12 Monkeys (Mini-Review) — Some spoilers

Bruce Willis with a bald head and a red light shining from one eye.
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12_Monkeys

So, I watched 12 Monkeys over the weekend (the movie, not the TV show–although I will take a look at it one of these days now that I’ve seen the movie). I will do a mini-review, but there will be some spoilers that I simply can’t avoid–you can’t talk about the movie without talking about it in terms of its ultimate narrative structure (which, once presented, is a “spoiler”). I will leave the major spoiler points to the end, so if you don’t want to be spoiled be sure not to read to the end of the post. Unfortunately, I can’t guard against a search engines picking up the words in the spoiler section, so you have been warned.

Party Like Its 1995

So, Twelve Monkeys is a movie that I’ve wanted to watch for a while. I’ve heard about it spoken in reverence in the sci-fi community as some sort of harbinger of where sci-fi was heading. And in some ways that was true–this is an older movie after all. However, this is one that never came to streaming and when it originally released, I remember it being just as DVD was hitting and the prices were fairly high.

Not What I Was Expecting

This movie wasn’t quite was I expecting. I was expecting a sci-fi neo-noir futuristic thriller/mystery about the finding of a plague. While there are elements of this in the movie, it isn’t the primary focus. This one has a “concept” (more below) that it adheres to and a narrative structure that was fairly unique (for the time). I have to say that, honestly, I was a little disappointed by it as there have been many, many imitators that I’ve seen over the years, and that has blunted my enjoyment of the movie, as well.

Spoiler Warning–The End

Okay, so this is your final warning, STOP READING NOW if you want to stay unspoiled on the movie.

—————————————————————————————————————

Okay, here goes: this is the movie that popularized a certain type of time travel story, “the bootstrap paradox” story. Okay, what is a bootstrap paradox–literally, it is a time travel story that is both self-fulfilling and has no antecedent. When we enter the story, the plague has already happened, and then we see the way the plague happens when we go back in time with the protagonists. However, the idea of the plague was brought back to the past and that’s how the it gets started (this is simplified). So the plague is started by going back into the past (don’t go back to the past, no plague–no antecedent) and as it plays out, it happens just as the protagonist “remembers” it (self-fulfilling). Why am I spoiling this movie to talk about the end? Because it set the stage for the multitude of “time travel” stories and “boot strap” stories that permeated the landscape for (at least) 10 years after this movie released. Now I understand why there were so many movies that featured this time travel arc. This movie is influential in the genre, that only “ended” with Bruce Willis in another time travel film, Looper. However, in between 12 Monkeys and Looper, there were a ton of time travel/psuedo time travel films released (you can find me talking about them in a post from a few years ago: https://sidneyblaylockjr.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/where-you-end-is-not-where-you-begin-time-travel-in-movies/

12 Monkeys is where all these movies got their ideas/start, so it is a “referential” movie in the field of science fiction (time travel films) and has influenced films for over a decade.

Overall Grade: C

I might have rated this higher had I seen it earlier. However, so many later movies that I watched “stole” (paid homage/or more kindly, thought they could do the idea even better) that much of the movie’s uniqueness had already been worn through. It also doesn’t help that I’d already read many of the concepts in Sci-Fi novels even before the movie originally released. Generally speaking, its Short-stories–>Novels/Graphic Novels–>Film in terms of progression for Sci-Fi ideas. Want to be on the cutting edge, read sci-fi mags and anthologies, want to see the idea propagated to a mass audience, wait for the film. This is one that, at its time, might have made more of an impression (as it did to the countless filmmakers of successive time travel stories, but now, if you seen any of the recent time stories of the last 10 years, Source Code, Deja Vu, etc., then you have a pretty good idea of where the story is headed.

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ReRead: Star Wars X-Wing Rogue Squadron — Battleground Tatooine

X-Wing Fighter destroying a Tie Fighter over an alien world.
Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/Battleground-Tatooine-X-Wing-Rogue-Squadron/dp/156971276X

So, I reread Star Wars X-Wing Rogue Squadron (Rogue Squadron) over the weekend. I haven’t been reading much on my own except for school nights, but I thought I start to reread my collection once a week.

