Two other books with “special” narratives in the LGBT area, by Bazhe and Baker; why they matter to my writing now

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In the screenplay “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” which I am about half-way through rewriting (as a shooting script) in a modern Final Draft 9 (which has a lot more facilities for identifying scenes and making notes), I presume that a character, Bill Ldzet, like me finds he has been abducted and is living in an ashram inside a large space station (part of it on a huge centrifuge to increase gravity) created by “angels”.  He undergoes a certain amount of “re-education”, maybe with a slight amount of Maoist purification.

One problem is identifying all the other characters, and tracing their past association with Bill on Earth, and how that creates tensions among them.  Then, there is the question, why is “Bill” special enough to get all this attention?  What about the life narratives of everyone else there?

Part of the answer is that there are not that many other senior citizens on the ashram, who would have a life narrative as long and convoluted as mine.  (The movie “Youth“, for example, as a point of comparison, presents Michael Caine playing a conductor/composer at a spa, retired and apathetic, gradually getting the back stories of a couple other seniors there, especially an aging film director/screenwriter (Harvey Keitel) and an aging actress (Jane Fonda).)

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In fact, I do believe my own life story, through age 72, is indeed very unusual.  That’s one reason I remain “stuck” on mining it for more ironies, rather than getting hired to write other peoples’.  But there are a couple of books, both self-published and from iUniverse, that tell stories of comparable complexity.

One of the best is “Damages“, by B. K. Bazhe (2002).  The author (from the Balkans) tells a complex story of eldercare, dealing with communism and Islam, military service, sexual orientation, and even some cross-dressing requiring “depilation”.  I have a detailed review on a legacy site here.  I met Bazhe in Minneapolis in the summer of 2003 when he was on a speaking tour, shortly before I moved back to the DC area to start looking after my own mother myself.  Don’t confuse the title with “Dispatches” which is an HBO-Channel4 (Britain) film about anti-gay discrimination in Russia.  The books was well reviewed in Minneapolis gay papers in early 2003, as a story that needed to be told, maybe even filmed.

Another such book is “The Sound of One Horse Dancing“, an autobiographical novel by Tom Baker, reviewed by me in 2012 on Blogger here.  Baker was caught up in an incident at the College of William and Mary in the fall of 1963, two years after I was expelled from there in the fall of 1961, but he would eventually graduate and has been active with William and Mary GALA (I met him first at a book fair in New York City in March 2012).   I’m not sure how much of the “novel” is “true” but it presents rejection by family, a lot of conformist social pressures to compete in conventional ways to get business, a job firing, and then making a living as a hustler in the days just before Stonewall.  Baker has authored at least two other books.

I suppose these narratives would deserve “special” status in the plot logic behind the “ashram”.  But the way the screenplay is set up, some sort of effort would have been set up on the space station in advance to receive anyone chosen as “special” enough.

I’ll add that I talked to the William and Mary libraries (Gregg Swem and Law School (Marshall-Wythe) by phone last week.  The Law School has my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book (don’t know if it is the original 1997 printing, or the 2000 iUniverse which is expanded, more durable, and has some typo  fixes).   The 1997 printing it completely out of stock (and a collector’s item).  The library also has my little 98 page 1998 booklet “Our Fundamental Rights and How We Can Reclaim Them: A Psychological Approach” (original printing only, no POD).  I did encourage the LS library to purchase the next two in my DADT series and to check to see if it has Baker’s book (since Baker graduated from WM).  I would echo the encouragement for Bazhe’s book, which is a complex narrative relating sexual orientation and gender  identity to other social issues (like inherited family responsibility for elders) and political issues in an international context — even more critical today given what happens in Russia, Africa, and the Islamic world.

 

 

Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” and (especially) “Rendezvous with Rama”

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Two particular science fiction novels by Arthur C. Clarke need to be noted on this blog.

Childhood’s End” (1953), will soon be aired as a 6-hour, 3 part series on the SyFy Channel starting Dec. 14, 2015 (link).   I read the novel in 1969, while in the Army at Ft. Eustis.  I recall the arrival of the Overllords, the leader Karellen (who was depicted as looking like an eagle but capable of looking human), and the period of peace and prosperity for Earth (as the Cold War with the Soviet Union was getting going more after Eisenhower took office).  Then a gifted star child is born, and, as I recall, his charisma spreads to other kids, who finally become a group-mind, leading to a ritualistic apocalypse on the final page.

I did watch the series and reviewed it here.

Rendezvous with Rama” (1972) is relevant to my own “Do Ask,, Do Tell: Epiphany” screenwriting project.  There has long been a film project involving Morgan Freeman which Wikipedia describes as being in “development hell”.  It would be possible to imagine crowdfunding, given the popularity of the novel.

The story starts in 2077, when an asteroid hit causes huge casualties and damage on Earth, coming close to permanent extinction.  60 years later, in 2037, Earth has set up better early warning systems, and sends out a space party to examine the approaching craft, which turns out to be a 50-km-long cylinder, rotating to create artificial gravity on the inside surface, and with interesting landscapes and cities inside, divided into two “hemi-cylinders” by a “cylindrical sea”.

There is a scene where an astronaut jumps off a cliff in this world.  My understanding is that artificial gravity requires contact with the inner surface to work, so that the actual surface presses on you and creates “weight” from your mass;  there is no “field” to pull on you without contact (that requires mass, which “Star Trek” gets around with super dense (like neutron-star material) gravity plates underneath).


In my own screenplay, there is a an alien “angels'” space station on Titan, which has 1/7 Earth’s gravity, so the “ashram” (with the “abductees”, so to speak) is built on the inside of a Rama cylinder that sits perpendicular to the surface.  (Of, if NASA has seen it, they just won’t tell us!) But the pull of Titan would still distort the sense of gravity, producing a sense of tilting, and could pull a person (at a velocity of the square root of 1/7 Earth’s) toward a “wall” if he jumped off the group, so people would need magnetic shoes until they got used to the environment.  I’ve wondered how you could really jog inside a rotating space station depending on centrifugal effects for gravity.

(Published: Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, at 1:30 PM EST)