Wastelands: A Post-Apocalyptic Anthology Done Right

March 25, 2008 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: books 

My wife recently got me Wastelands, an Anthology edited by John Joseph Adams for an Easter gift.  I am only a few stories into the book but I wanted to share some initial thoughts and what it has done right so far.  One of the strongest parts of the anthology thus far is the decision by Adams to focus on stories which portray life after the apocalypse, forgoing zombies and other provocateurs and focusing on the struggles and stories of individuals in a dramatically different world.  This method of selection has led to some wonderful stories which allow me to connect with the individual characters and at some level understand them.  So far the stories have evoked a strong response from me due in part to the attempts of characters to “do good” in some manner and either failing or coming to a realistic and forlorn conclusion.  Don’t get me wrong a I love me a good ole’ zombie “mmm brains” novel but these stories are in a manner easier to connect to.

One of the items which Adams includes in the anthology is a reference section in the back, a bibliography of sorts which compiles other books from this sub genre of science fiction.  As a reader I cannot begin to express how awesome this is to me.  Many times after finishing an anthology or collection I have been left at a loss as to where to find more material to read that is within the same vein as the original writing, something not always accomplished by reading the authors’ other  published work.  This reference has provided me a list of authors and books to add to my “To Read” notebook in One Note.

I’ll do my best to post a follow up review when I finish the collection.

Wastelands includes stories by authors such as Stephen King, Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow and Tobias Buckell.

Who Will Lead the Sci Fi Movie Revolution?

January 10, 2008 by Josh · 2 Comments
Filed under: Movies 

Mark Harris of Entertainment Weekly wrote a great (IMHO) article about the State of Science Fiction movies as a genre. He lambasted the genre for being too wrapped up in nostalgia and not taking chances.

Ideally, sci-fi’s next rescuer should be someone whose ideas about the future derive from somewhere — anywhere — other than old sci-fi. It can be done. Just a year ago, no movie genre looked deader than the Western. Then 2007 brought us not only a familiar but lively overhaul of 3:10 to Yuma but also the gorgeously arty mood piece The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and a handful of extraordinary films — the Coens’ No Country for Old Men, Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, and even, in its way, Paul Haggis’ In the Valley of Elah — that drew deeply and inventively on different aspects of Western conventions and mythmaking to create something new, often stunning, and not instantly identifiable by genre. Sci-fi desperately needs filmmakers who are interested in bending the form toward their own passions and obsessions as artists. 2001 has come and gone, and right now the future looks too much like something we’ve already seen.

In reading this several authors come to mind but I am pulling a blank for directors at the moment. Do you know who could direct a new science fiction film which would bring the genre out of its nostalgic vegetative state? If so leave their name in the comments.
We need new settings, new plots, new universes, new futures.

I want to see some adaptations or original works from Cory Doctorow, Tobias Buckell, John Scalzi, Scott Sigler, hell not sure Vernor Vinge’s latest is suitable for a movie adaptation but its something different. All these authors bring me to the point that not every future has to be of the “bad guy in the hulking ship with deathstars” universe. We can have all other types of settings, alternate modes of transportation, some steampunk maybe? Can I get a sci fi film with a Dirigible? Alternate futures near and far away, please someone wow me.

I for one will welcome our new Sci Fi Film making overlords…if they don’t muck it up.