Recently I have been obsessed with Gravity Falls, and that led me to watching a very strange but intriguing movie based on a now-famous science fiction novel called Flatland. When Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch went on Reddit answering questions as Bill Cipher, one commenter asked what Bill’s home dimension was like. Hirsch as Bill (and in entirely in capslock) responded, “EDWIN ABBOTT ABBOTT HAD A GOOD IDEA.” I looked up Edwin Abbott Abbott and discovered he is the author of Flatland, a satirical science fiction book about a flat world inhabited by geometric shapes. Initially, I worried that Abbott would use math and science jargon and that much of the story would be lost on me because of it. I love math and science, and I am fascinated by it, but I don’t have much of a head for it.
However, one day I discovered the 2007 film Flatland: The Film, and decided to watch a little of it, thinking it would be interesting but that it wouldn’t hold my attention long. I was wrong. I was so fascinated with the story that I immediately immersed myself in learning more about the world of Flatland as well as the somewhat feminist views of the story.
We live in tumultuous and uncertain times, and for many of the most vulnerable people in the United States, especially minorities, fear has been ramping up in their everyday lives. Comparisons between the newly elected President Trump and Adolf Hitler abound, and not without reason. Just before Trump’s inauguration, the second season of the Amazon original series The Man in the High Castle premiered. While the alternate history series had been fascinating and compelling ever since its premiere last January, in light of recent events, its poignancy has been downright spooky. It presents a picture of what life in the United States in the sixties might have looked like if the Axis powers had won the Second World War and divided up the U.S. between Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. The series is based on the novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick, and follows Juliana Crain as she and the people close to her become caught up in resistance activities orchestrated by an unseen, eponymous mastermind. Besides being exceptionally well-written, one point that separates this from other alternate World War II histories (and there are an abundance) is that in The Man in the High Castle, a few characters have ways of glimpsing alternate paths of history and incomplete pictures of possible futures, which they desperately try to piece together to understand how to change the dystopian world they live in.
I was recently watching Movie Bob’s review of the Doctor Strange movie, and in it, he lamented the fact that all comic book movies are action movies. Which got me thinking: do all genre fiction movies, in general, really have to be action movies? Especially when it might not entirely serve the narrative? Are we missing out on a ton of interesting movies just because writers are afraid to take science fiction and fantasy outside of the actionbox?
With this in mind, there are some recent movies whose plot and character development would definitely have benefited from not being action movies.
As a bit of a language nerd, I was beyond thrilled when I first stumbled across this trailer. A sci-fi movie where the real enemy is ignorance, and the protagonist is a linguist and translator who’s just been tapped for the most important ethnography of her life? Sign me up.
In many fandoms these days, science and magic exist together with a variety of results. Sometimes magic and science exist in harmony, sometimes they are at odds, and sometimes magic is really just misunderstood science. There’s a whole plethora of ways these two forces can exist in the same world. But there isn’t always a narrative reason for it; oftentimes, magic and science simply exist together to cause drama or to add more interesting elements to a story. Which can be fine, but when a story involves both science and magic, it can be helpful for the writers to use these two forces to strengthen the overall message of the story. In Rick and Morty, science reigns supreme, but elements of magic still exist. In one notable episode called “Something Ricked this Way Comes”, in which Rick fights the devil, we see a continuing affirmation of the show’s philosophy of existential nihilism.
For a long time, I thought Star Trek: The Next Generation was the end-all and be-all of all Star Trek reboots. Sure, it’s a bit campy at times, but who doesn’t love Captain Jean-Luc Picard saving the day with his wits and idealism? I grew up watching the show. But now that I’m older and marginally wiser, I see re-runs of TNG and I cringe a bit. Sure, Picard is as intrepid as ever, but many of the primary female characters are shoehorned into tired stereotypes. The moment you start googling TNG, you open a Pandora’s Box of sexism from the whole production crew. It seems like despite whatever other role they play, women in Star Trek are first and foremost sex objects. This even bleeds into today’s film reboot of Enterprise,where a sexy female co-star strips down to her sexy underwear in both of the movies. For a show about a wagon train to the stars, set in an idealistic post-scarcity future that was revolutionary in so many other ways, it’s deeply disappointing. And then I started watching Deep Space Nine, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that DS9does a much better job with its female characters.
Spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine after the jump.
I love a good philosophical sci-fi story. I also really, really love interspecies human/alien romance stories. However, even though I’d heard of Starling every once in a while for years now—one of the people I follow on Tumblr is a passionate proselytizer—I never really knew what it was about, and I never had the time or the inclination to change that. When a rec post came across my dash, however, giving me a spiel and a link to a starting point, I figured it was time to check it out.