My thoughts on: World War Z (Film)

So, I just got done watching World War Z. Figured I’d jot down my thoughts for those that might be interested. First, however, let me put out a disclaimer: I have not read the book. It’s on my list, and I know there are massive discrepancies between movie and book, but I haven’t read it yet. As such, I will not be making any direct comparisons between the two mediums.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way…

World War Z isn’t exactly your typical zombie film. The zombies are extremely comparable to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later-style of infected, rather than the slow, walker-style we grew up with. This, in addition to the form they’re represented in, leads to one truth.

The movie isn’t about the zombies being the end of the world, it’s about a worldwide viral epidemic. If you let this realization sink in, you’ll enjoy the film much more than if you expect a Dawn of the Dead form of zombie film. While this kind of message has nearly always existed in zombie films, World War Z opts to make it the central platform it stands on.

The zombies are nearly always depicted as this, literally, unending swarm of infection that no walls can hold back, no weapon can really kill. It’s this perspective that makes the film remarkably tense and nerve-wracking, despite its PG-13 rating, as you see city after city, nation after nation fall to this horde of disease.

Despite its rating, as well, it’s remarkably brutal and violent. People commit suicide and amputate limbs in order to try and stop infection within them, infected literally flow over walls and rooftops, slamming down onto the streets, then get back up and pursue the living. Some scenes of gore and mutilation, like you’ve most likely come to expect from pieces like The Walking Dead, are forgone but you forget that as you watch the encroaching hordes.

Plot-wise, the film centers around Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry Lane, who was a former UN investigator who’s sent out across the world to find a cure for the infection. Reluctant to do so, he’s told that unless he goes out, his family will be kicked off the ship that they’ve been evacuated to. From there, he goes around the world as he pursues leads regarding the virus.

Pitt actually did quite a good job as Gerry, with solid performances by Mireille Enos who plays his wife, Karin Lane, and Daniella Kertesz who plays Segen, an Isreali soldier who accompanies him. While it may not be something you’ll be expecting acting awards to go to, it most certainly didn’t detract from the film. Due to events in the film, I actually found Kertesz’s character and performance to be quite sympathetic.

The camera-work can get a bit too shaky for my taste in some action heavy scenes, but that’s more of a personal preference than a problem with the film. The cinematography of the locations, however, is very impressive. It’s not afraid to pull the camera out and show that, “Hey, this virus is literally the fall of this entire city and this nation as a whole.”

Overall, World War Z carries two stories. The first story is about Pitt’s character and the lengths he’ll go to try and keep his family safe. The second, and far more prevalent, is simply “Be prepared.” It may not be zombies, it may not be war, but society literally can crumble down around us. In the aftermath of that, it’ll be the prepared and the dedicated who will survive.

I surprisingly enjoyed my time with the film. After hearing about how much of a departure it was from the source, along with the investment costs and ending re-shoot, my hopes weren’t terribly high. I left the theater, however, thinking that my time and money had been well spent.

Some recent findings.

I decided a few nights ago to share a poll to my readers in order to see what kind and method of content from me that they’d like to see going forward. The reason for this is simple, I have enough projects on my plate that I crave the chance to do, but I can’t decide on which one to buckle down on. So I took it to the readers to try and help cure me of my predicament.

First off, if you missed the link to the poll that was on my social feeds, it is right here. It’s still open, so if you want to contribute, just click the link and pick an answer.

So what kind of data have I been able to gleam from the results? Actually, there are three separate pieces of info I’ve been able to gather from the results thus far. First, let me detail what votes have been cast and where.

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A – Go for a novel – 3 votes.

B – Pound out short stories and submit them to magazines – 1 vote.

C – Write and assemble a collection of short works and release it on Amazon – 2 votes.

D – Write and release separate short stories, novelettes, ect, on Amazon – 2 votes.

E – Do whatever the hell you want, moron – 3 votes.

Now, these answers have provided some rather interesting pieces of data for me. Let me explain how I’m interpreting this info so you can see where I am coming from.

1) I’ve got 11 votes. While I haven’t been shoving this poll down everyone’s throats, I think this is indicative of a smaller audience. As far as the readers go, this isn’t a bad thing.

To me, however, it means that I should be looking into ways to expand the existing readership and start bringing in a newer crowd. This could include things like promotions, giveaways, ect. Who knows, but it is definitely something for me to think on. This might also tie directly into the next couple of points though, so we’ll see.

2) The magazine option only has one vote. Sure, we haven’t seen a terribly large results base, but this seems rather interesting. Is it that you all would rather see projects from me that are entirely independent from other publications? Do you lot believe my stories and their quality are able to stand up entirely on their own in the Amazon marketplace? Also, could moving independently into the Kindle store create more visibility and increase my readership size? It’s an interesting question.

3) The “Do whatever the hell you want, moron,” option is tied for the lead with the novel approach. This makes me wonder if there really is a preference amongst the readers about what sort of content that is desired. I had almost expected the short fiction or collection options to take the lead, not either a novel or whatever.

While the “whatever you want,” option doesn’t help solve my priorities question, it definitely raises my eyebrow. Does the notion that some viewers want to see a larger, grander effort while others don’t particularly care what they get so long as they get more actually ring true?

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So, do these findings raise my hopes or give me a sense of direction? Yes, in its own way, it does. It gives me hope at the prospect of moving into the independent marketplace, relying more on my own stories and their quality rather than a magazine and the other contributors to help sell it and possibly cast attention my way.

I’ll continue to watch the findings and see what further results or feedback might develop. However, if you want to make your thoughts on these questions heard, feel free to leave either a comment or email discussing your feelings on the matter.

