Sunday, July 27

This is response to gio's observation in the comments section of the previous post, that Heroes Die was published before Survivor hit the air (the comment presumably inspired by Del Rey's cover copy for Caine Black Knife, which emphasizes the Reality TV aspect of the Adventures Unlimited Studio system.)

This is a instance of life imitating art, I think. The inspiration for the Studio system in the Overworld novels was not reality TV, but instead role-playing games and regular old action movies and TV shows . . .

It probably, as much as anything else, was the result of a doink! moment I had while watching an episode of the old TV action series THE EQUALIZER (in which Edward Woodward played a retired covert ops guy, trying to atone for his violent past by helping out people in trouble).

Somewhere in the middle of the second season, I realized this particular Good Guy hero would shoot, stab, blow up, defenestrate or otherwise kill two or three Bad Guys in nearly every episode. So I'm sitting there watching this show, and it suddenly strikes me that this particular hero had killed something like fifty men in less than a year -- !

How does he fucking SLEEP?

Which got me thinking about the disposable victims who are a staple of every action movie from The Public Enemy through James Bond on up to the present day -- not to mention the hordes of hapless enemies cheerfully dispatched by Dungeons & Dragons player characters -- and how much fun it is to watch the extras die (or, in the RPGs, to pretend to be killing them ourselves).

So I wasn't really thinking in terms of Reality TV as much as I was Just Plain Reality . . . including the reality of human nature. I just wanted to think about what it'd be like if the heroes and villains and disposable extras were all real people . . .

I also, as a number of people around here already know, was working on a personal theory of character in literature -- that readers don't much care whether your hero is likeable, or admirable, or even a tolerably decent human being. That people don't identify so much with a character as with the character's struggle. I wanted to find out, so I cast as my protagonist a chronically depressed thug who kills people for other people's amusement.

Then I discovered I liked the guy.


Joe said...

On an unrelated note... looks like we're about to find out if Facebook is ready for a Matt Stover group.

Jim said...

I liked him too.

I guess we all get to wonder what that says about us.

steve said...

Thanks for posting this, I really enjoy the insight into some of the processes that made the Caine novels come to life, as it were.

Still anxiously awaiting Black Knife, and hoping you will do a book signing tour somewhere in or around New England.

Gio said...

Thanks for the comments, Matt.

I pointed out that Survivor factoid because it shows that your Studio system idea was inspired by something preceding the reality TV craze. Your EQUALIZER thoughts remind me of the "Death Star contractor" dialogue from Clerks.

On a different note, as much as I've wanted to see Heroes Die on the big screen, I think the intricate plotlines would work better as an HBO/Showtime miniseries format. Along with your screenplay writing, have you ever considered pitching it as a TV project?

Hell, at this point, I'd settle for some SimRiver action!

Chris said...

"Then I discovered I liked the guy."

... and so does everyone else.

Tim said...

I can only imagine how different Caine would have turned out if you'd been inspird by MacGyver instead.

Aud8tius said...


You like The Equalizer!! I cut my teeth writing fan fic for that!!

*dies laughing*

Did you know they're supposed to be making a movie version? Ohhhh, man, is that going to stink.

You like The Equalizer! This is so cool.

*composes self*

I'm OK now. Really.

Oh, by the way, the character didn't sleep at night. That was the whole basis of the show...the guilt. (And what got women mailing Edward Woodward their underwear, too. Women love that suffering hero thing.)