What I’m Up To

With all these glowing reviews, Black Panther must be not only the best superhero film of all time, but also the best movie ever, period. There can’t possibly be anything wrong with this, right? No way that it’s just another stale turd that Disvel regurgitates down our throats with the command “Swallow.”

Glad we got that cleared up.

In other news, I’m writing and I’m consuming media. I’ve finally gotten round to seeing season two of the Expanse. Love this show. Excellent writing and characterization, both for primary and secondary characters. I must marry Drummer. Then we will make a bunch of emotionless kids whose only purpose will be to kill. It will be glorious.

I’ve seen this comedy flick called Killing Gunther. Critics say it’s bad. I say it’s quite good. It has Ahnold, which means that it can’t fail. A couple good laughs with some solid pathos. Reminded me of a nice song.

I’m listening to music from the Transistor OST while I write. Doesn’t really fit the mood of what I’m making but it keeps me going fast. As for the story itself, I’m off to a good start. I think I’ve learned a lot over these two years of walking the path of the writer. Time to apply it.

Yeah, I’m reading the first Witcher book. Figured if I’m writing about monster hunting, I might as well see how an established writer has done it. It’s quite fun but kinda rough. Might be the English translation, it’s atrocious. Geralt loves his combat pirouettes, but I guess it could be worse. It’s interesting how it took me two stories to figure out I was reading adaptations of fairy tales. For now it’s very different from what I’m trying to make actually, which is unexpected. Let’s see where it goes.

That’s about it. Off to the grind.

Stay brutal.
M. T. Miller

Hesitation

I’m sitting at a crossroads. I’ve been here for for the last couple months.

“What now?” I keep asking myself. My mind is on fire. I have more ideas than I can count or remember, and I want to turn them all into viable stories. But the book industry is a horrifying thing. It eats people alive and shits out books. More and more keep pouring out, quicker and quicker. It never stops, and most gets wiped away.

It took the Nameless Chronicle a bit less than two years to start selling reasonably. Two years of my work being continuously wiped from the book industry’s asshole and tossed aside. It’s maddening to think how much effort, planning, and money one can put into something only to have it MAYBE pay off some time in the far future. This is a task for only the maddest of the mad.

For me, in essence.

I’m now actually doing decently, and there’s been a constant upward trend. This is good. On the other hand, this still doesn’t suit my needs. I need greater success, and I need it as quickly as possible. If I keep spending all my earnings on editing, covers, and marketing, then in essence I am working for nothing. It is work I enjoy, yes, but not at all worthy of the ascetic lifestyle I have to lead to make it possible.

I’m rambling, so let’s summarize before I get even further from the essence of what I’m saying here: My next work should have immediate marketability, as opposed to the cult/sleeper hit potential of the Nameless Chronicle. I’ve already done the write-what-I-want thing, and it’s only started to take off recently. If I had to push two biplanes instead of pull one with a jet, I think I’d go full psycho.

So… go through with the Monster-Hunter-Age-Of-Enlightenment-Bloodborne thing (that I’ve already planned and structured out), or reach into something with mass appeal, like Space Opera? I foresee a massive surge of cyberpunk in 2019. and onward, so that might be the way to go. Perhaps a mixture of the two. There doesn’t seem to be a good answer. Everything can work and everything can fail.

I don’t doubt my ability to tell a good story and tell it well. I have eyes. I read and compare. For me, some degree of success in the future is, I think, inevitable. But the question remains: When? I’m not nearly as young as I look. If option A gives me earlier breakthrough than option B, then why take option B? Because I want to? I do, but do I want to dedicate 2 more years of my life to a series that may really take off in 5?

I don’t know.

So I sit at this crossroads and weigh my options. Time keeps passing.

M. T. Miller

Finished Deadhouse Gates

And I’m not sure I can review it. Words cannot describe how good this book is. Even if I write a spoilerific review, it can’t possibly communicate how blown away I am by the Chain of Dogs part.

