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A Reply To “For the Sake of Fandom, Sanity and Star Wars”

On Monday, Coffee With Kenobi published a an article written by Lisa Dullard titled “For the Sake of Fandom, Sanity and Star Wars.” It is yet another plea for civility and kindness in the fandom post- Lucas. On Twitter, it has 18 retweets and 39 likes.

Yes, I agree civility is very important. Rest assured I would never berate, bully or hurt another fan’s feelings for liking The Force Awakens, Rogue One or The Last Jedi (heck, I helped a grandmother look for Rey and Phasma toys at Toys R US once). I do not blame the actors working on those films for the awfulness of those films. They were just doing their jobs.

But this article made me angry in so many ways I had to write this post immediately in response.Here’s what Ms. Dullard says in the first paragraph:

What I don’t understand is the constant drumbeat of negativity in fandom. It’s been there to some extent for a number of years, bubbling away. Most recently it’s become unglued, in my observation.

Rrrriiiiiggghhhttt.

From 1999 to 2015 I couldn’t pick up a magazine, be it Entertainment Weekly or Starlog, and not see some SW article bashing Lucas and the Prequels. I couldn’t look at any internet video or article referencing SW without the usual swipe at the Prequels (and to a lesser extent, the Special Editions). To this day the fake media continues the lie that all Star Warriors hate the Prequels. Even when Christopher Lee passed away, an obituary on RogerEbert.com had to call the prequels “dire” despite the fact that Lee admitted himself that he enjoyed working on them. And let’s not forget (as much as we want to) that horrendous “documentary” The People Vs. George Lucas.

I can’t believe that a certain subset of the Star Wars community – particularly those who run sites and podcasts – are now stepping up to the plate to defend some fans’ right to enjoy the current crop of Disney-made Star Wars films. But for nearly 21 years these same people were nowhere to be found when Star Warriors like me had to put up continuously with SE hate, prequel hate, EU hate, even Clone Wars hate from “unglued” fans who dared, DARED to equate the ’90s/’00s era of SW to rape. Where was the call for civility then?

Where were you when I needed you?

That’s why I find people’s recent attitudes so distressing. The attacks, not only on the films and the creatives behind them, but also on fellow fans who might feel differently, are just wrong.

Really? Were you distressed about Simon Pegg’s long running attitude about George Lucas and the PT (F.Y.I. Full of Sith came to his defense at one time)? Did you cringe when Wil Wheaton took an opportunity to publicly trash the PT at the premier of Rogue One? Did you see this man’s tweet?

And is it really the TLJ haters who are the bullies here? Look at how the media is smearing anyone who hated their precious Disney movie:

3 Ways Crybaby Star Wars Fans Are Trying To Ruin The Last Jedi For Everyone Else

Let’s Face It, You Hate The Last Jedi Because You Hate Women

Other’s are writing silly little “think pieces” analyzing TLJ hate because they just can’t wrap their minds around the fact that audiences disagree with critics:

The Backlash Against Star Wars: The Last Jedi Explained

Just How Seriously Should We Take This Star Wars: The Last Jedi Backlash?

Remember, these are the same people who sided with OT purists and never called them crybabies, bigots or losers.

And these “attacks” on the new films aren’t just a matter of taste, they’re a matter of principle. This trilogy has to be the most cynical trilogy in all of Star Wars history. It’s telling audiences – particularly children – that everything your heroes achieved in the first trilogy was a waste of time. The people you looked up to – Han, Luke and Leia – are failures that have to be killed off for a new generation of characters whose only personality traits are their skin color and sex. First The Force Awakens turns Han into a deadbeat dad – only to kill him off. Then The Last Jedi turns Luke into a snarky, apathetic coward – only to kill him off. A far cry from the men of Eps 4-6 who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the ones they loved. What lessons are these films teaching our kids?

What lesson will the upcoming Han Solo movie teach our children?

Now with Solo: A Star Wars Story, it’s all about how Alden Ehrenreich doesn’t look like Harrison Ford. How dare he! Seriously? He’s not meant to be Harrison, he’s meant to be Han Solo. As great as he was in the role, Harrison isn’t really Han, and he’d be the first to tell you that. Why not give Alden the room and support to put his stamp on the character? After all, he is playing a version of Han Harrison never did. It’s okay if it’s different.

