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Sophia
01-03-2008, 02:29 AM
Tonight was Thunderbirds night on BBC4, and was a great evening's viewing. After the teaser of a few episodes of Thunderbirds and the first Captain Scarlet, there was a good documentary following the Thunderbirds creators through their career, covering Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, UFO and Space: 1999. I found it fascinating how they were constantly trying to improve, to approach live action filming, and the way the shows were linked to current events at the time.

Aside from being inherently interesting, the programs got me thinking about long-term plans for writing. Normally I only think about the current WIP, but this made me think seriously about a 'career path' for the first time, and to consider it not as a business chore, but as something exciting.

Does anyone have a 'five year plan' for their writing? Do you follow current events with the active intention of your writing being 'of the times'? This seems to go against the instinct of having your writing be timeless -- would it be bad to have your stories forever attached to a particular time period?

dpaterso
01-03-2008, 03:16 AM
Damn, missed that, I don't usually go as high as BBC4, blush.

The great themes to these series rolled through my head as I read those titles! THIS IS WHAT WE'RE TALKIN' ABOUT, PEOPLE!

Fireball XL5 (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=oboly57qxjg) - dig that sax!
We are about to launch - Stingray! (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=E06cNv55jTs)
Thunderbirds are go! (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=9RzCB3VRruE)
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=bV8YbLvGrb0)
Joe 90 (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDn0j-YKEEs) in the B.I.G. R.A.T.
UFO (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8RfzkhqBLY)
Space: 1999 (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=8DF9nDJZrdA)

Gerry Anderson's team had miniaturization down to a fine art, very clever people, wonderful artists.

Wasn't too keen on the actors/models hybrid direction, but UFO still produced some of my favorite episodes.

...Hmm, yeah, I had a five year plan, around six years ago, but I blew it.

Not sure if I get what you're asking re timeless writing. I tend to write alternative history/fantasy or next-century Sci-Fi, so my stories are already attached to particular time periods, technically speaking, so maybe that question doesn't apply to me?

I hope you get more interesting answers than mine!

-Derek

Sophia
01-03-2008, 04:30 AM
The Captain Scarlet tune sticks in my head for ages every time I hear it! :D

The timeless writing question is slightly off-topic from the rest of the post. I was thinking about contemporary books (contemporary to when they were written), where the author has consciously incorporated elements from the culture, the politics, the language patterns and the grand dreams of the time (e.g. the space race) and written something that is immediately linked in the reader's mind with that time.

There is the possibility of the story quickly becoming horribly dated and not resonating with readers a short time after it was written, or there is the chance that it becomes a well-loved classic because it has both this strong link with a particular time period, and has managed to tap into something universal to all humans that draws people back to it.

If you take one of your stories, and imagine that you had written it during a different decade, would it have turned out the same, technical skills aside?

I suppose it partly comes down to how much of 'yourself' you put into the story. But it can be more than that. I don't think it only applies to non-genre stories. It's about knowingly writing "the ultimate alternative history novel by someone living in the 2000s". Would it necessarily be a bad (or good) thing?

Thanks for reading this far if you have, and apologies for the rambling! This was just a train of thought that was triggered by the evening's TV viewing.

DaddyCat
01-03-2008, 05:30 AM
I was all set to reply to this with something to the effect, "No, technology and language may change, but people are the same across generations, centuries and millennia. Look at the Bible, Shakespeare, Dickens, etc. There is nothing new under the sun."

I decided to search for contrary examples, and I may have found one. Serial killer thriller novels are popular now, but serial killing (randomly killing strangers for fun instead of some other gain) seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon. Could serial killing as we think of it today die out at some future time, to the point where readers 200 years from now would look at today's thrillers and wonder what the hell we were talking about with our plots and characters?

clara bow
01-03-2008, 08:57 AM
Tonight was Thunderbirds night on BBC4, and was a great evening's viewing.

