April 26th, 2005

breaking bad

Arming the geeks

I am reading From Alien to the Matrix by rozk. Although I haven't finished it yet, I recommend it. It's a literate and liberal discussion of a wide range of SF films, not just the usual Alien/Blade Runner/Matrix titans, under various themes (for example an overview of alien invasion films, how they stopped being made, and then came back in the nineties).

I think a danger in reviewing a book of this kind is that you are tempted to list the points made that you disagree with, and of course there are quite a few (any two SF fans disagree...) and so the review ends up appearing negative. But it's telling that the disagreements are over specific issues (to what extent does Paul Verhoeven subvert or fail the challenge of interpreting Heinlein for the modern audience) that presuppose a rich common ground of values and interests. For example the book doesn't treat women as secondary or disposable characters, or present courage and will as exclusively masculine values. Compared to that, differences of evaluation of particular films are trivial.

Reading this book encourages a happy train of thought, roving over so many films that have given me pleasure over the years, and offers some new insights. And very importantly the prose is clear, non-pretentious, but not dumb.