The X-Files fandom is getting oodles of good news this week. Robbie Amell (Flash, The Duff, The Tomorrow People) and Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under, Where the Wild Things Are, Torchwood) have been cast in the highly-anticipated X-Files reboot.
Amell will play the smart and smooth Agent Miller and Ambrose is set to play Agent Einstein, described as sharp and confident. Both characters are only set to appear in one episode so far, but seeing as so many guest stars end up becoming regulars in shows these days, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them more than that.
Other guest stars include, Joel McHale, Annet Mahendru (The Americans,) Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords) and Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley.) Also set to be in the reboot are original X-Files actors David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi and William B. Davis.
It seems all the people you may think are dead are returning for this new season of X-Files! If you have not been keeping up with the in-canon X-Files season 10 comics, you may be a bit confused at all the X-Files resurrections happening for the new mini-series. However, if you have been reading you would already known how so many characters have or will escape death for this new series. So, if you are confused, picking those up might be a good idea to prepare for the show next year. The season 11 comic series will be starting next month to lead us into the show.
The news of the horribly killed off (in an episode called Jump the Shark no less) Lone Gunmen’s return came directly from the star Dean Haglund’s (Richard ‘Ringo’ Langly) Twitter page where he responded to a fan asking about their return. “Yep, it’s true,” he said.
Haglund previously had hinted he had a casting call from a certain sci-fi show two weeks ago on his podcast, Chillpak Hollywood Hour, and eager fans have been waiting for the announcement ever since. They will appear in at least one episode, but no other details have been released yet. We can only hope it is more than just a brief appearance. In the mean time, keep staying tuned for more X-Files news in the coming months. In honor Langly, never forget the memory of Joey Ramone. The Truth is Out There!
I think this was the first movie I ever watched recognizing it as science fiction. It’s an intensely boring movie by most people’s estimates, but for some reason, it grabbed ahold of my curiosity as a five year old and still hasn’t let go.
Ever since I was a kid, the kind of movies that let me know my place in the universe was small and dwarfed by the more mundane concerns of the rest of the universe has always appealed to me and triggered my sense of wonder. This is compounded by the fact that, as it turns out, the solar system sized robot is a child looking for its father.
The movie excels at its portrayal of mind bending alienness: a machine of unimaginable proportions wrapped in some kind of defensive cloud of also unimaginable proportions communicating on wavelengths simultaneously too advanced and too archaic. It simply wants information and a greeting, but this being millions of miles in length doesn’t know what it doesn’t know, and that’s lethal for those around it.
Our best human qualities are the only things that can stand being this close to this particular fire. They are best represented in the dual opposites of Ilia, the Deltan, and Spock, the Vulcan.
Roddenberry’s possible sexism aside, it’s Ilia’s perfect empathy, and her feelings that overcome the V’Ger (the unspeakable galactic monstrosity) programming, ultimately allowing the crew to resolve the drama of the whole movie. It is Spock’s indomitable curiosity that discovers the ultimate truth of what V’Ger is. The best parts of what being a human has to offer is represented here in these characters, and any foray into the unknown without either vital part is doomed to fail. But…
I never noticed this before, but Spock’s near slavish adherence to logic, reason, research, and his curiosity makes him a duplicitous character at times. In the course of the movie, he is warned repeatedly about risking the ship and its crew in the pursuit of knowledge. Eventually, he schemes his way into a flight suit and out of an airlock.
This puts everyone else in a difficult position: ultimately this kind of curiosity pays off and paves the way for ultimate resolution, but it means that intelligence ultimately believes in the rightness of its conviction regardless of what convention and authority say. So, how much do you trust the intelligence of those around you? Every great advance within culture and society is abhorred by the structures preceding it.
The movie resolves in a case study of chaos theory. Knowledge of a largely symbolic gesture nearly 300 years earlier proves to be the only thing to subdue this angry toddler of a Lovecraftian monstrosity.
Spock, in his psychedelic light trip through the guts of this mechanical creature discovers an entirely different galaxy populated by machines whose minds are so vast and alien and old as to be incomprehensible to his capable Vulcan brain. Shooting into this unknowable landscape comes our fragile ancient Voyager satellite with its inscription about a creator. A religion is made, and a timid toddler (by the scope of machines) granted a shaky kind of sentience sets out in pursuit of the creator. His only hope is to be reunited in eternity with the creator. Even machines suffer delusion.
After diligent research, the crew finds the return codes for the satellite, and it is satisfied in having found god. But, god must come with it. It must join with god and carry this experience home. It won’t leave unless the creator comes too.
