My Love/Hate Relationship With Episodic Storytelling

Episodic storytelling Does Not Equal Bad Writing

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Episodic storytelling and I have a rocky relationship. It’s like that friend you have that always takes you on great adventures but eventually you realize that there is no progression and you learn the same lessons over and over again so eventually you will just give up and just decide to take him with you when it all ends–

Just me then?

Episodic storytelling is one of the many tools in the arsenal of a creative person. It fundamentally is a different tool from writing something serialized. It always depends on the amount of story you have to tell. It’s a shame then that most shows that use this feature use it so badly.

Episodic storytelling is often an excuse used so you can tell a random amount of stories to pad out the length of your series. Your run of the mill detective series or Star Trek show knows all bout this. When done well, episodic storytelling can be a powerful and unique way of highlighting and focusing on one element of the universe or the characters you want to explore. The problem in most shows, however, has always been the use of negative continuity and padding.

Take a show that is very episodic in nature, Rick and Morty. While there is mostly no overarching story (which might change, but bear with me), there is no negative continuity. Adventures can be watched standing on their own and they have a beginning, middle, and end, but there is something for long-time viewers to see progress. At the same time it’s very satisfying to have some closure.  Continue reading “My Love/Hate Relationship With Episodic Storytelling”

Christopher Nolan: The Karl Marx of Superheroes

People who blame Christopher Nolan for dark and gritty superhero films are bad and should feel bad.

Obligatory statement about how my new novel is coming along very well and I’m hopeful to have the reworked version of the serialized novella up in a month or so aside, let’s talk about superheroes for a change.

Watching and reading reviews about an up-and-coming superhero film, you cannot help but think that you are experiencing deja vu in regards to every one of these that isn’t Marvel Studios related or R-rated. The connecting thread? An overwhelming criticism of the film being too dark and too gritty, aka the name for the Fast and Furious reboot I’ll produce one day. Ever since The Dark Knight came around in 2008 all superhero films by DC, as well as numerous tv shows, and some other properties not DC related, have followed a similar style in which they have a similar color scheme to The Dark Knight, a similar cinematography, subject matter, brooding acting style, and a general sense of violence that is considering unsuitable to the way superhero films are supposed to be. I consider myself a detractor of Marvel Studios properties and their habit of veering too far the other direction of playing down darkness.

But I asked myself earlier when I was watching RedLetterMedia’s review of the new Power Rangers movie, if their, and other peoples, use of “Christopher Nolan-y” as a negative description of these types of superhero films that take themselves too seriously. And at that point it hit me: Christopher Nolan is the Karl Marx of superhero films. Both men have created seminal and important works, much greater than the limited field in which they have been intended for. Nolan made what is still my favorite superhero film of all time. It wasn’t despite being dark and gritty and brooding, but good because it’s story could only be told in such a way. His way of film making does, however, not have universal applicability when it comes to other characters. And while Marx observed society and had his own ideas on how capital and society operated which are still worthwhile to check out theories even if you disagree with them, both men suffer from being compared with their imitators and those who have used to apply their work in their own way without their intellect… okay, this is where the comparison is breaking down because comparing Lenin or Stalin with Zack Snyder is too edgy and dumb even for me, but I’m trying to create clickbait here people, so give me a break… Continue reading “Christopher Nolan: The Karl Marx of Superheroes”

Chapter 10: Once More With Clarity

The ship relaunched… but it’s not the same anymore. After the highlight, what is there but to go through the motions again?

While the version on the blog will always remain free, please be advised that there is an updated version available on Kindle:

Chapter 10: Once More With Clarity (Year 7-12)

The next five years of Prometheus’ service differed greatly from both the first two years of service, as well as the Actium mission. Without the public attention the first two years received, nor the adulations and fame that came with the conclusion of the Actium mission, Prometheus and her crew were able to focus on their mission, or rather missions. Outfitted with the new Mark VI engine capable of 3.5 ly/day, Prometheus retraced its steps from the last five years to reconnect with previously visited species and build relations. As with its previous mission, most of the time was spent in hyperspace. And while Prometheus was now focused more on making contact and building on previously established relations, as well as help allied species, its overall number of missions reduced by half, with longer missions taking their place.

