Mailvox: mea maxima culpa

Mudz isn’t terribly happy about one of my past blunders:

Does this mean what I think it means? I hope it doesn’t, because that means you have got a lot to answer for, and the questions ain’t pretty. I was scrolling through looking up some Stalin posts, and then I came across THIS:

“For example, was it the right thing to write The War in Heaven instead of Blizzard’s first Starcraft novel? Almost surely not.”

WANKER. That’s right, I said it.

Do you know how much I love Starcraft, and how much fail I credit Blizzard with, not just with the SC2 game, but with every single novel I’ve tried to read so far, despite the blood it tears from every pulsing artery to my brain?

For failing to inhibit such a great offense against the khala, I now charge you with the mission to at least tell those Blizzard goons not to fuck the Protoss up in LotV. No offense to them, but may they die in a thousand fires for what they did to Starcraft, Jim, Fenix, and all the others that got between them and their mad quest for money. And bullshit.

Just sayin’ man, you could have stopped a tragedy.

Yep. This is one of the many reasons why I laugh when people attempt to rub what they perceive as my failures in my face.  In every circumstance, the “failures” to which they point are so minor, so trivial, so miniscule in comparison with my more serious failures that it is simply amusing.

The Starcraft debacle was without question the worst judgment call of my writing career.  But the decision seemed sensible at the time.  What happened was that Pocket Books, who had successfully published Rebel Moon as a media tie-in novel and recently signed me to the two-book contract that resulted in The War in Heaven and The World in Shadow, called me up to see if I was interested in writing the first Starcraft novel.

I was, since I knew Allen Adham and Patrick Wyatt, both very good guys, and I was a fan of the Warcraft series.  I wasn’t quite as impressed with Starcraft, but there was enough there that I felt I could do something interesting with it.  For me, the Zerg presented the interesting challenge; what would affect a human woman like Kerrigan enough to cause her transformation into the Queen of Blades?  What would that transformation be like?  What was it like to be a member of the Zerg?

My angle, I decided, would be portraying the Zerg as existing in a sort of religious ecstasy, a joyous, quasi-sexual bonding with the Overmind that would serve as a counterpoint to the colder, more analytic element brought by the Protoss.  One thing that science fiction has never done well, in books, movies, or games, is to portray the experience of an element of a hive mind.  Mindless insects and a queen bee is the usual model, used by everyone from Orson Scott Card on down. I thought this would be a good opportunity to do something more intelligent and interesting.

My friend Scott at Pocket set up a call between me and the guy at Blizzard responsible for the books, and it was a disaster.  Not that we didn’t get along or anything, but the gulf between my ideas and his were, to put it mildly, vast.  After I explained what I was thinking, he yeah-yeah-yeahed the concept, and then added: “But you know what would be really cool?  If, at the end, Kerrigan reveals that she is the Queen of Blades and then, you know, vanishes with this really evil laugh!”

Right.  Now, these days, I know better.  These days, I would have said, “oh, that’s a great idea”, signed the contract, and proceeded to write what I was planning to write anyhow.  But back then, however, I was naive enough to take the opinion of mid-level functionaries without a creative bone in their bodies seriously.  I didn’t see any way to bridge the gap between what I wanted to do and the unrestrained cliched crap the Blizzard guy clearly wanted.

Also, at the time, I was aware that Pocket was in the running to nab the rights to the Star Wars books.  They already had Star Trek, and I was one of the writers slated to do one… but I couldn’t do my own books, the Starcraft book, and a Star Wars book at the same time.  And remember, back in the late 90’s, media tie-in novels were not the dominant force they are today.  They were really looked down upon; they were seen as a way to reach the point I had already reached.  So, the idea of putting my own books on hold in order to write both Starcraft and Star Wars never occurred to me, nor to Pocket, for that matter.

So, I turned down the Starcraft books with the expectation that I’d be doing a Star Wars novel or two instead.  Unfortunately, Pocket didn’t obtain the rights, so I didn’t get the chance to play in the Lucas universe.  I ended up writing the three Eternal Warriors novels for Pocket as well as providing an outline for Stalking the Beast, the first of two thrillers that one of their other novelists was to write.  But that is a story for another day.

Anyhow, I haven’t read the Starcraft novels.  But if they aren’t worthy of the game, it’s true, I do bear at least a modicum of responsibility for that.