Friday, November 29, 2019

The Last Jedi’s Canto Bight Sequence: A Defense

Rose and Finn at Canto Bight

“Failure, the greatest teacher is.”

- Yoda

I love Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I wrote a non-spoilery review soon after seeing it, and in another post on my favorite movies of 2017 I promised to write a defense of a particular part of the movie. In both posts I mentioned the extreme nerd rage directed at the film. Having watched The Last Jedi again recently, I find this rage even more perplexing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Re-Reading for Fun and Profit

The Dune section of my bookshelves

Once upon a time I rarely re-read anything. After all, life is short and my to-read list is long.

But at some point I changed my mind about that, both in fiction and philosophy. I still only re-read a small fraction of the books I read (life is getting shorter all the time), but I am much more likely to do so than I once was. In some ways, I think this is partly a result of getting older. Maybe life is too short to read bad books, and if I choose to re-read something it's usually because I either enjoyed it the first time or didn't understand it but got the sense that there was something valuable to be understood.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Movie Round Up: Doctor Sleep, Terminator: Dark Fate, and Ad Astra

I haven't posted movie reviews in a few months (since September or July or even April). I have been seeing movies during this time, but somehow life and other matters have gotten in the way of writing reviews. Well, no more! The time has come to rectify this problem with reviews of three movies I've seen recently: Doctor Sleep, Terminator: Dark Fate, and Ad Astra. There's not much that unites them besides the facts that they are all broadly "speculative fiction" and they are all movies that some people didn't like, but I did.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Keep On Shining: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Reading The Shining about five years ago set me down the path to my recent obsession with Stephen King. I'm not sure why it took me so long to read Doctor Sleep. Reading the whole Dark Tower series may have had something to do with it. But with the Doctor Sleep movie coming out soon I figured it was finally time. And I loved it. It's a different sort of book than The Shining (less visceral but more reflective, less traditional horror and more weird fantasy). Nonetheless, it's a worthy sequel precisely because it adds to rather than rehashes the original.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Philosophical Methods and This Blog!

A bit of meta-blogging news!

Yesterday I Skyped with a Philosophical Methods class at the University of North Florida taught by my friend and colleague Dr. Aaron Creller. Dr. Creller had his students read some selected posts and a few more of the students' choice as an assignment exploring different ways to engage in public philosophy.

During our Skype session, I gave a bit of an overview of how I started the blog (you can get some idea about that by reading my first post). Students and Dr. Creller asked a lot of really great questions on topics such as similarities between philosophy and science fiction, why I like subtle humor, and how I see the relation between traditional academic philosophy and the type of thing I do here.

It was fun and humbling to have this blog serve as a point of discussion in a Philosophical Methods course!

Unfortunately I forgot to get photographic evidence, which I realize is an unforgivable offense in this digital age, but hopefully this report offers some small consolation.

Random Thoughts, Part 6

Made at:

A while back I started writing down some of my random thoughts and posting them on the blog. I've made five such posts now, and you are reading the sixth!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Lunar Leitmotifs: Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Moon is definitely not destined to be among my favorite Kim Stanley Robinson novels.  It's nowhere near the Mars Trilogy, Aurora, or The Years of Rice and Salt (my personal favorites), nor is it quite as much fun as Galileo's Dream, as engaging as Shaman, or as wide-ranging as 2312.  In fact, Red Moon may be my least favorite of KSR's novels I've read.  But as I said in my review of New York 2140 (another book I liked but didn't love), I'd be happy to read KSR's grocery list.

The focus on China is interesting, although sometimes it felt as if people forgot that countries besides China and the US exist. China is going to be a major player in space exploration in the future, and it was interesting and presumably realistic to read about all the factions within the government. My favorite character was Ta Shu, a TV host with a penchant for what might be called "science fictional Feng Shui" and the vehicle for a lot of KSR's typical ruminations on history, philosophy, science, economics, etc.  The odd couple of Qi and Fred is fun, but in retrospect it was odd that it was always from Fred's POV and never from Qi's.