Monday, September 23, 2013

Star Wars Book Review: Empire and Rebellion: Razor's Edge by Martha Wells

Martha Wells is a new author to the Star Wars universe. It's about time for me to pull apart one of her books and see what she's about. Razor's Edge is a part of Empire and Rebellion, a trilogy of novels set during the years of the first Star Wars films. Well I say a trilogy, I mean a trilogy kicked off by an “unrelated” Timothy Zahn book to draw the Expanded Universe audience back to the era. Well, I say a trilogy plus one, I mean an era that has enough comics and novels to definitively prove that Han, Luke and Leia did not have time to sleep between Death Stars. Well, I say that, I mean I like that scene from “Army of Ghosts” a little too much. In any case, Razor's Edge is set in the general vicinity of Splinter of the Mind's Eye, Allegiance, Choices of One and Scoundrels, though I think I can more definitively state that it is set later than Scoundrels but before Allegiance, giving us a freelancer Han who has come to enjoy Leia's company, a Leia who doesn't know what to think about Han and has come to trust Luke, and a Luke who is still a green recruit with something to prove.

It is with this cast that we embark on the story of Razor's Edge, in which Leia's diplomatic mission – with Han Solo as escort – is attacked by both Imperials and pirates, each of which seems to know a lot more about their movements than they have any right to. It's not long from there before Han and Leia become captives of the pirates, and Luke and Chewbacca are dispatched to rescue them.

If this sounds like a standard Star Wars set-up, you're right, but it does deviate from the mold. Where from one of the long-time Star Wars authors, such as Timothy Zahn, Kevin J. Anderson, or Aaron Allston this set up would include a story about Luke and Chewie's exploits up until their rendezvous with Leia's group, in Razor's Edge Well slices this side story off like one might trim the fat from the side of a pork chop. I don't use that analogy by accident – while a skilled chef might be able to use that fat to season the rest of the meat, its loss does not greatly hurt the overall dish, and may result in less unnecessary padding. So it is in Razor's Edge, where Han and Leia have no need for Luke to stumble into information about the enemy; they are perfectly capable of finding it on their own.

Unfortunately, without this side-plot, there's really no reason for Luke to be here. Lando Calrissian would actually have been a better companion, if not for the fact that Leia is not intended to meet him for several more years. Luke shows up about halfway through the book, spends most of the time aboard the Falcon, and has one scene where he does something exciting but not particularly memorable. I can't help but wonder if his inclusion at all wasn't a bit of a marketing decision: Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca in each book of the trilogy. Come to think of it, Han got his own book in Scoundrels; there's no reason this couldn't have been Leia's book without her brother or future husband, with later books being dedicated to Chewie and Luke. This would give each of the characters some breathing room for once (I expect once I truly dig into the timeline of this era, I will find that every day of this part of the war has been meticulously plotted), plus the fact that I just gave an opening for a Chewbacca book! Okay, Chewie was in Scoundrels, but isn't it about time for a book from Chewbacca's point of view detailing some of the more important events in his life that we don't normally see to be written? It's high time for the foreign friend no one can understand to have his moment in the sunshine, but I digress.

Luke isn't the only reason I think this book would have been better without the added weight of Leia's traditional companions. She spends much of this book with Han, which is largely a good thing. Each has the opportunity to shine in their own type of story. The problem is where they collide. Razor's Edge is trapped between the era it takes place in and the era in which it was written. That means that even though many readers would find any setup for the relationship between Leia and Han tedious, it's actually needed as it hasn't been explored at this stage yet. On top of that, no matter how far it goes, both the author and the reader are fully aware that the couple's first kiss will not happen for several more years. The result of this odd positioning is that out of nowhere there are a number of really awkward scenes of Han and Leia each acting like borderline sex offenders, staring at one another at really odd moments with no explanation, even a moment where Leia yells at Han for being too sexy while he positions not to get a painful cramp during an important security discussion. There's really no way to win here, as some fans would feel cheated were this mini-sub-plot left out completely, and it's clear that this is not the focus of the book.

