Archives for posts with tag: science fiction

‚ÄčNot letting critics put me off a movie was a good thing when I watched Passengers. I really loved it, except for the early part staying too long on just one character. Apparently a lot of people complained about that, so it’s not just me.  Otherwise, it’s one of my favorite movies I’ve seen this year. It’s sweet and romantic, yet still actiony that’s at times terrifying, all the sf colonization stuff is so, so cool, the ship is so awesome that I want to travel on it, and the ethical question at the movie’s center is fascinating. Chris Pratt is moving as Jim, especially while agonizing over whether to remain alone, then still wrestling with a combination of guilt and pure joy for much of the movie. Jennifer Lawrence displays a gamut of emotions, as Aurora endures different but equally brutal decisions. Michael Sheen’s robotic bartender adds enjoyable comic relief, with an accompanying touch of pathos. Lawrence Fishburn? What more need I say? He’s Lawrence Fishburn! As the movie unspooled, it reminded me of the final Futurama finale, which is a real compliment from me. Cautiously watching Passengers turned out to be an unexpected delight…the kind I can only wish happened more often.

Passengers Official Trailer

Anyone who’s read my musings here for any length of time will have noticed that I’m interested in a very wide variety of topics. That interest in just about everything started when reading classics like Treasure Island and A Tale of Two Cities as a kid. It spread, as opportunities for travel grew as an adult, and became pretty much a cofoundation of my life with writing once telling stories decided to become my life. Today, TV, movies, and the internet, along with books, feed my voracious appetite for information. What better time for an information junkie to be on the planet than during our great Information Age?

Two of my particular sources of fascination have long been medical science and ocean travel. Sailing ships and their adventures are attractive for their drama and romance. The concept of transferring navigating the globe in vessels of canvas and wood lends itself perfectly to extrapolation into space. Trade the canvas and wood for titanium and transparent aluminum, and you’ve hitched your wagon to Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, though he used the analogy of a wagon train traveling the great unknown. Some of us are born adventurers, whose passion for the stuff of myth and dreams leads us to explore space in our minds and on paper…and for some lucky few, in real life. As writers of science fiction, we may invent diseases horrific and space born, but none may be more horrific or devastating than the one I just read about in this National Geographic article.

Often I don’t eat very much at all or enough fruits and vegetables. If left to my natural appetite, I eat one carb heavy meal a day, with a little grazing on the side. I have had the habit of making jokes about it, saying something like: “Time to eat a salad or some fruit. Don’t want to give myself scurvy!” After reading this article, I don’t think I’ll be quite so quick to make light of such a terrible illness.

I’ve known about scurvy since ninth grade general science. Rickets too, which led to a similar joke, because I don’t like to drink milk. The very idea of scurvy carried a slight air of mystery and romance, because of its connection to sailing expeditions. Ninth grade children weren’t informed in their textbooks of just what it did to the human body. Now that I’ve been enlightened, all traces of romance and mystery have disappeared. All that’s left is an education on an obscure medical crisis that was also absolute tragedy.

Some of my favorite fiction to write involves medical backdrops. I have a feeling a space faring version of scurvy now lurks in my futuristic writing future. Anything can be expanded on, tangented from, and transferred to space. Scurvy included, though it’s going to be hard to “improve” on this very real horror from our earthbound past.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/scurvy-disease-discovery-jonathan-lamb/?google_editors_picks=true

Bookstores keep disappearing, so it’s becoming more and more difficult to find a book or magazine I’m published in, on physical shelves. It was worth the effort to see “my” Analog on display at Books-a-Million.

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I’m not sure a word has been invented to adequately describe how cool the first sight of the cover is. It’s like instant Christmas.

Here’s a different view…because Analog.

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I managed to put my phone away, after these two shots, but I stood there for a bit longer, basking.

A happy moment, for a thrilled author.

I can’t let the 50 year anniversary of Star Trek pass without marking it as special to me. I stumbled into The Original Series long after its original run. I’d seen the movies and some franchise episodes. I liked them, but it was reading the novels that made me love them so much that I wanted to write my own Trek fiction. This avalanche of inspiration led me to watch… everything Trek. All that amazing Star Trek goodness inspired me to not only play in Gene Roddenberry’s sandbox, but also to continue what I learned from that into creating original fiction.

The end result to date of falling in love with Kirk, Spock, and Bones is that I won publication in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthologies VII, VIII, and Ten. The thrill of seeing my byline on those pro sale stories will forever be a landmark of my life, as a reader, a writer, and a human. That experience instilled in me a great love of writing and a work ethic that has led me this year to another longheld dream come true, being published in Analog.

Today, on the date when Star Trek first aired 50 years ago, I salute The Great Bird of the Galaxy. He enhanced my life in ways he never knew, but that I will treasure forever.

