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Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin: “Spielung” zu “Die Säulen der Erde” (Ken Follett, Daedalic Entertainment) & “literarisches Videospiel-Quartett”

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…über Videospiele sprechen wie über Literatur?

  • Carsten Görig (u.a. Spiegel, Stern)
  • Sonja Wild (u.a. WASD, Superlevel)
  • Valentina Tamer (Spielautorin, u.a. “Die Säulen der Erde”)
  • und Falko Löffler (Spiel- und Romanautor, u.a. “Drachenwächter”)
  • …sprachen mit Moderator Marcus Richter über die Spiele “Dishonored 2”, “Firewatch”, “The Stanley Parable”, “Event 0”

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Ich besuchte die Podiumsdiskussion und die anschließende Spielung von “Die Säulen der Erde” am 10. September 2017 für Deutschlandfunk Kultur – und ziehe am Montag, 11. September zwischen 14 und 15 Uhr als Studiogast im Kulturmagazin “Kompressor” ein Fazit.

Schon jetzt, hier im Blog: meine Ideen & Beobachtungen.

Das Internationale Literaturfestival Berlin und die Stiftung Digitale Spielkultur luden vier Podiumsgäste und Moderator Marcus Richter zu zwei Events ins Institut Francais: ein “literarisches Quartett” für digitale Spiele unter dem Titel “Der Weg des digitalen Spiels ins Feuilleton”

Wie im “literarischen Quartett” brachten alle vier Gäste jeweils ein – literarisches, innovativ erzähltes, eigenwilliges – Werk mit und stellten vor, wie im jeweiligen Spiel Geschichten erzählt werden: “Dishonored 2” (Görig), “Firewatch” (Löffler), “The Stanley Parable” (Tamer), “Event 0” (Wild) . Alle vier Spiele wurden via Leinwand (Trailer + Aufzeichnung einer laufenden Spielsituation) gezeigt, und alle 5 Menschen auf dem Podium unterhielten sich dann über Qualität, Narration, Erzählräume und gaben eine kurze Wertung ab.

Nach 90 Minuten und Pause begann dann eine “Spielung”: Auf der Leinwand spielte jemand die Ken-Follett-Videospiel-Adaption zum Historienroman “Die Säulen der Erde”, und Moderator Marcus Richter stellte der Co-Autorin Valentina Tamer Fragen zur Dramaturgie, den kreativen Entscheidungen und zur Spielmechanik. Tamer war konzis… doch ich fand diesen Teil des Abends zu werbend:über Schwächen, Probleme, Konflikte des Spiels wurde kaum gesprochen, und was ich auf der Leinwand sah, wirkte recht freudlos, schleppend, drittklassig.

[Die Spielung lief nicht wie ein Let’s-Play-Video auf Youtube, in dem ein Gamer spielt und gleichzeitig sein Spielen kommentiert. Stattdessen klickte sich jemand “backstage” und ohne eigene Worte/Kommentare durchs Spiel, und Valentina und Marcus sprachen gleichzeitig auf der Bühne eher abstrakt über das Spiel per se: Sie kommentierten den Spielverlauf nur punktuell.]

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– Spiegel-Autor Carsten Göring schreibt wunderbare Texte, zuletzt z.B. hier: http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/games/life-is-strange-before-the-storm-im-test-das-taugt-die-erste-episode-a-1165701.html …doch hatte größere Mühe, zu veranschaulichen, WAS jetzt konkret so interessant/spannend war an der Backstory und dem World Building des Spiels, das er sich aussuchte: Mir ist weiterhin nicht klar, was “Dishonored 2” mit Zeitreisen/-sprüngen zu tun hat, wer wie und wann in welche Körper springt/morpht und, warum im Trailer z.B. Schatten-Tentakel in der Ego-Perspektive Gegner durch die Luft schleudern. Und: eine industrielle Revolution, befeuert durch die Walöl-Industrie? Klingt toll. Aber alle sprachen zu lange darüber, wie “toll” und “tief” das geht, zu wenig, WAS konkret sie da so rührt oder erzählerisch überzeugt.

– Moderator Marcus Richter stellte fast im Minutentakt Variationen der Frage “Aber WAS genau ist jetzt so besonders daran?”. Das war hilfreich, um uns im Publikum zu vermitteln, WO hier Innovationen oder erzählerische Tiefe und Tricks wirken… doch menschlich/psychologisch ein wenig ablehnend/negativ. Sehr viel “ABER…”, “Und das ist alles?”, “Und das ist interessant, weil…?”

– Die anschließende, ca. einstündige “Spielung” von “Die Säulen der Erde” machte Spaß, doch insgesamt wirkte das Spiel drei Stufen weniger innovativ, mutig, sehenswert wie die vier Games zuvor. Ich verstehe, dass man “Säulen der Erde” auswählte (eine aktuelle Bestseller-Adaption aus Deutschland, und eine kluge, wortgewandte Co-Spielautorin als Gast)… doch mir vermittelte sich nicht, was SO besonders an diesem Spiel ist. Nur eben, welche Mühe die Co-Autorin Valentina Tamer hatte, für den sehr ausufernden Romanstoff ein spielbares, mitreißendes Korsett/Gerüst zu finden, und, was dabei neu hinzu kam (z.B. Mini-Geschicklichkeitsspiele) und was eher störte, verloren ging oder überflüssig war (z.B. die Vergewaltigung der weiblichen Hauptfigur: im Roman von 1989 schien Follett das nötig, um die Heldin für den Rest des Buches zu motivieren. Autorin Tamer ersparte uns diesen Rape-as-Backstory-Kniff und fand eine bessere erzählerische Lösung).

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Ich mochte, dass sich der Abend wirklich in JEDEM Satz an interessierte Nicht-Expert*innen wandte: Jeder Fachbegriff wurde erklärt, alle wollten so bildhaft und wenig insidersprachlich wie möglich sprechen. Das Publikum konnte mühelos folgen. Ein gutes Konzept, ein Format, von dem ich mir Fortsetzungen wünsche und das ich empfehle.

Marcus Richter: “Der Weg des digitalen Spiel ins Feuilleton? Wir wollen heute Abend gar nicht darüber diskutieren, ob und wie man das machen sollte – wir MACHEN das einfach!”

Der Abend war ein konkreter Versuch, das umzusetzen – keine Grundsatzdiskussion darüber, ob das umsetzbar ist: Spiele im Feuilleton zu besprechen. (Natürlich ist es das! Die Frage stellte sich zum Glück auch niemandem auf dem Podium oder im Saal.)

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kurz notiert/mitgetippt/paraphrasiert…

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zu “Dishonored 2”, Carsten Görig: “Auftragsmörder-Sein, das ist die Aufgabe, die das Spiel stellt – doch von der Spielerzählung her muss man das gar nicht. Wenn man sehr weit rein geht, findet man tiefere Ebenen, auf denen Sachen erzählt werden, die nicht offensichtlich sind. Oberste Ebene: der vordergründige Aufrag, den man erfüllen soll. Das, was EIGENTLICH erzählt wird, liegt mehrere Ebenen darunter. Die kleinen Geschichten über die Historie der zu erkundenden Stadt sind viel interessanter als der unmittelbare Plot, der darüber liegt: Man findet z.B. Abschiedsbriefe, entdeckt viele Details, das Programmierstudio baut eine Welt aus kleinen Erzählungen. Ich könnte einfach Stunden durch die Stadt im Spiel gehen und alle Orte der Stadt/des Spiels sollen mir etwas erzählen: Was geschah hier vor 5 Minuten, vor 10 Minuten, gestern, vor 100 Jahren? So zeichnet ‘Dishonored’ eine Kolonialgeschichte nach: Es gibt die Geschichte, die im Plot erzählt wird. Doch gleichzeitig passiert ein Storytelling durch die Umgebung, die man erkunden kann: Man kann in der Stadt lesen.“

Das Podium verglich “Dishonored 2” mit James Joyces “Ulysses”: die HANDLUNG von “Ulysses” ist nicht besonders packend. Stattdessen wird in verschiedenen Szenen an verschiedenen Orten der Stadt Stück für Stück, Lage für Lage, Schicht für Schicht eine ganze Welt gezeigt und erklärt. Interessant auch das “Chaos”-System des Spiels: Bringt man viele Gegner um, verkommen die Städte, und mehr Wachen stehen im Weg. So belohnt das Spiel moralisch korrektes Verhalten.

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zu Firewatch: ein Parkwächter in Wyoming 1989, dessen Vorgeschichte durch Textbausteine im Intro/Prolog erklärt wird: Seine Freundin Julia ist an Demenz erkrankt und er flüchtet sich in einen Nationalpark, die neue Stelle und (vermeintliche) Rätsel und Verschwörungen, um zu vermeiden, weiter über Julia nachzudenken. Sonja Wild mochte, dass das Spiel auf einer Meta-Ebene klug über Verantwortung und Ausweichen spricht, indem man erst diesen Park erkundet und sich mit Rätseln ablenkt… doch später, wenn ein Feuer ausbricht und der Park damit enger wird, damit wieder auf Julia gestoßen wird: Das Spiel entlarvt den “Abenteuerspielplatz Park” als psychologisches Ablenkungsmanöver entlarvt. In “Firewatch” weiß so viel über die Hauptfigur, dass man nicht fragt: “Was würde ICH tun”, sondern „Wie würde ICH diesen Menschen füllen?“

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zu “The Stanley Parable”: Entweder, man hört dem Erzähler zu, oder widersetzt sich ihm. Ein Spiel mit dem Konzept “freier Wille”: „Man kann das Spiel nicht gewinnen, sondern nur zu einem befriedigenden Grad erkunden.“

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zu “Event 0”, kluge Frage von Marcus Richter: „Vordergründig geht es um ein ‘2001: Odyssee im Weltraum’-Szenario. Doch worum geht es wirklich?“ [offenbar darum, mit einer künstlichen Intelligenz/einem Chatbot zu sprechen.

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zu “Die Säulen der Erde”, Valentina Tamer: “Eine „interactive Novel“, mehr als ein Point-n-Click: Man kann weitreichende Entscheidungen treffen. Das Spiel macht Welten ERKUNDBAR.” Interessant: für Spiele auf Steam und der PS4 ist ein Achievement-System vorgeschrieben. Die Entwickler*innen MUSSTEN also Challenges einbauen wie “Der Mönch bekommt Bonuspunkte, wenn er alle Kerzen in der Kirche auspustet.” Frage von mir: Das Spiel kommt via Steam & Konsolen an Spieler. Doch was ist mit Leser*innen von Historienromanen: “Die Säulen der Erde” als digitales Spiel – das gibt es, weil das Buch eine der wichtigsten Lizenzen von Bastei Lübbe ist, und Lübbe Teile der Entwicklerfirma Daedalic aufkaufte. Doch Valentina Tamer las/fand bisher nur Reviews in der Spielepresse – kein Feedback des Feuilletons, kein Feedback von Lübbe-Leser*innen und Gelegenheitsspieler*innen, Historienfans. In der Buch-Neuauflage erscheint eine Anzeige fürs Spiel. Aber nimmt diese neue, gaming-fremde Zielgruppe das Spiel an? Wie spielen diese Menschen? Haben sie Spaß?

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vier weitere Spiele-Tipps des Podiums:

  • To the Moon
  • Papers, Please
  • Life is Strange: Before the Sotrm
  • Night in the Woods

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Eine Frage, die ich hätte stellen sollen: Alle fünf Expert*innen auf dem Podium kannte ein Großteil der genannten Spiele, hatte sie sogar mehrmals durchgespielt. Beim “Literarischen Quartett” haben zwar auch alle vier Teilnehmenden vorbereitend alle vier vorgestellten Bücher gelesen – doch nur in Absprache. Mir ist nicht klar, ob pro Jahr nur ca. 20 solcher Arthouse-Games erscheinen, die dann alle feuilleton-affinen Expert*innen auf JEDEN Fall durchspielen…? Wie groß ist der Markt, wie eng ist der Kanon, wie wichtig ist der kulturelle und wirtschaftliche Impact (sind das Nischen-Titel?) und sprechen wir hier über ausgesuchte, exzellente Ausnahme-Games, von denen nur wenige erscheinen… oder wäre es denkbar, jeden Monat vier solcher Spiele vorzustellen?

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mehr von mir:

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“DuckTales” (2017): 50 Things I learned about Scrooge McDuck… by reading the original comics of Carl Barks & Don Rosa

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  • the file names of all images in this post include the issue number or the name of the story they’re from.

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50_Scrooge McDuck first appeared in the Donald Duck comic “Christmas on Bear Mountain” (1947):

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  • Scrooge was an old miser modelled after Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”…
  • So it’s fitting that his first story is set on Christmas.
  • Scrooge invites his nephew Donald  and his great-nephews Huey, Lewey and Louie to his mansion on Bear Mountain…
  • …but, as a secret test, dresses up as a bear to find out if Donald (and the kids) are brave and have strength of character.

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49_In 1947, Donald looks a lot more duck-like, and Duckburg looks VERY Californian:

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  • Why does Donald live in a house where he can barely reach his own door knob?
  • All duck characters are modelled after North American pekin ducks, but over the years, their necks get drawn shorter.

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48_Scrooge LOVES the $-sign:

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  • I particular like the money-green, $-covered undershirt he wears unter his frock…
  • …and the money-green, $-covered curtains in his office.
  • His frock is red, blue, green, sometimes black: It varies from comic to comic.
  • Apparently, it’s always the same piece of clothing, bought in 1902:

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47_Scrooge’s first money bin was in the countryside:

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  • Scrooge thought that no one would look inside, anyways: It’s near a farm, so people would think it was a corn silo.
  • Many early stories focus on Scrooge’s attempts to hide his wealth from the world…
  • …or find a safe place to stash away his “three cubic acres of money”.
  • In the story below, “Island in the Sky”, Scrogge wants to hide all his money on an asteroid:

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46_Most of Scrooge’s coins are silver, not gold:

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  • As a European reader, it’s weird to see all the Dollar Signs:
  • In Italian or Scandinavian “Onkel Dagobert” comics, the logo on his money bin says “DD” [for “Dagobert Duck”], and the gold coins are in a fictional (or outdated) currency called “Taler”: If they even have a sign on it, it’s usually a “T”.
  • [Every time Scrooge mentions his businesses, he talks about railroads. But what is a “fish house”, in 1950s Duckburg?]

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45_A later money bin was housed in an office building on a regular street:

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  • The Beagle Boys bought the empty lot next to the bin and drilled a hole to syphon out the coins.
  • Yet another later design shows a money bin up on a hill. When the Beagle Boys try to drill through the bottom, Donald floods the bin the wash them out…
  • …but then, sudden cold weather freezes up the water-and-coins-mix – and the money bin combusts.
  • For other Barks-designed money bins over the years, see the second picture below, by Don Rosa, after Carl Barks.

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44_Carl Barks LOVES silhouettes

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  • The visual storytelling is often straightforward, the panel layouts are simple…
  • …but there are some beautiful effects with black outlines. Particularly in the story below, set on an island near Hawaii:
  • “The Menehune Mystery”, 1953

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43_Donald often ponders his masculinity: Is he brave?

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  • The classic animated cartoons often show Donald as short-tempered and silly…
  • …and European comics depict him as lazy, incompetent or neglectful of his nephews…
  • So it’s fun to see a Donald Duck who’s at least competent enough to identify deerskin, or know what a curator is:

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42_”Christmas on Bear Mountain” suggests that Scrooge doesn’t respect Donald because Donald lacks bravery:

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  • In episode 2 of the current “DuckTales” cartoon (2017), Webby says that Donald Duck is “one of the most daring adventurers of all time”.
  • And even in the earliest Barks comics, we are supposed to be on Donald’s side.

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41_Scrooge just wants to be “rich and lonely”:

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  • Initially, the public doesn’t know about Scrooge’s wealth and he’s not recognized on the street.
  • Once people find out and ask him for favors, he’s annoyed.
  • But even though fame is not important to him, he wants to be the richest person/duck in the world.

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40_Donald can’t publicly shame Scrooge for being stingy:

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  • Aggressive “go away!” signs and traps have surrounded the hillside of his money bin since the earliest drawings.
  • I’m reminded of Ayn Rand’s cutthroat capitalism, and a conversation in the “Atlas Shrugged” movie:
    Paul Larkin: They say you’re intractable, you’re ruthless, your only goal is to make money.
    Henry Rearden: My only goal is to make money.
    Larkin: Yes, but you shouldn’t say it.

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39_Donald clearly knows that Scrooge leads an unhappy, neurotic life:

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  • I love how snarky Donald acts here: He sees the irony.
  • Many Barks comics show how Scrooge suffers, worries and gets paranoid because of his wealth. He seems sad or neurotic most of the time.

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38_When it comes to happiness, Donald seems wiser than his uncle:

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  • Some of these conversations run suprisingly deep!
  • Scrooge often seems uncultured, narrow-minded, and maybe traumatized from his childhood in Scotland:

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37_There’s also THIS iconic, character-defining quote about Scrooge’s past:

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  • “[I made my money] by being tougher than the toughies, and smarter than the smarties! And I made it square!”
  • The DuckTales 2013 remastered video game has a special “tougher than the toughies” mode / difficulty level. Video here: Link.
  • Scrooge also gives his “tougher than the toughies” speech in the first episode of “DuckTales” (2017) – but his housekeeper is not even listening. In the episode, he seems full of himself and out of touch with the present.

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36_When Scrooge dives into his coins, he often uses the same catch-phrases and mantras:

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  • “I like to dive around in my money like a porpoise! And burrow through it like a gopher! And toss it up and let it hit me on the head!”
  • He fills bath tubs with coins, too.
  • [His rival Flintheart Glomgold does the same.]

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35_Other characters hurt if they dive into coins:

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  • “Why didn’t you get hurt?” – “Well, I’ll admit – it’s a trick!”
  • No further details on the mechanics of this “trick”, though.

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34_From the beginning, there are more than 30 different Beagle Boys.

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  • So it has to be an organized gang – not just some group of siblings or close relatives.

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33: This scene was a huge inspiration for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” / “Indiana Jones”

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  • The Beagle Boys try to steal a Native American statue – but once they lift it, a boulder is let loose as a death trap.
  • After Barks inspired “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Raiders” inspired the archeological mysteries of “DuckTales”.
  • I think that’s why the logos for DuckTales and Indiana Jones are so similar.
  • (Red, orange, yellow was a trend for logos in the 1980s.)

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32_Some panels favor naturalism and details:

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  • In the above story, Scrooge hid all his money in a lake, but the Beagle Boys bought the land below and used termites to burst the dam.
  • Below, Scrooge uses an x-ray-machine to look through walls in his family’s castle in Scotland.
  • Barks liked aviation, deep-sea-exploration and gadgets, and I like how matter-of-factly all characters use newish technology like slide machines.

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31_Barks doesn’t get too cartoon-y very often:

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  • This is one of the most childish moments I found.
  • Later on, this Beagle Boy is carried along on a piece of string, like a balloon, so that he wouldn’t float away.
  • Below is a rather inspired moment: Donald spent days nailed inside a box. When he comes out, even his speech balloon is box-shaped:

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30_Another (rather rare!) moment of surrealism and physical comedy:

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  • I loved the scene below: Most comics would just show a 2D-tunnel snaking through the page. But Barks took the time to depict a spiral and convey some sense of perspective and depth.
  • Generally, the Beagle Boys do a lot of digging and mining. It gets boring quickly.

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29_Wet feathers DO that?

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  • This is the only time I saw a wet duck character looking poofy.
  • Overall, characters looked recognizable and on-model nearly all the time – there wasn’t much early installment weirdness (Link).
  • I liked that Scrooge seems to know which nephew is wich: He sometimes called them by names, individually.
  • (personally, I needed the 2017 reboot to properly tell them apart.)
  • Disney archivist Dave Smith: Huey is in red because red is the brightest “hue.” Dewey wears blue, the color of “dew,” a.k.a. water. That “leaves” Louie, the nephew wearing leaf green.

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28_Few women, few different body shapes:

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  • Most crowd scenes by Barks show men. Women are only seen if the gag or scene would not work with male characters: If they are mothers, dancers etc.
  • Italian and Scandinavian Duck comics often use crass and comical body shapes, so when I saw the two mannequins in the background, I thought:
  • Most of the Disney comics I read had TONS of these funny-looking carricature people in them.
  • The manniquins prove that Barks saw the visual appeal. I don’t know why he didn’t use them more often.
  • Is the anti-capitalist guy below modelled after some real-life person?
  • And: How awesome is that random background detail?

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27_I only found one Barks story that MIGHT pass the Bechdel test:

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  • Two female characters? With names? Who talk to each other? About something other than a man? [Bechdel Test, Link]
  • I want more Magica DeSpell, I haven’t seen Daisy Duck or Grandma Duck in a Barks story yet, and I personally like Brigitta McBridge.
  • Barks tells boy stories, and there is never much room for women – usually, they’re a distraction.

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26_I love Goldie’s scrawny look:

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  • Goldie had a dance hall during the Yukon gold rush. She still lives in Alaska, with her pet bear.
  • She has a makeover for Scrooge and CAN look more regal…
  • But it’s fun to see that time has not been kind to either Scrooge or her: Scrooge stories are often about regrets and mortality.

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25_Italian sorceress Magica DeSpell is a master of disguises…

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  • Magica is based on Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren. I was surprised that she’s very, very poor and unkempt, and I think there might be some racist stereotypes against Italians in play.
  • I love how snarky and self-aware everyone acts in the below scene:

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24_Many iconic elements were created by Barks, right away:

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  • Magica is capable, dangerous, ambitious and snarky, and I enjoyed seeing her wreaking havoc.
  • Apparently, her pet raven Poe is her bewitched brother – but I have not seen that relationship explored in detail before.
  • Below: the first appearence of Magica’s cabin near Mt. Vesuvius, drawn by Barks… and a recreation by Don Rosa, 40 years later.
  • “Ogres for Rent” is inspiring and funny.Barks is original. Don Rosa is, too often, just pedanitc.

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23_Barks is HORRIBLE at depicting cultures:

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  • Here’s a kind, obese and dim-witted Hawaiian guy… surrounded by invisible, fairy-like beings that helped the Ducks during an Hawaiian adventure.
  • These characters are based on actual myth – they’re called Menehune (Link).
  • Barks gets a LOT of credit for incorporating myths and legends into his storytelling. But I’m appaled by the shallowness, the stereotypes and the one-dimensional roles that these ethnic and “savage” characters often play.
  • Below: The city of Atlantis, and Bark’s AWESOME idea that Atlanteans milk whales…
  • Also: an Atlantean teacher/academic. The cap and the glasses are just lazy storytelling, and the character design bores/annoys me.

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22_Often, all members of a minority look identical:

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  • True: Huey, Dewey and Loie look identical, too. But it’s strangely… sad to see all these tribes and cultures when, most of the time, you can’t see ANY diversity in age, any women etc.
  • Barks often just draws the same character model, without additional details, again and again. They literally all look the same.

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21_DuckTales (1987) used quite a lot of his design ideas:

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  • The aliens in the 1950s comic book look lazy. The 1980s alien doesn’t look original – but still much better.
  • Often, Bark seems to have good ideas for characters – and just lacks the motivation to play with them, diversify etc.

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20_Armadillo-like stone people who cause earthquakes?

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  • Some wear bow-ties. Some wear ties. All seem to be male. But at least there are both children and different colors.
  • And (I never saw this episode!) they made it into the 1987 cartoon intact. Cute!

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19_Barks loves the Space Age:

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  • I like all these rocket designs, and I like the particularly retro design of the “outdated” spaceship that Scrooge bought second-hand.
  • There’s an effortless and very charming sense of wonder in these stories!
  • Below is a story that, matter-of-factly and without context, says that Duckburg had “advanced MUCH farther than other cities in the world” (maybe because of Gyro Gearloose?). I love the idea of a (retro-)futuristic Duckburg – but sadly, I  have not see this mentioned ever again.
  • In 2000, the “Superman” comic books had a storyline where villain Brainiac unleashed a “Y2K virus” to Metropolis – the city was turned into a literal “city of tomorrow”, with flying cars and futuristic buildings. It lasted a while, but sadly, story- or design-wise, nothing too exciting came out of it.

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18_Hewey, Duwey and Luie are earnest… but lack personality:

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  • Nothing sets them apart, and they’re not all that interesting together: I like that they’re not as bratty and mean-spirited towards Donald as they are in the European books, and they’re not as docile and wide-eyed as they’re in “DuckTales” (1987). But I didn’t love them, and I don’t think Barks loves them, either.
  • Below is ONE nice and charming touch: To speak with more authority, one of the siblings climbs on top of the others.

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17_The Junior Woodchucks are all-mighty:

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  • Barks created the scouting organization and their all-knowing book. Sometimes, the book is used for trivia or exposition… but in one adventure set in Greece, the siblings suddenly (and with no in-story explanation) become INSANELY pedantic.
  • Below, they use an axe to transform an iceberg into a viking longship.
  • And look at these Junior Woodchuck Homing ROCKETS. What could go wrong?

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16_Super-Hero comics had a silly “Silver Age”. Barks is a child of that era, too:

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  • Above, tiny Native-American-like aliens are climbing a rope from their barren home asteroid to a nearby planet that’s full of fruit.
  • Below, the nephews instantly learn their language… by consulting their Junior Woodchuck book.
  • Plus: “They kneel like the American Savages kneeled to Columbus”. Sigh. #colonialism
  • Here’s more about the silliness of “Silver Age”-superhero stories: Link

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15_Flintheart Glomgold is an inefficiant foil to Scrooge:

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  • They are too similar, and the pedantic and vulgar way they measure their figurative dicks gets tired fast.
  • Flintheart lives in South Africa and has a money bin that sports the Pound sign instead of the dollar sign.
  • Because of the tensions over Apartheid in the late 1980s, “DuckTales” (1987) made Flintheart a Scot.
  • Below, in “Christmas on Bear Mountain”, Scrooge looks like Flintheart himself.
  • In the new “DuckTales” reboot (2017), Flintheart looks plumper and much more distinct.

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14_How fictional is the Duck universe?

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  • The above panel brings tons of problems:
  • It’s Flintheart’s second appearance, and for some reason (old age?), Scrooge had forgotten about him and needs a long time to recognize his biggst rival. In another story, Donald is asked by Scrooge to collect a debt at a specific address, and he needs to walk down the front lawn and ring before he understands that it’s his own address. For comedic reasons, both Scrooge and Donald have some tedious and out-of-character “Too dumb to live” and “Idiot Ball” moments.
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  • A bigger problem, above and below: There are real-world locales in the Duck universe. There are entire fictional nations. And there are shallow parodies, like the “Vampire State Bulding” or “Gemstonia”.
  • Often, Barks shows us the worst of both worlds: One-dimensional invented cultures (that could be much deeper with some additional effort)… and real-world spaces that feel shoddily researched.
  • [Later on, Italian Disney artists often told GREAT time-travel stories where Mickey Mouse travelled through European/Italian history.]

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13_Are ethnic strangers caricatures?

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  • I HATE that all the characters above come from the same comic, drawn by Barks, and live in the same region: There’s a rather naturalistic Tibetan or Nepalese academic… and there are yellow Himalaya duck-people who, to me, look super-offensive.
  • For the “DuckTales” (1987) episode based on this story, “Trala-La”, the characters were re-designed (Link).
  • Below: a sheik with a typical dog nose and stereotypical clothes… and, in the same comic, savage bush men.

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12_Dog-like humanoids… meet naturalistic humans:

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  • NOTHING about the camel-riding guy above speaks “Duck comic” to me.
  • It’s grating to see that over-simple character design often makes characters seem simpler/stupider than they are: Imagine the scene below, but with more human-like and serious-looking characters. It would be MUCH more dramatic, and less comedic.

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11_Scrooge is well-travelled, and sometimes, Barks shows his research.

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  • Is that actual Bengali in these speech bubbles?
  • And why is Scooge making that snarky joke “I learned it when I sold road maps to Marco Polo? In a different story above, he says – much more enthusiastically: “It’s ancient Cathay. I learned it when I was a yak buyer in Tibet.”
  • I still love Scrooge’s curiosity, and his enthusiasm to understand different cultures (to make deals with them and exploit them – but still.)
  • Below: the most naturalistic (and bustiest) woman I saw in a Duck comic by Barks… and some Thai dancers whose design I like… but who look too identical to me: Make these extras individuals!

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10_Barks understood Globalization:

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  • In 1957’s “The City of Golden Roofs”, both Scrooge and Donald become salesmen and try to make big money. They are both assigned Indochina, the   only untapped market, and when Scrooge tries to sell a giant oven, it starts out like the old “selling fridges to an eskimo” joke.
  • Surprisingly, Scrooge doesn’t succeed – while Donald is WILDLY successful… because enough people globally love tapes with contemporary bongo/calypso music.

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09_Some Scrooge schemes are inspired. Some are just childish:

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  • Above: Scrooge changes all his money to bills and cans them – like spinach. For the canning process, he uses robots so that no employees steel from him. Wonderful, silly, inventive idea.
  • Below: The money bin’s burglarly system backfires when Scrooge activates the cannon. The cannon fires… through several buildings… and the cannon ball bounces back when it “hits a stack of mattresses in a rubber mattress factory”. Sorry: No. Just no. (I like the art, though!)

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08_Was Barks pro-capitalism? It’s hard to tell:

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  • I LOVE that a corporation like Disney tells all these stories about the dangers, problems and paradoxes of wealth, capitalism, exploitation.
  • It seems to be a running gag that whenever Scrooge offers a job to Donald or the nephews, he offers them 30 cents per hour. (Sometimes per day.)

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07_Longer Barks stories often feel like “The Simpsons”:

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  • About 50 “big” stories by Barks run between 20 and 30 pages. They never get boring, because all too often, they start with a premise, take a weird turn in the middle and end in a completely different locale and with different problems: They very much feel like a later-season-episode of “The Simpson”, where the weirdness that starts out the episode has little connection to the weirdness that later propels the plot.
  • This often feels humdrum or careless – but it’s also exciting, suprising, remarkably entertaining: Why are the Ducks camouflaged as fish? Really: You never saw that coming 5 pages earlier, and it won’t matter 5 pages later. But it’s fun while it lasts!

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06_If you understand colonialism, MANY Barks stories will make you angry:

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  • “Africa is nobody’s friend?” Really?
  • In the story below, Scrooge gifts his giant oven/stove to a king and his palace. The oven melts the gold plating of the palace roof, so Scrooge steals the liquid gold and runs away. I love the drawing of the impressive elephants – but I hate how the story ends with celebrating Scrooge’s success: He robbed these people, and we’re supposed to like him for it.

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05_I thought that I read Carl Barks in 1990. I did not:

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  • Above: Carl Barks’ “Lost in the Andes!”, 1949. Below: Don Rosa’s sequel “Return to Plain Awful”, 1989.
  • The sequel was serialized in Germany’s Micky Maus [“Zurück ins Land der viereckigen Eier”, 1990].
  • So from age 7 to age 34, I thought that I knew Barks and his flaws and quirks…
  • …when really, they were Don Rosa’s flaws and quirks: pedantic storytelling, thick inking, reference-heavy jokes for fans.
  • When I finally read the original “Lost in the Andes” today, I did not love it. But I see how it is a great story for 1949, on a literary and on an artistic level. “Return to Plain Awful” isn’t that much of an achievement for comics of 1989, though. Sorry: I loved discovering and reading Barks. I’m much less lenient with Rosa’s stories, published in the 80s and 90s: In many ways, they look MORE dated and stiffer than Barks’ originals.

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04_Reading Rosa is fun AFTER reading Barks, though:

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  • Now that I have read that much Barks, I think I will read Don Rosa’s “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck” (German: “Onkel Dagobert: Sein Leben, seine Milliarden”). I dislike both “Tintin” and “Asterix” – because I grew up with dads of my friends who said that THESE were the comics that could actually teach you about the world. I didn’t enjoy them as a kid, and I still can’t say if they were too didactic, or the wrong kind of didactic, or even not didactic enough. I just never wanted to learn through “Tintin” or “Asterix”.
  • Reading Don Rosa, I feel like it speaks to the same generation and the same attitude towards comics: They’re dense, stiff, overwrought, gray, trying too hard… and BOY, CAN YOU LEARN A LOT HERE.
  • I’m not sure if I want to. But I can see how this is the perfect gift to every Tintin- and Asterix-loving dad I know:

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03_Scrooge as Citizen Kane?

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  • For years, I thought that Scrooge predated “Citizen Kane” (and Ayn Rand’s hypercapitalist books).
  • Don Rosa used the similarities for the above hommage in his character-defining and award-winning 12-part story “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck”. It’s fun – but I really wish that a Disney duck had inspired Orson Welles, not the other way around.