Everyone is so willing, without hesitation, to embrace Donald Glover — who will be amazing as Lando, no doubt about it — but Alden is met with seemingly nothing but skepticism. I know, were I in Alden’s shoes, I’d be feeling a bit deflated right about now. I’m sure he busted his posterior to get his performance just right, and this should be an exciting time for him. Instead, fans gripe about how he looks or sounds and how he isn’t good enough. Is that really how we want to be?

Gee, I haven’t embraced Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. Why have Lando in this movie when he still hasn’t shown up in Eps. 7-9? What happened to him after the Battle of Endor? I don’t think I want to know because they’ll just get Darth Aardvark to kill him off anyway.

Harrison Ford originated the role of Han Solo. He’s who we think of when we picture Han Solo. When we’re reading any printed SW story about Han Solo we read his lines in Harrison’s voice. If Burt Reynolds had been cast as Han, we’d feel the same way. It’s OK to cast different actors to play James Bond, Superman or Philip Marlowe because those characters began in literature. But guess what, there’s a physical requirement for those characters too. No one will accept a black James Bond (not even Idris Elba), an ugly Superman (*cough* Nicholas Cage *cough*) or a female Philip Marlowe because that’s not how the authors wrote them. 

But Star Wars didn’t start off as a book. It’s a visual medium.

George Lucas cast Harrison Ford because he read the script with a mix of mercenary swagger and world weariness. Sure, I could picture someone else voicing Han in a radio program or an animated featureBut that’s because Han is drawn/ designed to resemble…Harrison Ford! The actors voicing the character mimic Ford’s voice.

Now you may be wondering how I can accept Ewan McGregor as young Obi-Wan or Sean Patrick Flanery as young Indiana Jones but not Alden Ehrenreich as young Han Solo? Because there’s a bigger age gap between the first two characters. The Phantom Menace takes place 32 years before A New Hope. There’s a 28 year gap between The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and Raiders of the Lost Ark. But Solo: A Star Wars Story looks like another lead up to A New Hope. There isn’t enough of an age gap. Harrison Ford was 33 when he was cast in ANH, Alden Ehrenreich is 28. That’s only 5 years apart. Not very convincing.

Another thing to keep in mind as we head toward Solo: Reserve judgment. We’ve seen around two minutes of footage and a few photos. That’s a far cry from seeing the finished product. Give Ron Howard, the cast, and crew a chance to deliver on their promise of a fun, exciting movie experience!

Well I saw the Super Bowl trailer and frankly, it looks like another forgettable Disney Star Wars project like the last three. Ron Howard’s last film (Heart of the Sea) was a massive flop. And why waste money on a film about Han’s early adventures when you could honor A.C. Crispin’s memory and pick up a copy (or copies) of The Han Solo Trilogy?

Anyway, I don’t know if anyone will read this, but if you did, I hope you’ll get comfort in knowing that it’s OK to publicly criticize The Last Jedi and Solo. I hope you’ll get comfort in knowing that it’s OK to pretend the Disney buyout never happened. The one bright spot in all this is that the days of prequel-bashing are coming to an end as more and more fans realize that Star Wars isn’t Star Wars without George Lucas.

For the sake of our fandom and our sanity, let’s uphold the Star Wars that truly matters.

May the Force Be With You.

 

 

 

 

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Great Whale Moments In SF History

Today is World Whale Day! As we use this day to think about how we can help out and appreciate our cetacean friends, I will take this opportunity to list all the whales that swam into our hearts via science fiction. So pour a glass of water, get out your copy of Songs of the Humpback Whale, and have a whale of a time perusing this list.

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Rorqual Maru, The Godwhale (1974)

Somewhat of a sequel to T.J. Bass’ Half Past Human, this novel is one of the earliest examples of “biopunk” a subgenre related to cyberpunk and steampunk but with biotechnology. Rorqual Maru (is that a cool name or what?) is the titular Godwhale, a cyborg/blue whale hybrid that helps the novel’s protagonist in his search for answers.

