A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Proposed Trade-Offs for the Overhaul of the Barricade July 30, 2014 A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Proposed Trade-Offs for the Overhaul of the Barricade John Chu Fighting Turbulence requires sacrifices. The Colonel July 29, 2014 The Colonel Peter Watts The hives are sleeping giants. <em>To Eternity</em> July 24, 2014 To Eternity Wesley Allsbrook and Barrie Potter If all things were normal, Stuart would be considered quite a catch. Brisk Money July 23, 2014 Brisk Money Adam Christopher It's hard out there for a robotic detective.
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July 29, 2014
Introduction to the H. P. Lovecraft Reread
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July 25, 2014
Huge New Cast and Bloopers. Highlights from the San Diego Comic Con Game of Thrones Panel
Chris Lough
July 22, 2014
What Makes Chinese Science Fiction Chinese?
Xia Jia
July 22, 2014
Everything I Learned from the Buffy Rewatch
Alyx Dellamonica
July 21, 2014
If This is the Plot for Star Wars: Episode VII, I Will Be Sad
Emily Asher-Perrin
Showing posts by: Brad Kane click to see Brad Kane's profile
Wed
Dec 18 2013 12:00pm

Dreams of Disneyland: The Happiest Story World on Earth

Disneyland

Oh Disneyland. How I dreamed of you. As a child, I used to wake up wondering if I was going to Disneyland today. Most of the time, the answer was most definitely no. Yet morning after morning, I still awoke hopeful – and every so often, my dreams would come true. We’d get in the car, drive south on the I-5, and spend the day at the Happiest Place on Earth. Thirty years later, I still often think of my life as a series of long waits between trips to Disneyland. And I’m not alone in my nostalgia.

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Wed
Dec 11 2013 12:00pm

Framing in Gaming: Blitzball and Final Fantasy X

Blitzball Final Fantasy X

Last week, I took a look at framing devices and nested narratives in books, movies, and TV shows. Today, I’m going to switch gears and take a peek at how framing relates to gaming—and specifically to the upcoming HD remaster of the Square-Enix classic, Final Fantasy X.

FFX was a huge success when it hit the Playstation 2 in 2001. As the first Final Fantasy for Sony’s second-generation system, the game represented a major technological leap forward: it featured voice acting, pre-rendered backdrops, real-time cut scenes, and stunning cinematics. It also had a great story, and the most fully-developed world Square-Enix had ever created. It was a watershed moment in videogame history.

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Wed
Dec 4 2013 12:00pm

Framing Devices and Nested Narratives: Stories (Within Stories (Within Stories))

The movie Titanic begins with an elderly Rose telling the story of her voyage across the Atlantic. As we push in on her eyes, we suddenly find ourselves in 1912, and the movie begins in earnest. Only a few times during the film do we return to the elderly Rose to touch in on her experience—but the movie ends there, just as it began. In storytelling, this is known as a framing device: a story told within the context of another story. Framing devices can be very simple, or very complex, as we’ll see in a moment. In every case, the framing device is a gateway that sets the stage for a deeper journey into story.

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Wed
Nov 20 2013 12:00pm

Frozen Breaks the Ice: The Decline, Fall, and Rebirth of the Disney Musical

In the 1980s, Disney’s imagination was growing stale. During the era of Walt himself, classics such as Cinderella, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan had made Disney the most respected animation company in the world. But its newer movies—titles such as The Great Mouse Detective and Oliver and Company—seemed to lack the timeless magic of those earlier ones. The company’s theme parks, though profitable, relied heavily on aging characters. And while Disney was still a brand to be reckoned with, it needed to do some serious wishing-upon-a-star when it came to new content.

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Wed
Nov 13 2013 12:00pm

How to Time Travel (Without Destroying the Universe) Part Two

Sliders Parallel Earths

Welcome back, time travelers! Last week, we took a look at some common methods of time travel in books, movies, and TV shows—including the “history can be changed” model of Back to the Future, the “time travel without consequence” model of Midnight in Paris, and the “self-fulfilling prophecy” model of The Terminator. This week, we explore some less-conventional theories of time travel, including temporal causality loops, the Multiverse theory, and a look at Einstein’s Theory of Relativity...

