Nerd Thoughts – Filmmakers that I used to love

It pains me to say this but the I am putting the Wachowski Siblings on the same shelf as M. Night Shyamalan and Tim Burton – I won’t waste my time and money on your projects again.  Let me back up a bit and explain this shelf.  I use this space for artist that I used to love but for whatever reason, I no longer connect with their work.  M. Night Shyamalan was the first on the shelf. When M. Night broke out with “The Sixth Sense”, I thought we – the film world – had an exciting new voice in the Suspense/Thriller genre.  I believe that Unbreakable was a little hick up and he would be back on track any minute. I enjoyed his next film Signs but began to notice a pattern – that his films needed a “shocking” twist. But these twists were shocking but very predictable.  After seeing the trailers for “The Village”, “Lady In the Water” and “The Happening” I believed that M. Night needed an intervention.  Maybe instead of directing his own work, he need to break out and work with other writers.  I am still waiting for that to happen.

My issue with Tim Burton is a little more complicated.  I really love Tim Burton.  He creates these fantastical worlds that are really like no others. My issue with Tim boils down to his frequent collaborations with Johnny Depp.  In the beginning, they created some of my favorite works from the ’90s “Edward Scisscorhands”, “Ed Wood”, “Sleepy Hollow.” By the early ’00s the magic was gone,  works like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Alice in Wonderland” appeared to show both artist coasting on past ideas.  [Side Note, I haven’t see any either movie and these observations are based on the trailers alone.] While previous films seemed whimsical and color, these newer films were garish and way over the top.  It appeared that the director and actor brought out the worst traits in each other.  A friend convinced me to see “Dark Shadows”, while the movie looked great, the plot was tedious and uninspired.  While, I have occasionally like Burton films [e.g. “Big Fish” and  “Corpse Bride”], other writers were driving force behind the story.

Back to the Wachowski Siblings, “The Matrix” changed the movie game! But since then, I’m going to be generous and say there that their career has been spotty.  I watched the obligatory Matrix sequels. The “Speed Racer” trailer gave me a migraine. Honestly, I found “Cloud Atlas” intriguing but it was faulty. The Wachowski Siblings are fantastic and building worlds and visual images but character and plot development is a major weakness. “Jupiter Ascending” was a mess.  I suspect that the movie was way too long and that the editing of the film made it incomprehensible.  The movie was beautiful but the “plot” was paper thin. So, now we get to the final straw “Sense8.” When this project was first announced, I was super excited because J. Michael Straczynski teamed up with the Siblings to build this world.  I’m four episodes in and I still have no idea what this show is about. I’m official done.  I would let the beautiful of your work fool me again.  I need four friends to vet your work before I ever see anything else by the Wachowskis.

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Challenge! – Revivisted

In September 2011, I ran across the NPR Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books and I realized that I had only read 8 of the 100 books listed. As an avid reader and a sci fi fan, I was surprised by the low number. I challenged myself to read all of the books on the list. So three years later, how did I do? Not very well! I’ve read a lot during the last three years but most books were not from this list. Now, my total count is 15 books. 15 books in three years! Embarrassing. Some of my favorites from the list was The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin and the Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov. Ursula Le Guin created such an original world that I was swept up into the story instantly. Is I personally own a lot of the books on the list, but as a book lover, I’m always buying books and I have stacks and stacks of books that I’ve never read. So, I am recommitting myself to reading all of the books on this list.*

Next up: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I started reading this book when it was first released but never finished it. I’m am confident that I can finish it by the end of the month! My goal is to write my review over Labor Day.

If you’re interested in joining me in the challenge, here is the link to the NPR list here

*Caveat – I refuse to read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Given that I find Card’s personal reviews abhorrent, I have no interest in reading anything by him. 84 books to go.

Quick Movie Trailer Review – Interstellar

I am on the fence about Interstellar. I am a huge fan of Christopher and Jonathan Nolan but as I look at the trailer, something about the film just appears off to me. Based on the trailer and what I’ve heard about the film, it appears to be set in the near future. When I look at the cast on IMDB, all of the top billed people are of European descent. Films that lack diversity are out of step with today’s aesthetics. And no matter what the pedigree of the filmmakers, this type of casting is extremely boring. The thought of having to spend two plus hours with two of today’s blandest stars: Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey is not an enticing prospect.

Release date: November 7, 2014

Culture for Geeks!

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Science-fiction museum to open in Washington, D.C.

Fans of Captain Kirk and Captain Nemo unite: A new science-fiction museum coming to Washington, D.C.

Its creators announced plans for the museum, which will cover a broad sampling of science fiction across literature, television, film, music, video games and art, on Nov. 4. They hope to open a preview space within a year, and launch the full museum in the beginning of 2017.

“There really wasn’t a comprehensive science-fiction museum here in the United States or internationally,” said Greg Viggiano, executive director of the new venture. “I thought, maybe somebody should do something about this,” Viggiano told LiveScience.

Continued here

Challenge Update –

Left Hand of Darkness

It’s been a little over a year since I began my science fiction reading challenge. I used to be an avid reader devouring three to four books a month. As my responsibilities and priorities changed, reading for pleasure was sacrificed. I looked on this challenge as a way to get back into the groove of reading while expanding my knowledge of the sci fi verse.

It’s been a slow summer and fall for my reading challenge. I have read quite a few books over the past year but only a few from the challenge. As an aside I highly recommend Lizz Free or Die by Lizz Winstead. A fascinating book of essays from an American original.

