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Summer Reading

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The summer usually holds a bevy of books for me as I move from the franticness of school to more relaxing reading. So far this summer, I have read The Hunger Games Trilogy and the last Sookie Stackhouse Book, but now I’m working through Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan ‘s The Strain, which is interesting to say the least. I’ll keep you all posted, but right now, it reads to me like a modernized Dracula-esque novel… I can’t wait to finish this one and launch into the remainder of their Trilogy.

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Written by uncannynerdyguy

May 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm

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“The Hobbit” Trailer Out… It Makes me Wants It Now… The Precious

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As the title of this post suggests, I am excited about the arrival of “The Hobbit” this December 14th. I’m sure that I will find myself at some midnight showing or other wherein I will be drawn into Peter Jackson’s version of  J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth once again. Although this trailer is only two and a half minutes long, there are a couple of portions that give me goosebumps of excitement as I listen and watch them. I hope you will find similar moments too.

From the dwarves’ singing to Gollum asking what a Baggins is, I feel like Jackson is going to do justice with these films much as he did with the LOTR franchise. I anxiously await this movie to see the world of the Hobbits come alive again on the big screen.

Written by uncannynerdyguy

June 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Writing My Novel Part 1: The Basics of Things

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So over the course of this summer, I have taken my first venture into the writing of long form fiction. Now, this has been something of a task for me because I’m used to writing short stories and poetry; thereby, I create characters and set them free on the ocean of 2k -7k words. However, as my novel stands at around 50k words, I have invested a large amount of time and writing space for my characters and the premise of the story I’m going to tell. This post is to give a little insight into what I’ve been doing… here goes.

Premise: In the year 2042, the world turns all its nuclear warheads on each other and destroys the world in a cataclysmic event that causes the surface of the Earth to be uninhabitable to the humans that survived. (Matter-of-factly, I have written a short snippet that deals with this, which I hope to expand too.)  However, even as the human race is driven underground, the Eight monster races of the world (and some of their mutated offspring which don’t constitute a new race per say) which have existed in the shadows alongside humans come to power under the dust cloud covering the sun and making the Earth habitable for them. All Eight species try to live in harmony with one another, but like all those with power, peaceful cohabitation may not be possible… Enter our protagonist and her allies and enemies several hundred years after the great cataclysm…

The Eight Races (The races and a fun fact about them):

Vampires–Some feed on the  blood of the other seven… which is frowned and punishable by death. This is why it’s kept secret if they do. Others feed off the cultivated herds of mutant animals that they tend.

Weres— Werewolves and the like (there are more than just werewolves). They are called werebeasts by the other Seven races, which is a derogatory term… Prefer to be called Weres.

Arcane— The witches of folklore and legend who command external forces. In large covens, they have been known to shift the clouds and control the weather. Using their magic causes them to age physically; however, their youth can be recovered by focusing their magic toward rejuvenation.

The Fae— Similar to the witches in terms of their magical nature, yet they additionally are physically strong despite their lanky appearances. Known to be very beautiful. Their Queen is the Titania of lore. . .she rules them with a doll that contains the soul of Oberon, whom she trapped there so she should never be alone. Some call her the mad queen…

Elementals— Beings of immense power. Embody certain elements in a physical and magical way so that they become living fire, ice, shadow, etc. However, they can look human. Widely varying levels of power exist among them. Some are so weak that they barely exist. . .others can rend the Earth.

Harpies— One of the few flying creatures in the new world order. They are all covered in a fine layer of feathers that both protects them and streamlines them for flight. They are pack creatures that hunt, attack, and destroy creatures much more powerful than them through their group dynamic.

Infernals— Also called Demons by the other races. Usually remain in their monstrous / demonic form complete with flaming spectral wings and horns. They mostly appear to be genderless. Their ruler Bilge is known in the Christian Bible as Legion but not because he’s multiple demons…

Celestials— Called Angels by most creatures’ standards, they are additionally known as Valkyrie, goddesses, and more. Deemed by most of the other Seven (the Infernals won’t consent) to be the most powerful of the races, they are usually seen as the peace keepers because they can keep the others at bay. Have a club in the remnants of Carnegie Hall named “Heaven”.

There are other mutant species that exist that occur as splinter forms of the main groups… for instance, there are a few harpies that call themselves furies because they have acquired slightly different forms and powers. Hence, the variation of monsters throughout history.