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02_Carl Barks retired from drawing Scrooge comics in 1967:

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  • …but he kept on painting his hero in the 70s and 80s.
  • Many of these paintings are used or re-staged in the 2017 “DuckTales” series. It’ll be interesting to see who painted them in-universe: Who’s the artist that Scrooge hired, and is he similar to Carl Barks?
  • Don Rosa decided/estimated that Scrooge was born in 1867 and died in 1967, aged 100. Rosa’s stories are set during this historical time-frame. He wrote an episode of “DuckTales” (1987), but did not enjoy that the show was set in the 80s: To him, Scrooge McDuck is dead.
  • The 2017 show makes use of Rosa’s “Family Tree” (based on Barks), and we might see some little-seen characters later in season 1.

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01_The new DuckTales is VERY good!

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  • I was nervous because Webby and the nephews seemed aggressive and too hipster-y (or “Gravity Falls”-like) in the trailers, but…
  • …wow: I love the soundtrack, I enjoy most of the animation, I LOVE the pace, and I think there’s a great balance between humor, adventure and character-driven moments.
  • I have a hard time understanding Donald. Launchpad seems one-dimensional. I don’t know why Scrooge lives in a mansion and not in his money bin.
  • But really: After seeing the first two episodes, I know that I want to watch the rest, and that I can recommend this to kids and grown-ups.
  • (I also like that Darkwing Duck will show up, and that “TaleSpin”‘s Cape Suzette and “Goof Troops” Spoonerville have been mentioned.)

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I did read Carl Barks’:

Christmas on Bear Mountain [1947], The Old Castle’s Secret [1948], Lost in the Andes! [1949], A Financial Fable [1951], Only a Poor Old Man [1952], The Golden Helmet [1952], The Gilded Man [1952], Back to the Klondike [1953], The Menehune Mystery [1953], The Secret of Atlantis [1954], Tralla La [1954], The Fabulous Philosopher’s Stone [1955], The Golden Fleecing [1955], Land Beneath the Ground! [1956], The Second-Richest Duck [1956], City of Golden Roofs [1957], The Golden River [1958], The Money Champ [1959], Island in the Sky [1960], North of the Yukon [1965], Horsing Around with History [1994].

I also read Don Rosa’s The Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion [collection, 2006] and Return to Plain Awful [1989, I read this as a child in the German Micky Maus-Magazin, 1990]

I also enjoyed an Italian meta-story that I read in German as a child: Der Mann hinter den Ducks [1992] by Rudy Salvagnini & Giorgio Cavazzano [German version published in: Lustiges Taschenbuch 196]

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Stories by Carl Barks that were adapted into DuckTales [1987] episodes [found here]:

  • “Back to the Klondike” “Back to the Klondike”
  • “Land Beneath the Ground!” “Earthquack”
  • “Micro-Ducks from Outer Space” “Microducks from Outer Space”
  • “The Lemming with the Locket” “Scrooge’s Pet”
  • “The Lost Crown of Genghis Khan!” “The Lost Crown of Genghis Khan”
  • “Hound of the Whiskervilles” “The Curse of Castle McDuck”
  • “The Giant Robot Robbers” “Robot Robbers”
  • “The Golden Fleecing”
  • “The Horseradish Story” “Down and Out in Duckburg”
  • “The Status Seeker”
  • “The Unsafe Safe” “The Unbreakable Bin”
  • “Tralla La” “The Land of Trala-la”
  • also, “Terror of the Beagle Boys” inspired parts of “Super DuckTales”

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Bonus: Webby’s “Wall of Crazy” from the DuckTales (2017) pilot episode, shown on Reddit [Link to r/Ducktales]

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“DuckTales”: neue Episoden nach 30 Jahren.
Familie, Humor, Schatzsuche: Disney adaptiert die Comics von Carl Barks und Don Rosa neu fürs TV. Kindgerecht – oder für alte Fans?
Warum leben Tick, Trick und Track bei ihrem Onkel Donald? Warum ist Donalds eigene Bezugsperson in der Familie Duck sein Onkel Dagobert? Zum ersten Mal will Disney solche Fragen im großen Stil beantworten – in “DuckTales”, einer Neuauflage der Trickserie von 1987. Am 12. August zeigte der Disney-Sender XD Episode 1 und 2 im US-TV, ein Deutschlandstart ist für 2018 geplant. Bisher glückt der Neustart – auch in vielen radikaleren Ideen und Entscheidungen.
Seit 1938 zeichnete und schrieb Carl Barks für Disney; ab 1943 wurden seine Donald-Duck-Comics länger und komplexer: oft 30 Seiten voller Schatzsuchen und Abenteuer. 1947 erfand Barks den vereinsamten und menschenfeindlichen Milliardär Scrooge McDuck, für ein Weihnachtscomic mit Charles-Dickens- und Citizen-Kane-Motiven. Dagobert verkleidet sich heimlich, weil er Donald und den Neffen nur Geschenke überlassen will, falls sie Mut gegen Bären beweisen. Dann bricht ein echter Bär in die Villa ein, und erschreckt auch Dagobert im Bären-Kostüm. Für Carl Barks bleibt Donald Duck noch 20 Jahre lang meist die Hauptfigur. Doch Barks harscher, exzentrischer und oft tragisch geiziger Dagobert wird (besonders auch durch europäische Comics aus Italien und Skandinavien) weltbekannt.
“Jäger des verlorenen Schatzes”, Teil eins der “Indiana Jones”-Reihe, übernimmt 1981 eine Barks-Szene, in der die Panzerknacker eine indianische Statue auf einem Podest verschieben – und damit eine Steinkugel ins Rollen bringen, als Todesfalle für Grabräuber. Sechs Jahre später schaut der Disney-Konzern auf “Indiana Jones”, für seine bis dahin teuerste und langlebigste Trickserie: Bei “DuckTales” (1987) heuert Donald Duck bei der Marine an. Tick, Trick und Track leben in der Villa Onkel Dagoberts, zusammen mit Nicky, der Tochter der Haushälterin und Bruchpilot Quack. Viele Figuren, die Barks erfand, hatten damals große Rollen: Hexe Gundel Gaukeley, Erfinder Daniel Düsentrieb. Bis 1990 erzählten etwa 15 von 100 “DuckTales”-Folgen alte Barks-Comics neu.
1967 ging Carl Barks in den Ruhestand. Er starb erst 2000, mit 99 Jahren. Vor allem in den 70er Jahren zeichnete er große Dagobert-Ölgemälde, und seit den 80er Jahren versucht Zeichner und Barks-Fan Don Rosa, aus den Details, die Barks in Comics oft eher humorvoll hinwirft, eine große Lebensgeschichte von Dagobert Duck zu rekonstruieren: “Onkel Dagobert: Sein Leben, seine Milliarden”. Für Don Rosa wurde Duck 1867 in Schottland geboren und starb 1967 in Entenhausen. Historische Abenteuer, oft in einem sehr konkreten geschichtlichen Rahmen: der Goldrausch am Yukon River in Alaska, Cowboy-Abenteuer in Indonesien, doch wie bei Barks auch Reisen zu Fantasie-Zivilisationen wie dem Land der viereckigen Eier, versteckt in den Anden.
Die Comics von Barks sind schwungvoll, albern, oft kapitalismuskritisch und mitreißend. Don Rosa wirkt pedantischer, nervöser, überfachtet: Abenteuer- und Männercomics fast ohne interessante Frauen, teuer gesammelt oft von Männern jener Generation, die mir als Kind, 1990, auch “Asterix” und “Tim und Struppi” gaben und raunten “Lies! Da kannst du noch was lernen!”. Deutschlehrer-Comics, Bildungsbürger-Comics, Pedanten-Comics, in Deutschland atemlos erfolgreich älteren Herren, die “Duck” mit “u” aussprechen: Donaldisten.
“DuckTales” (1987) blieb eine Kinderserie: oft etwas schleppend erzählt, zu simple Lösungen, kaum Psychologie. Tick, Trick und Track bleiben schlimm gutmütig und passiv. Nicky ist so jung, rosa, naiv und unwichtig wie keine andere Disney-Serienfigur nach ihr. Als 2017 erste Trailer für den “DuckTales”-Neustart veröffentlicht wurden, waren Fans nervös: Nicky ist hier ein hyperkompetentes Nerd-Mädchen mit Geheimagenten-Tick. Sie bewegt sich durch Dagoberts Villa wie in “Mission: Impossible”. Tick, Trick und Track haben klare Persönlichkeiten, aber wirken übertrieben aggressiv: Tick (rot) trumpft durch Wissen auf, Trick (blau) ist nassforsch und liebt Abenteuer, und Track (grün) wird von Fans mit Slytherin-Figuren aus “Harry Potter” verglichen: ambitioniert, aber verschlagen.
Die große Angst der Fans: Klingt, witzelt, frotzelt und erzählt “DuckTales” 2017 wie jede andere US-Trickserie? Stülpt Disney das Strickmuster gesucht hipper Konzepte wie “Gravity Falls” über die Barks-Figuren? Nein. Die flächigen, an alte Comics erinnernden Hintergründe und Farben der neuen Serie sind schroffer als die warmen, liebevollen Details im Original. Die Neuauflage erzählt dreimal so schnell. Doch bisher auf höchstem Niveau: warmherzig, mitreißend, überraschend – eine Kinderserie fürs größte denkbare Publikum. Und überall in Dagoberts Villa hängen die alten Barks-Ölgemälde! Ein Problem bleibt nur Donald Duck. Toll, dass er dieses Mal selbst bei Dagobert einziehen darf. Schlimm aber, dass man seine typische Enten-Schnatterstimme kaum versteht. Donald liefert zwanzig handlungstragende Sätze oder Pointen pro Episode. Bei zwei Dritteln verstehe ich nur “Quack!” Sobald die Serie erzählen wird, wo Donalds Eltern sind oder warum die Neffen von Donalds Schwester in seiner Obhut aufwuchsen, wird das anstrengend und holprig.
“DuckTales” läuft erst ab 2018 in deutscher Synchronisation auf dem Bezahl-Sender Disney XD.

in English: Frank Witzel’s “Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969” (German Book Prize 2015, Translation)

Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969

[“One Manic-Depressive Teenager’s Invention Of The Red Army Fraction [terror group] In The Summer Of 1969”]

Frank Witzel [Link to Wikipedia.org]

Matthes & Seitz, 2015. No English editon yet.

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There are two main ways to access and describe Frank Witzel’s daunting-but-enjoyable, ambitious-but-not-too-complex, autobiographical-but-wildly-freewheeling, conventional-but-INSANE tragicomical 800-page novel about a 13-year old Beatles-loving upper-middle-class Catholic boy stuck in a suburb of provincial Wiesbaden in 1969:

It’s a normal book, to the point of being a little bland: Since publication in early spring of 2015, there has been a steady trickle of benevolent reviews and reader reactions – and most of them praise the book for being a charming coming-of-age novel trying hard to capture typical feelings of alienation and awkwardness. It’s a book about norms. About being normal. About feeling not quite normal. It’s a rather conventional story/theme/autobiographical approach – and it will speak to baby boomers or anyone older than 13. Darker than David Mitchell’s “Black Swan Green”. Lighter than John McGahern’s “The Dark”. Less saccharine than the nostalgic US dramedy “The Wonder Years”; but equally obsessed with name-dropping 1960s topics and pop-culture references. Witzel’s novel treads very familiar, well-covered ground – but that’s not a bad thing: It’s approachable, it’s incredibly well-researched/authentic. The main character resonates.

Over the course of 800 pages, though, all of this will get subverted, parodied, deconstructed through increasingly outlandish tone shifts, perspective shifts, literary experiments and improv. It’s like Frank Witzel took a simple, not-too-complex ditty… and, like a Jazz musician, started one crazy 800-page jam session – until he ran out of steam. After increasingly tedious narrative wheel-spinning, the novel just stops, with little resolution. So: It’s not a normal book. At all.

I will talk about the merits and problems of this later.

Let’s start with the surface – all the ways the book wants to be normal, typical and capture “normal and typical” German middle-class life in the 1960s: The unnamed narrator – in some chapters, it is suggested that his name might be Frank Witzel – is a book-smart, but rather clueless, coddled, devout and daydreaming son of a detached and bourgeois factory owner. He’s in 7th grade, his mother is suffering from a (little-discussed) nervous condition that paralises her legs and so, the Caritas social services send a live-in caretaker – only referred to as die Frau von der Caritas – who might or might not be having an affair with the father, and who might or might not be a GDR spy or GDR defector.

All characters remain blurry like that – because the narrator is making up stories and daydreams, and in 98 chapters, there are 30 to 50 different styles/tones. Many elements that seem outlandish daydreams get a more realistic re-telling in later chapters – and vice versa. Is the father the owner of a small factory… or a mighty industrialist? Is die Frau von der Caritas a spooky seductress…. or just some lonely social worker who has to deal with being antagonized and sexualized to Bond-villainess proportions by a pubescent, creepily misogynist narrator?

It’s not a matter of “truth” versus “daydream” or “delusion”, but a matter of tone and style: In more down-to-earth chapters, the characters are overly typical small-town clichès from the 60s, with typical, mildly comedic struggles and neuroses. In more outlandish chapters, they play biblical, literary or emblematic 1960s roles – crass supervillains and rock stars, terrorists and vixens. These tone shifts aren’t whimsical – they’re disorienting, disturbing and hint at larger psychological problems of the main character: Is he a daydreaming kid and underachiever with mood swings? Or is he full-on delusional?

In chapter 1, the narrator and two classmates – dopey, Ron-like Bernd and competent, Hermione-like Claudia – leave behind a NSU (car) they stole (from whom?) to form a “terror group”/secretive youth club named “Rote Armee Fraktion”. They manage to outrun the police (a dream-like and absurd sequence: a fantasy?), but accidentally leave several novelty gifts/sweets/childish gimmicks in the car’s glove compartment that could get them identified. Through much of the novel, the narrator fears that a) die Frau von der Caritas will rat him out to the police, b) his grades will slip and he’ll be forced into a strict Catholic boarding school (this does actually come to pass in one chapter, after 400 pages – but it’s unclear whether it’s a fantasy sequence or reality), c) that he’ll suffer God’s wrath or that the universe is somehow conspiring against him and he’s deeply broken or ruined.

There is, of course, the real-life terror group “Rote Armee Fraktion” that’s been active in the same year, and in various chapters, it’s very much in flux whether the narrator’s own childish pipe dream of a youth gang, coincidentally named “Rote Armee Fraktion”, predates that group or copies it. There’s also a string of questioning/session transcript chapters throughout the book (all flash-forwards into the 21st century) where an investigator and/or a taunting psychologist wants the main character, now middle-aged, to confess to various RAF crimes and/or confess that his own RAF is imaginary and he himself has delusions of grandeur.

Both religion and music play a huge part in the narrator’s “private mythology”: You don’t have to know much about Catholicism, specific saints and/or the Beatles, Cream and late-60s pop music, though… because most of the references explain themselves through context… but you might remember the overlong, satirical music chapters in “American Psycho”, where Patrick Bateman starts dissecting bands like Genesis or Huey Lewis and the News? Witzel’s main character does the same, and it’s equally satirical/disorienting/weird: Instead of plot development, you can find yourself in some semi-funny, semi-serious 20-page-long side note about hidden meanings in The White Album or pseudotheological essays on whether Jesus and the Beatles have the same attitude towards guilt, sin and redemption. These chapters are very well researched and specific, but they also have a show-off quality that reminds me of the weirder logorrhoeic passages of David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest”. It’s brilliant, it’s joyful, it’s very, very skilful – but it’s going on for 800 pages, and it gets pointless and show-offy too quickly.

This is what most people say about the book, and this is why the reviews are solid, but there are not a lot of huge fans: It’s a charming, playful and, despite some surrealist clutter, authentic coming-of-age novel that rings very true. But why is it 800 pages long? Why does the plot just peter out – very much like “Infinite Jest”?

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There’s a psychological fallacy called Apophenia: the idea that people are too eager to see patterns, connect dots, find meaning in random occurrences. Witzel could have written a more conventional 200-page novel that would have been more entertaining, inviting, engaging. But – and this is why I said that this is not a normal book, at all – he needs 800 pages to make a bigger, more abstract point:

Most biographies or coming-of-age books find some leitmotifs, establish them and see them through. It would have been easy to say “In 1969, 13-year-old boys were both repelled and intrigued by counter-culture. When the RAF terror group turned into pop stars, Germany’s collective fears and adulation resembled that of a coddled, overwhelmed 13-year old boy.” Witzel shows a main character whose main frame of reference has been Catholicism, sins and saints and who uses that lens to make sense of the Beatles, pop music, terrorists, counter-culture. It’s one big, neurotic mishmash with many surreal and intriguing and outrageous connections: the Beatles are saints! Bullies are satanists! I’m a martyr, and God tests me, and I’m also an Indian, and you are a Bond girl! etc.

But through 98 chapters and 800 pages, Witzel remixes and shifts these connections and pseudo-leitmotifs until they appear random, haphazard, absurd. SO random, haphazard and absurd that you’ll start thinking “Wait: Autobiography is such a construct!” or “Wow: Leitmotifs are sorta shoddy, cheap and random!” A 13-year old has a limited understanding of the world, a limited set of phrases and images, and it’s disturbing (and cruelly fun!) to see how someone with a provincial, outdated and limited set of 1950s words/tools/lenses/concepts tries to make sense of terrorism, growing up, sin, the 60s etc.

It’s a brilliant way to show the limitations of speech and the problems of private and collective “mythologies” – and it’s not a very German thing: there are tons of references to German brands or 60s TV shows etc., but they were as foreign and distant to me as they’d be for UK or North American readers – and you don’t have to know anything about the RAF or specific German history to follow the plot. Many chapters use lenses like detective fiction or bad 1960s chapter books, archaic fairy tales, theological essays, semi-serious music reviews, lists and footnotes etc., and much of the fun comes from these pastiches/misappropriated, outdated speech styles and mash-ups. A translation into English would have to be VERY good to reflect both the humour, absurdity AND accuracy of the language. I loved these shoddy-but-skilful pastiches!

But should Witzel be translated? I’m not sure: I had a lovely reading experience and I’m incredulous that such an unwieldy, frilly, overwhelming book was awarded the German Book Prize… but many chapters were dragging on, and I often thought things like “You could scrap page 200 to page 300 completely – and the book would be better for it”. There are about four German people that I’d tell “Read this: It’s great!”, but I can see a lot of “The Wonder Years” fans or baby boomers flocking to this book only to abandon it angrily because of all the “pointless” pastiches/apophenia moments/the unsatisfying “Infinite Jest” atmosphere: post-Book Prize Amazon reviews tend to be harsh. Many recreational readers are disappointed and rated the book 1 star. I can see their point.

I wish there was a shorter version, and as a UK publisher, I’d definitely approach Frank Witzel and ask him if he’d be interested in excerpts/personal essays/a book about the Beatles etc. – he’s an Anglophile, and there are parts of tremendous interest for UK readers.

Also, strangely enough, there’s a US author who did a very similar satirical book about the RAF and German neuroses, Walter Abish [“How German is it”

I don’t know if Witzel and Abish know each other, but if there’s an audience for Abish, there’s an audience for Witzel (and vice versa). Abish’s novel was successful – so it would not be completely out of line to consider a translation of Witzel. But: it’s the most avant-garde title I’ve read in 2015, and while I’ve had fun, I’m not sure if his 98 satirical improvisations were worth 3 full days of my life. Wouldn’t 400 pages have been enough?

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“Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969”, Frank Witzel, Matthes & Seitz

“Ein Spiegelkabinett der Geschichte im Kopf eines Heranwachsenden: Erinnerungen an das Nachkriegsdeutschland, Ahnungen vom Deutschen Herbst; das dichte Erzählgewebe ist eine explosive Mischung aus Geschichten und Geschichte, Welterklärung, Reflexion und Fantasie: ein detailbesessenes Kaleidoskop aus Stimmungen einer Welt, die 1989 Geschichte wurde. Ein mitreißender Roman, der den Kosmos der alten BRD wiederauferstehen lässt.” [Klappentext, gekürzt.]

Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969

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Für “der Freitag” las ich alle sechs Romane auf der Shortlist zum deutschen Buchpreis 2015:

“Und was, falls dann doch Frank Witzel gewinnt? Für seinen brillant verquasten, übervollen, herrlich sperrigen Jugend- und Provinzroman Die Erfindung der Rote Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969? 800 Seiten Jugendängste, Wahn, 60er-Jahre-Jargon, Katholizismus und Neurosen, in 98 grellen Kapiteln immer neu gekreuzt, verschränkt. Literarische Apophänie: Was, wenn die Beatles Märtyrer wären? Mein Leben ein Schneider-Jugendbuch? Die RAF unser Kinderclub? Was, wenn dieses eigensinnige, wagemutige, bekloppte, brillante Buch Bestseller wird? Und Tagesgespräch?”

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Der 800-Seiten-Roman spielt 1968 in einem Vorort von Wiesbaden und folgt einem 13jährigen, in 98 Kapiteln – von denen fast jedes anders klingt und viele einen parodistischen Quatsch-Tonfall haben, z.B. die Floskeln eines Jugendbuchs oder den Panik-Tonfall der RAF-Berichterstattung.

Es geht um Sprachmüll, BRD-Muff und die Armut, mit den falschen Worten etwas festhalten, ausdrücken, auf den Punkt bringen zu müssen – ein Gefühl, das 13jährige gut kennen. Der Roman ist sehr verspielt – jedes Kapitel ist eine literarische Versuchsanordnung, in dem Jargon (z.B. aus einer Musikzeitschrift) auf ein anderes Themenfeld (z.B. auf die Schule) getragen wird. So entsteht viel… wilder, windschiefer… Quatsch. abgegriffene Worte, in neuen, überraschenden Zusammenhängen.

Literarisch/psychologisch mach das viel Spaß: ein Junge, der als Messdiener jahrelang Gewäsch über Heilige und Märtyrer aufgesaugt hat und jetzt in Musikzeitschriften über die Beatles und in den Nachrichten über die RAF hört, spricht über die Beatles… wie über Märtyrer. Über die RAF… wie Popstars. Nicht als witziges Spiel – sondern aus Unvermögen: seltsame Welten werden durch die jeweils falschen Sprach- und Wahrnehmungsbrillen betrachtet. Die einzigen Brillen/Wortschätze eben, die der 13jährige bisher hat.

Warum ist das literarisch toll – und warum dauert es 800 Seiten? Weil Witzel noch etwas Größeres probiert/durchspielt/erzählt, das mich sehr überzeugt: Apophänie ist die Störung, Zusammenhänge und Leitmotive zu sehen: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apoph%C3%A4nie

…und die meisten Romane nehmen eine Figur, ein Stück Gegenwart oder Zeitgeschichte und ein paar Motive und sagen: “Schaut. Winnetou und die RAF – da sind schon Parallelen” oder z.B. “Dawson Leery und Stephen Spielberg: Das wird immer wieder interessant gegeneinander gestellt und hinterfragt – dieser All-American Idealismus.” Wir erzählen uns unsere Leben selbst in solchen Mustern, finden uns in Popkultur, ziehen Parallelen.

Witzel zieht 800 Seiten lang Parallelen, die IMMER beliebiger und absurder und wahnhafter werden und dabei zeigen: Solche Netze sind sehr schnell gesponnen. Aber dabei eben oft: spinnert. “Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1968” setzt, versuchsweise, ALLES in Zusammenhang – auch, um dabei zu zeigen, wie leichtfertig und hilflos Menschen solche Zusammenhänge suchen, um sich ihr Leben zu erklären, und – Meta, Meta! – wie schnell Autor*innen solche Zusammenhänge zimmern können.

Wie gesagt: Ich finde es schwierig, ein Buch zu empfehlen, bei dem ich z.B. von Seite 200 bis 300 dachte “Hm. Das hätte man jetzt alles einfach streichen können.” Der Roman ist sehr lang, und ich weiß nicht, ob er Gelegenheits- und Hobbylesern genug gibt, über diese 800 Seiten hinweg. Versteht man erstmal, worum es geht – Lebenswelten in jeweils “falschen” Sprachwelten durchzunudeln, in immer anderen Kombinationen – passiert nicht mehr viel: es nudelt halt 99 Kapitel lang durch. sprachlich toll. aber einen packenden Plot oder besondere Auflösungen zum Schluss gibt es nicht.

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Im Freitag (Link) schreibe ich:

“”Wer 2015 nur ein einziges Buch lesen kann, dem empfehle ich gestrost Jenny Erpenbeck, Gehen, ging, gegangen. Kosten: 19 Euro 99, Umfang: 352 Seiten. In kaum zehn Stunden Lesezeit bewältigt und verstanden. Simple Sprache. Viel Wissenswertes zu Asylrecht und Geflüchteten. Der Alltag afrikanischer Männer in einer Berliner Unterkunft, beäugt von einem skeptischen deutschen Professor in Rente. Altern, Heimatlosigkeit, DDR-Vergleiche. Kulturen im Dialog. Fünf von fünf Sternen. Lesenswert! Besonders auch für Schulklassen. Aber zählt dieser simple, muntere, gut gemeinte Asylroman zu den größten literarischen Leistungen 2015? Ist er buchpreiswürdig? […]

Egal, wer 2015 gewinnt: Favoritin Erpenbeck, Meister Witzel oder einer der holprigeren vier Titel: Keines dieser sechs angreifbaren, erstaunlich windschiefen Bücher im Finale passt gut zum Preis. Alle haben Angriffsflächen, große Schwächen. Peltzer, Witzel sind zu träge, Schwitter, Lappert zu seicht, Mahlke, Erpenbeck keine augenfällig „große“ Literatur. Ich will kein Buchhändler sein, der den Gewinner durchs Weihnachtsgeschäft bringt.”

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George R.R. Martin’s favorite Books & Movies – Recommendations, in his own Words

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George R.R. Martin (“A Song of Ice and Fire”, adapted to “Game of Thrones”) loves to read science-fiction and fantasy. He watches quite a lot of TV shows. He runs his own cinema in Santa Fe…

He blogs at grrm.livejournal.com

here’s a list of ALL movies, TV shows, authors, book recommendations and mini-reviews from his blog, published between 2005 and June 2017 – with extensive quotes by Martin himself.

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I’m a Berlin journalist, and I write mostly in German. Deutschlandfunk Kultur, an NPR-like station, invited me to talk about Martin’s writing progress.

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While reading Martin’s blog, I also marked 100 quotes and passages that resonated with me, and collected them here (Link: 100 Things I learned about George R.R. Martin and ‘Game of Thrones’ from reading his entire Blog).

It’s pretty parasitic of me to just copy’n’paste these huge masses of his text. It took me three days to read, edit and sort out all of this, so it’s still an effort on my side – but I could understand if he’s annoyed or wants me to delete it. For now, I ask you to PLEASE visit his blog, and take my own list as a mere appetizer.

Martin recommends the annual LOCUS Recommended Reading List (Link to 2016)

For a while, until ca. 2013, Martin published mini-reviews on his web site:

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Movies & TV shows:

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Movies:

  • the best Sci-Fi movie? MGM, 1956. Leslie Nielson, Anne Francis, Walter Pidgeon, Robbie the Robot. FORBIDDEN PLANET.
  • THE IRON GIANT, a personal favorite
  • WAR OF THE WORLDS, the great 1953 George Pal version
  • WATCHMEN, which I loved
  • The Swedish film of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. Highly recommended  a very faithful adaptation of an excellent novel.
  • THE DESCENT, which I think may well be the best horror film of the past twenty years or so.
  • Try George Pal’s wonderful adaptation of H.G. Wells’ WAR OF THE WORLDS (a better film than the Spielberg remake, in my opinion)
  • Or Pal’s version of THE TIME MACHINE (a MUCH better film than the really truly abominable recent remake).
  • MY BIG NIGHT, a hilarious romp by the Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia.
  • THE MARTIAN: a great adaptation of a terrific book.
  • FREQUENCY (movie): one of the very best treatments of time paradoxes and the butterfly effect I’ve ever seen.
  • PREDESTINATION: an excellent little film, with a wonderful performance by Sarah Snook.
  • WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS is a comedy out of New Zealand, about four vampires living together in Wellington, NZ. It’s hilarious.
  • DARK STAR, a hilarious SF comedy, and the movie that gave Dan O’Bannon and John Carpenter their starts.
  • The new JUNGLE BOOK: I loved loved loved it.
  • GENIUS (2016): The movie got very little notice from the world at large, but I loved loved loved it.
  • FREE THE NIPPLE, the docudrama about the women who led the fight for nipple equality in New York City.
  • The movies based on Pat Conroy’s books were pretty damned good, even if the film version of THE PRINCE OF TIDES did omit… well… the prince of tides. THE GREAT SANTINI is the best of those.

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other movies:

  • V FOR VENDETTA
  • AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
  • DEAD POET’S SOCIETY
  • BLAZE YOU OUT
  • 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
  • THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
  • CHARLIE (the film version of the classic “Flowers for Algernon”)

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recommended TV episodes:

  • SOUTH PARK’s “Trapped in the Closet”
  • “San Junipero” from BLACK MIRROR, my favorite episode from that terrific show.
  • 1×04: the latest [terrific] episode of TRUE DETECTIVE.

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TV shows:

  • THE SOPRANOS
  • DEADWOOD
  • ROME
  • MAD MEN
  • GRIMM
  • DEXTER
  • MASTERS OF SEX
  • THE KNICK
  • HALT AND CATCH FIRE
  • VIKINGS
  • JUSTIFIED
  • BIG BANG THEORY
  • ORPHAN BLACK: a terrific show
  • FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: fine high school football drama
  • HOMELAND is an excellent series [2012]
  • AMERICAN HORROR STORY. A perennial Emmy contender, yet it never seems to get any notice at Hugo time.
  • FARGO and BETTER CALL SAUL both had excellent seasons, as usual, but ended way too soon. [2017]
  • BOARDWALK EMPIRE. Great show, I think. The second season was even better than the first. Love Steve Buschemi as Nucky especially.
  • THRILLER, the scariest show on television at the time (1960-1962).
  • Parris and I are going to miss THE GOOD WIFE, but we’ve been enjoying the hell out of BETTER CALL SAUL and COLONY, and the new season of PENNY DREADFUL has been fun so far as well.
  • The very grim WALKING DEAD, the very tongue-in-cheek Z NATION, plus I, ZOMBIE. The undead are well represented.
  • Horror fans had a lot to enjoy between THE WALKING DEAD, Z NATION, and PENNY DREADFUL.
  • The British anthology series BLACK MIRROR had some wonderfully original and mind-bending segments.
  • NYPD BLUE remains some of the finest ever seen on television. Best police show ever, imnsho.
  • THE NIGHT OF. Yes, it’s very dark, but damn, this is brilliant television, with a bravura performance by John Turturro at its heart that ought to win him a whole shelf full of awards, if there is any justice.
  • And for something truly from left field, the always witty crime romcom CASTLE has been known to wander into [science fiction] from time to time.
  • Why is Nick Offermann not on the [Emmy] ballot for PARKS AND RECREATION?
  • On the “guilty pleasures” front, I have been meaning to confess how much I enjoy DEADLIEST WARRIOR.

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longer quotes about TV shows:

  • How many of you have been watching HBO’s big new drama WESTWORLD? If not, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s intriguing. The old Yul Brynner / Michael Crichton movie was just the seed, this one goes way way way beyond that. It’s gorgeous to look at, and the writing and acting and directing are all first rate.
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  • OUTLANDER, the marvelous adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s time travel novels that just finished its first season on STARZ… well, the show is terrific, but the books are even better. [2014]
  • OUTLANDER, with its music and its costumes and its cinematography and the incredible performances of its three leads (especially Tobias Menzies in his double role). [2015]
  • The show that’s really knocking our (argyle) socks off, however, is the second season of OUTLANDER. [2016]
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  • BREAKING BAD: Amazing series. Amazing episode last night [“Ozymandias”]. Talk about a gut punch. Walter White is a bigger monster than anyone in Westeros. (I need to do something about that).
  • Uzo Aduba from ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, whose Crazy Eyes is the most unforgettable character on an amazing and addictive show.
  • THE EXPANSE: This is the show that fandom has been waiting for since FIREFLY and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA left the air… a real kickass spaceship show, done right.
  • JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL, the seven=part BBC television miniseries adaptation of the Hugo-winning novel by Susannah Clarke. A lovely piece of work, I thought, and — again — faithful to the source material (a big thing with me).
  • The other show we stumbled on was GOOD GIRLS REVOLT, which dramatizes the struggle of the women at NEWSWEEK… er, “NEWS OF THE WEEK”… fighting for the chance to be reporters instead of simply researchers in 1969. I thought it was excellent. The actresses in the leading roles were all terrific, and the male characters were pretty nuanced as well; the show portrayed the sexism of the times, and the indignities the women were forced to put up with, without falling into the trap of painting all the men as monsters and assholes. Good writing and good acting, and hey, I loved the music and the clothes as well (what can I say? I’m the guy who wrote THE ARMAGEDDON RAG). Aside from its feminist themes, which were front and center, GOOD GIRLS REVOLT also struck me as the best show about journalism since LOU GRANT. And Ilikeshows about journalism. Wish there were more of them. It’s a pity GOOD GIRLS REVOLT won’t be back. It was just getting started, and then it was over. Guess I’ll just need to read the book.

