Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Moon

Weekend Links!

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tumblr_odnsb87wxf1vnjnxno1_500Marquette announces new January session. And I’ll be teaching! A hybrid literature/creative-writing section of ENGLISH 2010 called “Crafting the Short Story.”

* Marquette’s provost has also premiered a podcast.

* Our friend Nina has a piece in the New York Times today.

* CFP: Symposium on Amazing Stories: Inspiration, Learning, and Adventure in Science Fiction.

* Me, this Saturday afternoon at the Milwaukee Public Library! 150 Years of H.G. Wells in Milwaukee.

Perhaps, instead of being a parable of Christian salvation, the randomness of the Genius Grants is really a metaphor for our increasingly fragmented and pointless civilization. I didn’t get one either.

* But here’s someone who did! UWM theater artist Anne Basting wins MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ grant.

Palestine, Settler Colonialism and Democratic Education at UC Berkeley.

* Can the adjunct speak?

If we’re serious about preventing catastrophic warming, the new study shows, we can’t dig any new coal mines, drill any new fields, build any more pipelines. Not a single one. We’re done expanding the fossil fuel frontier. Our only hope is a swift, managed decline in the production of all carbon-based energy from the fields we’ve already put in production.

* But that’s not all: Climate change is ruining fall.

* Experts say.

* 500 Million Yahoo Accounts Hacked. I’m shocked, and disappointed, and the Chinese spammers who stole my data from Yahoo three years ago are shocked and disappointed too.

51lo1bjparlWhy Trump’s Shady Foundation Practices Are A Major No-No In The Charity World.

* Trump has used his campaign to funnel a mere $8.2 million to his businesses.

Right now, Clinton is over the line by exactly one state. As of this writing, that state — what we also call the tipping-point state — is New Hampshire. But a group of states are closely lumped together, and Pennsylvania,Colorado and Wisconsin have all taken their turn as the tipping-point state in recent weeks.

* How Trump Could Will Win the Debate.

* Exciting new translation of The Brothers Karamazov will change the way you think of the book. A few others.

New research shows that all present-day non-Africans can trace their origins to a single wave of migrants who left Africa 72,000 years ago, and that indigenous Australians and Papuans are descended directly from the first people to inhabit the continent some 50,000 years ago. That makes them world’s longest running civilization. Some more details here.

* December 1969, the month that killed the 60s.

* Duncan Jones is finally making Mute, set in the Moon universe.

* The last days of Roger Ailes.

* Cheating and the SAT.

* Facebook overstates its advertising effectiveness by a mere 60-80%.

Black Lives Matter Fall 2016 Syllabus.

Bibliography on Workplace Harassment in Postsecondary Education.

* The X-Men and the Legacy of AIDS.

* who among us has not etc.

* And Nathan Fillion speaks the forbidden truth: Don’t Bring Firefly Back.

‘District 9’

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In an interview with slashfilm.com, Blomkamp said he wanted to make a film that “didn’t depress the audience and kind of ram a whole lot of ideas down their throat that maybe they didn’t feel like hearing.” Could there be a more disheartening statement of purpose by a young artist, or a more cynical underestimation of an audience’s intelligence?Chris Stamm, Willamette Week (via)

There’s a lot to be said for District 9, but I’m afraid I really don’t connect with the reviews calling it the best SF of the year. (Both Star Trek and Moon were, I think, better films, just off the top of my head.) District 9 is good, and there are aspects of it that are very good—I’m especially fond of the gorgeous establishing shots with the mothership hanging in the sky over Johannesburg—but while the South African setting is a nice change of pace at its core this is still a fairly pedestrian alien-refugee story of the kind we’ve all seen umpteen thousand times before. (And I find there’s something a little bit embarrassing in all the reviewers jumping to name apartheid, as if merely being able to recall the word were criticism enough. Apartheid is surely a red herring in all this; the film is much more about directly about the apartheidic horrors of globalization’s slums than about apartheid proper.)

The film’s best section is its first half-hour, which is presented to us in the form of documentary footage that darkly hints at events to come later in the plot. (During this period I thought it might actually be the best SF of the year.) It’s spellbinding; the entire film could and should have been like this. But the film, bizarrely, abandons this structure—it begins to show us nondiegetic scenes which were not and could not have been filmed interspersed with the documentary material, undercutting and ultimately destroying its own formal conceit. Likewise, the film’s striking setup—the arrival of a dank, apparently damaged mothership filled with starving insectoid worker drones whose temporary sojourn on Earth slowly turns permanent, much to the frustration of their human “benefactors”—seems largely forgotten in a plot that rapidly degrades into a silly fight over futuretech lasers and a MacGuffin rocket fuel that also (funny coincidence!) magically recodes human DNA. Important questions about global capitalism, the dark side of humanitarianism, and the legally precarious outsider status of the world’s poor are raised, only to be abandoned. Even the Eichmannesque unlikeability of the film’s protagonist goes essentially unexamined; he suddenly morphs into a conventional hero when the clock demands he must, and that’s that.

This film should be great, but it’s merely good, because it suffers badly from the aesthetic cowardice that causes mainstream films to retreat from their own best ideas, in favor of banal familiarity, whenever things threaten to get completely awesome.

What I’m saying is, District 9 is a romp, and a fun one—but it’s nowhere close to pushing the boundaries of cinematic SF. Let’s not lose our heads.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 15, 2009 at 3:48 am