GalacticMu

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It’s Safe To Say: You’re Bonkers

Posted by Sunday on Sep 9, 2008 at 12:35 am

Okay, here we go again. Fellow nerdlings: I have no overlord. While I look upon the awkward Comic Book Guys with affection as they declare Joss Whedon to be their master now, I can’t help but recoil a little. And this is going to make me feel like a real huge asshole, but… cut it out. And especially, really cut it out if whomever you are declaring to be my master is actually a hit-or-miss upstart with a lot to prove still.

Case in point: SciFi Scanner’s John DeNardo thinks that JJ Abrams is now the hottest shit in science fiction. Which means that we’ve got to have a little sit-down.

forever_young_movie_poster.jpg

The man responsible for this is my overlord?

And, as usual, a caveat: I don’t think that any one scifi Master is infallible, so it should be no surprise where I’m going with this. Frank Herbert went bonkers. So did Lucas. William Gibson faded away while still being an active writer, which is sad and weird. James Cameron made Titanic and acted proud of it. You get my drift.

But Abrams, Mr. DeNardo, is not even up on the stage yet. Let’s make a list!

  1. You said: “Let’s ignore his non-scifi film and television work because, who cares?” Oh, I care. We care. You see, an overlord is not selectively an overlord, and the body of Abram’s work is not science fiction at all. You can call them “humble beginnings” but I call them “disqualifications.”
  2. You said: “Despite previous successes, or perhaps because of them, Abrams only recently grabbed the attention of scifi fans.” Just to be redundant: that’s because he just recently started making scifi.
  3. You said: “But what of Moore, Whedon, Moffat and Lucas? Mostly falling stars, I’m afraid.” I’ll grant you Lucas, but what the bloody fuck are you talking about? You list the three most successful scifi TV writers/producers today and then call them falling stars? Brother, I do not even know what you are on. Moore’s work (Battlestar Galactica) is now canon for reviving the genre. Whedon you claim is riding on past laurels though Dr. Horrible was great and Dollhouse looks promising – wait, when you say he’s relying on past glories, I guess you mean he’s still glorious? (Let’s not disregard the massively popular “Season 8″ Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic.) And Moffat’s re-energized Dr. Who is… limited to the small screen? Smells like a reach to me. Besides, the conclusion that Abrams is on top purely based on a vaguely plausible opinion that all the other greats are waning is wack. I SAID WACK.
  4. Cloverfield might have been a blockbuster, but it is a borderline critical failure. The LA Weekly, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Variety and Salon.com were not impressed.
  5. What we are left with is two potentially big science fiction hits: a new Star Trek movie and a new weekly TV show, Fringe. Claiming that both have already made Abrams an “overlord” is speculation, and poor bets to boot. Star Trek is as poised to backfire as it is to reheat the franchise; should it fail to do anything but blow minds, the future of Star Trek is all but a memory (it should be noted that Abrams did not write the upcoming Star Trek). I have to admit: I really want Star Trek to be good. I want it to be a hit. But there are more than enough aspects to give pause to any reasonable fan (Winona Ryder as Spock’s mom? The designer for the hideous Transformers being on board? A release date pushback? Abrams rumored to have rush “polished” the script to beat the writer’s strike?) And while Fringe indeed looks interesting, early emphasis on The X-Files similarities could just as easily lead to grand-scale disappointments.
  6. Speaking of Fringe: early gushing is definitely unadvised when Lost has yet to form a cohesive plotline. It is going to take a serious flexing of creative muscle to explain it all in a way that won’t have watchers throwing bricks at their TVs. People don’t like being strung along, it turns out. Particularly when there’s a real danger of it all ending up being an autistic boy with a snowglobe. Alias suffered the same fate: plot? Bah! MORE SEXY WIGS.
  7. This is my weakest point, but also my most personally nagging one: Abrams seems awfully interested in recreating someone else’s successful ideas. Cloverfield? Godzilla. Star Trek? Star Trek. Fringe? The X-Files. Upcoming: more Cloverfield and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. If he can do it well, I suppose I have nothing to argue about, but there is a little voice in the back of my head wondering what Abrams has to offer of his own. Oh right, that was Forever Young. There’s this jocky “so-and-so franchise needs a REBOOT!” tone that rubs me the wrong way. America needs their OWN GODZILLA! Wait, why? I’m gonna make a show about a NEW FEMALE FBI AGENT who totally investigates EVEN WEIRDER SHIT! Awesome – uh, but…

“SciFi Fans, You Have a New Overlord and His Name Is J.J. Abrams” by John DeNardo at SciFi Scanner.

