Monday, April 12, 2010

Reader's Diary #601- Terence Chua: Golem

Once again I've used the Amazing Race as inspiration for my short story choice. Last night the contestants raced across Singapore and so, I've gone looking for a Singaporean author. Enter sci-fi author and filker, Terence Chua.

Hold up. Filker? What the heck is that? According to Chua, it's someone who sings a genre of folk music that has a science fiction focus. Filk songs may be parodies, using existing tunes (Chua himself is known for his blending of ABBA with Lovecraft's Cthulhu-- I kid you not) or entirely original. In what quite possibly might be the nerdiest debate on the entire Internet, you'll find tempers soaring over whether or not Weird Al Yankovic's "The Saga Begins" (A Star Wars summary to the tune of Don McLean's "American Pie") is authentic filk.

None of this is really relevant to the Terrence Chua story I picked for this week, but if I had to learn something new in the process, than doggone it, you're going to suffer for it. After reading through three of the seven short stories available on Chua's website, I wouldn't consider myself a fan. However, I was able to pick my favourite of those three: Golem.

"Golem" came across as one of Stephen King's less memorable short stories. As King in particular likes to do, Chua has picked an author as the central character, but I don't fault Chua picking familiar territory. If the story is appealing, I don't really care if the author had to do little or lots of research. Not that Chua's "Golem" is wildly appealing, but it is mildly fun. It's the story of Michael, a successful sci-fi author from Singapore who's suffering a bad case of writer's block. He's haunted, literally, by a stack of false starts and story ideas that didn't pan out. It's fun because you can easily imagine that Chua himself had fun while writing it and it's not too difficult to believe that the examples were taken directly from Chua's own stack of abandoned ideas. However, "Golem" runs out of steam (which, in a story this short, simply shouldn't happen) and begins to have the feel of a writing exercise, hastily put together. It's clearly not meant to be a serious piece, but the fun didn't need to be that frivolous.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Barbara Bruederlin said...

The second half does feel rather thrown together, I agree. Stream of consicousness is fine, but it shouldn't go on for half a story.

raidergirl3 said...

Wee, the Amazing Race!
I don't often follow the link to the ss you review, but I enjoy all the other stuff that you inflict on us. Filk, hmm. Weird Al. Golem. Just imagining the random visitors from google that you'll get today.
have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Doesn't sound like one I'll bother with. I agree that a short story shouldn't run out of steam.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: Especially when the opening sequence with the talk-show bit was so strong.

Raidergirl: I've gotten quite a number of people who've googled "Will Ferrell thong." I'll gladly take the filk crowd.

Carolsnotebook: I guess a novel shouldn't run out of steam either, but a lag here or there is more forgivable.

Margot said...

Filker is new to me. Thanks for the new word. I had a book tour at my blog yesterday but I still have a short story to share. I think I need a new button that says Short Story Monday on Tuesday. lol Anyway you can find my post here.

Teddy Rose said...

His shorts don't sound at all appealing to me. LOL! Sorry I've been MIA on Mondays. I'll be back.