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The Leviathan, The Leviathan Trilogy (2009)

What if Britain & it’s allies used genetically modified animals to fight World War 1? Scott Westerfeld answers that question with the Leviathan, a giant airship made (literally) of a whale that can fly through the air (airwhale) thanks to a combination of animal genetics (because Darwin was able to crack the DNA code a century ahead of schedule). Whether you think this is ethical or not is up for debate.

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Orca, Batman

Introduced in Batman Issue #579 (2000)

Experiments with killer whale tissue turns marine biologist Dr. Grace Balin into Orca, one of Batman’s lesser known antagonists. More info on her here and here.

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Orka, Marvel Comics

First introduced in Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner #23 (1970). With the help of his psionic amplifier belt, fallen Atlantean soldier Orka has the powers of a killer whale and uses those powers to fight various heroes in the Marvel universe (so why is he blue?) Read more about him here and here.

The Whaladon, Star Wars: The Jedi Prince Series (1992-1993)

First introduced in The Glove of Darth Vader, Whaladons are a species of intelligent creatures in the Star Wars galaxy that our heroes fight to protect from poaching. Detractors of the kids-centered books will summarize the series as “The Rebel Alliance Saves the Whales”. But hey, they can’t be worse than Aftermath, right?

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(The one under Kenix Kil’s foot is a Herglic.)

Herglic, Star Wars Legends

These sentient, bipedal, water-based aliens are native to the planet Giju and have appeared in various SW comics and role playing games throughout the years. They made their first appearance in Dark Force Rising, the 2nd book in Timothy Zahn’s beloved Thrawn Trilogy. Because of their large size, it’s difficult for them to enter buildings and ships causing much embarrassment. Nevertheless they are peaceful, easygoing creatures. You can read more about them here.

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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

For all of Star Trek’s optimism, it seems illogical (no pun intended) that in the 23rd century humpback whales would be an extinct species. But they are and that’s bad for the crew of the Enterprise when they discover that a deadly probe is orbiting Earth. Spock comes to the conclusion that the “call” the probe sends matches the “songs” of humpback whales and will continue to wreak havoc until its call is answered. So the only solution is to go back in time to the 20th Century, capture some humpback whales, bring them forward in time to the 23rd Century and use them to respond to the probe’s signal. Not an easy task.

Didn’t they have a copy of Songs of the Humpback Whale on the Enterprise?

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Star Trek: Where Sea Meets Sky (1998)

Written by Jerry Oltion and part of The Captain’s Table Series. This is Captain Christopher Pike’s story. He and his crew encounter airwhales known as “titans” who, in Oltion’s words: “scooped hydrogen from the atmospheres of gas giants for food and laid their eggs on terrestrial planets.” Unfortunately this causes a lot of collateral damage to the inhabitants of the terrestrial planets so of course it’s up to the Enterprise to find a solution.

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Aiwha, Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones

Non-sentient cetacean creatures native to Kamino and Naboo, they can launch into the air from the sea. Their names are taken from the word “airwhale”. They were designed by Terryl Whitlatch though an early concept was made by Ralph McQuarrie for The Empire Strikes Back. You can learn more about them on Wookiepedia.

And now to conclude this list, here’s some pictures of space whales:

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And an air whale:

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All I Need to Know About Life I Learned From…

plan9main_original

” How many of you know the horror, the terror I will now reveal to you?

For many years I have told you the almost unbelievable, related the unreal and showed it to be more than fact. Now I tell you a tale of the future for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable.  That is why you are here. And now I will relate to you … the wisdom, the life lessons. My friends we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Can your hearts stand the shocking truisms from… Plan 9 From Outer Space!

  • Death isn’t an enemy, it’s a proud brother.
  • Future events will effect you in the future.
  • I’m afraid of the dead because they don’t think.
  • There are two types of flying saucers: the kind from up there and their counterparts.
  • Modern women have been that way all through the ages.
  • Earth people have stupid minds.
  • If I pass a stranger during the night, he might be from outer space.
  • Visits indicate visitors.
  • Chiropractors make good stand-ins.
  • There comes a time in each man’s life when he can’t even believe his own eyes.
  • First there’s a bomb, then, a larger bomb.
  • Space women are for advancing the race not fighting in man’s battles – yet take them with you on missions anyway.
  • Murder is someone’s responsibility.
  • Pillows are good substitutes for husbands.
  • The most fantastic part of a story is the true part.
  • Don’t laugh at the horseless carriage, the aeroplane, radio, vitamins, television or outer space.
  • Guns are good for shooting and scratching.
  • The saucers are up there and the cemetery’s out there.
  • As long as humans can think, aliens will have problems.
  • The best evidence of alien life is a zombie invasion.
  • We are all interested in the future for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.

