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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ruminations of an Old Goat

Random thoughts from a random access mind...

So, the big movie season is almost over and I haven't been very impressed. Iron Man 2 was a good follow up to Iron Man; not as good as the original, but still quite entertaining. But Robin Hood was uninspired, especially with its incredibly anti-climactic final battle. Prince of Persia wasn't what I had expected, but it wasn't exactly an action movie masterpiece, either. The actress who played the princess was beautiful, though. I had anticipated that Toy Story 3 would be my favorite movie of the summer and it is so far. But I think the well is pretty much dry on this franchise. While watching, I couldn't help thinking of the movie in terms of how well it would translate into a video game, almost as if the movie had been written with that in mind. Given how well video games sell these days, it probably was written with that in mind. I guess I'll just have to wait and hope Tron 2.0 (or whatever they're calling it) will be worth the wait.

The last Sunday in June, the Boy and I attended the local Can't Stop the Serenity event. I hadn't heard of it until my current manager told me about it. The "Serenity" in question is the one from the much-missed TV series Firefly. Each year, various cities host showings of the theatrical movie Serenity as part of a charity event. There's a costume contest, prize drawings, lots of Browncoats to hobnob with, and, to top it off, the movie Serenity on the big screen. It was kind of cool watching the movie with 200 fellow fans, including a bunch of people I work with and others I game with. If you're a Firefly fan, you might want to see if there will be one of these in your area. After all, how often can you get your geek on and help out a charity or two?

This must be my Summer of Geekiness, as the next big even for the Boy and me will be Star Wars: In Concert. On July 18, a symphony orchestra and chorus will be in Raleigh, giving a live performance of music from all six of the Star Wars movies. The backdrop for the music will be one of the largest LCD screens ever made, on which clips from the various films will be shown. The show also travels with a mini-museum of costumes, props, and other stuff that only geeks like me would be thrilled to see. This is the Boy's birthday present from his mother and me. My special gift to his mother is that I don't expect her to go with us.

Of course, the climax (and highlight) of the Summer of Geekiness will be ReConstruction, the convention being held here in Raleigh. There's not much new to report on that front, though, so I'll move on.

I've recently stumbled across a new and interesting comic book series called Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity. I'll give a brief description of the comic, but believe me when I say any description I give will not do justice to the book. The Tommy Taylor in the title is the main character in the graphic novel. He's the son of an author who disappeared after writing 13 books in a fantasy series; a series with superficial similarity to the Harry Potter series. The author used his son as the inspiration for the main character, including naming the character Tommy Taylor. The "real" Tommy has no idea what happened to his father and makes a living appearing at conventions as a combination stand-in for his father and stand-in for the fictional Tommy. Very quickly, though, we start getting hints that the events from the books may not be as fictional as everyone believes and that the "fictional" Tommy and the "real" Tommy are the same person. As I said above, my description doesn't come anywhere near doing justice to this book. If you have any interest in non-superhero graphic novels, I strongly suggest you give this a look. I expect this series will win some awards before it finishes its run. Highly recommended.

I've just finished reading a science fiction novel that did something unexpected -- it made me think. The novel is The Unincorporated Man. The novel is set several hundred years in the future and features all sorts of interesting technology. The unique bit about the story, though, has nothing to do with the technology and everything to do with sociological and economic ideas. In the novel, when a person is born they are immediately incorporated as their own personal corporation with some of their stock going to the government, some more to their parents, and the majority to the individual. As an individual ages and major expenses come along -- good schools, college, even a first car -- people can sell or trade their stock to pay for these items. The idea is to make full use of the virtue of selfishness. After all, if you owned stock in a person, you'd want to help that person succeed in life so their stock would rise in value, right? Into this world comes a man from our own time; a very rich man who used cryogenics to preserve his body after he learned he was dying. He is the unincorporated man from the title. The book follows as he adjusts to the new society and, by his mere existence, puts the entire concept of personal incorporation into question. It's rare when you run across something truly new and different, even in science fiction. The Unincorporated Man is all of that. I highly recommend it.

That's enough wandering for now. I'll be back in my normal Monday slot next week and probably even have a column with a single topic.
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