Earlier in the movie, V’ger steals Ilia – her mind being most receptive to the kind of machine magic necessary for his work – and makes a perfect mechanical copy of her to investigate the Enterprise. V’ger, perhaps showing his mechanical privilege, believes the Enterprise to be the sentient being, and the humans to be invasive parasites. It’s Decker’s (above) gentle persistence and constant reminders at the relationship he and Ilia shared that overcomes the mechanical duplicate’s programming. And it’s Decker’s love for Ilia that allows him to sacrifice himself and return with the Ilia-unit and V’ger to an unknown home world. The movie closes with Kirk’s observation that we’ve witnessed the creation of a new lifeform.
Zadie Smith, the brilliant British author, has been enlisted by Parisian filmmaker Claire Denis to co-write a new Science-Fiction Adventure film.
The story will take place sometime in the future, but it will “seem like the present.”
Smith is the author of the award-winning novel White Teeth. She has not written any screen plays, but White Teeth was adapted into a television mini-series for BBC. Her novel On Beauty will also be adapted soon.
Smith will work with her husband Nick Laird on the project. He is an acclaimed Irish novelist and poet. HIs works To a Fault and Utterly Monkey were on the short list for the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2006.
This film will be Denis’ first American motion picture. She is known for her work on Bastards, The Intruder, and White Material.
Zadie Smith is one of my favorite authors. White Teeth is a modern classic. While none of the people associated with the unnamed title have a background in sci-fi, perhaps that is will be refreshing for the genre. I am personally excited to see what comes of this project.
I’m pretty sure that, “The 80s and the 90s consistently made the best movies, especially, but not limited to, family movies, and if you disagree shut up because you’re wrong,” is a statement of science. It goes: 1. Newton’s laws of gravitation; 2. The laws of thermodynamics; 3. General relativity; 4. If you don’t like 80s and 90s movies, shut up because you’re dumb and have no friends. I don’t even know if I could count all the movies I’ve done on this list so far (and that are yet to come) that come from the roughly ’79-’94 range that are amazing.
It’s something about the time period: digital effects were non-existent or so primitive that the film’s practical effects had to be on their A game, and if digital was involved at all, its presence was very limited and there to patch up the cosmetics; the story writing hadn’t yet become jaded and people were still trying to evoke genuine emotional reactions through AAA movies. Plus, there is an unboundedness to those movies as studios haven’t yet come upon the idea that there were magic ideas that would make millions of dollars appear. Because very few rules had yet to be established, they were more inclined to take on risky and unknown projects.
And what made family movies of this time period so meaningful and endearing is that they actually respected kids. It’s hard to place exactly, but kids were frequently extending beyond their reach going places adults were too afraid, jaded, or dumb to go themselves. They constantly put themselves in danger — real danger — that might mean even their death.
So when I saw Earth to Echo, the thing I was least prepared for was how earnest its story is. Yes, on one level it’s the story of three friends who find an alien on their last night together in the same town, but really it reflects what it’s like growing up: how unfair it is to have powers bigger than yourself impinge on your freedom forcing you to do things that, even in your admitted ignorance, you sense as short sighted and unnecessary. It reflects the heightened importance EVERYTHING carries because it’s the first time it’s happened to you, and you don’t know if it will happen again. And kids are crappy sometimes. It neither deifies nor villainizes them. They can be self-sacrificing (like when Munch is taken by a strange adult), but they can also be cowards (like when Tuck refuses to help save Alex from an arcade’s security guard). I admit to tearing up at least once.
On a technical level the movie shines. A few scenes feature CG that looks a little squishy, but there were times when I wasn’t sure if it was a CG alien on the desk, or a puppet. And it’s a “found footage” movie, which is usually the kiss of garbage, but it was utilized in a way to actually further the story and inflate the world rather than as an excuse for terrible camera work.
The best part, though, is how the movie shows your life can instantly become elevated above the lives of those around you if you’re willing and open for the right moment. In a world in which adults were willing to believe appearances and do as told, a group of kids were receptive to a moment of transcendence and change the course of lives and (inferrably) history. But that acts as footnote to the fact that this moment of transcendence allows the four friends to overcome their enforced isolation from each other. And it’s so touching.
From what I can tell, the movie didn’t get much traction: it didn’t cost much to make, but 3 times not much is still a third the budget of Avatar. It’s a little disheartening to see the only kid’s movie not made out of hot steaming garbage (since Harry Potter) pass by unnoticed. It’s on Netflix, and worth your time.