Protagonist: Sadie is a highborn vampire who is relatively young by vampire standards (almost 2000 years old at the beginning). In addition to her youth, she is also plain by vampiric standards, which causes her purpose to be a little clouded. At first, she is just trying to find out from higher authorities what her destiny is, but inadvertently, she stumbles into a war that she finds herself at the epicenter of all because she chose to put on a necklace.

So there you have it, a little bit of insight into what it is that I’ve been writing. While I know that I’m being vague to a degree, I hope that my future posts will enlighten you  more. Maybe this will entice you to read more, even as I head to my 85k word count goal.

True Blood Season 5: Hopes and Thoughts about What is Yet to Be

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I usually create one of these posts before the premiere of HBO’s True Blood, and I figure that this year should not be any different than others. I love the Southern Vampire Mysteries and the subsequent television show, which makes me speculate about what might or might not happen. I link you to my “True Blood Post-Mortem of Season 4” to catch you up on my thoughts about the last season. So without further ado, I give you my thoughts and hopes about season 5 (*SPOILERS* from this point on).

1) Tara’s Death– Honestly, Tara has lost favor with me from the first season version of her, and if you’ve kept up with the seasons till now, you know that she filled Eric’s place getting blasted by Debbie Pelt. At the end, Sookie sat holding her dying body and screaming for someone. While they are leading the audience to believe that she’s dead (and personally, it wouldn’t bother me if she was), I don’t think that they’ll actually kill her. I’m more inclined to believe that either shaman Lafayette or one of Sookie’s vampire beaus will save her before she actually fades to black. Do I really care with what happens with her after this? Not really. . .however, I feel that things will still be happening.

2) The Authority coming into the picture– At the end of last season, Nan Flanagan found herself fired for the witch debacle and wanted to enlist Bill and Eric to help her fight against them. However, they killed her and her constituents without a second thought. Still, from the previews and promo videos, it appears that we will meet the Authority in the form of Christopher Meloni, Christopher Heyerdahl, and others. I’m kind of excited to see them since they have been a main focus surrounding the ruling parties of vampires in the series. Vampire hierarchy in novels, television shows, etc. is always something that intrigues me.

3) Werewolf Stuff– As anyone reading this will know, book 5 Dead as a Doornail deals a lot with shapeshifters and werewolves. In my opinion, I think that some of this stuff will come to pass because Alcide is set up to become the new leader of the were pack of Shreveport. I’m a fan of Alcide, but with the emphasis on the vampires, I think that this will become a footnote plot point… yeah…

4) Sam and Luna– This story line should be the most stable in the long run to me. However, I feel like some unpleasantness is going to occur thanks to Marcus’s death… Yeah… I love Janina Gavankar too… So it helps that this story involves her.

5) Eric and Pam’s relationship– From one of the promo videos, I worried about this aspect of the show the most simply because Eric was blaming Pam for unearthing Russell Edgington (which I will get to in a second). Their relationship was on the rocks at the end of the last episode of season 5, but I figured that this would be worked out pretty quickly, yet this turn of events has me thinking that Pam, my favorite character if you don’t know, might die… I’ve said it many times before, but if Pam dies, I will quit watching the show… Yeah.

6) Russell Edgington arises– This might be the favorite thing to happen at the end of the last season. Russell was unearthed, but we don’t know by whom (hence the Pam thing in the promos). With Dennis O’Hare as the delightfully demented vampire of 3000, I’m excited to see him return, which will allow the character to grow yet again. It will be awesome!!!! AWESOME!!!!

7) Off-Bookedness– What excites me and scares me the most about this season deals with the fact that they are going to be almost, if not completely, off book. While it’s been a while since I read the fifth book, I’ve realized since the second season that things are moving away from this canon text. However, I find that this is not necessarily a bad thing. With new thrills and  changes around the bend, I like not being able to see what is coming.

So there you have it, some of the things that I’m excited about for season 5. While I know not all of them will come true, here’s hoping that my radar is right on and at least some of this will happen. If not, I may have to hang these posts up… and frankly, I like talking about vampires, the show, and the books too much to do that. 😉

Review of Nimbus: A Steampunk Novel (Part One)

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I recently had a Twitter conversation with author B. J. Keeton (@professorbeej on twitter. . .you should follow him if you don’t) and expressed how hard it is for me to write a review of anything because I feel like I can be a little too critical at times. I also told him that this is the reason why I hadn’t already written a review of his and Austin King’s Nimbus: A Steampunk Novel (Part One), and honestly, this is true. I have started and stopped writing my review several times, and each time, I have thought that I might be being a bit too hypercritical. However, as I have let the thoughts sit, I know that I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading it, and although the first part isn’t perfect, I really enjoyed it. Now, I’m going to tell you why as briefly, succinctly, and honestly as possible.