After finishing the wonderful Foundation Trilogy, I dove into American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it and quickly set it aside. It’s one of those books that it’s so layered that I must be in the right frame of mind to read. I’ll try and finish it but right now it’s at the bottom of the pile.

Next up was Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. Left Hand tells the tale of an Ambassador Genly Ai sent to Winter to see if it’s citizens are interested in joining the planetary collective called Ekumen. The plot weaves its way through several cycles on the planet. Alone Genly Ai must deal with strange customs and xenophobia during his travels among the different nation states of Winter. Ms. Le Guin creates an unique world unlike any I have read about before. The people of Winter are what stood for me. They are gender neutral society who only choose a sexual identity when during the state of procreation. The concept of these ambiguous people really blew my mind. To live in a society were gender roles does not influence ones’ social interactions sounds liberating. Can’t wait fornthe next book in the series.

However, up next for the challenge is I, Robot. An nice Asimov novel to cleanse the palette.

Icons of Science Fiction

EMP Museum in Seattle is dedicated to Music Sci FI and Pop Culture.  This summer they are offering an exciting new exhibit:

Icons of Science Fiction

What if? Two words that set the stage for an exhibition that explores the extraordinary ideas behind the genre’s most mind-bending creators. Icons of Science Fiction features iconic artifacts from sci-fi literature, film, television, and art, including an Imperial Dalek from Doctor Who, the command chair from the classic television series Star Trek, and Neo’s coat from The Matrix Reloaded.

Continue here

Opening June 9.

EMP Museum

How Do You Define What Is Canon?

The third definition of Canon as defined by www.dictionary.com: “the body of rules, principles, or standards accepted as axiomatic and universally binding in a field of study or art”

While sci fi fans can be a stickler for what we consider sacred, does having a timeline/history set in stone help that hurt or help the development of show and its universe. I believe following the rich history of a storyline only enhances a show and its potential.  

Recently, I started watching Star Trek: The Animated Series and this question popped into my mind:  How do you define what is canon?  In the Star Trek verse, to my knowledge, there are six TV shows, eleven movies, countless books and an online game.  I’ve read that Gene Roddenberry never considered Star Trek: TAS apart of the official canon.  Although most of the original casts, writers and producers were involved in the creation of the show. The show’s creator didn’t consider it part of the history of the show. Why did he turn his back on a series that remind faithful to its progenitor? Not only did Star Trek: TAS flesh featured favorite characters like Harry Mudd, Tribbles and Kor and returns to familiar places like the vacation planet in “Shore Leave” and the “The Guardian of Forever.”

TAS lasted two seasons and has influenced later shows and deserves to be included in the official cannon and obsessed over like the other shows and movies.

Today, where we have seen countless shows live on in graphic novels after the original show had been cancelled.  While researching Aeryn Sun for my piece on The Top Women in Sci Fi, I discovered that the Farscape story continued in a graphic novel. Some of my favorite shows like Firefly and Buffy still live on in the graphic forms. Not having read any of the stories featured in the graphic form, I wonder if my opinions of these shows would grow or change.

Challenge Update – Foundation Trilogy

Last September, after discovering that I had read only a fraction of NPR Top 100 Sci Fi/Fantasy, I wanted to read all of the books on the list. How could I call myself a sci fi fan without having read what are consider classics of the genre.  I started with the classic Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov.  It was a great way to kick off this journey. The Foundation Trilogy consists of Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation.  It is a multigenerational story that covers the collapse of a great empire and the race to prepare society for what follows.  Hari Sheldon is a psychohistorian who along with his team uses social, mathematics, and psychology to plot a way to contain the chaos. Sheldon establishes two foundations who work independent of each other to propel the Sheldon Plan along.  The Sheldon plan is never fully explained but the citizens of the foundation believe that its calculations will automatically solve any problems that arise with the implosion of the galactic empire. With a complex plot and a vast number of characters to keep track of, The Foundation series is nonetheless a page turner.

Asimov is a titan in the Science Fiction world and rightfully so.  Although his writings were simplistic in style, his influence can still be felt.  Asimov was recently featured on The Science Channel show The Prophets of Science Fiction.

The Prophets of Science Fiction

Classic interview with Bill Moyers

Next up on the challenge: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Challenge!

 

Recently NPR books listed the Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy books picked by its fans.  As a Sci-Fi fan, I am surprised by the lower number of  Sci-Fi/Fantasy books that I have actually read.  After reading the list, I realized that I have only read 8 books! I have seen a lot of movies but reading, not so much. So, I am going to read all of the books on this list.  The top 100 is a misnomer because they count trilogies and series as one entry. With that being said, I won’t give myself a time limited.  Will you join me?

NPR List

Highlights of the Fall 2011 Schedule

TV is the place to find exciting/adventurous Science Fiction.  The following are the highlights of the new fall season

 

Doctor Who

Where: BCC America

When: August 27

 

Dark Matters: Twisted But True

Where: Science Channel

When: August 31

 

Star Wars: Clone Wars

Where: Cartoon Network

When: September 16

 

Person of Interest

Where: CBS

When September 22

 

Fringe

Where: FOX

When: September 23

 

Supernatural
Where: CW

When: September 23

 

Terra Nova

Where: FOX

When: September 26

 

Walking Dead:

Where: AMC

When: October 16

 

Grimm

Where: NBC

When: October 21

 

Once Upon a Time

Where: ABC

When: October 23