Tag: Science Fiction (page 1 of 8)

Passengers– an intriguing scifi movie with a moral question mark at the center

First, Jennifer Lawrence was paid 20 million to star in this while Christopher Pratt got 12 million.  When I think of Jennifer Lawrence, I always go back to Winters Bone, a superb movie, which was one of her breakout roles. If you haven’t seen Winters Bone, check it out. The way she stalks those hills– superb.

Anyway. This movie was not well received from the reviews I’d read and the overall reaction. So I have to be contrarian and say I really liked it. I actually liked it better than Arrival, which was well reviewed and everyone thought was the cat’s meow, whatever the hell that means, and Cool Gus doesn’t like cat’s meowing anyway. That’s just my weird brain, which we’ve discussed.

I think the core problem with Passengers is the decision Pratt makes. When I workshop writing I talk about how redemption is the strongest character arc, but there are times when the hero isn’t redeemable. A lot of people think his decision fell into that category. I think its on the fenceline. The bottom line is, the way the story played out, he was certainly redeemed; twice.

Maybe it was just me the writer– I liked how it was obvious the writers had really looked at a lot of issues and answered them one way or another. Some people might not have liked the answers, but at least they were addressed. The climax felt a bit cliche, but it’s sort of like writing a thriller– you’ve only got so many ways to threaten everyone.

I also liked some things that weren’t done. No children at the end. That was interesting. I knew what the crew would see walking out after they woke– told my wife about halfway through what that would be, but I was wondering about kids.

One thing is that science fiction allows us to showcase moral issues in unique ways. Reality is grey. Decisions are hard.

We watched it in our new den, with the fireplace going and Cool Gus snoring at our feet so maybe that helped too. Cool Gus makes anything better.

I’ve currently got my web site being rebuilt and am excited about that. A cleaner, simpler look, where you can find books in order, links, and the key info. No bells and whistles. Just the deal.

Also, I’ve been redoing and adding a bunch of slideshares. I put all the years from the Time Patrol missions sort of together and have been linking things and cleaning them. Feel free to check out the free slideshows here.

I’ll be presenting for the Chattanooga Writers Guild on Tuesday evening if anyone is nearby and wants to stop by.

Nothing but good times ahead!

 

 

The Years. Examining History A Year At A Time

I’m a sucker for history. When I went to West Point, back in the Old Corps days, when men were men, we ate rocks for breakfast, and the sheep ran scared, they said the education was like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant turned full blast. I think I averaged around 22 hours a semester in academics; on top of parades, inspections, being on the marathon team, military training, intramural, etc. We had classes six days a week. Despite that, we didn’t graduate with a specific major, just a concentration.

Mine was in psychology, so when I went back to graduate school, imagine my surprise to find out I couldn’t get a Masters degree without an undergraduate major. I discovered, given the hours I had at West Point, the quickest way to that, was to take a couple more undergraduate history courses. Apparently I took a lot of history at West Point. They were big on it. Also, though, growing up, going to the library constantly, I not only read a lot of fiction, I also got the old Dewey Decimal System pretty much memorized and was always drawn to the 900 section. I have a brain full of weird stuff, yet can’t remember what is in the refrigerator that we bought the other day. Seriously. Deb just has to put it behind something and I’ll never find it or remember it was there.

I use slideshare.net to upload my keynote/powerpoint presentations. I’ve got most of my ones I use at conferences on writing uploaded, along with ones on my various books. This morning I just pulled together 28 years of history on 28 separate presentations and managed to link them all. Quite tedious and I’m not good at tedious, but it’s done.

So for those of you who likes history and facts and weird stuff, here is the master slideshare for all of it:

 

Dead on Arrival? The movie everyone has raved about?

Okay—bad pun given what’s at the core of the plot.

I’d read and heard so many great things about this movie. Since we don’t do movie theaters in our household, it finally made it to on-demand (we do LOTS of on-demand), I decided to watch it.

I feel like Tom Hanks in Big: I don’t get it.

Yeah, it had to do with time and I spend a lot of time on time, pun intended, since my current series is the Time Patrol. And in Fifth Floor, I had to really ponder time and loops and parallel worlds and all that good stuff. Until my brain really hurt, but I could feel what Lara was feeling, wondering what exactly is her reality and her past, cause I kind of feel like that a lot. I feel like that right now. Like I’m sort of here, but not really here. And now.

I’ve read blogs by other scifi authors and fans raving about the movie and I’m sorry—well, I guess I don’t have to be sorry for my opinion. Hmm. Need to work on that. Who gives a crap?

I kind of feel like the guy who sat in the graduate Faulkner class where the teacher was going on about the use of the color yellow in Soldier’s Pay and I’m thinking: maybe his wallpaper was yellow when he was writing the book? Who the fuck knows? I did mention in that class that I thought Faulkner wrote better drunk than sober and you could really tell the difference and that didn’t go over well.

I do think there is a strain of literature and movies where people go “Wow, that was so good and so deep and blah blah blah” except in reality, it really made no sense but by pretending we understand it, we make ourselves seem smarter. Or maybe they just are smarter?

But that’s me. The contrarian. It’s a condition. Seriously. I wouldn’t be it if I can help it. That’s the thing about the brain. We’re born with some wiring in place, it gets softwared by our environment, our upbringing, and sometimes things crack, get wired wrong, or worse, don’t get wired at all. And you know what? You’re stuck with it. Now, you can get help. There are medications. There are therapists. You can act differently, but acting differently doesn’t mean you are different.

Also, back to the movie, being honest, using a dead child at the core of a plot sits hard with me, given our own experience. That’s an exclusive club you don’t want to be a member of.

I joke when I teach that writers aren’t in the bell curve and we’re not necessarily on the good side of that curve and I get a good laugh, but you know what? It’s not a joke. I know for certain there are things wrong in my brain. So perhaps that’s my problem with the movie. I didn’t connect the way others did. It’s like this blog. At conferences people tell me they like my blog and all that, but no one comments in real time. I sometimes read another blog and I think “Hey, that’s pretty much what I wrote” and there are like 200 comments there. And I hear the wind whispering in the empty branches in the comment sections here. So I accept it’s not like what I wrote.

I think I know some of the reasons for that, which loops back to not feeling the same about Arrival as others. My brain is a dark neighborhood where many do not want to venture.

So this blog is going to be more and more shining light on that dark neighborhood, because, well, it’s all I got. I’m not anyone else. Not going to pretend to be anyone else. Like Popeye.

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