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The interplanetary Bechdel Test

25 Oct

With apologies to the actual Bechdel Test, which is about gender in TV, film, and other fictional media.

I am reading Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells, which got 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 1,115 raters. Honestly, I am not sure how it got that rating. The story was pretty good up to the point where Aliens, aliens, always aliens

Once Upon A Time geeking, pt II: Gastown, Vancouver, BC

19 Jul

With bonus Highlander.

Anyone who’s watched OUAT, Highlander, X-Files, Continuum, or a dozen other made-in-Canada TV shows will recognize Gastown. It is the semi-gentrified “hip” neighborhood along the waterfront in downtown Vancouver. Like such neighborhoods in many cities, you can turn a corner and go from a trendy shopping area to a dodgy skid row. Most of the OUAT “Manhattan” scenes were filmed in the Alexander/Powell/Carrall street triangle.

On-screen and off-screen photos follow. Warning: Image heavy. All screencaps courtesy of screencapped.net.

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Once Upon A Time geeking, pt I: Steveston, BC

19 Jul

So on my most recent vacation, I went to Storybrooke. Er, Steveston and Ft Langley, BC.

Most of “Storybrooke” is located along Moncton and Bayview streets between Third Avenue and No 1 Road in Steveston. This quaint little Richmond area burg appears to have embraced its alternate identity (hey, tourist money!). Although filming had not yet started, some of the buildings retained their “Storybrooke” signage. Others were disconcertingly Steveston/Canadian.

Actually walking the street and seeing where everything is relative to everything else gives you a three-dimensional context when you go back to watch the show. In each new scene, you can orient yourself and say, “The characters are near X. Yep, there it is.” It also makes you notice how often the show uses shipping pallets stacked against walls to hide the Steveston signs.

Another thing you notice upon rewatch is when the same business is sometimes named one thing, sometimes named something else in different episodes. Perhaps the name changed in real life, or maybe they just didn’t bother covering up the real name in early episodes. On-screen and off-screen photos follow. Because I really am that geeky. Warning: Image heavy. All screencaps courtesy of screencapped.net.

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I’ve got an itch to scratch

2 May

mars-rover-curiosity-sky-crane-landingJust got done reading the first book of James SA Corey’s Expanse series, Leviathan Awakes. In a nutshell, it’s a space opera set in a future where humans have settled the solar system, but are not yet able to reach other solar systems.

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The golden age of Science Fiction

13 Jan

Depending on who you ask, the “Golden Age of Science Fiction,” is either “undisputedly,” or just “widely recognized” as the 1940’s (and possibly 50’s). Of course, one person’s Golden Age is another person’s capital-E Establishment, but historically, the 40’s and 50’s are the era when a younger generation of very talented writers weaned on the pulps and unafraid of speculative-fiction-that-incorporated-science took up pen or typewriter. Among them: Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Tom Godwin, and Isaac Asimov.

It is interesting that of the three biggies I review here (Clarke, Bradbury, and Asimov), Asimov was always my favorite, but (perhaps due to story choices?) this time around, I was much more impressed with Bradbury.

All of these writers are masters of creating fully-realized portraits of everyday life in the future, or on space stations, or the Moon, in very few words. Continue reading

The short story of science fiction

9 Dec

In the past couple weeks, I have been reading science fiction short stories. In typical fashion, I have this need to be systematic and thorough, so I am choosing my stories in a chronological fashion. Obviously, I am not reading all of them, just a smattering, but here is the reading list so far:

Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall”, 1835
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Rappaccini’s Daughter”, 1844
Wells, H.G. “The Star”, 1897
Hamilton, Edmond. “The Man Who Evolved”, 1931
Robert Heinlein. “–All You Zombies–” 1959

My descriptions/reviews below are somewhat spoilery in terms of premise and tone, although I don’t out and out describe how the stories end.

The first two stories have been dubbed ‘proto science fiction’ in that they were written well before there was any such genre as science fiction, and were labeled in hindsight as “science fiction-like.” H. G. Wells is the first of this batch to be truly a “science fiction” writer, although he would not have used that term, since it was not invented until the mid-twentieth century.

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When is a geek not a geek?

26 Jul

Apparently, I’ve lead a sheltered life.

But I know why.

First, a rec from the man behind Wesley Crusher:

http://wilwheaton.net/2013/07/nothing-to-prove/

I have only been aware of this misogyny-in-geekdom problem in the past year or so via blog links and posts on the topic. The short version is Continue reading