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problematic TV shows:

  • THE TUDORS. Decidedly mixed feelings.
  • BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: the reboot is a hundred times better than the original. [but he “pretty much hated” the series finale]
  • [he dislikes] SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND
  • I sure hope those guys doing LOST have something better up planned for us. Though if it turns out to be They Were All Dead All Along I’m really going to be pissed. [2009]
  • Let me banish all reality shows from the air!

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Music & Stage:

  • One of my favorite singer/ songwriters, the one and only JANIS IAN
  • My favorite song is Kris Kristofferson’s “The Pilgrim, Chapter 33.”
  • There was a certain time in my life when I listened to Leonard Cohen’s SONGS OF LOVE AND HATE album obsessively.
  • THE WRECKING CREW (2015 documentary): great, just great. Now THAT’s my kind of music.
  • We caught WAR HORSE on stage. AMAZING show. More impressive than the film, I think. The puppetry is magical.

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longer quotes about movies:

  • The original STAR WARS was a good movie, and EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was even better (Leigh Brackett wrote that one, so there’s good reason), but RETURN OF THE JEDI went downhill, and you really don’t want to get me started about those three wretched prequels.
  • Saw the new STAR TREK movie [2009] last night. No spoilers here, just a resounding thumbs down. Take a pass. Let’s have television versions of Honor Harrington and Miles Vorkosigan. Let’s have someone film the Praxis series by Walter Jon Williams, the best space opera I’ve read in years. Let’s have anything that isn’t Trek or STAR WARS.If they really must remake old shows, screw it, let them remake Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, or Rocky Jones, Space Ranger.
  • The first MAD MAX was just okay, I will admit, but BEYOND THUNDERDOME was damned good, and I rank the middle film, THE ROAD WARRIOR, as the best post-holocaust film, and one of the best SF adventures, ever made. Fury road: I’ve often said that the climatic chase sequence at the end of THE ROAD WARRIOR was the best car chase scene ever put on film (it’s what DAMNATION ALLEY should have been, as I once told Roger Zelazny — who agreed). Well, FURY ROAD is the ROAD WARRIOR chase sequence with the dial turned up… not just to 11, but to 47 or some such. Truth be told, I sometimes get bored during car chases. Not this one.
  • It’s Christmas Eve. Time for my ritual screening of my favorite adaptations of A CHRISTMAS CAROL… the Reginald Owen version, the Alastair Sim version, the George C. Scott version, and… best of all… BLACKADDER’S CHRISTMAS CAROL, with Rowan Atkinson.
  • A CHRISTMAS STORY: my second favorite Christmas movie of all time (I love it, but I have to confess, I love the Alastair Sim CHRISTMAS CAROL even more).
  • I am a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino (and not just because he owns a movie theatre too).
  • RAZE: it’s the feel-good movie of the season… (Well, no, not really, but it’s a powerful piece of film making, brutal as a club to the guts, and Zoe Bell is terrific in it.)
  • FOOTLIGHT PARADE: One of the last of the great pre-Code films, it’s amazing to see how risque it is compared to what Hollywood would be making a year later and for decades to follow.
  • ARRIVAL. Terrific adaptation of a classic story by Ted Chiang. Brilliant performance from Amy Adams. (She is always great, I think, but this was her best role to date). A real science fiction story, not a western in space. Intelligent, thought-provoking, with some wonderfully alien aliens.
  • THE GREAT GATSBY (Baz Luhrman): Count me with those who loved it. I think this is a great film. AND a great and faithful adaptation of the novel, which is not necessarily the same thing.
  • Richard Donner’s LADYHAWKE. Not only one of the greatest fantasy films ever made (ignore that bloody soundtrack please), but one of the great romances as well.
  • My favorite guilty pleasure movie is SUMMER LOVERS. I want to go to the island of Santorini and have a menage a trois with Darryl Hannah and Valerie Quinessen.
  • TRUMPLAND: Whatever you may think of Michael Moore or his politics, he’s never less than entertaining. He makes some great political points here, but even if you disagree with every one of those, there are a lot of laughs as well.
  • Actress Amy-Joyce Hastings never got to audition for GAME OF THRONES. That’s something she has in common with thousands of other actors from all over the world. Unlike all the others, however, Amy-Joyce took life’s lemons and made lemonade; she shared her experiences with her friend Graham Cantwell, an Irish filmmaker, who took her tale about a young actress attempting to land a role in an epic fantasy, and turned it into a movie… a romantic comedy about moviemakers and aspiring actors that pokes fun at the whole casting carousel… starring Amy-Joyce Hastings: THE CALLBACK QUEEN (2013).

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He liked ALIEN. ALIENS was “even better”. But he never saw “Alien 3” or any other sequels:

I loved ALIEN and ALIENS, but when I read the early reviews of ALIENS 3, and learned that the new movie was going to open by killing Newt and… what was his name, the Michael Biehn character?… well, I was f*cking outraged. I never went to the film because I did not want that sh*t in my head. I had come to love Newt in the preceding movie, the whole damn film was about Ripley rescuing her, the end was deeply satisfying… and now some asshole was going to come along and piss all over that just to be shocking. I have never seen the subsequent Aliens films either, since they are all part of a fictional “reality” that I refuse to embrace.

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Marvel movies & comic books:

  • I loved MS MARVEL. Yay! A very fun read, a great new character for the Marvel universe.(he didn’t like that THE AVENGERS (2012) had Black Widow and Hawkeye instead of The Wasp and Ant-Man Hank Pym.)
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  • ANT-MAN has a proper balance of story, character, humor, and action, I think. A couple reviewers are calling it the best Marvel movie ever. I won’t go that far, but it’s right up there, maybe second only to the second Sam Raimi/ Tobey McGuire Spider-Man film, the one with Doc Ock. I’ve liked most of the Marvel movies, to be sure, I’m still a Marvel fanboy at heart (Excelsior!), but I liked this one more than the first AVENGERS and a lot more than the second, more than either THOR, more than the second and third IRON MAN and maybe just a smidge more than the first (though I liked that one a lot too). [2015]
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  • Doctor Strange was probably my favorite single character… well, him or Spider-Man, both drawn by Steve Ditko, whose art I loved. (I say single character because I always loved the group books as well, the FF and Avengers and X-Men). How much did I love Doctor Strange? Well, let me just say, one of the characters I wrote for the comic book fanzines of the 60s was called Doctor Weird, so… […] The movie is NOT the best Marvel superhero movie, as I was hoping it would be… it’s more middle of the pack, I’d say… but it looked great, did justice to the character, and had some scenes that were downright Ditko-esque. [2016]
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  • My first published words were letters to Stan [Lee] and Jack [Kirby] in the pages of THE FANTASTIC FOUR and THE AVENGERS. My first published fictions were prose superhero stories in fanzines like HERO and YMIR and STAR-STUDDED COMICS. I was a member of the Merry Marvel Marching Society. I once won an Alley Award (though I never got it). Decades later, I was a guest of honor at San Diego Comicon and won an Inkpot. That was a long time ago, however. I fear I no longer follow mainstream comics much. I still love the stories and heroes I grew up, Silver Age Marvel and DC (hell, even Charlton, the Question and Blue Beetle were great), but there have been way too many retcons and reboots and restarts for my taste. I don’t know who these characters are any longer, and what’s worse, I don’t much care.

He’s not a fan of retcons and reboots in comic books, and was annoyed when he heard about the 2008 „Spider-Man“ storyline where Peter Parker’s marriage was razed from continuity:

  • I was puzzled recently when one of my readers emailed me to ask what I thought about what Marvel had done to Spider-Man. I didn’t know what Marvel had done to Spider-Man, but I was curious enough to Google, and pretty soon I found out. Bloody hell. I hate this, and judging from the discussions I am seeing on various blogs, I am not alone. Retconning sucks. Leave the goddamned continuity ALONE, for chrissakes. What happened, happened. Take an old character in a new direction, fine, cool, but don’t go back and mess around with the character’s past. It’s a breach of trust with your audience, as I see it. The DC universe has never really recovered from the Crisis on Infinite Earths, despite all the Crises that have followed, and I think the Marvel universe, and Spidey in particular, will be a long time recovering from this decision. So that’s my two cents. In a nutshell: boo, hiss, shame on you, Marvel. If I had a rotten tomato, I would throw it. [2008]

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…and one graphic novel recommendation:

  • I haven’t read enough graphic novels to know for certain that Scott McCloud’s THE SCULPTOR was the best of 2015. But it is so damned good, so original and so human, that I cannot imagine that it is not one of the best five.

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BOOKS:

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Robert A. Heinlein:

  • If [the Hugo Awards] would have had a “Best Writer” award instead of “Best Novel”, Robert A. Heinlein would have won it every year from 1954 until his death.
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  • The first science fiction novel I ever read was Heinlein’s HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL, a book that begins with a boy named Kip in a used spacesuit standing in his back yard, and goes on to take him (and us) to the moon, and Pluto, and the Lesser Magellanic Cloud, along the way encountering aliens both horrifying (the Wormfaces) and benevolent (the Mother Thing), as well as a girl named Peewee. In the end it’s up to Kip and Peewee to defend the entire human race when Earth is put on trial. I had never read anything like it, and from the moment I finished I wanted more; more Heinlein, more science fiction, more aliens and spacesuits and starships… more of the vast interstellar vistas that had opened before me.
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  • HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL. It made me a SF reader for life. For decades thereafter, RAH was my favorite writer. Saw PREDESTINATION at the Cocteau on opening night, and thought it was terrific… and very faithful to the Heinlein story.
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  • The SF I love best is still the SF that gives me that sense of wonder I found in that Heinlein book almost sixty years ago, and afterwards in the works of Roger Zelazny, Jack Vance, Alfred Bester, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jack Vance, Andre Norton, the early Chip Delany, Jack Vance, Frank Herbert, Robert Silverberg, Jack Vance, Eric Frank Russell, Cordwainer Smith, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, Arthur C. Clarke, Poul Anderson, and so many more. (Did I mention Jack Vance?)
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  • Liking some of a writer’s work does not oblige you to like all of his work. I yield to no one in my admiration for Robert A. Heinlein, but my love for HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL and THE PUPPET MASTERS and “All You Zombies” and “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” does not make me like I WILL FEAR NO EVIL or TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE any better.
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  • I grew up reading [conservative author] Robert A. Heinlein, and still have been known to read works by [conservative-to-reactionary authors] Orson Scott Card, Dan Simmons, Larry Niven, and others whose political views are worlds away from my own. It’s GOOD to read things that challenge your own opinions and preconceptions… or so I have always believed…

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Classic Sci-Fi and Fantasy:

  • My own top three [Hugo Winners?] would have been LORD OF LIGHT (Zelazny), THE STARS MY DESTINATION (Bester), and THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS (Le Guin).
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  • Luminaries as Theodore Sturgeon, Donald A. Wollheim, Fritz Leiber, Doc Smith, Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison.
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  • [The Hugo Awards hands out prizes to] the best that SF and fantasy have to offer. Heinlein won it four times. Zelazny, Le Guin, Simmons, Haldeman, Leiber, Pohl, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Walter M. Miller.
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  • Books: LORD OF LIGHT and THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS and STAND ON ZANZIBAR and THE FOREVER WAR and GATEWAY and SPIN
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  • Jack Vance, our greatest living SF and fantasy writer. I reread the entire DEMON PRINCES series, and I’m doing the same with the four DYING EARTH books now. The Vance books were even better than I remembered them.
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  • Peter S. Beagle, whose work I have admired for a long long time (if you have never read THE LAST UNICORN or A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE, don’t call yourself a fantasy fan).
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  • Terry Pratchett, the world’s funniest fantasist.
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  • I am a huge Lovecraft fan, and not much of a Burroughs fan at all.
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  • I would rank Gene Wolfe as one of the greatest SF and fantasy writers of the past half-century, right up there with Roger Zelazny and Ursula K. Le Guin.
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  • Now, I’m a major Stephen King fan, and have been for decades. King is tremendously prolific author, and when you write that many books, inevitably some of them are going to be better than others. That being said, 11/22/63 is the best King for at least a decade, a major piece of work.I was very pleased to see Stephen King take home the Best Novel award for MR. MERCEDES. You want to talk about writers who have been shamefully overlooked by the Hugos? (And by the Nebulas and the World Fantasy Award too). Start with King.
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  • Alan Garner was given a Lifetime Achievement award. I was very pleased to see that. Garner, the author of THE OWL SERVICE and THE WEIRDSTONE OF BRISINGAMEN and many other fine, fine fantasies, is long overdue for some recognition. If you’re not familiar with his books, you have a treat coming.
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  • George MacDonald Fraser will never be admitted to the august halls of High Literature, but if there was ever a more entertaining storyteller, I don’t know his name. GMF wrote some fine screenplays and some terrific stand-alone novels, but he will be best remembered for the Flashman books, his delightful series of historical swashbucklers.
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  • Arthur C. Clarke has died in Sri Lanka. Clarke was one of the the all time greats, and his books will be remembered for as long as people still read science fiction. These days he is best known to the general public for his role in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and for his RAMA series… but to my mind his masterpiece is CHILDHOOD’S END, one of the best SF novels ever written, and a true mind-blower when it was first published.
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  • Harry Harrison: . BILL THE GALACTIC HERO, THE TECHNICOLOR TIME MACHINE, DEATHWORLD (the first one is the best), THE STAINLESS STEEL RAT (ditto)…
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  • Kage Baker, who did a Cugel the Clever story that was a delight from start to finish. Don’t know Cugel? Shame on you. In her afterword Kage describes him as a cross between Wile E. Coyote and Harry Flashman, and that’s about right. I’d rank him as one of the great characters of modern fantasy, right up there with Conan the Barbarian, Elric of Melnibone, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, Jirel of Joiry, and those guys with the hairy feet from Tolkien.
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  • Algis Budrys was one of the greats. He did not write many novels, compared to some, but the quality of his work was second to none. MICHAELMAS and ROGUE MOON and WHO were his masterpieces.
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  • Howard Waldrop has few peers as a short fiction writer, and is long overdue for a Hugo.
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  • Richard Adams, the author of WATERSHIP DOWN. Gardner Dozois ranks WATERSHIP DOWN as one of the three great fantasy novels of the twentienth century, right up there with LORD OF THE RINGS and THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING, and I agree. A truly amazing book… and one that somehow always seems to get forgotten when fans discuss the great fantasies. Maybe because of the talking rabbits? No idea… He wrote two terrific epic fantasies with human characters, SHARDIK and MAIA, both of which are criminally underrated, as well as an erotic ghost story, THE GIRL ON A SWING. His other “animal book,” THE PLAGUE DOGS, also has some wonderful sections… though it is such a dark, depressing, angry, gut-punch of a novel that I can’t say I ‘enjoyed’ it.
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  • 1974, when Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle published THE MOTE IN GOD’S EYE and Samuel R. Delany published DHALGREN. Both major works by major writers, both bestsellers, both instantly recognized as classics… but in what may have been the last great battle of the Old Wave and New Wave, the fans who loved MOTE hated DHALGREN, and vice versa. (I loved them both myself.)
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  • You owe it to yourself to read J.R.R. Tolkien (LORD OF THE RINGS), Robert E. Howard (Conan the Cimmerian, Kull of Atlantis, Solomon Kane), C.L. Moore (Jirel of Joiry), Jack Vance (THE DYING EARTH, Lyonesse, Cugel the Clever, and so much more), Fritz Leiber (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser), Richard Adams (WATERSHIP DOWN, SHARDIK, MAIA), Ursula K. Le Guin (Earthsea, the original trilogy), Mervyn Peake (GORMENGHAST), T.H. White (THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING), Rosemary Sutcliffe, Alan Garner, H.P. Lovecraft (more horror than fantasy, admittedly), Clark Ashton Smith, Daniel Abraham (THE LONG PRICE QUARTET, THE DAGGER AND THE COIN, Scott Lynch (the Locke Lamora series), Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie (especially BEST SERVED COLD and THE HEROES).
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  • Sir Walter Scott is hard going for many modern readers, I realize, but there’s still great stuff to be found in IVANHOE and his other novels, as there is in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s WHITE COMPANY (he write more than just Sherlock Holmes). Thomas B. Costain (THE BLACK ROSE, THE SILVER CHALICE) is another writer worth checking out, along with Howard Pyle, Frank Yerby, Rosemary Hawley Jarman. Nigel Tranter lived well into his 90s, writing all the while, and turning out an astonishing number of novels about Scottish medieval history (his Bruce and Wallace novels are the best, maybe because they are the only ones where his heroes actually win, but I found the lesser known lords and kings equally fascinating). Thanks to George McDonald Fraser, that cad and bounder Harry Flashman swashed and buckled in every major and minor war of the Victorian era. Sharon Kay Penman, Steven Pressfield, Cecelia Holland, David Anthony Durham, David Ball, and the incomparable Bernard Cornwell are writing and publishing firstrate historical fiction right now, novels that I think any fan of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE would find easy to enjoy.
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  • John Howe, Alan Lee, and Ted Nasmith? The “Big Three” of Tolkien illustrators are among the best known fantasy artists in the world today, and have been for many decades, and NONE OF THEM HAVE EVER BEEN NOMINATED FOR A HUGO. [2008]

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Writers:

  • Diana Gabaldon, author of the mega-bestselling OUTLANDER series… and the occasional terrific short story and novella
  • Joe Lansdale is an incredible writer, with a unique voice. Compulsively readable.
  • Pat Cadigan (a terrific writer herself, queen of cyberpunk)
  • Carrie Vaughn: an amazing writer, an amazing person.
  • Gillian Flynn is an amazing writer.
  • Jim Sallis, a world-class mystery novelist who made his mark writing and teaching SF earlier in his career
  • We have an especially strong crop of new young fantasists coming up of late, including Joe Abercrombie, David Anthony Durham, and Scott Lynch. [2008]
  • Robert Jordan: His huge, ambitious WHEEL OF TIME series helped to redefine the genre, and opened many doors for the writers who followed.
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  • Pat Conroy has been one of my favorite novelists for a long, long time. THE PRINCE OF TIDES is probably his masterpiece, but I loved BEACH MUSIC and THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE and THE GREAT SANTINI and THE WATER IS WIDE as well. Oh, and his non-fiction memoir, MY LOSING SEASON, another engrossing read.
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  • Dennis Lehane is the author of GONE BABY GONE, MYSTIC RIVER, and SHUTTER ISLAND, all of which have been made into terrific movies… but the novels are even better. He’s also written some other novels that haven’t been made into movies (yet), and those are just as good. My favorite is THE GIVEN DAY, a historical about the Boston Police Strike.
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  • China Mieville (who is a vocal and passionate leftist, yes, but also a helluva powerful writer)
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  • John Nichols, author of the MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR and many other great titles. A fascinating guy, whose work truly captures the sights, sounds, and spirit of Northern New Mexico.
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  • Ted Chiang… a writer of literary SF, we may agree, but one of the most powerful to enter our field in many years. There’s a reason Chiang wins every time he is nominated for a award. He’s bloody good.
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  • [Martin is friends with and admires the work of:] Connie Willis, David Gerrold, Daniel Abraham, Lisa Tuttle, My friend Vic Milan was smarter. His new novel, THE DINOSAUR LORDS, will be out next June. First of a trilogy. It’s got dinosaurs, and it’s got knights. What more can you ask? (And why the hell didn’t I think of it first??)
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  • It was particularly gratifying to see [Hugo Award] rockets go to [illustrator, artist] Donato Giancola and [sci-fi publsisher] David Hartwell.

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recommended novels:

  • SPIN by Robert Charles Wilson, a really terrific novel
  • Michael Chabon’s THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION. A great book.
  • THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir: a great adaptation of a terrific book.
  • John Scalzi: REDSHIRTS is a light, fun, amusing SF adventure, an affectionate riff off of STAR TREK
  • Katherine Addison’s THE GOBLIN EMPEROR. I liked it.
  • “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi,” by Pat Cadigan. A brilliant story
  • Lauren Beukes: the brilliant SHINING GIRLS
  • I also read and enjoyed the new Naomi Novik, UPROOTED
  • Joe Hill’s THE FIREMAN: original and gripping, a page-turner…
  • Latest fun read: the new Melinda Snodgrass novel THE HIGH GROUND, first volume of her space opera series. Space cadets! This is her best work yet, I think.
  • The best epic fantasy I read last year has to be THE WISE MAN’S FEAR, by Patrick Rothfuss.
  • HEAVEN’S SHADOW, another solid and engrossing hard SF novel from David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt.
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  • Ernie Cline: ARMADA, like READY PLAYER ONE, is a paean to the videogames of a bygone era, and like READY PLAYER ONE it is a tremendous amount of fun for anyone who remembers that time and played those games. (Those who did not may find it incomprehensible, admittedly).
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  • I read the mega-bestseller THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, by Paula Hawkins, a mystery/ thriller/ novel of character about three women who live near the train tracks of a London commuter lines, and how their lives and loves get entwined when one of them disappears under mysterious circumstances. Fans of Gillian Flynn’s books will probably like this one too. I know I did… though I don’t think Hawkins is quite as deft a writer as Flynn. The first person voices of the three narrators sounded too much alike, I thought, but that’s a minor quibble. The main narrator, an alcoholic who is slowly falling apart, is especially well drawn. It’s a strong story, with a great sense of time and place, and one that had me from start to finish.

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Historical Fiction:

  • And then there is Maurice Druon. Which is actually why I called you all here today, boys and girls. Look, if you love A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, and want “something like it” to read while you are waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for me to finish THE WINDS OF WINTER, you really need to check out Maurice Druon and THE ACCURSED KINGS.
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  • Maurice Druon: I am a huge fan of his best known novels, the wonderful “Accursed Kings” series of historical novels.
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  • I am a big fan of historical fiction, especially medieval historical fiction. Nigel Tranter, Maurice Druon, Thomas B. Costain, Sharon Kay Penman, Cecelia Holland… and especiall Bernard Cornwell, who writes the best battles of any writer who has ever lived.
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  • I read some of the latest Bernard Cornwell (excellent, as always). There’s no one who writes better action scenes, in any genre.
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  • David Anthony Durham’s new historical novel, THE RISEN, his take on Spartacus. DAD never disappoints, and Spartacus is another fascination of mine… I look forward to seeing how Durham’s take on him differs from Howard Fast’s and Colleen McCullough’s.
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  • Lisa Tuttle’s THE SOMNAMUBIST AND THE PYSCHIC THIEF, featuring Miss Lane and Jasper Jesperson, the Victorian-era detectives she first introduced in her stories for DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS and ROGUES. Those were hugely entertaining stories, and I am eager to see what Lisa does with the characters at novel length. Fans of Sherlock Holmes should love this.

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Fantasy: Quick Recommendations

  • I read more fantasy than SF last year. Understandably, as the publishers send me just about every epic fantasy they are putting out for blurbs. This is a golden age for fantasy, and there’s some great work being done. 2012 was no exception. I enjoyed Saladin Ahmed’s THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, an old-fashioned sword-and-sorcery adventure with an Arabian Knights flavor, rather than the usual “medieval Europe” setting. There was a new Joe Abercrombie as well, and though I didn’t feel RED COUNTRY quite measured up to last year’s THE HEROES, Abercrombie is always worth reading. No new Rothfuss last year, though, and nothing by Scott Lynch… or that Martin guy, for that matter.
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  • 2011: Well, damn, it was a great year for fantasy. I read at least half a dozen books so good that they made me say, “I wish I’d written that.” THE HEROES by Joe Abercrombie was an action tour de force, an entire novel built around a single battle. Lev Grossman’s THE MAGICIAN KING was a worthy successor to THE MAGICIANS, and proof that last year’s Hugo voters knew what they were about when they voted Grossman the Campbell Award as the best new writer in the field.

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longer Sci-Fi reviews:

  • THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM, by Cixin Li s a very unusual book, a unique blend of scientific and philosophical speculation, politics and history, conspiracy theory and cosmology, where kings and emperors from both western and Chinese history mingle in a dreamlike game world, while cops and physicists deal with global conspiracies, murders, and alien invasions in the real world. It’s a worthy nominee. If you like lots of science in your SF, this is a book for you, especially if you love theoretical physics, astrophysics, and mathemathics. The Chinese background is fascinating, especially the look at the Cultural Revolution and its aftereffects. And the prose is very clean and tight, which is not always the case with translations, which sometimes come across as a bit clunky. Ken Liu did a fine job, in that respect; the writing flows.
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  • LAURA J. MIXON is a professional writer, and a very talented one, with half a dozen strong novels under her own name and her pseudonym of M.J. Locke… but this year she published on-line, in a non-professional and unpaid capacity, ‘A Report on Damage Done by One Individual Under Several Names,’ a detailed, eloquent, and devastating expose of the venomous internet troll best known as ‘Requires Hate’ and ‘Winterfox.
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  • I also read LINES OF DEPARTURE by Marko Kloos. It’s military SF, solidly in the tradition of STARSHIP TROOPERS and THE FOREVER WAR. No, it’s not nearly as good as either of those, but it still hands head and shoulders above most of what passes for military SF today. The enigmatic (and gigantic) alien enemies here are intriguing, but aside from them there’s not a lot of originality here; the similarity to THE FOREVER WAR and its three act structure is striking, but the battle scenes are vivid, and the center section, where the hero returns to Earth and visits his mother, is moving and effective. ANGLES OF ATTACK is, I think, better.
  • My list of “great military SF novels” includes STARSHIP TROOPERS, BILL THE GALACTIC HERO, THE FOREVER WAR, and an oldie called WE ALL DIED AT BREAKAWAY STATION, but not much else.

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Nonfiction:

  • THE WHEEL OF TIME COMPANION was a mammoth concordance of facts about the universe and characters of the late Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series, edited and assembled by Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, and Maria Simons. It’s a labor of love, and everything one could possibly want to know about Jordan’s universe is in there. Robert Jordan was a giant in the history of modern fantas
  • Felicia Day’s delightful look at her life, YOU’RE NEVER WEIRD ON THE INTERNET (Almost).
  • Kameron Hurley’s THE GEEK FEMINIST REVOLUTION, a collection of her essays, thoughts, and personal reflections.
  • A book of interviews — TRAVELER OF WORLDS: CONVERSATIONS WITH ROBERT SILVERBERG, by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro.
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  • I’ve also really enjoyed a non-fiction title from a couple of years ago called THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL, by Daniel Stashower, which is simultaneously a bio of Edgar Allan Poe and a “true crime” account of a sensational NYC murder case that inspired him to write “The Mystery of Marie Roget.” Call this one history or biography if you must, but it reads like a novel… and I especially loved the stuff about the New York City press, one of my obsessions.
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  • DEAD WAKE: THE LAST CROSSING OF LUSITANIA. Eric Larson is a journalist who writes non-fiction books that read like novels, real page-turners. This one is no exception. I had known a lot about theTitanicbut little about theLusitania. This filled in those gaps. Larson’s masterpiece remains THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, but this one is pretty damned good too. Thoroughly engrossing.

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James S.A. Corey: The Expanse (novel series & TV show)

Martin’s former assistant Ty Franck is one of the two novelists of THE EXPANSE, a series of sci-fi novels that recently got a TV adaptation.

  • 2011, on book one, “Leviathan Rises” and the Hugos: This is the one that kicked my ass the hardest. It’s a terrific read, a page turner. If you love SF the way they used to write it, you will love this book.
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  • In 2012, the second volume of the Expanse series, CALIBAN’S WAR, was published. And far from being a victim of sophomore slump, that bastard Jimmy Corey seems to have done it again. CALIBAN’S WAR is even better than LEVIATHAN WAKES. It’s old-fashioned space opera, the kind of SF that I cut my teeth on, a real page-turner set in a vividly imagined solar system, squarely in the tradition of Heinlein and Asimov and Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (lacking only Pinto Vortando), superlatively written. Books like this were what made me an SF fan to begin with. CALIBAN’S WAR was the best pure SF I read in 2012, and I will be nominating it for the Hugo.
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  • One of the joys of the Expanse series is the way Jimmy Corey dances between subgenres. The series is certainly science fiction, no doubt of that, but assigning it to any particular sub-genre is more more difficult. Some parts read like space opera, some parts strike me as hard SF. The first book, LEVIATHAN WAKES, had some pretty strong horror elements with its vomit zombies, and also a real noir-ish mystery feel in the Miller chapters. With BABYLON’S ASHES, however, the war comes center stage, and we are definitely in the realm of Military SF.
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  • THE EXPANSE [TV show]: This is the show that fandom has been waiting for since FIREFLY and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA left the air… a real kickass spaceship show, done right.

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Martin also likes Ty Franck’s Co-Writer, Daniel Abraham:

  • I just finished THE KING’S BLOOD, the second volume of Daniel Abraham’s “Dagger and Coin” series. Books like this remind me why I love epic fantasy. Yes, I’m prejudiced, Daniel is a friend and sometime collaborator… but damn, that was a good book. Great world, great characters, thoroughly engrossing story. The only problem was, it ended too soon. I want more. I want to know what happens to Cithrin, and Marcus, and Geder, and Clara. And I want to know NOW. God damn you, Daniel Abraham. I know for a fact that you are writing more Expanse books with Ty, and more urban fantasies as M.L.N. Hanover, and doing short stories for some hack anthologist, and scripting some goddamn COMIC BOOK, and even sleeping with your wife and playing with your daughter. STOP ALL THAT AT ONCE, and get to writing on the next Dagger and Coin. I refuse to wait.
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  • And Daniel Abraham… yes, him again, damn him… did something I would not have thought possible. He published a novel called THE DRAGON’S PATH, the first volume in the new epic fantasy series called THE DAGGER AND THE COIN, and it was just as bloody good as his Long Price Quartet.

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Emily St. John Mandel: STATION ELEVEN

  • I’ve never met Emily St. John Mandel, and I’ve never read anything else by her, but I won’t soon forget STATION ELEVEN. One could, I suppose, call it a post-apocolypse novel, and it is that, but all the usual tropes of that subgenre are missing here, and half the book is devoted to flashbacks to before the coming of the virus that wipes out the world, so it’s also a novel of character, and there’s this thread about a comic book and Doctor Eleven and a giant space station and… oh, well, this book should NOT have worked, but it does. It’s a deeply melancholy novel, but beautifully written, and wonderfully elegiac… a book that I will long remember, and return to.
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  • [then, he invited her to a reading & author talk in Santa Fe] I had not read any of her three earlier novels. She was such a charming and fascinating guest, however, that I made up for that lack afterward, and now I am even more impressed with her talent than I was before. LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL, THE SINGER’S GUN, and THE LOLA QUARTET are not science fiction or fantasy — don’t know how to characterize them, “literary noir” is about the best I can do — but damned, they are good. Fascinating characters, original stories, and such gorgeous prose. Rich, evocative, beautiful writing, but never intrusive. She makes her people and her places come alive in a way that draws you in and will not let you go.
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  • Sadly, no, STATION ELEVEN did not get a Hugo nomination. The reports of my vast power and influence within the field seem to be greatly exaggerated. So far as I can tell, my effect on the Hugo nominations is exactly nil. But I’ll keep recommending good stuff anyway. I’m stubborn.

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Nnedi Okorafor:

  • [Martin is executive producing a new TV show for HBO] Yes, HBO is developing Nnedi Okorafor’s novel WHO FEARS DEATH as a series. Yes, I am attached to the project, as an Executive Producer. I am pleased and excited to confirm that much. I met Nnedi a few years ago, and I’m a great admirer of her work. She’s an exciting new talent in our field, with a unique voice.

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got hbo 7

100 Things I learned about George R.R. Martin and „Game of Thrones“… from reading his entire Blog

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I’ve read George R.R. Martin’s entire blog / livejournal: grrrm.livejournal.com

About 1000 entries, written from 2005 to June 2017.

I learned tons of things about his writing process, his politics, his passions, grievances… and his tone, style, personality.

Here’s a huge list I’ve made: all TV, movie and book recommendations from his blog

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I’m a Berlin journalist, and I write mostly in German. Deutschlandfunk Kultur, an NPR-like station, invited me to talk about Martin’s writing progress.