First the novel’s blurb:

NIMBUS: A STEAMPUNK NOVEL (PART ONE) is the first volume of a serialized steampunk fantasy novel that started as an experiment and came out of the authors’ desire to do something new and interesting with ebook technology, while also dealing with a wide variety of narrative goodies–from airships to demon possession.

The story of NIMBUS: A STEAMPUNK NOVEL follows Jude Finley, a new recruit aboard the Gangly Dirigible, an airship that extracts water from rainclouds. Having only lived above the Skyline for a year, Jude is still getting used to the way things work in the world above the clouds. While working aboard the airship, Jude and his friends uncover a secret which may or may not help them against a growing uprising that could spell doom for everyone on the planet.

Meanwhile, Demetrius Rucca, wheelchair-bound son of a prominent religious leader, begins recruiting followers for his own subversive cause. As allegiances are sworn to him and his followers grow, he begins to discover the new powers that lie within him. This power could be the salvation Demetrius is looking for–or it could be the destruction of the known world. (From Amazon)

About the Authors:

AUSTIN KING has written plays, poems, novels, and short fiction, but he spends most of his time making sure his credentials sound more impressive than they really are.

B.J. KEETON is a writer, blogger, and teacher. When he isn’t trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he writes science fiction, watches an obscene amount of genre television, and is always on the lookout for new ways to integrate pop culture into the classroom. He lives in a small town in Tennessee with his wife and a neighborhood of stray cats. You can find more free fiction by B.J. Keeton at http://www.professorbeej.com. (Amazon as well)

Both of these guys are awesome as well!

The Good

The characters– Both Jude Finley and Demetrius Rucca are fully fleshed out characters that I find to be completely believable. While both characters are interesting in their own right, Jude takes up the mantle of our main hero as he manages his life aboard the Gangly Dirigible and is confronted by increasingly difficult situations up until his cliffhanger. Rucca (as he is referred to throughout the novel) lives the life of a highborn crippled man, and it becomes obvious quickly that this has affected him as he literally takes to the skies to rid himself of his existence. Moreover, each has another hidden layer that surfaces as the story continues. . .

The story– It’s original and unlike anything I’ve ever read before, but moreover, it puts a new spin on the steampunk genre, which can be dry for me at times. From the beginning, the readers are shown the importance of water and how difficult it is to gather in turn through Jude’s story. With Rucca, we are brought into the problems of someone stuck in his own skin, feeling the limitations and hoping to be able to bypass them somehow. And. . .AND it has demon possession which will serve as a huge plot device within the remaining parts. . .I find this to be really awesome.

The Concept of Serialization–They’re releasing the novel in four parts on Amazon, but they’re also releasing it chapter by chapter on Keeton’s blog professorbeej.com. I’ve oftentimes thought of how interesting it would be to read something serially, like the Victorians once did (and others… I know that too). This indulges my fancy and allows me to see how it would function. Also, I think that this is a brilliant way to build suspense, especially with the overall strength of the writing. It makes the overall premise great.

The Not So Good

Imbalance with alternating plots early on– While the writing and the story were really, really strong overall, I found myself at times feeling like the alternating chapters between Jude and Rucca’s points of view were a bit uneven in terms of their overall pacing and interest level. This occurs mainly toward the beginning and slowly begins to work itself out as both plot lines amp up in terms of action. Give it the first few chapters, and I assure you that you will be drawn in (that’s why I make this point).

Awkward phrasing at points– Although this doesn’t happen that often, there were a few times in this section of the novel that I was left scratching my head at the connection of ideas in a sentence or at just the structure of a sentence. For example, at one point there is discussion about a character that has been damaged by the fog: “His fingers, hands, and arms were also damaged. Muscle tissue and, like the spot on his right hand, even bone showed through.” I understand what was meant to be said here within the context of the larger scene; however, it took me reading this passage a few times to get the exact meaning. These types of issues occurred very infrequently, which shows you that the copy editing / proofreading was done with great care and attention to detail.

