Why AppleTV’s ‘Foundation’ Failed, and Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ Succeeded.

They are both wrote about the decline and fall of an empire but observe how this comes to be through different eyes and resolutions.

Asimov’s approach in ‘Foundation’ is one of a historian. He describes how bureaucratic inefficiencies and a disconnected oligarchy caused the end of the Galactic Empire. He does so analytically and logically throughout ‘Foundation’ and ‘Foundation and Empire’. He changes in ‘Second Foundation’ when he introduces a proper protagonist/antagonist narrative. He had to. The first two books were an amalgamation of published short stories with a common theme. To continue the story beyond the first two books he had to shift style and construction. From ‘Second Foundation’ to his last Foundation book he continues the narrative in this way but never abandons the logic (as questionable it becomes) of the events to the end.

Herbert tells the same story but from a more traditional mythological saga approach. The story of how the empire falls and rises again is the story of the hero’s journey. It begins with Paul Atreides and ends with Duncan Idaho, the last “true Atreides” (I do not include those works by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson because those books were not part of the original vision). Herbert tells the story as a storyteller. Where ‘Foundation’ stresses the “Science” ‘Dune’ is all about the “Fiction”. AppleTV failed with its version of ‘Foundation’ because David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman tried to make it into something it wasn’t, a mythic saga. Nothing in the first book lends itself useful for this kind of format. Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ is systematically logical and few on character development. To adapt it, Goyer and Friedman used a familiar narrative, and it is the reason it feels more like a bad imitation of the worst ‘Star Wars’ tale. This is not the same for Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’. Herbert’s ‘Dune’ is a mythic saga. Other than changes by the director for running time and artistic interpretation it is the same story by Frank Herbert. ‘Foundation’ failed with audiences because it tried to be something it wasn’t, and ‘Dune’ succeeded because it was what people expected.

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“How do you create a book or characters that people will love?”

Someone on one of the social media creative writing groups I belong to posted, “Why in the world would anyone like Harry Potter? …How do you create a book or characters that people will love?”

It’s all about hard work, timing, and the fickle predilections of a fad. You can be a good writer with a good idea and never succeed because it just isn’t what the readership is looking for at the time. You can also be a good writer with a good idea that resonates with readers that, with their favorable reviews, may engage others, and your works become a hit.

J. K. Rowling’s success wasn’t overnight, it took years of effort to finally make it. Rowling worked on Harry Potter for five years, getting feedback, rewriting, more feedback, more rewriting, until she got something she was happy with. It still wasn’t easy, she had to get it published. When publishers refused to read it unless she got an agent she got one. Even after that, she was rejected by 12 publishers until one decided to print. Then came promoting it. Fortunately for ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ it connected with young people through its protagonist. The character of Harry resonated with adolescents through fantasy and plain good storytelling in a way they understood. The more the word spread about this book, the more excitement was generated about it, the more books flew off the shelves in sales. J. K. Rowling had a hit in little time after publishing, but also, after 7 long years of hard work. It could have just as easily, as many have learned on their own, never have amounted to anything. It could have ended up in the “Bargain Book” section after its first edition. There’s no way to predict what the public wants.

But there are ways to improve your chances by,

1. Make a good product (yeah, unless you’re doing this for fun, or obscurity, your book is a product). Edit, edit, EDIT! NOTHING IS SACRED! You, your family, and your friends may think your work is a masterpiece as is but unless they plan to purchase every single book published it’s the general public you have to convince (people can distinguish between something readable from crap).

2. Try to be original, fresh. If there are too many books about zombies, and you like writing about zombies, how can you make your “zombie story” different? (Or, here’s an idea, give up writing on zombies and find something different.)

3. Learn to promote your product (GET THE WORD OUT! People aren’t going to randomly flock to you just because YOU think YOU’RE great).

4. DON’T GIVE UP! The one thing that is common among successful writers is that THEY DIDN’T GIVE UP. QUITTERS NEVER WIN!

So, do you think you have the next “Best Selling” phenomenon? I know I hope I do with my work in progress. The difference may be all in the effort we put in and what readers are looking for.

-A. M. Holmes

Challenge Accepted!