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While reading the blog, I marked quotes and passages that resonated with me. I want to collect them here:

It’s pretty parasitic of me to just copy’n’paste these huge masses of his text. It took me three days to read, edit and sort out all of this, so it’s still an effort on my side – but I could understand if he’s annoyed or wants me to delete it. For now, I ask you to PLEASE visit his blog, and take my own list as a mere appetizer.

If you know little about Martin, read the Wikipedia page and the biographical section of his web site (Link).

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The very basics? George Raymond Richard Martin

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  • …was born in 1948 and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • …loves sci-fi as much as fantasy
  • …has been publishing sci-fi, horror and fantasy since 1971.
  • …has studied and taught journalism.
  • …was a TV writer in the 80s, for “Twilight Zone”, “Max Headroom” and “The Beauty and the Beast”
  • …has been writing scripts for “Game of Thrones”, too – and is pretty involved in the production.

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  • “A Song of Ice and Fire” was supposed to be a trilogy.
  • The first book was published in 1996. In 2009, HBO filmed a pilot movie for a series.
  • 7 books are planned. 5 of them are published already. The “Game of Thrones” show overtook the books in Season 6.
  • “Game of Thrones” will end in 2018, after season 8. Currently, scripts for five different TV prequel shows are being written.

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99_His blog is called „Not A Blog“:

I’m calling this “Not A Blog.” I mean, I don’t have time to do a weblog. I don’t have the energy to do a weblog. There’s just no way I could do a weblog.

98_His home is bursting with books:

My unread shelf alone filled twenty-two boxes. (And those are just MY unread books, Parris has her own).

97_He studied and taught journalism – and he’s annoyed about misleading articles:

Clickbait journalism is to journalism as military music is to music.

96_He watches Marvel movies – but he doesn’t read many comic books:

My first published words were letters to Stan [Lee] and Jack [Kirby] in the pages of THE FANTASTIC FOUR and THE AVENGERS. My first published fictions were prose superhero stories in fanzines like HERO and YMIR and STAR-STUDDED COMICS. I was a member of the Merry Marvel Marching Society. I once won an Alley Award (though I never got it). Decades later, I was a guest of honor at San Diego Comicon and won an Inkpot. That was a long time ago, however. I fear I no longer follow mainstream comics much. I still love the stories and heroes I grew up, Silver Age Marvel and DC (hell, even Charlton, the Question and Blue Beetle were great), but there have been way too many retcons and reboots and restarts for my taste. I don’t know who these characters are any longer, and what’s worse, I don’t much care.

95_His writing doesn’t come easy:

Some writers enjoy writing, I am told. Not me. I enjoy having written.

94_Christmas is stressful to him:

My least favorite holiday of the year, and it is already bearing down on us like a freight train. Sorry, I have no Xmas spirit. Bah, humbug. Every year, for decades now, Christmas finds me stressed out like nobody’s business, trying to complete some script, story, or novel that I have promised to someone “by the end of the year”.

93_Often, his projects pile up:

The time is going by so fast. I grow ever more pessimistic, but I can’t think about dates and deadlines now. My mantra remains the same. One chapter at a time, one page at a time, one sentence at a time. [2008]

92_He loves tiny knight figurines:

You know about my passion for collecting 54mm toy knights and medieval miniatures. I attended the Old Toy Soldier Show in Schaumburg (the world’s best toy soldier show, and always great fun, when I can find the time to attend it.)

91_He’s known Parris, his second wife, since the 1970s. They became a couple when…

When I finally got together with Parris again, it was the 80s, I was divorced, and she was living in Portland, Oregon and waiting tables at a lesbian feminist restaurant called Old Wives’ Tales, where she was always getting in trouble for playing politically incorrect music. [more here: georgerrmartin.com/life/parris.html]

90_He often reads new chapters at conventions, or publishes them online:

When A FEAST FOR CROWS came out, I realized that something close to half the book had already been out there in one form or another — website samples, readings, promotional giveaways, excerpts in magazines, and so on. That was too much.

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89_He writes chapters out of order:

I don’t always write these chapters in the order you read them. The epilogue will close the book, but it won’t be the last chapter written. For instance, the last chapter written on A STORM OF SWORDS was the Red Wedding).

88_Sometimes, chapters take years to turn out right:

Well, I finished a chapter of the DANCE this morning. Which ordinarily would not be occasion for comment, but this was a Bran chapter that I’ve been struggling with for something like six years. Bran has always been the toughest character to write, for a whole bunch of reasons

87_He sees no shame in revising, editing, reworking his books over and over again:

Some day, maybe, some student of fantasy literature may want to peruse all of these partial manuscripts, and document how A DANCE WITH DRAGONS changed over the years. Every time I printed out a copy to send to my editors, I made a second and sent it to the Special Collections at Texas A&M University, where my papers are kept. Maybe someone will get a master’s thesis out of my struggles with this book. [2011]

86_Here’s what happens once a manuscript is „done“:

Since finally completing A DANCE WITH DRAGONS some weeks ago, and announcing it here, I have been working on… drum roll, please… A DANCE WITH DRAGONS! That’s the way it goes with books. You finish, and breathe a sigh of relief… and then you get back to work. There’s always more to be done. Your editor reads it and gives you notes. You make revisions, corrections. A copyeditor goes over the text, finds errors, points out contradictions and inconsistencies, raises queries. You fix some, stet others. Friends and fans gulp down the book, and find mistakes your editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders all missed. You fix those too, as time allows. [2011]

85_He oversees a lot of merchandising and does a lot of consulting for GoT books, video games, figurines, swords etc.:

Mark Twain never sold Huckleberry Finn action figures, and F. Scott Fitzgerald never licensed the rights to make THE GREAT GATSBY into a board game. I remembered the words of my old boss, Ron Koslow, who created the tv show BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and always kept a tight rein on what subsidiary rights he would allow to be sold. He wanted Vincent to be a mythic figure, he always liked to say, and never wanted to see him on a lunchbox. I can understand that point of view. […] On the other hand, long before I was “the American Tolkien,” I was a comic book fanboy… one of the ORIGINAL comic book fanboys, thank you very much, the ones who started comics fandom. And the comic book fanboy thinks that games and cards and miniatures and all that stuff is hot shit.

84_He hates tax season and blogs about it nearly every year:

As a good liberal, I don’t actually object to paying taxes (although I would rather they spent more of my money on schools and health care and the space program, and less on bombs and tanks and Halliburton)… but I hate having to deal with all the record keeping.

83_During his childhood in New Jersey, he was rather poor:

I love old cars (our family never had enough money to own a car when I was a kid, so I walked and rode the bus and assembled plastic models of cars when other kids were building fighter planes).

82_The 1996 book tour for the novel in his „A Song of Ice and Fire“ series, „A Game of Thrones“, didn’t go great:

Reviews were generally good, sales were… well, okay. Solid. But nothing spectacular. No bestseller lists, certainly. I went on a book tour around that same time, signing copies in Houston, Austin, and Denton, Texas; in St. Louis, Missouri; in Chicago and Minneapolis; and up the west coast to San Diego, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Portland, and Seattle. Turnouts were modest in most places. The crowds didn’t reach one hundred anywhere, and at one stop (St. Louis, if you must know), not only was attendance zero but I actually drove four patrons out of the bookshop

81_His 2011 book tour went better:

My book tour, by the way, was astonishing. More than a thousand people at every appearance. Close to two thousand in New York. And such great people too… unfailingly cheerful and friendly and enthusiastic, despite having had to wait in line, in some cases for many hours. I have the best fans in the world.

80_He’s been writing and selling stories since 1971:

My career did not begin with A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. Truth be told, I had been a professional writer for twenty years before I typed the first lines of the as-yet-untitled story that would grow to become A GAME OF THRONES. I had published four novels and half-a-dozen collections, won the Hugo and the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award, written science fiction, horror, and high fantasy. Most of it in the form of short stories.

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79_He’s annoyed by Republican voter ID laws:

When I was a kid, we always felt free and superior watching World War II movies, where those evil Nazis were forever stopping the heroes and demanding to see “their papers.” That would never happen to US, we knew. We were Americans. We did not have to carry “papers.” Yet now there’s talk of a national ID card, and the driver’s license has become almost that by default.

78_He hated George W. Bush’s presidency. In early 2008, he wrote:

Obama and Edwards both interest me. I am lukewarm about Hillary. I wish she had come out stronger against the war. The best thing about this election, no matter who wins, is that come 2009, we will finally be rid of the worst president in all of American history, that malignant moron George W. Bush.

77_When Donald Trump won the 2016 election, he posted:

President Pussygrabber. There are really no words for how I feel this morning. America has spoken. I really thought we were better than this. Guess not. Trump was the least qualified candidate ever nominated by a major party for the presidency. Come January, he will become the worst president in American history, and a dangerously unstable player on the world stage.

76_In 2015, he hoped that Santa Fe – where he lives and writes – could take in Syrian refugees:

Donald Trump and thirty-one governors have it wrong, wrong, wrong. The Syrian refugees are as much victims of ISIS as the dead in France. Let them in. Santa Fe, at least, will welcome them.

75_In 2016, he pointed out that immigrants made America great:

The vast majority of you reading this are descended from immigrants (aside from those few who are Native American). I know I am. My paternal grandfather came over from Italy as a child. My maternal grandfather was Irish-American, a Brady whose own ancestors hailed from Oldcastle in County Meath. My paternal grandmother was half German and half Welsh. My maternal grandmother had French and English ancestry. I am a mongrel to the bone. In short, American. Wherever they came from, and whenever they made the crossing, all of my immigrant ancestors faced hardships, poverty, and discrimination when they came here. They came looking for freedom, they came looking for a better life. And they found it, or made it… and in the process they stopped being Irish or Italian or German and became Americans. The process is still going on today. Men and women dreaming of a better life still look to America, and cross oceans and deserts by whatever means they can to find that better life. They face hardships and discrimination as well. Not everyone welcomes them. Some talk of walls, of keeping people out, of sending them back. My ancestors faced the same sort of talk. So did yours. It’s an old old story, as old as our republic. Millard Fillmore is dead and forgotten, but the Know Nothing Party is alive and well today, under other names. They still know nothing. But some of us remember where we came from. Some of us remember that it was the immigrants, those tired poor huddled masses, who made America great to begin with.

74_He hates flying, because of invasive security checks:

I have always hated airline “security.” Step by step, year by year, the TSA and its predecessors have taken away more and more of our freedoms, subjecting millions of perfectly innocent travellers to searches and interrogations and other hassles in the vague hopes of catching hijackers (in the old days) and terrorists (these days). Even if it worked, the price would be too high, but of course it does not work. It has never worked. All of the 9/11 killers strolled through airport “security” without a problem, yet little old ladies in wheelchairs are pulled from line and patted down.

73_He loves road trips… and roadside attractions:

As much as I hate flying… or rather, what flying has become, thanks to the airlines and the TSA… I love long drives. Seeing the country as you pass through it, rather than just flying over it. Road trips are especially great if you can get off the Interstates. Stopping to eat at little mom & pop eateries, taking in the small towns, visiting the roadside attractions (the weirder, the better).

72_By 2012, he had three assistants, and affectionately called them ‘minions’:

It’s always nice to be back in Santa Fe, with Parris, the cats, and the minions. And to escape the LA heat as well. But the amount of crap that has piled up in my absence is daunting. There’s just too damn much. Even with three assistants, I am falling further and further behind, and more and more stuff keeps getting dumped on my plate. Somehow just walking back into my office after a trip sends my stress level ratcheting up to ten. [2012]

71_If he doesn’t post updates, his writing is going well:

I was away from my computer three days, and 450 emails accumulated in my absence. Sigh. When my webpage isn’t getting update, that’s usually a sign that I’m lost in my writing, with no energy left at the end of the day for much else. So that’s good. [2008]

70_He doesn’t blog that much about his writing:

Sorry, but I’m never going to be one of these writers who blogs daily about how many words they produced today. I don’t like to talk about the good days for fear of jinxing myself (all writers are superstitious at heart, just like baseball players), and I don’t like to talk about the bad days… well, just because. Writing is like sausage making in my view; you’ll all be happier in the end if you just eat the final product without knowing what’s gone into it.

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69_He’s not looking for storytelling advice from fans and readers:

I really do not like talking about questions I am still wrestling with on a work in progress. It never helps. Art is not a democracy, and these are problems I need to solve myself. Having a few hundred readers weigh in with their thoughts and opinions — which seems to be what happens whenever I post here about DWD — does not advance the process. I’m sorry, but that’s true. I know that many of you would like to help me, but you can’t. I have editors and I have two capable assistants, and that’s sufficient. I’m the only one who can dance this dance.

68_When „A DANCE WITH DRAGONS“ was delayed in 2009, he blogged:

Since the very beginning of this series, I have been guilty of being over-optimistic about how long it would take me to finish the next book, the next chapter, or the series as a whole. I cannot deny that. I have always been bad with deadlines… one reason why I did my best to avoid them for the first fifteen years of my career. That’s an option I no longer have, however. Or at least will not have until A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE is complete. That’s the main reason why I no longer want to give any completion dates. I am sick and tired of people jumping down my throat when I miss them.

67_Everyone has an opinion on how he should spend his time:

I have to admit, the rising tide of venom about the lateness of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS has gotten pretty discouraging. Emails, message boards, blogs, LJ comments, everywhere I look (and lots of places where I don’t), people seem to be attacking me, defending me, using me as a bad example of something or other, whatever. Some of you hate my other projects. You don’t want me co-editing WARRIORS or the Vance anthology or STAR-CROSSED LOVERS or any of the other projects I’m doing with my old friend Gardner Dozois, and you get angry when I post about them here. For reasons I don’t quite comprehend, the people who hate those projects seem to hate WILD CARDS even more. You really don’t want me working on that, “wasting time” on that, and posting about it here. Some of you don’t want me attending conventions, teaching workshops, touring and doing promo, or visiting places like Spain and Portugal (last year) or Finland (this year). More wasting time, when I should be home working on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. After all, as some of you like to point out in your emails, I am sixty years old and fat, and you don’t want me to “pull a Robert Jordan” on you and deny you your book. [2009]

66_Don’t give him unsolicited advice:

These are the kinds of things I grapple with. No comments necessary, really. I am not looking for advice, and in fact I seldom talk about such issues precisely to AVOID unsolicited advice. These sorts of things are best resolved by me and my muse, sometimes assisted by my editors. Just felt like rambling a little. [2010]

65_Some „new“ chapters that he posts online have been polishedand revised for years:

The new chapter is actually an old chapter. But no, it’s not one I’ve published or posted before, and I don’t even think I’ve read it at a con (could be wrong there, I’ve done readings at so many cons, it all tends to blur together). So it’s new in that it is material that no one but my editors (well, and Parris, and David and Dan, and a few others) have ever seen before, but it’s old in that it was written a long time ago, predating any of the samples that you have seen. The first draft was, at any rate. I’ve rewritten it a dozen times since then. Anyway, I’ve blathered on about it long enough, I will let the text speak for itself. Chapter title is “Mercy.” [2014]

64_He DOES enjoy posting „Things are finally done!“

This is for those who complain I never blog about my work. (I do, but not often. I prefer to announce when something is finally done, rather just endless reiterations of “I am working on X, I am working on Z,” and I am never going to be one of those “I wrote three pages today” writers. Sorry, that’s not how I roll). [2012]

63_Early on, he wrote stories for fanzines – but he does not like fan fiction:

Don’t write in my universe, or Tolkien’s, or the Marvel universe, or the Star Trek universe, or any other borrowed background. Every writer needs to learn to create his own characters, worlds, and settings. Using someone else’s world is the lazy way out. If you don’t exercise those “literary muscles,” you’ll never develop them.

62_He has written stories about another writer’s pre-existing characters. But he asked for permission first:

It it does bother me that people hear I wrote fan fiction, and take that to mean I wrote stories about characters taken from the work of other writers without their consent. Consent, for me, is the heart of this issue. If a writer wants to allow or even encourage others to use their worlds and characters, that’s fine. Their call. If a writer would prefer not to allow that… well, I think their wishes should be respected.

61_He liked fantasy writer Terry Pratchett – but didn’t know him well:

Terry was one of our greatest fantasists, and beyond a doubt the funniest. He was as witty as he was prolific I cannot claim to have known Terry well, but I ran into him at dozens of conventions over the decades, shared a stage with him a few times, and once or twice had the privilege of sharing a pint or a curry. He was always a delight. A bright, funny, insightful, warm, and kindly man, a man of infinite patience, a man who truly knew how to enjoy life… and books. [2015]

60_In 2014, he was annoyed that the Emmy Awards don’t much care for fantasy and sci-fi:

This was the 66th annual Emmy Awards. 66 years, and no science fiction or fantasy series has ever been honored. Many have been nominated, yes. None have ever won. [„Game of Thrones“ was awarded „Best Drama“ in 2015 and 2016.]

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59_He loves WorldCon, the science-fiction convention where the Hugo Awards are awarded. He’s overwhelmed by San Diego Comic Con, though:

I attended the very first comicon ever held, incidentally. It was all in one room too, in a Greenwich Village hotel in 1963. Steve Ditko, Fabulous Flo Steinberg, and twenty or thirty high school kids, myself among them. If we only knew where it would lead… […] San Diego Comicon pretty much filled up the entire city of San Diego. Huge, overwhelming, exhausting, a bit scary… one runs out of adjectives. The concom took very good care of me, however, and I had a great time signing, speaking, sweating (it was bloody HOT in San Diego), and tromping up and down the length of the San Diego Convention Center, past hundreds of booths and displays, a giant Lego Batman, and other sights too numerous to mention. There was a very hot Wonder Woman wandering around one day, and an equally hot Mazda RX-8 on display at the Top Cow booth, both of which I lusted after. [2008]

58_He loves giving speeches at Worldcon:

None of us [writers] are exactly strangers to public speaking. Some writers have a standard speech for all occasions, a one-size-fits-all sort of talk. Others write a new speech every year or two. Some wing it. If you are really hard up and/or lazy, you can even take questions from the audience, or ask to do an interview instead of a speech. I confess, I have resorted to all those dodges in my time, at one con or another. A worldcon is different, though. It’s the biggest honor most of us will ever get, unless the Pulitzer Fairy or the Nobel Prize Santa Claus should somehow take note of us, and it requires a real speech.

57_He’s been to nearly every Worldcon since 1971:

I attended my first worldcon in 1971. Noreascon I, in Boston. By then I was already a “filthy pro,” with two — count ’em,two– short story sales to my credit, and another half-dozen stories in my backpack that I thought I could show to editors at the con. (Hoo hah. Doesn’t work that way. The last thing an editor wants is someone thrusting a manuscript at him during a party, when he’s trying to drink and flirt and dicuss the state of the field. What can I say? I was green. It was my second con, my first worldcon). In those days, the Hugo Awards were presented at a banquet. I did not have the money to buy a banquet ticket (I was sleeping on the floor of a fan friend, since I did not have the money for a hotel room either), but they let the non-ticket-holders into the balcony afterwards, and I got to watch Robert Silverberg present the Hugos. Silverbob was elegant, witty, urbane, the winners were thrilled, everyone was well-dressed, and by the end of the evening I knew (1) I wanted to be a part of this world, and (2) one day, I wanted to win a Hugo. Rocket lust. I had it bad.

56_His first novel was sci-fi. It came out in 1977:

DYING OF THE LIGHT was first published by Pocket Books back in the dawn of time (that’s 1977 to you young punks), when Jimmy Carter was in the White House, and I was a college journalism instructor with dark brown hair. I had already been writing and publishing science fiction for six years, many of the stories set against the same future history, a very loose background I later named the Thousand Worlds. Novels were long and scary, but I finally decided I was ready to tackle one in 1976. I wrote the entire thing start to finish before giving it to my agent to sell. My title was AFTER THE FESTIVAL. Pocket, after winning the auction against three other publishers, decided that wasn’t science fictional enough and made me change it. I didn’t mind… much. DYING OF THE LIGHT fit the book just as well. By any title, it was a Thousand Worlds book, probably the culmination of that phase of my career. A melancholy, romantic, elegiac sort of novel it was, but then I was a melancholy romantic myself in those days.

55_He took his time with this debut novel:

I wrote my first novel, DYING OF THE LIGHT, without a contract and without a deadline. No one even knew I was writing a novel until I sent the completed book to Kirby to sell. I wrote FEVRE DREAM the same way. I wrote THE ARMAGEDDON RAG the same way. No contracts, no deadlines, no one waiting. Write at my own pace and deliver when I’m done. That’s really how I am most comfortable, even now.

54_He moved to Hollywood and wrote for TV dramas in the mid-to-late 1980s:

My life and career have developed a frightening momentum. I remember once, when I was out in Hollywood, someone described working on a weekly television series as being akin to madly laying rails as the locomotive roars full steam up the tracks just behind you. I’m not in Hollywood anymore, but life still feels like that some days. Lose a day here and a week there, and suddenly that damn train is rolling over you.

53_He likes to encourage and promote other writers:

Robert A. Heinlein once said he could not possibly pay back all those who helped him when he was starting out, so he believed in paying forward, and helping those who came after him.

52_But he’s bad at saying „no“:

I really really really need to learn to say No. No, I will not come to your convention, thanks for asking. No, I will not read your manuscript/ galley proof/ book, but good luck with that. No, I will not write a story for your anthology, I am a year behind writing stories for my own anthologies. No, I will not write a preface/ introduction/ foreword for your book. No, I will not do an interview. [2012]

51_One of his earliest and darkest stories was recently adapted into a graphic novel:

MEATHOUSE MAN the graphic novel is the work of the amazing and talented Raya Golden, my sometime assistant and all-around minion, and long-time friend and quasi-goddaughter, based on a novelette that I originally wrote for Harlan Ellison’s THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS back in the dawn of time (well, mid-70s) and eventually published in Damon Knight’s anthology ORBIT 18. Written at one of the lowest points of my life, the novelette “Meathouse Man” is probably the darkest and most twisted thing I’ve ever written, a story so personally painful to me that I can hardly stand to re-read it even now… that Raya chose this tale, out of all my stories, to adapt and illustrate as a graphic novel, producing a work capable of earning a Hugo nomination… well, that’s just bloody incredible, and a real testament to her dedication, her talent, and her madness. Bravo! [2014]

50_He loved organizing the party for every nominee who did not win a Hugo Award:

In 1980, at Noreascon II, I committed the ultimate sin for a Hugo Loser by winning two Hugos. When I turned up at the party with them in hand, Gardner was waiting with a spray can of whipped cream. He nailed me instead the door, turning my head into a sundae. He even had a maraschino cherry to put on top. (Sadly, no one seems to have taken a picture). (I did get my revenge years later, when Gargy began winning Hugos every year). That double win had endangered my status as a loser, Gardner warned me, but I returned to his good graces the next year at Denvention II, when I lost again, this time to Gordy Dickson. And I’d been so confident of winning that I’d even rented a tuxedo.

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49_In 1985, his life accelerated:

In 1985 I went out to Hollywood to work on TWILIGHT ZONE, and I no longer had the time or energy to organize worldcon parties. I don’t recall exactly how or when the torch was passed, but it was. The parties went on, but I was no longer the one doing them. I believe it was sometime in the 1990s when the Hugo Losers Party somehow became a quasi–official worldcon function, and a tradition arose — don’t know how — of each of them being hosted and run by the following year’s worldcon. [2015]

48_He’s not a fan of retcons and reboots in comic books, and was annoyed when he heard about the 2008 „Spider-Man“ storyline where Peter Parker’s marriage was razed from continuity:

I was puzzled recently when one of my readers emailed me to ask what I thought about what Marvel had done to Spider-Man. I didn’t know what Marvel had done to Spider-Man, but I was curious enough to Google, and pretty soon I found out. Bloody hell. I hate this, and judging from the discussions I am seeing on various blogs, I am not alone. Retconning sucks. Leave the goddamned continuity ALONE, for chrissakes. What happened, happened. Take an old character in a new direction, fine, cool, but don’t go back and mess around with the character’s past. It’s a breach of trust with your audience, as I see it. The DC universe has never really recovered from the Crisis on Infinite Earths, despite all the Crises that have followed, and I think the Marvel universe, and Spidey in particular, will be a long time recovering from this decision. So that’s my two cents. In a nutshell: boo, hiss, shame on you, Marvel. If I had a rotten tomato, I would throw it. [2008]

47_2009, when „A Song of Ice and Fire“ was turned into a pilot for HBO, he was involved in the actors’ casting:

I’ve met Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner (and their charming moms). They’re terrific, bright and beautiful and bursting with enthusiasm, excited to be a part of this.And now I’m having pangs of guilt about all the horrors that they’re going to have to go through in the months and years to come, thanks to me. I’m going to have to rewrite the books so only nice things happen to Arya and Sansa. Might change the story some.

46_He watched lots of audition tapes at home:

The auditions for the part of Ser Ilyn Payne are the strangest I’ve even been witness to. Ser Ilyn has no tongue and no lines, of course, so the actors just have to stand there and look mean & scary, reacting to the dialogue of other characters being read to them by the casting assistants. No words to work with, just their mouth, eyes, facial expressions. Talk about challenging. I know there are aspiring actors and actresses reading this. You guys have all my empathy. It’s a tough, tough profession you’ve chosen. Good luck to all of you. [2011]

45_He was thrilled about Peter Dinklage, Tyrion:

And playing Tyrion Lannister will be Peter Dinklage, who was almost everyone’s “dream casting” for the role (he certainly was mine).

44_He loved that, for the TV show, linguists fleshed out his fictional High Valyrian language:

A few years ago, I got a very nice email from a reader who wanted to know more about the vocabulary and syntax of High Valyrian. I blush to admit that I had to reply, “Uh… well… all I know about High Valyrian is the seven words I’ve made up to date. When I need an eighth, I’ll make that up too… but I don’t have a whole imaginary language in my desk here, the way Tolkien did.”The same was true of Dothraki. Lots of characters speak the language of the horselords in my novels, and I did pepper the text with a few Dothraki words like khal and arakh… but for the most part I was content just to say, “They were speaking Dothraki,” and give the sense of what was said, playing with the syntax and sentence rhythms a bit to convey a flavor.

43_He enjoyed writing the first season episode „The Pointy End“

I actually met a deadline. I turned in the first draft of my script for episode eight of A GAME OF THRONES to David and Dan on the day it was due. Today, as it happens. It’s too long and too expensive, but that’s true of every first draft teleplay and screenplay that I ever wrote.

42_He wrote a complete script. Does that mean: the entire episode?

In a series like this, scenes sometimes get moved from episode to episode, so not everything you’ll see tonight will be mine(except in the sense that is all based on my books, of course). F’rinstance, the bit in the previews, with Tyrion and Bronn in the Mountains of the Moon, that was originally meant to be in episode seven, and was moved into “The Pointy End” during editing. So that scene, and the encounter with the clansmen, was written by David and Dan. Kind of fitting that “The Pointy End” airs even as I am working on my season two script, “Blackwater.” [2011]

41_He visited Ireland and Morocco when the TV pilot was shot. He has met most actors, and likes Sibel Kekilli:

I’ve met some wonderful people through GAME OF THRONES, and Sibel is one of them. What an amazing, talented, courageous young woman. And yes, I confess it: her Shae was better than my Shae. [and, 2014:] We have the best cast in television, and Sibel is a big part of that.

40_For the German program THROUGH THE NIGHT, Martin showed Kekilli Santa Fe. He later came to Hamburg for a reading, and she returned the favor:

Some highlights: Touring MiniatureLand in Hamburg. Wow. Biggest toy train set in the world, but the landscapes and miniatures dwarf the trains. Very glad my hosts took me to see this. Hanging with Sibel Kekilli and her boyfriend, and my German publicist, Sebastian. Sibel fed me Turkish food and showed me some of Hamburg’s nightlife, to reciprocate for the tour of Santa Fe I gave her on INTO THE NIGHT. Hamburg stays up later than Santa Fe, you will be surprised to learn, but chile con queso is nowhere to be found. We drank White Russians while huddled under blankets in an outdoor cafe. Took a canal boat tour as well. [2015]

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39_His writer friend Melinda Snodgrass had trouble with a German robot:

Melinda had STAR COMMAND, her own SF show, which filmed in Germany (ask her about the robot than ran amuck and smashed the set) and should have been picked up for series, but wasn’t.

38_A fictional death that he took hard – and that made him call foul? The second „Alien“ movie is about saving a young kid. When the kid died at the beginning of „Alien 3“, Martin was done with the franchise.

I have never seen the third ALIENS movie. I loved ALIEN and ALIENS, but when I read the early reviews of ALIENS 3, and learned that the new movie was going to open by killing Newt and… what was his name, the Michael Biehn character?… well, I was f*cking outraged. I never went to the film because I did not want that sh*t in my head. I had come to love Newt in the preceding movie, the whole damn film was about Ripley rescuing her, the end was deeply satisfying… and now some asshole was going to come along and piss all over that just to be shocking. I have never seen the subsequent Aliens films either, since they are all part of a fictional “reality” that I refuse to embrace.

37_He was glad about Obamacare:

Many of you reading this blog today are presumably science fiction and fantasy fans. It would probably shock you to know how many of your favorite writers have no health insurance whatsover. Most midlist writers struggle to get by even at the best of times; lean times can be lean indeed. For a self-employed individual, even one who can afford the premiums, insurance can be very hard to find and obscenely expensive when you do find it… and god help you if you have a pre-existing condition, because the insurance companies sure won’t. [2010]

36_He’s liberal, but likes to read Republican and conservative colleagues:

Whenever I make one of these political posts, I always get a rush of emails. Lots of “right on, you said it, I agree” mails from those who share my views, a couple of reasoned and thoughtful dissents (which I value), and a handful of “I am never going to read your books again” screeds. (Those last just make me sad. Not because I have lost a reader, but because such people seem deliberately intent on closing their eyes and shutting down their minds. I grew up reading Robert A. Heinlein, after all, and still have been known to read works by Orson Scott Card, Dan Simmons, Larry Niven, and others whose political views are worlds away from my own. It’s GOOD to read things that challenge your own opinions and preconceptions… or so I have always believed…. [2012]

35_He did object to the Vietnam War, but he’s fascinated by wars and warrior culture:

I was never a warrior. I served in VISTA, not the Army or Air Force, and I opposed the Vietnam War. But I have written a good deal about war and warriors, and read even more about those subjects. Together with Gardner Dozois (a Vietnam era vet), I edited WARRIORS, a mammoth anthology of stories about war and the men and women who fight them. The glories and horrors of war lie at the very center of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE. [2014]

34_He is passionate about the politics and inequalities of TV production:

Let me banish all reality shows from the air! And these ‘talent’ shows too! Instead of shows where assholes and audiences mack mock of wannabees who cannot sing and dance, let’s bring back the variety show and feature really GOOD singers and really GOOD dancers. Oh, and you movie studios… no more replacing screenwriters at the drop of a hat. It should as hard to replace the writer as it is to replace the director. And that “a film by” credit at the beginning of pictures should include the name of BOTH writer and director. The film is by both of them, not just one. And every TV series should be required to take X amount of pitches from freelancer writers and beginners. That used to be mandated by the WGA, and way back when it was how a lot of newcomers got their foot in the door, but these days most shows find ways around it, and breaking in is harder than ever. [2014]

33_He lives in New Mexico, but isn’t too familiar with Old Mexico:

Strange to say, although I have lived in New Mexico since 1979, I have never really visited Old Mexico. Oh, I attended a Westercon in El Paso a few years back, and spent an afternoon in Juarez with some other fans and writers. And I spent a few hours in Tijuana back in the late 80s, I believe, while attending Comicon in San Diego. But that hardly counts. There’s a lot more to Mexico than the border towns. My first real visit to Mexico starts tomorrow, when I jet down to Guadalajara for the Guadalajara International Book Fair. [2016]

32_He bought and re-opened a local cinema in 2013. He often blogs about the movies, and he invites writers and artists like Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman to give readings. During these nights, he’s on stage, hosting and asking questions.

The Jean Cocteau is a small Santa Fe art house, with a single screen and 127 seats. It was built in the early 70s as the Collective Fantasy, became the Cocteau later in that decade, went through several local owners who ran it well, and finally became part of the Trans-Lux chain. They closed it in April, 2006, when they shut down their entire chain of theaters. I saw a lot of movies at the Cocteau between 1979, when I moved to Santa Fe, and 2006, when it closed. I like the idea of bringing it back, better than ever. I will not be doing it myself, of course. So please, readers, fans, don’t get nuts. I am a novelist and a screenwriter, not a theatre manager, it won’t be me standing at the concession stand asking if you want butter on your popcorn.