My friends, you have read these truisms based on sworn testimony. Can you prove they aren’t worth living by?  Can you supply other things you have learned from Ed Woods’ masterpiece?

God help us in the future…

 

 

 

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Dear Hollywood, Drop ‘Alien 5’ And Adapt ‘Alien Isolation’ Instead

dontrun

To the Head of 20th Century Fox,

Request of Current Procedure: produce film adaptation of 2014 horror-survival video game Alien: Isolation, all other Alien franchise projects secondary, current film in production: Alien 5, expendable.

Submitted for your approval: Alien: Isolation takes place 15 years after the events of your 1979 classic where Ripley’s resourceful daughter, Amanda, travels to the exact place where her mother disappeared and boards a space station that has in it’s possession a recorded message Ripley made for her daughter. Unfortunately, Amanda discovers that a majority of the station’s inhabitants are dead, its survivors are territorial, its androids are running amok and a big, scary xenomorph is lurking in the shadows, looking for its next victim. The object of the game is explained best by Wikipedia:

To advance through the game, the player must explore a space station and complete numerous objectives while avoiding, outsmarting and defeating enemies like human occupants or hostile androids. Objectives range from activating computers to collecting certain items or reaching a specific area in the game. The player has the ability to run, climb ladders, and sneak into vents. The player can also crouch and hide behind objects to break the line of sight with enemies, and covertly peek over or lean around to gain view. The player has also the ability to go under nearby tables or inside lockers to hide from enemies.

The alien creature cannot be defeated, requiring the player to use stealth tactics in order to survive. Along the way, the player can use both a flashlight and a motion tracker to detect the alien’s movements. However, using any of these increases the chance of the alien finding the player. For example, if the alien is moving and close enough, the tracker’s sound will attract the alien, forcing the player to wisely use the tracker and remove it as soon as it detects motion. The motion tracker cannot detect enemies when they are not moving and cannot determine whether the alien creature is up in the ducts or on the ground level.

If this explanation of the game’s objective doesn’t interest and/or confuses you, I suggest you pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and watch the game movie here.

Are you done? Good. Here’s why this game has potential to become a movie:

  • We can give Sigourney Weaver a break. Don’t get me wrong, I love that woman as much as the next femgeek, but I want to see another woman hero fight/outwit xenomorphs. And in A:I they succeeded with Amanda Ripley, who’s more of an intellectual hero than an action hero. Nowadays we’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that physical prowess should be the standard for any main female character in an SF movie and that teeters toward the philosophy of “might makes right”. By having an intellectual female hero on the big screen who’s technically savvy, keeps her cool and uses her head, girls (those that are old enough to see the film but are still of an “impressionable” age) will learn that it’s OK (and important) to be smart.
  • It brings the franchise back to its horror roots. One of the reasons why Alien is one of my favorite films of all time is best said by the late, great Roger Ebert:

One of the great strengths of “Alien” is its pacing. It takes its time. It waits. It allows silences. “Alien” uses a tricky device to keep the alien fresh throughout the movie: It evolves the nature and appearance of the creature, so we never know quite what it looks like or what it can do. The 1979 “Alien” is a much more cerebral movie than its sequels, with the characters (and the audience) genuinely engaged in curiosity about this weirdest of lifeforms.

The words I highlighted in bold lead me to an unpopular view: many believe that the franchise started to decline in quality with Alien 3. I believed it declined with James Cameron’s much-loved 1986 sequel when he sidestepped horror for action-thriller and since then every film, comic and video game in the franchise followed in the footsteps of Aliens instead of Alien. Not so with Alien: Isolation and let me tell you, there’s some scary scenes in Alien: Isolation. So scary I was afraid to open any door in my house at night for fear that a xenomorph would jump out at me.