Years of 2177 through 2181 saw numerous upheavals in local galactic policies, with the Terran Alliance in the still unique position of being able to pick and choose the conflicts it got involved in.

What changed when you got out there again?

(Commander Arroway) We had first gotten into space at a very interesting time. A lot of species were developing space travel, either with help or on their own, the Vaude were steadily losing their hegemonic power over the local group of systems to in-fighting and their conflict with their Vanvaude cousins, the Leonids were growing their empire, and with The Great Machine and the Drobeer finally declaring peace, their sector of space was finally safe to traverse again, meaning that species from the other side of their wormhole junctions were coming into our sector of space. The Alliance was in a strange spot, we were on good speaking terms with most of the species, more advanced than anyone but the Vaude and the Vanvaude, and a unified, and more importantly stable, government back home. Prometheus helped by setting up embassies and trading outposts. We were in the place where we used the tools originally created for the First Wave of Colonization for diplomatic purposes instead, and it worked out great for while there. Continue reading “Chapter 10: Once More With Clarity”

Online Novel: The Historian’s Crusade

There are no happy endings to stories, only bad research.
Find out more in the new fictional history book written by … someone who exists.

Foreword

This is the first draft of my novel Historian’s Crusade. Finished one year ago, the novel was originally serialized on this website and will remain free from here on out. There, is however, an updated and enhanced version available on Amazon, which you can find here:

Changes to the story include different dates, new characterization, continuity clean-up, as well as annotations and a brand new bibliography of all fake future history books. The story on Amazon is also updated to work better with the sequel and is the official version of the “Müllerverse” if you will, should I decide to write more.

Thank you very much.
Alexander Reineke, October 2017

 

Continue reading “Online Novel: The Historian’s Crusade”

The Better Star Wars Prequels: A Fan Wank From A “Casual” Fan

Okay, here’s an idea to redo the Star Wars prequels with mostly existing material from the prequel era, just rearranged.

Episode 1: Starts out with a botched rescue attempt on a slave ship. The security forces can’t manage to push ahead fast enough, at least not fast enough until the slavers space or kill have the slaves as a form of evidence disposal. One kid’s, or teenager’s rather, mom gets killed before his eyes. He rages out, crushes a guy’s skull with the Force. Then a Jedi enters the fight and deals with the slavers way quicker than the security forces. He finds the boy and takes him in. That’s how Obi-Wan Kenobi meets Anakin Skywalker, a boy happy to be saved from slavery but harboring resentment at the Jedi for not intervening faster.

Time skip, ten, fifteen years later, and Obi-Wan and Anakin are called in to basically do the same thing as Attack of the Clones. We can skip Phantom Menace, that happened off-screen and without Obi-Wan or Anakin. Then basically the same shtick with Anakin, a cocky cowboy Jedi at this point, kinda how Obi-Wan described him in the Original Trilogy, defending a young senator. We go a bit more into detail why Dooku and Co wanna leave, get a bit of a civil discussion out of the way first to establish that he actually is a “political idealist” as stated in Ep2. We’ll rearrange the middle bit a bit, make the romance more interesting, but we’ll end with Anakin and Padme not getting together, cause, you know still two more movies to go and we need to stretch that shit. Movie ends with the beginning of the Clone Wars.

Episode 2: Starts out five, six years later, the war is stretching on, with the Jedi serving as Generals and Anakin in particular always at the front lines. He’ll have just come back from a mission at the front that saw several Padawan die, giving him resentment over the Jedi essentially using child soldiers. He sees this unnormal and creepy because he was taken in late, so there’s a nice callback to Yoda and Luke even = uncomplete conditioning/brainwashing on part of the Jedi. And then? We’ll then we get the Clone Wars cartoon condensed into one movie, with Anakin forced to take on Asoka as an apprentice. Anakin, who has just lost another Padawan, doesn’t want another one, cause he never learned to deal with loss. Throw in Padme there at some point for some lovin’ and a subplot for Obi-Wan about, dunno, Order 66 or something, all stuff from the TV show really, and then you’re good. Movie ends on a battle between Anakin and Asoka vs Dooku, in which Asoka is gravely wounded, and Anakin strikes down a defensless Dooku in return. Anakin quits the Jedi Order in disgust and goes off to live with Padme or something.