Leonard Nimoy was cast in 1966 to play the half-Vulcan Mr. Spock on Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek. Soon, Spock and Nimoy were household names. Nimoy’s career has been largely based around his famous character, playing Spock for three years in the TV series, and reprising the role 10 years later for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Nimoy has played Spock in a total of nine Star Trek films, including the newest adaptations as Spock Prime. His first acting role was in 1951 in Queen for a Day. Most recently, Nimoy played William Bell in Fringe.
In addition to his acting roles, Nimoy was an author of many books, including autobiographies, and a talented artist. In 1995 he co-created a comic book with Isaac Asimov called Primortals.
One of Nimoy’s grandchildren tweeted a message remembering her grandfather with a link to the LLAP store. You can buy apparel with the famous “Live Long and Prosper” phrase here.
Nimoy was born in 1931 to Jewish-Ukrainian immigrants. Nimoy grew up doing community theater. He is survived by his wife, two children, and six grandchildren.
George Takei, co-star on Star Trek and long time friend said this on his Facebook page: “Today, the world lost a great man, and I lost a great friend. We return you now to the stars, Leonard. You taught us to ‘Live Long And Prosper,’ and you indeed did, friend. I shall miss you in so many, many ways.”
“I am a Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferer and what I did in my untreated state was not my fault.” – Kieren Walker
In the post-apocalyptic world of the small (and recently canceled) BBC show In the Flesh, zombies have been renamed “Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferers.” Through medication they have returned to their original state, memories intact. On paper, they have their old life back, placed back into their family homes, able to live the way they did before they rose from the grave. But in reality, things aren’t quite that simple. Living citizens are still angry over the deaths PDS sufferers caused in their untreated state, and in small towns like Roarton, being partially deceased could get you a bullet in the brain. Neighbors are terrified of PDS sufferers’ medication wearing off and that if it does, they’ll “go rabid” and return to being dangerous zombies. Most citizens want them out of their town and use the derogatory slur “rotters.” PDS sufferers are forced to wear makeup and eye contacts to hide the fact that they aren’t living anymore and the stigma is down right life threatening.
While In the Flesh is not the most popular show, characters like Kieren and Jem have a lot to teach us about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the stigma surrounding it. In just the first three minutes of the first episode, Kieren is shown having vivid, disturbing flash backs of the people he killed when he was in his untreated state. These flash backs continue throughout the show and Kieren becomes depressed over his inability to control them and the government’s lack of care.
Those who suffer from PTSD frequently have vivid flashbacks and nightmares of the trauma they’ve endured. Like Kieren, they can’t let go of the events that happened to them. PTSD sufferers often grapple with suicidal ideation, similar to how Kieren feels during the show. His sister points out that he “can’t kill himself twice” alluding to the way Kieren died in the first place. Feeling guilty for his actions, Kieren grapples similarly to those with PTSD.
Jem, Kieren’s younger sister, is a veteran who fought untreated PDS sufferers in the Human Volunteer Force (HVF) during the zombie outbreak or “the rising” as it’s referred to on the show. As the show continues, we find out that Jem is suffering from flashbacks, nightmares, and extreme feelings of guilt and anxiety. She shows all the symptoms of PTSD and with no tools to help her transition into civil society again, her anxiety just keeps getting worse. It doesn’t help that one of the people tied up in her guilt happens to be her brother, a PDS sufferer she couldn’t bring herself to kill during the rising.
Studies show that 1 out of every 9 women will develop PTSD in their lifetime. This makes them twice as likely as men. While Jem suffers because of her time in the HVF, this number is likely higher because 1 out of 6 women in the US will experience an attempted or completed rape at some point during their life. The stigma around PTSD is focused on veterans, but many people forget that rape victims make up a large portion of PTSD sufferers.
One fear that the living have about PDS sufferers is that if their medication wears off, they will return to their untreated state and become violent. The stigma around PTSD sufferers is very much the same. Especially with veterans, many people believe that PTSD sufferers are violent and will lash out at any moment. With the April shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas, this stigma has only deepened. Suspected of having PTSD, Ivan Lopez injured 16 and killed 3 before killing himself. While Lopez was being evaluated for PTSD,there was never a diagnosis. Despite there being no concrete evidence of Lopez having PTSD, many people believe he did and have therefore attached the diagnosis to violence.
