Blog posts

  • Ballet rotoscope

    To my eyes, this ballet rotoscope mostly serves to emphasise the inhuman degree of precision the dancer is applying in her work:

    It's entirely possible that folks with an eye for ballet will look at this and exclaim that she's doing the bare minimum necessary or she's fudging some of the trickier aspects of the piece, but I'm mostly thinking that she's doing something pretty well here.

    [Via swissmiss]

  • Remembering Rhysling

    Farah Mendlesohn has published an extract from her forthcoming Robert Heinlein study:

    "The Green Hills of Earth" is one of Heinlein's masterpieces: great, grand opera, beautifully paced, slow and cumulative, it depends on the counter of sublime poetry and imagery with scandalous verse for at least part of its sentimental affect. Rhysling the Blind Poet is, to a degree, the tart with the heart of gold. But the real movement is the sense that while Rhysling has been thrown away by the company. He himself has remained loyal to the company's task, to take people safely across the stars. As he sings and works, the importance of his role as both engineer and poet are enmeshed. […]

    More like this, please. If you agree, please consider going over to Unbound and donating to the crowdfunding campaign for Mendlesohn's book. It's at 98% already: your donation could be the one to push it over the line.

  • You've done a man's job, sir.

    In the run-up to the release of Blade Runner 2049, three short prequels showing events that occurred between the 2019 setting of the original film and the 2049 setting of the sequel have been released.

    • Black Out 2022, directed by Cowboy Bebop creator Shinichirô Watanabe, tells the story of an attempt by some replicants to engineer a massive electro magnetic pulse to wipe out humanity's records of the identity of replicants, who are already subject to nativist riots on the streets.

    • 2036: Nexus Dawn shows a character from the new film, played by Jared Leto, who has taken over the Tyrell Corporation's assets in the wake of a ban on the production of replicants and now wants to revive the production of replicants (who he assures us will be more obedient in this generation).

    • 2048: Nowhere to Run shows us a glimpse of the life of secrecy lived among humans by a replicant played by Dave Bautista just before the new film's era: 'skin jobs' appear to be as despised snd feared (and to have as much of an advantage over humans in terms of brute strength) as was the case back in 2019.

    The thing is, as a general rule I tend not to follow up on pre-release snippets like this; my general view is that if a particular event or encounter is important to the film then the director damned well should have ound time for it in the script they shot.

    The thing is, though, Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve earned several million brownie points with me for his adaptation of Arrival so I'm willing to cut him some slack.1 I'm much happier to see Villeneuve take a crack at extending the story Ridley Scott started telling us than I would be to see Scott having another shot at it.

    1. Also, the Watanabe anime looks terrific, and makes me wish for more Cowboy Bebop. Or even just for a fleeting appearance, maybe in a crowd scene, by Spike Spiegel or Faye Valentine or Jet Black. Even if they were just a face in a crowd scene, passing by the main action. I mean, the entire internet would explode if Watanabe or Villeneuve did that, but it'd be so worth it….)

  • Imagined elephants

    Seven hundred years of imagined elephants:

    After the fall of the Roman Empire, elephants virtually disappeared from Western Europe.

    Since there was no real knowledge of how this animal actually looked, illustrators had to rely on oral and written transmissions to morphologically reconstruct the elephant, thus reinventing an actual existing creature. This tree diagram traces the evolution of the elephant depiction throughout the middle ages up to the age of enlightenment. […]

    [Via Interconnected)]

  • RAH! RAH! RAH…

    Farah Mendlesohn has gone the crowdfunding route for her forthcoming study of the work of Robert Heinlein:

    The book is a close reading of Heinlein's work, including unpublished stories, essays, and speeches. It sets out not to interpret a single book, but to think through the arguments Heinlein made over a life time about the nature of science fiction, about American politics, and about himself. Although not a biography it tries to understand Heinlein's work both as product and insight into the man.[…]

    If you're of a certain age, whether you ended up reading Heinlein's work or the works of authors who strongly disagreed with him you couldn't help but engage with his work. Comfortably the most influential speculative fiction author of the 20th century.

    If you're in a position to direct some funds at Unbound to enable the publication of Mendlesohn's study then get over to Unbound and consider your options.

    [Via @amendlocke]

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