Friday, November 23, 2012

Scouring an Abandoned Ship

Good day,

 Well that didn't last long at all.

 Looks like I've just about abandoned this page. I admit, I saw it coming. My career picked up, in both writing and in the field of office admin.  My portfolio on this piece of webspace is now developed and varied enough for people to see, and who knows? I might be back. I want to be back. Maybe with more commentaries, movie reviews and If I Dids. I don't plan on deleting this space just yet; I'm still mighty proud of it. Now I just need to figure out when to put time into this.

 Thanks for the laughs and thanks for the feedback. Don't worry, this is not quite a farewell but a "See You Later" from me. So until then:

See you next time.

RWI

Friday, September 7, 2012

Let's Talk About - Fans


Good day and sorry for the delay,

            As you’re aware, I’m an unabashed fan of many things. Years ago, admitting something like this would be a slight against one’s character. Flights of fancy are usually seen as escape methods by people who couldn’t be arsed with reality. As comics and video games become part of mainstream popular culture, however, we find a wide variety of fans emerging. These days, you’re as likely to see someone in a business suit reading Secret Avengers as you are someone who has not seen the sunlight in years attempting a Madoka cosplay.

Fandom is evolving. It’s evolving in much the same way our species interbred with different species of humanoid and representatives of other races and ethnicities. By drawing the attention of people from different walks of life, new perspectives on existence and on media blossom from the mixing.

            The way I see it, fandom or being a fan of something these days has three levels. These are not developmental stages, per se, but you can certainly transition from being one to being another. These levels, to me, are as follows: The Geek, The Nerd, and The Otaku (pardon my use of loan words). To better understand one’s relationship to their hobby, I have to ask you picture a hobby or a franchise or whatever as a lake.

The Geek is someone who visits the lake. The Geek drives out there, spends a few hours there, swimming and soaking in the sun, maybe even sleeps over, but eventually goes back to his life. The lake is far from home, after all, and Geeks know that spending too much time there will detach them from their jobs and families. Even if The Geek were to move closer to the lake, being there so much would spoil his or her love of its beauty and splendour.

The Nerd is someone who lives at the lake. The Nerd owns beachfront property, goes swimming or canoeing every day, fishes, works nearby and raises families in the area. This person can’t get enough of the lake. Every day, something new and glorious about it unfolds and he or she finds new reasons to love it. The Nerd knows its ins and outs, knows the way the waves roll in and what kind of fish swim beneath the water. Maybe The Nerd leads a normal life, but The Nerd is never far from what he or she loves.

The Otaku is someone to lives in the lake. The Otaku lives in a houseboat, feeds off of fish, seaweed and bits of driftwood, making money by selling empty cans at a local marketplace. Social interactions are rare, unless it’s with other houseboat-dwellers, and their chances of procreation or stable employment are low. The Otaku might know more about the lake and its depths, but has sacrificed much by being so far from the land.

            Many factors determine whether or not you’re one of these three or if you move from one to another. I say that your social circles and mental health are big factors. We’re a social animal. We survive by connecting with people, stumbling over our own words and actions and learning from our mistakes. Having someone to vent our thoughts at is therapeutic. It’s even stronger when we have friends who don’t serve as yes-men. Being challenged is important, so long as the intent of the challenger is made clear.

            This is why I’m bothered by Otaku. Okay, bothered isn’t the right word; I’d say I’m concerned about Otaku. Otaku are generally sedentary beings, confined to basements and subhuman habitats, only coming out to purge money from their wallets and yell at the guy at the comic shop. If they’re happy, I can’t complain, but if they do want more out of life it’s harder for them than other fans.

It’s easy to get lost in the labyrinth of fiction, after all. The escapist angle is strong for many aficionados. Something in the alchemy of dialogue, the architecture and geology of an alien world, and the dynamic pace of a plot draws people in like flytraps. The sensitive-minded can be overwhelmed by the right word in the right place. Would-be artists and writers can get stuck in any number of creative canyons. That’s because our species is obsessed with stories. Right from our inception, we occupied our time with fables and folk heroes; travelers would return with tales from afar. Monsters and gods of every shape and size were born or shaped by our minds, and the more fantastical they were, the more we loved them.

Breaking people out of storytellers’ traps is easier said than done, but how? Well, for one, the outside world has to be made as appealing as – or more appealing than – fiction. Our species loves stories, right? Encourage fans to leave the nest, then, and to have adventures of their own. Let them become their own storytellers, sharing their yarns around the campfires and dinner tables of today. Maybe, then, they will find themselves along the roads they travel and they’ll find out what to do with their lives.