31_He was enraged with Sony pictures when North Korea tried to ban the US comedy movie THE INTERVIEW.

I mean, really? REALLY?? These gigantic corporations, most of which could buy North Korea with pocket change, are declining to show a film because Kim Jong-Un objects to being mocked? The level of corporate cowardice here astonishes me. It’s a good thing these guys weren’t around when Charlie Chaplin made THE GREAT DICTATOR. If Kim Jong-Un scares them, Adolf Hitler would have had them shitting in their smallclothes. Even Sony, which made the movie, is going along. There are thousands of small independent theatres across the country, like my own, that would gladly screen THE INTERVIEW, regardless of the threats from North Korea, but instead of shifting the film to those venues, Sony has cancelled its scheduled Christmas rollout entirely. I haven’t seen THE INTERVIEW. I have no idea how good or bad a film it is. It might be hilarious. It might be stupid and offensive and outrageous. (Actually, I am pretty sure about the ‘outrageous’ part). It might be all of the above. That’s not the point, though. Whether it’s the next CITIZEN KANE or the next PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, it astonishes me that a major Hollywood film could be killed before release by threats from a foreign power and anonymous hackers. [2014]

30_He bought a huge space for a local Santa Fe artist collective.

Yeah, I bought a bowling alley. Except… well… not really. I bought the former Silva Lanes property on Rufina Circle, a block off Cerrillos Road in south Santa Fe. But there hasn’t been any bowling there since 2009, when Silva Lanes went bankrupt. And, indeed, all the lanes and interior furnishings were ripped out several years ago by a previous “buyer” who then failed to follow through with the purchase. So essentially I bought a huge empty derelict building (some 33,000 square feet) and a big parking lot. The building, instead, will be used for art… not a traditional gallery, now, but a very exciting and innovative interactive art space. The exhibits will be designed and installed by Meow Wolf, a collective of forty-odd (some very odd) artists here in Santa Fe who have been doing some amazing things over the past decade, but have never had a permanent home before. [2015]

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29_He’s friends with lots of sci-fi and fantasy writers and he often meets them at conventions.

Connie Willis and David Gerrold are both friends of mine. I have known David since the early 70s, Connie since the late 70s. Connie, actually, is avery goodfriend of mine. (Don’t be fooled if you have seen us ripping on one another at cons. That’s the George and Connie show.) [He’s also friends with Diana Gabaldon, and likes the OUTLANDER TV show.]

28_If a writer dies, he thinks the best way to honor them is to buy their books:

Kage Baker has died. Check out her books, if you’re not familiar with them. Flowers and donations and tributes are all well and good, but I’ve always felt that the best way to remember any writer is to read their work. Kage’s work deserves to be read and reread for many years to come. It’s sad to think there won’t be any more of it.

27_It’s easy to suggest nominees for the annual Hugo Award, so he blogs personal suggestions and recommendations every Hugo voting season.

Sadly, no, STATION ELEVEN did not get a Hugo nomination. The reports of my vast power and influence within the field seem to be greatly exaggerated. So far as I can tell, my effect on the Hugo nominations is exactly nil. But I’ll keep recommending good stuff anyway. I’m stubborn

26_To him, the Hugo Awards are huge:

There has been much debate of late about the value of a Hugo. Whether or not it has actual monetary value, whether it can boost a writer’s career or lead to larger advances. Back in 1953, no one was thinking that way. Look at those first awards, and you can see what the rocket is all about. The Hugos are an “Attaboy! You did good.” They are SF thanking one of its own for enriching the genre, for giving them pleasure, for producing great work. Also, they come with a really cool trophy. Bottom line, that’s what matters.

25_In 2015, conservative and right-wing sci-fi fans organized their Hugo nominee suggestions, so right-wing titles dominated the Hugo ballot. They called themselves „Sad Puppies“, „Angry Puppies“, „Rabid Puppies“, and Martin became involved in blogging about the whole „Puppygate“ turmoil:

If the Sad Puppies wanted to start their own award… for Best Conservative SF, or Best Space Opera, or Best Military SF, or Best Old-Fashioned SF the Way It Used to Be… whatever it is they are actually looking for… hey, I don’t think anyone would have any objections to that. I certainly wouldn’t. More power to them. But that’s not what they are doing here, it seems to me. Instead they seem to want to take the Hugos and turn them into their own awards. [2015]

24_He’s unhappy about the puppy’s notion that the Hugos „exclude“ straight white male readers by „pushing a Social Justice Warrior agenda“:

Straight white men are being excluded. Really? Really? C’mon, guys. Go look at the last five, ten years of Hugo ballots. Count how many men were nominated. Count how many women. Now count the black writers and the Asian writers and the foreign-language writers. Yes, yes, things are changing. We have a lot more women and minorities being nominated than we did in 1957, say, or even 1987… but the ballots are still way more white and way more male than not. Look, I am hardly going to be in favor of excluding straight white men, being one myself (and no, I am not a fan of Tempest Bradford’s challenge). I am in favor of diversity, of inclusion, of bringing writers from many different backgrounds and cultures into the field. I don’t want straight white writers excluded from the ballot… I just don’t think they need to have ALL of it. I mean, we’re SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY FANS, we love to read about aliens and vampires and elves, are we really going to freak out about Asians and Native Americans? [2015]

23_This debate is not about free speech:

My own politics are liberal… which means I lean left, but not way over to the fringe left. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to dissent, all of that has always been central to my political attitudes. The freedom of the artist to create should be absolute. I have always been against censorship, silencing, McCarthyism. (The McCarthy period, a particular fascination of mine, was one of the blackest eras in American history. The Time of the Toad, Dalton Trumbo called it; Trumbo was one of its victims). ((It should be noted, since idiots always misunderstand this point, that freedom of speech does not mean you can say whatever you want wherever you want. If you want to proclaim that you are the new messiah or call for ethnic cleansing of Martians or even promote your new book, I think you should be able to stand on a soapbox in the park, or start your own website, and do just that. I don’t think free speech requires me to let you into my living room to give your speech, or into my virtual living room here on the internet)). [2015]

22_He spoke up against the puppies’ misogynist attacks against female writers:

Laura Mixon is a “Social Justice Warrior” if ever there was one. Unlike me, she might even accept that label. She cares about social justice. She hates sexism, racism, misogyny. She wants our field to be more inclusive. She has fought her own battles, as an engineer writing hard SF, and being told that women could not write hard SF. Laura is well to the left of me. She’s also a kinder, gentler, and more forgiving person than I am. And yet she did this, devoted months to it, uncounted amounts of efforts… because someone had to, because lives and careers were being ruined, because people were being hurt. I hope she gets a Hugo. For herself, and for all of Hate’s victims. [2015]

21_But the discussions left him worn out:

Yes, I know that THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER named me “the third most powerful writer in Hollywood” last December. You would be surprised at how little that means. I cannot control what anyone else says or does, or make them stop saying or doing it, be it on the fannish or professional fronts. What I can controlis what happens in my books, so I am going to return to that chapter I’ve been writing on THE WINDS OF WINTER now, thank you very much. [2015]

20_To finish up the Puppygate discussion, he posted this link:

I want to single out the postings of Eric Flint. The latest, at http://www.ericflint.net/index.php/2015/06/09/a-response-to-brad-torgersen/, is a devastating point-by-point deconstruction and refutation of the latest round of Puppystuff from Brad Torgersen. Flint says what I would have said, if I had the time or the energy, but he says it better than I ever could.

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19_He writes his novels on an old word processor.

What do I know about this Interweb thingie? I still tie messages to the legs of ravens

18_No one has EVER asked him who his favorite „Song of Ice and Fire“ character was.

On some of the foreign trips, I did entire days of interviews. They would park me in a hotel suite, usher in a journalist or a film crew, we’d talk for a half hour, then my hosts would escort that reporter out, and bring in a new one. Some of the journalists were very sharp. Some… ah… weren’t. (A few made me wonder what the hell has happened to the standards of the profession that I once got my degrees in, back at Northwestern.) Sitting around a hotel room talking doesn’t sound so hard, but it can be grueling. Especially when they all ask the same damn questions. (Tyrion is my favorite character. Okay? OKAY? Can we PLEASE put that one to rest?? [2014]

17_He enjoyed working on the companion source book THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE.

Which we’ve been working on (along with many other things) lo, these many years. ((And yes, yes, it’s late, what else is new? Please do not blame my faithful collaborators, Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson. They finished their part ages ago, and tossed the ball to me. What can I say? I remain as slow as ever. And I added a lot.)) [2014]

16_He likes that HBO doesn’t have strict time constraints:

Tonight the Season 4 finale of GAME OF THRONES on HBO. Longest episode of the season. One of the things I love about HBO is that you can take as long as you need to tell your story, you’re not locked into the rigid 46-minutes-and-change-to-the-second of the broadcast networks. [2014]

15_He’s fine with nudity.

GAME OF THRONES is often slammed for showing too many breasts. As are other cable shows. And of course you can’t show them at all on broadcast television. Only in America. Why do so many people in this country go mad at the sight of a nipple?

14_He enjoyed the GoT essay collection BEYOND THE WALL.

As the subject of these essays, I will be the first to admit that I have a skewed perspective here. Nonetheless, I think [James] Lowder put together a strong, balanced, and diverse collection of essays, and the quality of writing here was distinctly higher than in some similar volumes. I think I would have enjoyed reading this one even if it WASN’T all about me myself and I. Read it for yourself, and decide.

13_His former assistant/minion Ty Franck is one of the two novelists of THE EXPANSE, a series of sci-fi novels that recently got a TV adaptation.

THE EXPANSE: This is the show that fandom has been waiting for since FIREFLY and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA left the air… a real kickass spaceship show, done right.

12_He enjoys „Westworld“ on HBO. [So I assume he’s fine with Westworld’s many, many Emmy nominations in 2017.]

How many of you have been watching HBO’s big new drama WESTWORLD? If not, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s intriguing. The old Yul Brynner / Michael Crichton movie was just the seed, this one goes way way way beyond that. It’s gorgeous to look at, and the writing and acting and directing are all first rate.

11_He’s executive producing a new TV show for HBO:

Yes, HBO is developing Nnedi Okorafor’s novel WHO FEARS DEATH as a series. Yes, I am attached to the project, as an Executive Producer. I am pleased and excited to confirm that much. I met Nnedi a few years ago, and I’m a great admirer of her work. She’s an exciting new talent in our field, with a unique voice.

10_He has several other TV projects:

I have three shows in various stages of development under the aegis of my overall deal with HBO. There’s CAPTAIN COSMOS for HBO (scripted by Michael Cassutt), there’s SKIN TRADE for Cinemax (to be scripted by Kalinda Vasquez), and there’s a third project in the very early stages that I am not allowed to talk about yet. There’s also WILD CARDS, but that’s at a different studio and I am not involved with it, except to license rights, sign the check, and distribute funds to my writers. Oh, and on the movie side, we seem to be moving toward production on IN THE LOST LANDS, an adaptation of three of my old stories.

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09_There might be even more upcoming movies and TV shows:

When I say, “my plate is full,” I don’t just mean with WINDS. I am still editing the latest Wild Cards volume, HIGH STAKES. I have an overall deal with HBO, and three new television concepts in various stages of development, with a variety of collaborators and partners. I am consulting on a couple of videogames. There’s the Wild Cards movie at Universal, where I’m a producer. [2015]

08_He’s not sure if HBO would conclude GAME OF THRONES in a series of feature films:

I see that this new crop of stories also raises, once again, the notion of concluding the series with one or more feature films. And in some of these stories, once again, this idea is wrongly attributed to me. Let me state, yet again, that while I love this idea, it did NOT originate with me. It was a notion suggested to me, which I have enthusiastically endorsed… but since I was the first person to raise the possibility in public, somehow I am being seen as its father. Sure, I love the idea. Why not? What fantasist would not love the idea of going out with an epic hundred million feature film? And the recent success of the IMAX experience shows that the audience is there for such a movie. If we build it, they will come. But will we build it? I have no bloody idea. [2015]

07_He wants to write more DUNK AND EGG stories.

It has always been my intent to write a whole series of novellas about Dunk and Egg, chronicling their entire lives. At various times in various interviews I may have mentioned seven novellas, or ten, or twelve, but none of that is set in stone. There will be as many novellas as it takes to tell their tale, start to finish. But only the three mentioned have been published to date. [20014]

06_He’s not worried that the TV show overtook the novels:

How many children did Scarlett O’Hara have? Three, in the novel. One, in the movie. None, in real life: she was a fictional character, she never existed. The show is the show, the books are the books; two different tellings of the same story. There have been differences between the novels and the television show since the first episode of season one. And for just as long, I have been talking about the butterfly effect. Small changes lead to larger changes lead to huge changes. […] we hope that the readers and viewers both enjoy the journey. Or journeys, as the case may be. Sometimes butterflies grow into dragons. [2015]

05_He enjoys the differences between the TV show and the novels:

Jhiqui, Aggo, Jhogo, Jeyne Poole, Dalla (and her child) and her sister Val, Princess Arianne Martell, Prince Quentyn Martell, Willas Tyrell, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Lord Wyman Manderly, the Shavepate, the Green Grace, Brown Ben Plumm, the Tattered Prince, Pretty Meris, Bloodbeard, Griff and Young Griff, and many more have never been part of the show, yet remain characters in the books. Several are viewpoint characters, and even those who are not may have significant roles in the story to come in THE WINDS OF WINTER and A DREAM OF SPRING.

04_He’s annoyed that THE WINDS OF WINTER isn’t done.

Unfortunately, the writing did not go as fast or as well as I would have liked. You can blame my travels or my blog posts or the distractions of other projects and the Cocteau and whatever, but maybe all that had an impact… you can blame my age, and maybe that had an impact too…but if truth be told, sometimes the writing goes well and sometimes it doesn’t, and that was true for me even when I was in my 20s. And as spring turned to summer, I was having more bad days than good ones. Around about August, I had to face facts: I was not going to be done by Halloween. I cannot tell you how deeply that realization depressed me. [2016]

03_But he has lots of side projects and passions:

And yes, before someone asks,I AM STILL WORKING ON WINDS OF WINTER and will continue working on it until it’s done. I will confess, I do wish I could clone myself, or find a way to squeeze more hours into the day, or a way to go without sleep. But this is what it is, so I keep on juggling. WINDS OF WINTER, five successor shows, FIRE AND BLOOD (that’s the GRRMarillion, remember?), four new Wild Cards books, some things I can’t tell you about yet… it’s a good thing I love my work. [2017]

02: Wait – five successor shows?

Some of the reports of these developments seem to suggest that HBO might be adding four successor shows to the schedule to replace GAME OF THRONES. Decades of experience in television and film have taught me that nothing is ever really certain… but I do think it’s very unlikely that we’ll be getting four (or five) series. At least not immediately. What we do have here is an order for four — now five — pilotscripts. How many pilots will be filmed, and how many series might come out of that, remains to be seen. [2016]

01: He’s nearly 70 and calls himself „fat“ – but his health is quite good. His only major hospital stay was in 2010:

I’ve just lived through the Christmas from hell. Most of it was spent in a bed in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Santa Fe. Parris took me in to the hospital emergency room on the morning of Christmas Eve, and they admitted me almost immediately after diagnosis. It seems I had a raging e-coli infection of my urinary tract. Urosepsis, they called it. […] I don’t want to trivilize what I’ve just gone through. I’m a generally healthy guy, and this was the most serious bout of illness I have suffered in decades, and the first time I have seen the inside of a hospital (emergency room visits aside) since 1973. But I am on the mend now, and I expect to be back to my old self by the end of the month at the latest, and back to work well before that. [early 2011]

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my final, 100th observation:

He’s been remarkably silent or one-note on „Wonder Woman“ and „Harry Potter“. I don’t think he likes them much. But he’s been REALLY quiet about „Star Wars: The Force Awakens“ and „Rogue One“. He has been watching J.J. Abram’s „Star Trek“ reboot and did not like it at all.

Saw the new STAR TREK movie last night. No spoilers here, just a resounding thumbs down.

In 2009, he wrote about „Lost“:

I sure hope those guys doing LOST have something better up planned for us. Though if it turns out to be They Were All Dead All Along I’m really going to be pissed.

I know that by that point, J.J. Abrams wasn’t very involved with „Lost“ anymore. But I still suspect that Martin has some issue with Abrams’ writing or storytelling, but is polite enough to not elaborate on it.

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[looking for more of my work in English? Here’s an interview with author Ayelet Waldman, and here’s one with Saleem Haddad. Und, auf Deutsch: Notizen zur ersten Staffel “Westworld”.]

“Wonder Woman” (2017): tolle Frau, gute Comics, schlechter Film [Deutschlandfunk Kultur]

meine Lieblings-Zeichnung, von Maris Wicks

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heute nochmal, ganz kurz, zum Film:

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Seit 1941 fasziniert Wonder Woman in Comics. Die Verfilmung ihrer Abenteuer scheitert – doch macht Lust aufs Lesen.

“Du schuldest dieser Welt gar nichts”, warnt eine Mutter ihren Sohn – und hofft, dass er stumm bleibt, sich nicht einmischt, unter die Räder kommt. Sie heißt Martha Kent. Ihren Sohn nannte sie Clark: Er stammt vom Planeten Krypton. Der Film hieß “Man of Steel”, und war 2013 Grundstein für eine zynische, oft deprimierende Helden-Filmreihe, die auch mit “Wonder Woman” (2017) nicht viel besser, schwungvoller, sehenswerter wird.

Am Ende von “Man of Steel” brach Superman, der in den Comics seit Jahrzehnten versucht, niemals zu töten, einem Gegner das Genick. Ich hoffte damals, dass dieser Totschlag in einer Fortsetzung besprochen, durchdacht, in Frage gestellt wird. Stattdessen war “Batman v. Superman” (2016) noch missmutiger, solipsistischer: Männer, die es hassen, Held zu sein und ihren Job nur machen, um Schlimmeres zu verhindern, schlagen voller Paranoia aufeinander ein. Wer will ich sein? Was habe ich der Welt zu geben? Wie kann ich helfen, sie zu gestalten?

“Wonder Woman”-Comics stellen diese Fragen seit 1941. Autoren und Autorinnen wie George Perez (ab 1987), Greg Rucka (ab 2002), Brian Azzarello (ab 2011) und Jill Thompson (2016) finden immer wieder große, politische, wunderbare Antworten. Ich habe zehn Comic-Empfehlungen hier im Link gesammelt: https://stefanmesch.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/wonder-woman-die-10-besten-comics-buchtipps-lesereihenfolge-empfehlungen/

Vom Kinobesuch rate ich ab. Denn “Wonder Woman” ist ein besserer Film als alle DC-Comic-Verfilmungen seit “The Dark Knight” (2008). Doch damit immer noch leider: kein guter. Prinzessin Diana lebt als einziges Kind auf der geheimen Amazonen-Insel Themyscira. Als der Spion und Pilot Steve Trevor auf der Insel notlandet und vom großen Krieg erzählt, der die Welt seit 1914 heimsucht, sind sich die Frauen einig: Kriegsgott Ares steckt dahinter. Diana, die nie zuvor einen Mann sah, zieht mit Steve in die Schützengräben Belgiens.

“Falls du einen Asteroiden stoppen willst, ruf Superman. Wenn du ein Verbrechen aufklären musst, Batman. Und um einen Krieg zu beenden, Wonder Woman”, erklärt Comicautorin Gail Simone die oft verwirrenden Mehrfachrollen der Figur: eine Prinzessin, die keine Hierarchien mag. Eine Vordenkerin aus einer vormodernen Zivilisation. Eine Diplomatin, die mit dem Schwert kämpft.

“Wonder Woman” scheitert erst in den letzten zehn Minuten: Als die Heldin von Liebe spricht, nachdem sie Gegner zerhackte. Als sich der Weltkrieg tatsächlich beenden lässt, indem ein Kriegsgott verdroschen wird. Und als klar wird: Diese Frau ist nicht (nur) körperlich oder moralisch stark, weil sie in einer utopischen Gender-Blase aufwuchs, die Frauen stärkte und ernst nahm. Sondern (mindestens: auch), weil sie eine heimliche Tochter von Zeus ist.

Nach “Man of Steel” war unklar, welche Lehren Superman ziehen würde. Kaum welche, zeigte erst die Fortsetzung “Batman v. Superman”. Nach “Wonder Woman” stehen ähnliche Fragen im Raum: Was tut diese enttäuschend martialische Kriegsprinzessin in den Jahren 1918 bis 2016? Wie handelt sie im zweiten Weltkrieg? Bleibt sie unentdeckt – statt Menschen auf der ganzen Welt zu inspirieren, das 20. Jahrhundert zu prägen? Ist die Moral erneut nur ein myopisches “Du schuldest dieser Welt gar nichts”?

Wenn ein einzelner Heldenfilm wie “Ant-Man” (2015) nur mäßig erfolgreich ist, fragt sich Hollywood nur: Investieren wir in eine Fortsetzung? Oder lieber nicht? Als der Heldinnenfilm “Supergirl” (1984) floppte, entschied Hollywood dagegen pauschal: Superheldinnen funktionieren nicht im Kino. Lieber keinen großen Versuch mehr wagen, die nächsten 30 Jahre.

Deshalb: Wunderbar, dass “Wonder Woman” fast nur gute Kritiken erhielt, international erfolgreich ist. Der Film macht Lust auf die Figur und ihre vielen Comics, Geschichten und Widersprüche. Er macht Lust auf weitere Filme von Regisseurin Patty Jenkins und Hauptdarstellerin Gail Gadot. Und er macht Lust auf viel mehr Blockbuster, in denen Frauen Männer retten, nicht umgekehrt. Über Krieg und Verantwortung, Unterdrückung, Moderne und Matriarchat, fremde Kulturen und das 20. Jahrhundert aber hat “Wonder Woman” erschreckend wenig zu sagen.

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wonder woman league of one moeller

Lohnt sich PROSANOVA – Festival für junge Literatur? [8. bis 11. Juni 2017, Hildesheim]

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8. bis 11. Juni 2017 | Hildesheim

über 60 Autor*innen & Künstler*innen

Infos & Tickets  |  Facebook  |  Wikipedia  |  Instagram

Zeitschrift BELLA triste  |  Studiengang Kreatives Schreiben & Kulturjournalismus

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“Das studentische Team hat Wände gestrichen, Teppiche verlegt, Holzinseln gezimmert und Toiletten vergoldet.”

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“Der Schulranzen mit eingebauten Lautsprechern pumpt Beats in die fast fertige Cafébar.”

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“Lena und Martha sind gestern neun Stunden Transporter gefahren, um kostenlose Möbel von Hannover aufs Festivalgelände zu bringen.”

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“Auf dem Festivalgelände dürfen die Brennnesseln nicht vernichtet werden, weil für einige Schmetterlinge gerade Nistzeit herrscht.”

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“Es gibt noch nichts mit Glitzer. Es gibt was mit Hobelspänen und Sägen und Computern.”

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“Als es noch keine Vasen gab, haben wir Bierflaschen vergoldet.”

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„Nee, diese neuen, diese Schriftsteller oder wie sie sich nennen, die fangen immer Sätze an und beenden sie dann nicht. Und ich kann auch nichts damit anfangen. Da werden einem so Bruchstücke vorgeworfen und dann muss man gucken, wie es weiter geht.“ [beim Friseur um die Ecke]

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“Nachtschwärmer dösen in den Betten. Auf der Leinwand lesen virtuelle junge Leute.”

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„Lektoren, das sind einfach bessere Menschen. Bloß keinen Autor heiraten! Die sind wahlweise unglücklich, also von Selbstzweifeln zerfressen, oder im Höhenflug. Am Anfang denkste dir, das ist jetzt halt wegen dem Debüt, aber nee, das bleibt. Widerlich. Also: Hier laufen ja einige Lektoren rum. Ich muss los!“

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„Christina ist schon bevor sie das Diplom machte, mit ihrem Lebensgefährten an den Bodensee gezogen, um dort als Köchin in der Natur- und Wildnispädagogik zu arbeiten.”

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„All die kleinen Szenen, Begegnungen und Selbstdarstellungen des Publikums erinnern mich an Filme von Federico Fellini (1920-1993). Die ganze Kleidungsästhetik der Besucher ist später Fellini. Die Paletten sind Fellini, die alten Sofas, die ewige Sonne, die Gespräche, die Musik, das Herumstreunen und Herumschleichen – alles Fellini!“ [Autor Hanns-Josef Ortheil, 65; Gründer des Hildesheimer Studiengangs Kreatives Schreiben & Kulturjournalismus]

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„Wir gehen durch, wir gehen ins Foyer, zur Veranstaltungstabelle, zum Kiosk, durch den Flur zur Mensa. Die Lesung hat noch nicht angefangen.“

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„Wir gehen raus auf den Schulhof. Wir gehen hoch, wir gehen in den Litroom. Wir gehen durch. Wir gehen auf den Schulhof. Diesmal andersrum. Wir gehen zur Mensa.”

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„2014 feiern wir PROSANOVA in einer leerstehenden Schule. In einer Schule, denke ich, ausgerechnet in einer Schule und schon denke ich Foucault, denke Überwachen und Strafen.“

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“Wir erfahren: in der Hauptschule am Alten Markt sind die ersten Mobbing-Videos Deutschlands entstanden.“

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„In dieser Schule wird getrunken, gefeiert und gevögelt werden. Die unsportlichen Bücherwürmer von früher haben sich zu Organisatoren der Maßlosigkeit entpuppt. […] Es geht darum, Jungautoren so sehr abzufüllen, dass man ihnen die Haare beim Kotzen halten wird.“

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„Marina und ich haben berechnet, dass wir ungefähr 10.000 Klopapierrollen bei Metro kaufen müssen, Marina will von allen Sachen 1000 kaufen, weil sie 1000 liebt.“

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„Wir arbeiten per Hotspot, weil der Techniker von der Telekom, der uns am Mittwoch das Internet bringen sollte, am Festivalgelände kein Klingelschild mit ‚BELLA triste‘ gefunden hat.“

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“Ich sehe zukünftigen Bachmannpreisträgern beim Aufbau einer Bühne zu.”

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„Auf wen oder was freust du dich am meisten?“ – „Tilman Rammstedt. Ich hoffe, ich darf ihn vom Bahnhof abholen.“

 

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“Ich nicke Thomas Klupp zu, ich grinse Helene Bukowski an, ich nicke Benjamin Quaderer zu, ich zwinkere Fiona Sironic zu, ich nicke Stefan Vidovic zu, ich grüße Florian Stern mit Handschlag, ich nicke ihm zu, ich lächle Katrin Zimmermann an, ich schlage mit Alina Rohrer ein, ich winke Fabian Hischmann zu, ich winke ab, ich schüttele den Kopf, ich lasse ihn hängen, ich nicke Ferdinand Schmalz zu.”

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“Auf einer der Holzbänke ist eine Frau ganz in einen E-Book-Reader versunken. Ich glaube, sie ist die erste Person, die ich auf PROSANOVA abseits der Bühnen lesen sehe.”

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„Dass so viele Ehemalige da sind, ist der beste Beweis dafür, dass die Hildesheimer Literatenschule keine bloße Schule ist. Sie ist eine Atmosphäre, eine biografische Heimat, eine Zeit- und Raum-Insel von großer Schönheit.“ [Ortheil]

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„Kai sagt, die alte Intimität sei wieder da, die Intimität von PROSANOVA 2005. Lagerfeuer, dicht zusammen sitzen, horchen und flüstern“

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Komme ich mit dem, was hier geboten wird, irgendwie zurecht oder weiter?, fragen sich die Alumni. „Einige genießen auch die Nostalgie der Rückkehr. Für sie ist Hildesheim jetzt eine leicht berührende Erinnerungsarbeit.“ [Ortheil]

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„Seit über zehn Jahren sind Paul Brodowsky, Thomas Klupp und Claudius Nießen der Schreibschule treu. Thomas umschifft elegant die unangenehmen Themen (Kesslerdebatte, Konkurrenzdruck, Vetternwirtschaft), er strahlt ins Publikum: Schreibschule, das sind warme, vereinende Strahlen der Liebe.“

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„Weil doch derzeit nichts Schwachsinnigeres und Dümmeres in unseren Feuilletons grassiert als die Schreibschulverdammnis: Unrecherchiert. Phrasenhaft. Reiner Feuilletonmüll. Und leider stimmt auch in der Polemik unseres geliebten Flo Kessler, den Hildesheim aufgezogen, genährt und gepäppelt hat (bis es ihm zuviel werden musste und er das Zuviel ausgekotzt hat) kaum etwas.“ [Ortheil]

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„Leif Randt liest von einem Planeten und der Universität dort, und lässt wie gewohnt alles in der Schwebe“

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„Jeder ist eingeladen, aber nur ganz bestimmte Leute kommen dann auch.“ [Ortheil]

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„Christian Kracht kommt dieses Mal nicht zu PROSANOVA, weil er in Afrika wohnt“

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“Talent ist Verpflichtung.” [Ortheil]

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Seit 2005 findet PROSANOVA alle drei Jahre statt:

2005 war ich Student und Praktikant, 2008 Mitglied der Künstlerischen Leitung, 2011 zum ersten Mal seit drei Jahren als Besucher zurück in der Stadt, 2014 moderierte ich ein Gespräch mit Kathrin Passig.

Auch 2017 bin ich da, und schreibe/blogge u.a. für die Festival-Dokumentation.

Nach jedem PROSANOVA-Festival erscheint ein Buch mit Snapshots, Szenen, Poetik- und Journalismus-Texten. Alle obigen Zitate sind nicht von mir, sondern von Imke Bachmann, Ronja von Rönne, Florian Stern, Michael Wolf und Juli Zucker, erschienen in “Prosanova 4. Ein Kommentar”, herausgegeben von Florian Stern und Hanns-Josef Ortheil, Edition Paechterhaus, 2015. Hier bestellen.

Leseprobe: Link

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Video von mir, zur Arbeit an PROSANOVA 2008:

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Queerness, Sex, Coming Out: Stefan Mesch & Antonio Capurro (Interview)

antonio-capurro-peru-interview.

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A Peruvian journalist contacted me on Facebook:

He saw that I took part in the “Daily Portrait” photo project in 2016 (article about my experience: here)…

…and wanted to know more about my ideas on queerness, privacy, and sexuality.

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The interview will be published in Spanish at La Revista Diversa.

For my blog, here’s the (long, unedited) English version.

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Tell us about your childhood: Where did you grow up?

I’m 34. I grew up in a wealthy, rural town in Southern Germany: less than 2000 people, no train station. Everyone has a car, most people own their house. My childhood was okay – but I missed culture, diversity, intellectual life. I often point out that I didn’t interact with lesbians until 2003, when I moved away for college. There were two or three boys who were whispered to be gay in my high school – but no visible queerness.

What did you study?

I studied Creative Writing and Cultural Journalism; because I wanted to be an author and a book critic. The “book critic” part worked out great, and I’m finally finishing my first novel. There is so much culture – literature, journalism, comic books, TV shows, online projects – that’s important and relevant to me: I’m good at scouting, learning, judging and explaining, and I want to be a part of these larger cultural (and sometimes: political) conversations.

Growing up, did you enjoy being nude?

I’m not an outdoor person, nor a sports person, and I have no great memories about enjoying nudity as a child. Quite early, I often felt that nudity had to do with humiliation: Only powerless people were nude. So I tried to stay dressed and not let my guard down. I don’t tan well, my skin is quite pale, and as a teenager, I thought that people would dislike my nude body.

How did you discover your queerness?

I always liked queer characters or people who fought gender stereotypes. Also, my village was so rural and… tense about masculinity that I felt “queer” and “strange” just for reading books or being friends with girls.

Sexually, I’m more often attracted to men than to women. Romantically, I had more crushes on girls than men. I think that by the time I was 15, I understood that I was bisexual. But the first man that felt like a possible romantic partner only showed up when I was 18.

How was your first time having gay sex?

I had sex with 26, with my first boyfriend. The relationship was exhausting, but worthwhile. Our sexual mechanics never worked out that well. We have chemistry – but we didn’t have much sex.

How was your coming-out?

I was nervous about my dad and waited until 2014 (!) to tell him. He was the biggest hurdle – although in the end, he surprised me. I gradually started talking to friends and family members since I was 20. I did not enjoy coming out because it felt like I gave up power. I felt like I had to tell people: “Here’s something intimate and sexual about me that doesn’t really concern you. So: Are you okay with it? Or are you disgusted? Come on: You may now judge me.”

I came out before I had boyfriends. Today, I love to introduce my grumpy partner to people and say: “Look! He’s great, we’re happy, I’m bisexual!” But before I had a partner, it always felt like saying: “Do you want to know if I fantasize about men and/or women every time I jerk off?” I was passionate about diversity and visibility and talked about that a lot, long before being out to everyone. But my personal sexuality, for the longest time, began and ended with masturbation and some unrequited crushes.