One of the Few Star Wars Graphic Novels I Own

Surprisingly enough, I don’t own that many Star Wars graphic novels (although I plan to increase that through used bookstore purchases) as graphic novels became a “thing” after I was already moving away from “comics” in general and moving more into “writing/creative writing.” It may have been a good thing since most of the Star Wars comics/novels/graphic novels have been “removed” from canon once Disney acquired the license. However, I still like to dip into the world and universe, even knowing that most of the work is no longer “relevant” to the Star Wars world.

Good Story (Even Without the Lightsabers)

I tend to be a “lightsabers” kind of guy, meaning that I really like the ligthtsaber combat in the films. However, I also like the space combat as well. I feel that the new films have focused more on space combat than lightsaber battles, but I’d still like to watch them. And that extends into the graphic novel realm as I enjoy reading about the adventures of Rogue Squadron which is what this graphic novel is about. The story was good–not great–but good, as was the artwork. Finally, I thought the inclusion of a hard to find second story at the end was a nice touch.

Overall Grade: B (85)

While it could have been more dynamic, I still enjoyed the setup and the resolution of the story. Its a fun, “popcorn” story and one that I enjoyed. I’ll definitely look for others in the series.

Sidney

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Sunsetting Star Wars

Sunsetting Star Wars Two characters from Star Wars watch the twin suns set.
Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2W5YPQJqUs

Okay, I know, a provactive title. And yes, The Last Jedi features into the discussion, but not nearly as much as one would think. I’ve known for a while now that the Disney version of Star Wars (at least for the last of the 3 Skywalker films) would be “sunsetting” the original characters and creating a whole new set of characters that we would follow through new movies for a “new” generation. My problem (at the time) wasn’t the sunsetting of the older characters–it was, would I like the new characters? Now, however, I have to say that it is isn’t the new characters that bother me (except the “grumpy Darklord”–Daisy Ridley’s term for Kylo Ren). What I really have a problem with is the way in which the old characters are being “retired.”

Be Fair to Your Audience

Yes, I know we live in an 18-35 year old world. I get it. This is where marketers focus their efforts on, this is where people really want to target their appeals to, but one of the things that I really dislike about the way Star Wars has treated its audience is that they haven’t honored the original actors/roles as much as they could have.

So, unless I get really heavily into spoilers, I can’t actually do a “deep dive” into the ways Disney has “disrespected” fans of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia from the original trilogy. Suffice to say, the resolution of the two men have not ended well. Carrie Fisher unfortunately, passed away, so I suspect we will see footage of her in the new movie, but I feel that they will be far more respectful to her character because she (sadly) is no longer with us (the Paul Walker effect, essentially).

As a long time fan of the films, I don’t understand why we can’t get a resolution of the old characters that doesn’t feature them going out in the way they do. I feel that both of the characters who’ve we’ve “resolved” so far from the original trilogy do not end in a way that is either consistent or satisfying to what we as fans were presented onscreen during Lucas’ original run.

Be Consistent

And this the cry that every fan asks every creator whether or not they originally created a character or not. Let me be absolutely clear–I don’t like The Last Jedi. One of the main reasons is that I don’t feel that the Disney Star Wars films are playing fair with audience expectations is that the characterizations are not even close to what the characters have exhibited in the past, nor do they honor the struggles that they originally had. For example, Luke struggled with redeeming his father from evil, yet his nephew “supposedly” (we see this off-screen) displays tendencies of “evil” and Luke most definitely (again, vague to avoid spoilers) does NOT try to even talk to the kid, let alone redeem him. That is antithetical to Luke’s characterization and doesn’t fit with what I know about the character. However, for plot reasons, we need Luke to ignore 20 years of history (his own history, btw) and act in a manner counter to what he has done previously.

