My Top 3 Earth-Bound Sci-Fi Films

When we think of science fiction, we often think of outer space. But there’s some good science fiction out there that takes place on Earth as well, exploring the “what-if” questions of science and technology. So for Sci-Fi Month, I wanted to focus on my top three films that were set on Earth and discuss what they’re all about. (Warning: there will be spoilers about the plot devices of these movies.)

1. Source Code

Synopsis (stolen from IMDB): An action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.

source-codeThis story deals with alternate timelines. While Colter Stephens is playing the role of Sean Fentress through this tech known as “Source Code,” he decides he wants to do more than find the bomber on the train, but also try to change the demise the train faced by stopping the bomber altogether. He believes doing this will not only give new life to everyone on the train, but himself as well.

The concept of this movie is really interesting, and I love to see all the different things Colter tries out to get answers. This is the alternate timeline concept done right, in my opinion. I also absolutely love the characters in the movie, Colter and Christina especially (and really, they’re the main focus).

2. The Island

Synopsis (from IMDB): A man goes on the run after he discovers that he is actually a “harvestable being”, and is being kept as a source of replacement parts, along with others, in a Utopian facility.

the_islandThe Island deals with clones in an interesting way. The clones are led to believe they are survivors from a cataclysmic event and are being kept safe in a facility, but through a lottery system, they can be chosen to go to “the island,” the last safe natural resource. The reality, however, is that these clones were paid for by their wealthy counterparts, who have them as a sort of insurance policy for their organs (or even to be used to produce a child for them). Lincoln and Jordan are the two main characters who leave the facility and learn the truth of their identity.

I’ve long been fascinated by the idea of clones: do they have souls, do they feel as we feel, would they make all the same decisions as we do, etc. And I think the concept behind The Island is certainly feasible once human cloning is possible, and which is scary to think about.

3. Gattaca

Synopsis (from IMDB): A genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a superior one in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.

gattaca-valid1Gattaca is the one that seems the most realistic to me from this list, and the movie even begins with “the not-too-distant future” as the time identification. Vincent has always dreamed of going to space, but since he was created naturally and not with the science of eugenics, he is considered “invalid” instead of “valid,” and is thus unable to pursue his dream of going into space. But Vincent is determined and disciplined, and pursues the chance to assume the identity of an athletic valid, Jerome Morrow, who was paralyzed in an accident so that he can go after his dream.

I grew incredibly interested in genetic engineering in college, and I’m not sure what sparked it, but it was during that time I sought out this movie (after vaguely recalling my dad telling me its storyline several years before). It definitely challenges the questions of eugenics, of how far would we go with it if we were to implement it into society.

(BTW, if you’re interested in genetic engineering and ever have the chance to visit Chicago, do yourself a favor and go to the Museum of Science and Industry there. They have a fabulous exhibit there on genetic engineering that I thoroughly enjoyed. And also if you’re in Chicago and catch a commuter train to or from a suburb in the area, you’ll feel like you’re in the movie Source Code, for real!)

BONUS!: Inception

I feel weird putting Inception as a bonus because it’s my favorite movie of all time, but when I first decided to do this list I wasn’t thinking of it as a science fiction film. After seeing a couple of posts from other people who do it as such though, I can see why they’d see it that way. What if we could share dreams and manipulate them from within? What if we could organically plant an idea in someone’s mind? I’m sure most of you have seen Inception already but if you haven’t then seriously, what are you waiting for?! It’s AMAZING!

Inception-MovieWhat would you consider your favorite “Earthbound” science fiction film? And what elements of science fiction do you like to see explored in stories that take place on Earth?

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This is my last official post for Sci-Fi Month, and I just want to thank Rinn Reads for hosting this awesome event! If you do it again, I definitely want to participate again! Go check out some of the other great posts from this month from dozens of other bloggers if you haven’t already!

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Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire was one of my anticipated movies of 2013. And it really delivered for me. Before I fangirl on (and give just a few small complaints) let me warn that this review is filled with spoilers for the book and for the differences between the  book and the movie.

katniss_peeta_catching_fireOverall, I felt that Catching Fire was a better adaptation in being true to the book, and just a better movie overall than The Hunger Games. I think what director Francis Lawrence and the screenwriters, Simon Beaufoy Michael Arndt, who were all new to the franchise, did with the material in Catching Fire was truly highlight its best elements and magnified them in this visual adaptation of the story. And if nothing else, the recasting of Buttercup was spot on…

buttercup

I kid… sort of… kind of… not really. Come on Gary Ross, you couldn’t find an orange cat?!

