Paul Krugman (dimly) remembers an essay about Soviet SF:
... most science fiction is about one of two thoughts: “if only”, or “if this goes on”. Both were subversive, from the Soviet point of view: the first implied that things could be better, the second that there was something wrong with the way things are. So stories had to be written about “if only this goes on”, extolling the wonders of being wonderful Soviets.
Emphasis mine for clarity (I missed the point myself the first time). He is apparently mangling somewhat his memory of Isaac Asimov's introduction to a collection of Soviet SF which I read myself as a kid when I was about eleven or twelve.Read more
Zal Batmanglij, director of the new Sound of my Voice (among others), has a beautiful metaphor for the creative process as it applies to filmmaking.
I think that filmmaking is like digging more than anything else, and it starts with Brit and I. We start digging, we see the shape of something, the outline, the top of something, and that keeps us going. Then the cinematographer comes and he picks up a shovel, and the production designer and the costume designer and then the actors come. In both SOUND OF MY VOICE and THE EAST, we’ve been extremely lucky, so Patricia Clarkson comes and she picks up a shovel. Ellen Page comes and she picks up a shovel, and then Skarsgard comes and picks up two shovels, and by the end of it we are all sweaty and tired, and we’ve uncovered something and we spend most of our energy doing he digging, so you don’t really have time to worry about budgets and constraints and “I wish I had that. I wish I had this.”
This is completely consistent with my own observations: the creative process is more akin to archaeology than architecture. It's less a matter of building something than unearthing something, one jagged piece at a time.
I managed to sneak away from my desk — okay, I was dragged away — and see The Avengers the other day. In deference to all those who have not yet seen it, I won't discuss it in spoileriffic detail. Rather, I'll discuss a few things that the mere fact of the movie brought to mind.
The first is something that was brought up by, of all people, Ross Douthat of the New York Times (the last person I would have ever expected to weigh in on this issue). He noted that the success of something like The Avengers means it is now that much harder for anything not a "property" to get made in Hollywood. I agree, up to a point: it's not possible to spend $150-200 million on something that isn't a proven property, because Hollywood executives were not born yesterday and are not about to blow that much money on something that comes entirely out of the blue. (Cf.: John Carter.)Read more
A person who can’t fathom why the public fell in love with Lisbeth Salander or Edward Cullen is probably not going to be able to write something they’ll like just as much. Whiling away a couple of summer afternoons reading a trashy novel is a harmless way of wasting time. But writing a book even you wouldn’t want to read? That’s just killing it.
There's some good meat in this article, but the presumptions at the end are ludicrous.Read more