However, the opposite is true. PTSD sufferers are no more potential to violence than anyone else. Blogger and PTSD sufferer C.J. Grisham writes, “I get extremely nervous in crowded situations and become hypersensitive to my surroundings. Before entering any building, I make a quick survey of all people around me and seek out any and all exits. I sit with my back to a wall so I have a good view of people approaching me. I get startled and anxious at unexpected and loud noises. What I don’t get is violent. What I don’t do is threaten people.”
Clinical Psychologist and Military Researcher, Herrera-Yee says of PTSD sufferers that “you’re more likely to see it as someone who is withdrawn, anxious and numb, who’s lost interest in life. Some veterans explain it to me this way: ‘The last thing you want is to go out and lash out.’” Despite this, the stigma of violence still remains, much like the stigma surrounding PDS sufferers. Kieran is small, and soft-spoken. He spends much of his time inside, avoiding people because he is ashamed of what he did. He takes his medication daily and is probably the least likely to lash out or go rabid. In fact, when *SPOILER* forced to go rabid by being subjected to the pill “Blue Oblivion,” he attempts to tie himself to a grave to keep himself from hurting anyone. It isn’t the PDS sufferers who are most likely to lash out, but the living surrounding them who treat them like second class citizens and want them out of their town by any means necessary.
While having PTSD isn’t quite as obvious to the untrained eye as the living dead, the stigma is still very similar. No one is threatening to gun down anyone who has PTSD, but the same fear is still very much there. Similar to Kieren having to hide his condition with makeup and eye contacts, many PTSD sufferers feel they cannot talk about their disability for fear of judgement and many feel ashamed for having it in the first place.
PTSD is a serious issue with a terrible stigma surrounding it. People who don’t understand PTSD (or don’t care to) can be afraid of people who have it. It’s important to educate the public about this disease because with knowledge comes acceptance. By using In the Flesh as a teaching tool, we may be able to get rid of the misconceptions surrounding PTSD.Though the show has been canceled, its messages are still important. Like Kieren, many PTSD sufferers are very much harmless and deserve our love and respect.
Before I talk about the movie, I need to say that I feel the direction of the blog is changing. When I first started (and for, like, 2 months I did this), the goal was to watch a movie every day. My thought was, “Hey, as a stay at home dad (or a SAHD), this isn’t a problem.” False. It is very problem, such impossible. Wow. I’ve had to scale back my expectations of what I assumed was possible, hence the once a month gig that it is now.
The second is my analysis of the transcendent in science fiction. That’s still the goal, but I’m noticing that my assumption of the “transcendent” often translates to “interpreting everything as a Gnostic parable” (for example, see the second half of my Snowpiercer jam), which might be just fine. Not always – for example, the direction my Terminator analyses went surprised me – but frequently I think you’ll be getting a crash course in what gnosticism looks like via the movies I watch. Ergo, I think I’m going to continue calling it the Science Fictional Year despite the content having changed so drastically for continuity’s sake.
Without further adieu, enjoy. Or don’t. I’m not your boss.
(Click below for Snowpiercer as political allegory)
This sub-genre of sci-fi that isn’t actually a genre, but which I like to think of as Lonely Sci-Fi, is one of my favorites. Harkening back to Alien, being alone in space forces you to contemplate. The vastness of space becomes a metaphor for the vastness of internal space, and for most people, they’re equally dark, terrifying, and unexplored. Similarly, space instantly confronts us with mortality. Like ancient sailors and their fear of the ocean and their belief that gods and hell lie at its floor, or most recent mythologies have trimmed the “s” off gods, and he (almost certainly he) lives somewhere out there, frighteningly beyond knowable space. As such, all these movies are about death and mortality: how you face death, who pushes you to it, and if it’s worth it.
The first movie I saw in this group was Gravity. I actually struggle if this is science fiction. I actually don’t think this movie is sci-fi. It involves scientists, for sure, and it is a story, and they’re in space, but I don’t think this movie is science fiction. This is one of those movies that makes us realize that we do live in the future: every item in it is now common place. Thanks to this, I know there are currently six people in space. That’s four more people than are currently in my house, which makes being in space a relatively common event now. We’ve even had our fair share of space accidents. That means that every element of this movie already exists and therefore can’t be science fiction, especially if we (try desperately to) use my definition in which science has some role to play in urging the plot forward, and science pushes the characters toward some moment of transcendence.
That doesn’t mean that it isn’t cool to see astronauts being heroic, because it is.
