Pulp with Purpose

Now that I’m back to writing fiction regularly, I’ve had the opportunity to think over what I’m actually trying to achieve with it, and I’ve come up with a nice succinct little phrase that I think sums it up perfectly:

Pulp with purpose.

Seesha Avallen, Elven RunnerNow let me ruin the brevity of that by verbosely explaining what precisely that means.

It means that I must never lose sight of the fact that I am an entertainer first and foremost. My books and stories are meant to be fun, and if the reader isn’t enjoying themselves, I haven’t done my job.

It means that I embrace colourful settings, full of magic and power, wonder and terror; larger than life, inspiring heroes; and intense, unabashedly unrealistic action.

Because reality is boring, and the world doesn’t need anymore stories where everything is brown and everyone is a jerk.

But it also means that I understand the best stories are those that not only entertain, but also uplift, educate, and enlighten. It means that what I write must be a reflection of my values, and that I must always re-examine those values to ensure that they’re right ones. It means my stories have to say something.

It means, also, that I understand that representation matters, and that as many as people as possible should feel welcome and see themselves reflected in the worlds I have created.

Above all, it means that I seek the balance between those two forces. The stories that I tell have to be both escapism and carry some deeper value. If I neglect either angle, I will fail. If my stories have no message, then I’ve betrayed my values. If they’re not fun to read, no one will bother with them.

That’s the ideal, anyway, but of course I can’t claim that I have always or will always perfectly live up to it. I definitely haven’t done a great job walking the walk when it comes to representation, for example, though I am working to improve that.

If nothing else, it gives me a clear vision of what the goal is.

And a good slogan.

I like slogans.

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A Fly on the Wall to the Save Dark Matter Campaign

As there so often is when a good sci-fi show is cut down too soon, there is of course a fan campaign to try to save Dark Matter.

A promotional image for Dark Matter season threeThis has been a bizarre thing for me to watch, stirring up odd and vaguely nostalgic feelings. As longtime readers may remember, I was very heavily active in the campaign to save Star Trek: Enterprise for many years, until it became glaringly obvious that the last hope was gone.

For that reason, I haven’t been able to bring myself to be too heavily involved in Dark Matter’s campaign. My days of crusading for sci-fi TV are behind me, I think. I simply don’t have the heart for it anymore.

But I have been following the campaign here and there. Most of the efforts seem to be focused on Twitter, which does bring out my inner curmudgeon a little bit. “Back in my day, we had to track down the email addresses of CBS executives and send them personally written letters. Uphill! In the snow! Both ways! And we liked it! Now all you have to do is use a bloody hashtag?!?”

But in all seriousness, I do wish them the best. I’d love to see Dark Matter survive for another season or two, or at least get a mini-series to wrap up the story as happened with Continuum.

It does seem the campaign has a lot of momentum, so they’ve got that going for them. They’ve even received support from a number of media figures. The one that really surprised me is that Ed the Sock has apparently been quite outspoken in Dark Matter’s support. Did not see that coming.

Five being badass. Again.But then again he has been championing the cause of Canadian TV for a while now, and he’s always had an interest in nerdy stuff, so I guess it isn’t too strange now that I think about it.

If you’re not Canadian, Ed the Sock is… Actually I have no idea how to explain Ed the Sock. You’re on your own there.

The best place for updates seems to be Joseph Mallozzi’s blog, and if his most recent post is to be believed, today will probably be the day we know for certain whether the Raza will rise again or be silenced forever.

I’m expecting bad news, but I hope to be wrong about that. It’s a show that deserves to continue.

I’ve been thinking about Dark Matter a lot over the past couple weeks, and while it’s easy to write it off as a simple but fun action-adventure, I can’t escape the feeling there is something special about this show.

For one thing, while Dark Matter doesn’t go out of its way to beat the drum of diversity the way, say, Star Trek does, the fact is you’ve got a show with a multi-racial cast of characters with a more or less even gender split led by a badass queer woman. That’s pretty impressive when you think about it.

Left to right: Alex Mallari Jr. (Four), Roger Cross (Six), Anthony Lemke (Three), and Melissa O'Neill (Two)And of course, the characters are all excellent, displaying some real sophistication to the writing that belies the show’s pulp feel. As always, being I’m a dude you can take my view on such things with a grain of salt, but I think Two does a great job of being a strong female character without being written as a “strong female character,” if you get my drift.

The thing I really about Two is not so much that she’s the leader, but why she’s the leader. She just sort of naturally assumed that position through the sheer force of personality. She’s a natural born leader. It’s rare for a show to be able to sell that concept entirely by showing and not telling, and far rarer still for that kind of role to be given to a woman.

And of course Five is simply a triumph, for all the reasons I’ve enumerated whenever I’ve gushed over her in my various episode reviews. It’s so rare that the geeky, smart characters get to play the hero every bit as much as the fighters. That deserves so much respect.

The others are excellent, too. Really the cast doesn’t have a weak link. In the past I might have said Three, but after the latest season even he’s wormed his way into my heart. But Two and Five are the ones who deserve the most recognition, in my view.

So yes, I hope against hope that Dark Matter will somehow survive.