It’s good to dream, but it’s easy to get stuck in someone else’s.

See you next time,

-RWI


EDIT: July 31 2013. One part bothered me. It is gone now.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Flash Fiction - Cornered

GOOD EVENING,

 Here we go again.

***


            “Here’s how this works,” he said, putting the gun to my face. I heard water dripping from an old copper pipe. It distracted me from the barrel I stared down, “You tell me where Claude the Mod is; then I’m going t’ pop you.”
            “I don’t think you know how this works,” I said, lifting my hands up. The feeling wafting over me was more agitation than fear. A minute ago, I was having dinner with two of the city’s hardest bosses. We were dividing up our territories, saying who could own what neighbourhood and under what conditions. It was supposed to be as peaceful as possible.
The clod with the gun followed me into the bathroom from another table. I knew who he was. Five of my boys disabled a big-name dealer off the streets not long ago, some pusher whose absence would not be missed. I had no idea he was part of another gang. That would make things difficult.
A cold wind danced along the old alleyway we stood in that night. It tickled my fingers and cut through my Armani suit. I tried not to feel it. The same could not be said of Marv. His arms were bare and shook ever-so slightly as he asked: “Whatcha mean?”
            “Why the hell would I tell you where he is?” I asked, quickly thinking on what I said and then backpedalling, “If I knew, I mean. Me being shot isn’t good enough incentive for me for pipe up.”
            “Yeah? What if I told you that if you don’t talk I’ll break yer thumbs off and shove ‘em up yer dick?”
            “That would be uncomfortable. But I’d still not tell you a damn thing, because I’d still live, you moron.”
            “C’mon, Johnny, don’t be difficult.”
            “Being difficult got me my job.”
He didn’t like the jape. The barrel went against my forehead, Freezing metal chilled the bone beneath my skin, “I’m giving youse ‘til the count of three.”
“Oh, then what?” I asked, sneering, “I tell you and you give me ‘til the count of two? I told you, if you want to know where he is, give me a reason to talk.”
His eyes narrowed. “Depends: do you know?”
No point in hiding it. “I always knew,” I admitted, shrugging, “I just like to see you squirm.”
“Then tell me where he is,” Marv snapped, pressing the gun harder against my head. The back of my skull hit the wall. Little lights flashed in front of my eyes for a split second.
When my eyes focused, I saw a figure in the shadows behind him. It shifted and started to move into the light on cat’s feet. He didn’t notice.
I smiled and knew what was coming, I decided to roll with it, “Okay, you win. Claude the Mod’s been buried in the middle of a construction site on East Street. You know that new condo they’re putting up? He’s there, right where they’re putting the gym.”
“Good man,” he said, cocking back the hammer on the revolver.
I nodded at the shape behind him, “Yes, and that’s also where I’m going to put you.”
On cue, the man behind Marv lunged and grabbed him round the throat. Wildly, he wheeled his arms and shot at the air. Ducking under the shots, I reached for the knife at my belt. Steel flashed up and caught his stomach.
I sneered at him, baring my teeth. “I’ll send my condolences to your wife, before I send her to see you.
When he expired, there was hate in his eyes.
He dropped to the ground a bleeding mess. The man who gripped his neck and saved me was one of mine, Boris. A Moscow-born brawler who emigrated to some hell-pit in the south side, I gave him work as my personal bodyguard. No doubt he saw me get dragged out through the back door.
He towered over me in a blue suit and a buttoned-down white top and dusted off his hands. “Are we seriously killing his wife?” Boris asked in Russian. His English was abysmal, and me learning Russian was far faster for us both.
“Of course not,” I responded, laughing as I cleaned the blade off on the dead man’s pant leg and pocketed it, “I just wanted him to die thinking he failed everyone important to him.”
“Is that why you said Claude the Mod was dead?”
My smile went wide, “Of course! Speaking of which, go check up on the old boy. I’m sure he’s starting to cramp in the fridge you stuffed him in.”
“What about you?” he asked, watching me as I stepped over the body and headed back for the restaurant.
“I’m going to tell the old men inside that the streets are starting to get a bit messy. Perhaps that will give them something to fight against rather than fight over,” I said, adjusting the lapels of my suit. The lights of the old place were inviting, but I knew that the night was going to get more complicated.


***

See you next time,

-RWI

Monday, August 6, 2012

Flash Fiction - Fusion

Good day,

 I'm very slowly easing my way back into updating this so I'm just doing to do brief posts every week until some big ideas arrive.