Gardens of the Moon was good. Deadhouse Gates is magnificent.

Can’t wait to read Memories of Ice.

Cate Blanchett Should Be In Every Movie

Rewatching Thor Ragnarok has actually made it worse. I still hate it.

But the film does have one redeeming quality:

Hela Thor Ragnarok

Cate Blanchett as Hela. I love her looks. I love her character, and I love the way the plot let her have actual teeth (something usually lacking in Marvel movie villains). Of course I use the word “plot” in the vaguest sense here. This film is a clusterfuck in which everyone acts like a mentally challenged 10-year-old. But Hela was gold.

More Cate. I need more Cate. Preferably via direct injection into my bloodstream, so the effect lasts longer.

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

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

Quick Guide To Malazan Vol. 1

I’m enjoying Deadhouse Gates a lot. Its predecessor was a bit rough around the edges, but this book is where it all really comes alive. There was simply too much stuff in Gardens of the Moon for the reader to just sit down to enjoy. When you’re spending half of the time thinking “have I missed something vital?” then you are not having as much fun as you should be having.

It is for this reason that I am making this quick and to-the-point guide to Malazan. In it I will list and elaborate the concepts, cosmology, races, and main players of the setting, both for my easier reference, and yours.

Let’s begin. Malazan: Book of the Fallen takes place in a universe (technically a multiverse but let’s keep things simple) where intelligent races have existed long before humans, and the wonders they created tend to outshine what we’ve made in the comparatively short time our civilizations have existed.

Magic is a big, powerful factor here, and it is accessed by tapping into an alternate dimension For example, in order to cast Death magic, one needs to access the world of Death. Same with Shadow, Healing, etc. These alternate dimensions are called Warrens, and to access a Warren in order to cast a spell is referred to as opening a Warren.

Some Warrens are home to gods. A god is a powerful entity who has grasped a position of power within a particular Warren. So there is, say, a King of Shadow, a Knight of Shadow, etc. But not just anyone can become a god. In order to qualify for godhood, one first needs to ascend.

Ascendants are basically heroes; individuals with larger-than-life skills and abilities, who are immune to natural death. Most can use magic of some sort, and all can become gods by (among other ways) getting a large enough cult. The means by which one can attain ascendancy are vague early on, so let’s keep it mysterious.

Most humans who can use magic are born with the talent, then hone it through various means (depending on where they are born) in order to become mages. Most can access only one Warren, though some (Quick Ben for instance) can access more.

But enough about the metaphysics. Basically, Malazan chronicles a series of military conflicts centered around the (surprise surprise) Malazan Empire. This Empire is kind of antagonistic early on, though it’s difficult to say in a series with so many shades of grey. It is definitely a utilitarian, expansionist regime that aims to dominate the mortal world. Too bad it can barely hold itself together.

The Empire is actually quite young. Some time before the start of the series, a man called Kellanved led a group of capable individuals and forged the Empire out of basically nothing. He didn’t rule for long, though, as his spymistress (hilariously known as Surly) had him assassinated and took the title of Empress. Having renamed herself Laseen (meaning Thronemaster), she now struggles to maintain her grasp on power.

Bit by bit, the world Kellanved conquered is starting to reject Laseen, who now has the unenviable task of preventing the Empire from disintegrating. And how does she do that, you ask? Why, by conquering and looting new territories. This always works. Ask the Romans.

Early on in the series, Laseen sets her sights on fully claiming a continent called Genabackis. There used to be something called the Alliance of Free Cities there, most of which have been conquered. As of the start of Gardens of the Moon, only Pale and Darujhistan remain free. She would change that. But some big names have decided to put a stop to Laseen’s expansion right then and there, and this is where it all begins.

I won’t spoil the books, at least not on purpose, so let’s leave it at that. Next time, I think I will talk about races.

Stay brutal.
M. T. Miller