Raise a glass, lads.
We lost two of our own in the past seven days. I was saddened to hear of the loss of two of our elder geeks. You won’t see trending #RIP hashtags on Twitter for them. They won’t make the Oscar’s ‘In Memoriam’ reel either. Yet, their contribution to science fiction is both significant and enduring. These two geeks’ names are unknown except to a precious few, but their achievement is immortal. Like Steve Jobs said, they put a dent in the universe.
To me, it’s infuriating that two celebrities and their personal lives dominate the public consciousness. It shouldn’t be that way. Perhaps things can change. Let’s bypass that debate. Instead, let’s simply remember our friends for the amazing people they were. C. Martin Croker and David Kyle changed the way you see science fiction. Let’s take a moment to examine why that is:
C. Martin Croker
You didn’t know him but you loved him. Clay Martin Croker was both an animator and a voice actor. You enjoyed his work on the seminal Space Ghost show … he was the voice of Zorak and Moltar. It didn’t stop there: Croker was also an animator for the show. That made him a bit of a unicorn: animators rarely do voice work. Continue reading
Storytelling. That’s the name of the game.
When I started this journey toward a ‘third act’ in my life, one of the things I wanted to do was tell stories again. I love doing it. I missed the creative process and the way a good story connects you with other people. To that end, I’ve been thinking about the kind of stories I want to tell and doing some research. Then I got an ‘a-ha!’ moment when I stumbled on this list of rules that Pixar uses in their stories. These rules can be incredibly valuable for any storyteller, so I’m posting them for you as much as I’m capturing them for myself.
Human beings communicate via stories. For good or evil, storytelling is a very powerful way to share ideas, get your point across, or draw people to your cause. I’m sure you can think of a hundred examples of this, but for me I just turn on the news. All you see now are different people telling stories to explain their politics, their personal feelings or their reasons for whatever they do. Stories are powerful. Therefore, as a storyteller, I must learn to tell good stories. I’m life-hacking my way through this process, and the following 22 rules are a good step in that direction.
Let’s look at them together, shall we? I’m not going to try and break them down for you: like a good story, I think they speak for themselves. If you’re having trouble reading them, just click on them for the big version:
Busy week for me. Decided to change the name of the digest to ‘State of the Art.’ I like blog post titles that aren’t boring. Anyway, here’s what went down:
As a bonus, I love this guy’s work ->
One of the key benefits of science fiction is that it lets us discuss important social issues without preaching about them. Imagine how much good science fiction could be doing right now skewering racial prejudices as Star Trek did back in the Sixties. Imagine how much good sci-fi could be doing toward getting kids into STEM. Imagine how much good sci-fi could be doing inspiring us to treat each other with dignity. Imagine how much good science fiction could be doing if the storytellers were as brave today as they were back then.
It’s a future worth fighting for. More thoughts on this later.
One of the things that’s really bugging me about the idea of writing is the idea of being famous for writing. Telling stories is great, being famous is not. There’s a short story by Louis L’Amour called ‘The Trap of Gold.’ I think about a lot as I contemplate writing and whatever might follow.
Have you read the short story? Give it a whirl, it still holds up. In it, a prospector locates a rich vein of gold in rough country, miles from anywhere. The vein sits at the base of a 3oo-foot-tall granite rock that might collapse on him at any moment. What does he risk if he approaches it? What does he risk by walking away? The story builds to an unbelievable amount of tension before its resolution. Even now, fifty or sixty years later, you can understand why L’Amour was such a successful writer.
Enter Jackson Allen.
I have a lot of thoughts and opinions about fame and they come from hard and bitter experience. In fact, they remind me of the massive rock this prospector must navigate to secure his fortune. The given wisdom is that:
- I cannot write unless I can sell books.
- I cannot sell books unless I am famous
- I cannot pursue notoriety without jeopardizing whatever gains I’ve made in rebuilding my life
This is a three-way tug-of-war. I want to save my life without selling my soul. I don’t have an answer for any of this yet. Perhaps we’ll find them together.
Have a new short story I’m working on … check out Short Stories for my production schedule
And we’re off! Finished writing a short story, now time for some blogging.
The best part about today is that for one day, both American and European people write today’s date exactly the same. Only happens eleven other times in a year. I updated the site header with something more ‘futuristic’ and I hope you enjoy it. I’m not completely sold on it and I may change it if something else catches my eye.
Almost ready to submit ‘Search and Rescue’ for publication. I haven’t decided whether I want to try Asimov’s or Analog first. Thoughts?
Feel free to check out About and Short Stories, as I’ll be updating them periodically with new material. I’m also interacting quite a bit with people on Reddit, so feel free to join the party.
Hi folks –
I’m Jackson – I’m just getting started. This blog represents a leap forward for me and I’m documenting the journey. I’m working on a new short story. In the meantime, you can find me interacting with people on:
To help us get to know each other, here’s a collection of wallpapers that I like. Talk to you soon.