 Here's what I hope will be the first of many.

***


            “This whole strip sells fusion food?” he asked, tugging my arm close.
            I giggled. Seeing him out of his element was so cute. “Yep; Thai/Viet, Korean/Japanese, Chinese/Mongolian, the whole Horn of Africa, every country south of Mexico, even some obscure ones.”
            “Obscure how?”
            “Ever had Ithailian?”
            “What?”
            “Italian/Thai? The owners apparently met in Pattaya.”
            “I wouldn’t trust anything that came out of Pattaya. It’s probably seasoned with syphilis,” he quipped, being difficult.
            Huffing, I led him along, “Okay then, How about Swedinese? Romaniarabian? Taiwambodian?”
            He shook his head, “Can’t we just go to a diner or something? Something like you’d see in 1950s America?”
            “There’s one like that, but it’s based more on how America was seen in old Soviet propaganda films.”
            “Oh, good.”
            “What’s eating you?”
            “I just want to get away from fusion cuisine. I see enough of it at my house.”
            “Really?” I asked, pausing. A thought occurred to me, “Come to think of it, what’s your background?”
            He grunted and gave a shrug, “My dad’s Ukrainian and my mom’s from Turkey.”
            I wasn’t expecting that. It filled wonderful images in my head, “Wow! So what’s Turkrainian food like?”
            “Exactly what it sounds like. Can we move on?”
            I groaned and we went to the diner. The Moscow Breakfast seemed to tie him over. A shame; I really could have gone for some Indonigerian.


***

See you next time,

-RWI

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Let's Talk About - The Marvel Cinematic Universe


Good day and enough of the bollocks,

            I’ve been putting off posting on I’ve A Nuke because of some misplaced sense of duty to my work. Little did I know that maintaining this piece of webspace is also a part of my work and that I am, as a writer, obligated to keep it alive. Hence, I’m back with a vengeance. Hopefully.

            So. Operating a film franchise of any scale is hard work. Setting them up is already a gamble, but how do you keep them afloat? Whether you leave it all in the hands of a single director or scores of them, it’s a mad endeavour. Sticking to one director for an entire project is ideal for the sake of tone, but it’s hard if the director gets involved in other projects.

            Risky as switching directors can be, it can have its benefits. Here’s where I want to point to Marvel’s big blockbuster film series as an example of how to do it right. If you’ve been away on some grand four-year adventure in the Himalayas and have no idea what’s happening, let me refer you to Google. All read up? Good, let’s talk.

            I am in love with these films. They’re the kind of superhero movies I enjoy seeing. Yes, The Dark Knight Trilogy is a fun dark romp, but you need to be silly when dealing with cape comics most of the time. What I enjoy about the Marvel films in particular is that they consistently embrace the insanity of the Marvelverse by director-hopping from project to project. You’re dealing with astonishing tales starring diverse characters whose stories employ a range of tones, so snagging multiple directors to capture that variety is ideal.

            Now, to show you what I mean, I’m going to drop all pretenses and rant about these films, because I’ve wanted to for about a year and I finally have the chance. This bus will be short-turning into Spoilerville now and again, so beware.

Jon Favreau’s Iron Man is one of the strongest of the First Wave because it adheres to cartoon logic, running on convenience, obvious villains and ridiculous physics right from the get-go. On top of that, Robert Downey Junior plays the socialite warmonger turned vigilante hero well and has a great double-act going with Gwenyth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts, who is all at once Tony Stark’s assistant, friend and nanny. This is an ideal premise to introduce people to this universe as well, because it’s insane and silly but also grounded enough to be plausible.

Then we had The Incredible Hulk, where shit got stranger, especially with Edward Norton turning into a big green dude and beating up everything in sight. One decision the movie made won me over. Too many superhero flicks labour over who our hero was before some “incident” transformed them. Some back-stories are incredibly basic, too, so spending too much time on them can be hurtful to the plot. The Incredible Hulk took the smart way out: throwing the origin story into the opening credits and giving us Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde meets The Fugitive instead. Tonally, it prepares audiences for the future films by saying that, yes, this is a bizarre universe but it is no stranger to drama and tragedy, and the loss of one’s humanity is tragic indeed.

It hurts me to write this, but Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2 is one of the weaker ones. I had high hopes for this film and it only delivered enough to simply pass. One big reason is because it has eleven-thousand plot threads stapled to the script. All at once, we have to concern ourselves with Tony Stark becoming a douche again, Justin Hammer and Ivan Vanko trying to kill both each other and Iron Man, Pepper running Stark’s company while he tries to keep his heart from giving out, some subplot about Black Widow making Tony’s trousers tighten to Pepper’s dismay and Samuel L Jackson reminding the audience about the Avengers movie. No sane human being can put up with that for two hours.

