November 1, 2011

Day One of NaNoWriMo - It's on!

Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!
I suppose to begin I should explain what NaNoWriMo is. It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it is what it sounds like: the month of November devoted to the painful endeavour of writing an entire novel. More specifically, the goal of participants of NaNoWriMo is to complete a first draft of 50,000 words, an average of 1,666 words every frigging day. Personally, I'm not participating in the traditional NaNoWriMo sense of planning, structuring, outlining and drafting an entire novel in a single month, from start to finish. Instead, I'm using the event as motivation for moving my already begun project from mid-completion to ending. Definitely taking advantaged of the NaNoWriMo site to get pep talks, participate in forum discussions with other writers, bounce ideas, and pop in for some community write-ins in Toronto. Such events exist in many regions worldwide. In TO there are write-ins in libraries and cafes, as well as social events at cool venues such as Snakes and Lattes on Bloor and Karaoke. Basically, make friends with other writers and create a support system for yourself. NaNoWriMo is looking for participants and donors to cover their costs. You can also participate by sponsoring a friend to write a novel (pick me! pick me!) If you're new to NaNoWriMo, you can get a mentorship, and visit message boards within your genre, your region, age etc. Definitely look into participating if you never have before. You'll be a newbie, like me! Contact if you want a writing buddy!

October 28, 2011

Revisiting Eragon in the Wait for Inheritance

It goes without saying to anyone who has read the Inheritance Cycle, books 1 to 3, that what makes this dragon story stand out from all of the others is the character of Saphira. In fact, we are told early and often that dragons in Paolini's world are as self-aware, strong-willed and intelligent as humans are, but what we are not spoon-fed is the realisation of what a powerful character she is. We are told that dragons are more powerful, wise and majestic than humans, and Eragon feels she is a little bit alien to him in her nature. It's somewhat obvious that a dragon should have a very different character, personality and nature to a human but I'm not sure if anyone has really succeeded at it like Paolini. I mean, how does a human write a non-human character?

October 26, 2011

Donnie Darko and More Time Travel [Review Time]

If the sky were to suddenly open up, there would be no law, there would be no rule. There would only be you and your memories.
You know how I love cult movies. Donnie Darko was a low budget film at 4.5 million, and didn't even manage to make that much back at the box office. It only started to have mass appeal as it spread as a cult phenomenon. Take a look at the 2001 trailer, and I think you'll see why this film didn't attract a widespread audience. It's difficult to really tell what this movie is about, what to expect, and that doesn't exactly change upon watching it. This is definitely a very complex movie with many undercurrents that are difficult to grapple with. A lot goes unsaid.

October 24, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [review by starlight]

In the evening he went to the cinema to see The Lord of the Rings, which he had never before had time to see. He thought that orcs, unlike human beings, were simple and uncomplicated creatures.
There's nothing like an impending movie release from a great director like Fincher to motivate a reading race in this reviewer. Of course I couldn't not notice this bestseller and its sequels gracing the bookshelves over the past few years, nor could I resist the urge to pick up something popular this decade after years within the scholarly bubble. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo turned out to be the perfect modern period piece, with issues on many levels - from personal, to corporate, to international intrigue.

October 18, 2011

Source Code and Alternate Histories [review by starlight]

"It's the same train, but it's different..." "Deep! I hope it's different."
Ok, I know we can't stand Jake Gyllenhaal's face anymore, and no matter how excellent a performance he pulled off in Donnie Darko and Brokeback Mountain we will never forgive him for even considering doing Prince of Persia, but Source Code ain't bad. We even get to see a little bit of his earlier talent seep through. Colter Stevens is a pretty cool character. Kind of like if Jack Bower was given 8 minutes to stop a terrorist instead of 24 hours. But it's fitting because it's in the future, where everything moves faster.

October 5, 2011

New Spring, a Prequel by Robert Jordan [review time]

For a novel expected to deliver on that idyllic moment when Lan agrees to be Moiraine's warder, New Spring is largely ineffectual. It certainly didn't contain what I expected from the prequel. I mean, I expected Jordan to have a hard time being concise and moving the plot at a decent pace, but I also expected that he would be able to reign himself in and make sure he accomplished everything he could with the novel set at the time of Rand's birth. Like perhaps actually spanning the 20 years between when Rand was born and when Moiraine found him in Emond's Field. Surely I can't be the only person who actually expected Jordan to cover all that material. But of course, our Creator isn't known for spanning decades with leaps and bounds in a mere 360 pages. He's better known for covering a few months in 900.

September 19, 2011

Heretics of Dune [review time]

The fifth in Herbert's Dune series, Heretics sums up the shortcomings and accomplishments of the series. Long-winded and large scope, it misses the mark in creating tension for the reader, but we'll give it a break out of love. Heretics delivers on the promises made by Book 1, but do we really care anymore? Our hero Paul Atreides is long dead and his descendants are involved in a power struggle between the Bene Gesserit and the Tleilaxu. The problem is, either we don't have all of the pieces of the puzzle, or this puzzle is not complex enough to be worthy of settling the matter of universal domination.

August 9, 2011

The Road by Cormac McCarthy [review time]

"He thought perhaps they'd come to warn him. Of what? That he could not enkindle in the heart of the child what was ashes in his own. Even now some part of him wished they'd never found this refuge. Some part of him always wished it to be over."
An incredible literary author takes a stab at post-apocalyptic fiction - and nails it. The Road is chilling, deliberate, and beautifully written. It opens up many avenues of thought and questioning with a poetic hand while still giving horror-seekers the thrill they are after. The last of the human race after an unexplained armageddon run and hide from those turned to cannibalism and human-farming to fill their bellies. McCarthy claims that this story was written to say something about his relationship with his son, and the dead land-scape of a fallen America is the setting for his message: that we do what we can to pass on our values to our children, who must eventually replace us.

The protagonist of the novel is known only as "the man", his son, "the boy." This could really be a story about any man in the post-apocalyptic situation, travelling from the northern US to warmer climes in a desperate attempt at survival. He is unnamed and largely uncharacterized, leaving plenty of room to relate to him. The man knows that he will not always be there to protect the boy, and has to teach him to make it in the world on his own - not only in a practical sense, but also as one of the last of the human race. The story is about keeping humanity alive and passing down what makes us human even when our entire civilization is gone.

The story is largely driven by the quest for food, and basic survival. The Road is so bleak and depressing that we get excited even when the man finds shrivelled dry apples to live off for a while, to keep going, keep trekking onward and "carrying to fire." Driving home the horrors of this world are some very graphic images and the constant feel of being hunted and tracked throughout the novel. The Road is darkly horrifying, yet satisfying.

August 8, 2011

Not sure what to make of this: The Road by Cormac McCarthy [musing time]

There's just one passage of McCarthy's The Road in the first person and I'm really not sure what to make of it! Really neat but it seems very out of place and also contains some breaks in continuity. I have an exam tomorrow in which I want to write about this, I'd love to see what other people think about it! Here is the passage:

The dog that he remembers followed us for two days. I tried to coax it to come but it would not. I made a noose of wire to catch it. There were three cartridges in the pistol. None to spare. She walked away down the road. The boy looked after her and then he looked at me and then he looked at the dog and he began to cry and to beg for the dog's life and I promised I would not hurt the dog. A trellis of a dog with the hide stretched over it. The next day it was gone. That is the dog he remembers. He doesn't remember any little boys.

August 5, 2011

Subjectivity of Nature in Tinkers by Paul Harding [review time]

Paul Harding’s Tinkers is concerned with the separation between man and nature, an important theme of literature since Romantic Poetry. Humanity is incapable of experiencing nature objectively; it can only be experienced subjectively in that it is always coloured by human interpretation. Tinkers has many of what I will call Borealis pieces, where one of George's grandsons reads to him from an old journal in his handwriting. The natural experience is filtered through a human perspective in these pieces, and human actions disrupt the natural scenes. Human, man-made objects also intrude on these passages. Personification assimilates nature to humanity rather than understanding what nature really is. The Borealis pieces in Tinkers draw attention to the subjectivity of nature in its impenetrability from human understanding.

August 3, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 [review time]

"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?"
What I expected when heading to the theatre to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was to be wildly excited to see the final installment unfold before me, accompanied by underwhelment at the actual quality of the film. Other than a few inaccuracies to the book, I would argue that the film may have been one of the best in the series. Then again, the goosebumps I felt during the epilogue scene were probably from the expectation of greatness due to my love of the book much more than anything the film actually achieved. Yep, kind of have to say this was pure fanservice.

August 2, 2011

Buffyverse on Twitter

So, if you're like me, you want your Twitter feed to be full of tweets from your favourite celebs, and what actors could be more charming and hilarious than Whedon's faves? So here's a few of your favourite Buffyverse characters and the names you can find them under on Twitter. Just to let you know right off the bat, our hero Miss Buffy Summers doesn't have a certified Twitter account. You won't find Sarah Michelle Gellar on Twitter, but I'll update this if she ever gets an account.

August 1, 2011

So Many Firefly Quotes, So Little Time.

I was really surprised to find upon rewatching an episode in the series that many of my favourite quotations came from the pilot episode, Serenity, alone. Here are a few of them:

Mal: We're not gonna die. We can't die, Bendis. And you know why? Because we are so... very... pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die. Huh? Look at that chiseled jaw, huh? Come on!

July 31, 2011

James Cameron, Terminator 2 [Musings and Review]

"There's no fate but what we make for ourselves."

Just a few thoughts on Terminator 2 as I watched it last night.

Great story about mankind being wiped out by machines. I noticed the point keeps being driven home that it's man that is a force of destruction. Sarah Connor and her son John are repeatedly placing the blame and responsibility for what's happening on human nature.
"The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope. Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too."

July 30, 2011

Reading Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club [review time]

"Well. Whatever. You can't teach God anything."
It's very hard to review this book without comparing it to the movie, but Fight Club as a novel really impressed me. It's unsurprising, given that typically an original book will be better than it's screen adaptation, but Fight Club is a rare case where the movie comes close and in some ways even supersedes the novel. The ending of the film adaptation has been praised by critics, but I find that it's very epic and world-relevant - it makes a clear point about Tyler and what he wants for society, his world view - where the novel's ending is more character-centred and I find it magnificent. If you haven't picked up this book yet, you really should. The movie stayed fairly close in terms of plot and even specific scenes, but there are extra goodies that you'll really enjoy if you're into Tyler Durden's philosophy.

July 23, 2011

Romance in Battlestar Gallactica? [review time]

Love is a strange and wonderful thing, Chief — you be happy you experienced it all — even if it was with a machine. -Gaius Baltar
Ok, I'm going to go ahead and be the girl here and talk about romance in Battlestar Gallactica, but it's not what you think. I'm not going to go all Team Tyrol on you or moon over how sexy Apollo is and how perfect he is for Starbuck and how I'd throw Dualla out of an airlock. Actually, I find most of the love subplots on BSG to be very trivial and unrelatable, but since I find the show to be incredibly masterful, I'm going to argue that these love affairs really contribute to the overall themes of the story. Because there is a pattern here. Some might say the drama between romantically involved characters was a filler addition to BSG aimed toward mass appeal, but I'm going to say that this drama was necessary to the show. I'm two seasons in right now and I find that it's the human relationships on the show that are fickle, shallow and unrelatable, while somehow the Cylons are capable of meaningful relationships, involving commitment, and inspiring of unconditional love.

July 5, 2011

Excited for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2! What a mouthful. Midnight showing July 14th? I think so!

July 4, 2011

Fantasy in Paul Harding's Tinkers [story time]

It seemed to me as if my father simply faded away. He became more and more difficult to see. One day, I thought he was sitting in his chair at his desk, writing. To all appearances, he scribbled at a sheet of paper. When I asked him where the bag for apple picking was, he disappeared. I could not tell whether he had been there in the first place or if I had asked my question to some lingering afterimage. He leaked out of the world gradually, though. At first, he seemed merely vague or peripheral. But then he could no longer furnish the proper frame for his clothes. He would ask me a question from behind the box on which I sat shelling peas or peeling potatoes for my mother, and when I answered and received no reply back, I would turn around, to find his hat or belt or a single shoe sitting in the door frame as if placed there by a mischievous child. The end came when we could no longer even see him, but felt him in brief disturbances of shadows or light, or as a slight pressure, as if the space one occupied suddenly had had something more packed into it, or we'd catch some faint scent out of season, such as the snow melting into the wool of his winter coat, but on a blistering August noon, as if the last few times I felt him as another being rather than as a recollection, he had thought to check up on this world at the wrong moment and accidentally stepped from whatever wintry place he was straight into the dog days. And it seems that doing so only confirmed to him his fate to fade away, his being in the wrong place, so that during these startled visits, although I could not see him, I could feel his surprise, his bafflement, the dismay felt in a dream when you suddenly meet the brother you forgot you had or remember theinfant you left on the hillside miles away, hours ago, because somehow you were distracted and somehow you came to believe in a different life and your shock at these terrible recollections, these sudden reunions, comes as much from your sorrow at what you have neglected as it does from dismay at how thoroughly and quickly you came tobelieve in something else. And that other world that you first dreamed is always better if not real, because in it you have not jilted your lo lover, forsaken your child, turned your back on your brother. The world fell away from my father the way he fell away from us. We became his dream.

Another time, I found him fumbling for an apple in the barrel we kept in the basement. I could just make him out in the gloom. Each time he tried to grab a piece of fruit, it eluded him, or I might say he eluded it, as his grasp was no stronger than a draftof air threading through a crack in a window. He succeeded once, after appearing toconcentrate for a moment, in upsetting an apple from its place at the top of the pile, but it merely tumbled down along the backs of the other apples and came to rest against themouth of the barrel. It seemed to me that even if I could pick an apple up with my failing hands, how could I bite it with my dissipating teeth, digest it with my ethereal gut? Irealized that this thought was not my own but, rather, my father's, that even his ideaswere leaking out of his former self. Hands, teeth, gut, thoughts even, were all simplymore or less convenient to human circumstance, and as my father was receding fromhuman circumstance, so, too, were all of these particulars, back to some unknowable froth where they might be reassigned to be stars or belt buckles, lunar dust or railroadspikes. Perhaps they already were all of these things and my father's fading was because he realized this: My goodness, I am made from planets and wood, diamonds and orange peels, now and then, here and there; the iron in my blood was once the blade of a Roman plow; peel back my scalp and you will see my cranium covered in the scrimshaw carved by an ancient sailor who never suspected that he was whittling at my skull-no, my blood is a Roman plow, my bones are being etched by men with names that mean sea wrestler and ocean rider and the pictures they are making are pictures of northern stars at different seasons, and the man keeping my blood straight as it splits the soil is named Lucian andhe will plant wheat, and I cannot concentrate on this apple, this apple, and the only thing common to all of this is that I feel sorrow so deep, it must be love, and they are upset because while they are carving and plowing they are troubled by visions of trying to pick apples from barrels. I looked away and ran back upstairs, skipping the ones that creaked,so that I would not embarrass my father, who had not quite yet turned back from clay into light.

-Paul Harding

June 23, 2011

Pottermore Announced!

(Click on it for a full size)

I was a little underwhelmed by the Pottermore announcement - until I saw this image! Looks incredible. From what Rowling said, it seemed to me this would just be something along the lines of an RP/Fanfiction site, the only difference with those already found on the internet being bonus features - Rowling's own additions. But look! House points! If this is something closer to a great Hogwarts themed RPG, then I'm super excited!

Let's hope this leaked image is the real deal, and not someone's clever ploy ;)

June 17, 2011

More Potter! JK Rowling launches for an exciting announcement! [breaking news musing]

The countdown is on to a big Rowling announcement in 5 days time! This sounds really exciting, like something I've been waiting for for the past 4 years since The Deathly Hallows came out, but let's not get our hopes up that there will be a Harry Potter 8. Speculation is that it could just be a Harry Potter themed Android phone (lame). On the other hand, if there are to be further Harry Potter books, is this really a good thing? Can Rowling keep up the quality of the previous 7 books?

I know I'll be the super optimist, don't get me wrong. Just hope I'm not let down! I hope there's more Harry Potter books to come, and I hope they'll be amazing!

At first I thought it would be best to wait to hear what the news is before starting the debate, but I'm curious - what do you think the announcement could be, how likely do you think it is that we're talking more HP books, and do you think this would be a good thing? Let me know what you think!

June 1, 2011

Beloved by Toni Morrison - Ghost Story or Psychological Thriller? [review by starlight]

"Why was there nothing it refused? No misery, no regret, no hateful picture too rotten to accept? Like a greedy child it snatched up everything. Just once, could it say, No thank you? I just ate and can't hold another bite?"
This is not a story to pass on. At least, that's the refrain of this dark tale of life after slavery. It really is a story that should be passed on, because it seems as though we've forgotten the horrifying brutality of slavery in America. If the novel ends by saying that this is not a story to pass on, it begins by dedicating itself to the "sixty million and more" black slaves brought across from Africa, a few million of whom died on the journey across. Many stories of freedom focus on the stiff upper lips, the singing in the fields, the heads held high against all adversity, despite every misfortune thrown against them, and the awaiting of a brighter future.

May 28, 2011

Weezer Covers Radiohead's Paranoid Android [breaking news musing]

Please could you stop the noise, I'm trying to get some rest
From all the unborn chicken voices in my head
Weezer released an excellent cover of the popular Radiohead song today, and it's an instant youtube sensation, with over 100k views already. Check it out.

They stayed fairly true to the original, which is always nice. Then again, sometimes it's interesting to see a newer band's unique take on a "classic". I like it, in any case. What do you think?

May 24, 2011

Box Office Treasure Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides [breaking news musing]

Despite my hopes for humanity, the fourth installment of the Pirates franchise managed to bring in $90.1 million on opening weekend. I'd really been hoping that people would be able to tell this would be a stinker, but what can you do. The temptation of 3D is partly at play here, as well as high hopes from the quality of the past three films. I'm surprised people still haven't realised that the pattern with Pirates of the Caribbean has been a decline in quality. The Curse of the Black Pearl has been able to maintain a respectable 8.0 rating on IMDB, Dead Man's Chest has a 7.3, and At World's End has a 7.0. As you can see, the movies have gotten successively worse.

If you check out IMDB right now, On Stranger Tides will have something like a 7.2 rating. If you're unfamiliar with how IMDB works, don't get excited. Ratings always start really high with a new blockbuster, and drop really low with time if the movie doesn't hold up against harsher critics. At the time of writing, it only has 11,000 votes, as opposed to CotBP with 268k.

Why am I smashing the new Pirates movie without writing a full-on review? Come on, I'm not made of money. I can't go buy movie tickets for every p.o.s. movie that comes out. The reviews I've heard are mixed, the highest praise being that it continues to deliver juicy fan-fair, and the lowest being that it was a convoluted piece of garbage. Don't be surprised when On Stranger Tides sinks over the next few weeks.

May 20, 2011

The Rapture - So when the world doesn't start to end tomorrow...

Who wants to buy a copy of Atheist Tales?

Click here for good post-Rapture reading. Just sayin'.

Although I must stand by a firm belief that nothing of interest will happen on May 21, 2011 (which by the way is my baby sister's 21st birthday, so go to hell Mr. Camping), I wouldn't object to anyone's taking Pascal's Wager. Go ahead, confess your sins and decide to believe in God to avoid eternal damnation, that's a freakin' high stake. When the world doesn't end tomorrow only you (and a priest who can't see your face) will know what a fool you were :)

May 15, 2011

Blogging about Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, starring Neil Patrick Harris, by Joss Whedon [review by starlight]

"And by the way it's not about making money, it's about taking money. Destroying the status quo because the status is not quo. The world is a mess and I just need to rule it."
Dr. Horrible is just another of those nerdy cult things that requires a few watches to really fall in love with, which in my opinion makes a great piece of "film". Of course, Dr. Horrible is difficult to classify as either movie or tv series because it is too long to be a short flim, too short to be a movie, and there's only one episode. So maybe it's a single-episode TV show? Anyways, if you like either Joss Whedon or Neil Patrick Harris, there's really no downside to taking about 40 minutes out of your life to enjoy this weirdly unclassifiable piece of... whatever it is.

April 28, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Trailer [breaking news musing]

As always, I cried as I watched this. I don't know why Harry Potter trailers do this to me. The trailers are better than the films. Except for the part when they spoil the ending by showing clips of Harry fighting Voldemort. I hate when they do that.

I'm excited for this movie, because there's no way it could -not- be epic. They just can't screw it up... can they? In theatres July 15, 2011.

April 27, 2011

Atheist Tales - "A New Beginning" by Bill R. Moore [review by starlight]

"As centuries turned into millennia, and millennia into eons, Their job was at last done. The creatures whose bodies They now inhabited were newly sentient."
Upon first reading Moore's Atheist Tale, I found I was at a loss for what the story was trying to get across - which makes it an instant masterpiece, in my books. In a way, it was a peculiar choice to start off the anthology with, because it isn't what one would expect from a collection of short stories about Atheism. When you pick up this antho, no doubt you'll be looking for stories condemning religion, arguing against the existence of God, and pointing out the absurdities propagated by the Bible. Moore's story, at least at surface level, does none of these things. Instead, Moore creates a piece that really gets you thinking about our preconceptions about the world, whether we are atheistic or religious. It's difficult to tell at first glance what this story is really about, and I'v decided that it's a great opener for that reason - it challenges the reader's expectations right from the get go.

Now I would love to leave it up to each of you to figure out how Moore's story promotes freethinking atheism, but I can't resist telling you what I think, myself.

April 26, 2011

Why you should re-read The Lord of the Rings [review of The Two Towers]

Where now are the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fir glowing?
Where is the spring an the harvest and the tall corn growing?

They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?
It's time to read The Lord of the Rings again. I know it, you know it, so get on it. What's it been, five years? Ten? I know why you're avoiding this. You love these books, you watch the movies all the time, but it just seems so daunting, reading all one thousand pages, paying attention to all those characters, places, the history, the scenery. I know it seems like a lot of work, but you've done it once before. And today I'm going to tell you why it only get easier - if you've watched the films 50 times like a good citizen of the 21st century.

April 25, 2011

Atheist Tales - "Dear Theologian" by Dan Barker [review by starlight]

"I know that I exist. I know that I could not have created myself. I also know there is no higher God that could have created me. Since I can't look above myself, then perhaps I should look below myself for a creator. Perhaps - this is speculative, so bear with me - perhaps you created me." -God

I couldn't help but skip to Dan Barker's Atheist Tale after all the hype it's gotten. Originally published in Barker's Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists, this stand-alone story is a fictional letter from God to a doctor of theology, asking the same questions man has asked for centuries. God is very confused as to how he came into existence, how he is expected to be the ultimate judge of morality, and what his purpose is. It's a rational argument that combats all of the typical theological debates, and put in the mouth of the Big Man himself, it's very convincing.

April 21, 2011

Well, I just can't help but post about Buffy... again [rant and rave]

"And they have no purpose that unites them, so they just drift around, blundering through life until they die, which they-they know is coming, yet every single one of them is surprised when it happens to them. They're incapable of thinking about what they want beyond the moment. They kill each other, which is clearly insane... and yet here's the thing. When it's something that really matters, they fight. I mean, they're lame morons for fighting, but they do! They never... they never quit. So I guess I'll keep fighting too." -Anya on Humanity
After watching the series finale of Buffy for the first time, I found I had a bit of a rant in me. Don't get me wrong, it was thrilling, there's just one flaw. But please, allow me to begin with how great a conclusion my hero, Lord Whedon, came up with, and rave about how it made me cry and cry and cry, and how everything went as it was meant to - including who lives and dies.

April 19, 2011

Atheist Tales - "Resuscitation" by James Hickey [review by starlight]

"Since consciousness has arisen in our species, the stark face of this truth about our final fate has fed life-after-death fantasies that are impossible to sustain..."
Hickey's Atheist Tale, entitled 'Resuscitation', takes on the idea of the afterlife and all of its flaws using (or maybe inspiring) the anthology's tagline - "Fiction, Not Lies". Hickey's story uses sci-fi to posit what would happen if we had near-indisputable proof that heaven did not exist, and his conclusions are terrifying and believable, following Aristotle's principles of fiction that it is more important for a story to be believable than true. He doesn't, however, expect the reader to believe the story to be true, as humanity has been expected to believe of the bible.

April 18, 2011

Open-ended Sci-Fi: Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys [review by starlight]

"Ah! Ah! There's no right, there's no wrong, there's only popular opinion. You... you... you believe in germs, right?"
The immortal and yet completely loony words of Jeffrey Goines in 12 Monkeys really hint at the point of this film. No one interpretation is right or wrong, but throughout human history we've tended to assume that the majority is correct, even if the minority is one Galileo Galilie. Or, to use Jeffrey's example, the first scientists to come up with the idea of bacteria. Science fiction is a genre that works beautifully with an open-ended approach, where the credits roll and there is no one answer as to what just happened (much as I observed in Mulholland Dr). We really are given nothing conclusive at the end of 12 Monkeys, but of course, watchers everywhere have come up with many theories. And who's to say that the least advocated one is any less likely to be the correct? The majority used to think that the sun was one of seven planets visible to the naked eye that revolved around the earth. Shows what the majority knows.

April 12, 2011

Atheist Tales - "It's All About Soul" by Jane Gallagher [review by starlight]

"You humans - and their clones - have a bizarre interpretation of how we work, but this is the basic idea: this is a private club... You don't get in."
This is a laugh-out-loud short story included in Atheist Tales that, in my mind, really points out the absurdity of many of the rules in religion. In fact, it pokes fun at a lot of things. The idea of some beings having souls and others not, the idea of one religion being the right one and all believers of other creeds being ---- out of luck, and the image of heaven with a door man who is essentially just a bouncer at a nightclub.

I loved this one because it is very light-hearted and humorous, but with a really strong point. The more you think about it, the funnier faith becomes. It doesn't matter how strictly you observe what Gallagher calls "the morals" as if they are legal precedents, what matters are arbitrary distinctions such as whether a human being was made by God or by a doctor's mixing bowl. By making her story very futuristic, Gallagher gets to play with the religious concerns about advancing technology and cloning, and the way she puts it just really hits the nail on the head and draws attention to how ridiculous it all is. A perfect example of how speculative fiction, in this case sci-fi, can be used to comment on religious faith, and a barrel of laughs to boot.

By the way: the image is pretty random, it's Ed Norton in this movie where he plays both brothers in a set of twins. It has nothing to do with Atheism or cloning, but I loooove Ed Norton :)

April 11, 2011

Angel Season 4, Awakening [musing, with spoilers]

What made this episode, entitled Awakening, so incredible is that Joss Whedon gives us an ending to all of the show's current issues tied up in a nice little bow, and then dismantles it all, and with just a single line, leaves the whole thing in a painful, ugly mess. The plots had all been resolved with a disappointingly fairy-tale ending, and I can't believe I didn't expect that Whedon would pull something along the lines of the "it was all a dream" ending, except far more spectacular.

April 6, 2011

The Allegory of the Matrix [musing time]

"I was looking for an answer. It's the question that drives us, Neo. It's the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did."

The above quotation occurs early in the film, and is probably the first indication that this movie has a much deeper meaning than meets the eye. I think when most people watch The Matrix, they see a hard sci-fi action flick with an interesting premise and a guy who can dodge bullets. New breakthroughs in cinematography, a dystopia with the twist that our world is really just a computer simulation, cool black shades and lots of guns. But what these lines spoken by Trinity do for the film is pull the audience into the world of The Matrix and include them in Neo's struggle. Not the struggle against machines that have enslaved humanity, but his struggle against enslavement of the mind - something the Watchowskis are claiming affects us all.

April 4, 2011

A hint of what's to come - Leonard D. Hilley's Predators of Darkness [breaking news musing]

In the weeks to come, I've got a lot on my plate. A few blogging commitments, many post ideas and lots of life keeping me busy. I've promised to review each of the stories in Atheist Tales once my copy arrives, and that is very important to me. But what's also important to me is reading and reviewing Predators of Darkness, an indie book available in ebook format, written by Leonard D. Hilley II.

March 29, 2011

Dean Koontz, Watchers [review by starlight]

"We have a responsibility to stand watch over one another, we are watchers, all of us, watchers, guarding against the darkness." 

Watchers is an early suspense novel from Koontz, which cemented his career as a best-selling author and competitor in the horror/sci-fi genre Stephen King had already begun to dominate. The premise is clearly imaginative - Travis Cornell has come to believe that he is cursed to a life of love and loss, and he comes across an incredibly intelligent dog in the wilderness of the Santa Barbara mountain range in California. At the same time he feels he and the dog are being tracked by an unnatural, inhuman stalker, which at first he takes to be a mountain lion or something of the sort, but he is soon filled with such a primordial fear that he feels something else is prowling after them. The dog, named Einstein for his human-like intellect, finds ways to communicate his fears to Travis, who has to uncover two mysteries - how did this freakishly smart dog come to be a stray wandering a forest, and what is Einstein so afraid of?

March 23, 2011

Christopher Paolini announces new Eragon book, entitled Inheritance (Nov 8, 2011) [breaking news musing]

An announcement came out from, sharing the title of the last book of the Inheritance Cycle. It's called Inheritance. Very original.

The last book, Brisingr, also suffered from a lack of an original title, although it may not seem so. The word means fire in Paolini's elvish/magical language, and was pretty much the obvious choice. Brisingr was released in late 2008, so the coming of Inheritance has been long in the making, and readers were quite demanding of news for the final installment. Now we've been given the release date, November 8 2011, so we can prepare for the final 6 months before the book is finally available, 3 years after its predecessor.

So I know what I'm rereading and blogging about over the summer. I'm curious as to whether I will still enjoy Eragon, Eldest and Brisingr as an adult reader. I guess I'll let you know.

March 22, 2011

Black Holes and Revelations, A Stellar Muse Album [review by starlight]

Our hopes and expectations/Black holes and revelations

I am in no way qualified to review music. Sure, I've been listening to the stuff for the greater part of 22 years, but I am not a musician. I can't comment on the subtleties and complexities of texture, or the talent required to compose and play these songs. But I've been wanting to discuss Black Holes and Revelations on my blog for some time. It has some very interesting speculative aspects to it, and I'd like to recommend this record to anyone who likes new prog rock... or just music at all. I think it's really accessible to anyone. Even if pop music is your thing, songs like Starlight will catch your attention.

March 21, 2011

Twitter turns 5 today - happy anniversary, tweeters [breaking news musing]

It's twitters fifth anniversary today. The first tweet was sent on March 21st, 2006.

Just wanted to take a second to say what I like about Twitter. I've always liked to have an outlet to speak my mind, which is a pretty obvious thing for a blogger to say, but it's true. Before my first blog (on xanga), I loved when MSN got that status bar type thing where you could post song lyrics, a funny thought, a description of yourself etc. I liked that I could post something personal, or not, and that it wasn't intrusive because no one would see it unless they were looking for it. If they wanted to talk to me or wanted to know what's going on in my life, they could see this little blurb, but otherwise, they would never have to see. And I can be very annoying with my random thoughts!

March 19, 2011

Atheist Tales - It's coming [story time by starlight]

Here's the website. Still not available to order yet but today it was published. Just waiting on distributors.

Follow on twitter @atheisttales. There's also a page on Facebook.

Thanks for the support!

What is Atheist Tales you ask? Check it out here.

March 17, 2011

Why we love Christopher Nolan's Inception [review by starlight]

InceptionIt's the action packed heist movie with the best of special effects, taking place inside the psyche. It's Leonardo DiCaprio all intense and grown up. It's Ellen Page - who doesn't love that short little Canadian? It's the incredible and memorable Hans Zimmer score that blends perfectly with the world of the dream. It's the hard-hitting lines between the gunshots, the conceptual madness, and the art direction that taps into something most films can't ever touch - the human imagination. We love to see the rules of reality bent and snapped into pieces, and to know that it's all possible inside the mind.

March 14, 2011

Lynch's "Molhulland Dr." (2001) - A tribute to the old art of film [review by starlight]

Ever watch a movie and when the credits roll feel that you have no idea what just happened? Actually, it doesn't happen much these days unless you fall asleep and miss part of the plotline. Hollywood really likes to spell it out these days. The last time I had this sensation was with 2001: A Space Odyssey. I watched this with perhaps not the best frame of mind for a challenging film and when it was over, I headed to IMDB to find an explanation for the past 141 minutes of my life. It's a rewatch in the sense that on the first watch, you will probably get lost. I mean, the flicks these days just really don't challenge you in the same way. I even watched it after the lecture in my Sci-Fi class and still felt pretty lost, despite the fact that I was decently well-prepared.

March 10, 2011

14 years ago, the Slayer started slaying - The anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer [musing with nostalgia]

I know I recently posted about Buffy, but today is the 14th anniversary of the show airing on the WB. To celebrate, here are some great quotations from the first episode!

Buffy Summers: So, you like to party with the students? Isn't that kind of skanky?
Rupert Giles: [witheringly] Oh, right. This is me having fun. Watching clown hair prance about is hardly my idea of a party. I'd much rather be home with a cup Bovril and a good book.
Buffy Summers: You need a personality, STAT.

March 9, 2011

Re-watching The Butterfly Effect (2004) [review by starlight]

"You can't change who people are without destroying who they were. "

Always a fun watch, if a little holey. Evan (Ashton Kutcher) has had something of a tragic life that has taken him away from his childhood friends and left them all miserable and alone, particularly his first love, Kayleigh (Amy Smart). As he nears completion of a psych undergrad, he begins to uncover the past, including memories that he'd "blacked out" before and couldn't remember even moments after they happened. He soon finds that he can do more than revisit these blackout moments - he relives them with the ability to change them, and completely change the course of his life.

March 7, 2011

Once More with Feeling, the Musical [review by starlight]

"That's the penalty/When life is but a song"

The full-length cult musical is right. Once More with Feeling is perhaps the most beloved episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which the series' venerated cast sing, dance and fight demons. This episode is not a completely random addition to the series - it actually had some foreshadowing and a flushed out plot. Dawn comes across a trinket in the Magic Box in a previous episode, and tucks it away in her pocket for safe keeping (the little thief!) The trinket is used to summon a demon of song and dance from another worldly plane, whose songs can become violent and lead to death (of course).

March 4, 2011

From Above - A sneak peak of my story in Atheist Tales (2011) [story time by starlight]

Here is a sample of my story From Above. Within a few weeks it will be available for purchase online in an anthology entitled Atheist Tales. Enjoy!

               The unrelenting sun scalded the crowd of worshipers that had gathered to listen to the Messengers. It was only once a week that anyone faced the intensity of midday, for the bustling center of trade came to a complete stop when the heat reached its peak. Except for days of temple, citizens rested while the sun was highest in the sky.
              Today they would not complain of their personal ordeal -- the poor with their bare feet blistering on the baked ground and the rich with sweat soaking their silk garments -- for the wealthy and the poor served alike. On one day of the week they knelt beside one another outside the temple like equals.
              It had been the Messengers who had decided that fortune and class had no place in the sacraments. “The Gods reward those who follow their laws,” they said, “regardless of standing.” Those who were privileged enough to indulge in luxuries on any other day found no favor at the temple. They knelt outside on the ground next to the poor, albeit in their finest clothes and wearing palm fiber sandals to protect their feet. Heavy veils protected porcelain skin from burning.
              They knelt in silence. Even the most acrid of the merchants and the most arrogant of the concubines bowed their heads and remained still. Enduring the steaming temperature, the still air, the blinding sun and the stinging sand, not one person so much as whimpered at their discomfort. All wore faces of stone as they waited for the ceremony to begin.             
                A boy called Sajha knelt in the front row, staring down at his sun-stained toes. Like those around him, his face did not display the pain of sitting stiffly in an awkward position while the skin on the bottom of his feet baked beneath him. He tried not to think about his flesh cooking as if on a sun-heated stove, but the idea of his feet being charred like thick slabs of meat kept squirming, uninvited, into his mind.
              Instead of supporting him in his crouched position, his calloused hands were crossed respectfully over his chest. It was a struggle of the will to keep them there as his calves began to strain and cramp. Young as he was, he had lived for sixteen years under the reign of the Messengers, and followed their teachings as strictly as any of the adults. If the Gods willed him to kneel in wait for an indeterminate amount of time without moving a muscle before each ceremony, then he would. But even the Gods and their Messengers could not prevent his bitterness. He was still human.

March 2, 2011

Sci-fi and Fantasy at the Oscars [breaking news musing]

I'd like to take a minute to talk about the success of Sci-fi and Fantasy at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. It wasn't a bad year for speculative fiction. Could have been better, but then, it is the Oscars. Best picture is going to go to a realist drama, so let's just tally up our wins and appreciate the recognition.

March 1, 2011

Atheist Tales by David M. Fitzpatrick et. al, including yours truly - I think you're gonna love this [story time by starlight]

If you're an atheist and free-thinker, this anthology, Atheist Tales is perfect for you. It's a collection of short stories in the speculative fiction genre that comment on religion in various ways. I'm doing this out of shameless self-promotion, because my own short story From Above is included in the anthology, but over the next month or so I will be reading and reviewing the other contributions. I will also include a blurb about From Above.

If you're already hooked, check it out here. If not, I'll work on hooking you over the next few weeks :)

February 28, 2011

Tiny Ball of Light at the Oscars [musing with sherbet lemons]

For anyone looking for the Oscars autotuned sensation, here is a decent version I found on youtube. Enjoy!

David Fincher Tribute [musing for recognition]

The man deserves some recognition, and quite possibly the Best Director award. Maybe the King's Speech deserved to clean house, but how long is Fincher going to go unappreciated, even when he makes a film that the Oscars should eat right up? It's unsurprising that best picture and best director don't always go to psychological thrillers and action flicks, but The Social Network was a perfectly tuned drama. Quite disappointed in the Academy.

February 25, 2011

Improving your handwriting technique (for those exam handcramps) [just musing]

I received an awesome ballpoint pen and a fountain pen from the two main men in my life (boyfriend and daddy, respectively) for my recent birthday. At first I looked into ways to improve my cursive writing technique for purely aesthetic reasons, but as soon as I found a good guide I realised that there are lots of great reasons to improve your handwriting.

Apparently the students of my generation (including myself) are not taught how to properly hold a pen and use the correct muscles when writing. This can make it very difficult to write for extended periods of time, causing cramps in the fingers and wrist. If you have this problem when you have to write for extended periods of time, you should definitely check out the link below.

February 24, 2011


Ever write the first hundred or so pages to a book and then have a magical creative idea that results in your having to re-write large chunks of it in order to make it awesome? Good times. That's where I am now.

I'll be back with some book and movie reviews... some day :)

February 18, 2011

Moulin Rouge (2001) - a musical with a few magical touches [review by starlight]

Moulin Rouge is a classic story of love-at-first-sight, with the twist of the hopeless romantic falling for a prostitute. I know we all claim to be tired of this sort of thing... but just stop whining and enjoy its charms. Please? For me? This film is complex enough to make that overdone plotline incredibly rich and fantastic.

February 17, 2011

A Hint of What's to Come - Moulin Rouge [musing]

Read the full review here.

I spent my birthday morning curled up in pajamas with a cup of boozed-up coffee watching Moulin Rouge. Admittedly, a glass of red wine would have been more fitting, but I thought I would break that out after lunch. Here's a little teaser for a blog post to come - check out Ewan McGreggor and Nicole Kidman singing Come What May, one of the films few original musical numbers.

This goes out to my boyfriend at work. A girl can be a little sappy on her birthday, right? Since he can't watch the video in the office here some silly love song lyrics.

Never knew I could feel like this
Like I've never seen the sky before
Want to vanish inside your kiss
Everyday I love you more and more

Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place
Suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace
Suddenly my life doesn't seem such a waste
It all revolves around you

Almost can't wait to write this blog, but I have some wine to get into. Tune in later!

February 15, 2011

Are you afraid of the dark? [musing with nostalgia]

I almost wasn't going to post on this, but I watched an episode on (godbless) youtube and was intrigued by how dark this show actually was. And I mentioned there would be something only recognizable to Canadian kids growing up in the 90s. Most people I've asked have seen this show, but then I'm from Toronto. Essentially a bunch of children venture into the forest every week to exchange ghost stories. If my memory serves me well, they were pretty neat. Cheesy, but neat. The episode I watched was so much darker than I expected. Children's shows go so far out of their way to avoid topics like death, and this show seems so much creepier to me now that I'm older. If you've never seen Are You Afraid of the Dark, I don't by any means recommend it, but if you have seen it, check out episode 55, The Tale of Station 109.1 with Ryan Gosling (The Notebook and Blue Valentine) as a little tyke. Joanna Garcia (American Pie 2 and How I Met Your Mother) is in the intro as well.

February 14, 2011

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter... of course [review by starlight]

"You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself plainly when you have need of him. How else could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again last night."

I want to start out by saying that on the first read-through, Prisoner of Azkaban was my favourite. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I can't really choose an all-time favourite, but I remember reading the third book for the first time at age of 10 and being completely swept off my feet by Rowling's story telling. Each Harry Potter book has had either an excellent twist or an important plot revelation in the climax (or both), and that of Sirius Black's true story is my favourite by far. I will always be a defender of the Harry Potter series, and a dedicated fan, so I would like to take this opportunity to defend something Rowling has often been criticized for - her writing.

February 9, 2011

George Lucas' Star Wars - Growing up with it [review by starlight]

A bit of an obvious one, but A New Hope was a really big part of my childhood. It's funny to think that tons of people still remember lining up to see the first Star Wars flick in theatres, while it came out waaaay before I was born. And thus, it was a childhood staple, cycled in with my Disney movies to be watched. Daily.

February 8, 2011

Xena: Warrior Princess [nostalgia time - failure]

Despite it's nauseating title, I had faith in my nostalgic memories of Xena. It's a show about Greek mythology and heroes, what's not to love? It had Aphrodite and Ares and Caesar, Hades and Athena and Poseidon. How could it possibly be bad?