But I digress…

The story starts off much like the book, with Katniss before the start of the Victory tour, though in order to help consolidate the storyline, they also make this the time that Gale kisses Katniss saying that he had to do “at least once.” Somehow President Snow knows about the kiss approximately 5-10 minutes later, but I guess we has spies and cameras everywhere so I am willing to let it go. Katniss and Peeta are cold towards each other but when the cameras turn on, they turn on the charm. Like the book, Peeta does slip on the ice and Katniss tumbles over him and kisses him. Peeta says Katniss does a good job faking it… that it almost felt like a real kiss. Which leads me to…

katniss-everdeen-y-u-no-love-peetaI forgot how frustrating this was in the book! Instantly I want to yell at Katniss, “Just love him! He’s the sweetest person you’ll ever know! LOVE HIM!!!!!” Which leads me to my biggest pet peeve of the movie…

GALE.

First off, let me say that Liam Hemsworth did like 10,000 times better as Gale in this movie, meaning that he actually came off as likable instead of dopey. I credit this to Hemsworth, the writers, and the director. THANK YOU ALL.

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Hunger Games Gale = lame Gale.

Second off, it’s not really Gale I have a problem with, it’s Katniss AND Gale. For some reason, they decided to make Katniss like Gale as more than a friend instead of being truly confused about it all.

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Catching Fire Gale = better Gale. But back off of Katniss!

Book quote:

His voice drops to a whisper. “I love you.”

…I never see these things coming. They happen too fast. One second you’re proposing an escape plan and the next… you’re expected to deal with something like this. I come up with must be the worst possible response. “I know.”

Movie quote:

“Do you love me?”

“Gale, you know how I feel about you.”

No Katniss, he doesn’t, neither do we, neither do you! I was almost willing to accept this, but then they decided to add an extra scene where right before the reaping, Katniss kisses Gale just because. Not because he kissed her first, and not because he just got whipped nearly to death, the two kisses that happened in the book and I completely accept, but an extra one where she acts like it’s because they’re dating.

NO. NO. NO.

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

Save those dang kisses for Mockinjay where they belong. But thankfully, the kissing with Peeta in this movie was also WAY better in this movie than in The Hunger Games.

I promise I care about more than the kissing and will move on in a minute…

Catching Fire is a critical point in the Peeta and Katniss’ love story. In all the time they spend together and Peeta is nothing but genuine and loving towards Katniss, she starts to feel a little something. And when she thinks she’s lost him forever in the arena, Jennifer did such a great job portraying how much Katniss suddenly cared in that moment. And then when they’re on the beach, and she tells him she needs him, and kisses him for real. That was great. I wish we could have gotten just a little more of them before they went back to the arena (like my fave scene in the book – the rooftop!), but still, it was all still way better in this movie than the cave stuff in the last one.

peeta-katniss-beachSomething else I loved in this movie: Johanna Mason.

catching-fire-johannaAs far as I’m concerned, when it came to the other tributes, Jena Malone as Johanna stole the show. She was angry, she was vengeful, but she also stuck with the plan. The way she cursed President Snow, her sly looks as took off her outfit in the elevator (Jennifer Lawrence deserves an Oscar just for her face in that scene – priceless!), and her whole attitude was spot-on for me. I wanted more of her. I can’t wait to see more of her!

And then there was Finnick…

finnickMy one complaint with Finnick is that in the book, he comes off way creepy and I had to warm up to him like Katniss had to. But just the same, I enjoyed him in the movie and how Sam Clafin portrayed him.

Other minor characters who I felt really shone: Caesar of course (Stanley Tucci does him so perfectly – I just love it!), Effie, and Haymitch. All fabulous and even better in this movie than the last (and they were all great in the last one too)! You can see how much Haymitch and especially Effie have grown since the last movie. And President Snow was as chilling as ever.

Catching-Fire-Image-Plutarch-SnowBut let’s talk about Plutarch. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a great actor who can be way creepy (see: Mission Impossible 3), and I felt like he was extremely under-utilized in this movie. One detail from the book that I wish they would have left in the movie (and that literally would have taken five seconds) was Plutarch showing Katniss his Mockingjay watch. As it was, his conversation with her at the Capitol party felt so flat and no where near as impactful as it was in the book, which just seemed crazy with Phillip and Jennifer both being so talented. I blame the writing, which again, was usually spot on, but something about that moment in that scene just didn’t do a lot for the story to me. Though I will say Plutarch’s interactions with Snow were pretty good, even more dynamic than the interactions between Seneca and Snow in the last movie.

Beetee… jury’s still out. I like Jeffrey Wright in Source Code, and I thought he did fine here. I guess I wanted more but at the same time, the arena stuff in the movie couldn’t play out as much as it did in the book, and he didn’t have a lot to do anyway. Hopefully we’ll see really good things from him in the Mockingjay movies.

