Science Fiction Day, January 2, is the date that was chosen to correspond with the official birth date of famed science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, born January 2nd, 1920. Asimov was responsible for some incredible works of science fiction literature such as Nightfall and the Foundation Trilogy. January 2, is also the birth date… Continue reading 🚀Happy Science Fiction Day!
Coinciding with the recent Nameless Digest review of the documentary Dark Star: The World of H. R. Giger, a major cinematic event is happening at New York City’s Museum of Arts and Design (MAD): The Unseen Cinema of HR Giger, a film festival in three parts on FRIDAY, MAY 22nd and SATURDAY, MAY 23rd, 2015. This is a ticketed event… Continue reading EVENT: “THE UNSEEN CINEMA OF HR GIGER” — May 2015, Memorial Day Weekend at the Museum of Arts and Design (NYC)
You’re watching a football game on TV, possibly the Super Bowl or the Rose Bowl, it really doesn’t matter. There’s an enormous structure filled with people, lights flashing, a Jumbotron showing every excruciating detail of the game, people yelling and screaming in the stands, and suddenly, silence. In a split second, 50,000 people just die.… Continue reading Why Do People Write Science-Fiction?
“My temper leads me to peace and harmony with all men; and it is peculiarly my wish to avoid any personal feuds or dissensions with those, who are embarked in the same great national interest with myself, as every difference of this kind in its consequence must be very injurious.” —George Washington “We… Continue reading SAM GAFFORD’S NAMELESS WORDS
Robocop is only the latest, and one of the less ridiculous, rehashes of some of the most incisive scifi films ever made. Paul Bartel’s deliriously black comedy Death Race 2000 posited a breezy utopia where colorful derby racers slaughtered society’s deadwood even as they cheered for their murderers. Death Race (2008) was a steakhead prison break retread that replaced David Carradine’s far-out Frankenstein with a generic alpha asshole (Jason Statham) and abandoned the original’s satirical edge in favor of rad gladiator action porn. The pay-per-view death sport isn’t a commentary on our amoral obsessions with vicarious death or sport as a tribal control mechanism; it’s just a badass thing that you’d probably watch, if it was real.
In our first installment of “AtoZ”, we are spotlighting one influential science fiction author for each letter of the alphabet.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
Twentieth Century Fox
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the highly anticipated sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011). I saw the movie before reading Todd McCarthy’s review in The Hollywood Reporter, where he sums it up with: “Dawn is to Rise of the Planet of the Apes what Empire Strikes Back is to Star Wars.” In fact, I was thinking this the whole time I was watching the movie (when I wasn’t so engrossed in the story and the action that I forgot that I was supposed to be thinking about a review).
So what makes this such a damn good movie? Characterization. And story. Since this is part of a prequel series to the original Planet of the Apes (1968), it is intriguing to see how the apes start to organize, form a civilization, and speak. The first encounter between apes and humans is jaw-dropping. The plot is pretty straightforward and a bit contrived in places – is this particular dam really the only way to restore electricity to San Francisco? Sociologically, it seems plausible: a series of unfortunate misunderstandings and a bit of deceitful mayhem by an angry few blow up into a major feud with no forgiveness possible.
Overall the special effects and action scenes are excellent and the 3D animation is subtle but effective. You feel the intensity and the pain and anguish of the characters, something that many latter day movies lack in the overly CGI world.
Andy Serkis as Ceasar is incredibly convincing. He’s not playing a human in an electronic apesuit – he’s playing an ape that is becoming more and more aware of what it means to be an ape. The result is by turns wonderful and chilling. The entire cast deserves credit for bringing the full range of primate emotions to life with nothing spared.
There is a lot to ingest in the subtext and in the nods to previous films and great works of science fiction. Every scene has at least a hint at some sociopolitical commentary — whether about guns, racism, animal welfare, religion, or the atrocities of war — and many embedded references to past masters to keep geeks happy. Even the music invokes parallels by incorporating themes from the original Jerry Goldsmith score and elements from classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey (who could forget those choruses when the apes encounter the monolith… and Strauss swelling during the hog kill scene?)
The movie succeeds in pulling heartstrings. You want to love the apes, but you feel for the humans, and in the end, we realize that we are all the same, but it is no a happy realization. Like the first Star Wars trilogy, this is setting things up for an epic showdown. Let’s just hope the third installment doesn’t have any ape-woks.
Exegesis Definition: Critical explanation or analysis, especially of a religious text. On February 20th of 1974, while Philip K. Dick (hereafter PKD) was recovering from a visit to the dentist where he had an impacted wisdom tooth removed and had been administered sodium pentothal, he roused from sleep to answer a call at his front… Continue reading Aaron J. French’s LETTERS FROM THE EDGE: ‘PKD’s Botched Initiation…Or Was It?’
Prince of Europe
By Elton Elliott & Doug Odell
350 pages, $19.95, 2009
The first entry in the Nanoclone Trilogy (Prince of Europe, Bishop of Rome, King of Jerusalem) sets up the intriguing premise: What if some mad scientists cloned the most radical, power-hungry leaders of history? And what does an ancient secret society and mystical artifacts have to do with mysterious pink fog in Scotland?
Although the writing is a bit dry at times (there is a lot of plot to cover here), this novel lays out some interesting ideas and attempts to weave modern day science and ancient beliefs together in a cascade of plot punches that will leave the reader with a lot to think about.
Looking forward to the rest of this fascinating series. Get it here: http://www.mvp-publishing.com/Preview-Prince-of-Europe.html
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