Tag Archives: movie

Intellectual Property – an Indie minefield

I am in no danger of having my intellectual property [IP] diddled away by some corporation waving a contract, but Kristine Kathryn Rusch* is, and her latest post was scary to say the least. Here’s a short quote:

‘Those companies can all acquire IP from stupid writers for less than $10,000 per property forever. Just say the word “movie” or “TV” and most stupid writers give away their IP for free, in the hopes of having a movie or TV show made from their property. The property they no longer own, by the way.’

But the most terrifying part was this:

It doesn’t matter if your copyright is registered, the expert said. They’ll register anyway, even before they’ve started production on anything. The strategy is to create confusion over who owns the copyright, and it’ll take litigation to straighten that confusion out.

The bold emphasis is mine but the meaning is clear – one small Indie hasn’t a hope of fighting a company with millions of dollars in its war chest. Can you afford to take a production company to court to get your intellectual property back?

“Oh but if I’m being paid for it then it doesn’t matter.”

Yeah, that’s the big ‘if’, but sadly those contracts make sure you get little if anything in return.

I really, truly, strongly suggest you read the Rusch article, just in case….

http://kriswrites.com/2017/10/25/business-musings-stealing-intellectual-property/

I’ll confess, part of my outrage stems from the fact that I have day dreams too. I would love to see the Innerscape story turned into a movie or a big, beautiful game. I understand the desperation to have that kind of validation, because I share it. If someone came knocking, waving a contract in my face, I know I’d have stars in my eyes and the k-ching of cash registers in my ears too. But after this warning, I hope I remember that the one thing worse than never finding fame and fortune is being cheated out of it…by a corporate with lots of money and no scruples.

Seriously, if you’re an Indie author, please read the Rusch article.

Meeks

*Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a Hugo award winning writer with her own wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristine_Kathryn_Rusch

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‘Ready Player One’ a #5star review

Before I begin, a warning to all non-gamers – tune out now.

ready player oneOkay, for those of you left, let me begin by saying that ‘Ready Player One’, by Ernest Cline, is the first non-Indie novel I have read in a very long time. I broke my unwritten rule about supporting only Indies because I’d heard the story was brilliant. It is. It’s a tour de force of imagination, but not for everyone.

Why? Because it’s all about gaming. MUDs, consoles, MMORPGs, VR, you name it. There’s even an homage to all things 80’s thrown in to season the mix. But if all those acronyms mean nothing to you, then neither will the plot because gaming provides the structure and mindset that makes the plot compelling.

And it is a compelling story. Set in the 2040s, ‘Ready Player One’ paints a dystopian picture of a world in which we left things too late. Climate Change is no longer a theory to be disputed, it is a reality to be endured, and for the majority of America’s population, that means living in abject poverty.

With the real world so grim, most people escape to the virtual reality of the OASIS, which is like our internet on steroids. VR immersion rigs – goggles, haptic gloves and suits – and cheap OASIS access mean that even the very poor can escape reality, at least to some extent.

But as with all good stories, there is a villain of the piece, and in the case of ‘Ready Player One’, that villain is a corporation known as IOI.IOI want to control OASIS because by doing so they would gain control of vast swathes of the world’s population.

Standing against this corporate threat are a bunch of teenaged geeks – Parzival, Aech, Art3mis, Daito and Shoto – called gunters. The action, however, unfolds on both the VR and real world planes, blurring the lines of both.

Is the plot innovative and new? Um, yes and no. At its core, the story is about the fight between good and evil, which is as old as human time itself. But how it’s done is why the story is so compelling. Being able to empathize with all of the main characters also helps.

The main character is an avatar called Parzival. The young man behind Parzival is Wade, an orphan who lives with his aunt and her abusive boyfriends in a ‘stack’. Stacks are trailer parks that have been built upwards rather than outwards [to save space] and they provide shelter to the very poor.

Wade can access the OASIS because at the beginning of the story, he is a school-age boy and all school-age children are provided basic access for free – so they can attend virtual schools on a virtual planet called LUDUS.

As always, of course, money talks, even in a virtual reality, so we become invested in Wade’s life because he is the stereotypical geek. The big difference between him, and say someone like me, is that Wade/Parzival is one of the smartest geeks around. Luckily, his insecurities make us love him even as we wish we were more like him. -cough-

And then there is the gentle love story I mentioned. It’s there, and it’s an integral part of the story, but it is not the integral part of the story, the pivot around which all else revolves. If you need a comparison, think Chani and Paul Muad’ib from the Dune saga.

For me, the love story in ‘Ready Player One’ struck just the right balance because it provided a change of pace when needed, as well as motivation for parts of Wade’s character development. All without ever overshadowing the science fiction element. Then again, I may be a bit old-fashioned when it comes to science fiction and romance.

