My name is Charlie, but if your looking for my work, I go by C. E. Dorsett. I write scifi, fantasy, and a touch of horror. I like to play with gothic, steampunk, decopunk, epic fantasy, and wuxia. I love to tell stories and talk about books, movies, series, and music.
Why Progressive Speculative Fiction?
Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today- but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept about which resolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all. Isaac Asimov, "My Own View," The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
While Asimov was interested solely with Science Fiction, I believe the same can be said about Speculative Fiction as a whole. Many of the problems we face cannot be faced solely by working to fix the present conditions. If we do not explore the possible futures our choices could produce, we walk blindly into the future.
It is change, continuing change inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the word as it will be - and naturally this means that there must be an accurate perception of the world as it will be. This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our Everyman, must take on a science fictional way of thinking, whether he likes it or not or even whether he knows it or not. Only so can the deadly problems of today be solved.
Isaac Asimov, "My Own View," The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
Again, I would broaden his words out to all of Speculative Fiction.
Numerous horror novels/movies have shown us the problems eugenics would unleash upon our societies. Lestat's hope that there is some good in the universe heightens his fear and motivates him to find the answers.
H. P. Lovecraft's fiction had a simple message behind the supernatural horror. Humankind's chief sin is hubris. We think too highly of ourselves, and as a result blind ourselves to the fact that somewhere in this vast cosmos, there are creatures who are infinitely more powerful than we are, and whose motives are unfathomable by human logic.
Cthulu, Nyarlahotep, Azathoth, the color out of space, and the color out of time are all horrifying warnings that if we lie to ourselves, pretending there is not a bigger fish out there, we will eventually be devoured by it.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is an all too familiar cautionary tale about scientific and technological advance without the restraining forces of morality and common sense. The tale has been told and retold, spawning an entire subgenre of horror about the dangers of dabbling in things not understood.
The Resident Evil franchise, Godzilla, and so many others I could spend the rest of the year naming them have picked up the mantle and and shared the horrific future we could create for ourselves if we are not careful to think ahead and not blindly rush into the future.
Showed us a future we could hope for. Imagine a world where hunger and poverty were removed from the equation. New challenges would raise their heads, some of which would threaten to return us to the barbaric world we had left behind.
Gene Roddenberry kindled a vision in the hearts and minds of his fans of a world of limitless possibilities. A world were our only limitations were our imagination and our character. It is a world to strive towards.
Lord of the Rings
In the Lord of the Rings books, J. R. R. Tolkien showed us a world on the cusp of transition from one age to another. His mythic prose illuminated the choices that people have to make when culture finds itself on the crossroads of history.
The basic choice is demonstrated through the characters of Sauroman and Gandolf. Their world, their age was ending. They had the choice to either embrace the future and try to make the new world a better place to live, or to hold on the past and seek the destruction of the new world before it comes. Gandolf chose the first path, Sauromon chose the latter.
Anakin Skywalker is faced with the same choice in the Star Wars saga. At first he fights the future out of his attachment, but when he is faced with the ultimate decision, watching the future be destroyed in the person of his son, he learns that he must let go of his attachments and help the future come.
I wonder if that is why more people don't love the prequel trilogy. It touches a nerve in them, and despite our bravado, no one really wants to think of themselves as Darth Vader. No one wants to entertain the thought that they could destroy everything they believe in and care for as a result of trying to protect it.
Like all great stories, Star Wars holds a mirror up to us and says, this could be you.
We need Progressive Speculative Fiction
Many things are hard to talk about. Stories can often show us things we would not or could not have seen otherwise.
Next time, we will discuss the differences between Positive Scifi and Progressive Speculative Fiction.
Fandom as Culture
Back in December, I took on Meg Guroff in my post, Fandom is not Obsessive Weirdoism! for saying:
One distinctly modern form of obsessive weirdoism is fandom: becoming so devoted to a work of art that you want to augment or even inhabit it. Out of this impulse was born the Klingon Language Institute (www.kli.org), the phenomenon of “fan fiction” (unauthorized stories by civilians advancing new plotlines of beloved films and TV series) (The Urbanite Magazine),
She responded by saying:
Hey, thanks for the shout-out, but anyone who reads the essay—or even just the rest of the sentence you truncated—would know that your outrage is misplaced. This passage is not an attack on fandom, it's a defense of it. I'd invite the curious to read the essay for themselves or visit my (built, obsessive, weird) site at powermobydick.com. Best wishes.
The rest of the sentence I truncated simply said: "and also, one might argue, my ever-growing Moby-Dick website, which now includes not only a full annotation but also links to artwork, poems, movies, and even cartoons based on the book (The Urbanite Magazine)." I am glad she enjoys working on a fan site, and I am sorry if I offended her by intimating she had attacked fandom, but the fact remains that characterization of fandom as obsessive and weird obfuscates the fact that what we are seeing is the birth of a new culture, not merely a niche cultural phenominon.