Why did you take part in the “Daily Portrait” photo project? Did you think a lot before you decided to pose for a nude photo?

In 2013, an awesome Berlin painter, Martina Minette Dreier, asked me if I wanted to model for an oil painting. I sat for the portrait in the nude, and it felt great. In 2016, I lost a lot of weight. I always thought that very soon, I would be a balding, sad and awkward man – but when I realized that I liked my current body, I decided to take part in the project.

It still took a long time – 7 months – because I thought about shame, exposure and my credibility as a cultural journalist… but I wrote about this at length elsewhere, in a longer essay: Link.

Why did you decide to start a blog where you post nude self portrait photos?

I love selfies and quick snapshots, and in 2016, I spent much energy and time on Instagram. I don’t know what “exhibitionism” means: If you define that as “I want to surprise people by showing my penis publicly or unexpectedly”, I am not an exhibitionist at all. I would not undress in public, or annoy or shock people with nudity. To me, unsolicited dick picks are a form of sexual harrassment.

But I knew that online, in places like Tumblr and Reddit, people who like my body type sometimes LOVE nude pictures of people, quite similar to me. I have never felt very desired by friends at school. But I like myself right now, and I thought: “Here’s the target audience for your nude body.” I enjoy posting pics to that very specific audience.

Do you like erotic photography?

Yes. I don’t like classic masculinity. Also, young bodies often make me uncomfortable. I dislike many standard poses, and anything with twinks/boyish men.

Do you enjoy porn?

I love amateurs, and any kind of person who shares or overshares online. But I dislike the porn industry, the clichés, the standardized bodies, the exploitation. Lots of it feels sexist, boring and crude.

Do you consider yourself very sexual?

I’m not very sensual, I’m not very cuddly, I don’t enjoy touching many people. Also, I don’t like one night stands and I have spent many years without any sex. So I don’t think I’m “very sexual”. I do enjoy having sex and making out, though – and if I talk to friends, I’m surprised that most of them want less sex or have less energy for sex than me.

Do you consider yourself sexy or attractive?

I only have to be attractive to the one person that I want to attract right now: my partner. He likes me, so all is well. Generally, I don’t think I’m particularly sexy. But I know how to write well: I’ve learned some techniques. I think that in photography and taking selfies, there are many similar techniques. So: I’m learning how to appear sexy in photos. And I think I’m getting better.

What was the most bizarre experience in your life?

Sexuality-wise? Nothing wild. But in a gay bar in 2013, someone tapped my shoulder and said: “Sorry. A stranger just tried to piss on your shoe.” I was annoyed because it felt completely tactless and disrespectful. If you’re friendly and ask nicely (and if I have some extra shoes), I’m the person to say “Yeah – whatever gets you off. Okay.” But to try that, without asking?

What kind of feedback do you get from followers on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram?

I love giving and getting book recommendations, I want to share ideas with many people: I love my profiles and my feeds in these networks. If you ask about nudity: People pay me compliments, and often, gay men from Spain or Spanish-speaking countries contact me to say “I wish I could be as brave” or “I wish I had the confidence to show my body online”. So far, I’ve had these conversations with five or six men; and they’re all Spanish-speaking. Maybe it has to do with catholicism…?

Have you ever meet online friends in person?

Most of the literature and journalism people that I’ve met since finishing university in 2009 were my Facebook friends before I eventually met them in person, yes.

Have you ever blocked people who bother you because they were only looking for sex?

I’ve blocked two or three people on Facebook because of hate speech or personal/political attacks. I never had problems with sexual harrassment. I have met all three of my boyfriends on datings sites – but I don’t like chatting there, and I often dislike the tone that German people use in „kinky“ networks like Gayromeo or Scruff: To me, German „dirty talk“ often sounds too degrading and shame-centered. „Filthy Pig“, „Worthless Fag“, „Pussyboi with Boypussy“ etc.

But even though that tone makes me run, I never personally felt disrespected, no.

What do you do when you are not working?

I love reading – books and articles and graphic novels. But as a book critic, I still can count that as work: Ideally, I just spend 12 to 14 hours a day reading, talking, learning and writing. I love cheap food and very cheap restaurants. And for a while last summer, I was in love with “Pokemon Go”.

What do you think about the new ways to make journalism – like citizen journalism?

If people are paid, they have more time and energy to write. On the other hand, there are passionate experts in every field – who can often do much deeper work because they have much more knowledge. I enjoy book blogs, wikis, fanzines, social media and all other places where people who are not trained journalists still have a voice. But I think that selecting stuff is my personal super-power: You can send me to “messy” sites like Reddit, and I will ignore the hate-speech, the conspiracy theories and the overall unpleasant atmosphere… and just focus on the good writing and the good ideas that are still there. Theodore Sturgeon said that 90 percent of everything is crap/crud. So of course, 90 percent of “citizen journalism” is crap, too. I want to focus on the other 10 percent – in every field.

I’m worried that every artistic or journalistic outlet I know is constantly asking for money: There are so many crowdfunding campaigns and kickstarters and patreon links etc. that I sometimes fear that as a journalist and writer I will never find a publisher who will pay me decently. Instead, it will be our job to constantly ask all friends for money and spend more and more time and effort on these campaigns.

Which authors or writers do you admire and what genres do you prefer?

My favorite classic novelists are Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Wolfe and John Cowper Powys. My favorite living novelist is Stewart O’Nan. I have a soft spot for Young Adult literature (here, my favorite writer is A.S. King) and graphic novels and super-hero books (Greg Rucka). My favorite German writer is Dietmar Dath. Generally, I admire people who get raw and personal. And I enjoy domestic fiction – books about grief, sadness or families, often set in suburbia.

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I took part in a queer photo project, and wrote an essay about it for the Berlin Tagesspiegel (Link). my photo for the article was taken by Mike Wolff.

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Do you remember a gay movie or gay role on TV or cinema?

There are some popular gay favorites that I don’t enjoy: Oscar Wilde, „Queer as Folk“, musicals and pop divas, and many boarding-school novels like „A Separate Peace“ or German queer-ish classics like „Unterm Rad“ by Hermann Hesse or „Katz und Maus“ by Günther Grass.

My favorite German soap opera, „Verbotene Liebe“, started when I was 12 and almost always had compelling and fun queer characters – particularly lesbians. I didn’t like their most famous gay couple, Christian and Olli, because they were both quite masculine and sporty bland characters. In 2006, I was hooked on „As the World Turns“, a US soap opera, and the (dramatic and self-obsessed) gay character Luke Snyder.

In my early teens, I liked lesbian or gender-nonconforming heroines in „Lady Oscar“ and „Sailor Moon“. Today, I love Batwoman and many lesbian or queer comic book characters, often written by author Greg Rucka.

„Ugly Betty“ is queer, cheery and has a diverse and fun cast. As a kid, I enjoyed dandyesque, foppish characters like John Steel in „The Avengers“, Elim Garak in „Deep Space Nine“ or anyone played by Peter Cushing. I liked „Brokeback Mountain“. HBO’s „Looking“ bores me. I have tons of favorite queer authors: Alison Bechdel, Marcel Proust, Hubert Fichte. I loved David Levithan’s “Two Boys Kissing”.

What is the most comfortable place in your house or outside to ne naked?

I need warmth to feel comfortable, and I need privacy to be nude. There is no warm AND private outside place where I can be nude. Inside, I enjoy taking baths or showers, and I love overheated rooms, botanical gardens, greenhouses and saunas.

Are you thinking of recording videos or to show more your butt?

I move quite awkwardly and can’t imagine filming myself stripping without having to laugh. I think my butt looks okay, but every time I try to shoot a decent photo of it, it looks pale and flabby. Celebrities often post butt pics. But my pictures never turn out like this.

What is the part of your body that men like most?

I’m not flirting a lot, and I don’t ask what men who see me in person like about me. People who see me online sometimes comment on my scruffiness/body hair. But then: hair is just a common fetish.

What is the part of your body that you like the most?

Most strangers seem to understand that I’m usually friendly and interested: I don’t think I’m super-charismatic. But somehow, my body language signals “I’m smart and alert and friendly”, and I like that. I also like my eyes, when I’m not too tired.

If a magazine offered you money to pose nude on the cover or centerfold, would you say yes?

The “money” part sounds weird: I don’t know if I ever want to feel like my sexuality or body can be bought. But yeah – I would partake in nude art, or sex-related projects.

Is there any sexual fantasy you want to make happen?

Bondage. Also, I have never done anything sexual outside/in nature.

How do you see LGBT rights in your country and worldwide?

I think visibility matters: It’s important to see and hear queer people in public, in culture and in schools. I don’t think most people even CAN be „anti-gay“ once they meet so many queer people that „I’m anti-gay“ sounds like „I’m anti-brown-eyed-people“.

I’d love to think that things get better. But the tone, aggression and hate of all these current backlashes – ISIS and Russia, Trump and European xenophobia – shock me almost every day: We can’t take civilization for granted. Or democracy. Or tolerance.

Is there more acceptance in your country?

More than when I was a kid? I hope so. There is no marriage equality yet, and gay couples can’t adopt, and too many people still think that you can’t have „Christian values“ and, at the same time, openly talk about homosexuality in schools. German politicians and pundits talk about „Leitkultur“ (a cultural standard about what it should mean to be a proper, „real“ German) a lot, and I think that as a country, we are obsessed with being „normal“ and „regular“.

Every time queer people want to be aknowledged for NOT „being normal“, people get angry quickly: Ideally, queer people, non-white people etc. should just work hard to blend in, and not address discrimination; the idea seems to be that if everyone acts “normal” enough and never complains, no one would be discriminated against, anyways. I admire people who stand out. Or complain. Or fight to be aknowledged. That’s why I love activists, rabble-rousers and politically queer people.

Have you ever been to a gay wedding?

No. I spent lots of time in Toronto from 2009 to 2013, I’m close friends with three gay or lesbian Canadian couples, but I met them after they were married or I wasn’t in Canada when they had their ceremony. I have one German gay friend who is getting married this summer, but I haven’t met his partner yet – we only became friends last year. I wish I had more queer real-life Berlin friends, and I wish I had more older queer role models.

Single? Looking? Dating?

Since summer of 2014, I’m in a relationship with a German florist. Most of the time, I live with him in his Berlin apartment. It’s not an open relationship, and we both hope that we’ll stay together for decades. Everything is more fun when he is around. We’re crazy happy to have each other.

What do you know about my country, Peru?

For a couple of weeks in 2001, my mom had an au-pair from Peru: a very, very shy girl who was too nervous, quiet and demure. We never really established a connection, and she switched to another family. It felt like having a maid – it was uncomfortable for everyone.

I sampled and liked „The Cardboard House“ by Martin Àdán. But I don’t even know any other Peruvian literature.

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Online Nudity, Exposure on the Web: Essay (German version published in the Berlin Tagesspiegel)

daily portrait berlin

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I spent time in Toronto and New York, I’m a literary translator… but I only translate English to German, and most of my journalistic texts are written in German.

There is one article that English-speaking friends ask me about nearly every day.

So I decided to do a quick and rough translation into English:

My original article was printed in the Berlin Tagesspiegel. “Nackt im Netz. Was es heißt, sich zu entblößen” (Online Version: Nov 5th, 2016)

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Nude, Online

As a teenager, I panicked when I had to be naked in front of others. Aged 33, I used an art project to confront my fears.

I had my first kiss with 21. I first had sex with 26. I first had good sex with 29; barely four years ago. Now, nude pictures of me are online, on Tumblr and Twitter. I can’t control who sees or spreads them. For many people, that would be a nightmare.

For me, it was a choice.

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I: The “Daily Portrait” Project

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I’m in a woman’s room, but don’t know anything about the person who lives here; and I won’t meet her today. By the window, her boyfriend Fatih is taking off his clothes. Fatih has just spent two weeks in Turkey to visit his family. I met him eight minutes ago. We talk in English: While I mount an expensive camera on a tripod, Fatih shows me a large flute from Turkey, an old book, a bow and an arrow… props that he wants to use for his photo session. It takes me about twenty minutes to shoot ten or twelve nude pictures.

Two hours later, the picture that both of us like most is displayed online: a thoughtful man with shaved pubes stands between a potted plant and lots of girlish knickknacks, bright windows in his back. He has raised the bow, aims the arrow to a wall that is barely two feet away. It’s an absurd pose that tells a lot about Fatih’s self-image, the decoration style of his girlfriend and about body images, masculinity and ideas of “authenticity” in Berlin, 2016.

In 2012, Czech photographer Martin Gabriel Pavel photographed friends and strangers in a studio in Prague; one portrait a day, for one year. He only showed their heads and upper bodies. This was the first round of his “Daily Portrait” project. Men displayed their naked chests, women wore bras. In 2013, Pavel took daily polaroids in public places around Prague. Once again, his subjects were mostly young local people. In 2014, for “Daily Portrait 3”, he covertly took quick daily digital snapshots of tired commuters on the Prague subway.

Only now, for “Daily Portrait 4”, taken over an 18-month period in 2015 and 2016, Pavel stopped taking the shots himself. Initially, on a visit to Berlin, he took some portraits of new acquaintances. But quickly, he wondered: Why not give up control? From mid-2015 to early October 2016, Pavel’s digital camera was passed through Berlin, from one stranger to the next.

One day, a stranger showed up at your door and took a photo of you. Afterwards, he or she left the camera with you; and the next day, you we assigned another stranger to visit, take their nude picture and leave the camera with them: a roundabout of Berliners, taking pictures of complete strangers in their homes. Pavel only e-mailed the instructions and the contact data. He maintained the project’s blog, Flickr, Tumblr and Facebook pages and coordinated everyone’s e-mail, but was only present to take the first picture in 2015 and to be the subject of the very last picture in 2016. Some of the participants posed in their underwear. But most of them, as intended by the project, are pictured naked.

I had noticed the project through newspapers and blogs, through the popular Facebook page and because images from the project spread through Tumblr and showed up in many erotica blogs, both straight and queer. In January 2016, I recognized a friend in one of the pictures, and for weeks, I rather pitied her: “Was she mocked? Are people disappointed? What was the worst consequence once people saw that she decided to had her picture taken?”

I wondered how I would deal with glances, reactions, judgements about my body – and judgements because I chose to display myself in such a public project.

In mid-September, my father turned 60. He wanted to celebrate with everyone. He still lives where I grew up, in a village in Southern Germany, populated by less than 2000 people. Some of them already follow my public writing, my blog or my instagram, and think of me as arrogant or narcissistic. To me, it was unthinkable to participate in “Daily Portrait” before my father’s party, and then travel home to confront these people.

In the end, I needed lots of time. I finally took the courage to e-mail Martin Gabriel Pavel, but did not hear back from him for two weeks. I assumed the project had already been completed once 366 pictures appeared online. Then, surprisingly, Martin sent me a very quick e-mail: Was I still up for this? I could become photo subject number 372 and then shoot photo number 373, Fatih.

While I took Fatih’s picture, I asked Fatih when he decided to participate himself. “Only yesterday. I e-mailed Martin at the airport in Turkey.” This is how nearly all the people who make projects like these work seem to function: They’re spontaneous, playful, confident, direct. It took me seven months to decide to have my picture taken. In the finished photo, I’m tense and seem to eye something just out of frame, to my right – as if there was not just a stranger in my room, photographing me. But also a scorpion. Or a snake. Or all the people from my father’s birthday party.

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II: Exposure = Humiliation?

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Even before hitting puberty, I was anxious in locker rooms. My heart raced and I was afraid of nervous involuntary boners. What if some deplorable hides or steals my clothes? What if I ridicule myself by being naked? Why do I lack all self-esteem and turn into a wet blanket the moment crowds can observe my body? I knew that once this panic became obvious to others, they would exploit it. So I did everything to appear calm.

I have never been more thin-skinned or vulnerable in front of other people than in these moments after gym or swim class. Even today, my wardrobe serves as an armor, a corset that holds me up. Once nude, I am all nerves. I panic – because I have to try my hardest not to panic.

In my family, nudity is no big taboo. I have no childhood trauma; my parents were pretty great about sex ed. When I was eight or nine, a group of giggling girls ripped off my clothes at a birthday party where I was the only boy – but at the time, I thought of this as a silly, needlessly nasty prank. Nothing sexualized. Some years later, once boys nonchalantly got in and out of their swimming trunks or took a very public nude shower – voluntarily, and seemingly without any fear or discomfort, even after very quick, not that sweat-inducing single-period gym classes – I was envious and bewildered: Why did they have such thick skin? Was it just me who saw undressing as a HUGE thing?

Every since I saw nude people on TV, I thought of nudity as a power game.

On TV shows and movies from the 80s and 90s, nude scenes are often about humiliation and control. One scene from “Police Academy 2” has the sporty, boorish heroes have their revenge on a scrawny, brainy and tense instructor by replacing his shampoo bottle with epoxy. Gleefully observed by all these enemies, the older guy has to stumble through HIS precinct, both hands glued to his ruined hair, defenseless, naked, surrounded by sadists who won’t stop laughing.

Then, there was “Mann-o-Mann”, a dating show where male candidates who weren’t masculine enough were eliminated through spiteful “girls” that pushed everyone into a swimming pool. No one had to undress – but when they emerged, drenched and dripping, I had a hard time understanding why the audience enjoyed their fall. Regularly, TV invited me to laugh at “unmanly” outsiders: often men who were deemed too nerdy or cerebral. Good-looking, “normal” guys stole or ruined these guys’ clothes, and the masses loved the humiliation.

Some of my childhood’s greatest idols – I immediately connected to them: they seemed extremely brave – were the hapless and reserved older dads and teachers invited to “Hanna-Barbera-Party”, a low-rent German “Disney Club”-type of variety show: Every week, one malicious kid, to celebrate their birthday, challenged some (usually male) authority figure to sit in a public “gunge chair”. Host Metty Krings plus a guy dressed as Yogi Bear plus whole classes of sadistic, angry, power-drunk school mates smiled as this “birthday kid” pulled a lever. Now, the dad or teacher had to show his friendliest “All is well. It’s all in good fun!” face… while being drenched in green gunge. Growing up, I knew that many kids saw me as exactly the kind of stiff and tense know-it-all person who deserved that kind of public treatment.

Today, I’m naked, online. Is this my way to search out “slime shower”-like situations voluntarily – and get them over with? Am I giving up control – to prevent the humiliation and loss of control that I have feared since childhood? A loss of control that, in the end, was never forced upon me, anyways?

If celebrities undress – does it diminish them? So often, characters undress. To make things worse, they sometimes HAVE to undress – for an audience of spiteful onlookers. I can hardly bear to watch these moments of submission. To me, it’s an absurdly heroic, dramatic sacrifice. Videos of military hazings, fraternity rituals, bullying make me angry; and when such scenes are staged, I’m perplexed: Voluntarily naked people (often: movie stars) lend their naked bodies to portray involuntarily naked people (often: victims). Should I pity the characters, or admire the actors?

In 1995’s magical realism drama “Powder”, Sean Patrick Flanery, an omnipresent teen idol and pretty-boy of the 1990s, plays a bald, albino-pale outsider with secret mental powers. A pack of jealous and hateful small-town jocks strip him and push him into mud puddles. I couldn’t believe that someone as conventionally pretty as Flanery, star of “Young Indiana Jones”, at the height of his teen idol career decided to shave his head, get covered in white make-up and show his penis in one of the least flattering nude scenes I know.

Similarly, I could not understand what made 20-year-old Drew Barrymore agree to display her nipple to photographer David LaChapelle, or Sharon Stone to show her vagina in “Basic Instinct”: To me, Stone’s half-a-million-dollar salary seemed barely enough to make up for the humiliation.

For five seasons, Guillermo Diaz played a sexy and charismatic drug dealer in “Weeds”. In 2010, he modeled for an indie gay magazine that displays naked amateurs, “Pinups”. He’s traipsing through an apartment and fiddles with a record player in the nude: a typical “gay bear”, his penis rather small. His career and his standing as sex symbol didn’t suffer. Will such public, surprising displays of nudity make celebs smaller? Or can they make them bigger: multi-dimensional, more complex?

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This is only 1/4th of the text. I will continue the translation over the next few days, until the complete article is online. For now, here is a brief summary:

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When I was a kid, there was a lot of “embarrasment nudity” on TV:

Shows or movies where powerless people were stripped.  

I started to admire these people, especially if they were famous: There is no reason that someone like Sharon Stone or Drew Barrymore had to show their body to a kid like me.

Often, the context of their nudity felt humiliating. Still: These people were brave enough to expose themselves like that, and I admired them for it.

I got older, more confident and independent – but I still thought: “Being nude, publicly, would be the worst thing that could happen to me.”

But gradually, I asked myself: Why is this such a big deal to me? What’s the worst that could happen if someone saw a nude picture of me?

For decades, I’ve admired people who had no hang-ups about nudity. And even though I have *massive* hang-ups about nudity myself and I consider this a huge deal, I finally tried it myself, and it felt like an important step:

In the end, it’s just my body. Being nude felt cathartic, and I’m glad that I did the same “brave” thing that I admired other people for.

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tagesspiegel stefan mesch

the original, German version of the essay. my photo for the article was taken by Mike Wolff.

Superman: Rebirth – Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, neu bei Panini

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am 10. Januar sprach ich über die neuesten “Superman”-Comics in Deutschland, als Studiogast bei Deutschlandradio Kultur:

Text von mir und Link zur Audio-Datei, Deutschlandradio Kultur

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Wer Comics auf Englisch kauft und liest:

Seit Juni 2016 sind die “Superman”-Reihen besser als seit Jahrzehnten.

Mein Tipp:

Erst “Lois & Clark” lesen (10 Hefte, ein US-Sammelband), dann die beiden parallelen Reihen “Action Comics” und “Superman” (erscheinen je zweimal im Monat). Auch “Trinity” und “Superwoman” (einmal im Monat) machen Spaß. Im Februar beginnt zudem “Super-Sons”.

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Wer Comics auf Deutsch lesen will:

“Lois & Clark” erscheint in zwei Bänden bei Panini Comics: Band 1 (Link), Band 2 (Link, 7. Februar).

Dann – 18. April 2017 – “Superman: Sonderband 1”.

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Immer wieder landen langjährige Heldencomics in erzählerischen Sackgassen – und räumen auf, indem ein komplizierter Zwischenfall (Zeitschleifen, Dimensionslöcher, parallele Welten) neue, simplere Zustände schaffen soll. 2011 hieß das: Superman und seine große Liebe Lois Lane werden ersetzt, durch jüngere Versionen, in einer neuen Welt. Jene Doppelgänger waren nie verheiratet, sind schroffer und pragmatischer; ein neuer Lex Luthor ist eher Antiheld als Schurke. 2015 strandete der vorige, ursprünglichere Superman in dieser neuen Gegenwart – in Dan Jurgens Reihe “Lois & Clark”: Er hat jetzt einen Sohn im Grundschulalter und lebt mit seiner Lois heimlich auf einer Farm.

2016, im nicht lesenswerten “The Final Days of Superman” starb der jüngere Superman. Seitdem übernimmt die ältere Version die Hauptrolle. In vier verknüpften, oft exzellenten Heftreihen – “Action Comics”, “Superman”, “Superwoman” und “Trinity” – wird dieses Durcheinander durchdacht, von allen Seiten. Es gibt zwei Lois Lanes. Kann man Lex Luthor trauen? Ein Fremder ohne Kräfte behauptet, Clark Kent zu sein. Supermans Sohn will selbst Held werden. Zu viele ermüdende Kämpfe, mittelmäßige Zeichnungen. Doch tolle Figurenarbeit, Rätsel, Ensembles und Intrigen.

Wirres Chaos? Nein: Ein Helden-Mosaik, so stimmig, herzlich, menschlich wie seit Jahrzehnten nicht mehr.

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gut gezeichnet, aber keine Empfehlung: die Vorgeschichte "Die letzten Tage von Superman", ab 21. Februar 2017 bei Panini

gut gezeichnet, aber keine Empfehlung: die Vorgeschichte “Die letzten Tage von Superman”, ab 21. Februar 2017 bei Panini

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für die Deutschlandradio-Redaktion und meine Moderatorin fasste ich alles in folgenden Stichpunkten zusammen:

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Es geht um das Comic “Superman: Lois & Clark”, das am 3. Januar auf Deutsch bei Panini erschien.

…und es geht darum, wie der Verlag “DC Comics” seit 2011 mit der Figur Superman umging.

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Die Figur Superman hatte in den Comics drei große Phasen:

1) 1986 bis 2011
2) 2011 bis 2016
3) heute

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1) grundsätzlich (ab 1986):

– Es gibt zwei große Superhelden-Verlage in den USA: Marvel Comics und DC Comics. Beide veröffentlichen ca. 50 monatliche (oder, neu: zweiwöchentliche) ca. 20seitige Heftreihen über verschiedene Heldinnen und Helden. Fast alle Marvel-Heftreihen spielen im “Marvel-Universum”, fast alle DC-Heftreihen im “DC-Universum”.

– Fünf bis sechs monatliche Hefte werden danach meist als Sammelband veröffentlicht. Auf Deutsch erscheinen diese Sammelbände bei Panini Comics. “Superman: Lois & Clark” sammelt Hefte, die in den USA von Dezember 2015 bis Sommer 2016 veröffentlicht wurden.

– Die Figur Superman ist nicht nur Hauptfigur in einem alle zwei Wochen erscheinenden Comic namens “Superman”, sondern auch in einer parallelen Reihe namens “Action Comics”, in “Justice League”, in “Trinity” etc., und hat Gastauftritte in weiteren Reihen wie “Supergirl”, “Super-Sons” usw.: Wer will, kann monatlich fast 200 Seiten lesen über das Leben dieser Figur – verfasst von mehreren Autoren/Zeichnern, aber alle zusammenhängend/verknüpft.

– Von 1986 bis 2011 erzählten fast alle DC-Heftreihen eine große, zusammenhängende Geschichte: Batman und Superman wurden Freunde, Batman wurde Vater, The Flash hat geheiratet usw.: Figuren sind in ca. 25 Jahren ca. 10 Jahre gealtert. Einige haben Kinder bekommen, alle wurden etwas reifer, besonnener, bürgerlicher. Superman enttarnte sich vor Lois Lane und heiratete sie. Viele dieser Comics sind recht gut, die Figur ist überzeugend gewachsen.

– Bis 2011 aber wurden solche Hintergrund- und Vorgeschichten so lang und kompliziert, dass DC Comics sagte: “Niemand sollte ein Comic von 1986 kennen müssen, um ein Comic von 2011 verstehen zu können. Wir machen einen Neustart.” Dieser Neustart betraf alle Reihen: In einer Zeitreise-Geschichte verursachte der Superheld The Flash versehentlich ein Paradox… und plötzlich begann vieles von vorne, in 50 Heftreihen, in einem neuen Universum.

[dieser Reboot hieß “The New 52”. ich habe 2011 u.a. hier darüber geschrieben.]

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Superman Batman DC Helden

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2) Superman ab 2011: “The New 52”

– Seit 2011 erzählen alle DC-Heldencomics neue Geschichten… in einem neuen Erzähluniversum… mit den alten Heldinnen und Helden… die aber jetzt verjüngt sind und denen Teile ihrer Vorgeschichte fehlen:

– Superman und Lois Lane sind Redaktionskollegen beim “Daily Planet”, aber waren nie ein Paar. Superman ist jünger, ungestüm, fühlt sich missverstanden und macht viele Fehler. Er verliebt sich in Wonder Woman. Alles ist jugendlicher, frischer, weniger bürgerlich.

– Aber: viele Ehen wurden nie geschlossen, viele Kinder nie gezeugt, vielen Figuren fehlen Tiefe, Vorgeschichte, Erfahrung, Format: Statt den bekannten Helden, Mitte 30, liest man jetzt die Abenteuer von Figuren, die genau so aussehen – doch kaum Mitte 20 sind. Sie sind jünger, naiver, feindseliger, aggressiver. Viele Helden stehen am Anfang und sind einander sehr fremd. Misstrauen, Anfängerfehler, Aggression.

– Dieser 2011er-Neustart war umstritten. Heftreihen wie “Batman” und “Green Lantern” kamen gut zurecht. Doch der neue Superman wirkte wie ein traurig naiver Abklatsch der alten Figur: Kritiken, Auflage und Fan-Reaktionen waren schlecht.

– Von 2011 bis 2016 erschien fast kein “Superman”-Comic oder -Sammelband, den ich empfehlen würde. Mir persönlich fehlt auch die Liebesgeschichte mit Lois Lane sehr: Ich lernte Superman in den 90er Jahren kennen, durch die TV-Serie “Superman: Die Abenteuer von Lois & Clark”. Dort spielt der Redaktionsalltag im Daily Planet eine große Rolle, und Lois ist gleichwertige Hauptfigur. Dass sie in den Comics, besonders ab 2011, oft nur eine Randfigur mit Mini-Auftritten bleibt, missfällt mir.

– 2015, in einem (recht schlechten) Comic namens “Convergence”, wurde einigen neuen Helden klar, dass ihre Vorläufer (also: z.B. der Superman von 1986 bis 2011, ich nenne ihn fortan Superman86) entführt und gefangen gehalten wurden, auf einem Planeten: Zum ersten Mal seit vier Jahren sahen wir die alten Figuren wieder. Die “alte” Lois Lane war schwanger.

– Viele dieser alten Versionen konnten sich retten und befreien… und Superman86 strandete zusammen mit Lois Lane und dem Sohn Jon in der Welt der neuen Figur.

– Der Comic “Lois & Clark” zeigt diese beiden alten Figuren… die jetzt heimlich in der neuen Welt leben: Seit 2015 gibt es also zwei Lois Lanes, zwei Supermans. Die neuen Versionen wussten aber nichts von den alten: “Lois & Clark” erzählt, wie sich Superman86 in Kalifornien versteckt, heimlich den Menschen hilft, aber nicht vom neuen, jüngeren Superman entdeckt werden will.

– Dann, 2016, starb der neue Superman plötzlich (…in Geschichten, die ebenfalls gerade bei Panini erscheinen, 2017: “The Final Days of Superman”… die aber nicht besonders gut oder empfehlenswert sind), und DC Comics wagte einen neuen, zweiten Neustart:

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batman vs Superman lois clark

3) 2016: die alte Figur, gestrandet in der neuen Welt: “DC Rebirth”

– Das Sonderheft “DC Rebirth” erscheint am 28. Februar bei Panini. Es zeigt: Viele Figuren, die 2011 aus der Welt gefallen sind, kommen plötzlich zurück, auf mysteriöse Weise. Alte Geschichten (erschienen vor 2011) werden plötzlich wieder relevant. die neuen Comics, die alle ab diesem Frühling auf Deutsch erscheinen, sind optimistischer, oft besser verständlich, romantischer… Der Verlag versucht, nach dem düsteren Neustart von 2011, jetzt vieles wieder heller zu gestalten, und greift dabei auf alte Figuren und Vorgeschichten zurück.

– In Heftreihen wie “Batman” ist das gar kein richtiges Thema: Die Geschichten gehen, mehr oder weniger, ungefähr so weiter. Um “Batman” zu lesen, muss man nichts über diese Paralleluniversen, Zeitreisen, Paradoxien und Doppelgänger wissen. [Die Reihe “Batman” von Autor Tom King ist nicht besonders gelungen. Aber die Reihe “Detective Comics” von James Tynion. Empfehlung!]

– Die Superman-Heftreihen dagegen machen all das SEHR zum Thema; und bisher ist das ein großer Gewinn, erzählerisch: Es gibt zwei Lois Lanes. Die “alte” Hauptfigur trifft neue Versionen ihrer alten Bekannten und Bezugspersonen, die sie von 1986 bis 2011 gut kannte (Batman, Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman etc.) – doch diese Bezugspersonen kannten ihrerseits nur die jüngere (und: jetzt verstorbene) Version von 2011 bis 2016: Superman86 lernt viele Figuren neu kennen, die aussehen wie seine vertrauten Freunde und Gegner… doch andere Rollen spielen. Das Mit- und Gegeneinander mit z.B. dem neuen Lex Luthor ist aktuell ein großes erzählerisches Vergnügen, weil beide Figuren nur eine jeweils andere Version von sich kannten, bisher.

– Supermans Sohn Jon ist fast zehn Jahre alt und entwickelt eigene Kräfte. Von 2011 bis 2016 erzählten die Comics das Leben eines wütenden, unbeholfenen Single-Supermans. Jetzt, seit “Lois & Clark”, geht es um eine glückliche Familie – Superman86, Lois Lane86, Sohn Jon -, die in einer neuen Welt neu durchstartet. Auch diese Lois hat eine interessantere Rolle als seit Jahren – weil Lois86 Mutter ist, aber die jüngere Lois plötzlich Superkräfte entwickelt… und nichts von Lois86 weiß.