5 Posted in Daily Space, Movies

In Which We Dogpile On An Unsuspecting Scientist

Posted by Sunday on Aug 17, 2008 at 1:59 pm

This morning a comment was left by Dr. Chris Lintott, astrophysicist. ASTROPHYSICIST. Oh, I am squirming with delight right now. And seriously, if that isn’t awesome enough, he co-wrote the book Bang! The Complete History of the Universe with Brian May – yes, THE LEAD GUITARIST OF QUEEN, WHO IS ALSO AN ASTROPHYSICIST. Buckaroo Bonzai naysayers can stuff it!

In February of this year I wrote an offhand snippet about my adoration of the science fiction movie Sunshine that included a few one-liners aimed at Dr. Lintott. He had been consulted as an astronomer to comment on the movie, and I used his quotes in my own post.

Today Halcyon wrote a response to Dr. Lintott that I wanted to publish it here as a front-page post rather than a comment (both due to its length and my continuing interest in the subject). I am thankful that Dr. Lintott felt comfortable responding to my previous post here at GalacticMu, and I hope that he forgives us for responding on our own turf like this.

Your Captain,
Sunday

**************************

(For ease of reading, I will reprint Chris Lintott’s comment here before Halcyon’s)

“I was asked to comment as an astronomer; to an astronomer, it’s hard not to notice that the science is, well, ‘complete rubbish’. That’s different from saying I didn’t enjoy the movie (which I did), but it does matter. The emotional impact of the film came partly from the fact that we believe this is our world we’re watching – otherwise why does the shot at the end of the Sydney Opera House under snow have such an impact? To me, that’s completely undermined by the fact that physics appears to work differently in the sunshine universe.”

Dr. Lintott, it is truly an honor. Thank you for stopping by our humble blogship.

I’m sad to say you seem to be arguing around the point of Captain Sunday’s post. There is a larger context here, which is explored thoroughly in a newer post. Here’s the gist: our community, the science fiction community, has taken an ugly turn toward realism… mundane fiction, as Sunday calls it. Part of the reason for this shift is that scifi authors have suddenly become quite concerned with what real scientists think of their work. Plausibility is running roughshod over imagination.

Science fiction, as Sunday points out, has never been about empirical science; it has always been about fictional science. The goal of SF is not to illustrate what is real, but to ask “What if?”

Many of SF’s greatest works completely ignore one or more fundamental laws of physics. Take “Fantastic Voyage” for example. The physics are preposterous. That’s a given, part of the contract Asimov makes with the reader at the beginning of the book. Everyone knows it’s impossible to shrink a human being down to the size of a blood vessel, but what if you could shrink a human down to the size of a blood vessel? How cool would that be? How many future scientists and doctors were inspired by that book (and the movie)? And what do you want to bet that Fantastic Voyage was the inspiration (directly or indirectly) behind today’s endoscopes? How about the camera-pill?

Scientific discoveries (and theories) inspire science fiction. Likewise, SF can and has inspired scientists. This reciprocity of inspiration is healthy. But it is lost when scientists take fiction too seriously and when authors (and auteurs) take scientists too seriously.

When SF creators become too concerned with how (as in: “how does this spaceship have artificial gravity”), they wind up sacrificing the what-if. SF becomes devoid of entertainment and inspiration, as dry as a scientific journal. A little suspension-of-disbelief is a small price to pay for a movie as beautiful as Sunshine.

