On Black Panther and Symbols

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M’Baku. My favorite character.

 

Warning: there are a few spoilers ahead. Marked out for your easy identification.

Black Panther, as the rest of the world already knows, was brilliant. I had the good fortune of seeing it in the theater last night, and while it wasn’t a perfect movie (does every superhero movie require a BvS-style “Martha” moment? T’challa could have just said, Nope. I don’t recognize Killmonger as having a stake to the throne. Lock him up as an outsider.), it had so much awesome going for it, I’ll put it in my top two Marvel superhero movies EVER, and within the top five superhero movies ever (Behind Dark Knight, Batman v Superman, Blade, and Hellboy).

I feel a portion of what made Black Panther so successful was the importance of symbol-use, symbol-sets, and individual identity, and I’m going to talk a little about that in this post. Also, Claw had one of the greatest laugh moments in super villain history, and it was perfect.

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Jupiter Ascending is Twilight on Steroids

Jupiter-Ascending-Concept-soldier2d

I’ll start this post by saying I had a whole entry written up about being spoon-fed stories, and how tired I am of baby-stepped storytelling. I figured I *expletive deleted* too much, so I slept on it and decided to ruminate on the subject.

I found the best way for me to distill and digest my thoughts would be to read (or watch) something that doesn’t spoon-feed me a story. So I turned to a movie I’ve wanted to see for a long time: Jupiter Ascending. Given the Wachowskis don’t play by the rules when it comes to telling a story, I figured I couldn’t los anything by watching. 

It galvanized my thought process on the matter, and allowed me to step into a place to properly compare and dissect. The movie also got so little attention once released, and I heard so little about it, I figured it’d be a great, beautiful, luscious movie. I wasn’t wrong.

Spoilers contained within. Do not read if you want to watch and enjoy it as new. Continue reading

The Great Hunt, Leviathan Wakes, and Six-Gun Tarot

Twainlineup

I’ve been reading a lot more of late. Having begun Mark Twain’s Autobiography, Leviathan Wakes (Now A Major Syfy TV Series, The Expanse), The Six-Gun Tarot and the second of the Wheel of Time Series, The Great Hunt, I’ve had ample opportunity to cross check the writing styles.

For me, great writing stands alone. Back when Tolkien’s LOTR novels were being made into movies, there was an outpouring of novels with the phrase “Like Middle Earth but better!” on the backs, or “Greatest fantasy adventure since Tolkien!” The spinoff books–some very successful–all playing off the idea of his works (Like Terry Brooks’s Sword of Shannara series and Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series) had the same feel of Tolkien, only light. In fact, I’d call them Tolkien Lite. As a disrespectful term.

Now I see “Think Game of Thrones with Bocci Ball!” or “John Doe, and his family, has a coolness factor so high, it’s like Harry Potter had John McClane as a father, AND THEY WERE ALL LANNISTERS!” While this isn’t exactly what I’m reading on the back of boring old fantasy novels, I’m not being hyperbolic. I did see a similar phrase somewhere.

These people, while possibly successful, are not great writers. You can’t take a powerful writer and say, “This writer is JUST LIKE another writer, ONLY BETTER,” and get any respect. If ever I get picked up by a big publisher, and they say anything of the sort on the back of my work, I will straight-up drop the publisher. One of the books I’ll discuss today is touted as a Martin Lite, even though he’s nothing of the sort.

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What is the Bechdel Test (and Other Tests), as it Pertains to Writing?

Mako Mori, via Pacific Rim.

Mako Mori, via Pacific Rim.

I was doing research over at Red Sofa Literary, and under one of the literary agent’s (Laura Zats) scifi/fantasy reading requirements, I read “must pass either the Mako Mori or Bechdel tests.” I know who Mako Mori is, given I have an anime/manga obsessed friend who absolutely loved Pacific Rim (she’s one of two protagonists in the film), but I didn’t know she had a test to go along with her character. I’ve never heard of Bechdel, so I decided to dig deeper.

Research on Wikipedia (I know! Super-high tech research engine) shows they are “feminist” tests in movies. What does this mean?

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What is Post Apocalyptic and Dystopic Literature? (And Who Cares?)

Dystoooopiaaaa

Dystoooopiaaaa!

I asked Magnolia today what my blog post should be about. She instantly asked about why there’s so much interest in dystopic, post apocalyptic literature nowadays. It’s an interesting question, and although I’m not a master of all things literature, I’ll try to tackle the thought process behind it.

Yes, the post apocalyptic CAN incorporate zombies or other fantasy elements. I read a book called Idlewild a while back, where something hit the planet and a bunch of people died, but also, a bunch of people mutated into super humans. It was interesting, but not altogether impressive. Furthermore, the post apocalyptic CAN encompass dystopic societies, either the last surviving remnant of an altogether desecrated world, or savage peoples running an unbalanced town, but not always. They are usually viewed as separate sub-genres, but can easily overlap.

We can’t forget the recent influx of Dystopic movies and TV series, as well. Movies like the Hunger Games series and Divergent, and I assume the other movies where the kids are fluctuating from sparkly vampires and before that, clever young wizards.

I’ll disassemble the idea behind the dystopic AND post apocalyptic literature ahead. Continue reading

What Is Modern Zombie Fiction? (And Who Cares?)

(I do.)

Zombie literature has always been a fascination for me. Why? Because the idea of a “zombie” should be really, really lame. I mean, some dead thing moaning, lumbering around, existing only to kill you and make you one of them. And most (recent) zombie literature is pretty lame, too. What’s the big deal?

From someone who has spent a long time reading/studying/writing gothic, the macabre, and horror, I find the idea of the zombie fascinating for a number of reasons–and not just the gothic, macabre, horrific reasons. While it seems a simple idea, a simple form of writing, it can actually be much more complex than most would realize. Let me elaborate. Continue reading

What is Lovecraftian Writing (And Why Is This Important to Everyone)?

HP Lovecraft.  The eternal bachelor. The Contradictory Sage. (Taken from Wikipedia)

HP Lovecraft. The eternal bachelor. The Contradictory Sage. (Taken from Wikipedia)

I’ve perused Mr. H.P. Lovecraft since before his works were readily available in the Fantasy/Fiction. I have compiled works of his from the mid-90’s, and I’ve loved it since I first picked up his book. His body of work encompasses three phases of his life, with  a “Poe cycle”, a “Dream cycle”, and a “Cthulhu cycle.” As a passive researcher (I think we all are), I’ve found his insights, inspirations, and unique style of Weird fantasy worming its way into many aspects of the entertainment industry. And this makes me happy.

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