In spite of that, I forgave Iron Man 2 on certain grounds. First, it appealed to the part of my brain that unconditionally loves Mickey Rourke. Second, I felt that all of the plots were connected to a single concept: Stark shooting himself in the foot over and over again. Seriously, everything is rooted in Stark’s inability to see past his own ego. The plot is chaotic because his life is chaotic, and the clutter and maniacal pace is actually representative of Tony’s own incoherent and self-righteous mind. And third, because things went boom and I went “Yay” when they did.

Speaking of weak: Thor. Now, I liked Thor. For all its shortcomings, it’s a fun action film with great actors and decent aesthetics, and introduced the Marvelverse’s cosmic side well. It’s just flawed on many levels; namely with the romance. A friend summarized the (pretentious ahem) relationship between Thor and Jane Foster well: “He fell from the sky, broke a mug, then they looked at the stars and kissed.” I also felt the relationship between Thor and Loki was flimsily developed. I say that, though, because I saw this deleted scene that would have built on their dynamic a bit more. Sadly, on the surface it contrasted with Loki’s sinister silver-tongued nature and so it was pulled. A regretful decision, I say.

Captain America, meanwhile, blew my face off. Acting, special effects and writing aside, what I enjoyed about it was that the story was not merely about someone becoming a superhero. It’s about regaining humanity. Steve Rogers starts off as a wimp who is incredibly human. Then Science happens and he becomes a monster-man. America’s answer to the super-soldier conundrum is to turn him into a propaganda piece, and it’s not until he’s sent overseas to watch his countrymen struggle that he remembers he’s a man first and a symbol second, that men make mistakes and necessary sacrifices that symbols are not meant to make.

Come of think of it, lots of Marvel’s heroes deal with rediscovering humanity. Bruce Banner battles his Hulk side daily, Steve Rogers tries hard to be an Average Joe and adjust to a future he hardly understands, and so many others – Iron Man, Luke Cage, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man – is a troubled man who paid the price for arrogance and foolishness and redeems himself through costumed vigilantism. It’s like becoming a superhero is some form of community service, or the unspoken thirteenth step in an AA recovery program.

Anyway, all this brings us to Avengers, the movie that made a billion dollars in a week. God knows why. Maybe it was the stellar reinterpretation of Avengers Issue One, the well-rounded cast, the incredible blend of writing, action and humour, the forty-minute fight sequence, and the mid-credits teaser featuring THANOS THE MAD TITAN. This is how you pull all these mad ideas together. This is what the payoff for build-up should feel like. It should feel like a two-and-a-half-hour nerdgasm. And that was Avengers for me.

If this was too long and you didn’t read it, here’s a summary: Iron Man, Captain America, and Avengers are keener kids with incredible charisma, The Incredible Hulk is the quick-thinking jock who avoids talk about his past, Thor secretly reads both “The Sword of Shannara” and “Twilight” in class, and Iron Man 2 shoves pencils up his nose for a good cause.

Apparently DC’s planning to make a Justice League movie in much the same way Marvel made Avengers. Should be encouraging, seeing as they’ve had such a great track record with oh wait no. Well, maybe if they look at this model they’ll have some luck.

See you next time,

-RWI

Friday, July 6, 2012

WELL THEN

OH HELLO,

 It has been far too long.

 Perhaps I should explain myself. It looks like the whole Me-Being-A-Full-Time-Writer thing kicked off fairly quickly. Since my short story "Pass The Can" got published last September, opportunity has come a-knockin'. I'm now screenwriting for three independent film companies (including one staffed by me and three other people) and more of my shorts are getting released, slowly.

 I should be making more updates on I've A Nuke but frankly it's been a little hard to put the energy in to write something new every week. This is especially the case now that I have sixteen short stories on the go that I'm trying to get released in addition to the screenwriting I'm doing. Focusing on that has become a priority.

 So here's what's happened. In addition to one of my short stories making it into the forthcoming Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes, I've also succeeded in throwing together a low-budget short horror-comedy film called Connect. I did it as a pilot project with my friend's up-and-coming production studio for a contest. You can watch it here, but be warned: it's rushed. Plus, starting next week I'll be working on the Pilot for a webseries called Tymania, about the misadventures of real-life Latin pop star Christian Ty. This is a big departure from the kinds of stories I write, but hopefully it will be worth it.