In the meantime, I’m heading back to doing some editing for Guns of Asgard. I know the prospect of further work on that has at least a couple people rather excited, so I figure it’s time to get on with that. Afterward, it’s back to work on Under a Falling Sky. The foot is in the door, so now it’s time to capitalize on that.

Project “S” revealed.

As I mentioned back in this article, I had “set a ludicrous goal.” You might also have seen me mentioned Project “S” on my social media feeds. These two are one and the same, and now will be revealed.

Project “S” is actually a short story that I’ve written since falling ill back on the 10th, titled “Salvaging Life.” At just under 4000 words, it’s a Science Fiction tale about a space-based salvaging crew that makes first contact with an alien species. Its entire purpose – besides telling a story that I wanted to create and all that jazz – was simple: have it be my first piece ever submitted to Clarkesworld Magazine.

Yeah, talk about shooting for the stars, right? Well, that was entirely the point. Due to the recent euphoric experience I had when I was accepted by Fireside Magazine, I decided that I needed to make an effort that either went big or went home. So I wrote the story, edited it multiple times, then sent it out for consideration.

It took less than 24 hours before I received a form rejection. When I saw it, I smiled happily.

“Wait, who the hell wants to hear they’ve been rejected?” I can hear you yelling. The answer is, the guy who wanted to be told that he wasn’t some jewel that just hadn’t been seen yet, who wanted to know that he wasn’t squandering some miraculous gift during those long nights where no progress was made.

If I had been accepted, I’d have sincerely felt like there was something wrong with the universe. I’d then also feel self-loathing at my squandering of my literary abilities (as if I didn’t already, but still). In a way, as amazing as being accepted would be, it feels better that I was knocked back down a peg.

It has felt like every time I shot for the stars – first being published, then being accepted by Fireside, ect – I wound up striking my mark. I needed to feel like I wasn’t infallible. So now here I sit with a complete short story that is looking for a home. There are plenty of options for me to take, so I’ll figure out what to do with it at some point.

For now, however, I’ll be quite content to be in the same mud as many of my fellow writers and work on more edits for other projects and imagine new tales to tell.

The news from the lazy front!

So yeah, I think you’re probably all getting the vibe of what is going to be discussed in this post by the title alone. Not exactly like I’m trying very hard to cover it up or anything, that’s just how it is.

It’s been nearly a month since I last updated the page, and not much has happened. I’ve mentally been turning Under a Falling Sky around in my head over and over, trying to create a plot to follow that strikes me as a quality piece. So far, the ground work is there, but it needs some work and refinement to even be something I consider worth starting the writing on.

If I haven’t been working on Under a Falling Sky, what have I been doing then? The answer is: not much. I’ve been working (slowly) on the refinement of Blood in the Machine and trying to get that ready enough for me to consider throwing it at an editor and praying for the best, but that’s about it.

Yes, I’ve been violating the cardinal rule of all writers, “Write something every day.” It just hasn’t been there for me. Part of the reason why, I believe, is in how I manage my time and where I set some aside for writing. Up until now, I’ve been attempting to set aside time for writing during the night time, once I get home from work. By this point, I’m generally kind of beat and tired, just wanting to screw off for what’s left of the day.

That’s changing.

I’m going to try and shift time around on my schedule, setting aside some time in the AM – before I go to work – to write. If that means revamping my sleep schedule, so be it, but progress must be made and it isn’t happening in the PM.

Second thing I’m gonna do? Set my sights in a ludicrous goal. I even already have one in mind that I have a story concept for, I’ve just got to make it happen. Is it brash? Yes. Is it foolish? Quite likely. Is it insane? Probably, but what hasn’t been on this whack-ass journey thus far?

Am I gonna tell you what it is? Likely not, at least not for now. I want to try and take my shot at it first. I’ll just say this: If I actually accomplish this, and it’s a success, I’ll have been grossly underestimating myself.

Well, off to go cause a ruckus. See you guys on the tubes!

The State of the Mind.

Well, this has been awhile. So what’s going on? Well…

1) Flash Fiction submissions. I’ve recently written and submitted two pieces of Flash Fiction out and am waiting to hear back on. Both are technically pieces of contemporary fantasy, though in their own way. As a whole, however, I am actually thankful to be done with Flash Fiction. The restrictiveness of it, while great as a learning instrument, is just unbearable for someone like me. I enjoy having some room to elaborate and unveil things, something that Flash Fiction doesn’t afford you in the slightest.

2) Under a Falling Sky is back in the re-working chamber. Not after a draft, mind you, but on the conceptual front. I’m just not pleased with the current state of the story, so it’ll be being reworked and re-engineered for now. It is a setting and a story I want to show, but it’s just being a little … difficult.

So, why don’t I just shelve Under a Falling Sky in favor of working on the Dark Stars universe? Well, I’d rather not have my first novel out the door being part of a larger, sprawling series which is rather intertwined. So, for that reason, I am wanting to make this story be my debut, but I want it done in a proper way.

3) On the revisions and editing front, I have Echoes which needs a plot revision before I post it up for beta reading. I also still have Guns of Asgard which needs a load of edits and revisions, so there’s that. Then, to round that off, Blood in the Machine still needs some work, though actually only a little. So, as you can see, there’s still plenty to be done.

4) On the gaming front, I’ve actually become quite engrossed in three titles for the moment. I’ve fallen back in love with The Secret World & Diablo 3, while I’ve also been starting to play Defiance. All three are unique and quite enjoyable. In case anyone wants to track me down, I’ll make it easy for ya.

TSW: Vaerys; Defiance: Alec Rho; Diablo 3: Makon#1350.

Anyways, I am off to go grab a few groceries, stew on some ideas for UaFS, and see about getting into trying tea (the proper English way), so I’ll be off for a little while. Ciao.