The same is true for Han Solo’s character. While I can somewhat see what befalls him, he still has to act in a “dumb” fashion for his ending to occur. In the original trilogy, Han and Chewbacca rarely split up–it does happen, but it was in Jedi and close to the end. However, in Force Awakens, the split-up happens at just the right time for the “surprise” to happen and to allow Han to be “Solo” at just the right time.

Again, I have to be super-vague to keep from spoilers (& this may be hurting my argument), but I feel that a grave disservice has been done to the old school characters. Leia will probably get a “hero’s sendoff,” but why does she get to be the only one? And why after she’s passed away? My grandmother subscribed to the idea that we should give “people their flowers while they are living,” meaning that one should honor people while they are alive and not wait until they are dead. The actors in the original Star Wars did a wonderful job and their characters are well loved by millions of fans. Is it really so bad to ask the creators of the new series to honor that idea and to give the characters a “sunset” that is consistent with their characters and honors their actors in an appropriate way (which I don’t think is what has actually occurred).

Sidney

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Afrofuturism Canon

Women in futuristic African Attire in the middle with characters from the movie Black Panther on the right and left of the women.  There is a blue background behind the characters with transparent futuristic faces in the background.
Image Source: https://revolt.tv/stories/2018/02/27/octavia-butler-black-panther-afrofuturism-tomorrow-0700aed4c1

I’ve noted before that this summer I’m doing a lot of reading for both Rhetoric & Composition theory as well as Afrofuturism (I’m also reading the new textbook for my English 1010 class coming up for Fall 2019 to try to lay out how I’m going to teach it). I’m noticing quite a few things. One of the things that I want to talk about today is the fact that because Afrofuturism is just now going “mainstream” due to the success of Black Panther, its “canon” (the works that define it) are still being written/formulated/expressed. There’s still a quite a bit of debate as to what exactly constitutes an Afrofuturistic text (heck, my spellcheck even now is underlining Afrofuturism in red, highlighting that the term is still one that is not widely disseminated).

What is (currently) considered Afrofuturism?

So, the one of the most current definitions of Afrofuturism that I’ve seen is that Afrofuturism is a future (futuristic future or future that has futuristic elements) that deals in some way with the African diaspora. That is, the contintent of Africa in some way or the forced migration of African citizens to other continents (mainly for slave labor) and the effects (future) that has had on the culture. While I personally feel that this definition is too narrow (for reasons I’ll explain shortly), this means that the “canon” is generally forming around authors and filmic representations of this idea. So far the major authors are Delany, Butler, Hopkinson, and Okorafor (a fairly recent addition). I’ve attempted and abandoned Hopkinson’s seminal work Brown Girl in the Ring, but at some point before my dissertation, I know that I’ll have to hold my nose and read a representative work by each of these authors. Again, while I have no particular animus towards these authors in particular, I don’t really like their brand of sci-fi, which in the days before the Afrofuturism term began to be used in the 1990s, there work would have been label Social Sci-Fi and this is a sub-genre that doesn’t really interest me as much. The filmic representation for Afrofuturism is even bleaker. Basically, the only “mainstream” examples are Black Panther (seminal, in my opinion) and maybe Space is the Place (formative). If you google Afrofuturism films, you will find others listed, but again, none of them could be considered mainstream.

What is (currently) Excluded from Afrofuturism

Quite a lot, actually–too much in my opinion. A specific example from one the articles that I’ve read is Hancock because it doesn’t explicitly deal with the African Diaspora. If that’s the case, then it stands to reason that other predominately African American/African Descent movies in the Sci-Fi genre would also be excluded, even if there is a valid for including them. I, Robot would be out (even though it talks about robots as an underclass/servant class like People of Color used to be), most of Will Smith’s other work, pretty much any of the Denzel Washington Sci-Fi movies, the (poorly reviewed) adaptation of the Dark Tower which “race-bends” the main character and most certainly should be discussed–in terms of controversy to Idris Elba’s casting and what that means for those of African Descent in Fantasy/Sci-Fi, and even the recent Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, which I would argue is probably the most important Afrofuturistic film to be released since Black Panther because it argues for “self determination” and not letting your past define your future–yet, it doesn’t do so from an African Diaspora context, so it will probably be excluded–and I don’t think that right. In the book space, both Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due are working in the Sci-Fi genre, but while I’ve seen them on the list for one forumulation for the canon, they are often left off of others for the “Big Four” listed above.

