Happy Halloween everybody!
Arriving on Spacedock 19 today is author Michael Offutt. He writes speculative fiction books that have science fiction, GLBT, and paranormal elements. His first book, Slipstream has received some critical acclaim and was published by Double Dragon in the spring. The sequel, Oculus is slated to be published in 2013. He has one brother, no pets, and a few roots that keep his tree of life sufficiently watered. By day, he works for the State of Utah as a Technical Specialist. By night, he watches lots of t.v., writes, draws, and sometimes dreams of chocolate.
MP: Wow, it looks like he has Gozilla on a leash. I love giant, man-eating reptiles, but maybe not this up-close and personal.
MO: “RUN IT’S GODZILLA. At least it looks like it’s Godzilla, but due to international copyright laws–it’s not. STILL! WE SHOULD RUN LIKE IT IS GODZILLA! Though it isn’t. AAAAAHHH!”
But who wouldn’t want to have a Japanese Kaiju on a leash, no? King Ghidorah, Godzilla, Mothra, and all those “strange beasts” are what got me fascinated with science fiction as a kid. And Japanese Kaiju give all writers one valuable lesson: not everything that’s cool has to make sense. I think people could embrace this more and just have fun with a story and not care so much about the physics or the why or the how. That’s why I think Pacific Rim by Guillermo del Toro is going to be such a huge hit next year. I’m so excited I could scream like a Japanese school girl at a Backstreet Boys reunion concert. I brought along a movie for you to watch. It’s called War of the Gargantuas. It has everything that Twilight wasn’t.
MP: Twilight is another whole level of scary.
I do love a fun movie, especially with monsters. Gamera is among my favorites. War of the Gargantuas looks fantastic. My type of flick. The sheriff in Eureka often screamed like that. A show that was fun and physicsie. Hmm, scary English there.
MO: Speaking of physics…when I heard they found the Higgs Boson particle I thought “Didn’t they already find that?” And then I remembered, “OH, that was in a town called Eureka.” :) In just thinking of great shows that ended too early, I can’t help but seeing Joss Whedon’s face floating there and thinking “How cool would Eureka and Avengers fan fics be?” Lulz. Admittedly, Eureka ended well and Joss’ Firefly really got cut off by Fox, so I make the comparison loosely. “Fan Fiction” is almost it’s own genre. And before you go throwing rotten fruit for me with even the suggestion that the world of writing needs one more genre to add to the million that are already there, consider that Kaiju (怪獣, kaijou) is a Japanese word that means “strange beast,” but is often translated in English as “monster”, and specifically, it is used to refer to a GENRE of Tokusatsu Entertainment.
So why do we have genres? As a caveat to the business, genres are used quite effectively by publishers to market. But, there is a more profound reason for their existence. If there was only one set type of book or novel, then the reading world would be extremely dull and boring. Could you imagine the world with only one color? Or maybe only one type of car? Variety (not garlic) is the spice of life. And what do we get from a kaiju movie? Not variety as it’s a pretty standard formula: An absurd plot, guys in rubber monster suits annihilating a miniature city, crazy amphibian mutants, goofy sound effects from the 60’s, explosions, and hot Asian girls. I think that’s going to appeal to the immature child that exists in most men (and some women).
So why do I think Pacific Rim by Guillermo del Toro is going to be amazing, or why DON’T I THINK it will tank the same as that awful Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick? Because del Toro is going to do SOMETHING DIFFERENT with this genre that has grown “tired” like old vegetables. He’s going to bust through genre barriers. From his interview printed on io9: 1) The audience is going to be tossed into the slugfest years after it’s been raging so there’s no “buildup” which makes the first half of a kaiju movie boring, 2) they are working on world-building through a graphic novel. It’s a grimy “dystopian” world made so by the ongoing conflict, 3) del Toro is a marine biologist, so he’s making the kaiju as realistic as possible (which shies away from the formula of absurdity). So we have the kaiju genre, the dystopian genre, and the hard science fiction genre all clashing.
I think that busting through genres is risky, but I don’t really care to read stories anymore that don’t take any risks. I don’t want “safe” because that just means “boring.” And to that end, it’s what I’ve tried to do. One book blogger who reviewed “Slipstream” said, “What an odd mix of genres…” and went on to say that she liked the book but that she was unprepared for the clash. I have a young protagonist who is gay (so is this a gay book? or is this young adult?) in a dystopian world (is this dystopian or post-apocalyptic?) who ends up being an archangel (is this a paranormal urban fantasy?) who travels from Earth to a mirror universe ruled by a god-like machine (is this science fiction?). I wrote it with hard science-fiction in mind and some readers loved that saying it made it more realistic while others said all the hard science bludgeoned their minds into putty. In many ways, “Slipstream” is the written form of a kaiju and is very much a “strange beast” and will solicit many reactions from readers.