Another moment where Han and Leia crashing into one another is a bit more literal. Han has a very specific style of heroism about him most of the time. He is an action-comedy character, the one who accidentally saves the day, or does so intentionally in the most humiliating way possible. Even when there's nothing funny about the act in and of itself, it still tends to come at a particularly opportune moment, such as Han's method of saving Luke from the Death Star. Unfortunately, this clashes with Leia's subplot, which is one that allows her to partake in all the action-adventure heroism that is more frequently associated with male characters while not diminishing her role as a woman and a diplomat. All of this can't help but come across as a commentary, intentional or not, on the state of Science Fiction in general, as the writing and portrayal of heroines is a hotly contested issue across the board at the moment. None of the things I've described are problems on their own, but when you add a bumbling hero with a tendency to save people at the last minute to a heroine who tends to put herself in harm's way and is also attractive to him, it's very simple to send the wrong message by accident. It's easy to see the steps that led up to this mistake, which makes it all that much more understandable, but also all that much more disappointing.

The last minor complaint I have about Razor Edge – and one that keeps it from being the 1970s-1990s era Star Wars book it comes close to being – is the humor. While I mention that Han is a bumbling comedic hero, he is still written here as more of the somber veteran than the noble clown. This book about piracy, slavery, death and betrayal could really use some comic interludes to lighten the tone at times, but the “lean cut” I described earlier keeps everything focused on just how dreary and dark things are. There are a few light-hearted or comedic moments, but for characters that lend themselves so naturally to such moments, there are relatively few. Where's Blue Max when you need him, eh?

Razor's Edge is a good book, with some great action. This might be the first time we really see Han and Leia – correct that, Leia and Han – starring in an action novel of this sort, and while Han pulls out all of the stops that you expect from someone who has done this way too many times now, Leia really shines as she is put to the test in every conceivable way. As somebody who owns and loves a wide variety of Star Wars novels, the negatives I pointed out didn't go a huge way toward dampening my spirits while reading, but they did lead to some raised eyebrows and hold me back from considering this to be one of my favorite Star Wars novels of all time. If Ewoks, Wes Janson and dreadnaughts shaped like a lightsaber are essential to your Star Wars experience this might be one to pass over – ditto if swinging lightsabers and mind tricks are – but if you count Scoundrels, Rogue Squadron and Republic Commando as your cup of tea, you won't regret picking up Razor's Edge.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Podcasts: Big Finish, Gojira and Pacific Rim!

That's right, it's time for another podcast roundup.  As usual, there may be some NSFW language, so please use discretion.

First up is the first episode of Super Kaiju Podcast, where Mad Matt and I discuss Gojira with Matt Burkett of Monstrosities!

Also brand new is the latest episode of An Unearthly Podcast, with new co-star Eli and discussing our first Big Finish audio adventure: Destiny of the Doctors: Hunters of Earth, featuring the first Doctor.  How does our First Doctor newbie find this story?
If anybody missed it, check out our podcast discussing the strengths and weaknesses of Pacific Rim (although it did eventually devolve into a group of fans enjoying discussing the movie)!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Win an iPad Mini

I have to link to the contest over at Laurie's Non-Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews for a chance to win an iPad Mini. I have a Mini myself and love the darn thing.

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Insidious Chapter 2: Is it better to watch without the original?

In 2004, Director James Wan released Saw, a film that used elements of the 1980s slasher craze in a unique way and changed the entire direction of horror for years to come. Seven years later, He released Insidious, a haunting film similar to Poltergeist. Insidious was a visually muted film with a high creep factor and very positive reaction from horror fans and critics. This led to a similar change in thoughts about horror, inspiring such films as 2012's The Woman in Black and 2013's The Conjuring, also directed by James Wan. The Conjuring had a very similar style to Insidious despite having a different writer and production studio, and many viewers saw it as a spiritual successor to Insidious. Fans looked forward to seeing Insidious Chapter 2 several months later, their expectations ramped up by the success of the first film and The Conjuring.