Why We Need ALL Our Authors of Color

So, this one is running longer than I intended, so I’ll end by saying: we NEED ALL our African American/Descent authors who are working in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy space for Afrofuturism. Too often, Sci-Fi and Fantasy have been genres that have been the province of writers outside the African American/Descent culture and as such, our voices have been marginalized and hindered through lack of representation. Without voices inside the field, we risk letting others define who we are and more importantly, without different ideas flowing throughout the “canon,” we risk others labeling our contributions as “one-note” and lacking the diversity we find in ourselves and wish to bring to the greater writing community at large. “Canon” formation is a good thing, but limiting a canon too much can create a homogeneity that can rob us of our voices just as surely as no recognition at all.

Sidney

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Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness: Why Killmonger (Blackpanther) Was Wrong

Killmonger and T'Challa (Black Panther) face off against each other.
Image Source: https://medium.com/@wyattdonigan/why-killmonger-was-quite-possibly-the-greatest-villain-ever-on-screen-2a1288413065

A quick update on the weekend–I had planned to write a blog post of Friday, but due to how busy I was in the Writing Center and the fact that I also went home for the weekend made it nearly impossible for me to get a blog post written that I would have been happy with, so I just didn’t write one for Friday. Monday was an off day for me, and I spent the day doing (and recovering from) yard work. So, even though I mentally planned this blog entry, it just didn’t get done due to yard work. Now with that out of the way, on to the post . . .

Killmonger as a Hero?

As I’ve been reading through articles and texts on Afrofuturism, there has been quite a sentiment that I (also) heard when the movie first played: Killmonger could have been (and in more radical comments–should have been) the hero of the movie. Now, long-time readers of the blog know that I hate the new (although at this point, it’s fairly old) trend of trying to make the “villain” into the “hero” and vice-versa. I could only shake my head during the time. Despite my “anti-hero”/”villain” bias, I still knew that there was something wrong with that sentiment. I couldn’t put my finger on it, nor could I successfully articulate it (even to myself). However, as I’ve read more and more articles, I’ve finally discovered why I dislike this idea/ideology so much: to take Killmonger as the “hero” and to take his view is to ignore the actual theme of the movie–hate or love, which is more powerful?

Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate; Only Love Can Do That

In many ways, the Black Panther (T’Challa) vs Killmonger debate offers a rehash of the Martin Luther King, Jr/Malcolm X debate that occurred historically, which (although there were other more fundamental differences) boils down to violent vs non-violent protests for civil rights. Flash forward, and you still have that debate–now, T’Challa wonders if things done in the past can be forgiven (made right–and how does a “good” man/king do that) vs. Eric (who is bound by the past and can’t push forward). Eric wants to continue to fight the battle of the past and just cannot move forward. While he has a point–slavery (and injustices it engendered were wrong and horrifying)–he now wants to use violence to retaliate for past atrocities. One article that I read, while admitting that Killmonger’s violence is a problem, rationalizes that he is bad because he uses the violence indiscriminately–against both the “colonizers” and his own people. In other words, the authors had no problems that he was violent–just that he was violent to people of his own color/kind as well as to those out of his race.

The thing that T’Challa does that makes him a hero is that he can acknowledge the wrong, but then he can figure out how to try to find a solution and then to move on. Eric is all about revenge/avenge the past. He wants to perpetrate the same fear, the same destructive behaviors, just to a different group. In essence, Killmonger is all about flipping the dynamic on its head, while T’Challa is interested in changing the paradigm in a positive and helpful way. He is not interested in fighting the old battles or (more importantly) turning the same old tired paradigm upside down. Ultimately, the point I’m trying to make is that the avenge/revenge angle is one that is not correct, no matter what the authors of the articles (and popular sentiment) may want. In this case, T’Challa’s message parallels that of a Jedi–“Defend, never to attack.” Sure, you can remember the wrong, so as not to allow it to happen to you (or anyone else). Killmonger’s attitude is a “Do Unto Others as They Have Done Unto You” and this negatively affects both the man and the message–which is why the movie (and the hero) is ultimately T’Challa and his worldview.

