Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SciFi Failure

The linked article is an editorial from regarding the recent addition to the Metroid franchise, Metroid: Other M. While not personally a fan of the series, if the editorial bears any resemblance to the truth then this iteration represents a serious mis-step.Other M spends an inordinate amount of time tying the protagonist's character to her femininity, something that is out of step for a series that used the revealing of the character's gender as a surprise ending in one game.

I feel that this is relevant to our ongoing dialog about the role of female protagonists in Science Fiction. It is interesting that, in a period where women in genre writings are receiving the spotlight, a franchise with a strong female lead would take a step in the opposite direction. Apparently, the protagonist has access to all of the powers/armors she needs in the game from the start... but is unwilling to use them until the male romantic interest explicitly orders her to do so.

What do you all think?

Yay for Halloween!

First of all, I know I posted about this a few weeks ago but I am SO excited about AMC's new show The Walking Dead. It premiers on Halloween and I can't wait! It looks incredibly creepy for a t.v. show and I hope it lives up to all the hype.

Second, we have been reading a lot of books with crazy vocabulary. As Drew posted earlier, River of Gods contains a glossary, but many other books do not. Why do you think that is? Do the authors just feel like they shouldn't have to explain their made up or foreign terms?

That is all. Hope everyone is enjoying the book!

Speaking of Time Travel

Having read Bailey's post about time travel, I decided to elaborate just a little in my own post.

Time travel seems to be a popular topic in the sci fi I've been exposed to (and consequently, the sci fi that I enjoy the most). There have been all sorts of popular movies and tv shows recently that have dealt with the possibilities and complexities of time travel.

1. Dr. Who- we will be watching two episodes of this show later on with Andy (which I'm very excited about as they are two very good episodes!). Dr. Who is essentially a Time Lord who travels around in his TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space) which is disguised as a 1950's blue Police Box. The Doctor goes around in his TARDIS with a companion and experiences the universe at varying stages- anywhere from the beginning of the universe, to the end of the Earth, and to the year 5 Billion. Everywhere the Doctor and his companion go, there is always an emphasis on how time is in flux, and the actions that they take can change the course of history, or create the history that we know. There's a really great episode where they go to Pompeii on Volcano Day, and the Doctor tells Donna, his companion of the season, that Pompeii is a fixed point in history that has to happen no matter what, whereas other things can change. It turns out that the volcano only erupts because of an alien force living in the depths of it, which the Doctor has to defeat and consequently brings about the destruction of Pompeii. (remember guys.. this is fiction). There's a large emphasis on how the smallest action can have the longest reaching effects... there's a 3 part episode that concentrates on the smallest action: turning right instead of left at a stop sign. Symbolically, this is of course a large symbol of a crossroads and choosing a path, blah blah blah. But the butterfly effect displayed in these episodes shows how diverse and far reaching the consequences of turning right instead of left can create. (in this case a parallel universe without a Doctor).

2. Fringe, the White Tulip- This episode of Fringe also deals with time travel. I just watched in for one of my other classes. The man who time travels throughout this creates a way for him to time travel by placing all sorts of mechanisms into his body surgically allowing him to "jump" backwards. However, each jump uses up a lot of energy, and drains all the energy out of the things where ever he lands- people, batteries, plant life, etc.

3. The Time Traveler's Wife- Such a great movie and a great book. The main character Henry is a time traveler who goes back in time to visit his wife when she's a little girl. One of the main issues that is raised with this book/movie in my mind is which is the chicken and which is the egg? And which one came first? For Henry, his life is a chronological order that does not match up with the chronological order of other people's lives. For instance, the first time he meets his wife is when she is 21 and he is 26 or so. But, the first time she met him she was 6 and he was 40. He keeps going back to visit her while she is growing up in the field behind her parent's house. It is stated in the movie that he keeps going back to the same places because big events act like gravity and draw him in. She was a big event. When they first meet in real time for Henry, she's already known him her whole life and is completely in love with her. He falls in love with her and they get married, blah blah blah. But which is the cause and which the effect? It's very hard to wrap your head around. I've only read the book once, but I think I may reread it again soon (in all my spare time) and see if I can get a more clear answer.