Perhaps it would have been better if The Conjuring had held off – not for its own sake, but for the sake of Chapter 2. In fact, it would probably be better if the audience had not seen the original. Insidious Chapter 2 is not a terrible movie, not by any means, but as a follow-up to Insidious it falls terribly flat. Then again, anybody who watches Insidious Chapter 2 without watching Insidious is likely to have little clue who any of the characters are, or why Josh doesn't remember his past. So let's take a look: is Insidious Chapter 2 better without any knowledge of the original?

Let's start with the visual style. To an even greater extent than The Conjuring, Insidious had a very muted color scheme. In fact, there were two distinct colors that were not desaturated: blue, which represented Josh's son Dalton, and red, which represented the evil spirits that were haunting him. Here, the entire film is in full color with full saturation. On top of this, red is in virtually every scene. Knowing Insidious, I found this incredibly distracting. This might be because there are a pair of spirits that are essentially haunting every scene, but still, there is such a thing as too much of an iconic color. We get it, Bruce Willis is a ghost; we saw that at the end of the first film and new viewers saw it at the beginning of this one. At times, there is so much red lighting that I half expected Freddy Krueger to pop out from around the corner with a one-liner.

Which brings us to the script itself. The Bride in Black (which appeared in the original film but was apparently not the Darth Maul spirit) was actually this film's version of Angela from Sleepaway Camp, who eventually reaches the point where he is rampaging through the house with a bat and the audience expects him to break through a door and yell “here's Johnny!” In other words, the story is entirely unnecessary and reinforces that in every way. There is not enough substance here to fill a film, and it feels as though Leigh Whannell was desperate to have enough material to fill the film, which led to several scenes that made absolutely no sense and had absolutely no payoff. Would this film have been hurt in any way if Josh hadn't spontaneously developed Donnie Darko-like time travel capabilities? The characters are paler versions of their original selves, with little actual character – even the spirit that possesses Josh's body seems rather lost at times. Ultimately, the connections between this film and the previous are rather unnecessary. I mentioned earlier that the original film explains why Josh has no memory of his past, but even knowing that the memories were hypnotized out of him does not explain why they had to time travel in order to access those memories. Wouldn't another session of hypnosis been equally effective, and made a lot more sense?

How about the scares? There are definitely some scares in the film, which is the main reason why I think this might be a good film if it could get some distance from the rest of James Wan's films. The first appearance of Mother Mortis – or rather, the first group of scenes leading up to her actual appearance – carry some genuine suspense and fright. Several of the other scenes featuring her without her son are effective as well. Unfortunately, these scenes aren't enough to hold a candle to what we saw in the first film, and there is just not enough of it amidst some of the confused writing in which the script stumbles about, uncertain of whether or not the audience is fully aware that there is an enemy in their midst. Somehow, all of the tension and possibility for scares was cut out of the possession plotline, which is extremely unfortunate when you consider that plot is entirely the reason why this film got made.

In the end, there are things to recommend Insidious Chapter 2 for, but it's hard to find an audience to recommend them to. I wouldn't watch this after the first, nor would I watch the first after this, but if for some reason you never plan to watch the first, you might enjoy this as its own movie. Still, it's very hard to recommend this with it standing next to The Conjuring in theatres and with Insidious so fresh in the public's memory. If anything, Chapter 2 feels like a sequel produced in the late '90s for a film from the '70s, which is disappointing when you consider that the writer, director and stars returned (even if Ty Simpkins barely appeared due to aging two years). The bottom line is watch this film when it comes out on Netflix, and buy a ticket to The Conjuring.

P.S. Check the epilogue for more of Jimmy's dolls.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In Theatres: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters is like if some low budget hack job from the days of Bruno Mattei were given $90 million and told to make Harry Potter 2.5. Virtually nothing about the film is remotely original, nor does it take any steps to hide that fact, the fact that the Percy Jackson series is itself a series of adaptations of the books with the same name notwithstanding. The result is less a film than a formula for instant film success.