  • It utilizes the technology of the film yet still looks believably futuristic. The technology in Alien reflects the retrofuturism of the 70s even though the story takes place in 2122. Alien: Isolation starts off 15 years after the first film but doesn’t use 2014 technology (the year the game was released). The technology is large, beige and bulky yet that never for once distracts the player/viewer. It works.
  • It centers on a mother/daughter relationship that’s rare in a lot of fiction be it film, TV, or video games. Though I would change that relationship to aunt/niece (see below, though it still centers on female relationships).

However cinema has a history of disastrous video game adaptations (Super Mario Brothers, Street Fighter, etc.) so some changes may be needed to the story. Here’s some changes I would make if I were to write the screenplay.

  • The first plot change I would make is to start the film (after Ripley’s famous last recording) on the Sevastopol space station where Captain Marlowe and his team discover the xenomorph eggs and Marlowe’s wife gets attacked by a facehugger. She is brought on board with the camera closing in on her covered face… then we cut to our first scene of Amanda Ripley.
  • I don’t understand why the game has Ripley kill some of the other survivors of Sevastopol simply because “they don’t trust strangers”. Can’t she at least reason with them and try to convince them that she’s here to help? Can she walk in her mother’s footsteps and convince them that the best way to survive is through teamwork?
  • Her discovery of her mother’s taped message shouldn’t be interrupted by Marlowe’s threats against Taylor’s life. It should be an isolated scene that the audience should linger on while the second movement to Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 plays.
  • I always found it peculiar that the name of the company that the Ripley’s work for is an English-Japanese hybrid, yet there’s never been a Japanese character in the entire franchise. I might change one of the secondary characters (like Ricardo or Waits) or create an entirely new character that’s of Japanese descent.
  • I might change Amanda’s relationship to Ellen from daughter to niece. Why? Because the deleted scene in Aliens where Ellen asks about her daughter isn’t considered canon (though it’s often been included in many “Special Edition” releases) and for me seemed too left field when you remember that Ripley made no mention of having a daughter in Alien. Why would a single mom (no word on what happened to Amanda’s dad) leave her only child (once again, no word on whether Amanda has siblings) for extended periods of time? It would make more sense for a niece, who has a mother already, desire to emulate the aunt she admires by becoming an engineer and working for the same company, investigate her aunt’s disappearance.

This is the Lady, sole inhabitant of Planet X, signing off.

Now, dear readers, it’s your turn. Do you think Alien: Isolation would make a good movie? What did you enjoy about Alien: Isolation?  What would you change? Sound off in the comments.

 

 

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Great Cat Moments In SF & F History

October 29 was National Cat Day! I love cats. On Planet X, I celebrate National Cat Day by putting together a list of the furriest, most purrrfffect characters, stories and moments in my other love – science fiction! Because, believe it or not, cats and sci-fi go together like wet food and a ball of yarn. So, without further ado, in no particular order, here’re the best feline moments in sci-fi.

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Jonesy (Alien)

Ripley was the last survivor of the Nostromo right? Wrong! She had company. Jones (or Jonesy) the ship’s cat also successfully escaped the alien’s clutches. His most memorable moment was when Brett, the ship’s engineer, tries to call Jones to him but Jones is too distracted by the thing that’s slowly creeping down from the ceiling behind Brett. The camera switches from the alien snatching Brett to a closeup of Jonesy’s face. The 1979 film ends with Jonesy relaxing on Ripley’s lap as she gives her final report before going into stasis.

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Isis the Cat

Does it surprise you that Spock has an affinity for cats? Me neither. The last episode of Star Trek‘s second season, “Assignment: Earth”, has the Enterprise traveling to the past to research Earth’s history only to discover a mysterious man with a cat has energized aboard the ship. That man is agent Gary Seven, a human raised on another planet who’s mission is to travel through time to prevent other agents from altering Earth’s history. His constant companion is a cat named Isis who possessed the ability to take on a human form and to communicate telepathically. Originally “Assignment: Earth” was intended to be a backdoor pilot to a spinoff series about Gary Seven, his cat, Isis and his assistant Roberta Lincoln but it never got off the ground. However, their further adventures are told in the Gary Cox duology The Eugenics Wars.

