George Lucas

The Fan Spectrum

February last year, I posted for the first time about the Three Types of SF Fans.  Reactions were mixed.  I have thought about it a lot, and I have realized that their are not really three types of SF fans, these are actually parts of a spectrum.

Fans of the Spectacle

Fans who are interested in action and special effects, typically of Space Opera, Disaster/Monster/Action Movies, usually watches movies, some series, rarely reads the books.

These fans are on the coldest end of the spectrum.  They are only interested in being entertained, and simply do not think too much about what they are watching.  Think about your friends who thought the Matrix was just a great action movie with cool special effects.  You know the ones who didn't see all the questions about the nature of reality and how we perceive it.  They are fans of spectacle.

The studios have geared their films more towards this type of fan because there are more of them and they are easier to please.

Admit it though, we all started here.  We may have been young, but each and every one of us first got into Speculative Fiction be we enjoyed the spectacle.  For me, it was dragons and vampires.

This is the first stage of development of every fan.  Our job is to move more people into the second and third phase.

Fans of the Specifics

Tom Cruise as Lestat in the 1994 film Intervie...
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Fans who are interested in the nitty-gritty details and their accuracy or consistency.Typically of Hard Scifi, Military Scifi, and High Fantasy, usually reads the books, watches the series, and nit-picks the movies

For many Scifi fans, this shift happened with Star Trek or Star Wars.  For Fantasy Fans, it is usually Lord of the Rings, and for Horror Fans it was either The Vampire Chronicles or Mayfair Witches by Anne Rice or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Many fan bases stagnate here and die off.  The Studios have started blaming continuity and consistency for their financial short comings, thus the spate of remakes, reboots, and the dread re-imaginings that crop up every year.

Yes, it is easier to write a story when you don't have to worry about consistency or continuity, but they are not better stories.  They are just different.

To move a fan from Spectacle to Specifics, find something in a setting or character they like, and talk to them about it.  Encourage them to grow in their fascination, and soon they will delve into the setting more fully, and the spectral shift will happen.

Fans of the Story

Fans who are interested in the story, the characters, and Typically Soft Scifi and Sociological Fantasy, usually reads or watches the series, and watches the movies.

For Fans of the Specifics, the changes George Lucas made to the original Star Wars Trilogy and the prequels went too far.  Fans of the Story were able to see how these changes improved and tightened the narrative.

Fans of the Story are few in numbers, but they are the heart blood of fandom.  They write/perform the filk, the fan fiction, and fanfilms.  They make the fan art, run the conventions, and strive to keep SF on the straight and narrow.

It isn't easy to move from being a fan of Specifics to a fan of Story.  For this shift to happen, the fan has to see the complete series as a seamless whole.  They have to learn how to see past the trees to the forest.  There is no easy way to happen or to bring this about.

When it does happen, it is like magic.  Most of us have had this shift happen for at least one franchise.  Think about the one series that is closest to your heart.  The one you seek out every little tidbit of information about.  For that story, you are a fan of the Story.

Spectral Shift

It is not easy to ask people to make these shifts, or to help other move through the spectrum, but it is vital if fan culture has any chance of surviving.  So for the next thirty days:

  • Introduce your friends to filk.
  • Have a movie night at your house and show a fanfilm.
  • Start a role playing group and uses your favorite setting.
  • Start having friends over to watch your favorite shows.
  • Help just one person find a new series, book, or movie that they will fall head or heels in love with.

If we all do our part, fandom has a long and beautifyl future.

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Literature of Change

We have discussed What Speculative Fiction is, What makes it Progressive, and Why it is important that it is progressive,  but now it is vitally important to clarify some key points about the nature of Progressive Speculative Fiction.  There are two equally disastrous paths we can take from here.  As with everything in life, we have to find the middle path between the opposites:

  • The Light Side: Everything is great, and will only get better.  The future will be a universally happy place.  We are heading towards a utopia.
  • The Dark Side: Entropy rules the world and things are only getting worse.  The future will be a gloomy and sinister place.  We are heading towards a distopia.

Both are extremes, and neither can ever paint a valid world that has any grounding in reality.

Does Speculative Fiction have to be gloomy?

Damien G Walter at the Guardian wrote a fascinating article about the utopian and distopian sins of Science Fiction (read it here).  He asks the basic question that I would love to paraphrase: Does Speculative Fiction have to be gloomy?

From the recent releases, you might assume the answer is a yes, but it doesn't have to be.

Gloomy has its place in any story, but if that story only strikes one note throughout, then it become boring, and the audience looses interest.  We can see this trend with Lost and Heroes, but shows like Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica, and Sanctuary show that it s possible to strike a happy median.

Sometimes a story has to be bleak and gloomy throughout to make the point, like 1984 by George Orwell, but more often then not writers take the gloom to an unnecessary extreme.

The challenge for writers of science fiction today is not to repeat the same dire warnings we have all already heard, or to replicate the naive visions of the genres golden age, but to create visions of the future people can believe in (The Guardian).

Must SF fix the worlds problems?

Kathryn Cramer at Tor had an interesting take on Damien's post (read it here):

I view science fiction partly as a set of perceptual tools we take with us into the world. I don’t think SF can be held responsible for finding solutions to all the world’s problems, but I think it is SF’s task to help us understand them (Tor).

Whether or not the writer understands or believes it, all fiction is a perceptual filter that shows their readers/viewers the world from a certain point of view.  People are influenced by these perspectives to differing degrees.  The quality of the fiction plays a part in that, but so too does the structure and discipline of the reader/viewer's mind.

It is too much to ask any writer to solve the world's problems in their work, but they have to understand that they are responsible for show the cost and consequences of their character's actions.

For example, we like to believe that people are born good or evil, and that it is alright to be amoral from time to time.  This is why so many people reacted negatively to George Lucas' edits of the original Star Wars Trilogy and the addition of the prequel.  He clarified Han Solo's morality and showed how a good person can become evil.  In fact, it has been argued by C. S. Lewis and others that their truly is no such thing as evil.  There is only vile, horrible, and misguided attempt to do good.  If you look at most of the "monsters" in history, they are people who thought they were doing good even though they wrought horrors on the world.

It is the job of every writer to show that every action has an effect.

A Positive Science Fiction Platform?

Jason Staddard over at Strange and Happy put forth his Stranger and Happier: A Positive Science Fiction Platform.  While it is well intentioned, I think it swings the pendulum too far in the other direction.  Let's go through the planks in the platform.

Positive science fiction starts with acknowledging that there are positive things happening, now (Strange and Happy).

Is this necessary? No.

Often an SF writer will start here, but others will start with the fear of the current situation or from the perspective that the current state of affairs in beyond saving, and impose a new solution to avert the mistakes the present state could lead too.

  • Star Trek starts with a world war and global catastrophe that nearly brought about another dark age.
  • Lestat saw the system of mandated belief an filial duty as corrupt and corrupting.  It wasn't until he became a vampire that he started looking for a better way.

That does not mean we should ignore this plank, but simply take it as advise rather than a rule.

Positive science fiction is about the possibility of positive change (Strange and Happy).

Absolutely.  In the Project: Shadow Manifesto, I call this simply "hope for the future."  Things can get better, but that doesn't mean they are destined to.  If there is no hope, there is nothing at stake for the characters and no tension in the story (What is Progressive SF?)

Positive science fiction has a protagonist or protagonists that can effect change (Strange and Happy).

Definitely.  This is the problem I have pointed to time and time again with SF media, and why I didn't like Battlestar Galactica for a long time.

This ties directly into hope.  If it is impossible for a character to affect change, then there is no tension.  The villain will win.

Positive science fiction isn’t afraid to look at challenging definitions of “positive (Strange and Happy).”

This is where the writer has an important question to answer.  "For whom is the change positive?"

Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side is necessary to bring balance to the force.  There are many ways to take this, but it is fundamental to Progressive Speculative Fiction.

Positive science fiction inspires people to act and influence positive change (Strange and Happy).

So long as it is not preachy, I agree.  If the story inspires the reader/viewer to make a possitive change within themselves, then the story succeeded.  There isn't enough time or space for me to list all of the stories that have influenced me positively.

Literature of Change

There is a common thread weaving through this discussion.  Jetse de Vries on his blog, In the Plane of the Ecliptic found the middle ground between gloom and naivite, the answer we have been looking for:

I disagree with the cliché that SF is the literature of ideas (they help, but they're not the core): to me, SF is the literature of change.

Roughly speaking, there are two kinds of change: things change for the worse, or things change for the better (I realise life is much more complex than that: some things improve, other things worsen, and some things don't change very much. I'm looking, admittedly roughly, at the net result here) (In the Plane of the Ecliptic).

Even the simplist horror and fantasy deals with the nature of authority and friendship.  Change is the only constant in the universe, and Speculative Fiction is the literature of change.  Writers ask themselves, "What if this happened?"  The answer is usually, everything would change.

How writers explore the changes is the difference between and great and a mediocre story.

Theater or Renter: February 2009

Theater or Renter: February 2009 includes Five SF movies Coraline, Fanboys, Push, Friday the 13th, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.  Will we watch? Will we rent? or do we even care? Watch the trailers. Rate the Trailer. Then share with us your comments: does the movie, it’s trailer and buzz make you want to watch it in the theater, rent it, or not interested at all, and why?


coraline Watch The Trailer here in the P:S HQ, Coraline Teaser, and Coraline and Neil Gaiman fun for the day!

Release Date:  February 6, 2009

Listed as:  stop motion, horror

Studio:  Focus Features

Director:  Henry Selick

Produced by: Mary Sandell, Claire Jennings

Written by:  Neil Gaiman (novel), Henry Selick

Stars: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman, Ian McShane, Keith David, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French

The Plot / Story: A young girl, Coraline unlocks a mysterious door in her new home and enters into a parallel reality, a fantastical and thrilling imitation of her own dull life. In this world, Coraline finds a new version of her real mother and father, her off-kilter neighbors, Miss Forcible, Miss Spink and Mr. Bobinsky, and the Cat.  The only difference is that they all possess big, black buttons for eyes (All except for the Cat). When Coraline's Other Parents confront her during her birthday night, they tell Coraline that if she wants to stay in this Parallel universe, she must change her eyes into black buttons as well. When Coraline is given them in a small box, she hesitates and has mixed feelings on which universe to choose permanently. However, this other world soon begins to unravel and Coraline, along with her real parents, become prisoners to her Other Mother and must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)


fanboys [very limited release]

Watch The Trailer here in the P:S HQ

Release Date: February 6, 2009

Listed as:  Adventure, Comedy, Fandom

Studio: The Weinstein Company

Director: Kyle Newman

Produced by: Dana Brunetti, Kevin Spacey, Matthew Pernicaro, Evan Astrowsky, Kevin Mann

Written by: Story: Ernest Cline, Dan Pulick, Screenplay: Ernest Cline, Adam F. Goldberg

