Thursday, April 10, 2014

Film Remakes and the Necessity for Critical Distance

Hollywood is hopelessly obsessed with remakes.  We all know this.  And if we don't, it's really not that difficult to figure out how obsessed Hollywood really is.  But I'll make it easy for you here:  here's a list of 57 remakes which were marked as "in development" as of July 2013.  Some of those may have been dropped, but the fact of the matter is that there were 57 remakes in various stages of development last year.

There's nothing inherently wrong with remakes, of course.  After all, many remakes tackles films that are now 30+ years old, which means the primary viewing audience -- let's say 15 to 40 -- probably hasn't seen them anyway.  Some remakes are attempts to update concepts which haven't aged well, or which really are pretty darn cool and would benefit from newer film technologies and bigger budgets (technically, this year's Robocop fits into this category, but that film is terrible).  It makes sense, too, why Hollywood studios would choose to remake a film:  it's safer to reboot something that was already a success -- or which has a following or concept that would work well in today's market -- since the discussion surrounding the remake will naturally include buzz about the previous version; obviously, this can sometimes backfire, as in the case of Total Recall or Robocop (or perhaps it's more often than not), as it's difficult to find remakes which are absolutely better than their predecessors.  There's almost always something "missing."

I tend to think of remakes in two ways:

Fundraiser Updatery: 18 Days and Counting...

There are 18 days left in my Worldcon fundraiser for The Skiffy and Fanty Show.  And I'm $1552 short.  That's a lot to make up in less than a month, but it's still doable.  $87 a day will do it!  But that means I really need everyone's help on this.  A *lot* of help.

And on that subject, I want to thank all the folks who have helped out thus far:
  • Fred Kiesche
  • Scott Pohlenz
  • Matthew Sheahan
  • Louise Lowenspets (there are two dots on the last "o," but I can't figure out how to put it in there on my tablet -- sorry :( )
  • Andrew Liptak
  • Stina Leicht
  • Maureen Kincaid Speller
  • John Pitts
  • Linda Nagata
  • Mike Martinez
  • Fabio Fernandes
  • Rachael Acks
  • David Annandale
  • Sue Armitage
  • Joe Monti
  • Catherine Hill
  • Amy Fredericks
Note:  I have only listed donations that were made public.  I would also like to thank all the folks who didn't want to be named.  You are equally as awesome for every little bit you've given me for this.

Note 2:  I also want to say an enormous thank you to Myke Cole, who offered to share his hotel room at Worldcon with me free of charge.  It's people like Myke and the folks above (and the unlisted folks) who make this community so wonderful:  giving up money or things or whatever to help someone out.  And that's not just for me.  This community has helped all kinds of people.  It's a great thing.

As of right now, I'm holding off on scheduling interviews and the like, but if it starts to look that the fundraiser will get close to the goal, I'll get all of that started.  My hope is to host walk-by sessions and interview as many international authors, editors, and so on I possibly can.  Likewise, it's possible I'll be on programming this year, which is pretty darn awesome!

In any case, this month, we're recording a Torture Cinema review of Highlander II at the end of the month with special guest Mike Martinez (who donated and was selected to pick the movie for the 3rd Milestone).  Other perks are already available and listed on the page.

And that's all the updates I've got at the moment.  If you can spare some cash, please help out.  Even $5 helps.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

Link of the Week: "Confirmation bias, epic fantasy, and you" by N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin takes a stab at the now tiring debate over whether epic fantasy in faux-European settings can include women and people of color without rewriting (imaginary) history.  It's an interesting topic, as always, and, as always, Jemisin is brilliant in her response.

Here's the comment I left:

Friday, April 04, 2014

Kim Stanley Robinson and Exposition (or, No More James Patterson, Please)

Just this past weekend, I saw Kim Stanley Robinson give a talk about narrative and time at the Marxist Reading Group Conference at the University of Florida.  During this talk, Robinson suggested, as I'm sure he has elsewhere, that science fiction has been the victim of casual writing instruction, which has mistakenly convinced us that exposition is terrible writing.  He argued that exposition is, in fact, the bedrock of sf, as it provides much of the formal variance necessary for the genre to thrive, particularly given the genre's history.  In a sense, what Robinson argues is that the formal uniqueness of sf lies in its ability to represent what does not exist, and so exposition, by dint of representing the unreal, is a necessary tool for any writer of the genre.  His argument likewise reduces the "show, don't tell" rule to a curse of narrative zombification -- what he calls a zombie meme.

Monday, March 31, 2014

(Updated!) 2014 Hugo Nominee Ballot: The Full List + 1939 Retro-Hugo Nominees

I've decided to collapse everything into one post so I don't have to drop a dozen things tonight.  Due to time constraints, I have also left out a lot of the explanations and introductions for the various sections, as I wanted to do some more short fiction reading before I submitted my final ballot.

Here's the full ballot:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 Hugo Nominee Ballot: Best Related Work

(Update:  I 'm going to have to change my selections; it was pointed out to me by Mari Ness that this category is only for non-fiction, which means I can't have any collections here.  Right now, I am extremely frustrated about the absence of a category for anthologies and collections.)

This remains one of the ridiculous categories on the Hugo Ballot, since it is essentially a repository for all the things that don't fit anywhere else (which is what folks have been saying as long as I can remember discussing the Hugos as something more than just "that award thing").  So my selections are going to be full of fiction collections which don't fit elsewhere because there isn't a "best collection or anthology" category.

Here are my selections: