What makes an enticing sci-fi flick? What makes a person who doesn't even like science fiction interested in contributing to the gross box office earnings...or novel publishing revenue? These are tough questions, but questions I must face on a daily basis now. Keep reading and I'll tell you why. As all of you now know, Walls (by yours truly) released on Monday and, so far, it's been exactly the hype I was expecting. There are the die-hards who were first in line to grab a copy and have been reading every night since. There are the "nudgers": the people who have been planning from the very beginning to grab a copy, but need a nudge or two to actually purchase it. And then there are the "lukewarm" fans. And, by the way, this isn't a critique on fandom here. This is me speaking out loud about the honesty of my supporters. They (YOU) are all great in your own ways. I appreciate it all--no matter how much financial or exposure support you offer. The question is: "How do I reach the 'lukewarm' fans that don't see zombies/violence/gore as something they want to invest a big chunk of time into?"
It's a good question, I think.
Last night, I saw the film, Lucy.
It reminded me somewhat of a movie a few years back that made a big splash in the undercurrent of sci-fi fans: Limitless. You know, the one with Bradley Cooper who plays a struggling author. He is given a drug that opens up his brain's accessibility so that he can be more productive.
Well, the same plot applies to that of Lucy: a woman blindsided by a drug ring that ultimately releases a drug into her system that allows her to access more than the normal 10% of her brain functionality. The film dives into the theories of what may happen when we unlock this type of power within ourselves. It's mind-blowing to think we have millions upon millions of neurons in our brains that have yet to be unlocked. It's even crazier to believe that their potential may very well die along with us when we ultimately go to that great blue yonder called Heaven, Elysium, Valhala...whatever you want to call it.
So...how is Lucy recognized as a great flick to see on a Friday or Saturday night, and not just a sci-fi thriller? I'll tell you why...because it's not sci-fi until you make it sci-fi. Once you give it a category, it becomes that genre and people associate it with nothing but that. Months from now, when Lucy is available for home purchase, things might change. The film might be put on the "thriller" or "sci-fi" shelves along with many other titles, but the money has already been made. The box office revenue is set. They have nothing left to lose.
In my personal opinion, there is somewhat of a stigma that comes along with science fiction and fantasy reading. Either you love it or you hate it. Most people think nerds in broken glasses who play with Magic and Pokemon cards read these novels to fill some magical, fantastic void within themselves. That is not the case at all. And who's to say that's bad? All of you reading this most likely know me in some capacity and understand that I, in fact, possess the power of the nerd and am not afraid to declare it. It's a part of the mind that most people are afraid to tap into because it allows them to think beyond the bland and sometimes grim realities of the world in which we live and really think about what this world could be if we, a) took a different path at some point during our human history, or b) change how we are living now.
Yet, the stigma persists.
Back to my original question: How can I reach that next level of readers who think zombies are not worth their time? Perhaps it's not categorizing the novel so quickly (although I don't agree with this at all. I'm proud to be a science fiction writer). Perhaps it means less accentuating of the zombie component...or just maybe, it's trusting my readership enough to allow my words to spread. After all, I tend to think I'm pretty good writer. If I let you all read it, maybe...just maybe...my story will do the talking.
What do you think? Is it worth so much worry? Does science fiction and fantasy writing have a stigma? Am I just blatantly wrong and you want to call me out on it? Hey, I'm open for anything! Comment below or visit my Facebook page (R.T. Donlon - Author) and drop me a line there. I'd be happy to hear your comments on the matter.
Until then, here's my review and rating for Lucy, directed by Luc Besson:
I'm being a little generous here because of the movie's overall nature. There are many good things to say about the movie itself without giving away any true spoilers for those of you who want to go watch the film yourself. First and foremost, it is a sci-fi flick that tests the boundaries of philosophical theories and understanding. It dives deep into the science and workings of the human brain, which has been an ultimate mystery for humanity's entire existence. The mix of sci-fi, philosophy, and thrill really work well here. I found myself eating too much popcorn, sipping too much soda, and clinging to my seat to see where the story would ultimately lead.
There is no question about Scarlett Johansson's prowess on the big screen. She is a master of the craft, but the casting of supporting actor, Morgan Freeman, is what really made the theories pop. He just has a way about him that most actors do not. He can hold his own mini-plot line and conflict without needing the support of any other character. He is pretty much a main character that is told to stick to the story's outskirts. I give him two (three if I could) thumbs up for this one.
As for the storyline, this idea has already been worked and stretched in Limitless. The cinematography even attempts to rival that of its predecessor with the quirky images of molecules, flashback, and random nature scenes that keep the audience's brains stimulated. If you recall, Limitless spaced out the storyline by doing this, too, except theirs focused on mirrors and images-within-images. I'm usually not a fan of films that copy other films' premises, but Lucy possessed such a great blend of philosophy, action, and sci-fi that I am ultimately choosing to ignore this aspect of the review.
As for the ending, I was relieved that it didn't end the way I expected it to. Besson would have taken the easy way out if that had happened. But it didn't, which led to a more potent resolution and, perhaps, a sense of relief. Overall, not a bad flick. I wouldn't jump at the opportunity to see it again, but I'm glad I was able to see it on the big screen this once.
Until next time,