Inspiration

Gimme Some

As I've mentioned a few times of late, I'm done with probably 95% of the development of the full Anathema saga. However, I've hit a bit of writer's block; I know where it's going to end, but I'm not quite sure how to bridge that last say 2% between where I am and the conclusion. I don't exactly want to bounce ideas around, since there are a few sizable plot twists throughout the story and I'd rather not ruin them for anyone (although one particular board member -who has a vested interest in my finishing soon- offered) but I am looking for a bit of inspiration.

To that end, I recently read/re-read a few books by my favorite authors (Isaac Asimov's Pebble in the Sky and Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea respectively), along with having watched the first four seasons of Babylon 5 a few months back. These got the creative juices flowing to an extent, but not quite in the way that I needed; Earthsea is of course fantasy, Pebble in the Sky is surprisingly two-dimensional for an Azimov (it was his first novel, after all), and B5 essentially laid the foundations for my hypothetical TC while steadfastly refusing to make me think of anything that was in the least related to Anathema aside from a few shout-outs.

So, since the EV devs community seems to be pretty savvy with its sci-fi, I figured I'd ask here to see if anyone had suggestions. I'm not necessarily looking for just science fiction however; anything good and illustrative and thought-provoking would fit the bill fine (I got more inspiration for Anathema from Watchmen than just about any piece of literature I've read). To give some ideas, a few that I've gotten a lot out of are:

The aforementioned Watchmen and Babylon 5, Starship Troopers (and if anybody asks "the book or the movie?" please remember that I'm talking about works that I felt inspired by 😛 ), Firefly, and The Mote in God's Eye. Also, although this is probably going to come completely out of left field for most of you, the works of Carl Jung.

Perhaps I should pick Dune up again; haven't read that one since I was 12 (oh my god it's been over a decade… I'm not used to thinking of my life in those terms!)

Finally, those of you who are interested in beta testing the complete saga, check out the beta post.

This post has been edited by Archon : 12 July 2009 - 06:11 PM

There is a Series by Troy Denning. It is all Star Wars taking place after SW VI. They revolve around the invasion of the Galaxy by the Yuuzhan Vong. I just happened to pick up the next to last book called Star by Star.

If you are looking for something Epic, I would suggest anything involving the Star Wars universe. If you don't like Star Wars, try it anyway. It will take your mind off your current writers block and maybe you will glean something from the book. Just by reading this one book, I have noticed it isn't all Jedi and black and white, like you expect SW to be. There are normal people here too 😄

The Honor Harrington novels by David Weber may be useful. If not, they're still wonderful books. And, then, there are always the Miles Vorkosigan novels 😛

This post has been edited by TonyR : 13 July 2009 - 06:00 AM

Well, book series I like:

If nothing else, read the Thrawn trilogy (5 years post-Endor), by Timothy Zahn. It is the definitive non-canon Star Wars. The full effect of this genius, of course, is not realized until afterwards, but there are a few signs (I mean seriously, what's the first thing you'd do if you were a genius who got hold of cloning equipment. But that's not really necessary.).

Long (11/12 books out, up to 1000 pages each, + a prequel), but very rich: The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I struggled a bit in the middle of the first book, when the main characters do something extremely stupid with long-lasting consequences, but after that I started losing sleep (Yes, it is possible to maintain reading two ~1000-page books in a day). There were other bits I didn't like, but there was always enough going on it didn't matter. This is high fantasy, overall, but some of the later works include more human plots, which would seem what you need. But don't start midseries. Also, don't read the prequel until after at least the first book.

Already mentioned, but I recommend Vorkosigan series and Dune. Not already mentioned is Hyperion, my personal second-favorite sci-fi novel of all time (under Dune). The problem is though that, at least in my experience, looking at other works doesn't help me find inspiration as much. I tend to get things working when I just focus only on my project, and creating things for it. As long as I have something written down I can always go back and change it as I think works, but if I don't write anything down I never get anything done at all.

Don't really know exactly what you're looking for, but here are some quick ideas that might help with inspiration. Some of these are pretty dumb:

-Someone needs data on something, and needs a system hacked or a location infiltrated, or someone captured.
-Something goes very wrong and the situation has to be salvaged.
-Some sort of technology needs to be built
-Someone important dies
-Someone important who already died turns out not to be dead
-Action has to be quickly taken to stop something from happening (or get something to happen) but something goes wrong and the player isn't able to explain, and has to carry out this extremely important activity with the friendly team and the enemy team both against the player. Things get explained later under tense circumstances.
-Unexpected attack
-Someone steals something/player has to steal something
-Betrayal
-Several-mission buildup to awesome battle
-Cargo/messages need carried (the basic ev mission)
-Some place important gets bombed
-Some important bad place is supposed to get bombed
-A new evil organization gets thrown into the mix
-Evil machines from the future, covered in organic tissue, get transported back in time to kill the player because the player's son is going to be the leader of a resistance against a huge army of robots that takes over the world after becoming a sentient AI, created from a government defense program or some such.
-Wait a second, that seems familiar...
-ALIENS! It worked with EVC...

