Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Some of my favorite women in sci-fi

To me, science fiction has been a better vehicle for strong female characters that other genres. While male main characters still dominate the field, female characters can be just as strong and relevant in the stories as the men. And in some cases more so. But so this list does not get too long, I'll focus on TV and film.

Here are some of my favorites:

Sarah Connor

The woman who was once just a waitress became a skilled soldier. It does not matter if we are talking about the movies or the TV series, Sarah Connor was a tough women who was preparing herself and her son for the coming war with the machines. I don't know how tempted writers were to give Sarah more of a personal life and romantic interests, but I am glad they didn't. It makes her stronger sacrificing a life of her own so that her son could one day save humanity.

Ellen Ripley

She could have stayed home and tried to forget everything. No one would blame her. An alien killed her entire crew, she was left adrift in space for a long time, and when she finally returned home, her daughter had already died of old age and she had no more family. But she was the only person who knew what the alien threat was and the only person who had any kind of idea of how to deal with it. She walked into the heart of a living nightmare to save a girl she barley knew and even managed to save a Colonial Marine in the process.

Evey Hammond

Her story ark starts like how most of us would live. Things are bad in the world, but it’s easier to keep our heads down and not draw attention to ourselves. When the vail of her imprisonment is lifted (more like tortured) from her eyes, she finds her own path. V opened her eyes, but Evie still chose to live on her own terms. Later, it became her choice to free the world she knew and she did not hesitate to pull the trigger.

Susan Ivanova

God sent her. She is the right hand of vengeance and death incarnate. Not all the time. But if you really want to get on her bad side Ivanova will be the last living thing you will ever see. She also happens to be a good fighter pilot, great officer, and loyal friend anyone would be fortunate to have. Just remember, you would not want to fight her when she’s angry.

Donna Noble 

The only human Time Lord and arguably the best of the modern Doctor Who companions. If Donna were able to remain a Time Lord, her organizational and typing skills would have made her possibly a better She was the only modern female companion with no romantic tension and to me it freed up the stories to become more of a buddy action/mystery/comedy series. And the fact that there was no awkwardness between Donna and the Doctor allowed the relationship to become very close and made the end of Donna’s run even more tragic. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Convention safety after Boston

Unfortunately there are times when we are forced to remember how ugly the world can be. Times that make us see the world around us differently. The attack at the Boston Marathon has made a lot of us reconsider the security and safety of events with large crowds. It is especially a concern for those of us either attending a convention this year and/or are planning to attend one in the future. So where do we go from here?

I reached out to the organizers of the biggest conventions that us fans are eager to get into such as San Diego Comic-Con, Star Wars Celebration, Wizard World, Galacticon, and Creation Entertainment. I did not ask for specifics on security and those who responded did not offer any. However, there is a consensus. We can all rest assured that the people who go through so much to bring us these fantastic events have our safely firmly in mind. Safety and security has always been a concern and they will be doing their best to keep us safe while at the same time trying not to lessen the experience for us.

As this recent tragedy has shown us, nothing involving a large crowd can be absolutely safe and secure. There are those out there who are determined to take the joy of life away from us. So how should we respond? The response is simple. First, refuse to live in fear. If we are too scared to leave our homes then there will no longer be things worth leaving our homes for. We must also be vigilant. If you see or think there is something suspicious, report it. You don’t have to make a scene, just find someone working for the convention or security, voice your concern, and continue enjoying what you came to enjoy. And please cooperate with security and convention organizers. I know some things can be a hassle, but realize these people have a lot more people to deal with then you do. The more we make their lives easier, the easier it will be for us to enjoy these cons that we spend good money on to attend.

The best thing you can do to stand with Boston is to stay standing in life and don’t be intimidated. Keep enjoying the things you love. Our world may have changed again, but that does not mean we have to shy away from it.

I send Boston and the victims and victim’s families my love any prayers.

I’d also like to thank the representatives of the conventions who responded to me. I appreciate them making time to do so.

To those of you taking the time to read this I say thank you and

Stay Standing

Monday, April 15, 2013

Joe the Barbarian... Movie or TV?

Back in the summer of 2010, it was announced that Joe the Barbarian was being turned into a feature film. But there has not been any news since then. I’m hoping for two things:

  1. That it will progress out of what looks like development hell.
  2. If it does actually go into production, it will be good.
It is written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Sean Murphy. And if you have not read it yet, I suggest you do. Joe, a teenage boy, comes home from school and starts having hallucinations due to hypoglycemia. He falls into a world where his toys and other fantasy characters live. A world that is being destroyed by King Death. And of course, it's up to Joe to save this world. He is joined by a warrior rat, Jack, and a few other characters that are versions of people and things from the real world.

Think of it as a darker and more violent version of The Never Ending Story with maybe a little inspiration from the Fables series thrown in. His toys are mostly slightly different versions of characters we know and love.

Also, Joe the Barbarian was published by Vertigo, which is a DC imprint. Which is why DC characters will pop up in the background. The art is gritty, dark, and in some spots it reminds me of Blade Runner in it's style.