A Pro-Trump Meme from Facebook I couldn’t resist trolling

Challenge accepted. I’ll go down the line of what I love about the Democratic platform (and what the party, Biden, and Harris have committed to) and then any of you Trumpsters can present the Republican’s version (betcha most of you don’t even know). And just like the meme says, INSTEAD OF BASHING DEMOCRATS, WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE REPUBLICANS.

1. Instead of lying to the people of this country and not take responsibility how about acting like a real leader. When 9/11 happened, President Bush took control and mobilized our nation not only militarily but in political solidarity. We need that sort of leadership to get through the pandemic. Unity, not denial and finger-pointing.

2. Our economy is a mess and shoveling more money into big businesses isn’t doing anything but making the rich richer. We need to get our butts out of the 20th century and come up with new and innovative ideas to move forward. FDR did the same and brought our nation out of the Depression.

3. We have the ACA (Obamacare) and for as many times Republicans tried to repeal it, it remains. So, lets compromise and REFINE IT so it works for EVERYONE.

4. Reform, reform, reform. That’s all Washington has talked about concerning our justice system and all it has amounted to is building more prisons and shoving social worker duties onto our already overwhelmed police forces. What’s a “wellness check” going to do if crimes are committed elsewhere? The bottom line in many escalating circumstances is, we must separate mental/social care to those better trained, and the police to do what they do best -protecting people and property.

5. The scenes of the Western coast burn (due to severe drought), the numerous cat 4 hurricanes, weather patterns changing across the country are symptoms of what is happening around the world. You can continue to deny it, but the reality is CLIMATE CHANGE is here. But what can we do? There is an opportunity here that will not only provide jobs but make America the center of a NEW GREEN TECHNOLOGICAL INITIATIVE by investing time, money, and some of the brightest people to work on it. Fossil fuels, and the economies it supports, are like the diabetic eating only cake and ice cream, eventually, he will die soon than later. That’s what we need to avoid to make America TRULY great again.

6. Putting up a wall isn’t working. It never will and will be seen as a boondoggle someday. We have the technology (drones, motion cameras, etc.) that are more efficient than the old tech of “round them up and ship them out”. What about the ones already here? Let’s come up with a way to integrate them into our country. We’ve done it many times before with the Germans, Irish, Asians, Italians why not now? Canada has the largest number of immigrants and they can handle it by just doing that, handling it.

7. If there one thing that this pandemic has proven is that when it comes to wifi, we are a THIRD WORLD COUNTRY. Right now, there are Chinese goat herders in western China that gets better connectivity than most of us. What does this have to do with public education?  How many of you have kids who had to, or now, do online classes? Public education SHOULD BE FREE TO THE PUBLIC AND SO SHOULD THE MEANS IT IS PROVIDED!

8. Leadership. Truman once said, “Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they don’t want to do and like it.” Right now, nobody likes doing what needs to be done and avoiding responsibility. We need leadership back in our presidency and as another Truman quote goes, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” If you can’t stand the criticism, the hard work, the advice of others more learned in those areas of concern, then step down and let someone else a try.

Your turn. What’s good about the Republicans? And don’t use single-syllable words and GIFs. Speak up and defend what Trump will do for you. by saying “America will be GREAT and Safe” means absolutely NOTHING if you can’t back it up.

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Transparency in Science

Scientific research, unlike how it’s portray on the screen, is a lot of work spending many weeks in just data collecting. After that, comes the many days compiling and evaluating the research.

I have heard a lot on social media lately about how “scientific researchers are concealing information from the general public” that the scientific community are “colluding to inflate the number of those infected with the coronavirus to embarrass the president”, or that they are just lying about the results. These people say that there is a “lack of transparency” within the scientific community and that everything they say should be doubted. All of this comes from the lack of understanding of how research studies are reviewed before its publication and why peer review is so important.

