My “old” Blu-Ray player (two years) finally gave up the ghost last week, and I got a new one on Saturday. I’m tough on consumer electronics; I smoke, I have two cats, and I watch a lot of movies. So I’m really not that surprised or upset that I burned out a disk player in two years.
The new one was a lot cheaper than the old one–I was able to get last years model for less than half of the price of the brand new ones, because the one I got didn’t have wi-fi capability. Since I’d already run a network cable from the router to the living room, the one that needed a hard line was fine with me.
The player had been going in slow stages–first it started skipping and chugging on Blu-Ray disks, then it wouldn’t play Blu-Ray disks at all, then it started going through the same slow decline with DVDs. Since most of my library is DVD, I waited until it started not reading DVDs at all, which happened, as I say, last week.
(And yes, I did try a lens cleaner, and a disk cleaner. I draw the line at opening the case hand hand-cleaning the laser.)
Anyway, the point of all this is that I can go back to watching my James Bond movies. The last one I had been able to view was The Spy Who Loved Me, so I started in with For Your Eyes Only.
For Your Eyes Only, despite having one of the best theme songs (Sheena Easton has been, in my opinion, the only worthy successor of the incomparable Shirley Bassey) is one of the worst Bond films of all time.
It was the penultimate Moore film (his last one was Octopussy, which premiered opposite Kevin McClory’s Never Say Never Again, which showed how seriously the Moore films had become parodies of themselves. Sean Connery phoned in his performance and still ran circles around Moore.)
In any event, For Your Eyes Only could be used as a textbook for how not to write a convincing villain. The pre-credits sequence (which bares no relationship to the rest of the film) makes Ernst Blofeld into an inept clown and culminates in what may be the most inglorious end to a continuing villain in all of cinema.
The main villain of the film is simply incomprehensible. I dislike shooting fish in a barrel, suffice to say that most of what he does is simply bad stuff for the sake of being bad. (Including a creepy Humbert-like relationship with a nymphomaniac yet unalluring figure skater.)
This is one of the films that has inspired the trope of the “Bond Villain” as a character who has amassed vast resources only to defeat himself through arrogance that borders on idiocy. The whole “Let’s kill my opponent in a needlessly complicated way that will insure that I won’t be able to see his body and make sure he’s dead” thing, for example.
There are lessons here for my own work. Worms Of Heaven has become the story of an evil genius bent on world domination told from the point of view of the head minion. That dynamic has always been in the back of my mind when writing James & Catskinner, but it’s really come to the fore in this book. Agony’s goal is to literally buy the entire world, one piece at a time. (I totally stole that idea from Clifford Simak’s They Walked Like Men. I’m not proud.)
Agony, however, is not a Bond Villain. I’m putting a lot of thought into her plans, her actions and reactions, and I am trying to make sure that, given what she knows and her resources, every move she makes is the most logical and efficient move at the point.
That led me into a bit of corner, recently. I’ve been stuck for a while because I wasn’t sure of the next move in the game that Agony has been playing with her antagonist for this book, The Orchid.
I’ve figured it out, and it’s not going to be pretty. Unfortunately, I feel obliged to follow the rules that I have set up. I have created characters who are completely outside of any human morality, and it would be out of character for them to decline a winning move for moral reasons.
This is going to hit James hard, because he is human, and despite his inescapable association with Catskinner, he does have morals. There’s going to be some real fireworks when all this shakes out and I’m not exactly sure how it’s going to end.
One side effect of having figured out where to go from here is that I have decided to move a plot twist that I had planned for the end of Worms Of Heaven to the beginning of the next book (tentatively entitled Gingerbread Wolves). There’s going to be enough emotional impact without adding that particular complication.
Okay, I know what I need to do now. Time to get to work.