History of Fandom
Hugo Gernsback forged the modern Science Fiction genre in 1926 when he founded Amazing Stories magazine. In the letters section, he published the addresses of the fans who wrote in. Readers began to organize themselves into local clubs. In 1934, Hugo founded the Science Fiction League, a correspondence club where local clubs could apply for membership.
Chicago's Science Correspondence Club published the first known science fiction fanzine, The Comet, in 1930. The first convention was held nine years later when at the 1939 New York World's Fair, when the World Science Fiction Society held the first WorldCon.
Fred Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth, members of a New York fan club called The Futurians, wrote the oldest known filks in the 1950's by taking the music from folk protest songs and changing the lyrics.
It wasn't until the 1970 that the conventions grew in popularity as a result of Speculative Fiction taking on the role of mythology. More people found Speculative Fiction gave them a set of values, goals, and practices. Through our conventions, filksings, fanfic, and fanfilm, we have developed a culture that is uniquely ours.
Pattern of Behavior
Fans don't just watch the shows they love, or read the books, they devour them. We take in these stories, critique them, and rush to share and discus them with our friends. We often watch the shows or read the books multiple times to see if we missed something.
We flock to conventions to meet the stars, creators, and authors of the works we love, and to spend time reveling in the series we love. We roleplay, craft fan works, and some even engage in cosplay and LARPing (Live Action Role Playing).
It is not hard to spot a fan. The t-shirts we were, the calendars on our walls, the tchotchkes on our desks, and the phrases we like to use. Many of us use fanspeak around mundanes and not realizing it until we see that confused look on their face, and realize we need to translate into English.
Shared attitudes, values, and goals
The one thing I have always found most intriguing about fans is how a true fan is not hard on new fans, and wants to make sure everyone is having a good time.
Most of us grew up with Star Trek, and took to heart the idea of IDIC (Infinite Diverity in Infinite Combination) to heart. Where ever we are, we try to bring IDIC, foresight, and community with us. Life is to be enjoyed, and nothing cuts off the fun quicker than bigotry, ignorance, or that one guy who is looking to have a good time at the expense of everyone there if necessary.
Fan culture is always developing.
I wish you the best of luck with your Moby Dick site, and I hope I didn't upset you further. My complaint with your article was merely that you used the phrase "Obsessive Weirdoism."
Any culture is "Obsessive Weirdoism" when viewed from the outside. You have a fannish heart, and I think it is time you stopped talking in a way that excuses your fannish tendencies to the mundanes. You are a fan. Be out and proud about it.
At any rate, I am a little jealous, I can see the merit in Moby Dick, and I can understand from where your passion derives, but I don't think I will ever share it. You see something most of us don't. That is a gift. Relish it.
Review: The Day the Earth Stood Still
This is a group review of The Day The Earth Stood Still. Brian, Emerian, and I each watched the movie and developed separate opinions about the film. As Progressive Speculative Fiction movie:
Overall Rating: 10
I am a huge fan of the original, in fact, it is my favorite SF movie. I was surprised how well they pulled off the remake.
Brian: It’s not very often that I get a chance to write a review of a remake movie where I can give my praises for a job well done. As the final credits began to roll I knew with great joy in my heart they gave me this opportunity with The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008). This movie was a brilliant remake of the classic film, an excellent example of what speculative fiction should be, and poorly promoted film that will unfortunately get it many bad reviews.
I must give my kudos! to Director Scott Derrikson when I read about how he tried to update the movie yet stay true to it’s core message I was very skeptical but he nailed this one and deserves our accolades for a job well done! You can read about his approach in Exploring: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008).
Emerian: I have never seen the original 1951 version of this movie. I have to assume it had a better ending than this one. When seeing the title The Day The Earth Stood Still I have to wonder if it meant the moment that the credits rolled and everyone in the theater stared motionless at the screen thinking, "Huh?"
Even Roger Ebert, who I usually agree with about SF movies didn’t like the movie. He like many of the reviewers missed the point of the movie. He like most reviewers took the movie as little more than a film with an environmental message, when it is so much more.
The Day The Earth Stood still is an “Idea as Hero” story. The idea behind the story is evolution, and whether or not humankind is capable of evolving before we destroy the all life on earth.
Throughout the film, Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) witnesses the senseless violence humans perpetrate on each other. The vehicle for the idea is Jacob Benson (Jaden Smith) who through out the movie is engrossed in violent video games and who constantly argues that the aliens need to be killed.
Our violence to ourselves, the other animals, and to the world itself is why Klaatu has been sent to earth to preserve a life sustaining world from us.