The film begins telling the story of three teens who – stop me if you've heard this before – travel to a secret magical school, the only place where they can be truly safe and learn to use the powers they were born with. They are part of a hidden, magical world which exists alongside our own but is completely invisible unless you know the right way to look. While there, Percy finds out that he is the chosen one, who is responsible for facing an evil half-blood and either saving or dooming the world. From there the trio of heroes call on a form of teleportation that is a cross between the supernatural and the mundane, driven by an eccentric and featuring a living prop. We've just managed to adopt the Harry/Hermione/Ron team and the naming scheme from The Philosopher’s Stone (and all of its sequels), the prophecy from Order of the Phoenix, and the Night Bus from Prisoner of Azkaban. Later in the film, Harry Potter fans will discover that Percy has found his own Neville Longbottom. Besides the multitude of Harry Potter references, the prophecies in this film are done in the same style as Disney's Hercules, and I actually found myself saying out loud at one monster “In its belly you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a thousand years.” Seeing as how this is based on a book series about introducing Greek mythology to new children, it might be overkill for me to mention that the only reason I saw this film was that it was a modern remake of Jason and the Argonauts...except only the MacGuffin itself was actually that.

Despite being a piecemeal film cobbled together from bits of other stories, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters does more right than I could have possibly guessed. Particularly of note is the sense of scale. Rather than starting small and progressing to physically larger spells the way the Harry Potter series does, the capabilities of these demi-gods are all of a much larger scale. Their abilities range from summoning war-zombies from the Civil War and powerful aquatic beasts to summoning powerful waves to potentially capsize a yacht. Watching Percy Jackson working to control massive waves of water has a mythic feel that I would associate with what a superhero movie should be like – and one that most superhero movies doesn't have. The fact that this exists specifically to emulate Greek mythology only makes it better – it says that this project knew what it wanted, despite not having any original ideas of its own.

That said, I'd be remiss if I left you thinking this film was perfect. The “three heroes”trope is stuck to so hard that the film switches out the third wheel not once, not twice, but three times. It gets to the point that whenever a new adventurer joins the party, you can assume that something is going to to happen to somebody else in the group. For all that the character group hearkens back to the trio that made Harry Potter so accessible, Percy Jackson cut out one of the key elements of that formula: Hermione. Yes, there's a girl, but she's not so much a nerd as...a girl. In and of itself, including a girl who knows how to use a javelin and lends support to the main character is not a particularly noteworthy decision. Annabeth isn't a particularly good character any more than she is a particularly bad character. This goes for almost everybody in the film – Percy, Clarisse, Tyson – but doubly here, as she is in some ways taking the place of the character who was the most ground-breaking in Harry Potter: the knowledge-obsessed nerd who learned to tone it down while learning of magic and friendship. This isn't to say that the exact same trope should be copied from franchise to franchise, but given the choice between a complex, flawed, driven, intelligent character and a character with no particular interesting qualities other than a bias that she has a reason for and learns to see past at the end, I'd go with a Hermione clone. It worked for My Little Pony, didn't it?

I said that “most” of the characters fall into this bland, semi-interesting category. The one exception to this is Grover. I could not stand this character. What is it with fictional universes that need to combine all of the minorities into as few characters as possible so everybody else can be your standard white male? I was able to easily look past the “white, female and ginger” grouping in Harry Potter, if partially because I had never heard the word “ginger” used in any way to describe a red-headed individual prior to reading the Harry Potter books, but that tendency has stepped up to extreme in modern days. Gay superheroes are often minorities or ethnic in some way (Spider-man, Bunker), and while I don't believe most writers are intentionally writing them to say that “gay people don't look like us”, it still embodies a disturbing trend to keep as many characters “default” (straight white male) as possible while still including an acceptable amount of tokens. In Percy Jackson, the token tends to shift from black satyr, to Cyclops, to militaristic aggressive woman...let's not read to much into that last one and treat it like the lazy, accidental symbolism it is, shall we? Rather, let's look at the cowardly half-black man, half-goat comic relief, and see where the real problem lies: lazy stereotypes substituting for writing. Was Grover this bad in novel form? I'd like to give Rick Riordan more credit for this, but that is only because of my clinging to my last hopes that a shred of human decency exists in the world than actually knowing anything about what the novels are like.

Another comment that I'm not sure whether to consider a flaw or not is the fact that this film is clearly self-aware. Anthony Head plays Rupert Giles, except as a centaur. Nathan Fillion plays a half-serious, half-comic relief character, who gives a monologue about how “the best show ever” was canceled. I enjoyed these things, but I had to groan at the same time.

With all of these elements, I would be hard-pressed to call Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters a good film, but I can certainly call it an enjoyable one. It has an epic scale and borrows a lot of the ideas that made Harry Potter fun. The characters show some growth, which warms you up to them, and the writers manage to restrain themselves from making the competitive rival into a complete unbearable bitch a la the anime version of Gary Oak. It's fun to sit back with a bowl of popcorn and point out things that came from other movies, but probably not worth shelling out $12 for a ticket and $15 for popcorn and soda.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Separate Is Not Equal: What I Saw in Blood's Pride by Evie Manieri

Military fantasy - and I am lumping in with this quest-based fantasy based around a military goal - tends to fit a general mold.  The world-building is a huge focus of this: it is where the stakes come from, it is where most of the characterization comes from, and it is what sets the tone.  Notably, this is not restricted to fantasy; it is very rare that a war story with a military goal does not draw these three things and more from the nature of the war and what parties are involved.  A Vietnam story has a very different feel than a World War Two story has a different feeling from a Civil War story, yet they are all made of the same building blocks.  Similarly, the conflict, the makeup of the military unit, and the origins of the soldiers are all important elements to these types of stories.

Evie Manieri's Blood's Pride is a novel that meets much of this criteria.  The largest divisions in this novel are racial lines: the cadaverous Norlanders, who invaded the Shadar years ago and took its people as slaves; the Shadari, a highly religious people with little military capacity of their own; and the Nomas, a nomadic race that exists outside of either Norlander or Shadari society.  In the conflict between the slavemasters and their slaves, it is the Norlander leader Freya and the Shadari Harotha that drive their respective sides of the conflict.  The Nomas, as you may have gathered from my description, exist largely as an audience proxy.  For much of the novel, there is one Nomas present, and he is an observer.  He is placed directly into the action, yet he is both powerful enough that nobody puts him at risk while being benign enough that he does not drive the story himself.  King Jachad serves a role in the story similar to that of Wendy Darling might in the conflict between Peter Pan and Captain Hook

As fans of the military fantasy genre are well aware of, this emphasis on world-building and conflict often results in sacrifices in the realm of the characters.  For all the J.R.R. Tolkien was a visionary in creating his world, the dryness that drives many people away from his novels could have been fixed if he had put as much attention on the characters as he did everything else.  While some of the best authors and editors can create a well-rounded story of this mold such as George Lucas's Star Wars or R. A. Salvatore's War of the Spider Queen, it generally is the exception, rather than the rule, and it's notable that both of my examples had three or more writers involved in the story.

Blood's Pride is no different in this manner than any other military fantasy novel.  I have no idea what most of these characters are like on their own.  I don't know their hobbies, their fears, or how they see themselves twenty years down the line.  I don't know what their relationship with their parents was like, or what makes them happy.  In fact, I don't even know what they look like.  I can tell you what two characters in the entire novel look like, and that's because they are both on the front cover.  Beyond that, there is virtually nothing in the way of description for any of the characters.

