Book Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One: A Novel by Ernest Cline (New York: Broadway Books, 2011. 376 pp) Ernest Cline is a screenwriter, spoken-word artist, and full-time geek. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. Ready Player One is his first novel. To Buy and Buy Again Unfettered consumerism is probably going to kill us all. Someday, our insatiable appetites will catch up to us. Tracing the roots of consumerism often point us to the birth of advertising and marketing. The strategic impulses encouraging us to buy more than we need to account for our production surpluses. Of course, once consumption becomes normal, the next phase is to consume based on cultural… Read More →

Film Review: Arrival

Arrival

Arrival written by Eric Heisserer, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment, FilmNation Entertainment, Lava Bear Films, PG-13, 116 min) Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, and Michael Stuhlbarg. On Love and Loss Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. We speak this platitude in times of grief as a way of consolation for the saddest of these. In times long past (or auld lang syne given the holiday season), we may find some truth in these words. In retrospect, difficult times can help form us into the strong and bold individuals with a rich inner life. But surely, we never choose suffering. Nevertheless, it’s a product of our experience, the equal and… Read More →

Book Review: The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles: A Novel by Karen Thompson Walker (New York: Random House, 2012. 278 pp) Karen Thompson Walker was born in San Diego, California. She studied English and creative writing at UCLA and earned her MFA from Columbia University. While writing The Age of Miracles, Walker worked as a book editor for Simon & Schuster. Walker earned the 2011 Sirenland Fellowship and the Bomb Magazine fiction prize. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband. The Age of Youth Those early teens years are a trying time. Your leash extends and your parents no longer peer over your shoulder. Physiological and sociological changes force confrontation of new circumstances daily. It’s a time of identity. Friends come and go and… Read More →

Film Review: Interstellar

Interstellar

Interstellar written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan and directed by Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures, PG-13, 169 min) Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Jessica Chastain, and Matt Damon. What Would You Do for Love? Certain research posits kinship as a powerful actor that compels people outside of self-interest. If I unpack this idea a little bit, these people suggest the standard setting for human beings is selfishness. We act out of interest for the things that provide the most pleasure to us. When it comes to presenting a positive or helpful demeanor to other people, there’s a chance this person will recognize the common humanity in the other, but if it’s a… Read More →

Television Show Review: Wayward Pines

Wayward Pines created by Chad Hodge (Blinding Edge Pictures, De Line Pictures, Storyland) Starring Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Shannyn Sossamon, Toby Jones, Melissa Leo, and Hope Davis. Avoiding the Blockbusters I’ve been running from my teenage self. I wasted countless dinero on the heavily marketed whims of studio executives. Action! Guns! Superheroes! In actuality, greenscreen! Poor plotting! Wireframe acting performances! An explosion a story does not make. And yet recently, I’ve been placing a higher value in the popcorn flick. I’ll never want to avoid the dark, dreary, and deep themes found in serious cinema. But sometimes, it’s ok to get lost in some rip-roaring fun, literary qualities be damned. Similarly, Wayward Pines represents the best of awful television. We’re… Read More →

Book Review: Foundation and Empire

Foundation and Empire

Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov (New York: Everyman’s Library, 2010; originally published in 1952. 664 pp) Isaac Asimov was one of the most prolific writers and editors of modern times, with approximately five hundred books in his bibliography. He died in 1992. Sci-Fi Worlds Perhaps the most critical aspect of science fiction and fantasy genre writing centers upon the ability for an author to build a world. Readers, given their grounding in reality, need extra description the more abstract the setting. When a narrative situates itself in modern-day Los Angeles, the author can get away with leaving the setting in the periphery. But when your entire story sits in a galaxy far, far away, you better offer some vivid… Read More →

Film Review: Ender’s Game

Ender's Game

Ender’s Game written by Gavin Hood (screenplay) and Orson Scott Card (based on the book Ender’s Game by), directed by Gavin Hood (Summit Entertainment, OddLot Entertainment, Chartoff Productions, PG-13, 114 min) Starring Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield. Book to Movie Conundrum Finally one of my favorite science fiction books, if not my absolute favorite science fiction book, has been made into a movie. When any book that you love is made into a movie, the first reaction is one of extreme skepticism. Nevertheless, I still had to see it. As expected the book is “better”. The movie cuts too many details about important characters and decides to keep things in that perhaps weren’t that necessary. That being said, if I knew nothing of the book, the movie was absolutely enthralling. In fact,… Read More →

Book Discussion: Foundation

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Foundation by Isaac Asimov (New York: Everyman’s Library, 2010; originally published in 1951. 199 pp) Isaac Asimov was one of the most prolific writers and editors of modern times, with approximately five hundred books in his bibliography. He died in 1992. The Back-Story Foundation is the first novel in Asimov’s larger Foundation Trilogy.  Though the series was later expanded into a work of five novels total, but most consider the original trilogy to be the true series. Foundation was written in multiple stages as publications in Astounding Magazine, the first part of the book was written the last. Later, Asimov wrote two sequel novels and two prequels. Foundation’s story is relatively simple. A group of scientists are seeking to preserve knowledge… Read More →

Film Review: Total Recall

Total Recall written by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback, directed by Len Wiseman (Total Recall, Original Film, and Rekall Productions, R, 118 minutes) Starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Bokeem Woodbine and Bryan Cranston. Before and After In this film, unlike its predecessor, Earth is uninhabitable except for two areas: The United Federation of Britain and the Colony (Australia). Workers from the Colony travel to the Federation to provide cheap labor. Douglas Quaid’s (Colin Farrell) job is to tighten screws on robots that could probably do it themselves. They travel there through “the fall”, which is more or less a big giant tunnel through the middle of the earth. The trip includes a full-on gravity reversal. I’ve always felt that we live in an age where no new stories are being told in cinema…. Read More →