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Wed
Nov 6 2013 1:00pm

How to Time Travel (Without Destroying the Universe) Part One

Back to the Future Story Worlds Time Travel

So you want to travel through time, but you’re worried about the consequences. Perhaps you’ve heard of time travelers erasing their family trees, or screwing up world history, or destroying the universe altogether. You’re curious about the fourth dimension, but you don’t want to be “that guy” (or “that gal”) whose obsession with meeting King Tut ruins the future for the rest of us. Well, good news: when it comes to time travel, you’ve got options.

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Tue
Oct 29 2013 1:30pm

The Sandman Cometh: Neil Gaiman’s Epic Masterpiece Returns

Sandman Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has never been one for rules. Or rather, he’s never been one for following them: but he certainly loves bending them, breaking them, melting them down into slag, hoisting them up on a flagpole and waving them around for the world to gawk at. Entering a Neil Gaiman story world is like stepping into a dream, where reality unravels and gives way to an eye-popping blend of the mythical, the fantastic, and the plain old strange. His magnum opus, of course, is a story about dreams—and despite breaking every rule in the book, it’s one of the greatest graphic novels ever published.

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Wed
Oct 23 2013 11:00am

Cloud Atlas One Year Later: Why 2012’s Biggest Flop is Also its Biggest Triumph

Cloud Atlas was never destined to be popular. When David Mitchell published a novel featuring six different stories set in six different time periods, nested one inside the other like Russian dolls, Hollywood said an adaptation was impossible. When the Wachowski Siblings bought the rights to the book, studios were still doubtful. Even after the film had been financed, investors backed out left and right. Nobody but the filmmakers seemed to believe that audiences could handle a movie this big .

As it turns out, the naysayers were right. Cloud Atlas flopped at the domestic box office, earning a paltry $9.6M its opening weekend against a $100M+ production budget. The film polarized critics; it barely scraped the 60% mark on Rotten Tomatoes; and it earned the wrath of many a movie-goer who found the three-hour film too long and confusing. Exploring the continuity of transmigrating souls across the centuries is not typical Hollywood fare, especially not for a Tom Hanks film. If the Wachowskis had been gunning for a new Matrix, what they seemed to get was another Speed Racer.

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Wed
Oct 16 2013 11:00am

Filmmaking Visionaries: The Top Ten Writer-Directors

Gravity

Watching Gravity in IMAX 3D this weekend, I was struck by the audacity of Alfonso Cuarón. From the precise attention to zero-gravity physics to the heart-pounding interplay of noise and silence, this movie wasn’t simply written—it was authored, from start to finish, by a visionary. In the film world, such adepts are known as “auteurs”—creatives who don’t simply write or direct a film but conjure the entire thing wholesale. While only a small number of projects are made this way, they include some of the most successful and beloved movies.

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Wed
Oct 9 2013 11:00am

It’s Not About the Zombies: How The Walking Dead Became the Most-Watched Show on TV

The Walking Dead

Thirty years ago, Michael Jackson rocked the music world with a 13-minute music video for his hit song, Thriller. The video was a love letter to zombie horror—zombies crawled out of the ground, zombies sang, zombies danced—and Michael was their flesh-eating leader. The story was bolstered by creepy make-up, ragged costumes, and chilling narration by Vincent Price, securing Thriller’s place as one of the most influential music videos of all time.

Oddly enough, Thriller debuted before a crowd of kids who had gone to see the Disney movie, Fantasia. The producers were trying to send a message: these zombies aren’t scary, they’re fun. At some level, this must have been true, because I watched that music video over and over again (I was six) and never once feeling a twinge of fear—Michael Jackson’s music video taught kids everywhere that zombies were just a bunch of song and dance.

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Wed
Oct 2 2013 11:00am

Beyond: Two Souls and The Quandary of Interactive Storytelling

Beyond Two Souls Ellen Page

“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure… the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.”Robert McKee, creative writing instructor

On Tuesday, October 8th Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls will hit the PS3. This highly-anticipated follow-up to 2010’s Heavy Rain—which won multiple “Game of the Year” awards for its groundbreaking approach to interactive storytelling—stars Hollywood actress Ellen Page, and is likely to become the fastest-selling interactive narrative ever created.

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Wed
Sep 25 2013 11:00am

Seven Kingdoms and Beyond: World-Building in Game of Thrones

We’re approaching halftime, folks—halftime in the year-long wait between season premieres of Game of Thrones, that is. If you’re among the show’s millions of fans, you probably start craving another fix as soon as the show goes off the air—so I figure it’s never too soon to interrupt the hiatus and jump back into Westeros.