Episode 3: Another couple of years later, the war has been going on for 10-15 years at this point, and everyone is so tired at this point. Obi-Wan and Yoda and whoever else have a great plan to stop the war in a final decisive battle. Anakin has at this point become a bodyguard for Chancellor Palpatine and they’ve become fast friends, getting their relationship from the original prequels out of the way in that backstory, but with the Episode 3 stuff intact for this movie. Anakin goes back to the Jedi at the urging of Obi-Wan, Asoka also returns, because at this point the Order has been thinned from a couple of ten thousand to a couple of hundred. Corrusant and other planets are completely run down, the war economy is breaking down, people are clammering for an end of the war and Palpatine is making grand speeches about that stuff. The Stormtrooper Corps is at this point bolstered by first volunteers then conscripts. While Anakin and Obi-Wan are off to do the last grand battle or whatever, reigniting their friendship, we’ll have a subplot with maybe Padme about looking into Palpatine’s evil shit, discovering that he’s Darth What’s-His-Face, who played everyone all along. Palpatine and his goons decide not to kill her because she’s with child. Dun-dun-dun. And he’ll need those to train for himself. During the final mission everything get’s resolved in terms of defeating the Seperatists, but the price is high and all the Jedi die and Asoka gets near-fatally injured. In his rage Anakin slaughters his way through a legion of Seperatist troops and takes down the Seperatists by himself, but not without tapping into the Dark Side. He quits the Jedi again, in disgust at all the casualties, and the Jedi Masters like Yoda and Obi-Wan who sit in their Ivory Tower like armchair generals back on Corrsant. Now Palpatine arrives on location to take the surrender but first he meets up with Anakin in a medical facility, comforts him and basically does the usual Palpatine stick, then shows him how to tab into the Dark Side to save Asoka. He does and then gets told, maybe with flashbacks, that all the good he ever accomplished as a Jedi came from using the Dark Side and that the Jedi with their Light Side nonsense have only ever really accomplished the death of small children unfit for combat, and other shady stuff we allude to during the prequels.

Meanwhile, in a false flag operation, Palpatine uses force users to attack the Senate and make it seem like the Jedi are making a grab for power. We’ll also have an attack on Palpatine that Anakin stops, who pledges his allegiance to Palpatine, the only one who still makes sense in this time. They leave but leave Asoka behind to recouperate, though Palpatine leaves behind some Clones to “mob up” after him. The Jedi are now hunted because after all the shady Jedi stuff they (canonically) pull nobody really trusts them. Order 66 is issued by the Senate, even though some Senators rally behind Padme and Bail Organa. Anakin, now full on Palpatine’s side, sick of all the Jedi lies and bullcrap, helps take down all the rest of the Jedi, who can’t put up much of a fight anymore because the war depleted their numbers. Yoda quickly goes into hiding, saying that they failed and must wait for better times. Asoka, who survived Palapatine’s mob up crew also goes into hiding, disgusted at all that bullshit. Obi-Wan won’t tolerate that and goes on a last stand against Anakin and Palpatine. Basically the Mustafar thing: Obi-Wan wins, Anakin gets brutally maimed in what amounts to an accident because Obi-Wan also lets loose with his resentment but can’t stop himself in time to stop. He then disappears. Padme also disappears after hearing that Anakin “died” and goes and lives on Aldeeran. Obi-Wan finds out about the pregnancy and that they are Anakin’s kids, so he takes one with him to Tatooine, in fear that if Anakin should pull through he would eventually find them and train them in the Dark Side for the new Emperor. Maybe he can even fake Luke’s death so that everyone thinks only Leia survived. The movie ends where the normal prequels also end: with Anakin being reborn as Darth Vader.

Fin… err The End.

Now, obviously this doesn’t work as a three parter, the last one is very heavy in terms of plot, way too much stuff happens, but for something that I compiled in about 25 minutes I think it’s alright and definitely a starting point. All I wanted to demonstrate here is that we could very easily “fix” the prequels with material from the Clone Wars, “fix” all the continuity snarls with the Original Trilogy, and “fix” well, you get the point….