Sidney

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E3 and Me–Color Me Intrigued

Toddler with a quizzical face with the caption "I'm intrigued: Do tell me more!"
Image Source: https://memegenerator.net/instance/75937215/thinkingbaby-im-intrigued-do-tell-me-more

So, now that E3 is over and the “dust” has settled, this post will be the last one to feature me talking explicitly about the conference. I may reference games/press conferences at a late date, but for the most part, this will be the last one devoted to the conference itself. Today, I wanted to briefly talk about the “maybes” of the confernce–games that I’m intrigued about and would like to learn more information about in order to make a more informed decision as to whether or not I will (at some point) get them. If nothing else, they have my attention–which, to be honest, is the whole point of E3.

Outriders

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoSin_yLyYI

This is probably the game I’m most intrigued about at the moment. Besides the fact that it is using a word that I’d like to use for my own project (but may not get to do so due to American Trademark laws), it has a very visual style and is something that looks unique and fun to play (based on the trailer). It is a very visual world, and characters that may have both powers along with gun play. Also, based on the number of characters in the trailer, it might also have a co-operative element where different players might be able to play together. This looks very interesting to me.

Deathloop

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgiMSSl2rZ0

So, this one is much more of a wildcard. I’m not so sure about this one. This one only showed a trailer, so I’m not sure what to make of this one. I think this one could be good as it looks like something that could have some interesting dynamics and it is made by a designer that is very invested in narratives so we’ll see. The problem is that cinematic trailers, without gameplay, doesn’t illustrate what gamers will be doing in the minute-to-minute action. As such, it is very hard to be more than intrigued until I find out more about the game.

Marvel’s Avengers

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZh4uQYDlsA

So this one is the one that I was most excited for when E3 started, but while the trailer is excellent (in terms of visuals), I’m much less interested in it than all the others on this list now that I’ve seen it. For one, even though it is less than a year away (11 months approx.), it has very little in the way of gameplay, which is a red flag to me. The short snippets of gameplay inside the trailer seems to be what I’m looking forward to in a game, but I’ll only know once I see more. Also, there are rumblings (rumors) that this game will be structured much like Destiny, Destiny 2, and Anthem. While (unlike some gamers), I’m not opposed to an online, co-op, Avengers game, I wish that it was structured differently.

Cyberpunk 2077

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2bFDPWOq5A

Lastly, this game is one that quite a bit of my enthusiasm has fallen for thanks to how hard CD Projekt Red, the development studio loves Microsoft and continues to use this game as a premiere game on their stage (even though it is for Playstation 4 and the PC as well). Even without that disadvantage out of the way, I’m not sure that the first person perspective is the best for this game. I really liked the 3rd person perspective of The Witcher games, but first person doesn’t really sell me on game. Also, the female protagonist version of the main character was shown the first time the company demoed this game, but it was the male version this time and the male version was the “generic guy” that we see in many sci-fi universes. Not very interesting.

Sidney

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E3 And Me–2019 Edition

Final Fantasy VII Remake characters looking out at the audience--Cloud and Tifa.
Image Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/10/18660638/square-enix-e3-games-trailers-announcements-final-fantasy-7-avengers-e3-2019

So, this is my annual look at E3 and the new games that are coming out over the next year. I’ll try to be more consistent in putting up the games that I’m interested in than I was last year (2018), but I won’t take over the blog with them like I did in 2017. I’ll probably just do one or two (at the max) per week.

However, based on what I’ve seen so far, this year seems to be more of a “winding down year.” Both Playstation and Microsoft have “talked about” (not formally announced, but discussed in fairly candid details) of the new systems that they are working and that are rumored (and expected) to come sometime in 2020. I think I heard one of the correspondents on YouTube refer to E3 this year as “lackluster.” However, there were some games that excited me, so I’ll talk about them briefly here.