Stars: Jay Baruchel, Dan Fogler, Sam Huntington, Chris Marquette, Kristen Bell

The Plot / Story: It's 1998 and Star Wars fanboys across the globe eagerly await the release of Episode 1.  But for Eric, Linus, Hutch and Windows the term "fanboy" is more than just a title, it's a badge of honor.  Spurred by impatience and an undying loyalty to their cause, these former high school friends reunite to undertake the road trip of their fan-tasies.  Traveling West across the country to visit their Mecca George lucas' Skywalker Ranch.  The plan is to break in, steal the film and stake their claim as the first fanboys in history to watch it.  But to secure their place in the fanboy hall of fame, they'll have to contend with bizarre bikers, a crazy pimp, a deranged group of trekkies and the quiet intensity of William Shatner. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)


Push Watch The Trailer here in the P:S HQ

Release Date: February 6, 2009

Listed as:  Sci-Fi, Thriller

Studio: Summit Entertainment

Director: Paul McGuigan

Produced by:

Written by: David Bourla

Stars: Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Djimon Hounsou

The Plot / Story: A group of young American expatriates with telekinetic, telepathic, and clairvoyant abilities, hiding from a clandestine U.S. government agency referred to as "Division." They try to find the only woman that ever escaped from "Division". She is their only key to finding out how to escape the agency. They must also use their different talents and band together for a final job enabling them to escape the agency forever. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

Friday the 13th:

friday_13_2009 Watch The Trailer here in the P:S HQ

Release Date: February 13, 2009

Listed as:  Horror

Studio: New Line Cinema

Director: Marcus Nispel

Produced by: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller

Written by:  Screenplay: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift, Story: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift, Mark Wheaton, Characters by: Victor Miller, Ron Kurz

Stars: Derek Mears, Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, Aaron Yoo

The Plot / Story: Searching for his missing sister, Clay heads up to the eerie woods of legendary Crystal Lake where he stumbles on the creaky remains of rotting old cabins that lie in wait behind moss-covered trees. And that's not the only thing hiding under the brush. Against the advice of police and cautions from the locals, Clay pursues what few leads he has with the help of a young woman he meets among a group of college kids up for an all—thrills weekend. But they are about to find much more than they bargained for. Little do they know, they've entered the domain of one of the most terrifying specters in American film history - the infamous killer who haunts Crystal Lake armed with a razor-sharp machete…Jason Voorhees.  This is a remake of the original Friday The 13th from 1980  (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li:

Legend_of_chun_li Watch The Trailer here in the P:S HQ

Release Date: February 27, 2009

Listed as:  Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak

Produced by: Patrick Aiello, Ashok Amritraj

Written by: Justin Marks

Stars: Kristin Kreuk, Neal McDonough, Chris Klein, Michael Clarke Duncan, Taboo, Robin Shou, Moon Bloodgood

The Plot / Story: The story follows Chun-Li's quest for justice.  (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

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Reviewing The Clone Wars A Theatrical Pilot

Review of:  Star Wars: The Clone Wars Overall Rating: 8.5

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a wonderful exciting movie that is a must see for Star Wars fans.  To clarify some points that apparently people did not get.  This is a pilot for a TV show that got a theatrical release not Star Wars Episode 2.1 movie.  The Clone Wars is a piece of   	 Fandango - We've Got Your Movie Tickets!fandom that has made it into the mainstream.

Don't This is a pilot for a TV show that got a theatrical release not Star Wars Episode 2.1 movie.  It is not a star wars movie George Lucas is done with Star Wars, there is only 3 about Anakin's rise and fall, 3 about his redemption, and there is the possibility for 3 more about the Skywalker family but George has already told us that he isn't going to do them.  For those who are upset over this it would be like watching Star Trek The Next Generation and getting mad that Kirk is not in it.

The Clone Wars is a piece of fandom that has made it into the mainstream.  Since this is a work of fandom it presumes that the audience has familiarity with the Star Wars setting and especially the Clone Wars animated series and so the pilot does not take time away from the story to tell the audience about things they should know.  This is great because the pilot has a great pace and does not sag to explain set up.

This pilot has a great pace, story, and action sequences.  They did a great job with the project.  It is a must see for Star Wars fans and a great film for those who like animated films.  I'm very excited about the series that is scheduled to start in January and can't wait to see more.

The Plot / Story: The Clone Wars is set in the time frame between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  As the war rages on between Confederacy of Independent Systems and the Galactic Republic Jabba the Hutt’s son is taken by a group of renegades.  Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi depart in search of answers: where is the Hutt’s son, and who is controlling this mysterious renegade group? Yoda also sends Ahsoka Tano along as Anakin’s apprentice.


  1. The old newsreel style of intro very reminiscent of Starship Troopers:  although I missed the classic scrolling intro it is only for the star wars movies.
  2. The animation style works, I found it curious at first because it is not familiar.  but is easy to watch and not distracting from the story, The ships looks awesome
  3. I was pleased to see that they did not live up to my two biggest concerns one being too kidsey and two the battle up the cliff face. they didn't make it too kidsey.  kept the same feel that we love about the Star Wars setting where it has a nice balance between being dramatic, comedic moments, moments of tension moments of excitement.  The battle up the cliff face made sense, was dramatic, and intense with a dash of play added in.
  4. they actually pulled off showing the severity of battle and not glorifying it by giving subtle moments where in the background after a battle we can see wounded soldiers hobbling off the battlefield or a trooper stooping down to confirm a fallen soldier was dead which showed the suffering of battle but did so without blood and all of the grotesque reality
  5. It is a wonderful follow up to the animated clone wars
  6. it has a great pace and does not sag in the middle, the story is set up like an intense duel where the overarching story is the two duelers which is supported with multiple mini tension objectives that operate to give tension and satisfaction but build one upon the other toward a clear ending.  They stay focused on the storyline there is lots to take in but nothing that is unnecessary for the storyline.
  7. The ending has a fun twist to it.  instead of the final battle and then the ending we get reminded that there is an objective and that the final battle is not that objective.  I loved this and of course they work out that the final scene is similar in style to the final scene in episode I and IV. a nice homage to the Star wars Movies.
  8. The characters were well done.  Asajj Ventress was portrayed much more like the Ventress in the books and earlier series.  I especially loved Ahsoka she was a perfect padawan for Anakin.
  9. characters have nicknames for each other which added a nice reality to the pilot especially for Sky Guy and Snips.
  10. The force powers are taken to the next level and since it is animation they were able to show those powers in their fullest.