Overall— 4 of 5 Stars

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it is provocative, the concept is interesting, and the characters, especially the main ones, are well written. I enjoyed it thoroughly and anxiously await the second part to know what happened to both our hero and the budding villain. Honestly, it is pretty fantastic for only 2.99 at the Amazon Kindle Store. Go out and get it today!

Carmilla’s Progeny: Charlaine Harris’s Pam as an Evolved Archetype of the Lesbian Vampire

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A paper that I recently wrote for the Spectral and Sublime Gothic Course that I’m in. It deals with the character of Pam from The Southern Vampire Mysteries. I’m interested in expanding it for a possible conference paper for an upcoming Pop Culture Conference.

     In J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, the character Carmilla exists in a liminal space as a lesbian in an era that did not conceive of sexual intercourse beyond the act of penile penetration and as a powerful vampire living off other females in order to survive while pretending to be a delicate lady. Expanding on this liminal model of female vampirism, Charlaine Harris creates Pam from the Southern Vampire Mysteries in such a way that she both parallels and surpasses her limited predecessor. Throughout Harris’s series, Pam expresses her lesbian desires and lusts for several women and, moreover, maintains her femininity even though she too is a powerful vampire.  However, unlike Carmilla who must veil her desires for women and hide her vampiric appetite with odd behavior and secretive feedings, Pam becomes a fully released, lesbian vampire existing in an age after the sexual revolution that can pursue her desires openly. Additionally, Pam exists as a vampire in a world where vampires have made the public aware of their existence and sought to appear innocent through their imbibing synthetic blood. Hence, in the Southern Vampire Mysteries, Pam occupies a space as a liberated version of the Carmilla figure that both solidifies the female vampire model in modern culture but begins to evolve new characteristic nuances that update this archetype for contemporary audience sensibility.

As Carmilla uses her appearance as a young woman to infiltrate the dwellings of her female victims, befriend them, and feed on them, Pam’s femininity works in a similar way to cloak the level of threat she poses to those around her. When Pam is not working at the vampire bar Fangtasia where she wears a mandated black costume, she “dress[es], as always, in sort of middle-class anonymous clothes. . . [like] a pair of winter white knit pants and a blue sweater. . . [with] Her blond hair. . . shining, straight and loose, down her back” (Harris Club 37-8). As Sookie the protagonist of the novels put it, Pam “look[s] like Alice in Wonderland with fangs” (38), which is further emphasized by the fact that Pam is only nineteen years old when turned in the Victorian era (All 90). Additionally, the continuous references to the pastels she wears and the fact that she “look[s] like a vampire cast in an episode of Leave It to Beaver” recur as a theme throughout the series (From Dead 112). By sustaining Alice / suburban housewife image, Pam purports herself as an innocuous that many character in the book underestimate and take for granted as they view her. Furthermore, she upholds the feminine vampire appearance that Carmilla represents as she is able to infiltrate Louisianan society from the rural to higher society circles without arousing a large degree of suspicion.

However, with the invention of synthetic blood and no longer having to feed on humans, Pam’s conscious choice of being an ultra-feminine vampire exposes her agency and exemplifies the strength of her decision making. As opposed to the conception of the modern female vampire wearing blacks and reds and showing cleavage in diaphanous gowns, Pam exemplifies a style filled with pastels, middle-class modern, and vintage chic that emphasize her womanliness.  Furthermore, she wears items like “her pale blue suit. . .a vintage gem. . .[and] hose with seams up the back” to emphasize her individuality and to set herself apart from most everyone that surrounds her (Dead in the Family 69). Even when facing a war with were-witches in which she battles for her life and her maker’s, she upholds this femininity and maintains her Alice image by wearing a “pale pink sweater and darker pink slacks,” regardless of the benefits that wearing complete black would give (Dead to the World 224). By retaining this image of her femininity as opposed to the modern vision of the female vampire, Pam configures herself to be an agentive figure that Carmilla cannot be; whereas Carmilla must maintain a feminine appearance in order to feed, Pam stays hyper-feminized in a world where it is not necessarily beneficial for her in any substantial way.

