Monday, September 3, 2018

Why Do People Like Horror?: The Philosophy of Horror by Noël Carroll



The Philosophy of Horror: Paradoxes of the Heart by Noël Carroll is a thorough, academic treatment of the major philosophical issues surrounding the horror genre.  It focuses on two "paradoxes of the heart": the paradox of fiction (why are people scared of things they know don't exist?) and the paradox of horror (why does anyone like horror at all, since being scared is usually a bad thing?).

Sunday, September 2, 2018

2001: An IMAX Odyssey




Last week I was lucky enough to see 2001: A Space Odyssey in IMAX for a limited engagement to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film.  2001 has been one of my favorite movies since I was a teenager, and in the last decade or so I've seen it on the big screen a couple times.  But seeing it in IMAX was a special treat.  (More technically minded film nerds will be sad to hear that I didn't see the full size 70MM IMAX, but the smaller digital IMAX format, which for a film neophyte such as myself is still pretty impressive).

Obviously the giant screen made for a great experience.  All of Kubrick's amazing shots look a bit more amazing on such a big screen, especially the uncanny beauty of all those outer space shots and the trip through the star gate.  Whatever they did to restore the film looked amazing.  You could see the texture on the actors' outfits in ways I had never noticed before.

I also noticed aspects of the soundtrack that I had never noticed at home or in previous big screen viewings, like new layers of creepiness in Gyorgi Ligeti's unsettling polyphonic compositions. The more famous songs like Johann Strauss's The Blue Danube and Richard Strauss's Thus Spoke Zarathustra also sounded great.

Seeing 2001 again also reminded me of everything I love about the film -- as well as why it's not everyone's cup of tea.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Worldcon 76 Report


Me giving my talk "Le Guin's Daoism" at Worldcon 76 on Aug. 18, 2018 (Photo credit: Mike Substelny)

I recently attended Worldcon 76 in San Jose, California, where I also gave a talk called "Le Guin's Daoism."  I unfortunately had to leave before the Hugo Awards ceremony took place, although I was able to watch it online from home.  Check out the results here (if you want a breakdown of the votes, see here).  I heartily recommend watching the acceptance speech of N. K. Jemisin, who is as of Sunday a three-time winner of the Hugo for Best Novel!

My Hugo ballot matches the results for Novel, Short Story, Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), Graphic Story, Professional Artist, Semiprozine, and Fanzine (I also got the Campbell Award right with Rebecca Roanhorse).  Overall I was pretty pleased with the Hugo results this year.  Luckily the whole Puppy thing seems to have blown over, or at least the Puppies took their yapping elsewhere.  Either way, good riddance.

Here are some highlights of my con experience:

Monday, August 13, 2018

Worldcon 76 Academic Track Presentation: "Le Guin's Daoism"



This week I'm going to San José, California to attend Worldcon 76 where I'll be making a presentation on the Academic Track called "Le Guin's Daoism."  The presentation will be on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 3pm (details here, abstract below).

This will be my second Worldcon, after MidAmeriCon II (Worldcon 74) in Kansas City, Missouri in 2016 (read about my experience here).  I had a great time at that one, so I'm looking forward to this one.  I'll also be spending a day in San Francisco beforehand, and thus need to pack for a totally different climate than San José.  The Bay Area is weird.

Weird Connections: Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower V) by Stephen King



At some point in Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower V), Roland wonders why the stories from the world of Jake, Susannah, and Eddie (i.e., our world) tend to be of only one genre (science fiction, Western, mystery, horror, etc.).  I've wondered this, too.  And apparently so has Stephen King, especially in this genre-blending series that I continue to love.

Wolves of the Calla is the fifth volume in the series, which is one long story (or more precisely, a network of interconnected stories).  So, don't even think of reading this unless you've read the previous four books (there's a later stand alone novel that I'm saving for later).  You can see my reviews of volumes one and two here, volume three here, and volume four here.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Philoso-monks Save Some Worlds: Anathem by Neal Stephenson




I finally found the Neal Stephenson book that's right for me. I've enjoyed a few of Stephenson's other books (particularly Snow Crash and Seveneves), but I admit I wasn't sure what all the hype surrounding Stephenson was about. Now that I found the right book, I get it.