Archive for July, 2008
After the success of Pitch Black, director David Twohy was planning an epic Riddick trilogy, of which this movie would be the first. But when Chronicles tanked at the box office, the next two movies were scrapped, and Universal Studios contented itself with spinning off video games to recoup their losses: an effort that was assisted by the Chronicles DVD, which apparently sold pretty well. But the grander dreams were over. All that was left of a franchise that Twohy had hoped would dominate the SF landscape were fragments scattered here and there: two very different movies, those video games, and a couple of animated shorts.
And that’s a goddamn shame. Because I saw Chronicles again last night, and christ does it kick ass. The sweeping planetscapes (c’mon, any list of top ten SF planets would have to include Crematoria), the demented neo-gothic spaceships, the over-the-top costuming, and the nonstop action: Twohy and his team got a lot of stuff right. And Vin Diesel is a fucking star throughout: he’s got undeniable charisma, and some really great lines too. (“Shoulda taken the money, Toomes.”)
But I’m curious to hear what YOU guys think. There are obviously a lot of folks out there who hated this movie, and this is your big opportunity to weigh in and tell me what you thought sucked. Me, I think the movie’s central failing was the thing I like the most about it: Twohy could have just made Pitch Black 2, but he elected to take things in a totally different direction, and take some chances while he was doing it. Or maybe they should have stuck with the original Riddick origin legend—instead of him being a Furian, perhaps the original explanation of how he got his eyes fixed by a rogue surgeon on a prison planet was more in keeping with the gritty universe that Pitch Black was hinting at. Or maybe 2004 just wasn’t ready for a big-budget, no-holds-barred, unapologetic space opera.
It’s too bad, though, because I for one would be up for a couple more.
Greetings from San Francisco, where the sun has appeared in brief intervals these last couple of days, but other than that is maintaining a resolute absence. Which is fine by me, coming from the East Coast where the heat’s like walking into a wall. Yesterday’s book signing at Borderlands went well, though the real star of the show at that place is Ripley the Demonic Cat. And the non-feline staff were great as well: owner Alan Beatts (who turned me on to Sean McMullen’s Souls in the Great Machine, which looks awesome), Jude Feldman, and Cary Heater. I wish there were stores like that in D.C., but D.C. ain’t exactly an SF town. (Go into a video store, and SF is usually under action/adventure, and there ain’t much of it anyway. I could speculate on why D.C. is so inclined, but maybe that’s best saved for another post.)
Anyway, I have a confession to make: I never made it to Comic Con on Saturday. My friend and I drove to the beach and chilled there. Sorry folks. Two days of it were awesome, but I needed some fresh air after that. But the cool folks at Bantam have posted a video of me signing books while I simultaneously make witty banter with the ComicCon masses. You can check it out here.
Spent much of the afternoon handing out DVDs of the video trailer for THE MIRRORED HEAVENS, so didn’t catch as much as I might have liked. But here’s a few highlights:
–Disney’s Tron 2 (Tr2N) trailer, bootlegged and tossed online.
–Watchmen poster images. I totally missed them, but io9 did not.
–I took some photos, but you know what? These are way better.
–And here’s some footage of me signing books yesterday. Not quite up there with Tron 2, but hey.
Unfortunately, I’m gonna miss tonight’s Masquerade. I’ll be on a flight up to San Francisco for the reading at Borderlands tomorrow. . .
I got in yesterday afternoon, so have yet to really suss out the scene. In the meantime, here’s the low-down thus far:
–United Airlines no longer serves Pepsi. Now it’s Coke all the way. I’m not complaining, though I sure wish they’d done it earlier, back when I was in management consulting and #$# lived on United aircraft.
–No one can use the bathroom on a plane in less than half an hour anymore. Anything less is apparently a lost art.
–San Diego has clearly perfected weather control tech, and something should be done before they subject us all to sunshine and cool breezes.
–Never rent from Budget fucking rent-a-car.
–The attempts of the convention’s organizers to designate certain routes as “one way” are falling a little short, and one can find oneselves suddenly being trampled by hundreds of Jokers with little to no warning. Keep your eyes peeled.
–The cat of the friend I’m staying with is possibly the largest I’ve ever seen (and none of it looks to be muscle). It’s under the bed right now, and I fear it might have gotten stuck.