If a film doesn't work then I hope someone picks it up as a TV series. I'll make the same argument here that I made for a Y: The Last Man TV Series. There is a lot of details that will not make it into a film. Details that make a very rich and detailed world. It would also be interesting to see if DC would try an animated version of this. Either a direct to DVD animated film or an animated miniseries on TV/online streaming (Netflix?) could be another route to take if this title is brought to life outside print. I just hope something happens and hopefully sooner than later.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

This is not the Z War we were looking for

This is not the Z War we were looking for. Not that I can predict that the film version of World War Z will be bad. I just can’t tell if it is my instincts or the snob in me that is predicting the film will be bad. But lets just say it’s me being a snob. As with any loved book, initial reaction to it being adapted for film is excitement. Then the apprehension sets in. How are they going to turn this into a movie? So lets talk about the book.

It is sort of the sequel to The Zombie Survival Guide, also by Max Brooks. Although the survival guide is just that, a survival guide. World War Z: An Oral History Of The Zombie War takes the form of a series of short stories. It’s Brooks acting interviewing survivors of the 10-year zombie war. It’s an excellent book. Zombies may be the focus, but it also comments on politics and social issues and norms in different countries and cultures. Max brooks did a lot of research and it shows in his book. Any one of the survivor accounts could be a movie all by itself. So obviously a lot was going to be condensed and sacrificed. But then…

Fast, swarming zombie hordes? Where the book took a logical view of a fictional phenomenon, the movie seems to have become a more traditional zombie flick with some action thrown in. The previews have not given me much to be excited about. And no offense to Brad Pitt, but saying “We chose to be more dynamic in that we wanted to base all of this on science” doesn’t inspire any more confidence. I’m not sure how zombies that “move like ants” or “swarm like bees” are more scientific than the traditional slow moving zombie. And as "good" as the swarm looks, it still looks like CGI.

But instead of ranting about what will be, I’d rather suggest something that could be. I want a World War Z TV series. Or at least a miniseries. Yes, I know, we already have The Walking Dead. But World War Z is a different animal. In a way, it would even complimentary to The Walking Dead. We get to see different people, from different cultures, in different parts of the world trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. Each story could be told over 1 to possibly even 3 episodes. If someone wanted to be really ambitious, every season could be a different story based each survivor interview. It would do the book a whole lot more justice than a single PG-13 film could. Will the movie show us the tale of a rogue Chinese nuclear submarine full of sailors and families? Will it give us the creeping suspense of divers hunting zombies in catacombs under Paris in dark, murky water? Is it even going to hint at a platoon on the American plains summoning the undead to slaughter by blasting Iron Maiden’s, The Trooper? Something tells me no.

But the movie could still be good. If it is I’ll probably enjoy it. But it still won’t be the adaptation that I want to see.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gay in science fiction

It is unfortunate that gay characters are not often included in science fiction movies and TV series. Maybe it’s because no one wants to take the chance of not making a fair representation of a gay man or women. And maybe there are some people out there who believe that homosexuality has no place in entertainment. But the few times it has happened, the characters have shown that who they love does not define who they are. To me, that is the fairest representation of anyone.

Three characters come to mind specifically. To me they are not gay characters. They are characters that happen to be gay.

Sam Adama

The uncle of Admiral William Adama, Sam Adama, played by Sasha Roiz, is an enforcer for the Ha'la'tha crime syndicate on Caprica. This native son of the planet Tauron is fond of using knives when doing his work. He is not the kind of man you want as an enemy. He is very protective of his family and very dangerous. He also loves his husband. Sam does not fall into the gay man stereotype that we are exposed to on TV. The way the character was written and acted, he could have had a wife instead of a husband and no difference would have been made to the story. The love that makes Sam bad is the love for the criminal life.

Babylon 5
Susan Ivanova

Commander Susan Ivanova, played by Claudia Christian, is the executive officer of Earth Alliance space station, Babylon 5. A skilled fighter pilot and very no-nonsense in her manner. By the end of the fourth season, she was promoted to Captain and given command of her own ship. At the end of the series, she was a general and commanded the Earth Alliance military. She was very strong when she needed to be and sometimes when she didn’t need to be. While her sexual orientation was never discussed, she did have a relationship with a woman that was hinted at, and she admitted that she may have been in love with that woman. What made her character tragic was not who she loved, but that it was hard for her to love anyone.

Doctor Who / Torchwood
Jack Harkness

Captain Jack Harkness, John Barrowman, is the leader of Torchwood, a secret agency that collects alien artifacts and protects the British Empire from extraterrestrial threats. He is a former conman and time cop. He can’t be killed, takes care of his people, and will sleep with any sentient species of any gender that he finds attractive. It would be more accurate to describe his character as bi-sexual although he seems to have more of a preference for men. Jack’s sexual shortcoming was not who he was attracted to, it was that he could not (or would not) turn off the smolder.

In each of these cases, love and attraction for the same gender isn’t a defining characteristic. Not as I see it anyway. It is only a part of who they are. To me, that is the kind of respect a persons orientation should have. They do not do things because of who they are attracted to. They do them because of what makes them people as a whole, life and experience, nature and nurture. Just as in real life, one characteristic of a person does not determine the kind of person he or she is. The fault is not in who we love but how we love.

Comments, suggestions, and even complaints would be much appreciated. But lets be adults and keep any comments civil and constructive.