Daredevil

http://melindasnodgrass.com/daredevil

http://melindasnodgrass.com/?p=1912

I love our modern age where I can call up Netflix on my XBox 360 and start streaming their new original television series DAREDEVIL.  I adore the fact they shoot the entire season then put it up so I can gulp it down or pace myself with an episode at a time.  (I’m a gulper – 2 to 3 episodes at a sitting).

Let me count the ways I think this show is great.  The star Charlie Cox.  He caught my eye in the movie based on a Neil Gaiman novel Stardust.  He is pitch perfect as Matt Murdock.  Elden Henson is the kind, funny, befuddled best friend and law partner, Foggy Nelson.  Vondie Curtis-Hall is the voice of wisdom and age as the reporter Ben Urich.  And then there is Vincent D’Onofrio who is just killer as Wilson Fisk.  The portrayal of nobility and savagery is astounding.  One moment you find him compelling, fascinating and the next he is repellant.

The women — Rosario Dawson brings grace and courage to the role of Claire.  I was loving Karen, but that has changed.  More on that in my next post.  Wai Ching Ho is fascinating as Madam Gao and Judith Delgado as Elena show that older women can have power and strength and be interesting in their own right.  Compared to the men there are fewer women, but they are all complex, strong and interesting.

The look — it’s great.  It’s the mean streets.  It’s also visceral in its portrayal of violence, and the effects of violence.  Matt can’t just shake off a beating.  It takes time for him to heal, Claire is constantly stitching him up and he hurts.  It’s such a pleasant change from action and violence without consequences.  This is what Wild Cards should and could be with the right backers.

Daredevil Part 2

http://melindasnodgrass.com/daredevil-part-2

http://melindasnodgrass.com/?p=1915

I finished the final two episodes this afternoon.  There will be some spoilers in this section so if you haven’t watched the show yet you are hereby warned.  I still love the show, but here were my problems.

 

**********************SPOILERS********************SPOILERS****************SPOILERS*****************SPOILERS

 

I had loved the Ben Urich character because he was the older, wiser man to the kids.  I had been worried that he was going to come to bad end which would end up turning the character into Hollywood’s “magic negro”, and unfortunately they did just that.  I am also getting quite tired of watching a movie and knowing the sympathetic actor of color is going to die.  I half watched Pompei the other night, and yep, Jon Snow’s… er gladiator dude’s best friend ends up dying so he can escape.  At least in this one the young lovers don’t life happily ever after.  But I digress.

Karen.  I had started out caring about this character, and really liking the fact they seemed to be hooking the pretty blond up with the schlubby sidekick/best friend.  But that seemed to get erased in the season finale, and it was hinted that she and Matt would get together.  Dull.  Been there, done that, have the tee shirt.

I know Karen was supposed to be the voice of justice, but she ended up coming across as obsessed and fanatical.  I found many of her actions in the later episodes to be problematic if not down right disturbing.  Where she really lost me was the manipulation of poor Ben regarding a retirement home.  Leading him to believe this was about his beloved wife and then doing the bait and switch made me despise her.  There was the hint when she shot Wesley that there is some darkness in the lady so I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen more of her.  I just have to say that I lost all sympathy with the character, and really wish we had more of Claire instead.

I thought the fact that Leland, the accountant was the snake was telegraphed a little too obviously, but maybe that’s because I write these things that I had figured him for the Judas early on in the series.

I really liked the conclusion where Matt takes down Fisk, but nobody dies and Fisk is going to face judgment in a court of law.  Too often these shows devolve to redemptive violence and nothing else.  This was a very pleasant change.

Bottom line.  I can’t wait for the second season of this show.

Puppies! — My Two Cents

http://melindasnodgrass.com/puppies-my-two-cents

http://melindasnodgrass.com/?p=1909

I’ve hesitated to wade into this mess.  Not because I’m particularly cowardly, but because so many thoughtful people with far more stature in the field then me have very eloquently spoken out about the Hugos and the slate.  I’m speaking of course about George R.R. Martin and Connie Willis.  Here’s what I thought I could add to the discussion.

Brad Torgersen who is one of the Sad Puppies wrote the following on his webpage —

“A few decades ago, if you saw a lovely spaceship on a book cover, with a gorgeous planet in the background, you could be pretty sure you were going to get a rousing space adventure featuring starships and distant, amazing worlds. If you saw a barbarian swinging an axe? You were going to get a rousing fantasy epic with broad-chested heroes who slay monsters, and run off with beautiful women. Battle-armored interstellar jump troops shooting up alien invaders? Yup. A gritty military SF war story, where the humans defeat the odds and save the Earth. And so on, and so forth.

These days, you can’t be sure.

The book has a spaceship on the cover, but is it really going to be a story about space exploration and pioneering derring-do? Or is the story merely about racial prejudice and exploitation, with interplanetary or interstellar trappings?

There’s a sword-swinger on the cover, but is it really about knights battling dragons? Or are the dragons suddenly the good guys, and the sword-swingers are the oppressive colonizers of Dragon Land?

A planet, framed by a galactic backdrop. Could it be an actual bona fide space opera? Heroes and princesses and laser blasters? No, wait. It’s about sexism and the oppression of women.

Finally, a book with a painting of a person wearing a mechanized suit of armor! Holding a rifle! War story ahoy! Nope, wait. It’s actually about gay and transgender issues.

Or it could be about the evils of capitalism and the despotism of the wealthy.

Do you see what I am trying to say here?”

Torgersen presents these alternative stories as if they are a bad thing.  I don’t agree.  The world has changed.  People have different expectations about what is normal or accepted, and the rules have changed which means while the traditional has its place it’s not the only place where we all have to live.

