The SFF Film Odyssey (2010) List of Reviews is available here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Movie Review: Hot Tub Time Machine (dir. Steve Pink; 2010)(A SFF Film Odyssey)

The first time I saw Hot Tub Time Machine (dir. Steve Pink; 2010), I wasn't sure how to take it.  So much of the film made me uncomfortable because the characters seemed, for the most part, painfully unlikable.  That fact became clearer as I began comparing HTTM to other films of its type, leaving me to wonder:  why would I root for anyone in this movie when I'd rather each of them got hit by a bus instead of the one-armed Phil (Crispin Glover)?  Here lies a film that I'm sure even a teenage version of myself would find impossible to stomach -- bereft of redeemable characters, excessive for shock value, and overall a perfect storm of the worst raunchy comedy tropes.  It's a film best avoided so you can spare your brain the scrubbing.

The Fictioning: I actually wrote something! Ahaha!

If you missed it on Twitter, I actually wrote some new fiction last night for the first time in months.  I've been fiddling with the idea for a YA space opera featuring a wheelchair bound combat expert and his tech-savvy sibling.  I won't ruin the plot, but I will say this:  there will be a mecha wheelchair, space battles, and good old adventure with a healthy side of character development.

And if that sounds of interest, here are the first few paragraphs in rough draft form (click to view a larger version):
Now back to writing stuff...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Link of the Week: Announcing Speculative Fiction 2014: Meet the Contributors!

As you may have heard, I am co-editing Speculative Fiction 2014 with my friend Renay.  This morning, our publisher, The Book Smugglers, announced the list of contributors, which is so wickedly awesome that you just have to click this link and check it out.

So there you go!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

On Agency: Strong Female Characters, the Myth of Non-Action, and Jupiter Ascending

By now you'll have heard the "Jupiter Jones doesn't have agency" criticism of Jupiter Ascending (dirs. the Wachowskis; 2015).[1]  The gist of the argument, as far as I can tell, is that Jupiter doesn't have agency (or enough agency) because she does not become a "strong female character" until the last possible second.  Andrew O'Hehir, for example, wrote in his review that
Jupiter has less female agency than any character ever played by Doris Day. Compared to this movie, the Disneyfied feminism of “Frozen” and “Brave” and “Maleficent” feels like Valerie Solanas’ "SCUM Manifesto."
Peter Debruge wrote in Variety that
[although] clearly conceived as an empowered female heroine, poor Jupiter spends most of the movie being kidnapped and shuffled from one unpleasant situation to another, whether that’s being nearly assassinated during an egg-donating operation or pushed into a marriage with a two-faced Abraxas prince.
Sam Maggs wrote in The Mary Sue:

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Worldcon 2017 Site Selection Process: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide

Recently, one of my friends confided in me that she found the process for voting for the Worldcon site complicated to the point of being off-putting.  So I decided to make a simplified template to follow for this year's site selection process.  For a far more detailed version, I strongly suggest you read Crystal Huff's excellent post on the subject.

I will update this page with when additional information (links, dates, etc.) becomes available.

1) Buy a Membership to Sasquan 2015
In order to vote for the 2017 Worldcon site, you must have a supporting or full membership to the 2015's Worldcon.

2) Wait for the Site Selection Ballot to Be Announced
Sasquan 2015 should announce the Site Selection Ballot at some point in June or July.  It should be announced on the website, in one of their update emails, and in their updates in print (you'll need to have a membership to receive one of the last two pieces).

3) Pay Your Site Selection Ballot Fee
Fees will vary depending on the year for reasons I don't understand.  According to Crystal Huff, the number usually rests between $40 and $70.  Sasquan 2015 will tell you how to pay this fee if you are not attending the convention.

Note:  This fee automatically transfers into a supporting membership for the winning bid.  The winning bidder may also extend additional deals for full memberships after the selection process is over.

4) Download the Print Ballot OR Go to the Site Selection Booth During Sasquan 2015
Worldcon does not currently allow electronic voting, so all ballots must be submitted at the 2015 convention OR by mail.

Print ballots should be available when the Site Selection Ballot is announced.

5) Submit Your Ballot
If you are not attending Sasquan 2015, then you must print, fill in, and mail your ballot to the address provided by the deadline.  This date is usually in August and is marked as a receipt date (i.e., it must be in their hands by that date).  Obviously, the deadline is much later if you're actually attending the convention.

That's it.  Pretty easy, right?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

On the Raging Child of Science Fiction Neo-Snobbery

On a foundational level, the most visible element of SF awards discussions concern subjective assertions about literary quality.  I have participated in some of these discussions over the years, podcasting about nominees I disliked for whatever reason and otherwise raging against what I perceived as the absence of taste within certain award-giving communities (mostly the Hugos).  The further away from those first instances I become, however, the more I realize how foolish these discussions really are.  Why rage against a difference in literary tastes?  I can no more tell someone what they should like than they can me.  At best, I can make a case for what I consider to be "good," but even then, the most effective arguments are those that explain why a text is interesting, not why it is qualitatively better, since the latter is, for the most part, impossible.  What we consider "of quality" could make for a very confusing, intersecting Venn diagram.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Retro Nostalgia: Equilibrium (2002) and the Paradox of Emotion

If you blinked back in 2002, you might have missed this lesser known Christian Bale vehicle featuring stylish gun kata and deliberate and sometimes excessive homages to George Orwell's 1984 (particularly the 1984 adaptation starring John Hurt).  Indeed, one could describe Kurt Wimmer's Equilibrium as Orwell on drugs.  

Here, Orwellian propaganda is apparent in the frequent appearance of Father (Sean Pertwee) "teaching" the masses about the dangers of "feeling" and the need to relinquish that human quality for a stable society.  The gesture is reinforced from the start by a veritable lecture, rife with images of human violence, in which Father reminds us that the people of this future have barely survived World War Three, and that humanity cannot survive another such war.  We must not feel if the world is to survive, it seems; and so we must voluntarily purge emotion by taking injections of Prozium.  On one level, this is hardly an irrational prospect, it would seem.