Tuesday, July 29

Speaking of covers:

Check this out

I can only admire the dedication of some of Caine's fans. I sent this on to my editor, too, in case he really wanted to put a new cover on HD but just couldn't come up with sufficient inspiration.

Still haven't heard about the Blade of Tyshalle reprint; my editor was out at ComiCon, and was supposed to noodzh his boss during booth hours out there, but he's been back a couple days at least and I still don't have an answer. So it doesn't look entirely promising right now (though of course there are a multiplicity of potential reasons he might not have emailed; I haven't heard from him at all, so here's hoping all's well with him . . .).

Monday, July 28


Anyone who wants to read the stories I would have written if Caine had been inspired by MacGyver can just go ahead and pick up Daniel Keys Moran's Trent stories (start with EMERALD EYES, which isn't actually a Trent book but introduces the character, and go on through "The Star" and THE LONG RUN and THE LAST DANCER).

The best way I can describe Trent is that he springs from the tradition of Simon Templar (that would be the Saint, for you heathens out there) and Robin Hood -- the lone thief/freedom fighter/general do-gooder -- but who finds himself facing dilemmas that really challenge his moral convictions.

I know you meant that comment as a joke, but I can't pass up the chance to plug Dan's stuff. Trent is one of the few SFF characters I've come across who deserves broader exposure even more than Caine does.

Gio --

I'd love to see Caine come to whatever screen might be available, large or small; he is, after all, designed as an action-movie star (more or less). The aforementioned Dan Moran, by no coincidence at all, has a Caine treatment out there. There's another friend of mine named Moe Suleiman who's been trying to pull together a Heroes Die animé series. My own endeavors into screenwriting won't be Caine (unless I'm just collaborating with Dan, or somebody like him: somebody with some perspective, not to mention experience and actual screen credits).

But Caine doesn't have any traction in Hollywood. He's just not famous enough.


Caine has another issue, too: he's not a superhero.

Sure, he does superheroic things, but the defining characteristic of the superhero is that he (or she) is essentially unmarked by his adventures. Emotional scars are largely relegated to origin stories; each new adventure begins afresh. And I'm not talking strictly about comic-book underwear-on-the-outside types. James Bond is a perfect example, as is Indiana Jones. Even (most) long-running detectives.

To get a look at what happens when the scars actually accumulate, check out John D. MacDonald's Travis Magee books. They are as compartmentalized as the Bond novels, but there is just enough carry-over that each book finds Travis a little older, more tired, more cynical, less resilient . . .

These are brilliant stories, among the best hard-boiled detective stories ever written. But nobody's ever made a really successful Travis Magee movie (there was a TV show in the 70s, but it kinda stunk), because a lot of Travis' power as a character depends on the feel of that long and painful history.

The Acts of Caine takes this all a bit further. They're not self-contained at all, though each is its own tale. I think of the AoC as a single biographical series; each book is an episode that's only part of the story-arc of Hari Michaelson's life.

As Hari himself puts it, in the first chapter of Caine Black Knife:


Everything I've ever done pursues me. Like a doppleganger, a fetch, my past creeps up behind and strangles me in my sleep. When hunted by a monster in your dreams, you save yourself by facing the monster and demanding its name. In learning the monster's name you rob it of the power to haunt you. But I was awake. And anyway I already knew my monster's name.
It was Caine.

Somebody may very well be able to capture Caine in a movie or TV show . . . but I don't know how. And even if the script managed, it would still take a hell of a fine actor to pull it off.

Anybody got Robert Downey Jr's email address?

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.

Friday, July 25

Sign your comments, people. Even if you don't want to log in, you can put your name (or a name) at the bottom.

I sign everything I write, and I require that commenters here do the same. I know some of you folks are new(ish) around here, and I don't want to delete friendly comments just for being anonymous.

But I will.

Saturday, July 12

On a happier note --

While I was eating lunch today, I happened to turn on Turner Classic Movies, on which happened to be The Battle Of Britain with Lawrence Olivier and Christopher Plummer. This flick happened to be in the middle of one of the big Spitfire vs Nazi Bomber scenes, which I watched with growing delight.

"Holy Shit!" quoth I. "It's the assault on the friggin' Death Star!"

Now, it occurs to me that this is hardly unknown among all you SW geeks out there, as I seem to recall, on further reflection, having read something about that very influence in one of the old Lucas interviews.

But it was still very, very cool to come to find it unexpectedly staring me in the face.

That's all.

Friday, July 11

Come on. Really?

I know very few people come by here very often any more (not even me), but no tribute to TMD? Not even one?

Camp Concentration
On Wings of Song


Even The Dreams our Stuff is Made Of, which is non-fic, but still . . .

Wednesday, July 9

Thomas M. Disch shot himself on the Fourth of July.

This had me on the verge of in tears, if only because that should be the first line of a new Disch novel. He was the best of the New Wave. The best. Which is probably why he ditched SF almost 20 years ago.

Yet another guy who died before I had a chance to shake his hand and tell him how much his work meant to me.

God damn it.