MP: Now I have a title for your interview… Monster Genres. :) I think people who know me are tired of hearing me say how much I mourn Firefly. I’ve been saying since it went off the air ten years ago.
I like different and have finally been able to start Slipstream. It’s been calling to me like a Siren. Reaction is what a writer should strive for. What mash up did you go for in your next book?
MO: I signed the contract for Oculus in September (that’s the sequel to Slipstream). My monster mash up includes demons that can go invisible at will (they look pretty horrific being bio-mechanical), a huge demon prince by the name of Belial (think about 25 feet tall), a soldier who is unkillable because he is made of dust, a perverted serial killer, and people who are turned into brain slaves by evil minions bent on destroying the world. Oculus is a pretty dark novel, but I think people will like it more because the setting is so real (taking place at Cornell University). Cherie Reich (my editor) said she loved it more than Slipstream and had a difficult time editing the last third of it because she kept wanting to read and not edit. My beta readers gave me accolades that I absolutely nailed the climax of the book, and I’m really proud of that because I think epic climaxes are extremely difficult (and I was going for epic because I dislike small stories).
If people would like to explore the world of Slipstream without a huge commitment, they can download my short story The Insanity of Zero free from smashwords (link below). It’s thirteen pages long and takes 10 minutes to read. At the end of it, you can pretty much make a clear decision as to whether or not the novel is something you’d enjoy or not. In the short story, I go straight from monsters to a god with transparent skin who unleashes glass locusts upon the world.
In short, Oculus is one “strange beast.”
MP: Fantastic! Both Oculus and the free read. A friend of mine recently sent me 50 sci-fi movies on dvd. Did you know there’s a movie called Slipstream?
MO: LOL Only because Alex brought it up on his blog when he helped me with my blog tour back in May. Honestly, I know the title of my book is unoriginal, but I had a really hard time coming up with one. At least it has a title now instead of “New Project 1” which is what it used to be called on my flash drive. But making titles has gotten easier. I know the third book is going to be called “Caledfwlch”, the fourth is called “Black Tower”, and the fifth is called “Eden.”
MP: I doubt the movie with your namesake is very good. Nothing can match the epicness of Starcrash. If you haven’t seen it, you should. If you don’t laugh, you’re not alive.
Anyway, Slipstream is a great title, and I’m certain your story would make a much better movie. It’d be awesome one of these days to attend opening day of one of our writer friends’ books turned film.
MO: LOL. I will have to check out Starcrash. In parting, I know many people think Japanese Kaiju movies are terrible. And, this may be true. But, their poster art is stunning. Here’s an example from a Godzilla series that I brought for you to show everyone. But, I’m a fan of really colorful art. Mary, thanks for having me, and I hope you weren’t completely in love with that “to scale” display model of Spacedock 19 you had in the main room. I love all the detail on it, but I think my pet Godzilla has stomped all over it. Kaiju are so hard to house train and when they see little buildings like that, they just have to step on them or knock them over with their tails.
MP: Well, if it had to go, it might as well be by a giant reptile. I have a real soft spot for them.
Jordan Pendragon is crazy good at fixing situations that have gone bad. It’s a talent prized by his high school ice hockey team. However, when a car accident puts Jordan in the hospital, he wakes up with more than just an amazing slapshot in his toolbox. Jordan can manipulate space-time and in just a few weeks, he’ll depend on it to save his life.
Book 1 of A Crisis of Two Worlds.
AMAZON KINDLE- $4.99 AMAZON UK – £2.84
AMAZON PAPERBACK – $16.42
KOBO – $4.99
NOOK – $5.15
DOUBLE DRAGON PUBLISHING – $5.99
APPLE I-BOOKS – $4.99
Free Read! The Insanity of Zero
Michael has a free read out on Smashwords.
The Insanity of Zero
When an unforeseen event brings about the end of the world, a powerful artificial intelligence is born. Its task: save humanity from extinction. To understand those it must rescue, the computer decides to assimilate human emotions. But what happens when an omnipotent computer begins to fear its own death?
Michael Offutt writes speculative fiction books that have science fiction, GLBT, and paranormal elements. His first book, “Slipstream” has received some critical acclaim and was published by Double Dragon in the spring. The sequel, “Oculus” is slated to be published in 2013. He has one brother, no pets, and a few roots that keep his tree of life sufficiently watered. By day, he works for the State of Utah as a Technical Specialist. By night, he watches lots of t.v., writes, draws, and sometimes dreams of chocolate.
Michael Offutt graduated from the University of Idaho in 1994 with a Bachelor’s degree in English.
Visit him at his blog. Michael Offutt
What do you think of monster genres?