Showing posts with label The 2015 Sci-Fi Experience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The 2015 Sci-Fi Experience. Show all posts

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Closing: The 2015 Science Fiction Experience

Space by Stephan Martieniere
My participation in The 2015 Science Fiction Experience was minimal. Nevertheless, it was no less enjoyable as I spent most of my time reading great reviews posted by the rest of the participants. Thanks to Carl V. from Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting once again.


The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
This book is all about the journey. I loved traveling through the galaxy along with this crew. I particularly liked the episodic style utilized in this novel and the ensemble of characters that become so central to the overall journey.


Gravity (Warner Bros, 2013)
I'm a big fan of science fiction films, yet I waited a long time to watch Gravity, a highly regarded film by many. It all comes down to personal taste. I have found that the nitty gritty details and slow moving plotting I often enjoy when reading hard science fiction books are lost on me when translated to film. As suspected, I couldn't wait for this movie to end. The plot did not keep me at the edge of my seat and the improbability of the events as they develop at the end did not help. So, as much as I love science fiction, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, this film was not for me.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, Marvel Studios)
This is a similar story with a different ending. I refused to go to the theaters last summer to watch Guardians of the Galaxy because I thought I would not like the film. Wrong!! I loved everything about Guardians of the Galaxy. That scene close to the opening with Chris Pratt as Peter Quill singing along to a 1980's song just about did me in. I was hooked by it. I love the soundtrack, the humor, and the action. But really the best part of this movie is how five outsiders who don't belong anywhere get together and become a family. I loved that about this movie. And I fell in love with Groot and Rocket. A sequel is scheduled to release in 2017. I won't miss it!

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (Microsoft Studios, 2012)
I rented Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn on a whim knowing that it is military sci-fi based on a game. Since I am not a gamer, however, there is not much I can say about the contrasts between the original storyline and characters in the game and the movie. The movie plot vaguely reminded me of Starship Troopers with cadets training to go to war in a world where it is expected that they should join the service and hate the enemy without question. Young Cadet Thomas Lansky, however, is ambivalent about his future and his role in the service, so a coming-of-age story is incorporated into the overall plot. A surprise attack toward the end of the movie changes everything -- no more questions, no more choices -- and Master Chief shows up in all his glory to help survivors. I loved Master Chief's character and was disappointed that he did not have more screen time. The end was a sort of beginning. Although the first half of the film is a bit cliché, the second half picks up and Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn ends up being an entertaining sci-fi film with great action.

Reading Habits: Thoughts on Introductions
2014: Top Books of the Year

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Reading Habits: Thoughts On Introductions

Do you read introductions to books, anthologies and/or collections? Editor Steve Berman asks that question in the introduction to his Wilde Stories 2014 anthology. He wonders if readers read introductions at all. This query interested me because somewhere in my vast accumulated list of drafts there is an unfinished post with the title: "Introductions: Hook or Deal Breaker?" Personally, I find that introductions often anchor books, anthologies, and collections.

A good introduction is often the "hook" driving me to read on. If not well written, however, an introduction becomes a detriment. I have encountered quite a few introductions that bored the heck out of me, and others where the editor's theme choice for an anthology or collection turned me off. The result in both cases is unfair to the contributors but always the same: I place the book aside and don't give the stories a chance. Then there are those collections that leave me floundering and wondering what the editor intended when gathering the stories because there is no foreword, introduction, or afterword. In that case curiosity almost always gets the best of me and I read on, but whether I finish the book or not depends on writing, flow, and how well the stories fit together.

Of course I have read introductions that are so memorable they are intrinsically edged in my mind along with the collection's content. Here are some examples:

  • Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's introduction to the mammoth collection The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories with its extensive narrative has an educational style covering the history and evolution of 'the weird' beginning with H.P. Lovecraft, Kafka, Borges and others and ending with today's modern version or 'the new weird.' This introduction is worth reading prior to tackling the fantastic content even if the reader is familiar with the history.
  • A similar educational style can be found in the fabulous anthology edited by Grace L. Dillon, Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction in that it also gives the  chronological and evolutionary history of contributions by indigenous writers to science fiction.   However, this introduction is presented in the dry, dense format often found in textbooks. This style is not for everyone, but since I was not well-versed on the subject matter it served as the perfect learning tool. 
  • And, Tom Cardamone's short, well-written introduction to the speculative fiction anthology The Lavender Menace: Tales of Queer Villainy! is a perfect example of an editor who hooks the reader with intent and theme. I not only came to understand what Cardamone wanted to achieve with his collection of stories as a final product, but his introduction kept me focused as I read each story. And isn't that the point?
So yes, I believe introductions are meant to be read, and that a great/fantastic or well-thought out introduction can become key to a successful book, anthology, or single author collection.

Do you read introductions before or after picking up a book? Do you read introductions at all? 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Joining: The 2015 Science Fiction Experience

Space by Stephan Martieniere
Used with permission from the artist
To view complete Portfolio visit artist's website
The Sci-Fi Experience, hosted by Carl V. of Stainless Steel Droppings, has become a favorite yearly event. As in previous years, The 2015 Sci-Fi Experience is a celebration of Science Fiction in all its glory. This is NOT a challenge, but a way to enjoy and share love for the genre. I personally love that it gives me the opportunity to share my enjoyment of Sci-Fi through book, film, and television program discussions.

The fun began on December 1, 2014 and it will end on January 31, 2015. If interested in joining, read more about it here. If you just want to follow reviews, recommendations, and/or commentary, check out the review site where all participants post links to their reviews.

I read some excellent Sci-Fi this past year. However, I still have a stack of books to read. I plan to be realistic and go with the flow and my mood. There is no pressure and I'm hoping this event will help get me excited about reading and blogging regularly again. So let's see how far I get and which books I end up reading. In the meantime, here is my tentative list:

  • A Confederation of Valor Omnibus (Valor's Choice and The Better Part of Valor) by Tanya Huff
  • Star Soldiers by Andre Norton
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Abaddon's Gate (The Expanse #3) by James S.A. Corey
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch

I usually watch and comment on at least one science fiction film or television program. Let's see what appeals this year.

Let the fun begin.