Happy New Year + Updates

2017. was kind to me. After a string of progressively worse years, it was more than welcome. I have worked hard. I have found what I was missing. I have finally, after decades of stumbling, learned what kind of man I am.

I’ve also started to see success with my writing, which is amazing. To be able to live off my thoughts put on (digital or actual) paper, to stick it to the man and reject the chains that society keeps trying to force on me; that is what I see as ultimate success. The individual above the corporate. Victory.

But enough power-mad ramblings. Good year. Hoping for an even better 2018. Before that, some news:

The whole Azure Flame interactive fiction thing is now officially in limbo. I have no idea when part 3 will get released, so I’ve put off working on part 4 until I know more. Sucks, but that’s how it is. When I get the chance, I will finish it. For now, deep freeze.

I’m still plotting out my next book. Think of it as dark fantasy set in a fictional version of the 17th/18th century. Opulence and dirt. Sabers and muskets. Horrors lurking in the dark, and the people who keep them at bay. Overall brutality.

I’m still technically on vacation, so I’m not pushing hard yet. I hope to start getting serious again by the end of January.

Happy new year, everyone!
M. T. Miller

I Am Inspired

At least for the moment. The story idea I originally had will have to sit this period out. Instead of that, I will focus on something else. Something that’s currently setting my mind ablaze.

I am poking and prodding the plot right now. I’ll say more about it once I’m certain I can make it work.

Stay brutal.
M. T. Miller

The Last Jedi Is Irredeemable Crap

No, the movie is not treading new ground. No, I am not annoyed by its casting, and neither am I impressed by it. I am not in any way emotionally attached to Star Wars. I used to be, but I also used to be a quick little milky tadpole.

If the 38% gap between the critic and audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t tell you something is seriously wrong here, then whatever I type won’t be enough. But I’m going to do it anyway. Spoilers bigger than the gaping chasm of Goatse lie ahead. You have been warned.

Normally I would start by saying that this movie doesn’t make a lick of sense. Then someone would try to counter my statement by claiming that it is a film about people flailing laser swords and using space magic. Their counterargument would of course be utter rubbish. The fantastical can be as fantastical as it wants to be, but only under one condition: it needs to follow its own inner logic.

Supreme Leader Snoke has godlike power and awareness. Enough to turn Kylo Ren to the dark side by some kind of mega-telepathy. He is capable of reading his pupil’s innermost thoughts and feelings, but only up to the point where the plot wants him to lose this power. And who the hell is Snoke? I know, I know, the Last Jedi is about throwing away tradition and replacing it with something better. Great. Know what else it is? An example of bad storytelling. When you build up a villain, then not only not find a way of working him into the universe but also kill him with a handwave, your story disintegrates.

Rey cannot fail. She is phenomenal at everything. She instinctively waves a lightsaber as if she was born with it. She is better here than she was in the last film, so I’ll give her that. But only a completely amazing arc can salvage the character at this point. The way she was executed, she is not much more than a self-insert a fifteen-year-old would’ve thought up over the course of a sleepless night. And no, that isn’t okay. There is wish-fulfillment and there is handing out participation awards. This is the latter.

Kylo is the best character in this film, which doesn’t say much. I always found him hilarious, almost like a parody, but he is one of the few things this movie doesn’t outright fail at. However, he suffers from the same thing that afflicts Snoke: selective incompetence. The guy can freeze a blaster beam mid-flight, but gets beaten twice by our untrained heroine. Why did the people who made this go to such lengths to establish that our villain is weaker than our hero? Aren’t they aware that it kills all tension? Also:

Star-Wars-Kylo-Ren-rage-tantrum

“IT’S NOT A PHASE, MOM!”

Luke is completely wasted. He is only there to drag in the old fans so the film can spit in their faces. Which sucks because Hamill gives us an amazing performance. Even if the makers wanted to push him into the “mentor” role, he isn’t even allowed to do that, because Rey cannot get overshadowed by anyone, ever. And his final scenes are perhaps the worst example of directory fickleness I’ve ever seen. He’s there, then he’s not there, then he dies. A cheap attempt at an emotional jab.

Super-Leia was a completely braindead idea. The owl-gerbils were annoying but ignorable, so I won’t rage about them. Finn didn’t need to be in the film, he literally just ate up screen time that could be put to better use. The same could be said for Poe, albeit to a lesser degree (at least he got to impact the plot in some minor way). Rose’s mugshot should be put into the Thesaurus right next to the word “pointless.”

Pointless. Funny that I used that word, because it also describes this whole post. As of me writing this article, the movie has already raked in well over 494 million dollars. That money would be better spent if it were tossed into the gaping abyss of Goatse. The thought of that image alone is funnier than all the jokes in the Last Jedi, combined.

Stay brutal.
M. T Miller

A Change Of Plans

For reasons I can’t state, the development of the next Azure Flame thing is going to get delayed until further notice. I am thus shifting gears toward something else.

As to what that something will be, I can’t say yet.

SPOILER: It will be readable. Le shock.

Stay brutal.
M. T. Miller

Humanity Has Failed

I generally have a massive boner for the human race. What it represents. How we made this planet our bitch, and how we keep on making it our bitch. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face. Satan has nothing on us.

But when we falter, we falter massively. Where are the cyborgs? Where are the clones? Where are the killbots, the radioactive mutants, and the godzillas? I’m getting bored here!

Jokes aside, the tech is stagnating and the people keep getting stupider. Doing as little as visiting social media becomes an exercise in cringe. Gathering data in order to maximize the effect of trolling used to be an art. Now all you need to do is voice your opinion and someone will be outraged.

Feels are the new reals. And the extent people go to in order to protect the idea that their feels matter grosses me out to no end. We have spines for a reason. I don’t see why we shouldn’t have them metaphorically as well. Oh, something makes you feel bad? Congrats, you are literally the only person who cares about that.

If I were God, I’d pull the plug this instant. Terminate the experiment. End this misery. “You had your chance,” I’d say.

But there is no God, no karma, no nothing. If any kind of higher power existed, it’d mean that the universe somehow cares. About you. About me. And we all know that isn’t true.

As things stand, approximately six million years of evolution can be summed up in one picture:

flat,800x800,075,f.u1

Positively brutal.
M. T. Miller

Quick Guide To Malazan Vol. 2

I want to talk races. But this isn’t an easy thing to do without spoiling, so I’m going to make a compromise. I will list only the stuff that’s relevant for reading Gardens of the Moon. Whoever doesn’t quit that book will be more than prepared to learn about the rest through the act of reading.

Informally, Malazan races fall into one of three categories: founding races, the offspring of founding races, and the invading races. Here are the relevant ones:

Founding Races (And Their Offshoots)

Ancient civilizations. Most of these are no longer present by the time we tune in for the story. Those that are have either changed or mixed with something else. As said before, I will only list those that are relevant for Gardens of the Moon.

Imass: The Imass are the ancestors of humans, as well as a lot of others. Examples are the Barghast (token barbarians) and the Moranth (a weird caste-based civilization whose members are never seen without being fully covered in chitinous, insect-like armor).
This is a very, very minor spoiler, but the majority of Imass didn’t really die out. A long time before the series’ start, they undertook a huge ritual that transformed them into the undying T’lan Imass. The passage of millennia was not easy on these immortals. The physical deterioration was bad enough, but the mental strain of having to exist forever has made most of them choose to stop thinking independently. They now voluntarily comprise the Malazan Empire’s undead legions.
This negative effect of immortality on one’s psyche is one of the series’ recurring themes.

Jaghut: Visually, these are basically orcs, with tough, grey skin, and prominent tusks. The Jaghut were a peaceful people, but had their share of bad apples. Occasionally, a so-called Jaghut tyrant would emerge to subjugate other, weaker races. This eventually spelled the Jaghuts’ doom, as the Imass grew tired of having to deal with these tyrants and turned themselves undead in order to gain an edge in the war. The T’lan Imass were successful, and pure-blooded Jaghut were exterminated.
Jhag is a catch-all term for those born with Jaghut blood, but Jhag aren’t technically a civilization.

The other founding races don’t feature heavily in the first book, but I will mention the K’Chain Che’Malle, who are intelligent dinosaurs. With blades for hands. Yes. There’s a bit more to it than that but yes, Erikson actually put this into the series. Genius, I know.

Invading Races

These aren’t technically invaders (at least by this point in the story), but they did arrive from another world, so they are at the very least foreign and alien.

Eleint: Dragons! Anything else would be spoiling, but they’re in the series!

Tiste Andii: Ancient and immortal creatures of immense power, visually similar to dark elves, minus the pointy ears. They originate from the Warren of Darkness, and their existence predates the current shape of the world. They even predate the very existence of light!
By nature, the Tiste Andii are a melancholy and introspective people. They know that their time has passed, and the zest for life has left them a long time ago. No pleasure of this world or any other is new to them, and they rarely even bother to procreate anymore. In essence, they are waiting to die out. Their leader, however, keeps trying to invent new ways to shove them out of their funk.

There are other Tiste races, but they aren’t relevant to the plot of Gardens of the Moon. I’ll say this much: I have an immense dislike for elves, but I love these guys.

 

This should be enough for now. Have fun learning the rest!
Next time we will talk about some important characters.

Stay brutal.
M. T. Miller

Spontaneous Wisdom

Knowing other people isn’t that difficult.

Just look at two things.

1) the long-term result of their actions

2) their choice of companions

Chances are, someone who has displayed deep-seated moral corruption will prefer to associate with people of similarly rotten ethics or morals. They are also extremely likely to cause mayhem. I can’t believe I didn’t see this sooner!

At the end of the day, people aren’t really that complex.

Raw brutality.
M. T. Miller