greygirlbeast: (twilek2)
I like art that at first makes you mad. Good art provokes and inspires, baffles and even shocks us. Sometimes with its beauty, sometimes with its amazing ugliness. ~ John Waters

Why is this not perfectly fucking obvious? Why do people have to be told these things by artists? Why is the self-evident evidently so hard to see?

1) A busy day yesterday, so a subset:
a. I wrote pages Sixteen and Seventeen on the third issue of Alabaster. Dialogue is one thing. Choreographing the movement of three "actors" is another. The latter is a bitch.
b. My editor at Dark Horse (Hi, Rachel!) sent me Steve's pencils for Alabaster #1, pages 17-25, and they are, in a word, wonderful. Also, a Paul Benedict troll! Anyway, today I have to get notes together on these pages before the inking, though, truthfully, the notes will be few.
c. More conversation with Brian Siano about the final cut of the "teaser" trailer we'll be releasing in January for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. I think people are going to be amazed.
d. My contributors' copies of the Lightspeed: Year One collection arrived, which compiles all the stories that appeared in the website's first year online. Edited by John Joseph Adams, it reprints "Faces in Revolving Souls," which, I have to admit, I'm not very fond of anymore. However, the collection as a whole is really quite awesome (the presence of OSC notwithstanding, and never mind the homophobic bastard's name is the first listed on the cover).

You know...this was going to be a much longer entry...

...but I keep writing paragraphs...

...and I keep erasing them. It's just that sort of morning. I'll do better tomorrow. Or later tonight.

But if you're in my Rift guild, do please remember that Thursday night is the next scheduled RP event. And one more thing, please have a look at last night's posted "Question @ Hand." I'm going to be accepting replies for several days, and I want to see some very good stuff. By the way, silly, hand-waving bad science is perfectly acceptable, in this case. I'm hoping for at least seven replies we can use in Sirenia Digest #72.

Oh! Also I've gotten word that people are beginning to receive the first round of rewards from Kickstarter we did for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. I think these are prints of some of Kyle's photos. Pleased note that the rewards will be going out to donors in several waves, and that the last batch can't be mailed until after the book is published in March 2012.

And thanks to [livejournal.com profile] sovay for reminding me that "The Key to the Castleblakeney Key" is now online, my contribution to Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's marvelous anthology, The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities. This online version includes the color photograph of the artefact, which appears in black and white in the anthology.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
A rather spectacular thunderstorm this morning. Now it's cloudy, and cooler than it's been lately.

As for my mood, it has improved. I suspect I just needed a day away from the story. I'd been hammering at it for eight days straight. Hopefully, when I go back to it today, things will make more sense. I can only hope that eight days from now, it's finished.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, if you've not already. Thanks.

So, yes, yesterday we saw Vincenzo Natali's Splice. I'd hoped that it would be an important science-fiction film, something on a par with, say, last year's District 9 or Moon. Certainly, it had that potential, but it's a potential that's never quite realized. Somewhere near the middle, the film is almost brilliant, but the ending devolves into monster-movie antics, which are fine, if all you are hoping for is a scary monster movie. But this is a film that is, at least ostensibly, about the responsibilities of science and scientists, about the blurring the line between research and commerce, about the ethics and perils of creating genetically engineered hybrids, chimeras, and parahumans, and about making contact with a genuinely alien intelligence (even if the "alien" was created on Earth). You stack these issues into a film, and I expect it to be a little bit smarter. Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody do the best they can with the script. Delphine Chanéac is amazing as Dren. The creature effects are superb. Dren is undoubtedly one of the most amazing creatures ever brought to the screen. And the film is, despite its flaws, often very effective. For the most part, it's an interesting retelling of Frankenstein, and one that understands that Victor's greatest sin was not "playing god," but failing to be a good parent. And still, that ending blows the show, and I'm left wondering at the film Splice might have been if it had taken a few more chances. I don't expect it to last long in the theaters. It's too weird to appeal to most, but not quite weird enough to be brilliant. A disappointment, but still a disappointment well worth seeing.

I keep meaning to write about the ongoing horror in the Gulf of Mexico. I feel like I should be using the blog to write about nothing else. But every time I try, I back away. This thing is too big, and I know if I ever do start talking about it, I'm going to piss off pretty much everyone, because none of us is truly innocent of this crime, and I fear that's something no one wants to hear.
greygirlbeast: (Neytiri)
There was no time yesterday for a blog entry, as we had to drive to Massachusetts to find a screening of Avatar that wasn't 3-D.But, had I made an entry yesterday, I would have said that, on Thursday I somehow went from completely locked up (first half of the day, carrying over from Wednesday and Tuesday) to writing 1,106 words on "The Jetsam of Disremembered Mechanics." Which was a huge relief. I might survive this month, after all. Today, I'll go back to work on the story, and hopefully it will be finished by Sunday evening, and I can move along to Sirenia Digest #49.

