Posts tagged: science fiction
Stories are important, we all know this. I hasten to add: and they should be fun too, otherwise why bother reading them? Every once in a while, I run across a new author that balances “something to say” and “have fun saying it” in a way that really appeals to me. This year, that author has been Carrie Vaughn.
I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen is a lovely reminder not just of how multi-dimensional, playful, and thought-provoking Czech cinema can be, but what it was like not so long ago when science fiction was more than just CGI explosions and action films in futuristic cargo pants. The bulk of the film takes place in the Prague of 1911, though the glimpses we get of the future are as gorgeously pop-art as you would want. There are no big action set-pieces outside of a falling chandelier. It’s ridiculous and spirited fun with a serious core should you care to look for it. I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen is from the days when science fiction as a genre was broadly defined, not risk-averse, not afraid to be about something (even if it’s wrapped in a bunch of silliness), and didn’t feel the need to scream at you.
Debbie Moon ponders the “Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow” and Captain America: The Winter Soldier: “The Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow is always male, and he’s that guy who can kill a roomful of people without breaking a sweat – but who is massively emotionally vulnerable, has no social support system, and is incapable of interacting with civilized society. Frequently he’s physically or temporally…
Teenage girls can’t catch a break. People, particularly nerdy men, treat being a teenage girl as if it is some absolute guarantee of vapid stupidity. This makes me so damn mad, and not least of all because the whole idea of a science fiction novel owes its existence to an angsty teenage girl who ran away from a broken home.
“It was the nightmarish, Nietzschean fulfillment of the summer-movie aesthetic, a movie that seemingly had eaten all of pop culture and vomited it back up again as shards of metal. One example: It featured the real Leonard Nimoy as a robot god and also a clip from a Star Trek episode and hidden snippets of sampled Nimoy dialogue from a Star Trekmovie. It was an exercise in ultimate sensual…
Tor has an excerpt from Resistance, the latest book by friend of the Gutter, Samit Basu: “A giant lobster rises slowly out of Tokyo Bay. It is an old-school kaiju, 300 feet long, and stands upright, its hind limbs still under water, in defiance of biology, physics and all codes of lobster etiquette.”
Jodorowsky’s Dune has been frequently compared to Lost in La Mancha, a documentary about filmmaker Terry Gilliam’s calamitous attempt to make an adaptation of Don Quixote. While the two documentaries tell a similar story (and involve Orson Welles!), the effect of each could not be more different. Lost in La Mancha, for me, is infused with bitterness, with regret, with frustration. Jodorowsky’s Dune, by contrast, soars. Where Lost in La Mancha makes me mad, Jodorowsky’s Dune makes me want to cheer for the lunatic director and his eccentric band of “spiritual warriors.” In theory, it is the story of a failure, of millions of dollars and countless hours of effort wasted. It doesn’t feel like the story of a failure, however. The overall impact the documentary had on me wasn’t one of the disappointment of a failed project or the short-sightedness of timid studios; it was one of elation, of re-inspiring my love of and faith in the potential of film, the beauty of storytelling, and the wonder of those who are truly visionary, truly driven to create, and genuinely, gloriously weird.
We all know what we thought before we did that thing we really shouldn’t have done. We had a reason. Maybe it wasn’t a good reason, but unless we’re in an existentialist novel it wasn’t completely random and without motivation. Our understanding of why we do things is inextricably linked to what happened around us and how we were provoked. Other people, however, often do appear to be doing things completely randomly and without motivation because we don’t get to see what preceded their actions. It takes a conscious effort to remind ourselves that maybe that person who just drove through a giant mud puddle and left us dripping on the sidewalk was rushing to get somewhere for a reason we could empathize with and didn’t notice we were there until it was too late. When I do something inconsiderate or idiotic it’s because reasons, but when you do it, it’s because you’re a jerk.
It’s called the fundamental attribution error, and it started me thinking about other kinds of perceptual errors people make, like taking things at surface value and mistaking some element of the appearance for the complete reality.