 Other things are on the go, of course. I'm plotting a trip to Chicago for August. My brother lives there and I've never gotten the chance to go down there until recently. Then, I'll be working overtime trying to do other things. I'm not sure when I'll be back on I've A Nuke, but hopefully whatever I produce will be worth your time.

 Stay tuned, and hopefully:

 See you next time,

-RWI

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Update!

Good day,

 I've begun my spring cleaning. It's been a long time coming, so now it's more of a summer-cleaning but hush. Every piece of flash fiction and every editorial from The Hero to Rampage has now been dressed up and made a little more beautiful (except for The Restaurant, because it was trash from day one). So, those of you who want a trip down memory lane are free to jump in. Tomorrow or Saturday, I should have another set of stories and editorials updated and rewritten for humanity's sake.

 New content will come along once I finish the edits.

See you next time,

-RWI

Friday, May 4, 2012

Backlogged

Hey all,

 A number of commitments came up on my end and I've been struggling to deal with all of them, so unfortunately there won't be any Nukes for the next week or so. I had something planned for this week but it turned into such rubbish that I couldn't bear to put it up with the rest of the stuff.

 I'm planning a spring cleaning. Rather, a summer cleaning; going through all of my old flash fictions and editorial articles and making them nicer and prettier. Hopefully, I will meet this goal and soon because my readership is beginning to grow (slightly).

 I will get on it when I can. Expect something from me... after the 13th, say.

See you then,

-RWI

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Flash Fiction - Place to Place

Good day,

 Dabbling with an assignment for BlogTO and other things kept me at bay for a while, but now I'm here with a tale for y'all.

***


            I’m writing this from the tea shop above Thorne Street. I’m seeing cars stop at the toll both outside my window just before the robot at the counter lets them zip away. Neon pink Chinese characters hang over the intersection next to a video screen showing some disgusting shampoo ad. Below me, arrays of pleather-clad prostitutes stalk the streets and leer at passing men and women.
            There’s a newspaper on my table. Gang warfare’s on the rise, it tells me. Members of the East-End cartel Murder Per Capita got in a big fight with The Buccaneers over the weekend. Police succeeded in capturing MPC enforcer Lars “Zero Tolerance” Kroener during the battle. Eleven people, however, died during the fight. I couldn’t be happier.
            Languidly, I open it and read through the pages of election scandals and the riots in West Persia. I stop on an expose of the dinosaur cloning facility in Stockholm, one page before the obituaries. I’m writing this to ask myself what kind of sadist concerns himself with the burning wreckage of a third-world nation. I want to know who cares if ten thousand people lose their jobs. Who cares about –
            My girlfriend’s calling. I have to stop being me for a second.
            “Hi, baby,” she says, in a voice that is one part saccharine and one part sinister.
            “Hey, honey,” I say, putting on my ‘I am a good boyfriend and I am not sitting in a tea shop on Thorne Street writing about things I hate’ voice.
            She sees through me, “Where are you?”
            “Oh, nowhere.”
            “Stop lying. Did you go back to Thorne Street?”
            “Well –”
            “You know how much I hate that place. Somebody was shot there just last week.”
            “People die everywhere.”
            “You’re impossible.”
“Yeah. How are your parents?” They hate me, by the way.
“Still in Maui,” she admits, before sighing, “Look, baby, please take the train to my place. I can’t stand to know you’re there. We’ll talk more when I know you haven’t been knifed.”
And off I go.

I’m on the train barrelling out of the downtown core. As usual, my car is lined with grit and litter, and populated by some of society’s worst.
I see a man with augmented legs standing up against the wall, wearing shorts in this abysmal time of year and showing off his implants. A pregnant woman sits across from me, next to a large man with a unicycle who I seriously hope isn’t her husband. Three boys with dyed silver hair and skin-tight gym clothes are loafing in the distance.
The ads around me are tacky and the antithesis of clever. “Try Trilonyl For Trying Pains.” “This summer, one man and his parakeet will rock your world.” “Perfection Defined.” Nobody seems to realize how droll these all are. They’re crimes against our very sanity, part of a dreary campaign against our hearts and minds. Yet, we let companies pollute our brains and –
That was embarrassing. Some woman was reading over my shoulder just now. I had to slip my Pad away and act normal, but she read it. She read it all. Before she got off the train, she looked at me with sad eyes.
“Try smiling,” she said, “It will get you through this all.”
Damn it. I don’t want people to worry about me. I don’t want anyone sticking up for me and being concerned about my mental health. Let me be cruel. Let me write about dark skies and scandals and senseless deaths.
I’ll be outside soon. Maybe that’ll calm me down.

