Showing posts from May, 2009

Please, Make Them Stop

So, Buffy-less Buffy sounds like a terrible idea, but it'll probably never happen. And Heathers 2 is utterly superfluous, but what else are Winona Ryder and Christian Slater going to do? But now we have an Alien prequel on the horizon, because apparently neither Alien: Resurrection nor the two Alien vs. Predator movies were bad enough, and at this point I just have to wonder: if I take a ten year break from contemporary blockbusters, will there actually be enough decent original material at its end to fill up a weekend? Oh well, at least the Toy Story 3 teaser looks promising.

The 2009 Hugo Awards: The Novella Shortlist

This post has been a long time coming, partly because I was waiting to see if Ian McDonald's "The Tear" was going to be posted online along with the other nominated novellas. I waited so long, in fact, that I ended up losing one of the other stories--Charles Coleman Finlay's "The Political Prisoner" is no longer available. Both stories can still be found on the Hugo voter packet , and as much as I like the idea of the packet, and am deeply grateful to John Scalzi for envisioning it and everyone who worked to make it a reality, I'm a little concerned that it so easily enables authors and publishers to make their stories available only to Hugo voters. Now, obviously I am coming to this issue with a distinct bias, as it'll probably be some time before I'm a Hugo voter again. And just as obviously authors and publishers have every right to do whatever they want with their intellectual property, and to make it available to as many or as few people as

Seasonal News

Right on the heels of this weekend's announcement that Dollhouse has been renewed for a second season comes the sadder but slightly less surprising news that The Sarah Connor Chronicles has been canceled . (Also, Chuck gets a third season , but, you know: formula + the geek equivalent of frat humor + half-naked ladies = not a terrifically long shot.) This is, of course, very upsetting, but unlike Niall I'm not convinced that, if the decision actually did come down to only one of these two shows, the wrong choice was made. It's true, Sarah Connor is the better show (though this says more about Dollhouse 's problems than Sarah Connor 's strengths), and you don't need to work very hard to read an uncomfortable statement into the fact that the show about scantily clad, brainwashed sex slaves has been renewed while the one about the difficult warrior woman who only takes off her clothes to treat one of her frequent bullet or stab wounds has been axed. But it

Trek-Dump, Addenda

A few more interesting links and then I'm done with this movie, I swear. Adam Roberts hits it out of the park with his review .  The whole thing is quotable and also very funny, but this is the point that floored me, which hits on something that niggled at me throughout my viewing but which I wasn't able to put into words: Trek09 is a text so absolutely incapable of representing a collective—a functioning group, a society—that it strays into rank idiocy. It is teenage wish-fulfilment bang-zap-frot fantasy all the way through. But (and this, I’d say, is what people celebrating the Star Warsification of the Trek franchise in this film, are missing) precisely what made Trek so notable in the first place was its creation a communitarian world. Not an ensemble cast all vying for screen time; a knit-together group of people. The Star Wars universe is an open-ended, malleable space for individual adventure. The Trek universe is about having a place. It is, really, about belonging. So


One of the ways in which this summer's testosterone-heavy action-adventure flicks are falling short of last summer's crop is that they're not generating nearly as much, or as diverse a range of, discussion.  I mean, The Dark Knight alone kept the internet going for weeks.  This year, the consensus establishes itself pretty quickly--by the end of its opening weekend, everyone knew that Watchmen was a faithful adaptation, but perhaps a little too faithful for its own good, and that was that.  When it comes to Star Trek , you've got a whole lot of people who liked it, and a few like me who didn't, but everyone seems to have pretty much the same reasons for their opinions.  Here, however, are a few posts that make interesting points or make them particularly well. Niall Harrison and I are pretty much opinion-twins when it comes to this film, which happens so rarely that it's noteworthy in and of itself.  He makes a surprisingly rare comparison between the film a

Star Trek

You couldn't say that I've been looking forward to the new Star Trek film. When it was first suggested, the very concept of a reboot going back to the setting and cast of the original series conjured up images of extruded Hollywood product: conventionally attractive actors, the women skeletal and painstakingly permed, the men shiny and boyishly handsome, buckets of money poured into special effects that add up to a film that looks like every other special effects extravaganza of the last half-decade, a few callbacks and famous quotes to appease the diehard fans, and lots of pop music on the soundtrack. Then J.J. Abrams got the directing gig, and I threw my hands up and gave up on the whole endeavor. Abrams is not entirely talentless, and he's produced a few fine hours of television in Alias and Lost , but as a storyteller his palette is extraordinarily limited, and as a director he was responsible for Mission: Impossible III , a jangly, underwritten mess with not a shred

Benighted by Kit Whitfield

Kit Whitfield's second novel, In Great Waters , has been racking up a lot of praise, including from people whose opinion I value. Since it's not out in paperback yet, I picked up a copy of her first and also very well received novel Benighted . Now I need someone who's read both books to tell me that Whitfield has improved substantially as a writer in the three years gap between producing them, because though Benighted ( Bareback in the UK) shows promise in certain areas, it is ultimately a failed novel: slow-paced, overlong, rather poorly written, and not doing nearly as much as it should with its excellent premise. Said premise offers a fascinating twist on the by-now common trope of combining the supernatural with noir mystery, as well as on the idea of supernatural creatures such as vampires or fairies living openly among humans. In Benighted 's world, werewolves not only live among humans, they are human--all but a tiny fraction of the population are lycanth

The Women Women Do See

There are many ways in which I've changed as a reader over the last few years, and one of them is that I've become more political. If even a few years ago I read with only a vague awareness of issues of race and gender, nowadays I find that I apply clearly-defined yardsticks to most of the fiction I read--for example, the Bechdel Test . Now, all the Bechdel Test does is give us an indicator--if a writer is capable of envisioning women interacting with each other for reasons not related to a man, then it's more likely that they see women as people in their own right. It isn't a yardstick for feminism, and it's certainly not a yardstick for quality, nor was it intended as either one. In fact, I'd say that the test probably has less to do with individual works and more to do with with the entertainment industry as a whole, and the fact that so few works produced by it actually pass this simple, seemingly obvious test. Nevertheless, once your eyes have been opened t