The Aging Hero: a Thorough Defense of The Last Jedi

I mentioned in my Series of Thoughts on the Last Jedi the whole “Messiah Can Only Save You Once” aspect of the Hero. Robin Rowland does a more systematic Defense: connecting the tragic tales of King Arthur, Odysseus, Theseus, and others. In a nutshell, when the hero ages, the time of his glories pass, and the wearies of peace and the costs of past acts catch up to him.

So for the aging male hero (we’ll talk about Leia and females later) there are number of destinies (sometimes choices but often the rule of the Fates). The hero can, as Campbell observes, turn to the dark side and become an emperor and tyrant. Or the hero embraces the light side to become a saint, a sage, a world redeemer. The third choice is to choose or be fated to embark on a final journey, what Campbell calls the departure of the hero. That journey is not always pleasant or successful, but that last journey to departure is the story of Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi.

I would add the story of Beowulf to this as well. After he kills Grendel and his mother, Beowulf returns home and rules his father’s people well and wisely for decades, until a dragon rises. Beowulf fights the dragon but is slain by it (a companion kills the dragon), and the land is left with no king (for some reason, Beowulf has no children). This mirrors Luke’s final act in the Last Jedi, dying into hope to give the Resistance a chance to escape. There is a piteousness Beowulf’s defeat, as there is a piteousness in Luke, a despair at ever overcoming the Darkness. And as with Beowulf, a companion must complete the hero’s task. Wiglaf, who kills the dragon, is something like Rey in this.

This doesn’t mean anything if your principle objection to The Last Jedi is the null plot lines or the shoed-in romance between Rose and Fin or the way Vice Admiral’s Holdo’s Clever Plan turns out to be the opposite of clever. But if your problem with it was that you don’t like to see Luke Skywalker reduced to a state of wretchedness and despair, then that’s something worth reconsidering.

In any case, Read the Whole Thing.

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Five Things I Learned in the Age of the Typewriter

This is essentially my philosophy. And I too got started on a typewriter…

Kobo Writing Life

by Barbara G. Tarn

Next year I’ll celebrate 40 years of stories. I stopped counting before the indie revolution and I was already over 500 titles, with less than 10 unfinished.

Before you ask: yes, they suck. No, I will never publish most of those stories, although I did throw the very first in a couple of books, because I wanted to show bad writing and I didn’t know how to show that except by using my own beginner writing.

I’m not even rewriting most of those stories, just keeping them as background or world-building if it’s SFF, especially if I wrote them last century. Of course all were unpublished, since I started putting my work out there only in 2011 and joined KWL at its inception in 2012.

Barbara’s global sales via her Kobo Writing Life Dashboard map #KWLMap

So, what did I learn at the time of the…

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WriteTip: When You Get Stuck, You Just Keep Going

last-tomorrowWriting -any creative endeavor, really – is all about giving yourself permission to fail.

Now, in one sense, that’s idiotic and ridiculous. The purpose of art is not to make something that’s bad. It’s not to allow something that’s bad to enter the market. The purpose of art is to make something that people respond to in some way, either by giving you money for it or by offering criticism on it. Creating something that will do neither is a waste of time and energy.

So I don’t mean that. What I mean is, when you’re working on something, and you’re not sure if you have a way forward, and you start looking at it like it’s some wriggling obscene bastard creation of hubris and wishful thinking, you may be tempted to scrap the thing and move on.

This is what you should not do. You should finish it. You should keep going. You should say to yourself the magic words:

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I Don’t Know If This Means Anything…

…but I have been collecting followers on Tablo at a fairly rapid clip. Without too much promotion on social media, either. I’m going to chalk that up to the work appealing on some level.

The last chapter of The Devil Left Him is started. I can still finish if I sit down and make it happen. I’ve also started the next chapter of Last Tomorrow and outlined the next chapter of Void.

Somebody on Tablo liked Void. I feel like good news is breaking out all over.

Time in Space

One of the sci-fi novellas I’m working on right now, Void, has a theme about space travel and the hell it plays with time. When I wrote Solar System Blues, I avoided this by making the ship in question travel at below-light velocity, and deliberately making the voyage a long one. Even then, the fact that Burton had been in space for 30 years straight had consequences for his character.

But ever since Einstein, the idea has been that faster-than-light travel would warp time around a vessel, so someone would seem to travel to Alpha Centauri quickly would discover upon his return that many years had transpired on Earth.

In such a system, people who traveled in space professionally would be a breed apart from the rest of humanity, quickly cut off from their familial roots. They’d have to develop their own culture merely to have any sense of themselves. That’s part of what is animating the ennui that Lang, my protagonist in Void, suffers.

I’m not hitting this too hard, because I’m not well-versed enough in space-time physics. It’s just there in the background, humanity cut off by the cold empty distances from its home.

Why it’s called Void should be clear. Read the first two chapters for free on Tablo.

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