Oh thank god it’s raining again.
It’s tipping down. The city is being drenched by a waterfall from the skies. Idiots in the height of fashion are being soaked from head to toe.  Someone’s coat is being blown up by a fierce wind. The only tree in sight is being blown.
My girlfriend’s place is across the way. I can take my time. I’ll just sit here until the rain stops and tell her I –
And someone just gave me his umbrella.
“It’s okay, I’ve got another one in my bag,” he says, unfolding his spare and running into the storm. He vanishes over the horizon.
Just my luck. I’m out on the most miserable day of the year, and nobody wants me to be miserable.
I guess I’ll cross the street to my girlfriend’s and have sex, then.

***

 In other news, I'm debating going back through my old stories and editing up the ones I like. Maybe I'll make that part of a Spring Cleaning project. Ooh that sounds catchy.

See you next time,

-RWI

Monday, April 16, 2012

If I Did - Superman Returns


Good evening,

            The ‘If I Did’ series seems to be popular with people. I know this now because I mentioned IID at a friend’s party some time ago. Needless to say, my vision of Twilight and Hangover 2 won over some and perplexed others. Then, something I never thought possible happened: someone issued a challenge.

            “Okay, hot-shot,” he said, not actually calling me hot-shot, “Redo Superman Returns.

            You know how these things work. The gears got turning and soon enough I had a premise. Now, I’m going to post it here. It’s funny, because I didn’t get into Superman as much as I did with Batman or Spiderman, but there’s something about him that is fun. I had some of the comics, and I saw the Richard Donner films and the Bruce Timm animated series. Then, in 2006, I hit the theatres and saw Returns… and I kind of liked it. Kind of.

Okay, yes, it was silly, melodramatic, and riddled with plot-holes – especially the whole illegitimate son arc and the ‘Superman lifts the Kryptonite island and becomes a Jesus metaphor’ malarkey – but it was fun for me. Then again, the films have always been silly. If you can believe a man can fly and shoot heat-rays, then taking a bullet to the eyeball and pushing the earth back through time should be easy to understand.

Returns, though, could have been much better, but Superman is incredibly difficult to write for. How exactly do you add tension when your main character is a solar-powered god? Singer had the right idea by hitting Superman in the soul rather than across the jaw, but how could he have explored that further?

Here are some ideas:

First, I’d start with a recap. You know how The Incredible Hulk began with Bruce Banners’ origin story being played alongside the credits without labouring over details or alienating the audience who never bothered with the Ang Lee film? I’d do the same; the opening credits would show the death of Krypton, Superman landing on earth, growing up, heading to the Daily Planet, stopping Lex and Zod, romancing Lois, and then soaring off to find himself. No dialogue, just quick-cuts, and all done in just under four minutes.

Then we roll into it. See, Singer had the right idea by having a time jump for when Superman was away, but it was too short. So, rather than Superman being absent from the planet for only six or seven years, he’s actually been gone for over two decades. We begin with Lois Lane in charge of the Daily Planet, but she’s no longer a spry twenty-something but a woman in her mid-forties and married with two teenaged kids. She reminisces on the days of old as her new editor, Jimmy Olsen, prepares the presses for the President’s speech.

All of a sudden, a huge alien ship breaks through the atmosphere. It launches an attack, travelling across the world wreaking havoc. Probes zip through the streets abducting people, and any tanks and fighter jets that get mobilized to stop it end up shot down.

Meanwhile, in Kansas, another ship crash-lands in the middle of a field and is discovered by the grandson of Ma and Pa Kent’s neighbours. It opens up, and it’s Superman, still a young man of twenty-something as he was when he first left the earth. Before he gets told how long he’s been gone, though, his super-hearing picks up on Metropolis being invaded.

Superman appears as the ship does, beats back the probes, and the UFO retreats. This is when Kal-El finds out he’s been gone for twenty years and that Lois Lane’s moved on with her life. His friends have changed or are gone, and society and technology are now far beyond what he was used to. More importantly, he gets called out and praised by the new President of the United States of America: his former arch-nemesis Lex Luthor.

This is the tipping point for Superman. Disillusioned, Superman runs back to the Arctic and revisits his Fortress of Solitude. He takes the time there to consult his crystal computer about the new era. After some much-needed me-time, he puts together an “aged Clark Kent” look with some hair dye and returns to the Daily Planet, reconnecting with Lois and Jimmy Olsen. Clark gets his job back, and also goes back to slipping out as Superman to do some good, later reconnecting with Lois as Superman and finding out more about Mrs. Lane’s life and discussing the love they once had. Things get tense, Superman suddenly feels less super knowing that Lois settled for an average guy, and sulks off.

