Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writer's Resource - A history of violence

Writers and aspirant writers are often advised to 'write what they know'. This could however become a little problematic, when a detailed and hands-on study of the subject matter could land you in a lot of trouble. I am talking, of course, about violence, which features with alaming frequency in literature, movies and television, but (thankfully, perhaps) not so much in the average author's life. While writers can organize access to cops, medical professionals, etc, who may become useful resources in terms of modern violence, the finer points of more archaic ways of separating human beings from their mortal remains can be a little harder to obtain. One place to look would be this website I discovered by chance. There are various articles dealing with specific historical forms of violence, as well as links to book resources that go into more depth. While the content is far from complete, and in some cases, very brief, it still makes a good starting point for authors.

And like I said, don't practice this at home...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Unconquered Territories - the worlds of Geoff Ryman

My awe for Geoff Ryman is enormous, largely for his ability to capture and distill depths of human emotion in unlooked for places and insert it in its truest form in the traditionally soulless medium of science fiction. If you believe maternal love to belong exclusively within the domain of biological life forms, track down his short story 'Warmth', if only to see if your prejudice will really remain standing against the challenge of a young man seeking to be reunited with the robot nanny that raised him. Any author should attempt to explore his novel created exclusively for the internet, '253', a classic excercise in viewpoint. He takes an 8 carriage underground train and gives you a glimpse inside the mind of every one of its occupants, including the driver. 'Air' turns human consciousness into a battleground, when a small, primitive community comes under the sudden assault of instantaneous and total immersion in the vast world of the virtual, by way of an airborne virus. But I've left my first introduction to this gifted author til last. 'The Unconquered Country', an award-winning novella appears as deceptively simple and short as a children's book, but its backdrop is the stark reality of war in Cambodia and its impact upon the soft targets - women and children. But the message is very powerful. Whatever shackles our bodies, within the boundless freedom of our minds and our souls we can find the inner resources to remain unconquered territory.