Besides which, suspension-of-disbelief is good for you. It’s a healthy part of a scientist’s diet. Because almost everything you know to be scientifically valid would have been considered complete rubbish by scientists like yourself 100 years ago. And every new theory starts with someone suspending his or her disbelief about how our world works.

Always here to help,
Halcyon
Psych Officer
Galactic Mu

Chris Lintott’s personal blog.

The official Bang! The Complete History of the Universe website.

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Posted by Sunday on Jul 19, 2008 at 5:16 am

It’s that sad and wonderful time, meatbags, Act III and the final episode of Dr. Horrible.  Go watch them all in succession before they are all gone tomorrow.  Of course they’ll reappear for a fee, but all the world loves a free gleaming jelly.

3 Posted in Movies, TV

Two movie posts in one day! I know, but it’s summer blockbuster time which means one thing: getting excited over what is coming out next year.

I’m not ashamed to defend my love of the Terminator franchise, and like any true love I can admit to its failings. The Sarah Connor Chronicles, for example – I’ve never seen a whole episode and while I like the concept, something in me just fails to get a nerd boner. I can wait until they come out on DVD, and even then I’m not going to be breathing heavy all over my Netflix waiting for the Saturday night clock to roll over to New On DVD day.

But imagine my temporary blackout when I learned that Christian Bale was set to not only be John Connor, but to star in a possible trilogy of post-apocalyptic machine-war movies. This! Is! Me! Hitting myself in the head with a nerdstick! There is bad news, as always: the producers have made it clear they want the franchise to become PG-13, unlike the first trilogy, to “broaden audiences.” I like the generous wording of “broaden audiences,” it sounds so much more respectable than “make more money” and “abandon integrity”. But there is also strange news: since The Governator cannot reprise his most famous role due to some conflict having to do with being a politician or something, they’ve hired Roland Kickinger, a Schwarzenegger look-alike. I can’t imagine that someone pretending to be Schwarzenegger pretending to be a robot could be any worse than the original, but time will tell I suppose.

All this aside, this is the story I’ve always wanted to see: the resistance, John Connor meeting his paradox-headache-inducing teenage father, Kyle Reese, GIANT MACHINE ARMIES. You know, the important things.

60-seconds of cruel, teasery cruelness.

This is going to be a hard one.

I’ve known it was coming. But the gulf between preparing one’s self and actually facing the music is a big one.

I’m talking, of course, about Watchmen movie.

Of all the comic book stories in all the world, this is the one that I feel most protective of. This is my giant fanboy experience and if they fuck this up I am going to fall out of love with Hollywood forever. And so it is with the timid, fragile, quivering heart of a teenager that I watch the now-available trailer for Watchmen and think, “It’s not perfect, but … could it be? Good?”

Good?

  • Casting looks promising – what was once slated to star both Keanu Reeves and Jude Law now is cast by semi-unknowns
  • Effects are pretty
  • Rorschach’s mask swirls!
  • Yay Archie! It appears they didn’t update Archie into “awesome” Batmobile-level absurdity

Break my heart?

  • My favorite character, Dr. Manhattan, looks… too real. Veiny?
  • Might just be trailer-politics, but man does it look way overly action-packed
  • The Silk Spectres had bad costumes before – and the new ones aren’t any better
  • Some scenes appear overly stylistic (giant Dr. Manhattan, for example) and not in keeping with Gibbons’ style of comic realism

Lightly Flashy offical Watchmen website, with trailer.

And Again

Posted by Sunday on Jul 17, 2008 at 8:00 am

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Part the Second is green.

2 Posted in Movies, TV

Quickie

Posted by Sunday on Jul 15, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Act One of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is now active – Act Two and Three to Following alternating days. Step to it, Earthlings!

Note!  They will be GONE from the internets in FIVE DAYS!

3 Posted in Movies, TV

I admit that I read celebrity blogs, but covertly and with that brand of defensive, proud shame that comes with most porn-viewing. I’m a grown-up, I can read about Naomi Campbell’s repeated arrests if I want to.

