I need very little motivation to give a recommended new book a try. Sometimes it’s the plot concept that grabs me; more often than not, someone just says “it has queer people in it” and that’s enough for me. (I’ve ended up trying some terrible books this way; LGBTQ+ representation and quality are not mutually guaranteed.) Combining an author I already know I love with the promise of queer representation, though, is a no-brainer for my ever-growing to-read list. So when I saw that James Tynion IV had written a comic series I’d somehow never heard of, and that it came highly recommended by Bisexual Books, I obviously had to check it out.
Vague spoilers for Vol. 1 of The Woods below the jump.
Happy Black History Month, dear readers! This month has always meant a lot to me on a personal level. Being a Black person, I’ve witnessed erasure of our achievements, dismissal of our problems, and omissions of us from opportunities. These types of slights often expand into nerd media, where representation is already scant. In that spirit, I want to discuss an issue that makes the existing representation troubling. We need to stop giving non-human characters Black traits to code them as “other”, as alien from the protagonist and audience. These characters, rather than just being another character in a group, are specifically different or strange.
The second season of Voltron: Legendary Defender came out on Jan 20th, the same day as Inauguration Day here in the States, and like many others, I wanted to watch it in lieu of watching the inauguration. But I ended up watching the ceremony with my family, and then I made the decision to go get drunk instead of binge-watching Netflix. (Note: We at LGG&F do not formally advocate getting drunk as a coping mechanism, even if one’s country is crumbling into a pile of orange Cheeto dust.) However, I’ve now finished the series, and I’m happy to report that I liked it a great deal more than I thought I would, given my lukewarm review of the first season.
Massive spoilers below!
From left to right: Hunk, Allura’s aide Coran, Allura, Lance, Keith, Shiro, and Pidge. (via technobuffalo)
Without getting into depressing (and obvious) specifics, I’ve been thinking about fascism lately—specifically the concept of “utopian fascism”. As is often the case when grappling with such issues, I turned to science fiction for a guide. Fortunately, there is a fictional government perfectly suited to explore the question “can democracy and universal prosperity ever be successfully combined with fascism?”: Star Trek’s Federation.
The Federation’s exact political structure is sometimes difficult to pin down, but it seems to be a combination of a democratic interplanetary parliament, a massive military alliance, and a totalitarian bureaucracy.
This isn’t what it looks like.
Now don’t panic! This isn’t going to be super depressing nor is it going to be about space Nazis (unless you count the above-pictured episode TOS episode “Patterns of Force”). When I talk about fascism, I’m talking about the philosophical concept as it dates back to Rome, not the actual horrific reality of modern-day fascism. I am not about to ruin all of our moods by writing some anti-Starfleet propaganda… at least, not too much of it. What I will do is take a look at how the Federation is utopian, how it’s fascist, how (and if) the two can be combined, and what that all says about our vision of a perfect government.
Normally I’m a spoiler hound, but while some experts argue that spoilers can enhance enjoyment of a story, I’m not sure if that’s the case for Arrival. Saika reviewed the trailer, but I’m not sure I even saw that one, and I’m almost glad I didn’t. Not knowing anything much beyond “aliens invade and someone tries to talk to them” made the movie more suspenseful. Arrival is the most original sci-fi movie of the year. It’s based on Ted Chiang’s short story “Story of Your Life”, which was nominated for and won a handful of awards back in 1999. It’s no wonder it was turned into a movie. Most alien movies are about humanity fighting off the evil alien invaders. Arrival is different. It’s a story of a linguist trying to help humanity establish peaceful relations with alien visitors. Arrival is probably going to end up on the list of movies all the cool philosophy professors show to get their undergrads to think about the nature of memory and free will. Wrapped up in suspenseful alien invasion trappings, Arrival is really about how a human may cope once her experience of time is no longer linear. If you could see into your own future, what would you do?
I am an eternal optimist when it comes to reboots, mostly because it’s exhausting to be constantly whining about a ruined childhood. All I hope for is that the reboot captures the spirit of the original.
Unfortunately for the laboriously titled The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again, that wasn’t easy. To belabor my metaphor, they probably shoulda called the reboot Ghostbusters to help them with capturing that spirit, because the movie struggled and grasped and ultimately failed to do so.