Although Pam blends in with humanity relatively well, the disdain that she shows for many of the humans that she interacts with reflects Carmilla’s scorn when she sees the funeral of the girl that she feed on and killed. Despite Pam’s amiability toward Sookie and her brother Jason, she quickly shows that “If it came to a choice between upholding vamp interests and being [Sookie’s] buddy” that she would definitely take sides against even these her human friends (Dead to the World 39). Moreover, this fact is furthered by her willingness to kill Sookie and Jason to protect her maker Eric when he loses his memory as a result of a witches’ spell, and she only stops when she realizes that “Eric should stay. . .[with Sookie], where he is [because] Moving will expose him to more danger,” which again puts vampire business above the safety of the humans  (47). Still, while this idea of murdering her human friends shows that she does not hold human life in high esteem, those individuals that she is not acquainted with get her disdain more directly. Early on in the series, she punishes a “lovelorn young man. . .[who] crawl[s] across the floor and kiss[es her] boot” by kicking him away from her, thus causing him bodily harm (Dead Until 106). Thus, Pam upholds a relation to humanity that moves beyond Victorian class consciousness or Carmilla-esque model but changes to one of species elitism that concerns the superiority of vampires over humans.

Even though Pam does uphold vampires over humans, she additionally moves beyond Carmilla’s not “troubl[ing her] head about peasants” and develops human friendships and relationships beyond that of predator and prey (Le Fanu 92). Throughout the course of the series, Pam begins to develop friendships with those that she perceives are not voyeurs of the vampires, such as Sookie and Jason. Pam illustrates this friendliness by opening herself to her tenuously identified friends and shows them her “sense of humor, not something vampires were not noted for,” through her wit and sarcasm (Harris Living 43). Further still, she opens up later in the novels to Sookie revealing the story of her turning and coming to the epiphany that she “actually liked it, being a vampire” as a result (All 89). Pam even comes to the conclusion that Sookie is her “favorite breather” and accepts her as more of equal instead of a useless human (Dead in the Family 193). Thus, even as Pam practices vampire elitism over humans, she arrives at a depth of acceptance for humans somewhat beyond this ideology that opens her person up to a select few individuals and, thereby, changes the perception of the female vampire to a more friendly version rather than the befriend and kill model of Carmilla.

The final aspect of the Carmilla figure that Pam embodies involves her predilection for lesbianism, which permeates her character throughout the Southern Vampire Mysteries. Early in the series, Pam begins to give the audience hints as to her sexuality when she tells Sookie what happened to her after the maenad’s attack: “‘Your shirt was so ragged we had to tear it off,’ Pam said smiling openly. ‘We took turns holding you on our laps. You were much admired. Bill was furious” (Living 44). While she makes light of the fact that she helped save Sookie’s life, Pam also starts to present an overt homosexual nature by smiling at the thought of undressing Sookie. This small detail contrasts sharply to the ambiguity of the potential lesbianism presented in Carmilla. While Carmilla passing kisses and stating that “I have been in love with no one, and never shall  . . . unless it should be you” toward Laura maintains a certain degree of uncertainty, Pam presents her lesbianism willingly (Le Fanu 98). Throughout the course of the series, she “briefly dates Amelia Broadway,” Sookie’s temporary witch roommate, and, later, “takes a human female [Miriam] as a lover” (Koski 422); moreover, she does not date male figures or have any pursued attraction for them whatsoever. Hence, Pam represents another interpretation of Carmilla’s vampiric lesbianism but in a more straightforward way because she lives in a world where female homosexuality exists and is not considered taboo.

Conversely, where Carmilla’s lesbianism seems polygamous at times because of the multiple females she simultaneously feeds on, Pam exhibits a typical version of monogamy in her relationships that distinguishes her from and redefines the female vampire archetype for modern audiences. When Pam has her significant relationships in the series, she stays faithful to her individual partners until they are parted in some way. With Amelia moving back to New Orleans and Miriam dying of leukemia, Pam is freed from any of the conventional aspects of a dedicated relationship. Although this commitment to each individual begins to inform the character of Pam as a monogamist, the fact that she “wants to make another vampire” of Miriam exemplifies this fact even more powerfully (Harris Dead Reckoning 67).  Pam “makes plans to turn Miriam in secret” regardless of the punishment she may receive for creating a vampire without permission but is unable to do so because Miriam dies (Koski 422). Though Pam does sire a new fledgling, the desire itself is a powerful indicator of her monogamous tendencies because the act would have been an eternal commitment between herself and Miriam that she would never be able to undo. Thus, by Pam becoming this monogamous figure as opposed to the more philandering Carmilla, she critiques Le Fanu’s masculine fantasy of lesbianism while working to mainstream the lesbian / homosexual other in a more positive and acceptable way for a modern era.

