Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dollhouse: Initial Impressions

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, guys. I'm dealing with major health issues, and also trying to work on two books ( a novel and a non-fiction work), the latter of which has a prospective publisher in the works.

I wanted to give my impression of Dollhouse, having seen the first three or four episodes. Basically, I think this is an average sci-fi series, but with some of the nice touches that make Joss Whedon's work so interesting. I have to agree with some feminist critics that the treatment of the female characters initially verges on the sexist, though knowing Joss, I expect that will change by the end of the series (and I'm not going to fault a series because of a lack of political correctness). The idea of imprintable personalities is intriguing, but it does pose major character development problems because of the way Whedon constructs the personality development process.

Incidentally, I am also making my way through Red Dwarf and Space: Above and Beyond. Has anyone seen the latter? Extremely interesting backstory, but it does seem a trifle jingoistic right now (though I hear the writers tried to undermine that jingoism later in the series, which is, like, natch, from the creators of the X-Files).

Anyway, I hope to be more in play during the school year, though I can't promise. I don't have ready access to a computer right now, having to go next door to use my aunt and uncle's. But I'll try to come up with more regular updates

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Farscape Season 3 and 4 review

I'm watching Farscape through right now and am about two thirds through the fourth season. My perception of the series as depoliticized, I feel, is largely accurate. Where I think Farscape broke ground, and paved way for Battlestar Galactica, was in characterization, particularly of female protagonists. Farscape was the first series to try really hard for realistic female characters, with the possible exception of Babylon 5. But while the women in Babylon 5 were desexualized to the point of almost giving the show a sterile feel, the women of Farscape seem natural, realistic portrayals of how emancipated women in space would act. True, there are a few bodice-busting outfits that I think detract from the portrayals at time, but these are counterbalanced by the relative strength of the female protagonists, who are not merely helpless pawns of the male characters.
I think that Farscape's contributions to paving the way for BSG have been underemphasized and frankly, if I had to compare the two, I prefer Farscape's epic story arcs to Battlestar Galactica's random, purposeless plodding through seasons one and two. Time will tell which series is regarded more highly, but my bet is on Farscape.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Farscape and New Age Theology

Farscape is an interesting series when it comes to spirituality. Traditionally, most science fiction series have taken one of three theological paths: atheistic, New Age, or vaguely monotheistic. In the monotheistic category I would place the old BSG, the new BSG, certain elements of Babylon 5, and the Prisoner. The most explicitly atheist series are Blake's 7 and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Besides Farscape, Voyager and the X-Files both tend to take a kind of New Age approach to writing. What makes Farscape unique and set apart from these series is the absolute certainty it attaches to New Age mystic visions, Goddess ceremonies, etc. Unlike Voyager, which only timidly hints at the New Age elements, Farscape goes barrelling in, unconcerned about potentially offending anyone. Given the lack of respect in America paid to alternative religions, this seems a reasonably good sign, though I am disturbed by the level of irrationality both New Age and Farscape religions seem to promote. But then again, the monotheistic faiths are only marginally better in this regard.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Done with BSG: Some thoughts on the series

I finally finished the new BSG and I was a little disappointed at the ending. That the two angel figures really were angels was something I was not expecting and left me feeling a little cheated. The series took on pure fantasy aspects. I'm not against having religion involved in science fiction, especially when it works (as it seemed to do in the first two seasons of BSG). But there seems to be a move in the last two seasons of BSG to align the series more with the religious right and right wing military politics. Rosselin makes undemocratic decisions left and right, as does Adama, and we are supposed to applaud them because they are the good guys. I remember when BSG questioned such politics fully, but as America started its exit strategy for Iraq, BSG started its exit-strategy for controversy. So I take back what I said about the new BSG being better than Farscape. Farscape felt like it had more guts than this series. BSG will remain a noble experiment, but an experiment that failed. As touching as the finale is, the series never risked alienating any one segment of its audience by taking a stand on the dominant political issues - religion and the War - then prevalent in America. Worse, it never fully explored the sub-themes of working class life and rebellion that were so prominent in the early part of the series.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Re-evaluation of Farscape's place in the science fiction canon

I've been re-watching Farscape over the last several weeks. I still love the show and still think it's one of the best sci-fi shows ever, but I no longer rate it quite as highly as I used to. Before, I saw the series as the second best space opera ever made, after Babylon 5. I also would have given it high marks for its anti-fascist message and its general attention to story detail. While I think these elements still hold, they are definitely not as present in the first two seasons, as they later became in seasons 3 and 4. Although I personally like Farscape better than the Twilight Zone, Star Trek, or the new BSG, I don't know that I can any longer defend it as an overall superior series, now that I'm watching it as a whole. Then again, I would rank it just outside the top 10 science fiction series, behind only a very few of the top shows. But tell me your thoughts.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The many assassinations of Adolf Hitler

I'm more in writing mode than blogging mode lately, so I'm working on several story ideas. One short story I may potentially write is called the "Many Assassinations of Adolf Hitler" (copyright 2010 John Weaver, not that I think any regular readers would steal an idea . . . and a poor one at that). In this story, an alternate universe Hitler (who is also a Jewish rabbi) goes through each progressive parallel universe, trying to assassinate his alter egos. When assassination proves untenable, he tries to substitute himself for the original and put his alter-ego in a concentration camp. Basically, the story is talking about the whole ethical relativism of the multiverse ideas championed by Michael Moorcock and company.

I'm also trying to question the whole morality of the alternative history genre, which holds that it can imagine any person being anything, given the right historical circumstances. Because people can write stories like the one above, I find the whole idea repulsive ultimately. But tell me, should I write this story or not?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Firebird Anti-Semitic debate heats Up

I got into a very interesting debate about whether the Firebird series was anti-Semitic. Evangelical fans say it isn't, while others aren't so sure. Check out the debate and tell me what you think. Frankly, the whole tone of anti-Semitic literature within evangelicalism, I find tremendously dissapointing. Novels like Obsessed, with vampiric Nazis sucking the blood of Jews, or Left Behind, where Jews are merely pawns in Satan's end game, disappoint me with their inability to deal with the needs of post-Holocaust Christianity to dialogue.