But Blood's Pride has a trump card.  You see, women's fantasy is known for a different set of traits than military fantasy - a traditionally male-dominated field - is.  To look at the far extreme, I've had female readers turn down the offer of free books I've recommended due to the concern that fantasy they've read that was written by women focused on the romance to the exclusion of all else.  As I said, this is an extreme scenario, and I certainly feel that I have better choice in books than to find myself stuck with something that focuses entirely on one aspect when that's not something I want to read about.  Still, sometimes, there is a point here.  A niche market of women's fiction exists when it comes to topic that most male authors are less interested in writing (or sometimes interested yet lacking the emotional tools) and that most male readers are less interested in reading.  There are a thousand social and evolutionary factors I could describe that have to do with this, but ultimately, we all know that Twilight was no more random happenstance than the WWE.  This has created a separate group of skills that most female authors - whether willingly or merely to keep up with the pack - have developed.

These skills are generally such things as emotional interaction between characters - not just romance, but the interactions between Harry Potter and Ron Weasley or the bond between Kal Skirata and his commandos.  Female authors (and male authors who have made a career catering to female audiences) also tend to be better at writing non-martial characters realistically dealing with fight-or-flight situations; they are much more often faced with an audience that wants a relatable survival scene rather than an inspiring battle.

All of this carries into Blood's Pride.  Where the environment applies stakes to the overall outcome of a battle, the character relationships are what gives the stakes to each individual encounter.  You don't want this person to die because you want to see their unique interactions with that person developed.  This character is clearly distinguishable from this other, similar character because their circle of acquaintances treats them differently.

The end result is that a lot of the flaws in the genre are covered up, resulting , in a more well-rounded overall story.  While the characters have little depth on their own, when you combine them in a group they become something you want to read about to see how it goes and what comes of them.    The end result is that a completely average story becomes something you are invested in.  Of course, in following with some of the complaints I mentioned hearing above, it could be said that the other character elements were neglected in favor of adding in extra romantic elements.  Honestly...I call bullshit on that.  There was every chance - actually, that's not true.  There was almost a certainty, unless Evie Manieri is in the top tier of authors, that these same elements would have been neglected.  The simple fact is, most authors are going to sacrifice certain elements to make others work, and most often these are going to be sacrifices so instinctive or tied to the genre that they don't even notice what they are sacrificing.

Still, at the end of the day, Blood's Pride is a perfect example of how combining elements that are traditionally used to attract male and female audiences together creates a whole that is more effective than either would be alone.  Without the military elements this might have seemed like a feeble attempt at stringing together a romance story between shallow characters.  Without the star-crossed and other romances, Blood's Pride would be just another rebellion story where the species are barely defined and there is not enough character to truly care how many of them die in the process of getting the story from Point A to Point B.  With both elements, however, the story is more fleshed out, and there is something for both "male" and "female" audiences to invest in.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday- "Dying is My Business" by Nicholas Kaufmann

Waiting on Wednesday is a blog meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming book releases.

This week's WoW selection is:

Dying Is My Business by Nicholas Kaufmann
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Date: October 8, 2013
Pages: 384

Given his line of work in the employ of a psychotic Brooklyn crime boss, Trent finds himself on the wrong end of too many bullets. Yet each time he’s killed, he wakes a few minutes later completely healed of his wounds but with no memory of his past identity. What’s worse, each time he cheats death someone else dies in his place.

Sent to steal an antique box from some squatters in an abandoned warehouse near the West Side Highway, Trent soon finds himself stumbling into an age-old struggle between the forces of good and evil, revealing a secret world where dangerous magic turns people into inhuman monstrosities, where impossible creatures hide in plain sight, and where the line between the living and the dead is never quite clear. And when the mysterious box is opened, he discovers he has only twenty-four hours to save New York City from certain destruction.

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 02, 2013

Science Fiction / Fantasy Writing Program

While I usually write reviews or fiction, sometimes I try to do a little bit of something extra.  Part of writing is thinking outside the box, and Odin knows the only box I've ever been able to think inside of is a 1950s police box.  Add this to the fact that I tend to obsess over minor details and feel compelled to create lists several times a day, and it's only natural that eventually these things will start to overlap.

For some reason, people have been telling me ever since I was a high school student that it was virtually impossible to double minor as an undergraduate in college.  Naturally, I took this as a challenge, and the only surprising thing that I faced when writing this was was so easy.

