How the Dinotopia Fantasy Book Series Saved Me

Breathe Deep, Seek Peace.

I know. I know. It isn’t Harry Potter, or Wheel of Time, or the Lord of the Rings, or the Dresden Files. It’s… dare I say… better?*

This post comes on the coattails of a delightful tweet where a class of students is reading Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, and one student’s reaction to an important part of the book. It warmed my heart so much to watch, and I immediately remembered when I was that age, or younger, and the series of books that hit me in the emotional space.

James Gurney - Design Heard 6

The book series was called Dinotopia, written in 1992 by James Gurney, surrounding a fictional island in the 1800’s where intelligent dinosaurs and people coexisted peacefully. The series began with three books that artfully depicted delicious, crisp scenes reminiscent of 1950’s art, da Vinci-esque machinery, and vibrant clothes, all surrounding a cast that felt almost small-town in nature; salt-of-the-earth folks. The colorful books won Hugo awards, and were apparently super successful.

And, I didn’t own either of the three of them. I read the first two, piecemeal, at Waldenbooks (rest its soul) because they were too expensive for me to buy. I randomly came across them at friends’ houses, but was too uncomfortable mentioning it because it was fantasy, and fantasy was fake.

Continue reading

Advertisements

On Black Panther and Symbols

pt_blackpanther_characterposter_mbaku_689650c4

M’Baku. My favorite character.

 

Warning: there are a few spoilers ahead. Marked out for your easy identification.

Black Panther, as the rest of the world already knows, was brilliant. I had the good fortune of seeing it in the theater last night, and while it wasn’t a perfect movie (does every superhero movie require a BvS-style “Martha” moment? T’challa could have just said, Nope. I don’t recognize Killmonger as having a stake to the throne. Lock him up as an outsider.), it had so much awesome going for it, I’ll put it in my top two Marvel superhero movies EVER, and within the top five superhero movies ever (Behind Dark Knight, Batman v Superman, Blade, and Hellboy).

I feel a portion of what made Black Panther so successful was the importance of symbol-use, symbol-sets, and individual identity, and I’m going to talk a little about that in this post. Also, Claw had one of the greatest laugh moments in super villain history, and it was perfect.

Continue reading

I Tiptoe Around (Some) Empowered Women in Literature and TV

This semester, I’ve been studying American Indian Survivance Discourse. I’ve been studying code-switching and the importance of diversity in voice through minority writing. I’ve been studying transgender literature. Fairy tale literature. LGBQ literature. It’s beautiful.

Most recently, I’ve been studying the poet Adrienne Rich. While all the subjects I put in my head this semester has had an impact on me, to varying degrees, Rich never ceases to explode my thought. Boom. And the kicker is, I studied her seven years ago with similar effect. Her insights are mind-curling, deep and twisting and nearly self-aware. And she made sense, on Thursday, in a way that fit something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

She said that for her to be a truly independent woman writer, she had to stop using men’s sensibilities and styles while writing.

Continue reading

Inception is Strangely Lovecraftian in Design

inceptedInception is the type of movie where people walk away scratching their heads. Most people. I watched it when it first came out, enjoyed it for what it was, and moved on. (My brother, on the other hand, wasn’t such a fan.) It’s a “cerebral” thriller where the environment itself tells as much (or more) of the story as the characters. The premise surrounds a man who can extract information from another person’s subconscious via a cocktail of drugs and a carefully constructed “dream.” He brings a “Get Shorty” group of people in with him where they directly talk to the dreamer’s mind and find information, therefore performing an “extraction.” While the possibilities for creative enterprise is boundless, the movie pares all creative deviation to the story at hand, which is great for the masses and thus made for a somewhat accessible movie. While I understand why, the possibilities were literally endless for subject matter.

The content, on the other hand, is not only a throwback to “Weird Fiction” stories from the early 20th century, but also pays direct homage to the writer H.P. Lovecraft via dialogue and imagery. I watched the movie a second time yesterday, and was surprised by the correlation.

Continue reading

Writing Retreat: or, How to Avoid Writing

This week marks the first time I actively took a break from my 8-630 job to pursue writing. And, as expected, I spent most of that time putzing around, re-reading old works to get caught up to where I COULD write, and essentially removing myself from the world to continue doing what I do worst. Continue reading

Let’s Talk About Heaven, a Trope

I’m an avid follower of the great metaphoricals, the bold believers. A follower of fantasists that, through their writing, create reality in strange and unique ways. Dante is one. Milton is another. Both wrote about hell, the loss of earth, and heaven. Both are immortalized as non-canonical influences to our religious perspectives.

When someone says, “Tell me of Satan,” most people talk about red horns and tail, cunning and beautiful and exotic and evil. This perspective didn’t exist before Milton’s Paradise Lost. Yet it is rarely attributed to the writer. It is assumed, somewhere in the Bible, a description exists to vitalize this image. It isn’t true. Most divells in pre-Milton literature were impish things, grotesqueries, like goblins or bats.

Image taken from the Codex Gigas, an illustrated "all-in-one" bible complete with spells and incantations to ward off evil. Written sometime in the 12th Century by a monk.

Image taken from the Codex Gigas, an illustrated “all-in-one” bible complete with spells and incantations to ward off evil. Written sometime in the 12th Century by a monk.

But this post isn’t about hell. It’s about a much more difficult subject to write well: heaven.

Continue reading