And Cinna? There wasn’t enough! And then when they beat him…

*cries*

Let’s move on…

More things I love: Prim’s go-get-em attitude, Peeta telling everyone about “the baby” (and Haymitch’s reaction, amazing, but sad they left out Finnick’s line about hormones!), did I mention Effie and Caesar?, and the AMAZING wedding dress turned Mockingjay dress…

katniss-weddingdressOverall, Catching Fire delivered all the feelings I wanted and expected. It delivered a lot more lines from the book. It delivered all the tension and danger of the forthcoming revolution (District 11 scene *cries*). It delivered Katniss’ struggle with PTSD and resistance to being a symbol. It was filled with amazing moments that left satisfied and ready for Mockinjay! Though Mockingjay was my least favorite book of the trilogy I believe that if we have the same team working on it as Catching Fire, those two movies can really be powerful and awesome. For being quite possibly my favorite 2013 release, and for being an amazing adaptation, but with points knocked off for the extra Gale kiss (boo) and a couple of other nitpicky things, Catching Fire gets 4.5 stars from me.

4-5stars-editSee related: My Top 10 Anticipations for Catching Fire

What are your thoughts on Catching Fire? 

Science Fiction World Building

In science fiction, the story sometimes takes place on a world or galaxy we don’t know. Other times, it takes place on our world (or includes our world), but it’s set in the future and the rules have changed. Either way though, the building of the world for a good science fiction story is key.

To create a world or galaxy from scratch, like George Lucas did with Star Wars, is pretty amazing. I remember when Episode I came out, and I got one of those picture encyclopedia things about the movie. I was fascinated to learn that Amidala’s hairstyle, clothing, makeup, all stood for something in her culture. It wasn’t just random, but there was this whole other story behind what she wore and the rituals she performed. I didn’t know it yet, but I was intrigued by world building.

Queen-amidalaSome stories that use our world also create new worlds and alien species, such as Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Ender’s Game. Sometimes they choose to focus on one other species, like Ender’s Game, and in this case, they are viewed as an enemy. In Babylon 5, there are more species, and a handful of them are ones Earth has made peace with, though unfortunately there was war before peace when it came to some, and still quarrels within the alliance they have formed. And then with Star Trek the number of species out there seems as infinite as the galaxy, from the Klingons to the Vulcans to the Cardassians to the Breen to the Xindi, some who are friends, some who are foes, some who have played as both.

Xindi

The Xindi are especially unique because they have five different species within their own kind.

But there’s more to the world building than the aliens, of course. They create Earth histories that gap the period of time between now and then, and these gaps always seem to include wars. World War III is a common one to be seen, but there’s also wars between us and aliens, and then one that I find particularly fascinating in the Star Trek universe: the Eugenics War. Which if you think you know about Khan from Into Darkness, check out The Original Series’ episode “Space Seed” and the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to learn more about his past and his involvement with said war.

khan-crewThen there are the stories that feel closer to our time and that take place on Earth, but society has changed. The Island and Gattaca are two great movies (that will be discussed in more detail in a future post) that answer “what if” questions. Fringe focuses on strange things happening in our current world, and leads both the characters on the show and us to believe that there could be a lot more to what’s possible in our world than what we think of on the surface.

fringe-lab-work

Some creepy creature the Fringe team found.

Then there’s Firefly, which doesn’t focus on aliens but humans, but they travel in space and have been spread across the galaxy, and war has separated people to either side with the Alliance or with the Browncoats. The story has a Wild West in space feel to it and Chinese and American cultures, as the only superpowers left, have blended, which also adds an interesting element to the world of the show.

kaylee-parasolAnother great thing about science fiction is the technology. It can play a significant role in the world of the story, and even influence the technology of our world Who doesn’t want a lightsaber or wish they could just teleport to their destination? Star Trek, and I’m sure other science fiction stories as well, have actually influenced our progression of technology, which I think is awesome.

star-trek-techBut I feel all this barely scratches the surface on world building elements, as well as the great worlds seen, in science fiction stories. So I ask you: What science fiction story’s world building has captured your attention the most? What elements of world building in science fiction do you particularly enjoy seeing?