All I know is, I freaking LOVE the Gerry Anderson universe!! I squealed when I saw the topic of this thread. I own the boxed sets of Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Terrahawks, and Space: 1999. My husband just got me Joe 90 for xmas this year. Elara, I am so envious that you got to see that special.

Oddly enough, I haven't even seen all the episodes yet. I'm slowly savoring them. My goal is to some day own one of the original marionette puppets. I am a hopeless fanatic and will love those shows until I'm 100.

dpaterso, I love the themes, too! Once in a while I listen to them in my car on cd. Can't wait to get the dvd set of Fireball XL5. That show is so trippy!!

Does anyone have a 'five year plan' for their writing?

No. I'm just trying to get an agent. I've been at it for about five years now, so I suppose that *was* the five year plan, d'oh!


Do you follow current events with the active intention of your writing being 'of the times'?

No, but with my last book, I inadvertently/subconsciously made it a very loose allegory of current U.S. politics.


This seems to go against the instinct of having your writing be timeless -- would it be bad to have your stories forever attached to a particular time period?

I'm not sure it's possible to fully compartmentalize one's writing from one's culture. I mean, forgetting even culture...there's the evolution of language. That alone probably ties a book to it's particular time. Obviously, though, some writers can craft more timeless tales than others.

I don't think it's bad to have the stories attached to a particular period. I think that's part of the charm. Every book is a time capsule, in that sense.




And now...Standby for action!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sophia
01-03-2008, 04:00 PM
clara bow: BBC iPlayer lets you watch programs from the past seven days again. The link to "All About Thunderbirds" (the documentary I talked about) is here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/page/item/b008lz78.shtml?filter=txdate%3A02-01&filter=txslot%3Aevening&filter=channel%3Abbc_four&start=1&scope=iplayerlast7days&version_pid=b008m86r). You need to use Internet Explorer to use it. Hopefully that will work for you!

ETA: Terrahawks! They didn't talk about that in the documentary, but that was the show that was on at the time I was a kid, and had me captivated. Ah, memories!

DaddyCat: That's fascinating about the serial killer theme - I'd never thought of that at all.

DaddyCat
01-03-2008, 07:02 PM
clara bow: BBC iPlayer lets you watch programs from the past seven days again. The link to "All About Thunderbirds" (the documentary I talked about) is here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/page/item/b008lz78.shtml?filter=txdate%3A02-01&filter=txslot%3Aevening&filter=channel%3Abbc_four&start=1&scope=iplayerlast7days&version_pid=b008m86r). You need to use Internet Explorer to use it. Hopefully that will work for you!

ETA: Terrahawks! They didn't talk about that in the documentary, but that was the show that was on at the time I was a kid, and had me captivated. Ah, memories!

DaddyCat: That's fascinating about the serial killer theme - I'd never thought of that at all.

That BBC link only works within the UK. Tragic.

I don't really expect serial killing (or its cousin, the loner on a mass shooting spree) to go away in the foreseeable future. My example might work better in the reverse. Could we imagine a Shakespeare or Dickens coming up with the idea of serial killing? Not likely, if these types of crimes are an unintended consequence of modern society.

On a related note, can anyone think of an old story where the plot and characters can't be related to modern concerns, where their attitudes and actions are incomprehensible to us today?

dpaterso
01-03-2008, 07:12 PM
ETA: Terrahawks! They didn't talk about that in the documentary, but that was the show that was on at the time I was a kid, and had me captivated. Ah, memories!
Heh, I'd thought about Terrahawks (http://www.fab1.net/t-hawks/terrahawks.html) but I confess it wasn't among my favorites. Maybe I was just too old by then. Besides which, it was filmed in SuperMacroMation. :)

Terrahawks! Stay on this channel! This is an emergency! (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=9t4lpEXRFaY) <--removed, dammit! Try this instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hgHvOH9mJA
And the closing credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ep32YEVoWQg

Thanks for the BBC iPlayer link! Working fine for me (UK).

