‘Dark Phoenix’ is Marvel’s ‘Jump the Shark’ Moment

Monday morning box office numbers are in, and they ain’t pretty. According to Buzzfeed, Variety, Vulture, and Polygon, Dark Phoenix failed to meet opening weekend expectations, falling well short of the expected $40-50M that Disney was estimating. I’m not here to crow about the loss. Rather, I think this means that ‘Dark Phoenix’ is Marvel’s ‘jump the shark’ moment, with long-term implications for the 3-5 year roadmap of science fiction. What does it mean to jump the shark anyway?

See kids, back in the olden days there was this thing called TV, and on this invention they showed shows. One of the most popular shows of all time, ‘Happy Days,’ tried to re-invigorate itself with an episode where Fonzi jumps over a shark on waterskis. The strategy backfired, and simply highlighted how ‘Happy Days’ was over. Now ‘jumping the shark‘ is our metaphor for the implosion of anything popular. (See also: Facebook games, Payless shoes, and Live/Laugh/Love signs)

So when we see something like a major X-Men franchise film fall short of expectations, that’s a clue. Some might be shocked that Marvel movies in a post-Endgame era aren’t the guaranteed cash cow they’re seen to be. To those people I say: gee, who would have seen that coming with six of them opening in the first half of 2019, alone? Please.

Like the detective genre in the thirties, westerns in the fifties, disaster movies in the seventies and action movies in the eighties, we’re in a genre glue. The era of magic punching people is destined to come to an end. Call it ‘Avenger fatigue,’ call it ‘The Superhero Glut,’ people will eventually grow sick of superhero movies and move on to something else. The change is on its way, and ‘Dark Phoenix’ is the proof.

Just once, I wish Hollywood would get the message early and learn how to make graceful exits. After all, we keep seeing genres bled white by greed. It never works out, it always turns into a joke of itself, and it ends up doing your reputation more harm than good. As Harold from Spongebob says: “How many times do we have to teach you this lesson, old man?”

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that this means a huge opportunity for Mesh. No magic punching people, no tired cliches, no boring tropes. Mesh will be ready for a fresh look by sci-fi experiencers looking for a fresh experience. No bloated corporate hype, no overpaid gasbags waxing poetic from the teleprompter. Mesh is a dive back into the old-school, cutting-edge, seat-of-your-pants world of tech, geekery, and adventure. My fingers are crossed that it’ll be hitting the bookshelves just as people become ready to read it.

I’m looking forward to that future.

Mesh Update – Off to My Author Friend

Happy to say that I finished polishing Mesh a couple of days early. As a result, heart in mouth, I sent it to my best-selling author friend. I heard back from her a few hours ago:

“I started it this morning—you made it hard to go to work! Will continue ASAP!”

“OMG, OMG, OMG!” – Me
I can’t wait to see what happens next but suffice to say that I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. Thank you again, and please stay tuned. Mesh is going places!

This Week in Cyberpunk – Paint and Keanu Reeves

'Cyberpunk' Proves the Future is Here and it is LameLast week, I was all set to put cyberpunk on life support. William Gibson just posted this to Twitter, and I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. To add insult to injury, when I went to look at the paint splotch, their website was quick to ask: “Sherwin Williams wants to know your location.”

If Sherwin Williams can co-opt the word ‘cyberspace’ for paint colors, I say to myself, then it proves that the future is here, and it is lame. One way to see this is that we live in a boring dystopia now. Ideas are currency, but they’re being spent like Venezuelan bolívars. Human expression has no meaning unless it’s motivating you to buy something.

We’re familiar with the need to ‘“adapt, evolve, compete or die,” it’s just depressing to contemplate what that means to the average person who looks at an interesting concept and goes “We can make a paint swatch out of that.” Put a fork in her, Jackson. Cyberpunk is done.

And then …

Everything changes. Keanu Reeves shows up to say he’s in Cyberpunk 2077. I immediately take back everything I said about cyberpunk being done. If Neo himself is willing to climb back into the matrix, then we’re not done. Not by a long shot.

Reeves’ adorkable announcement at E3 is a game changer (lol, no pun intended) for the genre itself. It’s a shot in the arm for those of us that have devoured cyberpunk since its inception. He’s been a cheerful supporter of cyberpunk since Johnny Mnemonic, and helmed the legendary Matrix franchise. If you’re walking the streets of Night City or cutting ICE in Istanbul, Keanu Reeves is the guy you want by your side. Here’s a clip of the happy moment in which one guy says what we’re all thinking:

So no, cyberpunk isn’t dead. It’s taking shape, it’s moving. It’s being used and inhabited every single day. Some people are bad actors, true. But the vast majority of it is filled by people like you and me. We can decide what the future looks like. We just have to work together to make it happen.