Of course, that doesn't explain why I came up with a course plan for a major and a double minor.  The premise is simple: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Program.  The idea is that anybody who completes this course program will have received instruction in creative writing - specifically, fiction writing - as well as taking in enough knowledge to write stories about speculative fiction and fantasy.  

While there are a lot of routes to take to get here, I felt that the most universal choices for this were Physics and Religious Studies.  While there are a lot of types of science used in Science Fiction, but while speculative biology (for example) is more imaginative, physics is more likely to be utilized in a serious manner.  Religious Studies, on the other hand, assists in forming the mindset of most Fantasy characters.  Most Fantasy settings either make use of real or fictional religions, and even if you choose not to go this route, the concepts behind various religions are filled with fuel for believable myths and legends.  The electives were chosen in much this same way.  Interaction between different characters and different cultures is an integral part to writing Fiction - as is, of course, the ability to write it into a script.

The courses here were chosen using the Catalogue for Western Connecticut State University, the university right down the street from my house.  This catalogue changes from year to year, and will differ drastically from college to college.  However, WestConn was still effective for this thought exercise and this can definitely serve as a model for anybody who wishes to implement this idea into their own studies.

Creative Writing Major

Core (12 S.H.)
WRT 171W: Craft of Writing I: Conversations with Predecessors
WRT 172W: Craft of Writing II: Conversations with Contemporaries
WRT 273W: Craft of Writing III: Writing Identity
WRT 274W: Craft of Writing IV: Form and Inspiration

Required Upper-Division Courses (16 S.H.)
LNG 317: Linguistics or LNG 320: Modern English Grammar
WRT 333W: The Editorial Environment
WRT 373W: Editing and Copyediting
WRT 442W: Publication Design and Development
WRT 465W: Thesis Project

Menu Courses (6 S.H.)
WRT 276W: Writing about Human Tragedy
WRT 303W: Composition III: Advanced Research Writing

Creative Writing Option (14 S.H.)
WRT 219W Writer’s Toolbox
WRT 271W Human Interest Writing
WRT 339W Creative Essay
WRT 462W The Book: From Writing to Publishing
WRT 490W Internship.

Physics Minor (20 S.H.)
PHY 110 General Physics I
PHY 111 General Physics II
PHY/ENV 136 Energy OR PHY 299 Student Developed Studies
PHY 170 Concepts of Electronics
PHY 171 Introduction to Digital Electronics

Religious Studies Minor (18 S.H.)
HUM 113 Comparative Religions
PHI 202 Philosophy of Religion
PHI 218 Introduction of Asian Philosophy
SOC/ANT 232 Religion and Culture
SOC/ANT 241 Socio-Cultural Survey of Indian Religions
SOC/ANT 242 Buddhism and Culture

General Education (42 S.H.)

Communication Skills (3 S.H.)
COM 163 Living in Communication

Humanities (15 S.H.)
HUM 113 Comparative Religions*
PHI 202 Philosophy of Religion*
WRT 171W: Craft of Writing I: Conversations with Predecessors*
WRT 172W: Craft of Writing II: Conversations with Contemporaries*
ENG 105 Introduction to Fiction

Social and Behavioral Sciences (12 S.H.)
SOC/ANT 232 Religion and Culture*
SOC/ANT 242 Buddhism and Culture*
PSY 100 Introduction to Psychology
PSY 205 Social Psychology

Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science (10 S.H.)
PHY 110 General Physics I*
PHY 111 General Physics II*
PHY 170 Concepts of Electronics*
MAT 110

Health Promotion and Exercise Science (2 S.H.)
HPX 177 Fitness for Life Lecture and Activity

Electives (21 S.H.)
WRT 133W Introduction to Writing FictionCOM/1NT 208 Intercultural Communication
COM 242 Script Writing
ANT/WS 236: Culture, Sex and Gender
WRT 243 Fiction Workshop

Total Credits: 122