On one of his outings, Superman blows out a fire at an abandoned factory and meets an unexpected visitor – President Luthor. Luthor explains that his goons started the fire to get Superman’s attention, and that he wants to team up to stop the alien robot-thing that attacked Earth. Superman, of course, refuses and flies off.

The next day, the alien ship returns. Luthor arrives in Metropolis, announcing to the American public that he hired roboticist Winslow Schott to help him develop a device that might help him communicate with the aliens. This proves fruitless when Lex and Winslow get abducted and the ship continues its assault on Metropolis, abducting Lois Lane and the Daily Planet crew next. Clark Kent becomes Superman and breaks into the ship.

Inside, he finds people being frozen in tubes, shrunk down and stored in cases by a humanoid. It introduces itself as a Coluan supercomputer its people colloquially referred to as “Brainiac.” Brainiac explains that it was programmed to gather architecture samples from other civilizations for its masters, but the Coluans destroyed themselves during one of its outings. Since then, it has decided to collect entire intelligent species instead, and that it plans to start with Earth. Superman explains that Brainiac can’t travel the universe stealing off with people for his galactic butterfly collection, but the robot won’t listen. Brainiac decides that the only logical course of action is to wipe the floor with Superman.

Big fight, biff-bang-pow. Superman throws Brainiac aside and figures out how to free the citizens of Earth, including Lois and co, and – much to his disdain – Lex Luthor and Winslow Schott. Brainiac recovers and attacks Superman again while Lois gets everyone to Brainiac’s probes, sending everyone back to Earth. Superman crashes the ship outside the White House and then punches Brainiac into the sun. After the battle, Superman discovers a hidden room in the ship where he finds a shrunken-down ancient Kryptonian city called Kandor. He takes Lois and Kandor back with him to the Fortress of Solitude. He clears the air with Lois, and the two agree that even though they can’t be lovers again, they can still be together as friends.

As the film ends, we get our big twist: that Lex and Winslow planned to get abducted. They knew Superman would come to the rescue and free them, but he didn’t anticipate that Winslow and Lex would run amok in the ship, find a control panel and redirect the UFO towards the nation’s capital. Luthor’s science team pick apart the remains of the spacecraft, Brainiac’s body, and some other technology found on board, and then set to work on three projects code-named “Metallo,” “Parasite,” and “Bizarro.”

And there you have it. Once again, kudos to Josh L. for giving me the idea, and thank you for reading.

See you next time!

-RWI

EDIT: A friend noticed that I forgot a word in one of the paragraphs. It's fixed now. Thanks, Michael!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Flash Fiction - Below My Feet

Good evening,

 I worked double-time to make sure this story got saved. Thankfully I remembered enough of it to play around with it, and plus I was lucky enough to find a not-quite-as-older version on my laptop. So without further ado: this.

***


Ryo and Manabu sat on the edge. Their legs dangled like hanged men over the side of the old building. A bag of snacks was nestled between them. They stared out at the cityscape and enjoyed their idle Sunday chatter. From where they sat, they could see the towering skyscrapers of Oldtown stabbing the clouds in the West Quarter. Neon rainbow lights erupted from Central Square. Oily smells from the Langstrom Factory crossbred with the sweet marketplace aromas. A zeppelin soared over the West Gate.
Languidly, tall and greying Manabu popped a chip into his mouth, “Are you proposing to Asami yet?”
Ryo nodded, his dyed-gold hair bobbing, “Mm. That’ll be tonight.”
“Good luck.”
“Thanks. What about you and Michele?”
“Ha?”
“That’s her, right? The blondie from Wayfarer.”
Manabu sucked air through his teeth, “It’s too early to say. I think I want to get married more than she does.”
Ryo laughed a little, “She’s young, that’s why.”
Manabu punched his friend’s arm, “She’s your age. Don’t –”
A horn roared behind them. They looked over their shoulders. The massive doors of the South Gate were not far from where they sat, and they were opening. A chorus of joyous cries came from the streets.
Manabu winced and faced the street again, “So noisy.”
Ryo kept facing the gate, “Someone returning from battle, no doubt. The frogfolk by the South Lake are getting restless. Fishermen turning up dead and all that.”
“Doesn’t mean they have to be so noisy,” the greying man grunted.
Something in Ryo’s pocket chirped. He pulled out a small golden circle decorated with flashing lights. He pressed its middle. A blue light shot into his eyes and disappeared. He pocketed the device. “Billy’s at Naga Square. Let’s go.”
“How can you stand those things?” the greying man asked, sliding away from the building’s ledge, “They’ll give you eye cancer or something.”
“There’s no such thing as eye cancer,” Ryo grunted, grabbing the snack bag.
Manabu brought himself to his feet and headed for the stairway down, “There will be if you keep using that. Anyway, let’s go.”