– So verwirrend und barock all das klingt: Aktuell sind die Superman-Heftreihen, die alle in den nächsten Monaten neu bei Panini erscheinen, auf Deutsch, ein toller Einstieg. schöne alte Figuren, desorientiert in einer neuen Welt… doch optimistisch und einsteigerfreundlich erzählt. “Lois & Clark” ist dabei der einfachste und süffigste Einstieg: Wir lernen Sohn Jon kennen, wir erfahren, was Superman86 heimlich/inkognito/undercover in der neuen Welt leistet, und mit dem Ende von “Lois & Clark” (zwei Sammelbände, Band 2 erscheint am 7. Februar) starten dann mehrere weitere Erzählstränge, in denen man diesen Figuren folgen kann:

– Weil die Heftreihen in den USA schon seit Juni 2016 laufen und ich die Originalcomics las, weiß ich: die Reihen “Superman”, “Action Comics”, “Trinity” und “Superwoman” sind einen Blick wert. Als nächstes startet in den USA dann “Super-Sons”, über Supermans Sohn Jon und Batmans Sohn Damian.

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– Verlegerisch und erzählerisch, auf einer Meta-Ebene, geht es hier um Tonfall, Zielgruppen und Zugänglichkeit:

2011 dachte DC Comics: Wir müssen jünger werden, einfacher, härter/jugendlicher/aggressiver – und junge Leser wollen sich nicht mit alten oder verheirateten Helden identifizieren. Weg mit den Vorgeschichten!

2016 wird das korrigiert: Superman und Lois Lane sind ca. 40 Jahre alt, glückliche Eltern, und die Wärme, Besonnenheit, das Miteinander und Vertrauen machen die Comics sympathischer (und: kinderfreundlicher) als seit Jahren.

Mich persönlich freut, dass der Verlag es sich hätte einfach machen können und durch eine WEITERE Zeitreise- und Paralleluniversums-Geschichte alles viel schneller oder sauberer hätte auflösen können. Stattdessen gibt es diesen großen Doppelgänger-Kuddelmuddel… und bisher sorgt der Kuddelmuddel für lesenswerte, aufregende Comics und Konflikte. Alles etwas barock und verwirrend. Aber: sonnig, trotz allem einsteigerfreundlich – und genuin spannend.

Wer die Figuren aus Filmen und Serien ein wenig kennt, doch sich bisher nicht an die Comics traute: “Lois & Clark” ist der ideale Einstieg.

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batman v superman, superman american alien

ebenfalls lesenswert, steht ganz für sich: “Superman: American Alien” von Max Landis

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meine Bilanz, bisher:

“Action Comics” wird ab Sammelband 2 besonders gut; “Superman” ist ebenfalls ab Sammelband 2 gelungen. “Trinity” (toll gezeichnet, aber nur ca. jede zweite Ausgabe) und “Superwoman” (langsam erzählt, etwas träge) sind keine Meisterwerke, aber machen mir Spaß. “New Super-Man” langweilt mich und spielt bisher keine große Rolle, auch die aktuelle “Supergirl”-Serie ist konventionell, langweilig, zweitklassig. Einen Blick wert: “Supergirl: Being Super” (keine Verknüpfungen zu den anderen Reihen). Die “Justice League”-Reihen ab “DC Rebirth” habe ich noch nicht angelesen. Und, wie gesagt: “Detective Comics” ist großartig.

 

Die besten Geschenke 2016: Buchtipps und Empfehlungen zu Weihnachten

schwule Literatur, deutschsprachig

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die zehn Bücher, die ich am häufigsten verschenke:

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Fun Home: Eine Familie von Gezeichneten  The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie: Three Novels  Revolutionary Road  The Road  To Kill a Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird #1)

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Der Garten Eden  Weiter leben. Eine Jugend.  Daytripper  The Summer Book  Das große Los

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Buchtipps sind… sinnlos. In meinem privaten (Zuhause-)Freundeskreis jedenfalls:

Es fällt mir leichter (und wirkt weniger… übergriffig / aufdringlich), auf Amazon Marketplace, Medimops oder Rebuy zwei, drei gebrauchte Ausgaben zu kaufen und zu verschenken – statt Freunden mit Kaufempfehlungen in den Ohren zu liegen.

Sobald ich denke “Er/sie hätte Spaß, mit diesem Buch”, kaufe ich eine billige Ausgabe.

Hier: Die Bücher und DVDs, die ich 2015 und 2016 verschenkte. 95 Prozent davon: selbst schon gelesen, und sehr gemocht.

Blau markierte Titel kamen sehr gut an.

Rot markierte Titel kamen schlecht an.

verschenkt 2011 | verschenkt 2012 | verschenkt 2013verschenkt 2014

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Geschenke 2015 und 2016:

Kinder:

Sohn einer Schulfreundin, im April geboren:

  • Frans Lanting: “Auge in Auge” (Coffee-Table-Book mit Tierfotos, Link)

Pflegetochter meiner besten Freunde, 2:

  • Eva Muggenthaler: “Fish on a Walk” (Bilderbuch, Link)

meine Nichte, 2:

  • JonArno Lawson: “Sidewalk Flowers” (Bilderbuch, Link)
  • Katharina Grossmann-Hensel: “Eltern richtig erziehen” (Bilderbuch, Link)

meine Patentochter, 3:

  • JonArno Lawson: “Sidewalk Flowers” (Bilderbuch, Link)
  • Jeff Mack: “Gut gelaufen! Schlecht gelaufen!” (Bilderbuch, Link)
  • Oyvind Torsetter: “Das Loch” (Bilderbuch, Link)
  • Karsten Teich: “Wir sind 1 a” (Bilderbuch, Link)

mein Neffe, 7:

  • “Star Wars: Rebels”, Staffel 1 (DVD, Link)
  • “Avatar: Herr der Elemente”, Staffel 1 (DVD, Link)
  • Kiyohiko Azuma: “Yotsuba!” (Manga, Band 1 und 2, Link)

Sohn meiner besten Freunde, 9:

  • Eiichiro Oda: “One Piece”, Band 1 (Manga, Link; er las dann alle 70+ Bände)
  • Yusei Matsui: “Assassination Classroom”, Band 1 (Manga, Link; er las dann alle ca. 14 Bände)
  • Art Balthazar, Franco: “Superman Family Adventures”, Band 1 und 2 (Kinder-Comics, Link)
  • Guy Delisle: “Ratgeber für schlechte Väter” (Cartoons, Link)
  • Brian Selznick: “Wunderlicht” (Kinderbuch, Link)
  • “Superman: Die Abenteuer von Lois & Clark”, Staffel 1 (DVD, Link)

Tochter meiner besten Freunde, fast 15:

  • Kiyohiko Azuma: “Yotsuba&!”, Band 13 (Manga, Link)
  • Anne Frank: “Tagebuch” (Link)
  • Jean Kwok: “Goodbye, Chinatown” (Memoir, Link)
  • Jean-Paul Sartre: “Geschlossene Gesellschaft” (Theaterstück, Link)
  • Nick Burd: “Die Wonnen der Gewöhnlichkeit” (Jugendbuch, Link)
  • Stephen Chbosky: “Vielleicht lieber morgen” (Jugendbuch, Link)
  • Kaoru Mori: “Young Bride’s Story”, Band 1 (Manga, Link)
  • CLAMP: “Wish”, Komplettausgabe, 1 bis 4 (Manga, Link)

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Eye to Eye Fish On A Walk Sidewalk Flowers Good News, Bad News Das Loch Yotsuba&!, Vol. 01 (Yotsuba&! #1) One Piece, Bd.1, Das Abenteuer Beginnt (One Piece, #1) 暗殺教室 1 [Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 1] (Assassination Classroom, #1) Superman Family Adventures, Vol. 1 Ratgeber für schlechte Väter Wunderlicht Tagebuch der Anne Frank Girl in Translation Geschlossene Gesellschaft Die Wonnen der Gewöhnlichkeit Vielleicht Lieber Morgen A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 (A Bride's Story, #1) Wish, Vol. 01 (Wish, #1)

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Frauen:

meine Schwester, 24:

  • Christoph Kucklick: “Die granulare Gesellschaft” (Sachbuch, Link)
  • David McCandless: “Information is beautiful” (Infografiken, Link)
  • Florian Illies: “Generation Golf” (Sachbuch, Link)
  • Ralf Grauel: “Deutschland verstehen” (Infografiken, Link)
  • Christiane Neudecker: “Boxenstopp” (Roman, Link)

Pädagogin, gerade Mutter geworden, 33:

  • Stewart O’Nan: “Die Chance” (Roman, Link)
  • Valerian Tornius: “Zwischen Hell und Dunkel: Ein Rembrandt-Roman” (Roman, Link)
  • Tobias Wolff: “This Boy’s Life” (Memoir, Link)
  • Meike Winnemuth: “Das große Los” (Reisereportage, Link)

Pädagogin, 33:

  • Meike Winnemuth: “Das große Los” (Reisereportage, Link)
  • Slavenka Drakulic: “Als gäbe es mich nicht” (Roman, Link)
  • Agota Kristof: “Das große Heft” (Roman, Link)

Ärztin, 33 – mochte “‘Mind-Boggling’, Evening Post” von Max Goldt:

  • Max Goldt: “Quitten für die Menschen von Emden bis Zittau” (Kolumen, Link)
  • Max Goldt: “Die Kugeln in unseren Köpfen” (Kolumnen, Link)
  • Max Goldt: “Der Krapfen auf dem Sims” (Kolumnen, Link)
  • Max Goldt: “Ä” (Kolumnen, Link)
  • Haruki Murakami: “Hard-boiled Wonderland und das Ende der Welt” (Roman, Link)

Pädagogin, 34:

  • Anna-Katharina Hahn: “Am schwarzen Berg” (Roman, Link)
  • Andreas Maier: “Das Zimmer” (Roman, Link)
  • Maria Semple: “Wo steckst du, Bernadette?” (Roman, Link)
  • James Baldwin: “100 Jahre Freiheit ohne Gleichberechtigung” (Bürgerrechts-Manifest, Link)
  • Tina Fey: “Bossypants. Haben Männer Humor?” (Memoir, Link)

Pädagogin, 34 – liest fast nur Theaterstücke und Comics/Mangas:

  • Ryan North: “Squirrel Girl” (Comic, Link)
  • Kou Yaginuma: “Twin Spica” (Manga, Band 1 und 2, Link)

Bürokauffrau, 37:

  • Jean-Dominique Bauby: “Schmetterling und Taucherglocke” (Memoir, Link; dazu die Verfilmung auf DVD)
  • Markolf Hoffmann: “Ines öffnet die Tür” (Jugendbuch, Link)

Krankenschwester, ca. 60:

  • Heide Koehne: “Der Buchladen” (Roman, Link)
  • Slavenka Drakulic: “Als gäbe es mich nicht” (Roman, Link)

meine Mutter (ehem. Arzthelferin, Anfang 60):

  • “Orphan Black”, Staffel 1 (DVD, Link)
  • “Mad Men”, Staffel 7 (DVD, Link)
  • Jenny Erpenbeck: “Gehen, ging, gegangen” (Roman, Link)
  • Philippe Vigand, Stéphane Vigand: “Verdammte Stille” (Memoir, Link)
  • Anna Wimschneider: “Herbstmilch. Lebenserinnerungen einer Bäuerin” (Memoir, Link)
  • David Levithan: “Two Boys Kissing” (Jugendbuch, Link)
  • Maria Semple: “Wo steckst du, Bernadette?” (Roman, Link)

Mutter einer Schulfreundin, in Santa Monica aufgewachsen, Ende 60:

  • Emmanuel Guibert: “How the World was. A California Childhood” (Graphic Novel, Link)
  • Richard Yates: “Revolutionary Road” (Roman, Link)

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Die granulare Gesellschaft: Wie das Digitale unsere Wirklichkeit auflöst The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World’s Most Consequential Trivia Generation Golf. Eine Inspektion Deutschland verstehen Boxenstopp: Roman Die Chance Zwischen Hell und Dunkel. Ein Rembrandt-Roman This Boy's Life Das große Los Das große Heft Quitten für die Menschen zwischen Emden und Zittau Die Kugeln in unseren Köpfen. Der Krapfen auf dem Sims. Ä Hard-boiled Wonderland und das Ende der Welt Am Schwarzen Berg Das Zimmer Wo steckst du, Bernadette? The Fire Next Time Bossypants The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 1: Squirrel Power Twin Spica, Volume: 01 Schmetterling Und Taucherglocke Ines öffnet die Tür Der Buchladen Gehen, ging, gegangen Verdammte Stille Herbstmilch Two Boys Kissing: Jede Sekunde zählt How the World Was: A California Childhood

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Männer:

Hotelkaufmann, 26 – reiste nach Thailand:

  • Alex Garland: “Der Strand” (Roman, Link)
  • Josef Haslinger: “Phi Phi Island. Ein Bericht.” (Memoir, Link)

Mein Bruder – Mechatroniker, 31:

  • “Community” (DVD, Staffel 1, Link)
  • “Homeland” (DVD, Staffel 1, Link)
  • “The Americans” (DVD, Staffel 1, Link)

Ingenieur, 32:

  • David Eagleman: “Fast im Jenseits” (tolle Gedankenspiele, Link)
  • Greg Rucka: “Lazarus”, Band 1 (Comic, Link)

Lyriker, 33 – Fan von Nonsens-Texten und Satire:

  • Edgar Hilsenrath: “Zibulsky” (satirische Kurztexte, Link)

Bankkaufmann, 35:

  • Haruki Murakami: “Naokos Lächeln” (Roman, Link)
  • Haruki Murakami: “Mister Aufziehvogel” (Roman, Link)
  • Sebastian Haffner: “Die Geschichte eines Deutschen” (Memoir, Link)
  • Arthur Miller: “Focus” (Roman, Link)
  • Nicholson Baker: “Menschenrauch” (Geschichts-Sachbuch, Link)
  • Josef Haslinger: “Phi Phi Island. Ein Bericht.” (Memoir, Link)
  • Geoff Dyer: “Sex in Venedig, Tod in Varanasi” (Roman, Link)
  • Tina Fey: “Bossypants: Haben Männer Humor?” (Memoir, Link)
  • Octavia Butler: “Vom gleichen Blut” (Roman, Link)
  • W.G. Sebald: “Die Ausgewanderten” (Roman/Kurzgeschichten, Link)

Kunstpädagoge, 36:

  • Edouard Levé: “Autoportrait” (Memoir/Textmontage, Link)
  • Gertraud Klemm: “Muttergehäuse” (Memoir, Link)
  • David Eagleman: “Fast im Jenseits” (tolle Gedankenspiele, Link)
  • Raymond Briggs: “Ethel & Ernest” (Graphic Novel, Link)

Mathe- und Sportlehrer, 36:

  • Sebastian Haffner: “Die Geschichte eines Deutschen” (Memoir, Link)
  • Sebastian Christ: “Was von Deutschland übrig bleibt” (Reportage, Link)
  • Anna Funder: “Stasiland” (Reportage, Link)

mein Vater, Mechatroniker, 60:

  • “Der Gigant aus dem All” (DVD, Link)
  • “Boyhood” (DVD, Link)
  • “Gravity” (DVD, Link)
  • “Vielleicht lieber morgen” (DVD, Link)

…und ich sah meinen US-Lieblingsautor, Stewart O’Nan, im Sommer in Freiburg und moderierte eine seiner Lesungen. O’Nans Roman “West of Sunset” spielt unter Drehbuchautoren im Hollywood der 40er Jahre, und ich musste an eine Graphic Novel denken, das im selben Milieu spielt und mich sehr begeisterte – also schenkte ich es ihm:

  • Ed Brubaker: “The Fade Out”, Band 1 (Graphic Novel, Link)

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Der Strand Phi Phi Island: Ein Bericht Fast Im Jenseits Lazarus, Vol. 1: Family Zibulsky oder Antenne im Bauch: Satiren Naokos Lächeln Mister Aufziehvogel Geschichte eines Deutschen Fokus Menschenrauch Wie Der Zweite Weltkrieg Begann Und Die Zivilisation Endete Sex in Venedig, Tod in Varanasi Vom gleichen Blut Die Ausgewanderten Autoportrait Muttergehäuse Ethel and Ernest Was von Deutschland übrig bleibt: eine Wanderreportage Stasiland The Fade Out: Act One

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mein Partner und ich wohnen zusammen – und ich kaufe/schenke ihm fast nie Bücher: Er liest meine Ausgaben mit, statt sich ein eigenes, zweites Exemplar zu holen. Bücher, die ich ihm empfahl, und die er las, seit Ende 2014:

Freund M., Florist, 35:

  • Barbara Pym: “Vortreffliche Frauen” (Roman, Link)
  • Francois Truffaut: “Mr. Hitchcock, wie haben Sie das gemacht?” (Interview, Link)
  • Alice Walker: “Die Farbe Lila” (Roman, Link)
  • Anna Katharina Hahn: “Am schwarzen Berg” (Roman, Link)
  • Anna Katharina Hahn: “Kürzere Tage” (Roman, Link)
  • Christoph Schmitz: “Das Wiesenhaus” (Roman, Link)
  • Erik Neutsch: “Spur der Steine” (Roman, Link)
  • Ruth Klüger: “weiter leben” (Memoir, Link)
  • Anonyma: “Eine Frau in Berlin” (Memoir, Link)
  • Anna Wimschneider: “Herbstmilch” (Memoir, Link)
  • Erich Maria Remarque: “Drei Kameraden” (Roman, Link)
  • Kazuo Ishiguro: “Was vom Tage übrigblieb” (Roman, Link)
  • R.C. Sherriff: “Septemberglück” (Roman, Link)
  • Ernest Hemingway: “Der Garten Eden” (Roman, Link)
  • Ariel Magnus: “Zwei lange Unterhosen der Marke Hering” (Memoir, Link)
  • Joan Didion: “Das Jahr magischen Denkens” (Memoir, Link)
  • Terezia Mora: “Der einzige Mann auf dem Kontinent” (Roman, Link)
  • Josef Haslinger: “Phi Phi Island. Ein Bericht.” (Memoir, Link)
  • Valerian Tornius: “Zwischen Hell und Dunkel. Ein Rembrandt-Roman” (Link)
  • Haruki Murakami: “Naokos Lächeln” (Roman, Link)
  • Marc Degens: “Fuckin’ Sushi” (Roman, Link)
  • Leif Randt: “Schimmernder Dunst über CobyCounty” (Roman, Link)

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Vortreffliche Frauen Mr. Hitchcock, Wie Haben Sie Das Gemacht? Die Farbe Lila Am Schwarzen Berg Kürzere Tage Das Wiesenhaus Spur der Steine: Roman weiter leben: Eine Jugend Eine Frau in Berlin Herbstmilch Drei Kameraden Was vom Tage übrigblieb Septemberglück Der Garten Eden Zwei lange Unterhosen der Marke Hering Das Jahr magischen Denkens Der einzige Mann auf dem Kontinent Phi Phi Island: Ein Bericht Zwischen Hell und Dunkel. Ein Rembrandt-Roman Naokos Lächeln Fuckin Sushi Schimmernder Dunst über Coby County

Kathrin Passig: 70 Fragen

DSCF4065

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2013 wurde ich eingeladen, einen Text über meinen ehemaligen Professor zu schreiben. Weil ich Listen liebe und Fragebögen/Interviews, und, weil ich beim Schreiben merkte, wie viel ich nicht weiß, und sehr gern wissen würde…

…wurde aus dem Text ein Fragebogen: 100 Fragen an Stephan Porombka (Link)

2016, zum 60. Geburtstag meines Vaters, sammelte ich persönlichere Fragen – gleich 200. Auch hier ging es um eine Balance/Annäherung: Vieles weiß ich, ungefähr. Aber noch viel mehr weiß ich nicht. Ich glaube, die fertige Liste verrät viel über unser Verhältnis.

…September 2016: 200 Fragen an meinen Vater (Link)

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Der heutige Text gehört *nicht* in diese Reihe:

Kathrin Passig – Autorin, Journalistin, Technik-Expertin, Essayistin und Gewinnerin des Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preises 2006 – wird mit dem Johann-Heinrich-Merck-Preis für literarische Kritik und Essay ausgezeichnet. Heute, am Vortag der Preisverleihung, spreche ich mit ihr im Staatstheater Darmstadt über kurze Texte, Schreiben im Netz, Misch- und Zwischenformen:

»WAS RICHTIGES / NICHTS RICHTIGES«

Die Autorin und Internet-Expertin Kathrin Passig schreibt Texte, die sich virtuos zwischen Blog, Buch und Essay bewegen. Passig mit dem Autor, Kritiker und Blogger Stefan Mesch über die Bedingungen des Schreibens in alten und neuen Medien oder, wie sie selbst sagt: “über zweifelhafte Formen des Lesens, des Schreibens und der Literaturkritik”. 

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70 erste Fragen und Ideen, für unser Gespräch.

Eine lose Sammlung.

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Auf wie vielen Büchern steht dein Name?

In wie vielen Büchern wird dir gedankt?

Wer dankt, und wofür?

Wie viele Bücher hast du übersetzt? Welches ist das beste?

Nenn mir ein paar analoge Dinge/Aktivitäten, die dir viel Freude machen: Zeug, das nichts mit Technik oder Innovationen zu tun hat.

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Du schreibst, programmierst, hältst Vorträge. Wie wählst du aus: nach Lust, Lebensqualität… oder ist es weiterhin vor allem eine Geldfrage?

Umgekehrt gibt es viele Jobs und Tätigkeiten, die man dir oft zurechnet – von denen ich aber nicht weiß, wie oft du sie machst: Rezensierst du Bücher? Schreibst du literarisch? Arbeitest du an Reportagen?

Als Verlegerin/Herausgeberin des (grandiosen) “Techniktagebuchs”: Würdest du gern mehr verlegen?

Was dachtest du als Kind, was aus dir wird?

Und später, als (Germanistik-)Studentin?

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Würde dein 15jähriges Ich verstehen, was du tust? Oder würde es sagen: “Sie macht ja gar nichts Richtiges?”

Ich sage oft: “Das ist die interessanteste und mir wichtigste Technikjournalistin.” Du sagst am liebsten: “Ich bin Sachbuchautorin” – oder?

Du wirst morgen für deine Essays ausgezeichnet. Wessen Essays liebst du?

Warum und für wen hast du deine ersten Essays geschrieben?

Über welche Themen streitest du dich?

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Was war dir früher wichtig, und ist dir heute ganz egal?

Was war deine beste Entscheidung?

Vor dem Internet wurden Menschen oft dafür bewundert, dass sie viel Wissen behalten und aufsagen konnten. Wofür bewunderst du Menschen?

Wie hat dich das Internet verändert?

Wie hat es dir geschadet?

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Warst du schon in dem Alter, das am besten zu dir passt – oder denkst du, es kommt noch?

Lebst du in einer fundamental anderen Zukunft, als du als Jugendliche dachtest/hofftest?

Du bist 1970 in Deggendorf geboren. Du sprichst oft darüber, was dich von den Menschen dort unterscheidet. Aber: Was hast du mit ihnen gemeinsam?

Wenn du eine Sache an den Lehrplänen deiner Schulzeit hättest ändern können, auch rückblickend, mit dem Wissen von heute: Was?

Viele Netz-Experten und freie Technik-Journalisten betonen immer wieder ihren Vordenker-Status. Du schreibst sehr offen über deine Zweifel oder Fehlschlüsse. Sagst deutlicher, was du (und: wir alle) nicht weißt/wissen können.

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Du sprichst oft über Denkfehler, Trugschlüsse/Vorurteile, Fallacies, cognitive biases: Welche hast du selbst besonders? Gegen welche arbeitest du an?

Welche hast du weniger als die meisten anderen Menschen?

Und welche haben wir eigentlich alle – und sollten sie uns viel bewusster machen, beim Schreiben, Sprechen, Argumentieren?

Du hast mal gesagt, deine Tweets enthalten kaum Rechtschreibfehler, weil du 20 Minuten pro Tweet brauchst. Warum so langsam?

Was findest du aufregender als andere Menschen? Was findest du langweiliger? (Themen? Innovationen? Aktivitäten?)

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Gibt es Texte oder Aussagen, die du zurücknehmen willst? Eher gewisse Urteile? Oder eher Prognosen?

Was wird schlechter? Was geht den Bach runter? Wovor hast du Angst?

Gibt es Dinge, deren Sterben / Verfall dir grade das Herz bricht?

Siehst du irgendwelche großen Disruptions kommen: technisch-gesellschaftliche Umwälzungen, die alles auf den Kopf stellen könnten?

Was unterscheidet dich von deinem Kollaborator/Kollegen/Freund Sascha Lobo?

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In was für Abhängigkeitsverhältnissen stehst du? Wer bezahlt dich? Bestimmen vor allem diese Auftraggeber deine Themen und Arbeit?
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Wenn du deine Texte, Essays, Kolumnen nicht schreibst, schreibt sie niemand: Ich finde dich unersetzlich. Deine Perspektive ist oft sehr eigen. Trotzdem wirkst du bescheiden: Leistest du wichtige Arbeit? Oder denkst du “Luxus. Eigentlich habe ich alle Freiheiten. Schön, dass ich damit durchkomme”…?
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Warum schläft/ruht dein Gemeinschafts-Nerd-und-Technikblog “Riesenmaschine”?

Hast du seit 2006, nachdem du mit deiner ersten Erzählung den Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis gewonnen hast, noch einmal Prosa geschrieben?

Schreibst du private Texte, die niemand liest? Nur für dich?

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Mit welcher Aussage hast du dir bisher den größten Ärger gemacht?

Hast du Feinde? Bist du jemandem ein Dorn im Auge?

Würdest du auf Demonstrationen gehen? Skandieren?

Ich finde dich recht empathisch und… weitherzig: Was tust du, um die Welt besser zu machen? Bist du in Vereinen oder Initiativen aktiv?

Du hast über 30.000 Follower auf Twitter: Warum nutzt du deinen Twitter-Fame selten, um Debatten anzust0ßen, politisch zu tweeten, Hilfsgesuche zu teilen o.ä.?

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Liest du klassische Rezensionen im Feuilleton? Geben sie dir etwas? Oder “glaubst” du nicht daran – als Gründerin der “automatischen Literaturkritik”?

Legst du Archive an? Sammelst du etwas? Hältst du irgend etwas fest?

Du bist ein Fan von Gründlichkeit, Nachzählen, Nachhaken… naturwissenschaftlichen Methoden, die ich unter Geisteswissenschaftlern erschreckend selten finde: Wünschst du dir mehr naturwissenschaftliche Gründlichkeit im Kulturbetrieb?

Was hättest du gern früher gewusst?

Nenn mir erfundene Figuren, denen du ähnlich bist oder gern wärst.

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Gibt es eine Entwicklung, die du sehr früh hast kommen sehen: prophetisch?

Fühlst du dich, als Early Adapter, oft weiter vorne:  Findest du es anstrengend, dass Leute sich oft Fragen stellen, die du dir schon seit Jahren  stellst?
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Hast du eine Sammlung von “Darüber müsste ich eigentlich mal länger schreiben”-Ideen? Was stünde dort weit oben?

Eine Zukunftsvorstellung von dir: “Vielleicht halte ich in zehn Jahren nur noch Vorträge und publiziere meine Texte frei im Netz.” Das wäre schade, oder? Falls Autoren wie Musiker werden und man nur noch Geld verdient, indem man sich Bühnen schafft.

Magst du das persönliche Gespräch? Wärst du grade lieber mit mir in einem Chat oder Google-.doc als auf einer Bühne?

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Was hast du aufgegeben oder beendet?

Du darfst keinen Menschen mehr sehen – aber hast Internet. Oder: Du darfst dich frei bewegen – aber hast kein Internet mehr. Was wäre schlimmer?

Ich kann am leichtesten, mühelosesten auf Facebook schreiben. Hast du einen Ort oder Modus, in dem dir das Schreiben/Formulieren/Denken besonders Spaß macht?

Was ist die Innovation, auf deren Durchbruch du dich besonders freust und die du gern noch erleben willst?

Wartest/hoffst du auf die Singularität: die Möglichkeit, ein Bewusstsein so zu digitalisieren, dass es unabhängig vom Körper überleben kann?

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Inwiefern ist die Zeit auf deiner Seite?

Wann klafften Zeitgeist und dein eigenes Leben am weitesten auseinander: Welches deiner bisherigen 45, 46 Jahre passte am wenigsten zu dir?

Gibt es Haltungen oder Normen aus deiner Kindheit, die heute verschwunden/verkümmert sind und die dir fehlen?

Bist du Opfer von Sexismus? Und/oder gibt es Leute, die dich (aus anderen Gründen) nicht ernst nehmen, aussortieren?

Manchmal schreibst du (humoristische) Sonette. Doch weil sie vor allem auf Facebook/online erscheinen, wird das wohl vor allem als Spielerei gesehen. Unterscheidest du zwischen “Spielerei” und “großem Werk”? Wie wichtig ist dabei der Veröffentlichungsort und das Prestige? Und gibt es Arbeit von dir, von der du wünschst, dass sie ernster genommen wird?

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Nenn mir ein, zwei Projekte/Jobs, die dir viel mehr Spaß machten als das meiste andere.
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Nenn mir ein, zwei Projekte/Jobs, auf die du stolzer bist als auf alles andere!
Du hattest sehr lange sehr viele Print-Bücher. Dann hast du sie aussortiert, weggegeben. Kannst du dir andere Dinge vorstellen, an denen du gerade fest hältst – aber du später/bald aufgibst?
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Deine Website ist toll – aber du hast keine besonders geschärfte/pointierte Netz-Identität: Vielen Menschen kann man schneller drei, vier Worte, Adjektive, Tags zuordnen. Sind dir PR und Netz-Selbstdarstellung fremder als den meisten Netz-Journalisten?
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Du lebst seit dem Studium in Berlin. Bleibst du auf jeden Fall?

2015 / 2016: Lieblingssongs / persönlicher Soundtrack (Jahr 19)

stefam-mesch-timer-soundtrack-2015-2016

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I started keeping a diary on October 26th, 1997. I was 14 and in 9th grade. I kept up until 2004, and every year, I made a ‘personal soundtrack’ with songs that reflected last years’ themes and storylines.

Here are 20 songs for ‘Season 19’, October 2015 to October 2016.

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  • EL VY: “No Time to crank the Sun”
  • Kasper Bjørke: “Young Again”
  • Sea Wolf: “Whirlpool”
  • Daughter: “Get Lucky”
  • Honig: “Golden Circle”
  • Owl & Mouse: “Don’t read the Classics”
  • Jordan Classen: “The Horses are stuck”
  • Jodie Goffe: “Birdsong”
  • Josh Ritter: “Homecoming”
  • I am Harlequin: “Wild One”
  • Lonesome Leash: “Momentum”
  • Junip: “Line of Fire”
  • Marble Sounds: “Come here”
  • Travis: “Strangers on a Train”
  • Tom McRae: “Alphabet of Hurricanes”
  • Ryan Star: “Losing your Memory”
  • Eric Bachmann: “Mercy”
  • The Decemberists: “Lake Song”
  • Conor Oberst: “Next of Kin” (live)
  • Plastic Mermaids: “Alaska” (live from Ventnor)

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Some of these songs are on Youtube. Let’s see how long it takes before they are taken down. Here are the videos: Watch them while the links still work!

  • EL VY: “No Time to crank the Sun”

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  • Kasper Bjørke: “Young Again”


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  • Sea Wolf: “Whirlpool”


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  • Daughter: “Get Lucky”


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  • Honig: “Golden Circle”


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  • Owl & Mouse: “Don’t read the Classics”


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  • Jordan Classen: “The Horses are stuck”


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  • Jodie Goffe: “Birdsong”


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  • Josh Ritter: “Homecoming”


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  • I am Harlequin: “Wild One”


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  • Lonesome Leash: “Momentum”


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  • Junip: “Line of Fire”


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  • Marble Sounds: “Come here”


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  • Travis: “Strangers on a Train”

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  • Tom McRae: “Alphabet of Hurricanes”


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  • Ryan Star: “Losing your Memory”


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  • Eric Bachmann: “Mercy”


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  • The Decemberists: “Lake Song”


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  • Conor Oberst: “Next of Kin” (live)


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  • Plastic Mermaids: “Alaska” (live from Ventnor)

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related Links:

Fragen an die Eltern: 200 Fragen an meinen Vater, zum 60. Geburtstag

mein-vater-ca-1987

mein Vater, ca. 1987.