Watchdogs Legion

Source: YouTube (Watch Dogs: Legion)

This game is a continuation of the Watch Dogs franchise. I’ve bought and played the two previous entries in this series. The 2nd game seemed a little cramped and I never finished it, although I still intend to go back at some point and seriously try to finish it. However, Watch Dogs Legion intrigued me because it shows not only the detailed open world that Ubisoft is known for, but also showed that the game allows you to recruit (supposedly) anyone from the game world to become part of the resistance. The premise looks cool as does the setting (the near future city of London), so I’m most definitely intrigued.

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order

Source: YouTube (Star wars: Jedi Fallen Order)

Okay, so this one is by EA and my disdain for some of their practices is well known. However, this one actually looks like it might be fun and interesting. I think that it really helps that it is a single player game and is focused on a strong narrative. Depending on how this development goes for the game, I’m may not pick it up immediately, but I actually may give it a look (which for a game published by EA) is an accomplishment.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Source: YouTube Final Fantasy 7 Remake

This is one that I’m personally looking forward to simply because, while I was around and knew about the original FFVII, I never played it–in its proper game form. I actually played a demo of it from a demo disc (remember those old things?). However, both my uncle and I had noticed the (unfortunate) tendency of JRPGs of the time period to follow the same “young boy who saves the Earth” motif. As such, I decided to pass on the series until FFXIII (I did also play the demo for FFX, and I really liked it and played it multiple times, but ultimately decided to pass on it). However, having put time into the Final Fantasy series, I’d like to see what this game has to offer. Yes, I know it doesn’t accurately replicate the original game, but I just want to get a sense of the story and characters (and for me, getting that in a new, shiny wrapper, just seals the deal).

Sidney

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Afrofuturism in Film

Afrofuturism movies: Unknown Movie, Black Panther, Get Out, and design for Afrofuturism.
Image Source: http://www.btglifestyle.com/blog/2018/03/12/afrofuturism-film/

I have a confession to make: I really like Afrofuturism in Films. That’s not much of an admission to you might say? Well, how’s this for one: I don’t really care for it in book form. I can tolerate it in its musical form, but the books have never really moved me in the way they seem to move others.

Why Not Books?

I think the reason is that the books tend to limit themselves far too much. Wait, let me qualify myself before I get myself into trouble. I may have mentioned that my uncle was a seminal presence in my literary life. He took me with him to the public library every month to check out books. Every month. While I had other interests besides fiction in terms of books that I checked out, fiction (specifically, science fiction and fantasy) were the primary genres that I engaged with as a reader (both in children’s books and in general fiction when I grew too old for children’s books). While my library didn’t buy “popular” materials at the time (or at least, not a lot of them), quite a few did end up in the collection as they received starred reviews in Library Journal or Booklist (which were the primary way books were ordered for the library back then). Now, I didn’t know this at the time and only found out that this was how books were decided on based on working there are seeing the process firsthand. However, surprisingly enough, two of the major writers that Afrofuturism has been formed around, Octavia Butler and Samuel Delany, reviewed well and we had a fairly large (5+ books) collection of their work at any one time (usually closer to 6-7 books on the shelf at any one time). I would, from time to time, pick up a book from these two authors, but put it down again after reading the blubs on the back and the inside covers as they were always dealing with some social issue. I wanted galactic empires, world universe conquerors (like Thanos), spaceships, and heroism. While good in their own way, Afrofuturism stories were nothing like what I wanted to read.

Afrofuturism in Film

Not so for film. Even excluding Black Panther for the moment, the films of Will Smith in the 90s and early 2000s alone accounted for what I was missing from the books. Independence Day, I, Robot, I Am Legend, Men in Black, and heck, even Hancock, all are films that really show a diversity in subject and a grandness in scope that I felt was missing from the books by celebrated African American authors–and to be honest, in some ways, I still feel that they’re missing even today.