This message is made clearer when Klaatu and Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese) are talking. Barnhardt argues that people can change, but Klaatu is unmoved. He believes that humankind is too lazy and mired in its ways to even try to change. That is the real question. What would it take for people to be willing to change?
Brian: Speculative Fiction is supposed to ask a “what if.” To be even better it should also maintain the tradition of making a social commentary of some sort and aspire to humankind’s better nature. Star Wars and Star Trek do this brilliantly it is why those franchises inspire it’s fans to be better then what they originally are. The Day The Earth Stood Still classic also did this with it’s warning about humans violent cold war nature in the 50’s. With great pleasure the 2008 remake also does this by asking what if we are not alone in the universe and how would advanced alien societies see humankind’s behavior. The social commentary is that they would view us as a violent, delinquent child who treats each other as poorly as we treat our surrounding environment.
Unfortunately this movie was promoted poorly. Their promotion lead the public to expect an action packed, aliens invade earth and attack us. Kind of like the modern War of the Worlds movie. The actual movie is a much more thoughtful exploration of human nature, with most of the tension occurring in the mind rather than visually. There are some great effects and action sequences but not nearly as much as what should have been. If only they had described the movie like this:
The Day The Earth Stood Still is about how human society lives in a solipsistic state of mind where they treat each other as poorly as they treat their environment and give into their terrible and violent nature. The collection of other alien societies decide that they must save the earth from the humans since there are so few planets in the galaxy that can support complex life forms. Now Helen Benson and her son Jacob must convince Klaatu that humans do have the will to change but only after they are brought to the precipice by a tragedy.
Minor Spoilers between the lines:
Emerian: This film was well cast and I think the majority of the film was worth seeing, but the ending was flat and made little sense. Keanu played a good alien with his emotionless responses. We also get to see him naked and covered with mucus again, which is always a strange but somehow addictive thing to watch. Jennifer Connelly played an adequate smart lady. Jaden Smith showed his ability to stand with his adult counterparts and not be overshadowed in the least. It was also a pleasant surprise to see John Cleese and Kathy Bates.
As far as visuals, the orbs are rather interesting and the fly shaped nanobots that go about devouring the land are worth the price of your theater ticket. However, I would advise waiting to see it on DVD.
The ending was a big let down and not just to me. As we sat, wondering what had gone wrong, I heard comments from exiting audience members that ranged from unconvincing to anticlimactic.
The end of the movie was a call to action. A challenge to the audience. I will deal with the ending of the movie more in a separate post.
So who is right about this movie?
Was it good or anticlimactic? Honestly, we post are. This film is like music in a particular genre. If you like this sort of movie, you will love it. If you don’t, this movie is not for you.
I have read many reviews, and in the majority of them, the reviewers either rejected the message, missed the message, or thought the film should not have been updated.
Roger Ebert approached the movie with certain preconceptions that kept him from seeing the message of the movie. It is clear from his review that he did not want to like the movie, and mocked Klaatu for having to learn the lesson of the film.
I would not recommend this movie to everyone, but I would say that there is a couple simple tests to see if you will like this movie:
- Did you understand and enjoy the ending of Hedwig and the Angry Inch?
- Did you enjoy Grave of the Fireflies?
- Did you enjoy the work of Akira Kurosawa?
- Have you ever enjoyed a book by James Joyce?
The fourth one is most important. Joyce believed that a good story should just hold up its object to be beheld by the audience neither pushing them towards or away from anything, and Kurosawa said that a film should have an immaculate reality, allowing the story to just happen without and over abundance of exposition.
For more info on The Day The Earth Stood Still: Theater or Renter: December 2008
- Brilliant remake of the original movie:
- Maintains Immaculate Reality
- It’s true art where they bring us to static arrest and hold us there.
- the message was not so much about ecological concerns but about societies solipsistic attitude (behaving like a spoiled little child with a me me me attitude) leading them to treat their environment as badly as they treat each other.
- The great balance between the warning about societies current state and the hope of our capability of change.
- Gort was really well done including a little joke about how he got his name.
- The Ending: it shows the solution but does not show nor tell the audience that the solution happened it just ends leaving that conclusion up to the audience.
- The acting was well done.
- John Cleese was brilliant in his role, I wish they would have advertised this fact.
- Keanu Reeves did a good job playing Klaatu
Dislikes / Concerns
- the ending: I would have liked to hear Klatu give the ultimatum “It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.” Unfortunately if he had given this then there would have been complaints about it being cliché
- The intro could have done without the first five minutes and just started with the present day. problems of the well written story.
- The promotion of this film was poorly done, they advertised an action aliens bringing about the end of the world film when in reality this was a thoughtful Science Fiction social commentary film where a lot of the tension is cerebral instead of visual.
