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Showing posts from May, 2015

Persona by Genevieve Valentine

The problem with writing a review of Genevieve Valentine's new novel Persona is that the first and most urgent compliment I want to pay this novel might come off as a criticism.  Persona, you see, is The Hunger Games minus the actual hunger games.  To the uninitiated, this might sound as though I'm calling the novel unexciting or lacking an actual point.  But if you're like me, and you thought that the best and most interesting part of Suzanne Collins's novel was not the survival games in the arena, or the rebellion against an evil, despotic government, or the overwrought relationship troubles of teenagers--if, instead, the thing you found most fascinating about The Hunger Games was the celebritization of politics, the use of fashion, public persona, and carefully crafted ersatz relationships to shape public policy and opinion--then the idea of a whole novel focused on just that aspect of the story will probably seem utterly delightful.  Happily, Valentine seems to be …

Tomorrowland

"When I was younger, the future was... different."  So says Frank Walker (George Clooney), one of the heroes of Brad Bird's Tomorrowland, in the opening narration that acts as a frame for the film's story.  It probably says everything you need to know about this movie that Frank--and the film itself--seem entirely unaware of the irony and self-contradiction inherent in a statement like this, and in case you were still in any doubt, the movie immediately flashes back to the 1964 World's Fair, where an 11-year-old Frank (Thomas Robinson) has arrived to submit his entry in a young inventors' competition--a jetpack.  When questioned about the utility of such a creation, Frank thinks for a moment, and then explains that if he were walking down the street and saw someone flying above him with a jetpack, he'd be inspired to believe that anything was possible: "Doesn't that make the world a better place?"

Bird is probably best known for directing Pi…

Mad Max: Fury Road

Before I start talking about Mad Max: Fury Road, I should probably say that I haven't seen any of the other films in the Mad Max series, and that I'm not feeling a particular need to catch myself up.  This should not be taken as a criticism of Fury Road, which is indeed as brilliant and exhilarating as advertized, and whose gorgeous, pulse-pounding action scenes put the rest of Hollywood's blockbuster movies to shame (in particular, the recent Avengers: Age of Ultron, whose busy but weightless extravaganzas of destruction now seem almost embarrassing in comparison; one wishes that Marvel would send all its directors to George Miller for lessons).  But Fury Road is also a fairly self-contained piece of filmmaking--essentially a two-hour-long chase sequence--that neither requires nor rewards an investment in its characters or world beyond the scope of its story.  I've seen the film compared to Gravity, another gorgeous, propulsive action movie with minimal story and char…

The 2015 Hugo Awards: A Few Thoughts as Voting Opens

Nearly a month after the announcement of this year's Hugo nominations, the story has settled down from a furious boil to a steady simmer.  The best sources for ongoing discussion and the increasingly silly backpedaling from the Rabid Puppy camp continue to be Mike Glyer's File 770 and James Nicoll's LJ, but I wouldn't blame anyone for feeling overwhelmed by the sheer breadth and depth of the discussion.  The purpose of this post, then, is to highlight a few key pieces of information that are particularly relevant now that voting has opened.  I'll probably repost this once or twice as we get closer to the voting deadline.
Voting for the 2015 Hugo awards is now open, and will close on July 31st, 11:59 PDT.  You are eligible to vote if you are an attending or supporting member of Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon in Spokane, Washington (to clarify: members of the 2014 and 2016 Worldcons, who were eligible to nominate for this year's Hugos, can only vote for the winners if…