–Ninja-Assassin looks like it’s going to be bad-ass, and it seems pretty clear that its star Rain can get laid at will. I felt sorry for the other folks on Joel Silver’s panel (like director James McTeigie and actress Naomie Harris), because literally the first ten audience questions were directed to Rain by fangirls who were almost quivering with lust. Me be jealous.
–The best way to ensure people show up for your book signing is to make the books free. Thanks to Bantam, I got to sign about a hundred giveaway copies of THE MIRRORED HEAVENS for folks, some of whom will read it and hail it as a revolutionary work of SF, some of whom will read it and hate it, some of whom won’t read it, and some of whom will throw it out when they open it and realize there’s no pictures.
See you tomorrow.
Ok, I cracked. And went and saw Dark Knight AGAIN yesterday. I’ve never seen the Uptown so crowded on a Tuesday night. They sold out about ten minutes before the film started, and it was a complete and utter mob scene.
But this time I paid more attention to the previews, and the two that really moved the dial for me were:
Terminator 4: this looked nuts. We don’t see that much, but we see enough.
The Day the Earth Stood Still: I know a lot of people are banging their heads against the wall that they’re remaking this classic (and that Keanu’s in it), but I liked what I saw (and I dig the music). Done right, it could rule. Done wrong, it could be a turkey on such a colossal scale that we’ll be able to kick it around for years. Either way, we win.
The West beckons:
San Diego–ComicCon, July 24-26 (will be signing copies of THE MIRRORED HEAVENS at Bantam Spectra’s booth at 4 pm on July 24th)
San Francisco–Borderlands Books, July 27th: Reading/signing Sunday afternoon, at 3 p.m.
Orange County Science Fiction Club, July 30th: 7 p.m, Fullerton, CA.
Seattle–University Bookstore, July 31st: Reading/signing at 7 p.m.
Denver–WorldCon, August 6-10th: I’ll be appearing on the panels Underrated SF Movies (Saturday, 11:30), and Private Space Programs (Saturday, 1:00), as well as doing a signing on Friday at 1. Unfortunately the Weapons in Space panel got canceled, though that may be just as well, since it was scheduled for early Sunday morning, and might have been kinda ugly.
That’s the title of the story that my Clarion classmate Lilah Wild published in this week’s edition of Fantasy Magazine, edited by the inimitable Cat Rambo, so check it out! Lilah also runs the Chateau Bizarre, where you can find all sorts of wardrobe items that make a statement, and knows a thing or two about what loud guitars and writing have in common. You’ll hear more from her.
Because for once it’s real. Dark Knight is a triumph, and heavy enough to make Iron Man look lightweight. Heath Ledger is almost certainly en route for the first posthumous Oscar since Peter Finch; his Joker is so disturbed and disturbing we can only wonder just how the role must have haunted the actor across his last days. And the movie’s script is as dark as it is demented: the plot weaves byzantine threads, and the first five minutes will have you wondering just what the HELL is going on. It’s rare that a movie 2.5 hours long can justify its length, but this movie is totally sans padding, and a total must-see.
‘Nuff said for now. Enjoy the weekend.
Just got done reading a great book: Roger Crowley’s EMPIRES OF THE SEA, a fascinating account of the battle for control of the Mediterranean during the sixteenth century between the Ottoman Empire and the Hapsburgs of Spain/Austria. Crowley’s first book, 1453, came out in 2006: it was a well-executed account of the fall of Constantinople, but I’ve read a bunch of those before. EMPIRES OF THE SEA breaks new ground, however, documenting the relentless expansion of the Ottoman Turks westward after Constantinople’s fall.
Initially, the main thrust was on land—but after the Ottomans were turned back from Vienna (!) in 1529, the sea war took on new life. Everything came to a head at the siege of Malta in 1565; following the Ottoman failure there, the Holy League (an alliance of the Hapsburgs, the Papacy, Venice and Genoa) outfitted a gigantic fleet and defeated the Turks at Lepanto, an absolutely colossal contest of which Cervantes (who was wounded there) was to write, “The greatest event witnessed by ages past, present, and to come.”
And maybe he was right. God knows history has seen plenty of epic stuff since then. But Lepanto was the last serious challenge that Europe would face in its rise to global domination. Prior to that point, Islam and Christiandom had been at each others’ throats for almost a thousand years—but with the decline of the Ottomans, Islamic expansion was effectively over. But historical verdicts are always subject to appeal, and it’s worth bearing in mind that, as much as 9-11 seemed like the inauguration of a whole new era of history to so many of us, those who unleashed it saw it merely as the continuation of a much deeper, older struggle.