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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Link Dump
You know the drill, painstakingly curated links posted here for your enjoyment, so you better damn well enjoy. Or not. I'm not your mother. Where were we? Ah, yes, links:
  • Chief O'Brien at Work - This little webcomic perfectly captures the pathos of Chief O'Brien. I like how most of the comics start with the same three panels.
  • Asking the Wrong Questions: Her - Abigail Nussbaum's review of Her is a lot more critical of the movie than I am, but we also share some thoughts:
    Science fiction films, it often seems, are the idiot cousin of the genre. Not that there aren't some excellent SF films out there, but even if you ignore the vast majority, which are actually action or horror films in an SFnal setting, what you'll be left with will be mostly small, simple stories in thinly drawn worlds, often with a thuddingly obvious political subtext. Again, that's not to say that these films can't be good--Moon, to take one example whose story and world are practically miniscule, is one of the finest SF films of the last decade. But it's rare, verging on unheard-of, for SF films to achieve the depth and complexity of SFnal ideas and worldbuilding that written SF is capable of, and I think that part of the reason for this is fear. Most SF filmmakers (or their financial backers) are afraid to imagine a world too different from out own, a future too alien--the most celebrated SF film of the last year, after all, was one that used space exploration as a metaphor for alienation, and ended with humanity effectively barred from space for decades to come. Spike Jonze's Her isn't the film to buck that trend, but it carries within it the seeds of that film. Jonze takes the relatively unusual step (in the film medium, at least) of pairing SF with romantic drama, but that potentially refreshing choice turns out to be Her's undoing--not only because the romance it crafts is problematic and unconvincing, but because it obscures the much more interesting SF film that Her could have been, if it were slightly less afraid of the future.
    Again, I don't quite agree with everything, but it's very well put, and the rest of the review is a pretty compelling argument. I still liked the movie a lot, but like I mentioned earlier this week, I think the movie doesn't fully explore the implications of its SFnal ideas and its world never really approaches the depth or complexity of novels covering similar ground.
  • Firefly Fan Tries to Retroactively Save Dead Character With NASA Data - This is one of those articles where no one really comes away looking particularly good. This guy went to extreme lengths to help... a fictional character. On the other hand, I (and I suspect most Firefly/Serenity fans) can sympathize with him, because Joss Whedon is the sort of writer who will kill a character in the most blatantly manipulative but still heart wrenching manner, so heart wrenching that it doesn't really achieve its aim. But then, we've covered that ground before, eh?
  • Inside The Army's Spectacular Hidden Treasure Room - Yada, yada, yada, it turns out that the giant government warehouse that the "top men" store the Ark of the Covenant in at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark is actually a real place, and it's awesome.
  • Stephen King's Boners - Niche tumblr of the week, created by a brilliant maniac named Britt Hayes whose goal is to catalog "every mention of an erect penis in Stephen King's novels." She's only been doing this for about a month, and she's got 5 pages of boners.
There you have it. Stay tuned for some Oscar commentary on Sunday, and while I'm thinking that my twitter will consist more retweets than original tweets, I'll probably be online for the whole ceremony, so feel free to follow me there.
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This post is part of the Kaedrin Weblog. It's been categorized under Link Dump and was originally published in February 2014.

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