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My NaNoWriMo Project Playlist

One of  the suggested posts for Writer’s Unite is to create and share a playlist for your novel. I was actually working on developing a playlist before I saw this suggestion, at which point I decided I would have to share it with you all! Some songs I chose for lyrics, some I chose for mood, but most are chosen for both. (BTW, there are repeat artists because I listen to a lot of the same artists over and over again! Also, I included videos for the ones I think do the best with demonstrating what I am going for with both mood and lyrics.) Hope you enjoy!

playlist

1. Paradise, Coldplay

2. How to Save A Life, The Fray

3. Man on the Moon, Phillip Phillips

4. So Easy, Phillip Phillips

5. Misguided Ghosts, Paramore

6. All I Wanted, Paramore

7. When It Rains, Paramore

8. Souvenirs, Switchfoot

9. Thrive, Switchfoot

10. C’mon, C’mon, by Switchfoot

11. The Violet Hour, The Civil Wars

12. This Time, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

13. Crave, For King and Country

14. Let Me Fall For You, David Cook

15. Always Somewhere Close, Lifehouse

16. Time, Hans Zimmer

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, what artists and/or songs are on your playlist and how do they convey what you’re writing? 

Memorable Characters of Sci-Fi

I am almost a bit intimidated by the topic I chose for today’s sci-fi month post. Memorable sci-fi characters?! Where do I begin?!

I think one of the misconceptions about sci-fi is that it is all boring science babble and space battles, but as most you are probably aware (because I think I have pretty intelligent and awesome readers!), it really explores humanity in a way no other genre does, and it does this largely through its characters. There’s no way on Earth I could create a list that would true justice to all the fabulous characters in science fiction, but I’m narrowing it down to 2 characters from each of my top 3 sci-fi series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Firefly, and Babylon 5. These aren’t necessarily my favorite characters, just ones that I find extremely memorable and extremely interesting in their character arcs.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Elim Garak

Bashir_and_GarakGarak is in an enigma, which is what makes him such a great character. The first time I saw Garak, the Cardassian tailor exiled on board Deep Space Nine, I found him extremely odd, and in a more annoying way rather than an interesting way. But after the first season episode “The Wire,” which I won’t give away for those who have yet to see the show, everything about him made so much more sense, and I liked him so much more afterwards. Is he telling the truth? Is he on your side? Just how many back-up plans does he have? Garak is true Cardassian, sneaky and smart, and he never ceases to amaze me with his spy skills.

“Truth is in the eye of the beholder, Doctor. I never tell the truth because I don’t believe there is such a thing. That is why I prefer the straight line simplicity of cutting cloth.” – Garak

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Dukat

dukatI really hate Dukat, which is exactly why is the perfect villain. He’s creepy and manipulative, always striving for a position of power. He’s a complex character who goes through a lot on Deep Space Nine, and though I always saw him as evil, he certainly presented himself to others in shades of gray, but I don’t want to get into spoiler territory so I’ll leave it at that. He’s exactly the sort of character you want to see go down at the end of the day. 

“One man’s villain is another man’s hero, captain.” – Dukat

Firefly: Shepherd Book

shepherd-bookShepherd Book is such an interesting character because he’s a preacher who lives on board a ship with criminals and a companion (essentially a prostitute, more on that later), and while he doesn’t agree with what they do and they know it, he doesn’t condemn them for what they do. He’s an interesting man who clearly has a past apart from the ministry that unfortunately, we never learn. What we do know is that he is a man of conviction and a man who loves people, the way I think we all should be.

“When I talk about belief, why do you always assume I’m talking about God?”

“I don’t care what you believe in, just believe in it.” – Book

Firefly: Inara Serra

inara-serraInara is a companion, which in the world of Firefly, is basically a high-class prostitute, a part of an elite group who go through training and screen their clients. Inara also clearly cares for the Captain of Serenity, Malcolm Reynolds, even though she claims she doesn’t. But a large part of the reason why I chose Inara for this list, and it might be cheating, is that I learned that if we had gotten more Firefly, we would have learned that she actually had an incurable disease that she was dying from, which of course shapes her. What the what?! So fascinating. It’s too bad that, like Shepherd Book and the rest of the Serenity gang, we did not get to know them as well as Whedon had intended for us to.

“A companion chooses her own clients, that’s guild law. But physical appearance doesn’t matter so terribly, you look for a compatibility of spirit.” – Inara

Babylon 5: Londo Mollari

londo2I was continuously floored by Londo’s development throughout Babylon 5 as I watched it. I can’t even scratch the surface of his development in this short paragraph. When we first meet Londo in Babylon 5, he just seems silly, and he somewhat reminded me of Quark on Deep Space Nine. Then things took a turn for the serious. His drive for power, greed, and his hatred for the Narn drove him to make poor choices that went from bad to worse and took him down a dark path. He does find some redemption, but there is no easy out for Londo, and he does get a lot of what he deserves. To sum up Londo’s character development = WOW.