One line of regular interest is whether or not Will Smith and his wife Jada are Scientologists. Or rather, whether or not they are going to publicly admit it. Because the public accepts Smith as the next great American Action Actor, seeing past his skin and into his car-chase-sequencing, slang-crowing heart. Now run the same experiment, but with the Scientology parameter added. Result: possible microscopic drop in the hundreds-of-millions Smith might could make on a picture. And we can’t have that, can we?

The Smiths are regularly spotted chillin’ with Shorty McLoonytoons himself, Tom Cruise, which some might argue is not a solid indicator of one’s religious beliefs. However, I beg to differ: it is made clear both in Scientology reference material and in members’ actions that fraternization with non-Scientologists is strictly discouraged. Though it is oddly not spoken of, Cruise’s own divorce from Nicole Kidman was most certainly due to her long-malingering refusal to submit to Scientology in total. Neither party has spoken of this directly, but Kidman’s quiet assurances that she remains Catholic at heart are as close as she can probably get without finding herself accidentally sticking her head into a noose and then accidentally falling off a balcony. The internet abounds with testimonies of ex-Scientologists who were parted from their non-Scientoligist friends and family – even marriage partners, and sometimes forcibly. Classic cult tactics. For the Cruises to be seen repeatedly with the Smiths in public is a very, very strong indicator that the Smiths are at least superficially entertaining Xenu.

The Smiths, as you may or may not have heard, are behind a new private school called The New Village academy (set to open this September), a charitable, benign venture few people fussed over until this week when it was noticed at the school’s website the inclusion of certain Scientology terms.

The school’s spokesperson claims that yes, certain teaching methods at The New Village Academy were pioneered by L. Ron Hubbard, but no, the school was not a “Scientology school.” She also defended the confirmation of several Scientologist teachers by pointing out there were Christian, Muslim and Jewish teachers as well.

As you can probably guess, the logic starts to fall apart pretty quickly. For starters, there are no Jesus or Mohammad methods of teaching at the school as there are L. Ron Hubbard methods. A tiny bit of digging also reveals that the method The New Village Academy will be employing, called “Study Tech,” is in itself a method of converting/reinforcing Scientology beliefs. In other words, it is like saying that a school will have bible study, but that the school in not religious in nature.

A good breakdown of what a Scientology school is structured like can be found at the Ex-Scientology Kids website. Take special note of the section titled “What are the differences between a Scientology school and a public school / regular school?” It takes some reading through, but once you start to spot the typical “Study Tech” weirdnesses, you can see them worded differently or renamed in The New Village Academy’s website. And example of this is the Scientology method of the “clay demo,” or being able to demonstrate understanding of an idea as a 3D piece of clay (the idea being that the spirit learns based on physical, 3D events – this all goes back to space aliens, trust me). At The New Village Academy, it is referred to as:

Mastery can be tested traditionally with pen and paper, but often we prefer to have children demonstrate their understanding by creating models.

I’ll leave it to you to determine how a student might demonstrate their understanding of spelling or long-division by creating a model.

The New Village Academy website.

“Scientology is focus of flap over Will Smith’s new school,” at The LA Times.

4 Posted in Daily Space, Movies

Mutt Williams and the Adventure of the Origin Story

Posted by Sunday on Jun 18, 2008 at 6:57 pm

Three weeks ago it was popular to comment on the new Indiana Jones movie, and because I like to pretend I’m not a follower, I am just now getting around to jumping off that particular bridge. Because I am in truth a lazy follower. And because I despise it when people spoil things even years afterwards, we’re going to do a jump.

Follow meeeeeee!

0 Posted in Movies

Meditational Item No. 1

Posted by Leesa on May 11, 2008 at 2:52 pm

When you grow weary from the perpetual hyperdrive induced gray blur visible outside the portals, you might wander down to the Gmu Meditational Hall to view the works displayed there. Let them ease the space madness and bring about a magical state of calm wonderment.
No words.

From the collection:

 

jareth.jpg

Jareth by Joy and Tom Snyder

 

 

Comments Off Posted in Movies, Visual