Monday, January 27, 2014

My Star Wars Dreaming Is Over

There is one experience in my life that makes me obscenely cocky:  I got to sit in a theater at age seven and witness a massive Star Destroyer gun down a Blockade Runner over the planet Tatooine.  To this day I still have my Star Wars toys in a box because, for me, that movie was the life altering experience of my childhood.  Star Wars in 1977.  You had to be there.  You had to be a kid.  You had to leave the theater with a new theology - The Force.  I even remember my nightmare that very night.  I flew down the Death Star canyon, but at the end of the trench loomed a giant black mask of Darth Vader.  I woke up with my chest thumping, and I’ve been dreaming about Star Wars ever since.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fantasy Matters: An Update

If fantasy literature teaches us anything, it's that things change.  Even after the One Ring is thrown into the fires of Mordor, the Shire is no longer the same, and Frodo sails off into the West.  Peter and Susan grow older and cannot return to Narnia; even Narnia itself changes, falls, and is reborn.  Lyra Belacqua loses her ability to read the alethiometer effortlessly, but begins to learn how to read it in a new, more studied fashion.

In both reality and fantasy, life is not a constant thing.  It is a series of comings and goings, gains and losses, ebbs and flows.

For the last 2 1/2 years, we at Fantasy Matters have worked to provide you with insights, updates, and ideas about everything related to science fiction and fantasy.  We have been thrilled to bring you interviews with wonderful authors, provided glimpses into books you had not yet read, and sparked conversations about the latest fantastic TV show.  We thank you for the privilege of being part of your lives, and we hope that what we have written has somehow mattered to you.

But like life in general, this website too must change.  While we value every moment that we have contributed to this website, like Frodo, we recognize that it is time to move on.  While we will continue posting our thoughts from time to time (and, in fact, we will be posting something on Monday!), we no longer will regularly update our content every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Our Twitter account, though, will continue to share updates about new content, so we would encourage you to stay subscribed; our archives will remain available if you want to look back on what has been written before. 

Before we sail off, we would like to thank you all for being part of the conversations we have had here.  We started this site with a belief that fantasy and science fiction matter, and more than anything, you all have taught us that it absolutely, irrevocably does.

And that we will carry with us wherever we go.

--Jen Miller, Kat Howard, and Adam Miller

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Midweek Fiction, Keffy R. M. Kehrli, "This is a Ghost Story"

The thing about ghost stories is, they haunt.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fantastically Fun Fridays: January 17, 2013

So, this week we learned that Agent Scully, or, rather, Gillian Anderson, is going to try her hand at writing fiction--and specifically, science fiction.

Gillian Anderson, who became famous as Agent Dana Scully on the TV show The X-Files, announced that she will be writing a science fiction series about a child psychiatrist who meets a patient that has connections to greater forces within the universe.  Entitled The EarthEnd Saga, Anderson's series will be co-written with Jeff Rovin and will be published by Simon451, the new speculative fiction branch of Simon and Schuster.  It remains to be seen whether this series will be any good, but it seems like an intriguing collaboration.

Here are some of the other fun things we found for you around the web this week:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Midweek Fiction: Megan Kurashige, "Eating the Pomegranate"

I love stories about sisters, and I love versions of the Persephone myth, and "Eating the Pomegranate" by Megan Kurashige has both of those things and more.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tying up Loose Ends: A Review of Shadows in Flight

There is a lot not to like about Shadows in Flight, a recent installment in Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game universe. As I turned pages, I frequently found myself thinking “eh, could be better.” Yet, I came away pleased with the resolution of the book—not necessarily on its own merits, but for how it resolved some of my broader frustrations with the series.

Firstly, some backstory (spoilers for the premise of Shadows in Flight itself):

Friday, January 10, 2014

Equilibrium: What About Sex?

Over the holidays at my brother’s house I came across a DVD that screamed:  “FORGET ‘THE MATRIX’!  This Movie Will Blow You Away!”

Then I see a picture of Christian Bale in a Matrixesque pose:  dark background, black leather, sunglasses.  He’s got a gun in each hand.  He’s the center shot of the DVD, while his weapons are aimed in opposite directions.  He’s the physical balance between the opposing guns.  Thus is the set up for Equilibrium, a 2002 movie I didn’t even know existed.

World War III has devastated civilization sometime in the early 21st Century.  The world cannot handle a “fourth” war.  A totalitarian dystopia arises in which the ability to “feel” is suppressed.  A drug is injected into the neck which eradicates all emotional highs or lows, keeping everyone in an unfeeling state of equilibrium.

The movie takes this emotionless existence and clones the totalitarian feel of 1984.  Instead of Big Brother on every video screen, there is “Father” whose face is broadcast everywhere, even on floating blimps.  Instead of Oceania, there is Libria.  Instead of thought crimes, there are sense offenses.  Instead of the Party, there is the Tetragrammaton Council.  And instead of the thought police to enforce the will of Big Brother, there are the Grammaton Clerics to enforce conformity. 

Even the burning of books in Fahrenheit 451 is mimicked.  The clerics burn anything that elicits feelings.  Music, poems, paintings.  The movie begins with “sense offenders” hiding artwork.  The clerics come and kill these resistors.  

I did think this plot had some potential, especially when cleric Errol Partridge (Sean Bean) reads Yeats to his partner, John Preston (Christian Bale).  Errol is then shot by John for sense offense.  It is Errol, after all, who doesn’t use his gun against the sense offenders.  He stands by as John orders the Mona Lisa “authenticated” and then burned.

It is an interesting mix of science fiction classics, but the rest of the movie is a complete disappointment.  I sense -- I feel -- that this movie turns into a cheap knock off blend of The Matrix (the action sequences are not as visually stunning), 1984 (the characters are not developed), and Fahrenheit 451 (John wants to save a puppy rather than books like his partner).  Yet Equilibrium’s greatest failing is not addressing the substance of its own plot.
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