Sunday, July 24, 2016

205: Sci-Fi Saturday

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Star Trek Beyond did not disappoint either as a Star Trek film or as a sci-fi film in general. I just came from the last full show and I found that I enjoyed the end product. There were a couple of plot points that had me smirking, but overall the pacing was well done that I didn't mind them so much. This was a superior movie that blew away most of the bad memories that I had of the first two.

There were still some nods to this alternate timeline but they didn't call attention to themselves. I think that was the problem with the first two movies: trying too hard to deliver fan service to the point of being self-referential. This movie managed to evoke the feeling of the old Star Trek without trying too hard. While the spotlight was still on Kirk, all the other crew members had a chance to shine.

This movie introduced a new character that I hope will become a regular in future outings. Jaylah, the self-reliant survivor, was the most memorable addition. She was resourceful, independent, and quirky. And she just flowed into the scenes so naturally, again not calling too much attention to herself.

But really the best part of this movie was the visuals. I loved the dizzying design of the starbase Yorktown. The designation doesn't quite do it justice: it's a city in space and it curves this way and that. It's all imaginary, I know, but awe-inspiring. This is how I want my science fiction settings!

I was pleasantly surprised to see Simon Pegg was co-writer on this film. Mad props to him and to director Justin Lin for putting the spirit of Star Trek back into the film franchise.

While waiting to get the car washed, I worked through a couple of sci fi short stories from an anthologyy I had been carrying around. I had had Alpha, edited by Robert Silverberg, for quite some time now but I had a hard time getting into it. I think it was the lead story Poor Little Warrior by Brian Aldiss that threw me off. While I enjoyed Aldiss' other work, this story, which I finally slogged through today, was a poor one, probably one of his earlier pieces. Science fiction-y premise -- hunter goes back in time to kill dinosaurs -- but the drama was about the hunter's domestic existence.

In contrast, Moth Mask by Jack Vance was more engaging. The draw of the story was the society that Vance painted. A very stratified society with complex rules for relationships, where all communication must be accompanied by different musical instruments and where everyone must wear masks. Quite intriguing, and Vance manages to work a thrilling murder mystery plot within.

So today has been a day for awakenings. Science fiction really is in my roots, and I've been neglecting it in an attempt to work with the Davao and Philippine literary circles. Was I working for acceptance or did I really just want to contribute positively? Either way, I feel I've gone astray. I've come to realize I'm really not going to find any acceptance if I operate within their frameworks. It's time to go back to what I know best.