We inhabit an amazing world where technology has advanced to the point that I can have a real time conversation with a person on the other side of the planet.  A person whose race and culture and gender are vastly different from mine.  Where in the words of Carl Sagen we are all living on a “small blue dot”,  “…a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam”.  Yet we’re all the same species with the same drives and loves and passions.  These are the things that bind us together.  Why we have told stories around campfires for thousands of years, familiar stories of love and loss, bravery and heroism, themes that cross every culture and transcend our differences.

While the underlying themes may be the same the solutions to these themes can differ and that’s wonderful.  It would be such a boring world if there was only chocolate ice cream or just vanilla ice cream.  How much better to have Spumoni, and raspberry, tutti frutti, butter pecan….

Science fiction is now a world wide source of entertainment from our movies to our TV shows.  Shouldn’t our prose also try to reflect this wonderful kaleidoscope of human diversity?  In fact prose is probably the best place to present this fascinating dance of differing outlooks and beliefs, to speak to and hear from people who aren’t just like us.

I think it deepens and enriches our genre when we have women, and people of color and the LGBT community, and different religions or no religions discussed and explored.

Over the years I’ve had people ask “what do you do?” and when I tell them I’m a writer their initial reaction is “oh cool”.  Then they ask what I write and when I say science fiction the reaction becomes “Oh, that’s kid stuff.  I don’t read science fiction.”  By broadening our field to include this rich symphony of different voices I think science fiction has graduated from being that “Buck Rogers, kid stuff” into a genre which is perfectly positioned to discuss big issues and the deepest human motivations in really interesting ways.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a place for some good old fashioned buckle and swash, but that shouldn’t be the entirety of our field.  Let’s not eat just vanilla ice cream or sing one kind of song.  Let’s explore all of the wonder that the minds of humans can imagine.  I see no evidence that the buckle and swash is being forced out in favor of a more diverse fiction.  The pie is getting bigger not smaller.  More books are being published.  More voices are being heard.  Today readers have an expansive feast to be enjoyed.

What I’m trying to say is none of us should be afraid.  It’s a small blue dot and because of advances in technology we have the ability to hug each other close and face the void united in our humanity and celebrating our differences.

Under the Heading — Small World

http://melindasnodgrass.com/under-the-heading-small-world

http://melindasnodgrass.com/?p=1907

I moved from the L.A. condo into a townhouse out in Westlake Village today.  Chris Valada had recommended ABC movers, and they were terrific.  I knew when I called to book that it was Russian owned and the crew of guys who turned up were fascinating.  I bought them lunch and while we sat out on the patio and ate our cheese burgers I quizzed them.  Vlad was from Ukraine, Robert was from Russia but had been living in Georgia (not the American one), and Baha or Baja (not sure how he spells it) was from Talas in Kazakhstan.  I suspected as much because despite speaking fluent Russian he had epicanthic folds.

This is where a large section of the Wild Card book Lowball takes place, and where much of High Stakes the upcoming Wild Card book is set.  He was delighted that I had not only heard of his country, but that I knew quite a bit about it.  I showed him a section in LOWBALL where one of our villains is talking about Talas.  He was grinning from ear to ear, and when he saw mine and George’s name on the cover he was even more delighted.

When the time comes to return home to NM for good I will be using ABC.  They were not only wonderfully efficient they were very reasonable.  And with what other company would you get to discuss the Silk Road, and the politics surrounding Ukraine?

Pensive

http://melindasnodgrass.com/pensive

http://melindasnodgrass.com/?p=1905

I’m in a pensive mood today.  I’m depressed over what has happened to the Hugo awards and to Worldcon.  I haven’t really addressed the Sad/Rabid Puppy mess because when two of the most respected figures in our field — George R.R. Martin and Connie Wills — have weighed in there really isn’t much for me to say except — boys, you’re whining and it shows.

I’m also very homesick for New Mexico.  My return to L.A. was uneventful, but now I’m into a frenzy of unloading stuff at the new place, lugging really large boxes out of the storage unit, preparing for movers on Monday which means I have to pack like crazy over the weekend.  Fortunately I don’t have a lot of things in California.  Still it feel daunting.

At the new townhouse I discovered that the deadbolt catches when I try to unlock the door, and I lacked the strength to force it.  I had to call my realtor to come and get the door opened.  The sellers were so kind and left me an orchid plant and a bottle of champagne.  I’ll open it with friends once I get moved in.  Still the place seems like a set and not a home.  This was only the second time I’m seen the place.  I offered on it after seeing it once.  Have I made a mistake?  I don’t know yet.

After off loading some things I headed to the barn.  Everyone has gone to the World Cup in Las Vegas.  I was ambivalent about going, but now it feels like I’m missing the party.  I was going to ride Vento, but I couldn’t fine my saddle and by the time I had located my tack it was getting late.  It was funny when Vento heard my voice he gave a stallion “bugle”.  I’ve never heard him to that before.  All the grooms starting laughing, and said he was giving me what for and indeed he was.

After the barn I headed to the market and the storage unit, and now I’m trying to figure out where and what to eat for dinner.  The other strange thing is having no television and only my personal hotspot for internet.  I turned it off while I was away for so long, but now I’m regretting that.  I can’t even fire up the XBox because without wireless throughout the condo I can’t get to the cloud saved games.  Sometimes I think I rely on the television to fill the silence, as a surrogate for companionship.

Which bring me to the final most pensive thing.  Someone who was very dear to me has pulled away.  Even though I didn’t see him often there was this sense that he was near and available.  The ground seems shaky now that he’s gone.  I wish I could do anger better.  All I feel is sad.