With Pam’s representation as an agentive lesbian vampire, the Carmilla character she is based on evolves for a new age and is reconfigured into a newer version of this previous archetypal figure. Furthermore, with Pam’s genesis occurring in the Victorian period shortly before 1872 when Le Fanu publishes Carmilla, a succession of the female vampire from Carmilla to Pam is put into place in retrospectively because of their similar traits and tendencies. Through an examination of this retrospective, archetypal continuum, a progression of what it means to be a lesbian vampire is informed from the pre-Victorian through the current day. Further still, the addition of the female author Charlaine Harris writing the precarious lesbian Pam, albeit in the context of a heterosexual perspective, grants the new lesbian vampire an air of authenticity that Le Fanu’s Carmilla figure does not attain. As Carmilla could potentially be perceived as the sexist, lesbian fantasy of Irishman Le Fanu, Harris’s characterization of Pam neutralizes some of the potential misconceptions of the former model and allows the archetypal female vampire to be studied in new ways. Finally, the creation of Pam, a new face of lesbian vampirism, opens the door for future writers to continue this representative progression by reworking and reinterpreting the figure henceforth, giving Carmilla the immortal life of literary notoriety that she deserves.

Romero and Post-Romero Zombies as Gothic Antagonists and the Sublime

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Recently, in my Spectral and Sublime Gothic Literature class, we had a discussion in which the majority of people agreed that the gross-out, bloody zombies of modernity could not render a Gothic tale because they lack the element of the sublime which makes them the enemy that is foreboding yet one that you want to embrace you in some way. While on one hand, I do agree that in the traditional sense of the Gothic, the Romero-type zombie does not make one want to come to it and be converted into the path of the zombie (unlike the vampire which can be a very Gothic because they are unapproachable and sublime all at the same time). However, as I watched a marathon of The Walking Dead, I came to a conclusion that more than just the zombies exist as the supernatural, antagonistic elements of the show itself that does produce a Gothic tale of sorts.

By Mark Marek Mark Marek Copyright Mark Marek Photography ©2007 URL: Zombie Walk Picture Gallery – Full Coverage with Video on Alberta Stars (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

To begin to deal with my ideology of the Romero / Post-Romero Zombie Gothic, I think that it is important for me to explain how I see the zombies begin to act as a sublime element within the movies, television shows, and comics in which I feel the Gothic exists rather than the norm of just horror. Whereas the zombies themselves are a representation of horrific / gruesome element of the sublime creature / person within a Gothic novel, they additionally represent the figure of death that comes into play in many Gothic tales. However, this death that they represent is not the beautiful death that one may identify with the Gothic notion of the sublime. Zombies represent a gruesome kind of death or undeath because they are not genuinely alive or undead with all their faculties and personalities about them like a vampire or a ghost, yet (and this is where it gets complicated in my mind) in many zombie movies, novels, etc., there is usually talk of “opting out,” as they call it in The Walking Dead.

While the zombies themselves are not what one would call sublime, this natural death to end human suffering in the zombie filled world takes up this sublimity. The humans themselves by “opting out” or committing suicide, usually from a gunshot to the head, create an air of the sublime in the natural death that does not happen as a result of being bitten or waiting to be bitten (cause let’s fact it… it’s only a matter of time in a zombie filled world). The beauty that natural death represents in this isolated and inhospitable world holds a certain air of that sublime that they want but what they are afraid to get because it is suicide. Moreover, this suicide sublimity also provides a stark contrast to the gruesomeness that is the zombie, walking till either starvation or some outside force takes them down. The need to be truly and definitely dead rises to conflict with the zombies.

Then, the nature of the sublime that exists within the modern zombie movie, television show, novel, etc. becomes a triangulation of sorts from humans to zombies / undeath, from zombie / undeath to natural death, and from natural death to

By Mark Marek Mark Marek Copyright Mark Marek Photography ©2007 URL: Zombie Walk Picture Gallery – Full Coverage with Video on Alberta Stars (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

humans. Thought the zombies themselves do not equate a form of death that can be considered sublime, the full equation of death that they and the natural death paralleling them represent the sublimity of the Gothic. As the concept of gruesome death in the form of the zombies overruns the world in zombie stories, the desire to have a natural death without the possibility of a sub-par undead resurrection plays at the corner of the survivors minds, even before a zombie literally plays with and eats their brains.

