Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Receptionist: Doctor, there's an invisible man in the waiting room.
Doctor: Tell him I can't see him.
H. G. Wells and Ralph Ellison each wrote a novel about an invisible man. The titles are actually slightly different. Wells's is The Invisible Man while Ellison drops the "the." Aside from sometimes being confused with one another (as in the meme above), the books are typically thought to have nothing in common. It's not even clear if Ellison, writing 50 years after Wells, was familiar with Wells's novel, although his protagonist does allude to one or more of the films based on Wells's work.
I think for all their vast differences these two books have some surprising connections, especially when it comes to the complex relationships between the individual and society.
I'm starting with Ellison because I happened to read his book first, although for me the connections reach both ways.
Monday, August 7, 2017
Roland Takes Manhattan: The Dark Tower (Bonus Reviews of The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three)
A film like The Dark Tower presents a lot of challenges. It's based on a series of eight novels, a series that has some of Stephen King's most fervent fans. The universe is complex and weird enough that translating it to film is going to be tricky even over a few films. Making a single film digestible for people who haven't read any of the books is nearly impossible. And even worse: neither of the first two books would work as a stand-alone movie, because they're mostly set up and world building (see my bonus reviews of The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three below).
I liked The Dark Tower. Is it a great movie? Not exactly, but I think it did a good job considering the challenges any Dark Tower movie would face. I definitely don't think it deserves the mostly bad reviews it's been getting (although here's a fairer one from Allie Hanley).
Sunday, August 6, 2017
|Peanut Buster Parfait|
My mom died 17 years ago today. I usually commemorate this with what my mom liked to call "a recommended daily dose of Dairy Queen." This year is no different: I had a Peanut Buster Parfait (that didn't look quite as good as the one in the picture above, but was pretty tasty). Last year I wrote about reading one of my mom's favorite books, The Clan of the Cave Bear. In 2015 I explained my Dairy Queen ritual of commemoration, and I encouraged others to remember their loved ones.
This year as I partook of my frosty maternal communion, I thought about how everyone deals with grief and how this should be a route to compassion for each others. We're all in pain, and we're all in this together. So we should give everyone a break.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
|Exhibit A: Scenic beauty!|
I recently spent a few days with my wife in Panama City Beach, Florida. As a nerd by both profession and personal inclination, I've never been big on the beach life, requiring as it does physical activity in copious amounts of direct sunlight. Still, there's a lot to love about the beach even for nerds. So here are things I like and don't like about the beach!
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds has been on my to-read list for years. I've liked some of Reynolds's stuff, like last year's Hugo finalist Slow Bullets (although I honestly didn't love his much beloved Revelation Space). What struck me about Blue Remembered Earth was was that it's SF set in about 150 years in a world where African countries are basically running things with a little help from India and China - I'm intrigued! I'm glad I finally got to it, although it's not quite what I expected.
Reynolds starts slow and takes a long time to get going, but somehow this slowness didn't make me feel bogged down. It took me awhile to get through this, but that's because I had to put it down for awhile to get through a couple library books and my Hugo packet. This novel definitely could have been shorter, but I didn't mind the leisurely ride.
The plot begins with Geoffrey Akinya, a biologist in Tanzania who just wants to be left alone to study his beloved elephants. But Geoffrey happens to be a member of a rich and powerful family. When the matriarch of the family dies (Eunice, Geoffrey's grandmother), his cousins send him to the moon to pick up his grandmother's safety deposit box. Also, while he's there, he visits his sister, Sunday, who is an artist on the moon. This trip leads Geoffrey and Sunday on a bit of wild goose chase across the solar system that I don't want to spoil.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
The thing I've always loved about the Planet of the Apes movies (as well as Pierre Boulle's novel) is how deeply subversive it all is. Stories about "a planet where apes evolved from men" turn so many of our self-assured certainties on their heads when it comes to evolution, "progress," intelligence, race, and the place of humans in relation to our fellow animals and the universe. If you didn't read "a planet where apes evolved from men" in Charleton Heston's voice, I must insist that you go back and do so immediately (see the clip at the end if you need help).
Saturday, July 15, 2017
Hugo ballots are due TODAY (Sat. July 15, 2017). See my previous post for part one of my ballot as well as my three principles of Hugo voting. That post includes my votes for the main written fiction categories: novel, novella, novelette, and short story. Here's what I think about the other categories!