ThunderCats

If your a child of the eighties like me, chances are you may remember watching this show at some point. Created by the ironically named Ted “Tobin” Wolf and airing from 1985 to 1989, ThunderCats revolved around a group of feline humanoid aliens – each resembling a species of wild cat – fleeing their doomed planet Thundera and. The group consisted of central protagonist Lion-O, Cheetara, Snarf, Tygra, Panthro, and the siblings WilyKit and WilyKat as they fight the Mutants of Plun-Darr and adjust to their new lives on Third Earth. As you may have guessed, there was a toy line.

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Cringer/Battle Cat

Lion-O and the gang weren’t the only cats to rule the airwaves. The wildly popular He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983-1985) had Prince Adam/He-Man’s faithful pet/steed Cringer, a green and orange tiger who was a scaredy-cat (literally) and could turn into a fierce, bridled tiger with the help of He-Man’s sword. He also was immortalized in toy form.

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Catwoman

Next to Wonder Woman, DC’s Catwoman (Selena Kyle) is one of comics most recognizable and inspirational characters – even if her reputation is unsavory. She’s been around since 1940 and is still going strong. She’s been portrayed by Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway and Carmen Bicondova. She’s also been voiced by Adrienne Barbeau, Grey DeLisle, Eliza Dushku and others. IGN ranked her at number 11 on their “Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time” list.

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Catman

Not to be outdone is DC’s other “cat burglar” Catman, who was really Thomas Blake, a hunter turned criminal who often went cowl to cowl with Batman. Like his more famous female counterpart, he’s been retconned into an anti-hero involved with the Secret Six. Under the pen of Gail Simone, Catman has gained more recognition.

Cat People (1942)

Considered to be the definitive Val Lewton film, this horror classic tells the story of a young Serbian woman’s fear that she will turn into a deadly black panther if she’s ever sexually aroused or angered. Her fears come true when she falls in love with an American man… The film is famous for its low budget and its cinematography.

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The Cat Returns (2002)

From Studio Ghibli comes a coming-of-age tale about a teenage girl named Haru who finds herself in a “cat kingdom” as the unwilling bride-to-be for their prince. It up to the dashing Baron von Gikkingen, his aide Muta and a bird named Toto to infiltrate the palace of the Cat King and free Haru. The English dub of this Japanese film included the voices of Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Peter Boyle and Tim Curry.

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Dinah and the Cheshire Cat

How could I leave Alice in Wonderland off this list? It boasts two iconic cats: Alice’s cherished cat, Dinah (who acts as a beacon of hope to the lost, confused Alice) and of course, the Cheshire Cat, who has all the best lines in the book. Dinah was based on the Liddell’s family’s (who were close friends of Lewis Carroll) tabby cat while the Cheshire Cat is based on the expression “to grin like a Cheshire cat.” Cheshire was also Carroll’s birthplace.

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Aslan, Son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea

The creator and king of Narnia. He is a alternative version of Jesus Christ and is the only character to appear in all seven books of the Narnia series. He’s loved by all Narnians and feared by all his enemies. He is not a tame lion.

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Tailchaser’s Song

I haven’t read this 1985 book by Tad Williams but I remember an illustration of a Toothguard by Wayne Barlowe. Anyway Fritti Tailchaser is a sentient feral cat who sets out on a quest to find a missing friend. Rumor has it, there will be an animated adaptation in 2018 (CGI unfortunately).

To Visit the Queen

A 1998 steampunk  time traveling adventure by Diane Duane in which an evil entity travels to Victorian England to introduce nuclear weapons (ahead of schedule) to the British Empire and assassinate Queen Victoria along the way. It’s up to four cat “wizards”, their dinosaur ally, and a young Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to stop “The Lone Power” from destroying the world.

