The Lodge and Seven Contrivances: How Contrivance Affects Horror Plots

written by John Wiswell Most Horror stories are built on contrivance. In Jaws, a shark that absolutely isn’t native to that region attacks swimmers. How did it get there and why is it behaving this way? Neither Benchley’s novel nor Spielberg’s film cares. Little more effort is put into justifying the mayor and business owners … Continue reading The Lodge and Seven Contrivances: How Contrivance Affects Horror Plots

ESSAY: Tadashi Hamada’s Legacy

written by David Steffen This is an essay contemplating the Marvel/Disney movie Big Hero 6 (reviewed here), an excellent animated superhero mystery comedy with one of my favorite characters of all time: Baymax, the inflatable healthcare companion android who gets (improbably) recruited to be part of a superhero team by teenage genius Hiro Hamada. I … Continue reading ESSAY: Tadashi Hamada’s Legacy

The Betrayal of Hiro Hamada

written by David Steffen Note before you read any further that this article will definitely include spoilers for the Marvel/Disney movie Big Hero 6, so stop now if you don’t want it spoiled. (It was previously reviewed here, as well as an essay about Baymax) If you haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend it! It … Continue reading The Betrayal of Hiro Hamada

Is Baymax Really Compassionate?

written by David Steffen Note before you read any further that this article will definitely include spoilers for the Marvel/Disney movie Big Hero 6, so stop now if you don’t want it spoiled. If you haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend it! (it was reviewed here previously) It is one of my favorites–fun, funny, … Continue reading Is Baymax Really Compassionate?

The Horowitz Method: A Metrics-Based Approach to Rank-Ordering Musical Groups

written by David Steffen (and no one else, alas) INTRODUCTION Since time immemorial, one of the perennial topics of humankind has been to compare music.  Whether pop is better than country, whether this band is better than that band, or this song better than that song.  Before the invention of writing, one can imagine heated arguments … Continue reading The Horowitz Method: A Metrics-Based Approach to Rank-Ordering Musical Groups

STORY ANALYSIS: “Optimizing the Verified Good” by Effie Seiberg

written by David Steffen For another round of story analysis, I wanted to draw attention to the short story “Optimizing the Verified Good” by Effie Seiberg, first published in Analog September/October 2018, and reprinted in audio in Escape Pod. As with the previous run of the Story Analysis, do expect SPOILERS after this paragraph, but … Continue reading STORY ANALYSIS: “Optimizing the Verified Good” by Effie Seiberg

MEDIA COMPARISON: Sookie Stackhouse books vs. novels

Now that I have seen the entire True Blood TV series and all of the Sookie Stackhouse novels that they were based on, I have been thinking about the differences between the two and was thinking about writing up a post. This is certainly not intended to be an exhaustive list–there could easily be a book written listing out all the differences, especially since after the first few books/seasons, the two plots diverge wildly in almost every respect. So, I am only going to note a limited number, and the ones which I found the most striking, because I find it interesting to compare adaptations of a fictional universe to different media formats.

Obviously, this will be spoiler rich, as I will be covering some major plot points for the entire run of both the TV and movie series.

ESSAY: Not Quite Superman

Today I both write SFF and work in a high-powered slice of tech. In tech, superpowers are the norm. Superpowers are expected. Superpowers are your basic prerequisite, because of course you’re going to work-hard-play-hard, you’re going to go-go-go and get-shit-done. (You probably have a t-shirt or mug with at least one of these phrases, possibly handed out by your employer.) There is no place for weakness in this environment.

There is no place for disability in this environment.

The Five Best Realistic Science Fiction Films in the Past Five Years

There was a time when science fiction films consisted of more fiction than science, but as mankind grows more intelligent about the scientific forces that control the universe, our need for more believable science fiction also grows stronger. Here are some recent and realistic depictions of science and technology in film:

Robot Movies You Should Watch in 2015

ChappiePosterEver wonder if your microwave has feelings? What if it felt imposed upon every time you nuked a burrito inside of it? What if the microwave started conspiring with the rest of your kitchen appliances? Would there be any hope left for any of us? Are you also craving a burrito now?

The point that I’m laboring towards here is that machines are becoming pretty sophisticated — so sophisticated that it’s slightly worrisome. There are a number of films slated for release this year that tackle this very issue issue: Chappie, Ex Machina, and the latest installment of the The Avengers franchise. And while there is much chatter about this year as a “good year for robots,” the truth is that robot movies have been around for about as long as robots themselves…or movies, for that matter. One could perhaps make the case that our aversions toward technology are, in essence, the very basis of science-fiction itself. And there are a lot of ways that the newer films will likely echo thematic elements of classic science-fiction films.