“The quiet ones are the ones that change the universe… The loud ones only take the credit.” – Londo

Babylon 5: Alfred Bester

b5-BesterBester is one of the best villains ever in my opinion. Though he is only in twelve out of 110 episodes of Babylon 5, he goes through quite a lot and we learn a lot about him, about his past and what drives him. He’s frustrating to deal with, he hurts a character on the show that you will love so much more than him, but he has a story too, and that’s what I love so much about the characters on Babylon 5: they have amazing stories. You’ll never root for him, but by the end of the show, you do understand him better than you did at first sight.

“…you’re curious. Kill me and you’ll never know what brought me all the way out here. I think if you weigh that against the brief satisfaction of blowing me out of the sky, you’ll do the right thing.” – Bester

(BTW, you need to read Lianne’s post about why you should watch Babylon 5 if you haven’t already!)

As mentioned before, this list could go on! So tell me, who are your most memorable sci-fi characters?

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Mini-Review: Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World is the latest addition in the Marvel movie franchise as well as the continuation of Thor’s story… but I’m sure you knew that! I wanted to keep this review short and sweet by covering the movie’s good points and “meh” points…

Good: The Snarky Dialogue… Especially with Loki

thor-loki-glassesAs all Marvel movies should be, Thor: The Dark World has many quotable moments. I don’t know why Thor goes from speaking Shakespearean-style English to telling Loki to shut up, but regardless, I still enjoyed a lot of the dialogue, especially where Loki was involved. They had some great brother banter moments.

Good: Darcy!!!

darcy-thorI absolutely adored Darcy in the first Thor film and was thrilled she was coming back. She did not disappoint!

Meh: Thor + Jane = Still Not Buying It

jane-thorI like Natalie Portman and I like Jane, but I didn’t find Jane and Thor together believable in either the first film or this film. (Team Sif all the way!)

Good: Thor’s Mom is Awesome!

thor-momI thought Thor’s mom was awesome, but I don’t want to spoil anything, so you’ll just have to watch to see why.

Meh: Poor Dr. Selvig

thor-erikIt was sad to see that state Dr. Erik Selvig ended up in after The Avengers. 😦

Good: Zachary Levi!

thor-zacharyleviI think Zachary Levi did a pretty seamless job filling in for the role of an actor who was in the previous installment of Thor. And I’m always happy to see Zachary Levi!

Meh: Just OK Villain

thor-villainThe villain, The Dark Elf or whatever he was called, didn’t impress me in the slightest and I never really felt a sense of danger with him. I never thought about this until a few days after I had seen the movie though, which tells you how little I think about villains (unless they’re awesome), but I would compare him to Nero in the 2009 Star Trek movie… just not that impressive. But without getting too spoilery, let’s just say there’s plenty of questioning Loki’s motives throughout the film, and that is much more interesting… and then there’s the mid-credit scene that opens a new door…

Good: Overall Just Fun!

thor-2It’s Thor, it’s the Avengers, and it’s just fun.

4stars2Others’ thoughts:

Nashville Book Worm liked it OK but didn’t love it

House of Geekery loved it!

Have you seen Thor: The Dark World? What are your thoughts? 

Review: Fringe Season Four

Two words for season four: Lincoln Lee.

lincoln-lee-blueWarning: I can’t talk about this season without talking spoilers. So don’t read this unless you’ve already seen Fringe season 4. Seriously.

fringe_season_4Season 4, how I love you. And yet I also hate you. I don’t hate you as much as season 3, which I guess doesn’t actually exist anymore thanks to you, but did you have to go and erase seasons 1 and 2 too? White Tulip, one of my absolute faves, means basically nothing anymore? But oh, thank you for more Lincoln Lee, and specifically Blueverse Lincoln.

agent-lee-i-presume

Red Lincoln and Blue Lincoln meet.

At the end of season 3, Peter disappears and no one remembers him. We find out that he’s been “erased from the timeline,” as the Observers put it (which turned out to be total bull – dying early does not constitute being completely erased from time, but I digress). So season 4 starts with the Fringe team, without Peter. Everything feels off. Walter is even a little more nutty without Peter there, and Olivia actually seems a bit more confident but also a little empty, and Astrid is basically the same but the role she plays is a little different. Things carry on with glimmers of Peter trying to get back, or at least that’s the way it seems (later we find out it’s really love conquering all). Meanwhile, they work on a shapeshifter case that kills Blueverse Lincoln Lee (who apparently they had not met in this timeline)’s partner, and he ends up coming in  to work with the Fringe division. Before Peter appears, Olivia says “no way” to Astrid about dating Lincoln , but then she seems to be reconsidering, even after the mysterious Peter that no one remembers returns…

And somehow, I, who have been Team Peter and Olivia since Season 1, suddenly found myself seriously shipping Lincoln and Olivia. He was so shy and cute and sweet around her I JUST COULDN’T HELP IT. Seth Gabel, the writers, the directors, the producers, THEY DID IT TO ME. (Sidenote: I specifically wanted this version of Lincoln to end up with this version of Olivia. I still wanted Peter to be able to go back to “his Olivia.”)

power-of-cuteness

Lincoln around Olivia.