Muuurgh the Togorian

A character that appears in A.C. Crispin’s Han Solo Trilogy, Muuurgh was a feline humanoid that was assigned as Han Solo bodyguard on the planet Ylesia. In reality Muuurgh was looking for his mate-to-be Mrrov, who had gotten tangled up with a shady cult. Muuurgh and Han Solo become good friends (remember, this is before Han met Chewbacca) and help free Mrrov and other members from the clutches of the “cult”. Han later serves as Muuurgh’s best man at Muuurgh and Mrrov’s wedding and the happy couple become parents to three kits. And while we’re on the subject of Star Wars…

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Spot the cat

Data the android always wanted to learn what it was like to be human. One of those ways was to own a pet, which turned out to be his cat, Spot, who was an orange tabby. Spot appeared in many episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Data loved her dearly.

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The Catfantastic Series

Rowwrrr! How could I have forgotten this on my list. A collection of fantasy stories about Man’s Best Friend (admit it) edited by Andre Norton and Martin H. Greenberg. The first book was published in 1989 and it’s fourth and final sequel was published in 2009.

Meow! Agree with my list. What other cat related titles, characters and stories have I missed. Sound off in the comments and maybe I’ll add them.

For an added bonus, here’s some pictures of your favorite SF/F authors with their felines.

Ursula K. LeGuin

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Philip K. Dick

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Ray Bradbury

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Neil Gaiman

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Stephen King

Stephen King

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thoughts On the “Wonder Woman” SDCC Trailer

 

It appears that DC is stealing the show at Comic-Con at the moment (though to be fair, there’s a lot of buzz over that “Doctor Strange” trailer and Captain Marvel casting announcement too). The one thing everyone’s talking about: the Wonder Woman trailer, of course! I watched it online four times and I have to admit it looks exciting! As I mentioned before, it’ll take place during World War 1, which I think shows creativity on DC/Warner Bros. part. Not only will it give the world the female superhero-led movie we’ve all been waiting for, it may arouse future generations’ curiosity about a long forgotten, centuries old world war.

My thoughts:

  • It’ll be released into theaters June 2, 2017. That’s one year after Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary and 100 years since the US declared war against Germany.
  • At first, I was skeptical about Gal Godot’s casting as Diana Prince but after seeing her in action in BVS and this trailer, boy was I glad she was hired. She’s beautiful, tall, exotic, confident, athletic and I love her accent.
  • I also lllooovvvee that blue dress she wears (the one with the hidden sword).
  • I’m glad they included a scene where she meets Etta Candy for the first time and Etta (who’s British!) gushes about how much she likes her. It’s a total opposite from DC’s 2009 animated film where all Etta does is flirt with Steve Trevor and Diana thinks low of her.
  • It’s a relief to see another actress take up the mantel of WW from Lynda Carter so that future generations of fans can talk about which incarnation is their favorite. Think about it: for years Batman fans had Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and now Ben Affleck, while Superman fans had Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, Tom Welling, Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill. Wonder Woman fans had only Lynda Carter. But I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the 70s Wonder Woman series because it’s so dated in it’s approach to the character. If this film does well, hopefully it’ll give DC the confidence to hire other actresses to step into the boots of the Amazon Princess.

Now for my questions:

  • Who is that general played by Danny Huston that Diana is slowly approaching? Is he the main villain? Is he Ares in disguise? Who did they pick from Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery to be in this film?
  • What role will Diana’s aunt Antiope play in this film? What’s her backstory? Will she aide Diana in her mission or will she make things harder for her?
  • Will all the Germans be bad guys or will there be some sympathetic German characters?
  • Who is that woman with the partly disfigured face? I know that many soldiers suffered from extreme disfigurement due to flying shrapnel and had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery, but how did it happen to that woman? Was she a nurse in the right place at the wrong time? Did she disguise herself as a soldier? Or worse, is she a battered wife?
  • Will the film address the women’s issues of the time period?
  • What type of Steve Trevor will Chris Pine portray? I hope he’ll be a far cry from Kirk the Jerk.

And finally, here’s what I’m hoping for the film:

  • I hope it’ll be as good or better than Man of Steel in its treatment of its female characters (I feel that, so far, MOS is the most feminist superhero film to date but that’s a subject for another post).
  • I hope it’ll pass the Bechdel Test.
  • I hope the story will portray Diana and Steve’s relationship as one of equals.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

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Filed under comics, female characters, Wonder Woman

World War 1 Fantastic – Film

Unless you’ve been hiding out on some island hidden in the Bermuda Triangle, you may have heard the news that DC/Warner Brothers hotly anticipated Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot will take place during World War 1 instead of the era where she was first introduced. DC must’ve read my mind because I’ve always imagined what Diana’s story would be like in the 1910s instead of the 1940s. This shows creativity on DC’s part because if they stuck with tradition, the film would be compared to Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger endlessly. It’ll also introduce a new generation of girls and women not just to a feminist icon but to a bygone era that changed the world a hundred years ago.