 

“The only truth is music.”

I took the title of this post from a Jack Kerouac quote. He’s absolutely right, sometimes only a song can really explain how you really feel. I’ve spent my life searching for that truth, and writing Mesh is part of that journey.

With that in mind, I started thinking about music and how it’s an integral part of this novel. People should be able to hear what I listen to when I write, or use music to take them into the universe of Mesh. That took me onto the Internet to research how I could share music with other people and of course, Spotify.

So … I’m happy to announce the following new page which you can access below, or via the widget page (->). I’ll be adding and updating this page over time, as we discover new areas of Mesh and music that helps make it live and breathe.

Check Out the Music of Inkican

In the meantime, Mesh feedback is still floating in. Can’t wait to see what you think of it! 🙂

Mesh Update – Beta Readers and Stuff

Fun fact: You can type the phrase ‘beta readers’ only using your left hand. These are the things you learn, slamming to a stop after months of writing, fretting, honing, and polishing your very own novel. Last Friday, I turned Mesh over to my beta readers and stood back to let them read, review, comment, and suggest. I’m already learning some valuable points about Mesh that I would never have seen on my own.

So yes, Jackson uses beta readers when he writes. Not every writer does, but I do. Let’s take a moment to discuss beta readers, so that if you write, or if you want to be a Beta Reader, you’ll have a sense of what is involved.

What is a Beta Reader?

A concise discussion on the topic is provided at the link above (Thank you, NYbookeditors.com). Books need beta readers like software needs beta testers. Nothing sucks worse than trying to get a book published only to hear crickets from agents, publishers and the general public. Beta readers will tell you if you suck, where you suck, why you suck, and how to suck less.

Remember, you will suck before you succeed.

Do you want to be a beta reader? I promise you, there’s some effort involved. Some readers are great at pointing out plot inconsistencies, while others focus on spelling and grammar. In any case, it’s almost like doing a book report. You won’t enjoy it, unless you like what you’re reading.

That’s why I’m profoundly grateful, having found some readers that are willing to help me. It’s not easy to do what they’re doing, but it’s absolutely necessary in the process of writing things people want to read.

Thanks folks! 😀

Mesh Update – New Draft is Finished

Posted this update on Instagram first, but I’m saying it here, too: Mesh is finished, the new draft is complete. After two years and 91K words, I’m happy to say that my YA scifi novel is finally done.

Eighteen months ago, I started out to tell a story with fun premise:

“My name is Roman Diaz. One day I was a nerdy kid. The next day I’m on the run. Everyone thinks I’m a terrorist. I just wanted an ‘A’ on my science project.”

Fourteen-year-old Roman is on the fast track to nowhere, as a wheelchair-bound nerd in a dead-end school. A prestigious technical academy offers him and his geeky best-friend Zeke a way out. How can they say no?

Miramar Technical High isn’t just another magnet school: it’s an incubator for the next Elon Musk and Albert Einstein. Their new principal, Doctor Gray, has created a strange community of geeks, gamers and geniuses. Roman and Zeke are addicted to the weird, techno-anarchy of a campus filled with tough, smart kids. Pranks, hacks, and androids are only the beginning.

The stakes for success are high: Roman and Zeke join the Snow Foxes, the top talent at Miramar, to build a tool that will not only win first prize at the Titan Conference, but will also change the world. Everything changes when they learn the truth about Project November, and their techno-god principal. Friends become enemies. Truths becomes lies. Rockstar students are criminals … that’s what it says on TV, anyway.

Roman is now the most hunted kid in America. What is he going to do? Miramar created a secret weapon that the bad guys didn’t count on: The Mesh. It’s a secret project, something nobody cared about. Is it really the only thing standing between the forces of good and evil? 

MESH is the first novel in a science fiction YA series that will appeal to readers of Ernie Cline’s READY PLAYER ONE and binge-watchers of STRANGER THINGS.

I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to do what I started out to accomplish. Now Mesh, with a few bumps and thumps, will be in the hands of my Beta Readers. After that, I plan to send it off for sale to some professionals in the print business.

With the success of Mesh will come my contribution back to the scifi genre I’ve been living, loving, and learning since I was a child. Science fiction is truly growing and changing, and I want to be a part of that growth and change.

Taking a couple of hours to rest, and celebrate. One part of the job is over, now the next part (editing and polishing) is about to begin.