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Wer mich kennt, kennt – überraschend schnell – oft auch meine Mutter: Sie kommentiert auf Facebook, besucht meine Lesungen und folgt den Journalist*innen, Autor*innen und Blogger*innen, die mir wichtig sind. 2008 und 2014 war sie in Hildesheim, beim PROSANOVA-Festival. Und hin und wieder wohnen Studien- oder Literaturfreunde von mir für einige Tage im leerstehenden Haus meiner Großeltern/ihrer Eltern.

Mein Vater hat kein Interesse an Social Media – aber wünschte sich zum 60. Geburtstag persönliche Texte, kurze Anekdoten, Briefe, Erinnerungen für ein privates Buchprojekt.

Ich nahm mir vor, ihm Fragen zu stellen, trug das auf Facebook (“Was würdet ihr eure Eltern fragen? Worüber würdet ihr gern mit ihnen sprechen?”)…

…und merkte: Die Frage trifft einen Nerv.

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Heute, hier im Blog: 200 persönliche Fragen an meinen Vater.

Ich freue mich, dass er mir erlaubt, diese Fragen hier öffentlich zu teilen. Und ich freue mich noch mehr, dass er Lust hat, sie – irgendwann, im privaten Rahmen – auch zu beantworten.

Ein langer Fragenkatalog, ohne Antworten… das wirkt im ersten Moment monoton oder witzlos. Tatsächlich aber liest man zehn, zwölf solcher Fragen – und fängt an, selbst zu überlegen: Weiß ich das, über meine eigenen Eltern? Würde ich diese Frage stellen? Was würde ich selbst antworten?

Falls jemand Ergänzungs-Fragen hat, ähnliche Fragen mit seinen Eltern ausprobiert(e) oder Erfahrungen damit hat, längere persönliche Gespräche in der Familie zu planen, aufzuzeichnen, zu teilen usw.: Lasst hören! Ich freue mich über Feedback.

Stefan

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Lieber Papa: Alles Gute zum 60. Geburtstag!

Mit 17 sah ich in einem Karlsruher Buchladen das Buch „Mr. Hitchcock, wie haben Sie das gemacht?“ von Francois Truffaut: 400 Seiten über ein einziges Gespräch. Truffaut, ein junger französischer Regisseur, hat Hitchcock 1962 besucht und detaillierte Fragen gestellt. Hitchcock gibt Antworten – und erzählt dabei sein ganzes Leben.

Ich habe das Buch damals nicht gekauft – doch die Idee, verschiedenen Menschen sehr viele Fragen zu stellen, lässt mich nicht los.

Statt dir einen Text zu schreiben, habe ich einen Fragenkatalog erstellt. Du musst ihn nicht beantworten. Obwohl ich mich freuen würde, wenn wir uns irgendwann treffen und das versuchen.

Bis dahin machen, glaube ich, auch schon die Fragen für sich allein Spaß:

200 Dinge, über die ich manchmal nachdenke und zu denen ich gern mehr wissen würde.

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1_Welchen Tag aus deiner Kindheit würdest du gern ein zweites Mal erleben?

2_Was hat dir als Kind am meisten Spaß gemacht?

3_Was ist deine früheste Erinnerung?

4_Nenn mir einen typischen Moment mit deiner Mutter. Und etwas, das du an ihr magst.

5_Was habt ihr gemeinsam?

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6_Dein Vater war Schmied; später betrieb er eine Tankstelle. Als er starb, warst du noch Grundschüler. An welche Momente mit ihm erinnerst du dich?

7_Waren deine Großeltern wichtig, als Kind? Andere Verwandte? Cousins und Cousinen?

8_Wer sind deine Paten? Hast du einen Lieblingsverwandten?

9_An welchen Punkten im Leben fehlte dir ein Vater?

10_Wie hat sich deine Mutter nach dem Tod ihres Manns verändert? Deine Schwestern?

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11_Von wem hast du viel gelernt? Hattest du gute Lehrer oder Chefs?

12_Was macht dich an deiner Kindheit glücklich?

13_Mit wem hast du die meiste Zeit verbracht: Klassenkameraden? Nachbarn?

14_Was hast du mit deinen Schwestern unternommen? Habt ihr viel geteilt?

15_Wann warst du zum ersten Mal betrunken? Wen hast du geküsst? Warst du selbstbewusst?

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16_Wann wurden Autos, Mofas usw. wichtig? Wie hast du dein erstes Auto finanziert?

17_Warst du je gläubig?

18_Wann hattest du als Kind den größten Ärger?

19_Hast du Klassenkameraden, aus denen „etwas wurde“? Freunde, aus denen „gar nichts wurde“? Wer hatte das interessanteste oder überraschendste Leben?

20_Sind Leute, die dich von damals kennen, überrascht, wenn sie dich heute sehen? Wen siehst du, wo? Wen vermisst du?

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21_Wenn du eine Sache an deiner Erziehung ändern könntest – welche?

22_Du warst kein guter Schüler. Dachtest du trotzdem als Jugendlicher: „Ich bin clever“?

23_Warst/bist du klüger als die Leute aus deiner Jugend, deiner Heimatstadt?

24_Hattest du damals genug Geld? Oder hast du dich arm gefühlt?

25_Wann wurdest du erwachsen: mit welchem Ereignis oder welcher Entscheidung?

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26_Als Schüler hast du in einem Tante-Emma-Laden gejobbt. Hattest du Spaß? Gab es weitere Neben- und Aushilfsjobs?

27_Hast du beim Bund Freunde gefunden oder Wichtiges gelernt?

28_Hast du danach nochmal mit deiner Mutter unter einem Dach gelebt? War es dir wichtig, auszuziehen? Hast du je allein gelebt?

29_Kanntest du Studenten? Was hältst du von Menschen mit Studium?

30_Was war deine Lieblings-Arbeitsstelle… und was wusstest du über Arbeit, bevor du selbst einen Beruf wählen musstest?

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31_Was war dir früher wichtig, und ist dir heute ganz egal?

32_Was hast du mit Mama gemeinsam?

33_Was unterscheidet dich von typischen Männern deines Alters?

34_Was unterscheidet dich von typischen Deutschen?

35_Was unterscheidet dich von typischen Vätern?

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36_Warum wurdest du Mechaniker? Hat der Beruf deine Erwartungen erfüllt?

37_Wie war Mama, als du sie zum ersten Mal getroffen hast? Wann wusstest du: Ich will sie heiraten?

38_Wie hat sie sich seitdem verändert? Was magst du an der Veränderung; was nicht?

39_Wie hat sie dich verändert?

40_Welche Rolle fällt dir am leichtesten: Sohn und Bruder? Vater und Ehemann? Großvater? Wann hast du dich mit deinen Rollen am wohlsten gefühlt?

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41_Wie war es, mit den Eltern von Mama zu leben?

42_Warum bist du nach Süddeutschland gezogen? Wann war dir klar, dass du bleibst?

43_Mama sagt oft, sie hat dir bei der Jobsuche geholfen. Wie?

44_Du warst bei der Freiwilligen Feuerwehr und in der CDU. Was sind deine Erfahrungen mit den Vereinen und den Menschen im Dorf?

45_Wie war eure Hochzeit? Gab es eine Hochzeitsreise?

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46_Wofür würdest du gern gelobt oder bewundert werden?

47_In welchem Alter mochtest du dich selbst am meisten?

48_Welchem Menschen bist du am meisten schuldig?

49_Was war deine beste Entscheidung?

50_Wer oder was hat dir das Leben am schwersten gemacht?

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51_Was macht einen guten Vater aus?

52_Was macht eine gute Mutter aus: etwas anderes als einen guten Vater?

53_Kamen Mama und du aus verschiedenen Schichten, Kreisen? Hättest du gern ihre Kindheit gehabt?

54_Hättest du gern meine Kindheit gehabt?

55_Was wolltest du als Erzieher unbedingt anders machen als deine Mutter?

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56_Warum arbeiten deine Schwestern so viel und wirken so gequält?

57_Warum hast du ein besseres Verhältnis zu Mamas Bruder als sie selbst?

58_Hatten Mama und du gemeinsame Freunde als junges Paar? Was wurde aus euren Freundschaften?

59_Es gibt Familienmitglieder, mit denen ich dich nie sprechen hörte – Lutz, Ede, Mamas Mutter.

60_Die Kinder deiner Schwester machten früh Ausbildungen, haben geheiratet – und scheinen dich viel toller, witziger zu finden als wir: Hättest du gern bodenständigere Kinder?

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61_Warum vier Kinder? Warum das erste mit 26? Warum nicht mehr? Weniger?

62_Hattest du noch nie Spaß an Familienaktivitäten, gemeinsamem Abendessen, Gesprächen – oder hast du ihn mit der Zeit verloren?

63_Du hast Söhne und Töchter. Eine gute Mischung, Balance?

64_Mit Kindern in welchem Alter fühlst du dich am wohlsten? (Mein Eindruck: mit vier oder fünf.)

65_Was unternimmst du mit deinen Enkeln? Was magst du an ihnen?

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66_Inwiefern waren Mama und du „Eltern der 80er, 90er“: Wie hat euch der Zeitgeist, das Familien- und Elternbild beeinflusst?

67_Was würdest du heute anders machen?

68_Ich habe selten das Gefühl, du seist von uns Kindern enttäuscht – doch denke dauernd, dass wir dich langweilen: unsere Geschichten sind uninteressant, unsere Probleme vermeidbar.

69_In welchem Alter fandest du mich am sympathischsten? Am unsympathischsten?

70_Und Mama? Und meinen Bruder? Dich selbst?

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71_Gibt es jemanden, den du stolz machen willst oder dessen Lob dir wichtig ist?

72_Ist Kochen und Putzen Frauenarbeit?

73_Hast viel gearbeitet, weil eine Familie Geld braucht… oder, weil du den Beruf spannender findest als ein Familienleben?

74_Jeden Abend hast du an der Dorftankstelle ein Feierabendbier getrunken. Wann hörte das auf? Warum? Was gaben dir diese Männer/Gespräche – und habt ihr heute noch Kontakt?

75_Als Kind hatte ich den Eindruck, deftiges Mittags- und Sonntagsessen wären für euch unverzichtbar. Heute isst Mama ganz andere Gerichte, zu anderen Zeiten. Du selbst auch. Mein Bruder scheint der einzige zu sein, der solche Mahlzeiten mag. Warum die ganze Mühe mit Hausmannskost, damals?

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76_Was dachtest du in meiner Kindheit, was aus mir wird?

77_Was dachtest du als Kind, was aus dir selbst wird?

78_Was nervt oder ängstigt dich an Familien an meisten?

79_Haben wir Geschwister mehr Unterschiede oder mehr Gemeinsamkeiten? Musst du auf vier sehr verschiedene Arten Vater sein?

80_Was hat dich am Vatersein überrascht? Worauf warst du nicht vorbereitet oder eingestellt?

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81_Wer ist dir ebenbürtig und kann dich gut verstehen?

82_Was ist dir peinlich? Vor wem?

83_Was war das Mutigste, das du je getan hast?

84_Was war das Feigste, das du je getan hast?

85_Viele Freunde von mir fühlten von ihren Eltern als Kind unter Druck gesetzt und hörten immer wieder: „Was sollen nur die Verwandten denken?“ Mama und dir schienen die Verwandten, Nachbarn usw. recht egal.

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86_Fiat ist ein italienischer Konzern. Wie zeigte sich das bei deiner Arbeit?

87_Wenn Fiat-Händler ein Problem nicht diagnostizieren oder beheben konnten, wurden die Autos in deine Abteilung geschickt, oder? Was war das interessanteste Problem, die überraschendste Diagnose?

88_Was hast du im Auto auf dem Weg zur Arbeit gemacht: Musik gehört? Nachgedacht? Hast du heute noch ähnliche ruhige, passive Momente im Alltag?

89_Du warst etwa 15 Jahre bei Fiat: Ab wann wolltest du dich selbstständig machen? Dachtest du als Berufsanfänger, du bleibst dein ganzes Leben im selben Konzern?

90_Was machten die Monate in Turin und das Italienischlernen aus dir? Mama sagt oft, sie wurde selbstbewusster, mutiger. Hast du Turin als ähnlichen Kulturschock und ähnliche Befreiung erlebt?

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91_Worauf hast du verzichtet – und später gedacht: Es war ein Fehler, darauf zu verzichten?

92_Warum mögen dich Leute? Was gefällt ihnen an dir?

93_Was magst du selbst an dir?

94_Schon immer – oder musstest du erst lernen, dich zu mögen und an deinen Stärken/Schwächen zu arbeiten?

95_Was war dein bestes, schönstes Jahr?

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96_Du sprichst gern mit Kellnern, Verkäuferinnen, machst Witze mit Polizisten und Briefträgern. Hast du mehr Spaß mit Fremden als mit Freunden?

97_Warum ist D. dein bester Freund? Wie überlebte diese Freundschaft so lange?

98_Du spielst gern Streiche. Dein bester Streich, deine beste Lüge?

99_Oft weichst du Fragen aus: Du magst du es, Menschen zu überrumpeln oder sie zu dominieren, indem du Fakten vorenthältst. Und du erzählst nur, wenn es unbedingt nötig ist oder jemand explizit nach etwas ganz Konkretem fragt: Woher die Lust, Dinge möglichst lange für dich zu behalten?

100_Du stellst kaum eigene Fragen und weißt nicht viel über das Innenleben deiner Familie. Warum?

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101_Mama spricht oft nostalgisch über „die Ursprungsfamilie“. Verstehst du das? Ist alles, was ab ca. 40 kam, für euch ein Nachklapp?

102_Hattest du gute Karten? Bist du privilegiert?

103_Welchen Menschen schuldest du etwas? Was?

104_Schuldest du dem Staat etwas? War Deutschland gut zu dir?

105_Haben dich Leute in Schubladen gesteckt… wegen deines Geschlechts, deines Gewichts, deiner Kleidung, Bildung etc.?

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106_Wärst du gern etwas früher oder später geboren? Bei Mama denke ich oft, dass sie 20 Jahre älter oder jünger weniger aus dem Rahmen fallen würde.

107_Gibt es einen Politiker, den du gern gewählt hast und von dem du viel hältst?

108_Hast du als Kind oder Teenager jemanden bewundert?

109_Fandest du dich mal hübsch? War dir dein Aussehen wichtig; war es wichtig, was du anhast?

110_Bist du „normal“? Bist du Teil der Mehrheit?

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111_Warst du ein „armes“ Kind? Bist du ein „reicher“ Mann? Hast du die soziale Schicht gewechselt, im Lauf deines Lebens?

112_Wo zeigt es sich, dass deine Mutter ärmer ist als du, dass deine Kinder gebildeter sind usw.?

113_Sprichst du am liebsten mit Männern in deinem Alter, aus deiner Schicht? Oder mit Jüngeren, die weniger Macht und Wissen haben?

114_Ist es einfacher für dich, mit deinen Angstellten zu sprechen als mit deiner Familie?

115_Du furzt oft und findest es lustig, wenn sich Menschen fürs Furzen, Rülpsen usw. schämen oder genieren. Hast du schon einmal gefurzt… und es kam fürchterlich an?

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116_Drei Dinge, die dich unzufrieden machen?

117_Drei Dinge, die dich zufrieden machen?

118_Die beste Erfindung, Neuerung, Verbesserung im Lauf deines Lebens?

119_Du liebst Geschäftstelefonate – doch das Internet macht dich wütend, vor allem Social Media. Warum?

120_Eine Theorie zu Fortschritt und Alltag: Technik, die man schon als Kind kannte, hält man für selbstverständlich. Technik, die während der Jugend erfunden wird, nutzt man oft aufgeschlossen. Doch bei Technik, die ab dem ca. 30. Lebensjahr massentauglich wird, ruft man: „Wozu soll das gut sein? Das braucht doch keiner!“ Welche Innovationen seit… 1986 machen dich sehr glücklich?

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121_Hattest du Tiere als Kind? Wolltest du welche?

122_Mit ca. 30 hast du viel Zeit mit einer Modelleisenbahn verbracht. Gibt es Dinge, die du als Kind entbehren musstest und als Erwachsener nachholst?

123_Hatte mein Bruder als Kind die Möglichkeiten, die du gern selbst gehabt hättest, als Kind? Hat der Sohn meines Bruders heute als Kind die Möglichkeiten, die mein Bruder gern selbst gehabt hätte, als Kind?

124_Wann haben Menschen an dich geglaubt: Mentoren, Förderer, Experten, deren Meinung dir etwas bedeutet? Gab es väterliche Figuren in deinem Leben?

125_Ist dir beruflich je ein großer Patzer, Fehler unterlaufen? Hast du immer alles richtig gemacht?

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126_Hattest du je Affären mit Frauen in Italien?

127_Welche Gemeinsamkeiten hast du mit dem erstem Mann deiner heutigen Frau?

128_Was bedeuten dir die beiden Kinder der Frau, mit der du von 1998 bis 2004 (?) zusammengelebt hast, R. und C.? Habt ihr Kontakt?

129_Du hast mehrere Häuser/Gebäude entworfen und gebaut. Woher nahmst du die Selbstsicherheit und Kompetenz?

130_Du baust Häuser für die Ewigkeit – doch hattest in den letzten 20 Jahren vier verschiedene Adressen. Warum kann man in deinen Grundrissen so schlecht Möbel neu umstellen? Und: Hast du je ein Zimmer, Möbelstück etc. zurückgelassen, das dir noch heute fehlt?

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131_Wie oft warst du verliebt?

132_Was ist der Unterschied zwischen Angestellten und Kindern?

133_Warum freut es dich, wenn deine Kinder, deine Schwiegertochter usw. zu deinen Angestellten werden?

134_Deine Frau arbeitet in deiner Firma – und abends, sagt sie, unterhaltet ihr euch stundenlang über den Tag. In meiner Kindheit bist du Gesprächen oft aus dem Weg gegangen. Was ist heute anders?

135_Früher schienen dir Hunde egal. Dann holte C. einen Hund. Du wolltest nie eine Katze – jetzt hast du zwei, mit deiner Frau. Was sind deine größten Sinneswandel… und überraschen sie dich selbst?

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136_Du sagst, du hast noch nie einen Roman komplett gelesen. Hast du als Kind schlechte Erfahrungen mit Büchern gemacht?

137_Hast du je interessante Bücher (Bildbände? Sachbücher?) bekommen oder selbst verschenkt?

138_Welche Filme kennst du: 1989 waren wir, glaube ich, als Familie in Disneys „Oliver & Co.“ Warst du seitdem im Kino?

139_Gibt es eine erfundene Geschichte, die du spannend; eine Figur, die du sympathisch findest?

140_In der dritten oder vierten Klasse waren wir beide abends mal allein: Ich schrieb am nächsten Tag eine Heimat-und-Sachkunde-Arbeit. Trotzdem sahen wir zusammen „Indiana Jones und der letzte Kreuzzug“, im Fernsehen. Mir blieb das – auch deshab – in Erinnerung, weil der Film von Vätern und Söhnen handelt: Kannst du dich erinnern… an diesen Film oder an etwas anderes, das ich als Kind mit dir zusammen sah?

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141_Manchmal bekommst du Konzertkarten für Bands deiner Jugend geschenkt (Pink Floyd?). Erzähl von den Konzerten: Hast du Spaß?

142_Du lässt so wenig Kultur in dein Leben, hältst so vieles für Schrott… warum hörst du (schrottiges) Radio, abends?

143_Ich weiß kaum etwas über die Stones, die Beatles, Bands der 60er und 70er – weil es bei uns kaum Platten und CDs gab. War Mama und dir Musik egaler als euren Altersgenossen? Schon immer – oder erst, als ihr Kinder hattet?

144_Sind die USA das Land, das du am meisten hasst? Jede US-Serie, jedes US-Videospiel, jede Amerikanisierung in den 80ern schien dich wütend zu machen: Liegt das am zweiten Weltkrieg und der Besatzung?

145_Ist Deutschland das Land, das am besten zu dir passt? Wolltest du je woanders leben?

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146_Was willst du abschaffen? Wen willst du an die Wand stellen?

147_Du gibst Leuten oft die Schuld, dass sie Geld verschwenden, etwas kaputt machen oder verlieren. Was sind die größten Schäden oder Fehler, die dir selbst unterliefen?

148_Haben Menschen, die nicht arbeiten, Respekt verdient?

149_Haben Menschen einen guten Kern – oder sind sie eher schlecht?

150_Findest du die meisten Menschen dumm, aufgeblasen, lächerlich?

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151_Nenn mir drei Frauen, die besser, klüger, stärker sind als du.

152_Über welche Themen streitest du dich?

153_Hast du dich je geprügelt? Gibt es Leute, vor denen du kuschen musst oder die nicht wissen, dass du nichts von ihnen hältst? Hast du Gegner, Rivalen, geschäftliche Konkurrenten?

154_Wann hast du zuletzt jemanden beschimpft, blamiert, zurechtgewiesen oder ihm vor Augen geführt, dass du besser bist?

155_Was magst du an dir selbst am wenigsten? Was ist deine schlechteste Eigenschaft?

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156_Gibt es jemanden, auf den du eifersüchtig warst oder den du beneidest?

157_Wurdest du als Kind geschlagen oder verletzt?

158_Was würdest du tun, falls du beobachtest, dass ich mein Kind schlage?

159_Habe ich dich mal verletzt?

160_Wer soll zuerst sterben: deine Frau oder du?

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161_Wie lange willst du leben? Hast du Angst vor dem Älterwerden? Fühlst du dich alt?

162_Moderne Sechzigjährige sind viel aktiver und lebendiger als die Opas, die ich aus meiner Kindheit kenne: Wann und wo bist du älteren Menschen begegnet, die dir Lust aufs Alter machen?

163_Wird alles schlechter? Geht alles den Bach runter?

164_In welchem Jahr passte das allgemeine Zeitgefühl, die Stimmung usw. am besten zu dir selbst: In welchem Jahr hast du dich in der Gegenwart am meisten daheim gefühlt?

165_In meiner Kindheit hattest du oft Magenschmerzen und Angstgefühle: „Luft im Bauch“. Wann hörte das auf?

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166_Woran merkst du, dass du nicht aus Süddeutschland kommst? Woran merkst du, dass du aus Niedersachsen kommst?

167_Hast du je gedacht, du würdet in deinem Heimatstädtchen alt werden?

168_Du kennst Ostdeutschland recht gut, Österreich, viele deutsche Rennstrecken und Kartbahnen: In welcher Region fühlst du dich am wohlsten – und welche Unterschiede fallen dir auf?

169_Wer war dein Nachfolger bei Fiat? Habt ihr Kontakt? Wärst du vor 20 Jahren dort geblieben – wer wärst du heute?

170_Hattest du je andere Berufswünsche?

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171_Welche Rolle spielst du heute, am Telefon deiner Firma: Verkäufer? Berater, Experte? Taktiker? Magst du diese Rollen?

172_Ist es noch wichtig, dass deine Firma mit Autos, Motorsport zu tun hat – oder musst du so viel organisieren, dass du genausogut Regenrinnen oder Sicherheitsglas verkaufen könntest?

173_Du sagst oft, Motorsport sei Luxus: Findest du, dass deine Kunden ihr Hobby (und sich selbst) zu wichtig nehmen?

174_Wenn du auf Rennstrecken arbeitest: Fieberst du noch mit? Welche Fahrer, Sportler, Teams bewunderst du?

175_Autodesign ist dir nicht wichtig, oder? In den 50ern, 60ern waren Autos ein Faszinosum. Hat dich das je interessiert – und stört es dich, dass Sportwagen, Automarken, das „richtige“ Auto usw. heute keine große Rolle mehr spielen?

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176_Du bist oft umgezogen. Gibt es Gegenstände, Kleidung, Schmuck etc., die du vermisst?

177_Gibt es Geschenke, die dir viel bedeuten? Gibt es Lob, das dir viel bedeutet?

178_Lobst du Leute genug: deien Frau? Mama? Meine Geschwister?

179_Du magst Ordnung, Archive, Lagerschränke. Was wirfst du weg?

180_Hast du Persönliches aufgeschrieben? Hast du alles gesagt, was du sagen wolltest?

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182_War während der vielen Familienfeiern in den 80ern nicht veilleicht eh schon absehbar, dass es zu wenige Überschneidungen zu diesen Verwandten gibt: Wozu all diese Treffen? Heute gibt es kaum noch Kontakt.

183_Bei dir, bei Mama und bei meinem Bruder denke ich oft, ihr habt genaue Vorstellungen, was eine Familie ausmacht, braucht… auch, wenn ihr viele dieser Rituale, Ausflüge, Regeln usw. persönlich gar nicht mögt. Woher kommen diese Ideen, was sich für eine Familie gehört?

183_Was war dein schönster oder wichtigster Geburtstag?

184_Was ist das Beste, das du anderen Leuten geschenkt oder ermöglicht hast?

185_Du gewöhnst dir das Rauchen ab. Sagst, es war keine große Anstrengung… und fängst doch wieder an. Du trinkst nichts… und dann doch wieder. Warum diese Rückfälle?

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186_Sind die Frauen in den richtigen Lebensphasen bei dir? Hättest du mit Mama, C., und deiner heutigen Frau auch in anderen Reihenfolgen, anderen Lebensphasen glücklich werden können?

187_Was hast du aus deiner ersten Ehe für die zweite gelernt?

188_Was genießt du an deinem Leben gerade am meisten: dass du dein eigener Chef bist? Dass du Erfolg hast? Dass du kaum noch familiäre Pflichten hast? Dass du am Wochenende auf Rennstrecken bist?

189_Hast du Geld in den Sand gesetzt oder unnötig ausgegeben – oder haben sich alle Investitionen immer gelohnt?

190_Wenn ich anderen von dir erzähle, merke ich oft: In einer Serie wärst du die Lieblingsfigur vieler Zuschauer. Du hast die besten Sprüche. Nimmst die Aufregung anderer Leute nie besonders ernst – aber sorgst selbst für Aufregung. Würdest du gern Zeit mit einem Menschen wie dir verbringen?

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191_Hast du deiner Mutter alles gesagt, was du ihr sagen wolltest?

192_Hast du deine Schwester je in Australien besucht?

193_Gibt es etwas, das du schon lange tun wolltest? Warum hast du es noch nicht getan?

194_Gibt es etwas, das du nicht kannst – aber noch lernen willst?

195_Was hast du erst sehr spät gelernt, ausprobiert, erlebt, verstanden?

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196_Was hättest du gern früher gewusst?

197_Bist du deiner Familie dankbar… oder sollte deine Familie dir dankbar sein? Gibst oder nimmst du mehr?

198_Liest du diese Fragen gern? Hättest du Lust, sie zu beantworten – oder bist du froh, dass du nicht antworten musst?

199_Was ist die größte Gemeinsamkeit zwischen uns beiden?

200_Was wäre der größte Gefallen, den ich dir gerade tun könnte?

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weitere Fragebögen, Gespräche und Interviews von mir, u.a.:

100 Fragen an Stephan Porombka

Cory Doctorow | Jagoda Marinic | Anne Köhler | Ayelet Waldman | Sandra Gugic | Monika Maron | Barbara HonigmannBrewster Kahle | Sally Pascale | Hans Hütt

Queer Young Adult Literature, 2016: Raziel Reid

Raziel Reid

Raziel Reid

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Raziel Reid is a Canadian novelist and journalist living in Vancouver – and he both spoke and read at the 2016 “Empfindlichkeiten” Literature Festival in Berlin.

His young adult novel “When everything feels like the movies” (2014) was awarded the 2014 Governor General’s Literature Award for Children’s Literature. The German edition, “Movie Star” was published by Albino (2016).

Raziel’s Web Site  |  Raziel’s Twitter  |  Wikipedia  |  Instagram

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01_If someone call you „homosexual author“, you…

Show them how well I can hold a pen with my asshole.

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02_The most memorable moment of queerness in your childhood:

As a child I had an affair with a neighbour boy. The experience made its way into my novel Movie Star. He lived next door to my grandparents who were very religious. While my grandmother was upstairs in the kitchen baking pies for church charity events, he and I would be downstairs in the basement “playing”. We were nine or ten years old. There was a small fear that we might be caught, so we knew we were doing something worthy of getting in trouble for, but there was no shame. It was before society had gotten into our heads and made us self-conscious. It was instinctual and very passionate. I loved him.

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03_A queer book that influenced you (how?)…

“Faggots” by Larry Kramer was a quite stunning moment of my youth and inspired me to move to New York City. It introduced me to the queer underground world and helped me realize my life could be much more than what I’d been raised to believe it could be as a God-fearing Catholic boy. Kramer became my new God, and I’ve been a faithful disciple ever since.

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04_A different piece of queer culture (no book: something else) that influenced you (how?)…

I remember when Will & Grace started airing on TV in the ‘90s. It was the first time I’d seen gay characters. I knew I was gay but wasn’t yet comfortable with my identity. It was both a liberating and shameful experience. I grew up in a small Canadian town. My dad was so uncomfortable when Will & Grace came on he’d leave the room. My mom seemed to like Will, but was embarrassed by the more flamboyant character Jack. Early on it was in my head that it’s better to be a more “straight acting” gay guy like Will than to be effeminate like Jack, an idea which is still perpetuated today. So many gay guys on hookup apps are looking for “straight acting only” and “no fems”.

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05_In book stores, THESE are the authors/artists that you’d feel most honored to be placed next to:

Chuck Palahniuk, Ira Levin, Dennis Cooper, the Bible.

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06_A queer moment you’ve had in Berlin (or anywhere in Germany) that you’ll remember for a long time:

I spent this spring in Berlin, and during my first week here I attended the launch of Matt Lambert’s zine Vitium, which was published by my german publisher Bruno Gmünder. The launch was at Tom’s Bar which is rather infamous, and so I was introduced to the underground scene in Berlin and its artists while watching a live sex show. Quite memorable. I think I’ll have a live sex show at all my future launches!

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07_Name some experts, authors, activists, name some places, institutions and discourses/debates that formed/informed/influenced the way you see and understand queerness – and yourself:

During my youth Warhol’s factory was the first queer scene I became interested in. Warhol said, “In my movies, everyone’s in love with Joe Dallesandro” and everyone watching was too! I loved reading about all the Superstars and was emboldened by characters like Candy Darling and Holly Woodlawn. I felt like such a freak in my hometown, and they celebrated their freakiness — it’s what made them shine.

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08_Name some experts, authors, activists, places, institutions and debates/questions that deserve more recognition/need more love:

I recently read One-Man Show by Michael Schreiber which is composed of interviews with the 20th century New York artist Bernard Perlin. He was a fascinating personality and visionary, I enjoyed learning about his life very much. He was connected to many other queer figures like Paul Cadmus, Glenway Wescott, George Platt Lynes, Denham Fouts, and had interesting anecdotes to share about them all. Perlin is underrepresented. He evaved the AIDS plague while living in Greenwich Village when it first hit that community. His survival alone is heroic and worthy of investigation. I’m fascinated by tales from gay artists who lived through the epidemic. The amount of loss they’ve experienced, and the way it shaped them and their work is something which should always be honoured.

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09_Is there a queer figure/personality, a celebrity or a queer story/phenomenom that is very visible in the mainstream culture – and that makes you happy BECAUSE it is so visible?

James Franco is cool. He transcends sexual orientation which is very Hollywood, many people in the industry have fluid sexualities but they’re not all as open and willing to promote it the way he does out of fear of losing out on roles.

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10_If universities/academics talk about queer topics, you often think…

If only they had an imagination.

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11_A person (or, more general: an aspect of personality or appearance) that you find very sexy?

Gore Vidal because he stood up for what he believed in, and even when his beliefs were attacked or garnered him negative attention (as they often did), he didn’t back down. I admire his style.

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12_Are you queer? How does your queerness inform/relate to/energize your art? And, on the other hand: Has your queerness ever been in your way or be a difficulty for you?

I’m privileged to be from a progressive country, Canada – where my sexuality has helped propel my career forward. My first job as a writer was for a queer newspaper, my debut novel is an LGBT teen story and was originally published by a Canadian press known for its queer content and run by two gay men. My sexuality has served as a foundation for my literary work.

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13_There’s a video campaign that wants to prevent depressed queer teenagers from commiting suicide, „It gets better“. DOES it get better? How and for whom? When did it get better for you? What has to get better still?

“It” doesn’t get better. This world will always try to hurt you. What gets better is you. As you get older and find your footing you become wiser and more resilient.

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all my 2016 interviews on Queer Literature:

…and, in German:

Kuratoren & Experten am Literarischen Colloquium Berlin: 

Queer Literature: “Empfindlichkeiten” Festival 2016: