Sunday, 06 November 2005

Female Sci-Fi Fans Hate, Love Keanu Steeled against all stuff distaff and with every intent to insult, Adam Roberts characterizes the appeal of science fiction to its legion female fans as follows: "[The Matrix] had Keanu Reeves running around in leather, which helped." Debate and hilarity ensue: Cheryl admonishes to him to abandon his closet: "I’m not sure what Adam Roberts has been smoking though. You might want to watch Keanu Reeves running around in leather, Adam dear, but I have better things to do with my life." Book Stud (who, despite her name, is a woman) comes to his defense: "And I think we can all agree on the leather – whether it’s worn by Keanu or Carrie Ann. Mmmm, leather." Adam Roberts also does a decent job defending him . . . oh, I see now, himself. Good show! Denizens of Slashdot, on the other hand, started to discuss the article but were quickly derailed by talk of short skirts and concluded by praising LINUX. I feel no need to defend him, as the women I know who watch science-fiction—wife excluded, since she never watched science fiction prior to our hooking up— say things "Keanu, leather, Mm, Keanu, Dance Party Zion, Mmm, The Groosalugg, calf-skin, bulging pecs, Mmmm." So I don't doubt that the mainstreaming of science fiction over the past decade has had two effects: 1) more Mmmm-worthy actors and actresses starring in science fiction films and series and 2) more high quality directors and writers willing to work on them. This logic even applies to the scum clinging to the underside of the barrel. Just compare the production values of this to those of this. (Thanks to Rich for pointing this out.)
Faith in Novelists; or, Vampires? Vampires? Today I learned that Octavia Butler's published a new novel. It is not the final installment in her Parable series, I add with anger born of deep disappointment. (Parable of the Talents ranks among her best works and I've been awaiting the next volume for what feels like decades now.) It's called Fledgling and it's about . . . vampires. The strength of my reluctance to read another novel about vampires so long as I live falls somewhere between Schwarzeneggerian and Samsonian.[1] Why the reluctance? Her name is Ann Rice. Her Halloween parties were notorious in N'awlins as I adolesced and I attended more than I could care to. Watching all the "vampires" stalk her beautiful home in a desperate attempt to impress her . . . or even worse, witnessing the same conversation circle the room after Interview with the Vampire hit the silver screen: "Is that Brad Pitt? I don't know. I heard he's in costume." "There's Tom Cruise! You can tell 'cause he's so short." So I don't like vampires or novels about vampires or films about vampires or tele . . . nevermind, I love the only television show I've ever watched about vampires. What separated Buffy the Vampire Slayer from all the nocturnal emissions of self-identifying goths? In 500 words or less: Joss Whedon. The show bore his fingerprints. When it didn't—when I had to dust the set for evidence of his presence—it stumbled. Over nothing. But somehow still managed to powderize every bone its body in the stumbling. Point being: I trust Mr. Whedon's ability to spin a yarn I want to hear. I trust Butler too. I didn't think I'd want to read books co-opted by every fad to strike academic pavement these past decades: feminism, post-colonialism, post-humanism, critical race theory, and I could continue. But her novels are smarter than academia's reductive readings let on. If ideas are bowling pins then Butler juggles them deftly, letting them light briefly on her fingertips before sending them into the air again . . . for academics to grab and run away with. That's the Butler I first encounter: a juggler with no pins to juggle. But as I read her works I realized that she's one of those not-rare-at-all authors who's much more intelligent than her critics suggest (or are); that the ideas they swipe from her air are handled improperly. I have so much faith in her at this point that I'm almost inclined to read Fledgling. I've got my finger on the "Two Day 1-Click" button and I'm not afraid to press it. So I am. But I shouldn't be. Implicit faith should be implicit faith? When you think about it, this issue isn't entirely divorced from what I was talking about the other day. Do you have faith in thems that speak or do you desire content above all else? [1] Random blip: Has anyone else who knows German had the misfortune of accidentally reading Arnold's name? I know what the...

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