Aug. 8th, 2017

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A little late, but here it is!

  • Wednesday, August 9, 1500-1600 – Global Warming and the Gaia Concept. Is Global Consciousness already here, and doesn’t have a clue? (Room 205)
    • Is there global self-regulation? Could the world as a whole, in some ways, be consideredto have thought processes, emotions, and/or intentions? Where does humanity come in to all of this? Has our kind of consciousness and thinking ruined a perfectly good setup? We examine the validity of the Gaia concept (a version of which is central to Asimov’s later Foundation novels) and its relation to man-made global warming.
  • Thursday August 10, 1000-1100 – In Defense of the Unlikeable Heroine (Room 101 a&b)
    • Far too often female protagonists need to be pretty and nice. But are they all – are all women pretty and nice and is that a stereotype that needs to be highlighted? The panelists defend their unlikable heroines in fiction!
  • Friday August 11, 1300-1400 – Signing (signing area)
  • Saturday August 12, 1400-1500 – Built Upon the Shoulders of Giants (Hall 3)
    • You know how to build an imaginary world, and you know which authors have constructed your favourites. But what do publishers do when they are inundated with speculative fiction novels full of great worlds. What are the defining elements that set a novel (and the world it’s built in) apart from the crowd? Our panel of publishers, editors and authors will tell all on exactly what type of world building make them squeal with delight.

I will also be at all of the WSFS business meetings, which go from Thursday through Sunday, 1000-1300. I will be liveblogging, though the first hour on Thursday guest bloggers will be taking care of the meeting for me, as I’ll be in a panel.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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I made a special effort to see The Dark Tower before I departed for Finland, because I was that excited about seeing Idris Elba be the gunslinger. Not that I’ve got that many gunslinger feelings, you should realize. I’ve never read the novels, because I’m just not that much of a Stephen King fan. But I am that much of an Idris Elba fan.

This seems to be a movie that a lot of people have some really strong feelings about, and I just don’t. Maybe because I didn’t read the books. I went in without any expectations. I don’t regret the price of my ticket or the snack food I bought since I hadn’t bothered to eat breakfast. I had an enjoyable ninety minutes and I felt appropriately entertained.

And to be honest, I don’t really have many strong opinions on this film either way, other than gosh I really love Idris Elba, and Matthew McConaughey is finally playing the evil scumbag character I always thought he had in him. Flagg (aka the Man in Black) probably could have been more evil and scummy, but there’s a limit to what you can do in a PG-13 movie. The mutual hateboner was pretty great to witness, and I bet they were both having one hell of a time.

With most films that I either really love or really hate, I can examine what about them made me feel that way. I can’t really do that here. The script for The Dark Tower ticks along and doesn’t drag. It could probably use some more developmental moments, give us a bit more time with Roland or Flagg, but I can’t really pick out anything in particular. The dialogue was serviceable as far as I can recall, and Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughy are both good enough actors that they can own just about anything anyway.

The plot is a simple portal fantasy: we have Jake, who has been catching glimpses into Roland’s world. Because of this, he’s almost taken away by some of Flagg’s henchmen, but he escapes and uses a portal to go to Roland’s world. Jake and Roland meet up, and Roland realizes he can use Jake’s information to find Flagg. Ultimately, Roland has to choose between his vengeance on Flagg and fulfilling his purpose as a gunslinger.

The only one thing I can pick out that really has a problem in The Dark Tower is the women. In that there aren’t really many to speak of, and most of them get done in rather horribly by Flagg. Like most action movies these days, it runs entirely on daddy issues, and makes no bones about it. Women are pretty much set dressing and angst-fuel and that’s it.

So if you have objections to portal fantasies about a special kid whose very special and becomes super important to the indefatigable badass character of the show, sure, it’ll probably grate on you. But if you want to see Idris Elba being awesome and having some delightful fish-out-of-water moments when he’s on Earth, you’ll probably have fun like I did. I’m not sorry I went out of my way to see this movie, but I doubt I’ll go out of my way to see it again unless I’ve got some laundry to fold.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Tetsugawa Katsuhiro

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