For science to work there has to be transparency but sometimes you have to wait for the results to be evaluated and peer review. The general public has a problem understanding the last two, especially peer review. When a study is first presented it must be gone over by experts before publishing. This is not, as conspiracy nuts like to suggest, to protect the “Science Oligarchy” but to catch any missed errors in the methodology, data collecting, margin of error, and conclusion. A good study is one in which the data suggest something not quite as expected. If your research supports your hypothesis too strongly, one has to doubt the legitimacy of the methodology, data collection, or conclusion. This is why evaluation and peer review are important. When millions of dollars can sometimes ride on the correct results, it can be devastating to a group if there are mistakes in their study. Sometimes, and the news media like to report on these, some research groups have faked data, or cheated in their methodology to get the results they want. They are rare (100s of thousands of studies are done yearly) because most are caught during the review process. Getting caught cheating carries a heavy penalty. Not only do you lose your job, your reputation as a researcher and options for future work in the science field is permanently damaged.

Here are several recent Sars-Cov-2 vaccine studies. all you have to do is find where to look and read them. Oh, and most news media reporters do not have the time nor the technical know-how to figure out what these studies mean. These are the two leading vaccine studies most heard on the news lately. if you follow me you’d know I share the stuff.

For the Oxford-AstraZeneca study, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31604-4/fulltext#seccestitle80

For the NIAID-Moderna study, https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2022483

-A. M. Holmes

Why I Want To Become a Writer.

Sounds like a silly thing an adult to write about. You would imagine that this sort of a subject belongs in some sixth grade English class. But after reading some of the comments in writing groups on social media I find a lot of people don’t have a clue why they want to write. Some said it is because they can’t find a story interesting enough so they think they can come up with one of their own that is better. Others think it is an easy way to fame and fortune and good marketing. And then, there are the ones who think, “Well, gosh, I have a really good story and people will think so too”.

I have to admit I fall into that last group. But, even though I’m a realist, I still believe people will enjoy what I create. Why?

Because storytelling is part of what makes us human beings. It’s in our nature and has been part of us since the time we gathered around the fire back in our hunter-gatherer days. Some of us like it and get better at it than others. For example, I see a pile of snow after a snowplow had come through and I imagine mountains and a valley and the people who live there. I see a forest and imagine what forest would be like on other worlds, what creatures live within it, who would visit it and why? I see the advancements in science and I imagine not a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world but one open to numerous, promising possibilities. Most of all, I see a good story and I imagine what it would be like to share it with an interested audience.

That is why I want to be a writer, to find my audience, to tell stories, and if on the way I become wealthy and famous, well…

Battles Are Not Won By Skirmishes and Wars Are Not Won Without Wins!

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As President Trump continues to lie, manipulate, and bully his populistic policies his nationalist followers continue to mistaken it for effectiveness and ignore the folly of it. In the meanwhile, our country continues on its chaotic course creating trade wars with stronger economies than our own and alienating allies. To stop Trump the majority that opposes him has to unite under one movement and one party. This could be the Democratic Party. Trump himself today said that if the Democrats wish to determine who becomes Supreme Court Justice they need to win elections.

If that’s the case then let’s do it! Let the “Blue Wave” overwhelm the Republicans in the November Elections! But in order to do that the Democrat Party has to pick their fights skillfully and escape the label of “liberal obstructionist” the Republicans have put on them. They have to embrace those issues the GOP have shown to be least effective and win on issues like immigration; trade; gun control and healthcare.

Let them have their Supreme Court Justice pick, let Trump have Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court Justice. Battles are not won by skirmishes and wars are not won without wins! To win in the 2018 mid-term elections the Democrats must be the Progressive leadership Millennials and Gen-Z are looking for. Only they have the numbers to effectively overwhelm Trump Boomer support.

-A. M. Holmes

 

Racism, a thought.

Although it is widely thought among Americans that racism is a bad thing it seems to be generally tolerated. It’s kind of like a group of the loudest, most obnoxious people you can think of in a crowded room. Some will distance themselves, “If you don’t pay them the attention they’ll quiet down and go away”. Some will pretend they don’t exist, “Nonsense, there’s no one that loud in here and if there were, what of it? EVERYBODY is noisy.” Others will try to rationalize the whole thing, “Maybe they have a reason to be rude?”. None of this really works against racists and their hate so we are often left with only two courses of action. As a majority, we could shout louder and drown them out or, better yet, throw them out of the room altogether.