Let's see. Hostile Takeover trilogy, by S. Andrew Swan. Neuromancer, by William Gibson. Anything by David Drake, preferably Hammer's Slammer's though. The Eisenhorn and Ravenor trilogies, by Dan Abnett. Armor, by John Steakly (sp?). Hellboy is amazing, pick up The Chained Coffin and Others from Amazon if you don't already have it.

That's about all I can think of in terms of inspiration. All of the above books are amazing works of fiction, especially Neuromancer, Armor, and the Eisenhorn and Ravenor trilogies, and, of course, Hellboy.

Most of the Sci-fi I've read has been amateur stuff online (and for some of that amateur would be far above them) since I don't have the disposable income to buy books all the time (and a good chunk of the ones I do get are fantasy). Off the top of my head, Hitchhiker's Triology is good, but I don't know how much inspiration you can get from that for a serious story.

QUOTE (Vast Deathmaster @ Jul 12 2009, 06:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

There is a Series by Troy Denning. It is all Star Wars taking place after SW VI. They revolve around the invasion of the Galaxy by the Yuuzhan Vong. I just happened to pick up the next to last book called Star by Star.

If you are looking for something Epic, I would suggest anything involving the Star Wars universe. If you don't like Star Wars, try it anyway. It will take your mind off your current writers block and maybe you will glean something from the book. Just by reading this one book, I have noticed it isn't all Jedi and black and white, like you expect SW to be. There are normal people here too 😄

Definitely. I've read the entire New Jedi Order series and own all but about five of them. TNJO is one of the best sets of Star Wars books I've yet read (I have about seventy on my bookshelf and have read dozens from the library) taking place 25-30 years after the Battle of Yavin (ABY).

Edit: Star by Star is NOT the second to last book. It's about halfway through. The ones highlighted red were cancelled: source.

QUOTE (Nonconventionally Creative @ Jul 12 2009, 11:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well, book series I like:

If nothing else, read the Thrawn trilogy (5 years post-Endor), by Timothy Zahn. It is the definitive non -canon Star Wars. The full effect of this genius, of course, is not realized until afterwards, but there are a few signs (I mean seriously, what's the first thing you'd do if you were a genius who got hold of cloning equipment. But that's not really necessary.).

I believe I have a Thrawn quote in my sig. Yes, the Thrawn series is much shorter than the New Jedi Order, but just as well written if not better. This is raw canon approved by George Lucas himself.

Other series I would recommend: although I'm not done with it yet, the Legacy of the Force series is excellent revolving around (as best I can tell) Jacen Solo dabbling in the Sith arts while the Galactic Alliance of Free Associations falls into civil war with against the Corellian Confederacy that demands the rights given by a GA system but will not hold up their end of the bargain. The mastermind of this is initially Thrackan Sal-Solo, Han Solo's cousin.

The X-wing series, I expect will the closest to what you are looking for. It's a series of nine books set a year or two before the Thrawn trilogy on the recapture of Coruscant, the problems for the Alliance that come with it along with Ysanne Isard and Warlord Zsinj attempting to destabilize or just outright hit the New Republic as hard as they can, respectively. The Wraith Squadron books (Wraith Squadron, Iron Fist and Solo Command) are my personal favorites out of the bunch. Especially Wraith Squadron. If you were a X-wing flying commando squad, you captured an Imperial pocket-carrier and one of your team just happens to be an actor, what would you do with it? That is one great book, probably my favorite out of all the SW books. It's that or Star by Star in the NJO series, but you will be hopelessly lost unless you read the ~10 books before it.

This post has been edited by gavin83209 : 14 July 2009 - 01:07 PM

QUOTE (gavin83209 @ Jul 13 2009, 11:11 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The X-wing series, ...

How did I forget these? Yes, good. But do read them in order.
On the other hand, if you want good short, unbound, stories, there there are several "Tales from" books, but I thought "- New Republic" and "- Empire" (vaguely time-labeled) better than the place-centric ones.

For something completely different watch The Hidden Fortress by Akira Kurosawa - a classic "Quest" movie

This post has been edited by TonyR : 13 July 2009 - 11:13 PM

man there are a bunch of books I would recommend but most of them don't come out until much later in the year.

Hmm... are you looking for ideas to build off of/make your own, or are you looking for something that's stimulating to get the creative juices flowing?

