What is a Langkah?

Langkah (Indonesian) - noun: literally step, move, pace, action, measure, stride, leap, foot, footstep, gesture, tread, footpace

In Indonesian martial arts, Pencak Silat, it commonly refers to geometric patterns on the floor used to train footwork and develop an understanding of the role of the lower body in maintaining balance and a base from which to generate power.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Worlds of Fiction -- Addendum

A few months ago, I wrote a post entitled Worlds of Fiction. In it, I discussed the fact that fictitious worlds are not our world, even if they seem like it. As such, if an author writes something like, "he released the safety on his Glock," you can assume that, in the world of the story, Glocks do have manual safeties.

While this is entirely true and a valuable thing to remember, it doesn't give authors carte blanche with such things. A cardinal sin in fiction is for the narrative to kick the reader out, and things like this can easily force the reader out of the story.

Even in worlds that are distinctly not our regular world, such as high fantasy or sci-fi on another planet or another dimension, there's no such thing as carte blanche in the long run. When the author develops the world, rules get established. Rules about the science, magic, societies, geography, etc. take shape. If the author writes something that violates an existing rule, that will kick the reader out of the narrative too.

Readers, cut authors a little slack by remembering, no matter what the world on the page looks or feels like, it is not your world.

Authors, keep the rules you develop in mind and, if your world bears any resemblance to our world, keep it as consistent with our world as possible to avoid such errors.

I know, it's impossible to get every detail accurate to our world and, sometimes, you don't want to, but we must do our best.

A note for readers on "you don't want to:"

This is especially true when it comes to military, crime, and science-based (fortunately, I don't work for the CDC 🤣 ) fiction. A true-life example I have for this is the SEAL Team 666 novels by Weston Ochse. While writing these novels, Weston is very careful to have his SEALs use only declassified weapons and tactics. If you happen to be a SEAL who reads these books, you might think, "Well, that's not how we really do it" ... but realize it's intentional on the part of the author because you don't want people to have any idea about how you really do it.

In crime fiction, there are many areas where authors might, as a conscious decision, decide to fudge things. For instance, a quick Google search will reveal that quicklime doesn't actually get rid of bodies. In fact, it mummifies them and leaves quite a bit of evidence. Yet quicklime was a staple of crime fiction for many decades. I don't know if various authors who used it knew it was bogus or not, but they may have known. Also, various tools and methods depicted may not exist or, if they do, they don't often yield results as quickly or precisely as they do in fiction. The last thing we want to do is give a schematic for the perfect murder in the real world, though in our fictitious world, it may, in fact, be perfect.

Again, we're back to the fact that worlds of fiction, no matter how closely they resemble our own world, are not our world.

These are just some thoughts I have on the subject. I suppose, having been an avid reader as long as I can remember, I'm something of an expert on being a reader, but that's the end of my expertise in this area. I've written quite a bit, and had a few things published but, as an author, I'm still very young. These ramblings are as much a discussion in my own head as they are with you, the person reading this.

The Wandering Guru

Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Beautiful Symmetry

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post titled "Comics for Grownups." http://trainagps.blogspot.com/2015/02/comics-for-grown-ups.html

In it, I discussed how comics are often considered just for kids and, as such, adults tend to ignore them. I explained that comics are written by adults and, often, the stories are adult-themed. They may have things for the kids, subplots children can latch onto, but there's often a very mature perspective being presented somewhere. Here is another example of this idea.

Today, an acquaintance of mine, a fellow author who I met at a convention recently, posted a series of images from the Comicbook Squad's Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=135333847165414&id=133361257362673

They posted a sequence of panels featuring Batman with Catwoman and Superman with Lois Lane. The scene shifted from couple to couple and showed Bats and Supes talking to their respective companions. They talked about each other, and the way they perceive each other is touching. It gives serious insight into how they view each other, themselves, and, to some extent, the world in which they live.

