Quick health update, gang. As you may or may not be aware, I’ve been experiencing some severe headaches that have basically shut me down cold. The neurologist thinks it’s a nerve over my eye. The good news is that I had an MRI and my brain looks good. Which is nice, since I try to use my brain nearly every day. And while I have a few more tests coming up, the pain has subsided as I’ve taken to exercising, eating regularly, and just generally taking better care of myself. Writing, like many jobs these days, is a sedentary profession. It’s easy to spend all day just sitting in a chair, staring at a computer screen. Heck, even when goofing off, I don’t have to get up. So I’m mindful of periods of inactivity, and it seems to have fixed the problem. So hopefully, it was just my body telling me to stop sitting so much. I’ll keep you updated.
Oh, and that Mack Megaton short story I promised, I haven’t forgotten it. But these last few weeks have thrown me a bit behind schedule and Mack has taken a backseat. But he’s coming. I swear.
And I’m back to my regular blog schedule. So let’s get to it.
I think I’ve grown to hate irony. Or rather, the hipster version of it. Probably because so many things I love are deemed silly and dumb and only worthy of ironic appreciation.
The things I love, the stories I enjoy, they come from a sincere, honest place. It doesn’t matter if it’s the globetrotting adventures of Scrooge McDuck or the larger-than-life battles of a superheroic god of thunder, these stories always work best for me when they don’t wink at the audience.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of dark and gritty stories for their own sake. I can’t stand most modern superhero comics because most of them go out of the way to remind me that this is serious business. DC’s recent relaunch seemed to miss a great opportunity to start fresh. Instead, we get more of the same blood and gore and mature-content that has been the bane of comic book superheroes since the 90’s. I don’t particularly care for Batman stories were people are tortured to death and where faces are cut off. But that’s not going away anytime soon, I guess.
On the other hand, I’m not a fan of when a writer apologies for the weirdness of a story. I prefer it when a story is presented from a sincere place, even when it is bizarre. Whether it’s Kung Fu Panda, Tangled, or The Incredibles, I much prefer my fantasy to be absurd without irony.
Often my own books get confused with a hipster attitude, as if I don’t take them seriously because of their subject matter. But I do. I care about the characters and the stories. My next book, Emperor Mollusk Versus The Sinister Brain has many of the hallmarks of hipster irony. It’s hero is a space squid supervillain. It takes place in a universe of superscience and grand adventure. And Emperor Mollusk is the embodiment of the brilliant, nearly infallible adventurer who populated classic pulp stories. Except that he only weighs about ten pounds and doesn’t have a spine. But otherwise, he’s just Doc Savage with a more nefarious backstory, more or less.
But this isn’t ironic. It’s an intentional throwback to an age of fantasy when every planet seemed like it was inhabited, when lost civilizations covered the Earth, and when the idea of a hidden island filled with mutant dinosaurs seemed cool, not silly. My inspiration was every classic story where the Martians invade or where some intrepid explorer goes to the center of the planet. It’s a world of secret assassin guilds and nefarious plots, where every corner of the universe is filled with weird adventure.
Of course, I’m sure many will find it silly. But I care about Emperor and his universe. And, at least on my end, there’s nothing ironic about it.
I have to believe there’s a middle ground between irony and unpleasant. I don’t think a story needs to brandish a smirk like a shield or drown in maudlin dreariness. A story can be crazy, bizarre, and downright weird without being stupid. A space squid can fight a disembodied brain for the fate of the galaxy, and it can be both fun and sincere. I’d like to think so.
This always comes up because it’s something I struggle with. Not just in my writing, but in so many things I love. And the battle for the soul of weird fiction is far from over. But if I had my way, there’d be a lot less irony, a lot less blood, and a whole heck of a lot more sincerity.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,