As I contemplate this not actually being science fiction, it’s difficult then to also see what, if any, transcendent message it has. In fact, the movie is, blatantly, about pushing toward the terrestrial and getting away from space. Everything from the characters talking about Earth based trauma, jobs, music, and what they plan to do when they get back de-transcendentalizes this movie.
Saturday at Santa Fe Comic Con was filled with amazing Cosplayers. Every time we turned the corner, there was a Harley Quinn or Starlord or Captain America posing for photos. Not only were there a lot of Cosplayers at the convention, the way they were treated is possibly the most hospitable I’ve ever had the pleasure to encounter. Everyone (with the exception of one creepy guy who asked for our photo) seemed to know the rules and expectations of Cosplay etiquette. This may have something to do with the very first panel of the the day “Cosplay Safety” which gave both Cosplayers and spectators alike advice on how to create a safe convention space. I was very happy to see this on the schedule and was even happier to know that as an incentive to coming to the convention, they gave out one extra Cosplay Contest token to each participant. Rosanna Rocha invited the audience to have a serious conversation about Cosplay and consent, informing people what it was and what sort of behavior was acceptable. You can find out more about that movement by reading our article here.
Another SUPER awesome service made available to Cosplayers was an active member of the International Cosplay Corps. They are a small group of cosplayers and Cosplay enthusiasts who travel from con to con offering assistance to Cosplayers. Gunny Gotch-Yo-Back was readily available to help with any cosplay repairs. Her Cosplay itself was awesome, with a sewing thread bandolier across her chest, duct tape hanging from a multi-layered tool belt around her hips, and tons and tons of safety pins for any Cosplayer in need. A patch on her shoulder read “Free Cosplay Repairs”. This woman is a Cosplay angel and was a godsend for any Cosplayer who forgot their sewing kit at home.
Yet another wonderful Cosplay service was a specific Cosplay lounge separate from the general outside lounge. The quiet, secluded space had big, comfortable chairs and couches for Cosplayers to kick back and relax as well as tables to work on any unanticipated rips in their costumes. As Cosplayers ourselves, we took full advantage of this. It was extremely helpful to have a relaxing space readily available for when our feet started to hurt, our eyes started to droop, and our social media needed attending to. So few conventions have rooms like these, that it was a real treat to indulge in a little private, no photos allowed time. For the sanity of Cosplayers everywhere, more conventions should start doing this.
Here are some of the awesome Cosplayers we met at Santa Fe Comic Con!
The Cosplay Contest, hosted by Rosana Rocha and the Geek Girls team, was absolutely amazing. There was not one costume that did not make the crowd go nuts and a few family Cosplay groups that were face melting adorable, one of which won the “Most Fun” prize.
The contest worked on both a token and judges system. Cosplayers collected tokens throughout the day from attendees who liked their work. When 7pm rolled around, all Cosplayers counted up their tokens and gave them to the judges at sign up. The Cosplayer with the most tokens won Best in Show, which ended up being an amazing Odin Cosplayer who had a hammer, sword, eye patch, and a musical horn; the works. He was also seriously in character the whole time and lead the crowd in a Asgardian cheer. “May you all find Valhalla!” he shouted as he excited the stage.
There were a ton of Cosplayers in the contest and each paraded in front of the audience, posing, saying quick little skits, and joking around with the audience. The skill and craftsmanship of each costume was breathtaking. There were very close ties for both Most Fun and Most Impressive. I honestly don’t know how they made up their mind. A few children who couldn’t make the Kids Cosplay Contest taking place Sunday also took part and were a major cute factor.
In the end there were four categories in which to place: Best in Show, Most Fun, Best Token Pouch, and Most Impressive. As I said, Odin took home Best in Show, Most Fun went to a family group of Mad Max Cosplayers, Best Token Pouch went to a Guardians of the Galaxy couple, and Most Impressive went to a Hush Comics fan Lea, who was dressed as a Dragonborn from Skyrim.
What was most heartwarming was when the owner of the convention came on stage and pointed to a top hat and cane sticker on his shirt that all the staff were wearing. He said they were wearing them in memory of a dear friend and fellow con-goer who died just a few months ago. This sign of memoriam made many of the audience, including myself, very emotional. Our hearts at Hush go out to those grieving this weekend.
Cosplay is always a super fun part of conventions and Santa Fe Comic Con definitely made sure their costume dawned guests were taken care of. From Cosplay Safety, to relaxation, to emergency sewing guru, it’s been a great weekend to be a Cosplayer.
Photography by Raya Jade Lieberman with the exception of Gunny Got-Yo-Back photo courtesy of Gunny Got-Yo-Back.