It's been a great Labor Day Weekend.
One of my daughters decided to stay home with me while the wife and other two kids headed to a nearby state to see family and celebrate a religious rite of passage. The daughter that stayed with me is a bit of an activity addict, just like the other kids and her old man. So, it was First Friday in downtown LV on Friday night. Food, crafts, music, weirdness. It was fun.
The next day was low key. Some Crazy Pita and a movie. We went and saw Baby Driver. Yes, I know it's an R-rated film, but it really is some of the best writing and filmmaking to come out of Hollywood this year. Having already seen it once, I had wanted her to be exposed to this kind of storytelling.
The story is powerful, the characters are compelling and the dialogue is fantastic. If you haven't seen it yet, because you didn't like the title or it didn't appeal to you, do yourself a favor and get a ticket and go. Edgar Wright shows why he's an underrated genius in this masterpiece.
Yesterday was pretty chill, but today with the other kids home, we decided to head up to Mary Jane Falls in the heart of Mount Charleston. No joke, there are small waterfalls that are trickling down from the mountain (after a rather intense 2 mile hike) that you can stand under and cool off before heading back down the trail.
Anyway, the other big thing to mention is that I decided to do a 'soft' promotion for The Son of San Diablo: A Manifest Galaxy Novel. It's not the first free promotion I have done. However, it is the first for this particular book. At the time of this writing, a few dozen Amazon readers have 'purchased' the free book and have downloaded it to their Kindles or Kindle apps.
I will admit that I struggle with the concept of 'Free' with Amazon. Personally, I think that allowing people to sell their works as low as $0.99 or to allow for the reader to read it through the Kindle Unlimited program makes the most sense. The problem with giving away everything for free is that free becomes the expectation and the rule. It tells the reader 'Hey, I don't value all of the work I've done on this and really, neither should you.' Maybe I'm just overthinking it, but it does seem silly that the way I'm supposed to get new readers in Amazon's eyes is to give things away for free.
Regardless, I am hard at work on a three part series that continues the 'Manifest Galaxy' legacy with some of the characters and concepts that were introduced in the first book. It will be easier to give away one fiction book when I have multiple parts of the series to sell.
It Should Mean Something
It might just be me, but I think writing a fiction story should mean something. I'm going out onto a limb here with this opinion, but since analytics tells me only a few dozen people are checking in every week, I am probably in pretty safe company at the moment.
When I say fiction should mean something, I don't mean that it must contain some moral message. Nor do I think it has to teach or preach. If some lesson or moral makes itself apparent through the theme of the story, then the best fiction will do that for some of the readers, some of the time. I think the best stories don't have any kind of universal meaning, they just should have meaning. Some things in the story might ring true for most of humanity, but it can mean something to others and neither is wrong.
Take for instance, the Joseph Conrad novel Heart of Darkness. As far as we know, Conrad was being paid by the word and his intention may not have been to satirize the view that western culture was superior and that imperialism was some sort of infallible force. Yet, after finishing the book the other week, I took to the Internet, as any inquisitive reader would do and I wanted to see what others thought of the book.
While I can understand the racist overtones that many readers and critics perceive in the text along with some readers' dissatisfaction with what they call the underwhelming climax, I think there is something deeper there. I believe that Conrad really wanted to explore the dark side of human nature and what a man might do were he left to his own devices and given all power out in the remoteness of nature. Of course, this wouldn't be the case with every man or woman who was put into the same position as Kurtz was at the Inner Station. However, his desire to enact on what were clearly psychopathic tendencies is clear and undeniable. I think this was something Conrad was trying to explore, albeit indirectly.
While we're digging for the truth, I have a confession to make. I never finished Heart of Darkness until about a week ago. I had made at least two valiant attempts to read the book over the years and failed in both at around the 40 page mark. Conrad does seem to take his time getting things started. However, once protagonist Marlow gets to the mouth of the river, things become more interesting.
Anyway, there is a reason for my strange confession to not reading a book that is over one hundred years old until just now. It is because the stories we tell run parallel to each other in a certain way. His story takes place in late 19th Century Africa and my story takes place over 600 after humanity has reckoned time in a way that coincides with the discovery of the first wormhole outside of our solar system. Yet, both stories are told through the point of view of protagonists who meet charismatic and influential figures that have feet of clay.
Both Kurtz in Conrad's book and Barney in The Son of San Diablo are held up as paragons of virtue by those around them. In both cases, the truth becomes unravelled slowly and our heroes must make certain decisions related to what they will do with the truth. I won't give up the end of Conrad's book and of course, I'm not going to tell you how my book ends. The funny thing though is the way I ended up making decisions in the book that I never knew would be so closely related to Conrad's book. However, let me be clear. Conrad is the vastly superior writer to myself. His way of weaving a yarn is so compelling and just darn fun, that once he gets going, it's hard to keep up.
Early Twentieth Century Literature
This brief touching upon Joseph Conrad and Heart of Darkness has led me to make another strange confession. I've lately become a bit preoccupied and a little obsessed with fiction from the Edwardian Era. This was early 20th Century fiction such as stuff written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Rudyard Kipling and of course, Joseph Conrad. I have much more to say about this new avenue of study at some point, but I will digress. I also have more to say about the mastery with which Conrad concocts his tale, but I will save it for another time.