Brisk Money July 23, 2014 Brisk Money Adam Christopher It's hard out there for a robotic detective. A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star July 20, 2014 A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star Kathleen Ann Goonan A rocket story. The Angelus Guns July 16, 2014 The Angelus Guns Max Gladstone There's a war in heaven, outside of time. Sleep Walking Now and Then July 9, 2014 Sleep Walking Now and Then Richard Bowes A tragedy in three acts.
From The Blog
July 18, 2014
Summer 2014 Anime Preview: In the Name of the Moon!
Kelly Quinn
July 16, 2014
Picturing Dragons
Irene Gallo
July 15, 2014
Who Should Play The Magicians?
Ryan Britt
July 14, 2014
A Long Overdue Nod to SciFi and Fantasy’s Best Librarians
Stubby the Rocket
July 11, 2014
For Love or Money (And If You Do It Right, BOTH): Choosing a Career in Art
Greg Ruth
Showing posts by: Jake Hinkson click to see Jake Hinkson's profile
Mon
Jul 21 2014 9:00am

The Deluge Myth: Snowpiercer and Noah

Snowpiercer

It’s impossible to know who first told the story of a great flood that destroys most of the world, but the deluge myth appeared early and often in various cultures. The most famous account of the flood is, of course, the sketch of Noah’s Ark from Genesis, but the great deluge also figures prominently in the Mesopotamian epics of Gilgamesh and Atrahasis, in the Shatapatha Brahmana story of Manu, and in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Variations abound, but the germ of the story is the same: the last vestiges of humanity huddle aboard a massive vessel while the rest of the world drowns.

In our eschatology-obsessed times, we’ve seen renewed interest in the deluge myth. This summer alone has given us two prominent variations in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Joon-ho Bong’s Snowpiercer. These two films present a natural and compelling contrast—while Noah portrays the deluge as religious retribution for wickedness, Snowpiercer presents it as a scientific calamity. In both cases, it would seem, humanity had it coming.

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Wed
Jul 9 2014 5:00pm

The Last Last Policeman: Ben H. Winters’ World Of Trouble

World of Trouble The Last Policeman Ben H Winters reviewOurs is not the first generation to dream that it is the last generation. In some ways, you could say that the world has been looking forward to the end since the beginning. The end of things—the end of everything—has been foretold in most major religions, and around the world, throughout history, cults have sprung up and flourished and died based solely around some vision of apocalypse. There is nothing new about the end of the world.

And yet, doesn’t it feel as if we’re living in an age obsessed with End Time visions? Is it the aftermath of 9/11—the lingering trauma of seeing skyscrapers plummet to the earth? Was it the panic that followed, all those dark warnings about mushroom clouds over cities? Is it the ongoing wars in the Middle East, the land that gave us so much of our apocalyptic literature? Or is it the simple scientific fact—often discussed but seldom confronted—that we are poisoning our planet as fast as we can? Whatever the causes, contemporary American culture has produced a glut of doomsday images—so many now that global destruction is essentially the subject of most blockbusters these days. It’s as if we’re all waiting for the worst to happen.

[Maybe that’s why we need Hank Palace.]

Wed
Apr 16 2014 2:00pm

Sex and the Swamp Thing

Swamp Thing Alan Moore DC ComicsAlan Moore likes sex. This makes him something of an anomaly in the world of comic book writers. I’m not saying that other scribes don’t enjoy the pleasures of the flesh in their off hours, but relatively few are interested enough in the erotic as a subject to make it a part of their writing.

Of course, there are all kinds of reasons for this prudishness—not the least of which is industry censorship—but the result is that comic books are largely a sex free zone. To the degree that sex does appear in comics, it mostly takes the form of suggestively drawn female characters. At best, that’s an adolescent way of dealing with sex, and at worst it’s something darker—with the sex drive either implicitly rejected or sublimated into violence.

[Alan Moore is the great exception.]

Thu
Feb 20 2014 10:00am

Captain America And The Saga of The Winter Soldier

Captain America is square. He’s always been square, and he always will be square. It’s built into the DNA of the character. When Joe Simon and Jack Kirby launched the adventures of the Sentinel Of Liberty back in 1941, he was pure propaganda—a star spangled hero punching out the Axis Powers. Maybe that’s why, after the war ended, the character simply disappeared. “Old soldiers never die,” General Douglas MacArthur famously told a joint session of congress, “they just fade away.” It’s probably for the best that Cap faded away before the onset of the jingoistic, paranoid fifties. (A brief, failed attempt to reintroduce the character in 1953 as “Captain America…Commie Smasher!” gives us a glimpse of what we avoided.) When he made his reappearance in the Silver Age, he became the thawed out super soldier that we all know and love today: still square, sure, but more of a ‘roided up crime fighter than a political cartoon.