And finally a word about the writing. Here too, the word that springs to mind is balance. At its core, science fiction [like its cousin Fantasy] is all about world building, so info. dumps are almost inevitable. The trick, then, is to balance the info. dumps with the action so the reader wants to keep reading.

As you can imagine, balancing two such conflicting elements, whilst also juggling character development, social commentary and that hint of romance, is one heck of a job. Ernest Cline, the author of ‘Ready Player One’ manages to keep all his balls [pun intended] in the air…most of the time.

I think I only really became aware of the info. dumps once or twice during the entire story, and even then, I was interested enough in the world to feel no resentment.

This was a story I enjoyed from start to finish, and it saddens me to think that such quintessential science fiction has been largely ignored by the establishment. It did win the Prometheus Award in 2012, but for my money, it should have won the Hugo and Nebula awards as well. It didn’t, but perhaps, as with The Martian, Ready Player One will gain the recognition it deserves when/if Steven Spielberg turns it into a movie.

In the meantime, why not read the book? Honestly, if you have ever played a video game, of any sort, then this novel is a must read.

cheers

Meeks

 


Paddington B Bear – just too cute to resist!

My thanks to Moviejoltz for posting this delightful trailer. 🙂 Enjoy!


Alan Turing and The Imitation Game

Alan Turing CumberbathSometimes things happen in clusters. Or perhaps it just feels that way because, having been alerted to the first ‘something’, we then notice similar somethings all over the place…

Okay, apologies for that rather metaphysical beginning, but I am seeing a rather interesting cluster at the moment, and it all began with the movie The Imitation Game.

The Daughter and I went to see The Imitation Game a couple of days ago as my birthday treat. Why? Because the movie is about Alan Turing, the father of modern computers, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch who’s so sexy and you all know how much I love computers… -cough-

Like many people, I knew of Turing, not because of Enigma, and the World War II code-breaking, but because of his test for computers. In essence, Turing’s idea was to get a judge to ‘converse’ blindly [using a keyboard and screen] with a human being and a computer. If the judge could not pick the difference between the human and the computer then the computer could be said to be ‘intelligent’.

Did a little bell just go off? Yes, well done – intelligent computers are the Holy Grail of AI research, so you can see why I’d be interested in Alan Turing. But the movie delivered a great deal more than just some dry recital of computer history.

For the Daughter and I, two things really stood out from the movie – that Turing was gay [I hadn’t known that] and that Joan Clarke, one of the other codebreakers, was just as brilliant as he was. Two brilliant people, arguably two of the most brilliant people of the 20th Century, and one was gay while the other was a woman. [And yes, I looked it up, Joan Clarke was a real woman]

Now, I’m a humanist rather than any other flavour of -ist, but right then and there, I would have waved my little flag if I had had one. Bloody hell – a gay man and a woman!

If I were gay I would compile a list of all the brilliant people in history who were gay, and right at the top I’d put Alan Turing’s name, along with that of Leonardo Da Vinci, so everyone could see what a massive contribution gay people have made to the world. Then I’d sit down and compile another list, but this one would be of women who have made a massive contribution to the world.

Why? Because human culture has for too long assumed that everything good ever created or discovered was done so by straight white men.

Hmm… and while I was at it I’d probably start combing through the history books of China and India and the rest of the non-white world for the people who created all the things we in the West don’t give them credit for. But that’s a rant for another day.

For now let me just say that the movie was excellent. Benedict Cumberbatch is an extraordinary actor who seems to excel in these slightly quirky roles, while Keira Knightly actually managed to come across as a slightly awkward, but very smart Joan Clarke. Definitely the kind of movie I’d see again.

Going back to the inequities of history, however, and the prominence of straight white men, my eye was caught this morning by –

“Why do discussions of creative genius so often happen about white male writers such as Jonathan Franzen? ”

http://www.science20.com/the_conversation/genius_white_middle_class_heterosexual_men_overrepresented-152212

The article is concerned with the lack of representation of women in literature rather than science, but great minds are great minds no matter what subject they explore.

A happy side-effect of discovering that article was that it led me to a site called Science 2.0. I’m not sure if the site itself is Australian, but the three articles I read were all written by Australian academics. I think the site is like a wordpress for geeks. 🙂

I know two instances of anything do not a cluster make, but I suspect you out there will have other examples for us to share. It goes without saying that I’d be really happy if you did share in comments!

cheers

Meeks

Just had to add this artist named by Candy Korman – Artemisia Gentileschi 16th Century, Italy. This is her self portrait. But look at the angle!

Artemisia self portrait

 


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