-Derek

DaddyCat
01-03-2008, 07:27 PM
Damn, missed that, I don't usually go as high as BBC4, blush.

The great themes to these series rolled through my head as I read those titles! THIS IS WHAT WE'RE TALKIN' ABOUT, PEOPLE!
...

-Derek

Thanks for those links, Derek! It's been a while since I've seen any of these shows. Our Sci-Fi Channel in the States seems more interested in churning out "original" movies about miscellaneous twenty-somethings in the wilderness vs. the CGI Beast of the Week than in honoring the real heritage of science fiction in the media.

Sophia
01-03-2008, 09:31 PM
can anyone think of an old story where the plot and characters can't be related to modern concerns, where their attitudes and actions are incomprehensible to us today?

Hmm, not easy. I think some of the elements involved in the mythical telling of Helen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_of_troy) and the siege of Troy might fall into this category. The motives of Menelaus and his allies are understandable, but the scale of their response to the loss of Helen would perhaps be difficult to make plausible today -- armies attacking a city, rather than, say, detectives and lawyers being the principle 'characters'.

Will think about this more and try to come up with some decent examples. It's a very good question.

DaddyCat
01-04-2008, 03:28 AM
Hmm, not easy. I think some of the elements involved in the mythical telling of Helen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_of_troy) and the siege of Troy might fall into this category. The motives of Menelaus and his allies are understandable, but the scale of their response to the loss of Helen would perhaps be difficult to make plausible today -- armies attacking a city, rather than, say, detectives and lawyers being the principle 'characters'.

Will think about this more and try to come up with some decent examples. It's a very good question.

I suppose today the Troy and Helen story would be written as an action/adventure. With an international hostage situation all-out war wouldn't be necessary (or practical, assuming today's technology) but a commando team could go in, recover the hostage and bring her out, with all the difficulties we could imagine.

Hey, if we're not careful one of us might end up taking this over to Share Your Work! http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon10.gif

Sophia
01-05-2008, 09:23 PM
It's been difficult to come up with examples for this that are actually incomprehensible to us. The nearest I could come up with was to think of stories from cultures that are very different to ours in certain aspects. If our culture plays a large part in who we are, then it doesn't seem out of the question that a very different culture would produce very different stories to our own. I think that the stories that would work as great examples for this discussion are probably lost to us, for the very reason that they just don't work anymore.

The most recent examples I can think of are the Robin Hood stories, and Gone with the Wind. The first because I think that there is, at least in the UK, a generally negative perception of vigilantism, which I think the Robin Hood stories can't help but bring to mind. (They do for me, anyway. I did love them as a child.) The attitude towards slavery of some of the characters in Gone with the Wind is comprehensible, but not something that I think is easily identified with anymore on a large scale.

DaddyCat
01-06-2008, 06:08 PM
It's been difficult to come up with examples for this that are actually incomprehensible to us. The nearest I could come up with was to think of stories from cultures that are very different to ours in certain aspects. If our culture plays a large part in who we are, then it doesn't seem out of the question that a very different culture would produce very different stories to our own. I think that the stories that would work as great examples for this discussion are probably lost to us, for the very reason that they just don't work anymore.

The most recent examples I can think of are the Robin Hood stories, and Gone with the Wind. The first because I think that there is, at least in the UK, a generally negative perception of vigilantism, which I think the Robin Hood stories can't help but bring to mind. (They do for me, anyway. I did love them as a child.) The attitude towards slavery of some of the characters in Gone with the Wind is comprehensible, but not something that I think is easily identified with anymore on a large scale.

As a Christian, I've been thinking about the historical things for which we're often criticised, such as the Crusades and the Inquisitions. Religion was much more intimately connected to political and cultural life, and even national security, back then. Even so, there was a greater tolerance for cruelty and injustice. We tend to assume that the prominence of religion in the past would have translated into greater piety, but in fact people have always been as corrupt and as corruptible as they are now.