Since I can't link directly to the series of images, I'll briefly describe the panels and give the dialogue here. [Edit: I have figured out which comic/writer gets credited for this]

Batman #36:
  • December 6, 2017
  • Written by Tom King
  • Art & Cover by Clay Mann
Tom King, this segment is inspired. I hope you don't mind if I share it here in the hopes people will buy the comic and, maybe, get hooked into the series. I know this particular issue is on my shopping list this weekend.

Batman & Catwoman on a rooftop.

  • Batman: You don't have to come. You're not my sidekick.
  • Catwoman: No, I'm your partner.

Superman & Lois hovering next to the Daily Planet globe.

  • Superman: I'll stay outside the door, and I'll--
  • Lois: You don't need to be there.
  • Superman: Lois, that radiation whatever that attacked me, he's connected to this. Let me protect you.

As Catwoman leaps from the roof and Batman fires a grapnel into the sky.

  • Batman: I don't need a partner.
  • Catwoman: I know.
  • Lois: I don't need protection.
  • Superman: I know.

Superman & Lois flying.

  • Superman: His parents died when he was so young. Shot. Killed right in front of him.

Batman & Catwoman swinging through sky.

  • Batman: His whole planet was destroyed. He's the last of a holocaust.

Superman carrying Lois in a descent.

  • Superman: He was raised alone. A kid in a huge mansion. With his memories of his mother and father.

Batman & Catwoman dropping from sky.

  • Batman: He grew up in the dirt. Finding out slowly how different he was. A stranger discovering every day how strange he was.

Superman and Lois zipping toward a building.

  • Superman: He had love, and they took it from him. He should be a killer. He should want to tear the world apart for what it did.

Batman & Catwoman dropping toward a rooftop.

  • Batman: He has the power to tear the world apart. And he could. With a pinkie. It's not his world. We're not his people. We should be ants to him.

Superman alighting outside a building with Lois in his arms.

  • Superman: And yet he took that pain. That shock of death. And he turned it into hope.

Batman & Catwoman silhouetted on a rooftop.

  • Batman: Imagine that. Always being on the outside. The pain that would come from always being on the outside. And yet, he took that pain and became a symbol of hope.

Batman removing the screws from a ventilation grate.

  • Batman: I'm just a rich kid from the city. I knew my parents, I knew who I was, what I had to be.

Closeup of Superman and Lois holding hands.

  • Superman: I had the love of parents, I had Ma and Pa. The whole way. I had a childhood full of laughing and learning.

Batman & Catwoman peering into ventilation shaft.

  • Batman: I didn't have any choice but to be who I am. He had every choice--and he became who he is.

Superman & Lois in building lobby.

  • Superman: I have powers. I had to do this. All he has are his wits and his will. And he chooses to do this.

Batman & Catwoman descending an elevator shaft.

  • Batman: Every kid is inspired by him.

Superman & Lois waiting for an elevator.

  • Superman: Everyone wants to be him.

Batman rappelling down elevator shaft, Catwoman climbing down the service ladder.

  • Batman: He's a better man than I am.

Superman & Lois in elevator.

  • Superman: he's just a better man than I am.

Superman & Lois in elevator, focus on Lois.

  • Superman: He got engaged. He didn't call me. Okay. that's his way of telling me ... we're not friends. Not really.

Catwoman watching Batman pry open the doors from the elevator shaft onto a floor of the building.

  • Batman: You can't be friends with him. Not when you're ... he doesn't need to congratulate me. Look at me. Who am I compared to him?

Superman and Lois exiting elevator.

  • Superman: He is who he is. He doesn't need a friend. He doesn't need ... he isn't like me.

View from outside elevator doors with Batman's fingers visible between them as he forces them open.

  • Batman: He's Superman.

Superman & Lois emerge from elevator into hall. From the elevator doors to their right, Batman & Catwoman emerge.

  • Superman: How ... How didn't I see you?
  • Batman: You ... took the elevator?
  • Batman: You're not supposed to see me.
  • Superman: If I flew here ... I'd ... to get in this floor ... I'd have to break a window.

The four stare at each other in silence.

Lois & Catwoman extend hands toward each other.

  • Lois: Oh hi, I'm Lois. You must be Catwoman.
  • Superman: So ... you all want to get a bite to eat?

The Wandering Guru