Sunday, March 27, 2011


I recently picked up a cheap DVD of the movie Splice.  It's not amongst the greatest shows I've ever seen, but still, it made for an interesting way to pass an evening, and left me with some things to think about.

The film is that sci-fi/horror mix that seems to work well for provoking some thought, especially when it comes to questions surrounding the ethical issues of contemporary technology.  If you think Frankenstein, you'll not be far off here.   A whole lot of the elements in Splice will bring that old classic to mind — everything from the idea of hubris to the parent-child relationship that develops between a scientist and his/her "creation."  And of course, central to both tales, there's the whole horrible situation of men creating monsters, not only by their tampering with science, but through their not knowing how to properly nurture the beings brought to life.

If you like engaging these kind of issues, you'll probably like Splice.  It's a little cheesy in some parts, and I'm not crazy about the ending, but there's enough there to provoke thought to make it worth the couple of hours it takes to watch.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

A Couple of Short Stories

Over at my China-related blog, Tai Shan, I've recently posted some thoughts on a couple of Chinese sci-fi short stories.  You can take a look at my responses to Yang Ping's "Wizard World" and Han Song's "The Wheel of Samsara."

The two pieces are quite different from one another, but they give you a bit of an idea of the sort of work coming out of China's growing sci-fi scene today. Both stories are available online — links to them can be found at the posts linked above.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tomorrow When the War Began

While not exactly the sort of speculative book that I usually review here, John Marsden's Tomorrow When the War Began does address a sort of interesting "what if" question that somehow mirrors the possibilities for what the world could become in the foreseeable future, even as it reflects on the hard questions that we should be asking ourselves today.

Set in Australia, the tale of the teenagers who find themselves in very unexpected, very unpleasant circumstances after a week camping in the bush is one that is pretty engaging.  The characters are, for the most part, fairly believable young adults.  There were places here and there where I thought the young female narrator didn't quite sound like a girl of her age, but it wasn't as troubling as it is in some books.  Instead, it made me feel that she was an extraordinary girl — or, more appropriately, a pretty normal girl who rose to the challenges of the extraordinary circumstances in which she found herself.

The book is pretty much a page-turner.  I read through it much more quickly than I expected too, and found myself thinking about it when I had to put it down and go to attend to real life.  I liked the way some hard questions were addressed by Ellie.  The narrative style drew me in almost from the beginning.

It's easy to see why Tomorrow When the War Began won so many awards over the years.  I've not read any of the subsequent books in the series, but it seems they have garnered their share of recognition too.  Makes me think it's probably worth picking them up as well, when I see them.

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