---

So, yesterday we drove to Massachusetts for a 1:30 (CaST) showing of James Cameron's Avatar. And I think (given how many times I've said I'm not someone who can write actual film reviews) I'll just cut to the chase and say that this is a brilliant, stunning, and terrifying film. In some ways, it's a film I've been waiting my whole life to see. Not merely because Cameron and Weta have created such a convincing extraterrestrial biosphere, and not only because it speaks to my "parahuman" psyche, but because that "alien" landscape is merely one part of such a grandly sublime package. During and after the film, my head was crammed full of things I wanted to say here, and I should have written those things down, because now I can't seem to find the words. The film affected me deeply, and on a level I'm not sure I can articulate. Generally, reviews are either evaluations, arguments, or a combination of those two things. I can evaluate this film, and if I had a good deal more time at my disposal (and the requisite motivation), I could also argue why this film is not only a great film, but why it is an important film. They might even be convincing arguments for some. But I'm going to have to settle for something more to the point.

With Avatar, Cameron (and all those who worked with him) have created a film that places humanity in the role of alien invader, inverting Wells' War of the Worlds formula. Which is exactly what I was hoping to see. Indeed, I would say that Cameron inverts one of his own earlier efforts, Aliens (1986). In 2154, a joint military/corporate effort from a dying earth seeks to exploit the mineral resources of an earth-like moon circling a gas giant in a distant solar system. The problem, of course, is that a sentient race lives on the moon, one that is....well, we get into spoiler territory here, and I very much don't want to spoil this for anyone. I'm honestly not sure what to say (as I may have said above). Roger Ebert and other genuine reviewers have already said so much that needed saying about the film.

I'm not so much impressed that, with Avatar, Cameron was willing to make a film with such a strong pro-environmentalist and anti-war message. Lots of people are doing that (though none have risked this sort of budget in the process). What truly impresses me is that Cameron has made what is essentially an anti-human film. On Pandora, in the conflicts between mankind and the Na'vi, we see what we've seen on Earth for the entirety of human history. In general and with precious few exceptions, humans will go to any length to exploit Nature for short-term and short-sighted gains. And "contacts" between technological and not-so technological civilizations pretty much always end with the latter getting throttled, displaced, and often driven to the brink of extinction. Avatar says, as I have always said, that there's no reason whatsoever to think things would be any different were "we" to encounter another civilization on another planet. But there's more here than some hackneyed, naive fairy-tale of the "noble savage." At the core of this film is an ingenious sort of evolutionary surprise that gives the Na'vi a fighting chance.

I'll also say that Avatar impressed me as a profoundly pagan film, but I know that it's too easy to see what we want to see in art that we love. So I'm not going to dwell on that (though Avatar already has some Xtians in a lather for this very reason).

I could go on and on, but I won't. I will say that I thought the science was pretty decent. Sure, there are a few holes here and there, but they're nothing serious, nothing that interferes with the story. I could believe in the animals and plants I saw on Pandora, that I was seeing viable ecosystems. The creatures are as amazing and gorgeous as any fictional fauna and flora that have ever graced a screen, and I very much hope that we'll see a book from Weta Workshop like the "natural history" of Skull Island they released back in 2005, because I very much want to know more.

Go see this film. It's a damn good movie. Like The Road, It's terrible and beautiful and true. Which means that it's important.

* H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898)
greygirlbeast: (chi2)
This afternoon, while I worked, I kept the TV on the NASA Channel, trying not to be nervous about whether or not the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter would manage a successful insertion. I'd get up every ten or fifteen minutes to see how things were going. I literally chewed a hole in my bottom lip during the half hour of radio silence as the orbiter passed behind Mars. But everything went the way it was supposed to, and if it continues to go that way, as the great elliptical orbit slowly evolves into a tight circular one, then come November we'll be getting some absolutely amazing data. It's stuff like this that keeps me moving. I kid you not.

Meanwhile, taking the bad with the good, which is one of my superpowers, a new study by NASA and the University of Colorado at Boulder, published in Science, seems to conclusively indicate that the Antarctic ice sheet is shrinking by as much as thirty-six cubic miles of ice a year. One of the authors of the study, Isabella Velicogna, has stated that "The ice sheet is losing mass at a significant rate." Indeed, the ice is melting more rapidly than previously thought, and increased Antarctic snowfall (also the result of global warming) does not appear to be slowing the melting and increasing ice-sheet mass, as hoped. And, of course, this news comes just a couple of months after NASA findings that the Arctic/Greenland ice sheet is also melting more rapidly than believed. To quote a NASA press release, "Greenland's ice sheet decreased by 162 (plus or minus 22) cubic kilometers a year between 2002 and 2005. This is higher than all previously published estimates, and it represents a change of about 0.4 millimeters (.016 inches) per year to global sea level rise." And at the present rate of melting, the loss of ice in Antarctica is adding an additional annual sea level rise of 0.4 millimeters a year.

Velicogna described these results a "wake-up call," but how many times have I heard that before? Wasn't Katrina and the 2005 hurricane season enough of a wake-up call? How many different ways do humans have to break a planet? I want to feel celebratory right now, not all frelling doom and gloom. I want to look forward to seeing more of Mars, but it's hard to stop thinking about how rough things are getting down here on Earth. Anyway...

Too much thinking today. My brain won't seem to stay on any one problem for longer than five minutes. I did come to the conclusion that I don't mean transhumanism. I mean parahumanism. I spent part of the day reading Anders Sandberg's writing on morphological freedom.

I need some sleep, I think.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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