Back in the streets, they headed for the marble fountain in Naga Square. Shop windows obnoxiously flashed advertisements at them. Newsboys trumpeted local gossip and tales from abroad. A priest called out passages from old holy texts. Schools of people overtook the streets; girls in tight pants and bright shirts, a dirty-faced man in his leather jacket, three old men at a chess table, young lovers and tradesmen and vagabonds and soldiers stomping the streets for satisfaction and excitement.
There were also the hunters. Swarthy, cocky fighters in stolen clothes and improbable homemade weapons swaggered through the streets, joking with each other and making passes at whoever was nearby. Women wearing iron and silk teased hard-bodied boys decorated with bone and leather coats. Modified guns and long blades were slung over their shoulders or holstered on their belts, in blatant disregard of the law. Among themselves, they were unique and heroic, but to the general public they were suicidal thrill-seekers with no sense of subtlety.
Manabu saw one particularly large man pass by and huffed, “I heard Keith’s brother is joining those guys.”
Ryo raised an eyebrow, “Who?”
“Keith! Narumi’s boyfriend. Remember, he’s got those big pale eyes?”
“Oh! Creepy Eyes!”
“Yeah, yeah! Him!”
“Wow!” Ryo said, leaning back and folding his arms, “So Creepy Eyes’ brother is going to be a hunter, eh?”
“Looks like it. I wonder if he has creepy eyes too,” he wondered, eying his young friend, “Would you ever do that?”
“No way,” the boy scoffed, “I can’t even walk into a butcher’s shop. Besides, who says we can’t share the land?”
“Careful, talk like that’ll get you arrested,” Manabu warned, “I just might start screaming ‘Traitor, there’s a traitor here!’ Then what?”
“Then who’s going to cook my special biryani chicken?” Ryo asked, flatly.
Manabu meditated on that, “Good point.”
They stepped around a voluptuous hunter in a lizard-skin dress chatting up two sensibly-dressed men and saw the fountain. It was a tall and twisting marble monolith, depicting four snakes bent around a nude woman, covering the important parts of her body. Water poured out of their mouths.
Tan and muscular, Billy was pacing in front of it. As they came near, he checked his messenger-disc one last time before putting it aside. “Hey, guys.”
“Hey, Billy!” Manabu laughed, waving, “How’s it going?”
He shrugged, “Not much. Have you heard about Keith’s brother?”
Ryo clucked his tongue, “Yeah. I feel bad for Creepy –” Manabu nudged his friend and shot him a look. The young man grunted, “I mean: I feel bad for Keith. How did it happen?”
Billy pulled out a cigarette and lit it, “A valtonite made it into the sewers last week. It popped out of the manhole in the East Quarter. Keith’s brother, Charlie, he was working there, but when he saw it attacking people, he charged it with a metal chair and beat it to death. Kid’s lucky to be alive.”
“Okay, I have to admit,” Ryo said, putting his hands up, “that’s pretty impressive. Those things are huge.”
“Yeah, but now the little man wants to be a hunter,” grunted Billy, taking a drag, “He’s half my size and he thinks he can hold his own out in the wild.”
Manabu looked left to see two hunters bickering over a gaudy scythe that one of them held, “How’s Keith taking it?”
Billy took another drag, “He’s mad as hell. Ron and Obie stopped him from drinking his weight in spicewine last night. Narumi’s a mess, too, but more because Keith’s a wreck now.”
“Poor girl,” Ryo sighed, pocketing his hands, “We should go cheer her up.”
“We should hold an intervention instead,” Manabu proposed, lifting his arm and waving it high. A carriage in the distance slowed down and veered, heading their way “Charlie’s almost ready to kill himself and we’re sitting here.”
“I agree,” Billy started, heading for the carriage, “Kid’s full-on delusional. He put this big post up on the MyLife bulletin board, saying that he ‘feels alive,’ like he’s standing above the city and that the world’s below his feet.”
Manabu sighed, folding his arms, “I guess he never sat on the edge of a building before.”

***

See you next time,

-RWI