Just thought it was interesting that Bailey wrote about time travel when I had just recently been exposed to all three of these examples in modern culture within the past week.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

River of Gods

I have to say that I actually really like River of Gods so far. I'm not as far in as I should be, but I'm coming along. It's pretty tough to understand at times, but overall I think it's really good. Is anyone else loving the glossary at the end? I'm using it so much, and it's so much faster than having to look up words elsewhere.
Ernest pointed out to me that A Clockwork Orange used a similar idea, but I had never seen a fiction book with a glossary in the back to help with understanding what is going on. Is this a common occurrence?


I am very excited about this one. (The title is a link to the article)
There is speculation that time travel may be real due to footage from the premier of Charlie Chaplin's "The Circus" silent movie in 1928. An old woman walks by doing what looks like talking on a cell phone. The phone even looks like an iphone...
While this could be some sort of prank that people have done (and added to the DVD set when it was released) there is the question: is this a time traveler caught on tape? And, if so, how close are we to that possibility? If it is a prank, it was very ingeniously done as it is hard to argue that the woman that walks by is not part of the original film.
It's a long shot, but I guess you can't rule it out. The title link goes to an article and the video. You can decide for yourself: elaborate prank? Alien technology? Undisclosed small portable object from 1928? TIME TRAVEL?
For sure a Sci Fi mystery. Enjoy!

River of Gods

So I'm chugging along in this book and realize that I actually think it is far easier to read than The Windup Girl was. I've caught myself not noticing how far I've actually read in one sitting. So far I also like the story. This author gives very vivid descriptions that still manage to not bog down the story. He makes his images very clear but doesn't take away from the actual book by going on and on about them. The only thing that is confusing me is the pronouns used for the aeai. I don't know how to pronounce "yt" in my head as I read and it just doesn't seem right when I attempt to. I'm starting to just read it as "it". Nonetheless this book is keeping my attention in ways that The Windup Girl simply could not.

Question. How far are we reading for next week's class? I assume halfway which is around 300 pages, but I wanted to see what everyone else thinks.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Closer to an awesome robot future

I thought I would share with you all a few more finds from the internet (courtesy of StumbleUpon, of course). As you may remember (from my very first blog post) I have a love of the giant robot. I'm not talking about the Iron Giant so much as things like the Mechs from the BattleTech universe, Voltron, Gigantor, Zords from Power Rangers, Gundams, etc. I really dig giant fighting robots that people pilot/control. Here are a couple of links to a Japanese site where they are making my dreams come true:

This one makes the Power Wheels, bikes and go-carts you lusted after as a kid look like a joke

And this one puts us one step closer to having the giant, fighting, bad-ass machines we all want to see on the front lines (really, if we have to keep going to war with things, this is how I want it to go down).

So what do you all think? Are awesome robots like these the way of the future, or just a cool bump on the way there?

Team Edward or Team Wharblgarblbrains?

I had this stray thought while I was eating lunch and figured I might as well post it. We've read two stories that feature zombies or vampires as an important setting characteristic. It hit me that there isn't a huge distinction that can be made between these two groups. Zombies are walking dead things that have a hunger for flesh while vampires are walking dead things that have a thirst for blood. So, why is there a distinction? It seems to me that vampires are just zombies with brilliant PR. I can't find a separable trait that makes a vampire not a zombie...except, maybe, that I've never seen a traditional zombie sparkle*. Long story short: Vampires and zombies-do you see them as being different enough to warrant a distinction?

*Ke$ha doesn't count because, while she sometimes looks like a zombie and wharblgarbl's like a zombie and has the stage presence of a corpse, I cannot prove that she eats the flesh of the living.

Air Force Sci Fi

I was watching TV this weekend and this commercial came on of some crazy combat-military action, and then across the screen it said "THIS IS NOT SCIENCE FICTION." I thought this was pretty interesting. The Air Force is using the concept of science fiction seeming incredible and advanced to exemplify their cause. I think it's a pretty cool angle, seeing as the military always seems to be able to be the first to really use new technologies, especially with weapons technologies. And of course it caught my eye because of this class so I thought I would share it. Hope everyone did well on their papers :)