I am very happy to announce that my story “Mom in the Moon” has sold to Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Analog has long been the genre magazine I most wish to be published in, so this milestone is a dream come true.

*Spoilers below *

In the unlikely event no one has seen it yet.

I was disappointed to miss Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the theater, and hoping that would be where the disappointment would end. I love the original trilogy. A New Hope was on first viewing a transcendent experience. It marked the beginning of a new era in visual storytelling. From the scrolling words opening to the innovative FX to the characters and their struggles, joys, and triumphs, it was an event as no other movie had been before. Many instant fans didn’t even know it actually had a five word title. It was simply Star Wars, the most exciting movie of its generation, perhaps of all time.

It held up so well that The Force Awakens was able to slide into the mythology, with near perfect segue. The key to this was the inclusion of so many familiar faces, most importantly with their familiar actors, right down to the droids. In particular, the dynamic between Han and Leia made the transition intact. Not many movies can give the veteran viewer a jolt of pure joy, but I felt just that multiple times while watching The Force Awakens. First sight of the Falcon, Han, Chewie, R2-D2 and C3PO…and Leia, then Leia and Han together again at last. Star Wars fans dreamed of that moment, some for decades. It did not disappoint. It thrilled the way movies need to do a lot more often.

The new additions brought their own separate thrills. Tough and remarkable Rey, flawed hero Finn, dashing pilot Poe, and of course adorable droid BB8, all bring out memories of what has come before, even as they blaze new trails that belong to them. Kylo Ren is an admirable foe, bristling with his bitter darkside darkness, yet carrying the vulnerability of a struggling child.

Action is actionier due to 21st century FX, but the core of Star Wars tradition runs through The Force Awakens right down to Han’s shocking apparent death. Apparent? Of course. I have little doubt and lots of hope that the tradition of dead is not as dead as we think will continue throughout the new incarnation of the beloved series.

There’s an unspoken extra bit to the title…Star Wars: The Force Awakens A Newer Hope. This is the kind of storytelling that instantly becomes the stuff of legend, even as it continues the legend at its foundation. It brings a ray of light into the endless parade of franchise reboots and movie remakes. Most importantly of all, it is the Star Wars we love moved into the next millennium. How fitting.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official)

I thought Tomorrowland looked intriguing from the trailer, but had no solid idea what it was actually like. Obviously, there was a super cool futuristic world called Tomorrowland that George Clooney knew way more about that he was letting on…until he launched his bathtub…. That was  pretty much all I had to go on. Oh, and a teenage girl kept going there in flashes that eventually led her to the traveling bathtub. Okay, so I like the combination of cool and quirky!

From these images I had a vague idea that it was light and frothy and fun. And it was in part. Until it started getting dark and still and thought provoking. I had read somewhere that some people didn’t like the message of the movie. For quite some time I forgot all about that. Then the message kicked in, and I was a tiny bit annoyed that my frothiness had suddenly become heavy and deep.

As the movie played out, though, I became absorbed in its depth and the clever way it made me think so much, right in the middle of my presumed popcorn movie. The thing that rose above all else was that I found myself agreeing with the message. It seems all too heart breakingly, disturbingly plausible that humanity as a lumped together whole would be vulnerable to the power of suggestion, all wrapped up in technology and fun and disguised portents of doom. The more plausible something is, the more thinking about it can make you squirm. So gee, thanks, Mouse House, for interrupting my fun, futuristic adventure with…gasp!…you know…thinking! How dare you? How dare you not?

The weird little kid I used to be, who dreamed of the stars and the whole wide world and the future, never outgrew all of that. I’m one of those bizarre people who actually enjoys thinking. Call it a hobby of mine. Movies like Tomorrowland hit me right where I live, turning my head inside out when I’m not paying attention and then leaving me long after the credits roll to fix that…by thinking until my brain hurts.

In the meantime, while I’m trying to absorb what I’ve been watching, they slip a feelgood ending in there. It doesn’t get any better than that, for my movie watching sweet spot.

So, yes, thank you, dear Mouse House. For the deep thoughts, the hopeful finale…and the pleasure of watching George Clooney drudge through his own unfulfilled life, then navigate from the mundane through dystopia, and on into an interdimensional dreamscape of what just might be to come.

Tomorrowland turned out to be a good movie to watch Christmas weekend, with Doctor House, sans cane, Grinching his way out of our hearts. It even had a little girl not unlike Tiny Tim, learning hard truths a child should not be forced to face…if they were really a child….

If you’ll excuse me now, I feel a sudden urge to binge watch The Walking Dead, Terminator movies in all their incarnations….

Tomorrowland Official Trailer # 1