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Showing posts from November, 2014

Living on an Alien Earth

In finishing this review of William Gibson’s new novel “The Peripheral,” I tried to find a quote about how science fiction is sometimes more about the present than the future. I found this quote on William Gibson’s Wikipedia page:
"I felt that I was trying to describe an unthinkable present and I actually feel that science fiction's best use today is the exploration of contemporary reality rather than any attempt to predict where we are going... The best thing you can do with science today is use it to explore the present. Earth is the alien planet now." — William Gibson in an interview on CNN, August 26, 1997.

That’s what reading Gibson often boils down to: the best way to describe his work has often already been said by Gibson himself. That aside, the point is interesting to me when considering this novel. To keep things non-spoilerly for a moment, “The Peripheral” charts the connections and relationships between two very different visions of the future. In one, a yo…

Further Thoughts on Interstellar

Now to the SPOILERS:

I suppose I could approach Interstellar from a number of directions but the thing that stuck with me checking in on the reactions to the story is how incomprehensible the negative reviews of this movie are. The one that +Ludovic CELLE  shared with me from over at i09 really crystallizes the problem for me. Interstellar is not just being held to a different standard, it’s being held to a ridiculously unfair standard. 


Basically, the article by Annalee Newitz boils down the criticism of Interstellar to one of using "new-age platitudes" like the universality of love to muck up hard science fiction. I think this reaction stems from one of the weaker conversations depicted in the movie, the one where Brandt (Ann Hathaway at her most à les miserables) emotes all over the screen about the power of love to inform decision making. I do think this is a troubling moment in the movie, not so much for the sentiment it shares, as who does the sharing. Of course the fema…

Interstellar

You should watch Interstellar. Because I’m going to write a follow-up article that will be full of spoilers I thought I’d get a quick non-spoiler review out there. 



Christopher Nolan has created one of the biggest and most encouraging movies of the past decade and this work, flawed though it might be, should absolutely be watched and appreciated on its own terms.
For starters, this is a beautiful film. That in itself should be all the recommendation the average person needs. Why should you listen to Beethoven, or see Michelangelo’s David ? Because they bring a certain amount of aesthetic enjoyment. For three solid hours, this movie creates arresting, mind-blowing imagery. 
Interstellar also represents a serious exploration of realistic science. While I’m not totally convinced that all of the science checks out, enough of it does to have kept Kip Thorne on as a scientific consultant. The parts that aren’t realistic are defensible in terms of extrapolation from existing science. In ot…