But I’m not here to speculate on a movie that won’t be out until next year (FACT: 2017 will be the centennial of America’s entry into the first world war). Today I’m here write another post about The War to End All Wars as seen through the lens of speculative fiction. My first post in the series looked at novels. My second one was about television. My last post listed video games. If you’ve guessed by now that today’s article is about film – you’re right!

Impossible! You say. There aren’t any fantastical films about World War 1! Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong! They do exist, you just have to find them.

Biggles: Adventures In Time: (1986. Released in the UK as simply Biggles). A film with arguably one of the most laughable taglines in movie history:

Meet Jim Ferguson. He lived a daring double-life with one foot in the 20th century and the other in World War 1.

Think for awhile why that that sounds so absurd. No, it’s not “double-life” part.

James “Biggles” Bigglesworth was a character from a series of book by W.E. Johns about an ace pilot and his adventures during and after the Great War. The first story, “The White Fokker” was published in 1932. The series grew in popularity to the point where they continued after Johns’ death. So it was only appropriate to make a full-length feature film about the character right.

Yes, except the original script was going to be closer in tone to the books and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then Back to the Future was released…The success of that film made executives want to cash in on its popularity and the script was altered to include a modern day character named Jim Ferguson who “stumbles” into 1917 and befriends the titular hero. Jim later learns (from Peter Cushing, in his final film role) that he and Biggles are “time twins” two men who travel through time when one or the other is in mortal danger. OK if Jim just learned he had this ability in 1917 why didn’t he travel to the first three years of the war when Biggles’ life was threatened repeatedly? You know what, never mind. It’s too confusing. In case your wondering, yes, the film was a flop. Enjoy the trailer:

Deathwatch: (2002) A horror movie directed by Michael J. Bassett about a group of British soldiers who are suddenly surrounded by a mysterious “mist” and find themselves on the enemy side of the trenches where terrified German soldiers cower in fear about “something else further down the trenches”. Ignoring their warnings, the soldiers investigate and find rotting bodies, bloodied mud and an inhuman growl in the distance. Needless to say it all goes downhill from there and the British soldiers learn the true meaning of “No Man’s Land”. The question is, is the horror the result of supernatural forces or is it all in the soldiers’ heads? The cast includes a non-CGI Andy Serkis.

Here’s the trailer:

Sucker Punch: (2011) This film is not about World War 1. It’s about a girl living in 1959 who wants to escape from a mental asylum with her friends before she gets lobotomized. Or something like that. This film is very divisive among femgeeks: some call it a sexist masturbatory fantasy, others say it’s a critique about the sexualization of women in popular culture. One scene everyone remembers best, though, is Baby Doll’s (Emily Browning) fantasy sequence where she and Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Amber (Jamie Chung), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) and Rocket (Jena Malone) navigate through the trenches of World War 1 to retrieve a map. But they must fight off steam powered zombie enemy soldiers because all the allied soldiers are too shell-shocked to fight. The only available clip on YouTube is shown in three parts and is erroneously titled “Nazi Zombies”:

War of the Worlds: Goliath: (2012) This Malaysian animated film is a loose sequel to H.G. Wells’ seminal classic. It’s 1914, 15 years after the first Martian invasion. The world, as you know, is mobilizing itself for the Great War. Except this time the weapons used are engineered from Martian technology that was scrapped after the invaders died from disease. Just as war begins – how convenient! – the Martians return. With bigger, badder weapons! And stronger immune systems! As a wise man once said: “there’s always a bigger fish”.

Here’s the trailer:

So what do you think? Have you seen these films? Do you know of any other sf/fantasy/horror films that take place during The War to End All Wars? Let me know in the comments.

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Filed under speculative fiction, world war 1, world war 1 fantastic