Monday, October 29, 2007


I'm on the road right now, and not keeping up with blogging as much as I'd like. But I have to get a quick post in on this one.

I saw 1408 on the plane, and I have to say that it is a fairly weird movie. I watched it mostly because I am a John Cusack fan. I love Max, Being John Malkovich, Identity, whatever. It usually doesn't matter how weird it gets — I'll enjoy it. Cusack just chooses good roles, and acts in good films.

But 1408 was a miss for me. Maybe it is because I was on the plane, and you know how it is watching a film on those little screens. I don't think it was just because the plot is convoluted (though it is). Whatever the reason, it just didn't seem to work for me. It was a little too much like Identity, but without the clencher that leaves you saying, "Yeah... that was well done."

I might give it another shot eventually, if I can borrow the DVD from someone. But it isn't something I am aiming to do in the near future. For me, this is the very rare John Cusack film that just missed the mark for me.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Death of Science Fiction?

I was just reading a very interesting discussion over at The World in the Satin Bag addressing the question of whether the death of science fiction is a sure thing, even if not quite imminent.

I think the post offers an intersting perspective — namely, that science fiction "has to" die eventually, just because the things that make up science fiction today will eventually be the reality, and therefore will be merely fiction, and not science fiction.

I understand the logic, but I have to say there seems to be a flaw there somewhere. I think it is in the fact that this view seems to mean that science will fail to find new horizons to conquer. For me, I think that this is not at all the case. When interstellar travel is a reality, does that mean there are no more amazing possiblities to be explored? Surely not. Surely there are still areas of science to be explored, manipulated, and dreamed over. These, I would say, are the things science fiction is made of. While space travel may form the bulk of material for science fiction today, it becoming a reality doesn't negate the possibility for science fiction. It merely changes its face.

The post argues that this change in the landscape of the genre would amount to it becoming a different animal altogether. I would agree with that, if it were a discussion about "the space novel" rather than an arguement about science fiction. Can't 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, for instance, also be classified as science fiction, even though it isn't about space travel? That there tells us that science fiction is about more than just life amongst the stars.

I don't know what will provide new material for the science fiction novel of the future. But I do think there is room for its continuation of the genre, even if space travel becomes the norm, just as the airplane hasn't negated myths in the mold of Icarus.

But I do certainly agree that the genre might morph in ways that today we can't imagine.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Rush: 2112

Call me old-fashioned, but in many ways I am still much more tied to the music of my growing-up years than I feel I can ever be to the things you find coming out today. Perhaps that is true for everyone. Maybe we are just put together in such a way that the music of our formative years will continue to resonate with us as we grow up in a way that nothing else quite can. I have a friend who refers to this as “the soundtrack of a life,” because the music we grow up with becomes so intertwined with the experiences of growth. Perhaps there is something to that.

So, that said, I suppose it would not be surprising that I would call a more-than-30-year old piece “Music of the Future.” My labeling it thus has nothing to do with when the piece was written, obviously, but has more to do with the piece’s connection with the sort of books and movies that speculate about possible futures for humanity, and explore those possibilities in artistic form. For me, Rush’s “concept album” 2112 is a nice fit into this genre of speculative fiction.

You can read the rest of this article, with some thoughts about the lyrics of Neil Peart, on my main blog. Admittedly, though, there's not near enough space in a single post to do justice to the band (or the man's) genius. Perhaps it is an issue I will revisit from time to time.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Speculative Fiction

I recently visited a place that keeps a bookshelf set aside for bookcrossing. I first heard about from another blogger, and have had a good time “setting books free” after registering them at the site. I’ve had an equally good time “catching” books released by other bookcrossers. On my recent “hunting trip,” I came across a find that could not have been any better, as far as I am concerned -- John Costello’s Science Fiction Films. I have been having a great time reading through the little volume at a very leisurely pace over the past couple of weeks.

I am quite a fan of science fiction, but am a much bigger fan of the more general category of writing that I’d term “speculative fiction,” encompassing not only science fiction, but fantasy, imaginative tales about possible parallel worlds or possible futures for our world. It’s an area of fiction that can really captivate me, whether talking about 1001 Arabian Nights, Star Wars, The Matrix, or Diana Wynne Jones’s Chrestomanci. I pretty much love it all.

Continue reading this article at my new blog

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