Written by uncannynerdyguy

March 8, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Dracula: My Hypothetical Movie Casting

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Today in the Gothic Literature class I’m in, we started our discussion of Dracula by Bram Stoker. While we did the usual discussion of Jonathan Harker’s uselessness, Mina Murray’s man brain, Dracula’s foreignness, and the many ways in which one can read the text, we additionally talked about the four prominent movie adaptations of the book:  Nosferatu (1922), Dracula (1931), Horror of Dracula (1958),and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). However, after listing these movies, we discovered that an adaptation of the novel hasn’t come out in the past 20 years that even tries to be faithful to the original story (there was the ill-fated Dracula 2000 with Gerard Butler… but yeah…). So we were tasked with casting a movie if we got the opportunity to pick anyone to be in our version of said hypothetical movie. Therefore, my list that I am posting below was born. I think that each of the actors that I’ve placed in certain roles would be able to bring a certain truthfulness to the movie that would resound well with the novel itself. Moreover, I know that some of my choices are a little odd, but I feel that each of the people that I picked would something to the characters that would make them memorable in some way. I hope you enjoy thinking about this as much as I did. 🙂

Dracula Cast List

Dracula— Michael Fassbender

Jonathan Harker— James McAvoy

Dr. Seward— David Tennant

Lord Arthur Holmwood— Matthew MacFadyen

Quincy Morris— Robert Downey Jr.

Abraham Van Helsing— Ian McKellen

Lucy Westenra— Rachel McAdams

Mina Harker— Gemma Arterton

Renfield— Andy Serkis

Bride #1— Kiera Knightly

Bride #2— Natalie Portman

Bride #3— Claire Danes

I have my reasons for placing certain people in certain roles. Moreover, I know that some of them could occupy many different roles in the grand scheme of things.

Tale of the Body Thief the Movie, or “Oh God, Please Don’t Let It Be Another Queen of the Damned”

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By Anne Rice [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Today on Anne Rice’s facebook page, she announced that Imagine Studios have gotten the rights and are developing a Tale of the Body Thief (TOBT) movie based on her book first published in 1992. On her page, Rice said, “Nothing makes Lestat happier than making news! Here’s the Hollywood Reporter story on Imagine optioning Tale of the Body Thief for a motion picture, with more names and details.” While I am excited by the prospect of a new vampire movie based upon one of Anne Rice’s books because I love the intricacies of the vampire world, I am additionally apprehensive as a result of Queen of the Damned (2002) starring Aaliyah and Stuart Townsend, which was awful… just awful… especially when compared to the success of Interview with the Vampire with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. However, this movie could see a return to that of the first film with Cruise and Pitt which might be a good thing, but there are somethings that might need to be thought about / changed.

1) The scope of this film will be relatively more focused than that of the book Queen of the Damned (QOTD). While the movie of Queen of the Damned resembled nothing of the book that Anne Rice wrote other than character names… and some chosen events, the book of TOBT takes place with very few characters actually taking part in the full of the action (mainly Lestat, David Talbot and, Raglan James). Moreover, if the adaptation does not lend itself to compression of other novels… whereas in the QOTD, this book and The Vampire Lestat were condensed into one movie that didn’t even reach the two hour mark… please….

2) Whereas QOTD (the book) is filled with intricate subplots and creates a new vampire mythology that the filmmakers didn’t seem to want to deal with and used multiple characters to narrate the complexity of the story (again filmmakers didn’t deal with), TOBT is pretty straightforward in terms of its plot. SPOILERS: Lestat being bogged down with his life… undeadness…. vampiric nature… decides to off himself in the desert,

By Anne Rice [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

which doesn’t work considering he gobbled up a lot of Akasha’s blood (making him as powerful as most of the old ones…). So, he gets an offer from Raglan James to switch bodies for a day… Lestat, being the brat prince that he is, cannot resist the chance of being human and agrees. Long story short, James won’t give back Lestat’s body, and Lestat and David must fight for it to get it back. Pretty easy to follow and streamlined…. one would hope that it would not be hard to plot… all I’m saying…

3) Most of the book deals with human Lestat rather than a passel of vampires. In QOTD, a crap ton of vampires appear due to many circumstances surrounding Lestat’s music, the Queen’s rising, and story time / planning session with Maharet. Thus, it would be difficult to get the characters right considering that by Rice’s third book we know a lot of the characters that are cavorting very well… Also, the additional problem of the vampires themselves and the powers they have institute themselves. In TOBT, however, Lestat is a human most of the time, and David is too. Thus, this should be a moot point… yet, I somehow still believe that it can be screwed up… possibly with a flashy action scene on a freeway in California, involving a car chase with human Lestat and Raglan James in Lestat’s body…. Ugh…

