Saturday, April 06, 2013

A-to-Z Challenge Day 6: The Letter F


Randall Flint
The Dark Side of Space
Space Corps Book 1
The Second Coming
Space Corps Book 6

As you'll recall from the Caspers, I love a generational feel.  Randall Flint was an early attempt on my part for that element in the Space Corps saga.  He's Jacques Mendez' mentor (Mendez is the central character in The Dark Side of Space), but his role evolves from there.  When it came to the continuity-hopping The Second Coming, I saw it as an opportunity to see Flint in action in his prime.  In order for me to feel like I knew what was really going on in the complete saga, it was necessary to know what was going on around the specific points that I had originally begun with.  It's never enough to have a story.  If the author doesn't know the story better than the reader, then the reader will get the sense that there's very little substance to the story.  Sometimes readers are perfectly okay with that.  Sometimes it's just about an escape.  And yet even escapist material should have a little meat to it.  And then it's not just enough to plug in a bunch of additional stories.  They have to have meaning.  Flint is a product of a simpler time.  His career begins when there isn't much conflict with the Danab, when humans are free to assert their role in the Space Corps.  Actually, come to think of it, calling it the Space Corps saga maybe isn't enough.  I haven't even properly conveyed that a large theme in the saga is humanity's role in the Corps.  Humanity isn't central to the Corps.  Humans didn't invent the Corps.  They came later.  So there are stories in the saga that are all about the arc humanity takes within the greater galactic community.  Flint is one of the few to experience an unabashedly positive period.  And then things get worse.  The Danab become antagonistic again.  Flint's still there.  He attempts to guide the next generation, but is he really prepared for such a role?  So that's something that can be done when you're looking at the broader scope of things.

Franz Ferdinand
Yoshimi and the Assassins Guild
Yoshimi Trilogy Volume 2

There's a clever moment in the Thomas Pynchon book (massive book) Against the Day where Franz Ferdinand appears.  You know Franz.  No, not the rock band.  The archduke whose assassination kicked off WWI.  Pynchon doesn't treat him as some kind of martyr.  He treats him like a man.  A man who liked to have fun.  It was a complete revelation to me.  (I don't believe I'd yet read Jerome Charyn.  Because Jerome Charyn does that to everyone.)  It was an a-ha moment.  Franz appears in the Yoshimi Trilogy in much the way Princess Diana does, as a reference, and I'm directly referencing the effect of learning about the man rather than the moment, which is crucial to how I approach the warrior orphan's whole story.  The funny thing is, he's referenced in an entire section that's a pastiche on another book entirely.  I adore 2666, another massive book.  It's the late Roberto Bolano's masterpiece.  I don't just adore it.  It's my bible as literature goes.  It's the template by which I judge all other literature.  It's the best book I've ever read, and I don't expect it to be challenged anytime soon.  It's a tale of interlocking narratives, all centering on the real-life series of gruesome murders in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which itself exists in a crossroads, on the border next to America.  When I say this section is a pastiche, it's exactly the story of 2666, condensed and with names altered, but it's exactly Bolano's masterpiece.  It's not so much my attempt to steal his work so much as make an entry point for anyone who hasn't yet experienced it.  If someone reads my version, I hope they then read his version.  Mine is a poor imitation, yet it's also the point where the Yoshimi Trilogy becomes something very much different from my version of a young adult adventure.  In a lot of ways, it proves how poor everything else is around it.  It's part of the sequence I'm most proud of, Yoshimi's international adventures, but the story doesn't really match that quality again until the finale in the last volume.  Yes, I'm offering my own criticism of my own work, in something that's blatantly designed to trick people into caring about it.  But yeah.  Franz Ferdinand.

***

The Red Sox won again!  New manager John Farrell matched up against his former Blue Jays for the first time.  And a few days ago I referenced the bright prospect of Jose Iglesias.  Apparently he's gotten himself banged up.  All good hopes to him.

Speaking of homecomings, the Angels fell to the Rangers, Josh Hamilton's former team.  Mike Trout now stands at 5 and 19, making it a .263 batting average.  Albert Pujols is still waiting for his break.

The A's won.  I should mention that Coco Crisp is one of the team's key players.  He briefly played for the Red Sox, though we'll always remember him fondly.  Pitcher Dan Straily fanned eleven Astros.

The Cardinals, my lone National League team, lost.  The Giants were behind pitcher Barry Zito, a former A's ace.

10 comments:

Spacerguy said...

I reckon Franz Ferdinand can't be doing too badly having sold 3 million albums in 2009.

Al Diaz said...

My history lessons are rusty but Franz Ferdinand wasn't related to the Austrian Emperor?

Kate OMara said...

I like strong stories too. It's got to have a plot, not just every day blah blah no point. Beginning, middle & end works well too. :)

The Armchair Squid said...

Even escapist literature must have some meat - fully agree. The escape has to be worthwhile, after all.

Maurice Mitchell said...

You can always tell when the author is making up the back story as they go Tony.

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson said...

Enjoyed the column - bet you can guess one reason why.

Jay Noel said...

Don't get me started on Pujols (sorry, I'm still a bitter St. Louisan).

Everytime I see Coco Crip's name, I have to laugh.

Tony Laplume said...

Spacerguy, the band is always doing well!

Al, pretty sure. He's was the Paris Hilton of his day.

Kate, strong stories are my bread and butter as a reader.

Squid, absolutely. When I write a review, and it seems to be a criticism, my real point is "where's the beef?"

Maurice, absolutely. It's fine, and maybe sometimes even interesting, but it's also...pointless. Unless they then work from there.

Secret Life (a book people should read), of course! Saw the tweet, too!

Jay, my brother has made it clear to me that Pujols can be spoken of in terms other than awe. The way I saw it, he was free to leave the Cardinals after La Russa retired. It'd be like Tom Brady without Bill Belichick. And yes, Coco Crisp's name is awesome! But he's also a great ballplayer!

David List said...

I had no idea who Franz Ferdinand was before reading this! Crazy that I gave a shout out to the band :)
Never heard of 2666 but you certainly give it a good review... I may have to seek it out

Tony Laplume said...

You can and you will seek out 2666.

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