Musings on the 2019 Academy Awards

The Academy Awards have never been heavy on science fiction, and the 2019 awards are no exception.  Still, some movies should have been nominated, while others could have been left out.  Allow me to write a few words on what I think of this year’s nominations, as they pertain to the science fiction genre.

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Comics review: Shipwreck by Warren Ellis

Shipwreck is not for everyone.  It is a difficult, but rewarding work.  Its twisted story that leaves the reader guess till the last moment, weird characters and quirky worldbuilding, as well as the amazingly appropriate art style, all combine to make this a compelling book for the discerning reader.

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Movie Review: Venom (2018)

Let’s get straight to the point:  Sony managed to deliver their best comic book related movie to date.  Venom delivers pure fun and is more rewatchable than anything else in Sony’s Marvel catalog.  So don’t believe the low critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, pay attention to the much higher viewer score and go see it.

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Classic Review: Neuromancer by William Gibson

In my opinion, Neuromancer is the most influential science fiction novel published to date.  It’s been revolutionary, it predicted technologies and concepts better than some of the older classics (most notably Stand on Zanzibar, which is often praised for its predictive powers), and it influenced an entire slew of books and movies, as well as computer and Internet development.

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The Name of the Monster was Frankenstein

When it comes to classic science fiction, you have two kinds of people: those who call the monster “Frankenstein”, and those who smugly point out that Frankenstein was its maker; the monster was never named in the book.  Let me assert a third category: those who read the book and realized that Victor Frankenstein was the real monster.

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The Devolution of the Predator

The Predator franchise spans six movies so far. And while none of the movies can be considered a masterpiece, some were better than others, and some even achieved cult status. But I won’t comment on the qualities of the film titles. In this essay, I want to focus on the predator as a species. In particular, how it devolved from a truly terrible force of nature to a bumbling idiot.

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The Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell: A Retrospective

Spanning 17 books in 12 years so far, The Lost Fleet and its offshoots are a monumental undertaking for its author, the retired US Navy officer writing under the pen name Jack Campbell.  And even though the books are lacking the depth, character development and finesse of great science fiction novels, I found them strangely compelling, and they quickly became one of the guilty pleasures in my library.

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Movie review: Hotel Artemis

Hotel Artemis is a quirky little movie, which was sadly overlooked by audiences. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if it reached cult status in the future. The movie’s simple structure and amazing performances made it a joy to watch. Even though the science fiction elements are light and just serve as shortcuts for the story, Hotel Artemis has become one of my favorite sci-fi movies of 2018.

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Book Review: Blindsight by Peter Watts

From the realm of hard and dark science fiction comes a book about … space vampires?  Well, not exactly, but I had to get it out of the way.  This book does include vampires, but that’s just a small part of this very densely written first-contact adventure between aliens and a crew of psychopaths.  Watts spins a dark story of a depressing future world, incomprehensible and terrible aliens, and the exploration of human consciousness.  Had Blindsight been a little better paced, it would have been an instant classic.

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Book review: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Dispossessed is one of the most awarded science fiction novels. It won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards, and has been widely recognized even outside its sci-fi genre. With a good reason, I may add: the book crosses over genres and at times feels more like a philosophical diatribe than a science fiction novel. However, it can also be confusing and difficult to read, especially for people not prepared to deal with such a radical departure from traditional sci-fi. I was one of such readers, and I can unequivocally state that I did not like this book.

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