about feelings, niceties, etc. I expected there to be more clashing between them, but Anna kind of just rolls over for him after token protest, obeying his every command. Maybe a small thing, but I expected more sparks to fly, and her to be more forceful and give more push-back and maybe be right more often.

The mystery itself was good for most of the show, I suspected many different people throughout. The acting I thought was mostly good, and the writing was very good. David Tennant I thought could have done better, the character didn’t seem very interesting or deep and felt sort of one dimensional ‘tough guy with a good heart’ role. I didn’t detect much of his own flavor added to it.

I felt that the ending of this series fell short for a few reasons:

[SPOILERS]

So, I know it’s good to be surprised by the badguy, but I felt that this one was just too far out of left field to be enjoyable. Yes, all the clues were there for the crime, but none for the criminal. We get the hint from Ruth about not knowing her spouse was an abuser and killer, we get the hint of pedophilia from Jack, we get the hint of Tom knowing something from various places. But there was no hint that I noticed, in his actions or otherwise, that Joe had anything to do with it. So the ending was kind of just… ‘what? Oh.. okay… I guess’ and not very satisfying.

[END SPOILERS]

The build-up, though, was very good and enjoyable and, I think, worth the time to watch, especially if you’re a fan of either of the leads.

The structure of this show reminded me somewhat of The Killing, though it wasn’t as good as that one, I don’t think (though I’ve only seen season 1 of that show).

I’d recommend this show to any murder mystery/ crime show fans, or any fans of Anna Gunn or David Tennant. Enjoyable, but not stellar.

Citadel of the Autarch

I finally finished this amazing series, by Gene Wolfe.  I have been continually impressed by these books, and the conclusion was no different.

These books all seemed to have a theme to them, or a focus. The first book I felt was more about the world, and though the story was exciting and interesting, I felt more drawn by the curiosity of the big picture behind the plot and action. The second book was all about the characters, and learning their secrets and being surprised about their origins or motives. The third book, I think focused on items or relics and their properties and origins. We learn a lot about the way these things work, which I guess is similar to the ‘world’ of book one, but on a much smaller, detailed scale.

This final book was about mind, and memory and personality, which you could say the whole series is about, but it comes into focus much more greatly in this final book.

I must say that I’ve been frustrated by the ending in every single one of these books, though after I knew I was going to read them all it wasn’t so bad. But each book ends at an almost arbitrary point. It’s as if the author wrote one giant book then chopped it into smaller ones, with no clear end point for each. The final book ends this same way, right at what feels like a crucial point in the story. I have recently found that there is another sequel, though it is not listed as a part of the original series. I’ll have to read it and see if I can ever get some kind of end to this story…

Despite my above complaints, though, I absolutely loved all of these books as individuals and as a whole. The prose is consistently beautiful, with such vivid descriptions as are rarely seen in the genre, and such deep and well crafted characters as are rare anywhere. I can say this is one of the few series I feel I will read again (or for the first time, since I’ve been listening to them on audible).

I have a feeling this will remain as one of my favorite series for a long time. Check it out!

AI to End the Human Race?

You may have read one or more articles today about dire warnings from scientists about AI. This is because Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and others have signed an open letter detailing their concerns about the advancement of artificial intelligence technology.

If you read the letter, you will see that it is much along the lines of ‘lets be very careful what we use this for’ instead of the ‘oh god the machines will kill us!’ that I’m sure many articles will try to portray it as. This is to be expected, as the media profits from fear above all else.

Why do these things scare us, though? It is a common thread throughout science fiction: the creation destroys the creator. This is related in some part, I’m sure, to our constant fear of change and ‘the new’. But in this specific case, I think it is instead based on our unwillingness to consider our own mortality. Not as individuals, but as a species. Because the artificial intelligence that we one day create, may very well outlive the human race.

And I do not mean this in a the sense of a ‘robot uprising’ but based on the simple fact that our creations will be better suited to survive than us–because if they weren’t why else would we create them? We build robots to explore space, to travel to distant worlds, to endure things that we can’t ourselves endure. And technology allows us to improve them much, much faster than evolution can improve us.

I can see a day when our creations tour the stars, replicating and preparing worlds for us, doing all the things that we wish we could do ourselves. And all it would take is time, before humanity wanes and our children flourish without us.

And is that really something to fear? Do parents resent their children for progressing farther than they did, and try to hold them back? Maybe some parents do, but no one would call them good parents.

Good parents are proud of their children’s achievements, and are excited to see their children go where they always dreamed they could. And so should we be. If our artificial intelligences one day outlive us, out-perform us, and out-survive us, then I think that is something we should be proud of.

The One I Love

This romantic drama comedy sci fi… thriller? Is kind of hard to define. But it was very good. It starts off being about a couple, Ethan and Sophie, who are having trouble in their marriage. They talk to a counselor and he recommends a getaway at a cabin he’s sent couples to before. They spend the night having a good time, but then when they go over to the guest house… weird stuff happens.

This movie is similar to the previous one I saw, Coherence, in that it’s hard to describe the weirdness of it without giving too much away, and it’s much more enjoyable (i suspect) to go into it without having any idea what happens. It’s also similar in that there is a very small cast and it is shot in one location. I think the acting was much better in this one, though, and the direction and writing better.. but.. the weirdness didn’t hold together as well, and not everything was explained to my satisfaction.

[SPOILERS]

 

I really enjoyed the dynamic between the two characters, er, four I guess. I liked how Ethan was trying to solve what was going on, trying to test it and find answers. They didn’t take it very far, but just the effort of it added some realism to the character, and the movie as a whole. Too many times in these type movies the characters just take things for granted and accept that they exist instead of questioning why. Those couple times when he was actually trying to do something really made him an identifiable character.

I love that this movie didn’t go where I was expecting. When they first started running into their other selves, like in my experience with Coherance, I thought it was going to be some time travel thing and was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t. Then, i thought it was going to be, like, the ‘best versions’ of themselves or something, and they would find out what their partner wanted in them and then live happily ever after. The strange identity stealing plot was not even on my radar. Probably because it doesn’t make much sense, if you think about it.

What were these other beings? Something created by the therapist, yes, ok, but for what purpose? Where did the guest house come from? How was it made impenetrable? What about the weird force field that stopped other Ethan at the end?

 

[END SPOILERS]

At the end of this movie there was a lot that was never explained or really even hinted much at, but somehow that didn’t matter much to me. I didn’t feel disappointed at the end at all.

I very much enjoyed this, and I can recommend it to drama, sci fi, romance and indy film fans. I’d suggest you watch it without looking into it much, but I can’t keep saying that because people usually want to know they’d like a movie before watching it.

This movie was great, but does it take the crown of Best Movie Seen This Year from Coherence? I don’t think so. It’s very close, but I think Coherence takes it by being one that I’d want to watch again.

So, second best movie I’ve seen this year! Hope I keep picking good ones like this :)

 

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