Even more than most comic book creations, however, Captain America has retained an intrinsic symbolic function. (All but unavoidable when half your name is America.) Over the years, various writers—Roger Stern, J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Gruenwald—have tapped his symbolic quality and used the character as a springboard to deal with various social problems (racism, extremism, homophobia), shaping him into one of Marvel’s most fascinating creations.

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Fri
Dec 13 2013 11:00am

Serial Queens of the Silent Era: The First Female Action Heroes

Ruth Roland The Timber Queen

We’re in a new golden age of female ass-kicking. When Gal Gadot takes up the mantle of Wonder Woman in the next Man Of Steel film, she will join popular headbusters like Katniss Everdeen, Black Widow, and Hit-Girl. These cinematic heroines, however, belong to a lineage that stretches back a hundred years—past Buffy, past Sarah Connor, past Ripley, past Foxy Brown—to the earliest days of motion pictures. Today’s female action heroes owe a lot to the serial queens of silent cinema.

In the 1910s—years before the passage of the 19th Amendment granting universal suffrage—moviegoers flocked to see weekly action serials, and during this period, the biggest stars of action films were women. Week in and week out, these heroines found themselves in ever-escalating trouble.

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Tue
Nov 5 2013 6:05pm

Anarchy In The UK: V For Vendetta at 25

V for Vendetta

It was 1988. I was 12 years old, squeezing through the crowded and cluttered aisles at Little Rock’s only comic store, when I saw a poster of a cloaked, chalk-faced figure running across the top of a wall. The copy on the poster read:

FASCIST
BRITAIN 1997.
EVERYONE KNOWS YOU
CAN’T BEAT THE SYSTEM
…EVERYONE BUT V.
V FOR VENDETTA
A ten issue series by
ALAN MOORE & DAVID LLOYD

I’d never seen such a thing. My comic book buying in those days was exclusively of the Batman, Captain America, and Green Lantern variety. I didn’t know what “fascist” meant, had no idea who Moore and Lloyd were, and had no good reason to want to collect a ten issue series of English comic books.

But something in the stark imagery of the poster appealed to me. (It was around this same time that I discovered the 1950 Edmond O’Brien flick D.O.A, which kicked off my love of film noir, so maybe I was just ready to take a plunge into a certain kind of dark crime story. Or maybe it was something in the Arkansas water.) I went back a week later and bought issue one.

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Wed
Oct 9 2013 4:00pm

What to Do with the Future of Star Trek

When a recent Star Trek Creation convention voted J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek Into Darkness the worst film in the franchise, some industry people (including the film’s screenwriter) shook their heads. The movie made good money (though not the breakaway box office that some predicted) and notched generally favorable reviews. So what’s the problem? Is this just a case of some Trekkers and fanboys being overly critical? Or does it point to larger, long term problems? After all, while the new Trek films have been built to be general audience pleasers, they still rely on the fanboys to be their backbone. What happens to Star Trek if the Trekkers start to abandon it?

Maybe the best way to answer that is to look at ways the franchise could right itself. Here then are some suggestions...

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Thu
Sep 19 2013 9:00am

Bad Tomorrows: Two Varieties of Dystopian Sci-Fi

Metropolis Fritz Lang Dystopia

With high profile films like Oblivion, AfterEarth, and Elysium offering up new (or recycled) visions of humanity’s hopeless future, 2013 might go down as the Summer of Doom. It’s worth noting, however, that dystopian sci-fi not only isn’t new, it’s the bedrock of the genre. After all, Fritz Lang’s 1927 Metropolis—which hypothesized a dehumanized future society not far removed from the those presented in today’s would-be blockbusters—is considered by some scholars to be the first fully-formed, feature-length science fiction film. For as long as filmmakers have dreamed of the future, they’ve presented nightmare scenarios of the world to come, and in the years since Lang’s masterpiece, filmmakers and audiences alike have never seemed to lose their enthusiasm for the end of the world—or, at least, the end of the world as we know it.

Dystopian science fiction comes in many shapes and sizes. Some are multi-million dollar behemoths, while others are quiet character studies. We can see the varieties of these films falling into two broad categories:

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Tue
Sep 3 2013 9:00am

Super Frenemies: The Tumultuous Relationship of Superman and Batman

Batman Superman Fight!

With the recent news that Ben Affleck will play Batman in the Man of Steel sequel arriving in 2015, now seems like a good time to look back on the often fraught relationship between the two most iconic characters in the superhero pantheon. If comic books comprise a large part of the canon of our new American mythology—and there is every reason to think that they do—then the relationship between Superman and Batman, with their opposing views of heroism and justice, reflect our conflicted culture in interesting ways.

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