But before we go there, let’s talk about California wine country. I was married there last year. My wife walked the aisle to Canon in D, a classic composition by Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel. For my own walk, I choose a modern tune by a composer named Ramin Djiwadi. Played on the violin, you might not recognize his sweet, powerful notes as the opening of Game of Thrones—but the guests who did loved it, and so it was that I was happily married in sight of the Old Gods and the New.

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Wed
Sep 11 2013 11:00am

A Scary Good Prequel: How Pixar Nailed Monsters University

Monsters University concept art

Be honest: are you afraid of prequels? If so, you’re not alone.

The Star Wars prequels were an all-time low for many movie-goers, leaving a whole generation of Jedi-aficianados with psychological scars. The first of the Hobbit films, though not as bad a misstep, certainly lacked the power of its awe-inspiring predecessors. Prequels in general (which are just a special case of the much-feared sequel) have left many a bitter taste over the years, and you’d be justified to have developed a full-fledged case of prequel-phobia.

[But can it be done right?]

Wed
Aug 28 2013 11:30am

Forget the Facts, Tell a Story: Why Braveheart is a Classic Despite its Inaccuracies

Braveheart

I recently watched the movie Anonymous, a historical thriller with an intellectual twist. The premise is that Shakespeare’s plays may not have been written by Shakespeare at all, but by a contemporary, the Earl of Oxford, and that Shakespeare was an illiterate drunk, a liar, and a murderer. The movie makes clever use of Shakespeare’s works and motifs, as well the historical details of Elizabethan London, to craft a smart and suspenseful tale about the man we think we know as William Shakespeare.

Just one problem: it’s all a lie.

[This relates to Braveheart, I swear...]

Wed
Aug 14 2013 11:00am

One World to Rule Them All: The Six Pillars of Middle Earth (Part 2 of 2)

Lord of the Rings Minas Tirith

If you’re just catching up, this is the second part of a two-part look at J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. We’re using the book to explore something I’m calling the Six Pillars of a Story World—basically an overview of the essential ingredients of a great story. If you want to get the most out of the article, I recommend starting with Part One.

So far, we’ve talked about three pillars: world-building, characters, and plot. Now let’s step back from the story itself to look at some broader points.

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Wed
Aug 7 2013 11:00am

One World to Rule Them All: The Six Pillars of Middle Earth (Part 1 of 2)

Middle Earth J R R Tolkien Lord of the Rings

If you’re just tuning in, this is the second article in the Story Worlds column, which explores storytelling and world-building in movies, TV shows, books, games, and more. The previous article was a general overview about the series, but now we’re ready to dive into some more specific territory.

The story I want to explore today formed in the 1940s, when World War II was tearing our planet apart. For perhaps the first time on such a global scale, humanity was witnessing the effects of unchecked aggression—and faced the possibility that it could lead to the end of civilization. Those who lived through this dark period must have felt they were witnessing... well, the end of an Age.

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Wed
Jul 31 2013 11:00am

Stories That Matter: Introducing “Story Worlds”

Story Worlds Banner

Story Worlds is a series about storytelling and world-building in film TV, books, games, and more. Congrats: you’ve arrived for the first installment! In future weeks, I’ll be visiting many “story worlds” from every popular medium and genre and exploring what makes them memorable. For today, I thought I’d start with a simple question: why do stories even matter?

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Thu
Jun 13 2013 11:00am

All Hail Graham of Daventry: The 30th Anniversary of King’s Quest

King's Quest

Once upon a time, in a land called Daventry, a humble knight with a feather in his cap set out to find three stolen treasures. One was a magic mirror that could reveal the future. Another was an enchanted shield that protected its bearer from harm. The third was a chest of gold that never emptied. In the name of adventure, the knight woke sleeping dragons, outwitted angry trolls, and climbed impossible staircases—all to help the king keep Daventry at peace. As luck would have it, Sir Graham ended up becoming king himself—and in so doing, single-handedly ushered in the era of the graphical adventure game.

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Mon
Apr 22 2013 10:00am

Final Fantasy 7 and the Death of Aeris Gainsborough

It is cold, and snow is falling. You run, like you always do, because time is of the essence. You’re on the Northern continent, beneath the forgotten capital of the Ancients—a long-lost culture who understood makoenergy as the Shinra Electric Power Company never will. The Ancients possessed profound wisdom about the life force of the planet... but you’re not here for ancient wisdom. You’re here for personal reasons. You’re here because of her.

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