Needless to say, I was frustrated when September told Peter that he was in the right universe/timeline/whatever-the-crap-this-amber-colored-title-sequence-place-is, that he had no where to go back to. “A Short Story About Love” was obviously supposed to make me feel happy but instead it made me feel like this:

grumpy-cat-love

I’m pretty sure this is how Lincoln felt too.

But we’ll get back to this whole Lincoln subplot thing. I want to address other issues I have with this season. Like, the fact that for everyone who isn’t Peter, and sort of Olivia, it erases everything we’ve seen about them before on the show. And then for Olivia, that she forgets about this whole other life where she got away from her crazy and abusive stepfather and was raised by a nice Nina. And then poor Walter, he doesn’t have the same benefits of knowing this Peter and knowing that God’s forgiven him.

And then the crazy weird inconsistencies this created when we decide to re-do cases from season 1, where somehow magically, the same guy wearing the same shirt with the same people on the same flight of the same plane has almost the same thing happen to him four years later than originally when Peter was around. What? I try to justify it happening later due to a change of plans with David Robert Jones and William Bell due to Peter’s premature death, but that still doesn’t justify SAME CLOTHES SAME PEOPLE SAME FLIGHT SAME PLANE other than the obvious reason: budget.

But let’s talk about something positive this whole catawampus storyline shift did, and that is the return of David Robert Jones.

fringe-DRJonesDRJ is a great villain, and I felt his first story arc in Fringe was a little unsatisfactory, so I was happy to see more of him. So yay for more DRJ! But I am still a little unsatisfied with the conclusion of his overall story, especially since we never get the answers to his connection with ZFT (does it still exist is this timeline, or did Peter somehow change that too? Or does this come up in season 5?). However, having his second demise somewhat reflect his first was great. And I don’t really understand how the shapeshifters were going to play a role in Jones’ and Bell’s new world.

Speaking of that, what is up with totally whacked-out crazy William Bell?!

William-BellI hope there will be more answers about Bell in season 5. I really liked the old Bell better though…

Now, back to another positive thing about this season with the new timeline: Walternate and Fauxlivia are much nicer! Guys, in season 3 I hated Fauxlivia with a passion. I hated her at least as much as I hated Walternate. I don’t think Fauxlivia was inherently more evil in season 3, but she quickly chose to take that turn, I think largely because of Walternate and Newton’s influence. (Sidenote: I found Newton’s end in season 3 also unsatisfactory. Basically, I don’t like the way Fringe ends the storylines of their villains. Except Harris.)

So, this brings me back to Lincoln. After Redverse Lincoln dies, he decides to stay in the Redverse, presumably in part to see how things go with Fauxlivia. And while I wanted Redverse Lincoln and Redverse Olivia to hook up, and I wanted Blueverse Lincoln to feel wanted and needed… as a compromise… I think this might be OK with me.

lincoln-faulivia

How you doing?

Mostly, I want Lincoln to be happy. I’m just sad he isn’t a regular in season 5. *Cries*

lincoln-peterYou’re a good guy, Lincoln Lee. *Cries again*

Here’s Gene with a FBI hat to make me feel better:

fbi-geneI don’t know how to rate this season. Some of it I really liked, but some of it frustrated me. I gave season three, which I felt the same way about, 4.5 stars, but I still can’t decide if I like this season more or less than season 3. I do want to give kudos to a finale that really wrapped up the season nicely, and that even made me like Peter and Olivia being back together again (after basically hating them being together from “A Short Story About Love” up until “Brave New World Part 1,” minus “Letters of Transit,” in which we don’t actually see them together but we see their daughter). It’s either 4 stars or 4.5, but I don’t know which quite yet. So I’ll just leave us with this still from the season 4 gag reel:

fringeseason4gagreel

Joshua: “Welcome to the gag reel, Seth Gabel.”

Help me out with my rating! How do you feel season 4 compares to the others? Were you as frustrated by new timeline stuff as I was? Are you a Lincoln Lee fan? 

Review: Ender’s Game

Every once in a while, there’s a book you feel a strange and unknown draw towards to read, and Ender’s Game was that for me earlier this year. I think it was partly due to the movie coming out, but not completely, as there are plenty of book-to-move adaptations that I don’t pay attention to. But the story sounded interesting and I wanted to check it out. I was surprised by how dark and gritty it was for a book about children, but it’s painting a picture of a desperate society who has barely survived war once and is on the brink of another. It’s a cautionary science fiction tale of how far we will stretch someone, particularly a child, to receive a desired result.

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I don’t think I realized how much I got from the book emotionally until I watched the movie and felt much of a lack of emotion. I know this sounds like the start of a negative review, but it’s not. It is just to say that the book is about warfare and its psychological damage and the real-life causalities of it, as seen through the eyes of the child. I don’t think the movie adaption of Ender’s Game expressed this as fully as it could have, yet at the same time, it did help recall those feelings I had from the book.

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I saw this movie with my husband and two friends. My husband has not read the book, but thankfully he was somehow able to follow along with what felt like an extremely accelerated pacing in the movie. The highlights are all there (or at least in my opinion, one friend missed the Peter-Valentine subplot, which I mentioned in my review of the book I get the point of it but I can take it or leave it) in terms of scenes. But we don’t get to experience the full development of Ender’s mental battle in Battle School or his relationships with Valentine, Petra, Bean, and others. The relationships were my favorite part of the book, so while we see glimpses of these in the movie, they are more of a quick acknowledgment. I do think the relationship that was best represented in the movie was probably that of his and Petra’s, even though I wanted so much more of it! And speaking of Petra, I loved Hailee Steinfield’s portrayal of her. Really, I felt all of the main actors did a solid job in their roles, and even most of the minor kid actors.

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The movie does not really take liberties or change a whole lot, it just mostly skims. The ending of the movie also felt less strange than the ending of the book, and I was satisfied with it. Another part of the movie I thought was really well-done was how everything looked: the Battle school, the technology, etc., I felt all looked great and believable.

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As a supplement to the book, I’d give Ender’s Game the movie four stars, but as a stand-alone, I would give it three. So overall, I’ll average it out for 3.5 stars.

3.5starsI do feel it would be a decent introduction to the ideas of science fiction to someone who may be skeptical, but I feel it’s too obvious in many plot points instead of being delivered organically as it is in the book. Though the movie was already two hours, another half hour at least could have really made it a better film.

Have you seen Ender’s Game? What were your thoughts on it as a standalone and as compared to the book? 

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In Which I Fangirl About Fitz-Simmons

A while back I shared my thoughts on the first three episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I expressed that I felt the show had its share of flaws, but with such lovely quips and hints of more to come, it left me satisfied enough to keep tuning in. The show continues to get better each week, and this last episode, FZZT, seriously gave me ALL THE FEELS. It finally made me fall in love with two of the show’s characters: Fitz and Simmons. It starts off like a normal case of the week, but halfway through when they’re wrapping the case up, you know there’s more to go. (Not only because it’s wrapping up quickly, but also becuse virtually nothing from the preview for the episode has happened yet!)

Basically this episode was all about why you should ship Fitz and Simmons if you don’t already. OK, not really, but I think that’s what some of us got out of it, myself included. I tried to hold out, but now it’s hopeless. When Fitz yelled, “Jemma!!! NO!!!!!!!” it was all over. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

jemma-noOne thing I lamented about when I talked about my first thoughts on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was that I didn’t really love any of the characters yet (except Coulson, who we already knew), and that was just so weird for a Whedon show (based on my experience with Firefly and Dr. Horrible; I haven’t seen any other Whedon shows yet). And lately, everything has felt so Skye-centric and I’ve just gotten tired of her. So to have the focus to shift on the scientists of the group, who have always had such quirky conversations but we knew so little about, was great. We knew they went to school together, but what is their history exactly? At first, before I caught that they had different last names, I thought they were brother and sister because of their obvious connection but lack of romantic behavior toward each other. Then I learned they were just long-time friends, and of course your mind jumps to the conclusion that guy + girl + friends = future romance, but there are an equal number of guys and girls on the cast of this show and somebody needs to keep it platonic, right?  That’s what I told myself anyway, as it was obvious they wanted to set up Skye and Ward for future romance.

There was some great dialogue that I think revealed a lot about Fitz and Simmons’ friendship without spelling out all the details of their background together.

Every minute of every day you’ve been stuck in a lab right beside me. At the academy. At PSYOPS. This plane. You’ve been beside me the whole time. You have to fix this. -Fitz

IAIN DE CAESTECKER, ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGEWe’re doing what we always do. We’re going to fix this. Together. – Fitz

fitz-doorIt wasn’t Ward by my side in that lab searching for a cure. It wasn’t Ward giving me hope, when I had none. it was you. -Simmons

kiss-1But seriously, despite all my ship talk, I don’t want for things to get ruined by them rushing into romance too quickly. A lot of times when couples hook up on shows, the dynamic is suddenly a lot more boring. I don’t think that has to be the case with Fitz-Simmons, but I don’t want to see any hyper-acceleration into a relationship either. And if and when they get into one, I want them to still be normal, not all lovey dovey. I want them to have the same kind of fights and say the same kind of things to each other. I just hold a personal belief that best friends can make great life partners.

And honestly, other than Simmons’ thank-you kiss to Fitz, I don’t think the episode was actually trying to be heavy-handed with a romance potential. Obviously Fitz is worried about his friend and lab partner, because they are so close. I just love how pure-hearted their friendship is, and seeing those kinds of relationships usually make me want to see it become more, but still remain pure-hearted. Typically TV shows like to dramatize these things though, and honestly, I’d rather them be friends forever than see a ruined romance. So I’m not thinking ALL about romance here. I just want what’s best for their friendship, and them, because now I love their characters.

Another highlight of this episode was seeing Fitz, Simmons, and Skye poke fun at Ward, and then to see Ward loosen up and poke fun at himself. And then also we got to see Coulson open up to May, and it continues the mystery of just what happened when Coulson died, and just how much May knows about what happened to him, and perhaps if she knows something about dying herself. Overall, this was the episode that made me care the most about everyone, and I think that’s a sign of a strong episode, fangirling aside.

For differing thoughts on this episode, check out what Nashville Bookworm had to say.

If you saw the episode “FZZT,” where were your thoughts? Are you a Fitz-Simmons shipper or do you want it to stay platonic? 

Elements from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine I’d Like to See in a Book

Last month, Kelley at Another Novel Read was kind enough to allow me to guest post on her blog one day, and so I chose something near and dear to both of our hearts to talk about: Star Trek! I specifically discussed Elements of Star Trek Voyager I Would Like to See in a Book, since Voyager is her favorite (so far! ;)). As I promised on that post, this is my list of the same nature for Deep Space Nine, my favorite of the Trek series! (BTW, I know that Deep Space Nine and the other Trek series have their own books, and I might check them out some day, this is just certain elements from the show I would like to see in otherwise completely different stories!)

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1. Space Station Life

ds9-lifeThe show Babylon 5 also executed this extremely well, but I would love to read a YA book where life is set on space station (not a spaceship, and I’ll explain the differences in a minute) and you really get the full feel for it. A ship is always on the move, and it largely has the same people on it. Since people live there, it does include many of the things a space station also would, but there are some things it does not include that the station does. Deep Space Nine included shops, a school, a bar (where you can eat, drink, play darts, and gamble), and holodecks, and it was all there not just for the regular crew of the station (and their children), but also for the guests coming and going in and out of the station. Having so many people come into the station also means a wide variety of aliens are likely to be there at any given time, which also makes it all the more interesting!

2. A Secret Agency, a la Section 31

sloanI don’t want to say too much about the role of Section 31 on Deep Space Nine for anyone who has not seen the series, and I only mention it since anyone who has seen Star Trek: Into Darkness will be familiar with it already. The concept of a covert, morally ambiguous organization within a larger organization like Star Fleet is something that just fascinates me. I’d love to see something like this played out in a book.

3. An Unlikely/Untrustworthy Friendship

Bashir_and_GarakFor me, one of the most interesting dynamics of Deep Space Nine was that of Dr. Bashir and Garak. The two have a very odd friendship, where they frequently dine together and Bashir will never stop insisting that he believes Garak is a spy. In the episode “The Wire,” when Bashir discovers just how much Garak has lied to him, he asks him what was actually the truth, and Garak tells him, “It’s all true, especially the lies.” This, in a nutshell, describes Garak and his relationship with Bashir, and really with everyone. He’s never straightforward and sometimes you think you can trust him, but sometimes you know you can’t. I would love to read about a friendship as complicated and dynamic as theirs.

4. Important Arcs for Secondary Characters

vic&nogOne of my favorite episodes of Deep Space Nine is “It’s Only a Paper Moon.” (BTW, if you’re ever going to watch the series, do NOT look up the synopsis for this episode! Major spoilers!) The whole episode centers on Nog, a secondary character whose name does not ever show up in the main credit sequence. And it is an amazing episode, because it’s about a defining moment in Nog’s life, and the arc he experiences in the episode alone does more for Nog than some characters get out of a whole series of a show. For this much emphasis on a secondary character for a book, it would probably need to be a series, but just the same, I’d love to see amazing growth from secondary characters in books in addition to the primary ones.

I could think of more elements from DS9 I’d love to see in a book, but talk about spoiler city! There’s just so much goodness to be had, so watch the show and discover it!

What elements from Deep Space Nine or your favorite science fiction show would you like to see in a book? 

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