Dislikes / Concerns

  1. Concerned: people will not get that this film is a TV Pilot released to the theaters and not a theatrical movie.
  2. Concerned: This is a film for fans of Clone Wars they don't baby the audience and unfortunately some "adults" can't handle that.
  3. I Still think Count Duku looked weird because he is so blocky

Get your copy of Star Wars: The Clone Wars

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Theater or Renter: Star Wars The Clone Wars

Get your Star Wars in the Project: Shadow Shop Star Wars The Clone Wars is definitely a must see theater for me.  I am a big Star Wars fan and was sad when George Lucas announced originally that he would probably not do anymore Star Wars stuff.  Much to my delight to find out that instead he dove into The Clone Wars project which consists of this movie, plans to do a TV series set to possibly come out in January 2009,   	 Fandango - We've Got Your Movie Tickets!and announced the work on a Knights of The Old Republic MMORPG!

I love all of the new footage and perspective that is in all of the trailers and special commentary for this movie.  I do have some concern though that this project might be a little too kidsy and more in the vein of the Ewoks & Droids Animated Adventure or the Ewok Adventures - Caravan of Courage movies.

Release Date:   August 15

Listed as:  Animation, Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Studio: Warner Bros., Lucasfilm Animation

Director: Dave Filoni

Produced by: George Lucas, Catherine Winder

Written by: Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching, Scott Murphy

Stars: James Arnold Taylor, Matt Lanter, Ashley Drane, Tom Kane, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson

The Plot / Story: The Clone Wars is set in the time frame between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  As the war rages on between Confederacy of Independent Systems and the Galactic Republic Jabba the Hutt’s son is taken by a group of renegades.  Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi depart in search of answers: where is the Hutt’s son, and who is controlling this mysterious renegade group? Yoda also sends Ahsoka Tano along as Anakin’s apprentice.   (The Official Site)

Get other Star Wars DVD

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Theater or Renter: August 2008

It's time once again for our favorite game "Theater Or Renter?" Rules of the Game: Watch the trailers. Rate the Trailer. Then Put in your comments below the trailer: does the trailer and buzz make you want to watch it in the theater, rent it, or not interested at all, and why?

For August we have seven movies

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor:

The Mummy Tomb of the Dragon EmperorWatch The Trailer in the P:S HQ

Release Date: August 1

Listed as:  Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Thriller

Studio: Universal Studios

Director: Rob Cohen

Produced by: Stephen Sommers, James Jack, Bob Ducsay, Sean Daniel

Written by:  Alfred Gough, Miles Millar

Stars: Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello, John Hannah, Luke Ford, Michelle Yeoh, Isabella Leong, Russel Wong

The Plot / Story:

The ruthless Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) and his 10,000 warriors are double crossed by a sorceress (Michelle Yeoh). Trapped in suspended animation and forgotten for eons until Alex O’Connell (Luke Ford) gets tricked into awakening them. Alex then turns to the only people who knows a lot about stopping the undead: his father Rick O’Connell’s (Brendan Fraser), mother Evelyn (Maria Bello) and Evelyn’s brother Jonathan (John Hannah).

Rick must combat the resurrected Han Emperor to stop his quest for world domination. As they engage in a race from the catacombs of ancient china into the frigid Himalayas.  (The Official Site)

For more from the Movie Series

dashPunk post: Exploring The Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor

Exploring: The Mummy

Swing Vote:

Swing_voteWatch The Trailer in the P:S HQ

Watch Kelsey Grammer plays a gay-wooing Republican incumbent in "Swing Vote"

Release Date:   August 1

Listed as:  Comedy

Studio: Touchstone Pictures

Director: Joshua Michael Stern

Produced by:  Kevin Costner, Jim Wilson

Written by:  Joshua Michael Stern, Jason Richman

Stars:  Kevin Costner, Paula Patton, Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Hopper, Nathan Lane, Stanley Tucci, George Lopez, Madeline Carroll

The Plot / Story: Swing Vote is the story of Bud Johnson average guy who through a voting machine fault and a dead tie election becomes the guy who gets to decide who the next president will be and his mad capped adventures while he gets wooed by both candidates.  (The Official Site)

Star Wars: The Clone Wars:

Watch Theatrical Trailer in the P:S HQ

Watch Trailer # 3 in the P:S HQ

Watch  Sneak Peek Trailer in the P:S HQ

Watch Epic Battles Feature in the P:S HQ

Release Date:   August 15

Listed as:  Animation, Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Studio: Warner Bros., Lucasfilm Animation

Director: Dave Filoni

Produced by: George Lucas, Catherine Winder

Written by: Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching, Scott Murphy

Stars: James Arnold Taylor, Matt Lanter, Ashley Drane, Tom Kane, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson

The Plot / Story: The Clone Wars is set in the time frame between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  As the war rages on between Confederacy of Independent Systems and the Galactic Republic Jabba the Hutt's son is taken by a group of renegades.  Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi depart in search of answers: where is the Hutt's son, and who is controlling this mysterious renegade group? Yoda also sends Ahsoka Tano along as Anakin's apprentice.   (The Official Site)

Get other Star Wars DVD


mirrors Watch The Mirrors Trailer in the P:S HQ

Release Date:   August 15

Listed as:  Horror

Studio: Fox Atomic

Director: Alexandre Aja

Produced by: Alexandre Aja

Written by: Alexandre Aja

Stars: Kiefer Sutherland, Paula Patton

The Plot / Story: Ben Carson is the head of security at a department store plagued by unexplained deaths. In addition to issues concerning the deaths, the store is also the target of demonstrators who seek compensation for a tragic fire that killed the staff. Ben eventually becomes intrigued by a disturbed woman who claims she is his sister who died in the fire. The woman is exacting revenge, using mirrors as a gateway back into the living world.  (The Official Site)

Death Race:

Death_race_poster Watch Death Race Trailer in the P:S HQ

Release Date:   August 22

Listed as:  Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Studio: Universal Pictures

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Produced by: Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Roger Corman, Paula Wagner

Written by: Paul W.S. Anderson


The Plot / Story: In a future America, prison inmates are forced to compete against each other in a driving arena. The prison warden coerces a prisoner with only weeks before his release  into becoming a driver. The prisoner becomes a crowd favorite known as Frankenstein.  (The Official Site)

Disaster Movie:

Disaster_movie Watch Disaster Movie Trailer in the P:S HQ

Release Date:   August 29

Listed as:  Comedy

Studio: Lionsgate

Director: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer

Produced by: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer

Written by: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer

Stars: Carmen Electra, Kim Kardashian, Matt Lanter, Vanessa Minnillo, Nicole Parker, Crista Flanagan

The Plot / Story: A group of people, during one fateful night as they try to make their way to safety while every known natural disaster and catastrophic event hits the city and their path as they try to solve a series of mysteries to end the rampant destruction.  (The Official Site)

Babylon A.D.:

Babylon_AD_poster Watch Babylon A.D. Trailer in the P:S HQ

Release Date:  August 29

Listed as:  Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Director: Mathieu Kassovitz

Produced by: Alain Goldman, Mathieu Kassovitz

Written by: Éric Besnard

Stars: Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Mélanie Thierry, Gerard Depardieu, Charlotte Rampling, Lambert Wilson, Mark Strong

The Plot / Story: In the near future, Toorop is a mercenary who takes the job of escorting a woman from Eastern Europe to New York. While he thinks this is just an ordinary mission, he gradually finds out that his guest is carrying an organism that has the potential to become the next Messiah — and everybody wants to get their hands on it.   (The Official Site)

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What is Mythology?

Before we can make any in depth study of Mythology, we have to understand what we are dealing with.

First, it must be understood that mythology is more than just the tales we have inherited from Homer, or the brilliant Sagas of the Norsemen.  It is even something more than "other people's religion," as Joseph Campbell used to jokingly say.

"A whole mythology is an organization of symbolic images and narratives, metaphorical of the possibilities of human experience and the fulfillment of a given culture at a given time (Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That, pp1-2)."

Myths are found in literature as well as in religion.  They speak to somewhere deep in our unconscious mind, and if we are lucky, they will instinctively guide our development.  Even though many of these myths change us through a process not unlike osmosis, it is important for us to learn how to recognize a myth, so we can choose whether or not we want to assimilate it into our lives.

Now I do not have the time or space in this essay to detail everything that needs to be said on the subject.  That is the purpose of the Foundation section of the website.  For now, I will focus on what I see that the most important aspect of mythology: how it functions in our individual and collective lives.

Where do Myths Come From?

"First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:20-21, NRSV)."

This is perhaps the most misunderstood passage from the western tradition.  Many have used it to try to show the superiority of their particular theology over their rivals.  Others have disregarded it altogether, but it does answer the question of where myths come from.

Let's take a look at Joseph Campbell's explanation of the origin of myth, and pay close attention to how these two answers overlap:

"Mythology is composed by poets out of their insights and realizations.  Mythologies are not invented; they are found.  You can no more tell us what your dream is going to be tonight than we can invent a myth.  Myths come from the mystical region of essential experience (Joseph Campbell, Myths of Light, p xix)."

No one can invent a myth, but I would also contend that there is nothing spooky going on here either.  What is the difference between a myth and a good story?  The myth speaks to something deep down within our souls.  They tell us that their is more to the story than we caught at first glance.  Great stories don't.

This is not because some spook is whispering arcane secrets into the poet's ear, it is (more often than not) because the story took on a life of its own and carried the poet along with it.  It is only when the unconscious mind is active in the creative process that a myth can be born.  We all carry these forms within us.  It is for the artist to step aside long enough to let them show through.

A good example of this is George Lucas.  He set out to write a new myth, but found that it would not cooperate with him.  He had writer's block.  Eventually, he put aside everything that he wanted to write about, and just wrote.  Star Wars is undoubtedly a triumph of the muse over the artist.

Once a myth is found by the poet, and they share it with society, it will take on a life of its own.  All myths operate in society in four ways.  In this, they help to shape culture, and are in turn shaped by it.

Mystical Function

"The first must be to open the mind of everybody in the society to that mystery dimension that cannot be analyzed, cannot be talked about but can only be experienced as out there and in here at once (Joseph Campbell, Myths of Light, p 5)."

This is where most western religions break down, and it is the aspect of modern myth that is most often overlooked.  The Mystical Function of a myth is to help the participant to realize that the outer forms that are portrayed are emblematic of the forces at work within the psyche.

Out there is really in here.  This is the first secret.  In the Matrix Trilogy, the mythic dimensions open to us when we see that the Matrix itself is symbolic of our mind, but the flood gates open when we can see that Zion is as well.  All of these outer images speak of internal conflict.  We all have our own Agents in our heads trying to fight against us.

Why do these aspects of our psyche come into view through these stories?  Because they are beyond naming, beyond analysis.  I will view the agent in completely different terms than you will, since he takes on aspects of our own inner struggle.  If I used something other than this mythic image, I could only explain my own inner demons, and you may or may not be able to relate.  Once it is concretized, it can only speak to my condition.  As a symbol it can speak to our condition.

The Architect and the Oracle are the best examples of what I'm talking about.  Many people I've talked to have compared them to God and the Devil, but few agreed on which was which.  Even when they did, they couldn't agree to why.

We can also see these images as symbolic of the collective psyche of our culture or world.  As you can see, they still reveal the hidden indefinable aspects of our culture in terms that are useful to our minds, while leaving them open to interpretation.

That is the first function of myth: It speaks to the individual and the culture simultaneously, and helps them to see what is going on within them.

Cosmological Function

"The second function of a mythology is to present an image of the universe that connects the transcendent to the world of everyday experience (Joseph Campbell, Myths of Light, p 5)."

I really don't want to get into the issue of whether or not there is a god, that is a topic for another set of articles.  What I am talking about now is simply "The Transcendent."  Whatever that might mean to you: God, energy, higher dimensions, or the driving force of history itself.  There is something that transcends our ordinary experience.  Maybe it is something as simple as love, or cosmic order; but the question is, how does that relate to me?

In Babylon 5,  the question is approached from many angles.  Basically, a scientific answer is elevated to a level of cosmological significance: we are the universe trying to understand itself.  Here, the universe, the very unadorned ground of being is presented to us as the transcendent mystery, and we are fragments of that universe trying to comprehend itself in the only way it can: from the inside.

If this presentation of the mystery has any resonance within us, it provides a metaphor to understand our relationship to the transcendent.  Now, we have a window into our own everyday lives that we can use to understand why we are here, and what is the purpose of everything.

Sociological Function

"The third function is to present a social order by which people will be coordinated to the mystery (Joseph Campbell, Myths of Light, p 5)."

This is perhaps the most dangerous and controversial aspect of mythology.  The social order depicted is always tied directly to the same era as that the myth was composed in.  Very few myths are truly timeless.  Most are filled with archaic views that must be refuted for the myth to have any relevance in the modern world.  We do this all the time, often without even noticing.

Should we blindly accept these outdated concepts, we become a danger to ourselves and to civilization itself.  The news is full of examples of what I'm talking about.  We only have to look at the pro-lifer who shoots a doctor to "save lives," or the events of 9/11.

That is why it is important to regularly question everything, even our most basic assumptions and beliefs.  It is not enough to just question, we have to be prepared to give up any belief we find to be false.

The Sociological Function of mythology does have a positive side.  It builds communities and fills them with a sense of common purpose.  The American Dream is one such myth.

Star Trek is a great example of this.  After being on television for only three years, it spawned a large community that grew, and even thrived in absence of any real input from those who created it.  Star Trek embodied the ideals of honor, courage, and IDIC.  IDIC is a concept indigenous to the Star Trek Universe: Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination.  The diehard fans of the series have taken these ideals to heart and actually try to live by them.  For all of the scorn heaped on the phenomenon, I think a lot of good has come out of it.  What better ideals for people to base their lives on?

This new social order arose from the myth of its own accord, and led many people to a better understanding of their place in the universe.

Vital Function

"Finally the fourth function of the mythology is to carry the individual through the course of life (Joseph Campbell, Myths of Light, p 5)."

From birth to adulthood to marriage to children to death, myths provide a pattern to help people understand their lives and give meaning to them.

For me the music of the band Queensryche has served this function quite well.  Not alone, I do have other influences, but they have developed with me.  From their albums Rage for Order and Operation: Mindcrime that helped me in my confused teen years, to Empire that opened my eyes to the real world around me, their music has been a companion sharing insight with me when I needed it most.  When I went out on my own and found out just how evil the world can be, Promise Land came out and helped me to realize that I was not alone, and their was a better future to work for.  Ever since 9/11, I had found myself in a haze.  Nothing seemed to make sense anymore.  Then came Tribe.  They gave words to my pain, a cure to my nightmares, and renewed hope for the future.

In every stage of my life so far, they have told a tale to illuminate the way.  That is the Fourth Function of myth.

Unconventional Myths

I have used many different mythologies to explain the four functions of myth.  I could have used just one for all of them, but I wanted to illustrate a point.  We don't have to choose one mythology to the exclusion of everything else.  Each of these myths have something different to say, and each one speaks to the soul in a different way.  Together with many others, they have helped me to be the best me I can be, and that is what all myths are meant to be.

Some people may object to me calling some of these myth:  "They are just entertainment.  Aren't you taking them too seriously?"

The answer is no.  Myths are discovered, not made (remember?).  Science Fiction, Fantasy, horror, and non-classical music are usually relegated to a second class status to more "realistic" genres.  They are no less capable of delivering insight than Joyce or Hemmingway.  Much ink has been spilled on them, it is time to open the closet and let the other genres out to have their moment in the sun.


The scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

Exploring: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Review of: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Overall Rating: 10

Well worth the wait, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was an amazing movie experience. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg pulled it off again and created another Indiana Jones movie that fans will be proud of. They were able to bring back the over the top wild ride packed full of exploration, history and the sense of humor we have come to know and love from the Indiana Jones move series.

They brought back an amazing cast for the film: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchette, John Hurt, Karen Allen, & Ray Winstone. Each of them really brought their characters to life making them believable. For those concerned about Harrison's ability to pull off Indiana Jones then their fears will be put to rest. For me the biggest concern was not in the appearance of Harrison Ford but it was in Harrison's ability to pull off the vitality of Indiana Jones. When we first see him it is a little jarring but that is actually due to the makeup used to make him look dirty and distressed so he would look appropriate for the situation that Indiana Jones was in. Then shortly into the movie Indiana has to get himself out of a very difficult situation where he explodes into action running, jumping, ducking and dodging.

Lucas brilliantly weaves in the disparate historical events, mysteries, and cultural idiosyncrasies of the late 40's early 50's. For more information about the story line and to watch the trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull check out the May theater or renter post.


  • How Lucas took a moment to address what happened to Marcus & with Indiana's dad.
  • Naming Shia LaBeouf's character Mutt I found hilarious since Indiana was the dogs name and a Mutt is the name of a mixed breed dog. Lucas puts it in and doesn't draw attention to it except for one cafe scene where Indiana without realizing it makes a similar critique about the bizarre nature of Shia's name that Indiana gets in the Last Crusade.
  • I love that Indiana Jones used the very same reference name of Jr. and Henry that he complained about his father using in the Last Crusade.
  • Maintained the spirit, vitality, adventure, and humor we have come to know and love from Indiana Jones movies
  • How all of the ancient traps and secret compartments maintained a Rube Goldberg feel to them with all of the moving parts and gears.
  • How they did not allow it to become a move about the Aliens. Instead the story keeps it's focus on the the message, the exploration, and the archeology.
  • The very touching scene where Lucas pulled a tip of the hat to Joseph Campbell where he has Indiana teach the follow your bliss message.
  • The nice way we were brought up to speed on what happened in the intervening years with out stopping the flow of the main story.
  • I loved how Lucas was able to put in a lot of wonderful edifying life messages without becoming preachy or taking from the flow or experience of the story.

Dislikes / Concerns

  • Shia LaBeouf' did not make me believe he was a greaser. His acting lacked some of the cultural Idiosyncrasy and toughness that a real greaser would have. He "acted" tough but was way over compensated. I'm still debating with myself if it was a flaw in the acting or a brilliant attention to detail tied into the back story of the character with him being a poser to the greaser community.
  • I got terribly concerned with the passing of the torch scene at the end of the movie. Thankfully Lucas zigs when I expected him to give into the Hollywood typical zag. If he would have zag it would have ruined a great movie and I commend Lucas for not giving in.

The Idiots v George Lucas

patton Because threats of Murder are so, so funny, supposed comedian Patton Oswald bombed another joke:

"I was thinking the other day that if I had a time machine... would I go back and witness something, like find out who Jack the Ripper was, or witness the Kennedy Assassination? But the first thing I thought of doing if I actually had a time machine, what I'd do is go back to 1993 or 1994 and kill George Lucas with a shovel."

O, haha, you threatened to kill an artist for following their own vision and doing the things that they wanted to do and not succumbing to the corrosive power of the focus groups like every other hack out there.

Now, I don't care if you don't like the prequel trilogy, or the fact that Lucas finally got the original trilogy to conform to his own personal vision, but do not call yourself a Star Wars fan, and do NOT threaten someone else's life.

Individuality and imagination should be encouraged and not attacked in favor of thoughtless group think. I know this was suppose to be a joke, but it is a symptom of what is wrong with our culture. Conform or we with kill you with a shovel.

I have a copy of Ratatouille that I am not sure I can watch anymore... maybe I should eBay it.

The People Vs. George Lucas - AMC TV: SciFi Scanner

Why The Hero's Journey Simply Is

When idiots speak, I tend to ignore them, but when they make it worse, then I cannot stay silent. I felt that I had to say something, especially since it is the last time I will ever read or site io9 for anything.

When Charlie Anders wrote, New Proof That Every Scifi Epic Is Based On Joseph Campbell, I thought, "No one could be that stupid." The Hero's Cycle described by Joseph Campbell is the underlying structure of folk tales, legends, and myths found around the world. In fact, every well crafted story will follow the cycle, as it is the natural progression of events.

Then Charlie poured salt in the wound with, Eight Reasons Why the Hero's Journey Sucks. Let me take them one by one...

If Charlie had not been stoned while reading Hero with a Thousand Faces, something might have sunk in... O that is not me attacking this poor blogger, to quote the article:

Hey, we got stoned and read The Hero With A Thousand Faces in college, just like everybody else, and we thought it was super deep.

At any rate, let us examine the eight points.

  • It's a formula.

All story telling is formula. Beginning, middle, end. Inciting event, rising action, climax, denouement.

But over time, lazy writers like George Lucas have used it as a checklist.

While I will never defend the multitude lazy writers that are ruining fiction, it is equally lazy to blame mythopoeism for lazy writers. There is no story that does not follow the Cycle, so to say the the formula is boring is to say that every story is boring. Bad writers are boring, put the blame where it is due.

  • It discourages originality

To prove this point the author claims that Firefly/Serenity is original and as such does not follow the Heroes Cycle. Lets test that using the plot description from Wikipedia:

Call to Adventure

The crew of Serenity lands on an Outer Rim planet, planning to rob a local security firm of its payroll. Serenity's captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds is accosted by Simon, irate over Mal's decision to include River in the heist and expose her to danger. Mal overrules Simon's objections and the heist proceeds. All goes according to plan until River detects the arrival of the Reavers, a horde of feral, spacefaring cannibals. As the Reavers massacre the town's inhabitants, the raid-team narrowly escapes back Serenity, where Simon, outraged over River's near-death experience, declares that he and River will be leaving Serenity at the next spaceport.

The crew disembarks at a trading post and enters a bar to meet with Fanty and Mingo, the men who hired Serenity for the heist. River wanders into the bar and observes a television advertisement, which causes her to immediately and brutally attack the other patrons. As she prepares to shoot Mal, Simon arrives and utters a code phrase, immediately rendering River unconscious. Thoroughly confused, Mal takes River and Simon back to Serenity, where Simon reveals that River was conditioned to be an Alliance assassin.

Supernatural Aid

Mal contacts Mr. Universe, a reclusive techno-geek who analyzes the bar security camera footage and discovers a subliminal message in the advertisement that, based on the quality of the encoding, reveals the involvement of the Alliance.

Crossing the First Threshold

Unknown to the crew, the message was placed by the Operative, a self-described monster with no name or rank, dispatched by the Alliance to retrieve River at all costs.

The Belly of the Whale

Mal receives a call from Inara Serra, a former passenger asking for help with local unrest. Despite recognizing the request as an Alliance trap, Mal visits Inara and meets the Operative, who offers to release Mal if he surrenders River. Mal refuses and, after being saved from defeat by Inara's quick thinking, escapes with her back to Serenity.

The Road of Trials

Aboard the ship, River reveals the existence of "Miranda," an Outer Rim planet deemed uninhabitable by the Alliance and located on the far side of a Reaver spacefleet. After the Operative wipes out all of Serenity's ports of refuge, Mal overrides his crew's protests, disguises Serenity as a Reaver vessel and sneaks through the Reaver spacefleet unmoleseted before landing on Miranda, a planet that while fully habitable contains only corpse-filled cities.

The Meeting with the Goddess/Atonement with the Father

A holographic diary entry from an Alliance officer explains the Alliance attempted to bring peace to the population by filling the atmosphere with an anti-aggression drug. The drug's effects were drastic, completely suppressing the population's motivation to self-sustain, except for the 0.1% who had the opposite reaction and became the hyper-violent Reavers.

The Ultimate Boon

Mal declares his intentions to broadcast this message to the solar system via Mr. Universe's powerful transmitters, aware of the Operative and the certain trap that awaits them.

The Magic Flight

As the Operative mobilizes an Alliance fleet above Mr. Universe's planet, Mal provokes the Reaver fleet into pursuing Serenity and leads it into a massive space battle with the Alliance. With both sides distracted, Serenity, pursued by a Reaver ship and the Operative in an escape pod, crash-lands at Mr. Universe's station. The Reavers kill Serenity's pilot Wash, the crew evacuates the ship and sets up defensive positions against the arriving Reavers, and Mal descends into the station to transmit the Miranda audio diary.

Rescue from Without

The crew's defense begins to crumple beneath the Reaver assault, while deep in the station, the Operative ambushes Mal. The crew retreats behind a blast door, which jams before it can close. With everyone wounded and ammunition low, River dives through the blast door and seals it, and immediately begins fighting the fierce Reavers.

The Crossing of the Return Threshold

Meanwhile, Mal narrowly defeats the Operative and leaves him to watch the broadcast of the audio diary.

Master of the Two Worlds

As a wounded and exhausted Mal rejoins the crew, the blast doors open to reveal River standing victorious amid piles of dead Reavers. Alliance troops burst onto the scene, but the Operative, his faith in the Alliance shattered by the Miranda message, orders the soldiers to stand down.

Freedom to Live

The crew buries their deceased friends and repairs Serenity. As the ship prepares to leave, the Operative approaches Mal and warns him of certain retaliaton by the Alliance. Mal returns to Serenity's cockpit and with his new co-pilot River, blasts into space.

Oops... it follows the hero's cycle too... So was it original or not?

  • Why is one hero so special anyway?

The author thinks there can only be one hero... forgetting about the round table and the fact that even Star Wars had multiple heroes. This point cannot even be taken seriously.

  • The "hero" is always a d00d

In the limited sample the author chose, but as always forgetting the historical context. Most heroines have only come about recently. This is something that changes with time. The hero marries the goddess and finds atonement with the Father, because the goddess is the symbol of the beneficial powers of life and the Father represents the judgmental universal punisher.

  • It's cheesy as hell

The author takes Campbell out of context and mocks him. That is just lazy.

  • He shoehorned a lot of myths into his theory

In complaining that Campbell ignores East Asia and Africa is to pretend that he never wrote the Masks of God books among others. This point is too ignorant to discuss any more.

  • It confuses personal growth with solving problems

Campbell's monomyth is unrealistic and spreads the idea that war is therapy.

Campbell's monomyth makes the claim that we project our inner problems on others and that we cannot fix the problem until we see what it actually is. Yeah, this is unrealistic. No one would start a war with another nation for no real reason other than that they see their own personal demons in the other nation... that has never happened.

The Hero's Cycle does not describe fiction, but also the patterns in our own life. This author has obliviously done that with Campbell's work.

This is the last time I will read io9. Most of their posts have been bad since they started, but their intellectual laziness is too much for me to take anymore. I just had to defend Campbell from these idiotic and hollow arguments.

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