I'm a real big fan of Brandon Sanderson, who writes original fantasy novels (most notably the Mistborn trilogy, and is now finishing the Wheel of Time now that the origional author has died). I suppose they're technically "epic fantasy", but they're all very original settings, and definitely not a LOTR template. He paces his mysteries better than any other author I've read (including mystery authors), I've tried to learn from him. However, almost everything he's written is amazing, and is definitely worth the read.

I wouldn't suggest Dune. It's good, but I think it's over-hyped . Enjoyable, but not the best book in the universe IMHO. I can't believe no one's suggested it yet, but Ender's Game is a classic, and I throw it out because no sci-fi list would be complete without it.

Have you read Martin Turner's Frozen Heart novel? It's a quick read that might help stave off writer's block. Link stolen from his sig.

Personally, I like to do my brainstorming and writing to music. Actually, I think the "soundtrack" genre, though oft overlooked, is really good to write to. It has all the "mood" to set a scene, but it rarely tries to tell the story itself (as classical music sometimes will), leaving you free to do the writing yourself. Good examples:
-Blue Man Group, especially their first album, "Audio". I know they're primarily performance arts, but the album is shockingly good.
-Harmonielehre by John Adams (especially the third movement)
-John Williams has a lot of good stuff (he's the composer of the music for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman, and many more), although his stuff is too recognizable, you want something without prior associations.
-Videogame soundtracks. You're writing a videogame, so you might as well listen to a videogame. I recognized the soundtrack to Anathema 🙂 . Only a few of them are really good, though. I suggest:

Megaman remixes. Like This one. The games all had good music, but most of it's 8-bit or 16-bit so remixes are the place to look for higher quality mixes
Xenogears. Like These Two.
The Super Smash Brothers Brawl soundtrack, drawing from years of music and a couple of amazing composers, 1 gigabyte of re-orchestrated classics is bound to have some good pieces. Corneria and Master Hand Struggle are both great.
Most any Final Fantasy music, though I don't have any myself, they're all done by one composer who is most definitely the bomb.

EDIT Oh, gah! smacks head Have you read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress? Also by Heinlein (author of Starship Troopers), it's probably one of my top 3 favorite novels of all time, and definitely my favorite SF. IMO, it has everything I like about Starship Troopers, but better, and other good things thrown into it. It wins my award for most thought provoking novel, coolest use of physics in science fiction (ironically, the "fantasy" Mistborn actually wins in this category), best world building in science fiction, and has likable characters to boot, all without cutting down on the excitement. It's easy to be thought provoking but not exciting, or pausing the plot to preach the author's political ideals. This hits the right balance, keeps the action coming, and gets its point across through the plot and the conflict, without stopping for a character monologue.

This post has been edited by n64mon : 18 July 2009 - 08:54 PM

No, I didn't forget about you guys; an electrical storm knocked out my modem, the replacement didn't work, the replacement's replacement had to be mailed to us, after which we discovered our AirPort Extreme had also been fried. In short, it's been a crapshoot.

But yes, thank you all for the suggestions! I picked up Hyperion as I'd heard a few of my friends mention it before and had always meant to get around to it. About halfway through and I can say it's easily one of my favorite books of the genre. Thanks for the suggestion!

I tend to shy away from Star Wars books, not because I don't like Star Wars, but because in my mind, Star Wars is Episodes IV-VI. However, having played X-Wing and TIE Fighter, I'm intrigued by the Thrawn books because the blue-skinned badass was easily my favorite player in that series. Plus, if it has George Lucas' seal of approval, it makes me feel a bit better about betraying the original series. :laugh:

I have read Ender's Game , and wasn't all that impressed. To me, it's a really good book, but that's about it. The fact that my friends all read it and swore up and down that it was the best thing since Gutenberg probably set my expectations a big high, though. And on the subject of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress , I'm in the same boat with you, n64mon; I also read it, loved it, and then forgot to mention it here. 🙂 Interestingly, I found exactly what I was looking for, partially from the suggestions here, but mostly from another game: Mass Effect (I finally got an Intel Mac, and I'm going nuts on all the great games I missed). My only gripe so far –having become a Specter, downed the Thorian, and finished most of the side-quests up to this point– is that now I'm going to have a few more accusations of plagiarism if I ever release my TC.

Anyways, I think I'm back in a place where I can finish things up now. I did make productive use of my time away from writing by doing silly things like working and getting my lazy ass in gear at the local YMCA, but on the Anathema front, I got a lot of great work done on the fronts of ship/weapon differentiation and balance, so you can expect a much more tightly balanced game, slightly more diverse weapons (and an actually useful Gauss Cannon), and in general a more interesting set of choices in customization. Oh, and I replaced the overly campy and insanely busy new load screen with a much… nicer one.

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