Based on my reading from Ytasha Womack’s Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi Film and Culture I think I figured out the reason: the films use Afrofuturism tropes as a secondary consideration and not part of the main plot, while the books make it part of the main plot and interweave everything (plot, character, setting, all of it) as part of the narrative. For me, that falls more under the category of Social Sci-Fi (a legitimate sub-category of Sci-Fi) that is rarely used these days. Social sci-fi deals with the underlying structures of society and how future societies deal with their societal problems. While you might think this is rife for exploration for science fiction, these types of narratives tend to feature very little in the way of plot and external factors. Much like the absolute worse things about Game of Thrones they focus more on inter-character/societal dynamics and interactions than they do with actual plot or motivating (external factors). For me, as a reader, I find these the types of narrative the most annoying and the most aggravating to get through.

Now one might argue that this is the purest expression of Afrofuturism, but I would argue that it is the opposite. Black Panther featured an external conflict (Killmonger), but in an Afrofuturistic context–does Wakanda hide its wealth and abilities from the world or does it have a greater responsibility? That question is not at the forefront of the movie, but it is answered by the characterization of the hero (T’Challa/Black Panther) and his plot of overcoming his challenge/driving question (can a “good man” be King). The Afrofuturistic elements emerge through the telling of a great narrative–the narrative isn’t “hijacked” to serve the purpose of developing an Afrofuturistic society.

Now, I will probably read one or two of the representative works for , Butler and Delany so as to say that I’ve at least “read” them, but I already know from past experience, I won’t like them very much. For me, Afrofuturism only works if you can weave a compelling story around it–just creating an Afrocenric setting and culture in the future that runs into some sort of internal cultural conflict just isn’t enough to get me excited about the genre.

Sidney

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  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Year of the Shadow

Arched Shadows on Italian Wall
Image Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/shadows-arch-urban-city-sunshade-1456887/

This has been an idea kicking around for a while now, but I haven’t really been able to decide how to make it work until this year. I wanted to start it earlier this year, but was so focused on my preliminary tests that I didn’t really give it the time it deserved, but I finally figured out a way of making this “Year of the Shadow” work, so I’m going to work at it on the weekends and we’ll see what comes of it.

What the heck am I prattling about?

I’m talking about “The Year of the Shadow.”

Year of the Shadow

So what is the “Year of the Shadow.” Well, the short version is that is where I develop a character that I’ve already published in a story somewhere into multiple projects throughout the year. The long version is that when I was talking with Toni, a fellow Graduate Student and a Writing Consultant at the MTSU Writing Center, I felt that the stories that I’d already published meant that there was something there that intrigued editors enough to buy them and publish them and I should probably use those stories as starting points to help me create longer works with those same characters. She agreed and thought that would be a great idea. I started with Tana from my short story “Ship of Shadows.” This is where the idea for the Graphic Novel came from. However, I got stuck shortly afterwards because I didn’t really know where to go with. I thought I was “unstuck” a couple of weeks ago, but when I tried to write it, I found I still didn’t know what the purpose of the story truly was and discovered that I still felt lost in the story.

Year of Tana

I could have almost entitled this the Year of Tana because my goal is now to focus on the character Tana from Ship of Shadows. In the short story, Tana is a “pilot” of a DSRV. My graphic novel will (hopefully) show how Tana goes from a pilot to a captain. The novel that I’m planning for her will show how navigates being captain and being her own independent contractor/small business owner as she struggles with both crew issues, finding ways to make money, and external issues. I intend to branch off and do a “variant” version of Tana for a screenplay where we see an alternate version of Tana and see her parents for the first time. Finally, I hope to finish off the year with a Pilot for a TV show going back to the novel and using Tana’s adventures there as my guide.

52 Weeks

I’m already 16-17 weeks behind schedule, but I didn’t really have plan earlier (or rather, I had a very nebulous plan), so I can’t really worry about the time lost. All I can do is work hard to make sure that now that I have a plan in mind, to devote time each weekend to making the plan work to the best of my ability. So, while I’m about 17 weeks behind, “The Year of the Shadow” has now commenced.

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