-A. M. Holmes

Not On Pomp and Circumstance But of the Rights of the People: The True Meaning of the 4th of July

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“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

So, begins one of Western civilization’s most important documents, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America for independence. Much has already been said about it in the last 242 years since it was written and I’m sure much more will be said today on this July 4th, 2018 especially on social media and Twitter in particular. You’ll hear how this is the work of a people seeking Freedom and Justice from an overbearing dictatorial monarchy, or of how this was the foundation upon which this Great Country was built on, or of how a bunch of privileged White Men got together and for their own purposes created such hypocrisy. You’ll hear all of this and maybe even a little about the history that led to that meeting on July in Philadelphia. Consider this my small contribution for I think it’s the next part of the document that I find relevant to our times and worth a look.

 “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes”.

Here we have a group of people who came to the Americas seeking asylum from whatever affected them, war; famine; disease; religious and ethnic persecution and established a new home in a land controlled by a government distant not only geographically, but culturally and ideologically as well. King George III and Great Britain were involved in several conflicts mostly around the issue of trade and with France in opposition. At first, they couldn’t have cared less what a bunch of lower class migrants did if they could still be exploited. The government needed money to fight its wars and taxing the importation of goods was a good and quick way of getting it. The elitist aristocrats in England were not concerned with how this would affect the common people’s livelihood, they thought that the people in the Americas were too uneducated, too easily influenced by sedition, not worth the trouble if they remained loyal to the Monarchy.  But, if they did become rebellious, a swift and powerful show of force was necessary to put them back in line. This King George and Parliament did time and time again with some of its most lethal consequences in places like Boston and Charlestown, Massachusetts. Many people died in the streets, hills, and pastures trying to protest what they thought was an unfair, Godless, merciless dictatorship. And they were not all English for, as I pointed out above, many came from other countries, some willingly and others not so much, looking for the same thing, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. So, when the English government and its King refused to listen to their complaints they took the only option they thought was open to them, they assembled as representatives of the people of the thirteen United States of America and voted to reject that government through a formal Declaration of Independence. As you read it, and I encourage you to do so, you will find that it was not a declaration of armed conflict, no war between England and the Americas, but the last attempt to reach a compromise on a long list of grievances the government refused to address because it thought it as nothing more than the whining of a bunch of malcontents. Here are some of the highlights of those complaints against King George III and His Royalists Tory government:

– He (the King and his government) has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

-He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

-He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

-He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose, obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

-He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

-He has erected a multitude of New Offices and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

-For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world.

-For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.

If all of this sounds familiar it’s only because those who govern now have forgotten, or more so forsaken, what this country was truly founded on, not Pomp and Circumstance but of the Rights of the People to Govern themselves and when their government opposes them, that government must Abdicate its Power.

“In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

Words to remember on July 4th, 2018 and, better yet, in November.

 

-A. M. Holmes

Dumb Kids? How About Ignorant Boomers.

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Brad Upton is a typical Boomer and a so-called “comedian”. I’m 56 years-old and I have more respect for our younger generation than this ignorant, self-indulgent, moron. Everything he mentioned originated through the efforts of the lazy, angst driven, paranoid, litigation seeking, sociopathic, hypocritical Boomers, parents of the Millenials. And in typical Boomer fashion, blame others for your own faults. Boomers are driving this word towards its destruction as Xers and Millennials try their best to clean up their mess. And don’t get me started on “Entitlements”. During the 60’s and 70’s Boomers were the force that created all the government programs. they  “Dumb and soft?” you Boomers were the morons that created the reasons for all those warnings on labels from “Do not use the blow dryer in the shower” to “This coffee is Hot”. Consumer Protection Agency, theirs. EPA, theirs. OSHA, theirs. Now they demand that they to be dismantled because it’s wasteful. Ah, all except social security which Xers and Millennials are now forced to support. So please stop making fun of what you have little understood of (another Boomer characteristic) and fix your mess! Wait! That’s what you have us for!

Oh, and one last thing. Let me give you a perfect example of Boomer Idiocy. My daughter took her grandma to Cedar Point and the following conversation took place which she shared on social media.

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Enough said.

-A. M. Holmes