- I could not hear the other classic line “Klaatu barada nikto!” They left the background noise too loud only Keanu Reeves’ mouth moves.
Netflix lets you rent, watch and return DVDs from home - Try free for 2 weeks
Don't wait. Guarantee your seat before you go and avoid a sold out show. Skip the box office lines and buy movie tickets at Fandango.com.
Saving Star Trek
Mixing Star Wars and Star Trek
Wired.com: J.J. Abrams makes no secret that he’s more of a Star Wars guy and not so much into Star Trek, but you two were full-tilt fans.
Orci: In terms of fandom, yeah, and Damon too is a fanatic - we’re not going to drop the ball out of ignorance. Nobody can say that we don’t know Star Trek. There might be some things we do that people could question, where they go, “I hate them for some other reasons,” but they can’t say, “They didn’t know their stuff.”
Orci: And it’s controversial to even mention Star Wars and Star Trek in the same sentence, but Alex said, “We have to bring more Star Wars into Star Trek.”
Kurtzman: (joke-coughing) Original Star Wars.
Orci: Original Star Wars. I want to feel the space, I want to feel speed and I want to feel all the things that can become a little bit lost when Star Trek becomes very stately — which I love about it , but….
Kurtzman: Star Trek is often the space equivalent of sub battles, which is what makes it unique and different from Star Wars, so you can’t blow that away, either.
Orci: It’s somewhere between that the truth lies.
Really? Again with people thinking that Star Trek is suppose to be an action series! It sounds like the new film will be, but that is not the original concept for the series.
I feel like I have to say something:
Science Fiction ≠ Action
I know this is a hard concept for some people to understand. While science fiction can have action scenes in it, one is not equal to the other.
Star Trek was intended to be a Science Fiction show, and many of their best episodes did not have any action scenes at all Like the City at the Edge of Forever.
Roddenberry wanted the show to highlight how diplomacy should be our first resort rather than violence.
5 Ways to Ruin Star Trek by Adding Star Wars
Make Your Heroes Less Perfect
Yeah, that is a great suggestion. Instead of trying to show a future that actually lives up to the ideals you have set for it, and that you are hoping your audience will also aspire to, throw all your ideals out the window and make your characters flawed and while your at it, make the future something no one will ever want to aspire to.
Less Talk, More Action
Diplomacy is overrated, lets just beat the crap out of each other for no good reason. A puerile show filled with hate and violence is better than a show that sets reason and self-control on a pedestal.
There is no way that a Star Trek with more space battles and less attempts to sit down and talk things through like grown-ups would be a bad thing (io9).
Except it would have to sell out all of its ideals in order to do it. For some people selling out seems to come easier than for others.
Ignore the Laws of Physics
Ok, Star Trek was a Science Fiction show. Science Fiction is a subgenre of Speculative Fiction where science plays and integral role in the plot, and it would not be possible to tell the story without it.
Ok, so, we take that away and Star Trek is nothing but a run of the mill Space Opera.
Have At Least One Sequence That Will Make A Good Video Game
That’s right. Think about the merchandising first. Stop thinking about the plot and the characters. Just think about the money you will make with the crappy game based on movie. (honestly, has there ever been a good one?)
Think about money, nothing but money. Nothing matters but money, and entertaining people who are so emotionally dead inside that they could not be moved by anything.
Put Uhura In A Metal Bikini At Some Point
Because, I am sure it is better to turn an important character into nothing but a vapid sex object that only hormonally brain damaged men will care about. What where they thinking trying to give women a role model to look up to. I suppose Graeme McMillan thinks that women should stay in their bikinis and not have all those pesky opinions.
IF this is the new Star Trek…
…then I know it is nothing that I want to see. My snarkiness aside, these truly are bad ideas.
If Star Trek was to be rebooted, I wish people would have listened to J Michel Straczynski and Bryce Zabel who wanted to keep the spirit of the original alive. (see there concept here)
What these people have described is not a reboot for Star Trek, but a different show with the same name.
May the Great Bird of the Galaxy save us all.
JJ Abrams told Entertainment Weekly:
Plus, at heart, Abrams is still more of aguy. ''All my smart friends liked Star Trek,'' he says. ''I preferred a more visceral experience.'' Which is exactly why he accepted Paramount's offer in 2005 to develop a new Trek flick; creatively, he was engaged by the possibility of a Star Trek movie ''that grabbed me the way Star Wars did.'' That meant a bigger budget and better special effects than any previous Trek film, plus freedom to reinvent the mythos as needed. ''We have worldwide aspirations and we need to broaden [Trek's] appeal,'' says Weston. ''Doing the half-assed version of this thing wasn't going to work.''
So everyone involved in the new movie wants to see these sort of changes... Grr Argh.
Check out my Star Trek Review.