4) A new Lestat would be nice. While Tom Cruise does a serviceable job as the evil, non-complex Lestat from the first movie (i.e. Louis’s perspective of him), I don’t know that he could do the truly complex nature of Lestat as a stand alone character very well. Additionally, I hated Stuart Townsend’s portrayal of Lestat…. I feel that he did not carry the brat prince charm and the overall charisma of the character (this could be because it was a horribly written movie… “You’re a vampire?” line from the goth / punk / glam band member complete with southern twang comes to mind). Maybe we could see someone bring a little class to the role… also remember too that there have to be two Lestats in this film which complicates it… the one real body Lestat and the displaced body Lestat. This adds another level to the difficulty of casting this film… (God help me if I see Johnny Depp put into one of these roles either… I couldn’t stand to see a quirky Lestat with Goth make-up and weird hair… I just couldn’t…). I think that they should cast someone who is naturally blonde too… that’s just a pet peeve of mine…

5) Well, I haven’t really got a five… I’m not going to lie… if this purported film turns out to be anything like the QOTD movie, I might have to hurt someone… yeah… possibly Ron Howard since Imagine is his production company…

So there you have it, I look at this with much apprehension, but I am also hopeful that Lestat will once again get to live big on the theater screen… Hopefully, this reincarnation of Lestat (whenever the film may be released) will be better than the best that we have at this point. I look forward to the film and to Anne’s new book that will come out later this month.

If I Formed My League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

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So, a friend just posted on my facebook wall asking me if I made my own League of Extraordinary Gentlemen using only characters from books (not the comics or movies). Immediately, I asked the question “Can I use villains and they play well with others?” because this is important in forming my group. This simple face can change the usefulness of some characters drastically. So, I suppose I will try to make my group considering that the villains have to work with the heroes for some reason or other…so with that in mind, here I go.

* Sherlock Holmes– With his powerful deductive mind, Holmes would make a good addition to any group’s intelligence

By Sidney Paget(1860-1908) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

factor. He would be able to break down analytical problems and move through them with a speed that others might not have.  He would also be good in a pinch when in a situation where he was fighting because he can break down the most effective route for dealing with people (no, I’m not thinking about the movie here…even though, he does it to an almost preternatural degree).

* Frankenstein’s Monster– I would be making this choice for two reasons. First, the monster would begin to round out the muscle of the group. He is preternaturally strong, agile, and durable, which would make him a good asset. Second, he has a knack for learning and appears to be pretty intelligent himself. So, he could serve a two-fold  position as both the brawn and, potentially, the brains.

* Merlin– Scary powerful sorcerer…need I say more. He can do a lot and help in a tight situation in many ways. Brains and power…

* Muldumarec– A shape-shifting knight from the medieval lai of “Yonec.” His ability to morph into other things would make him the perfect person to infiltration and espionage. He would probably be okay in a fight because of his abilities and his skills as a knight…I’m also talking about him without being killed by his lover’s jealous husband…

By Edward Reginald Frampton (1872-1923) (Démons et Merveilles (E.Brasey)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

* Titania– Another magic user and fae to boot, she would round out the group. Her femininity would help balance out the group of men and would allow her to seduce the opposing forces. Her magical abilities would also be handy in tight situations because she is the queen of the fae. Moreover, she can be quite frightening depending upon the folk tales / literature that she appears in. Her near immortality and invulnerability would also be handy in a lot of situations…

* Pandora– No, I’m not talking about the figure from Greek myth that unleashed pestilence upon the world. Rather, I am referring to the 2000 year old vampire from Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles (this is my guilty pleasure add). Pandora is sexy, provocative, intelligent, and powerful (she waxes philosophical but also rips out a man’s heart to drain it). With her telepathy, she could be the communicator of the group talking to the others mentally. Her pyrokinesis and telekinesis would also make her deadly from afar, and her other vampiric abilities such as immortality, super strength and speed, and near invulnerability would make her quite a force to be reckoned with… she would also play well with the other members of the group (unlike some of Anne Rice’s other characters).

So, there you go…I think that this would be a fairly balanced team of hard-core literary characters. I’ve tried to balance brains and brawn; moreover, I’ve also tried to create a middle ground of characters that can go either way. Overall, I think they would make an interesting group with a diverse array of powers.