Tag Archives: science fiction

Star Wars: The Experience


Star Wars: The Experience at the Pacific Science Center was amazing. The production models and costumes were simply works of art. I can’t believe that they worked with mostly off the shelf technology, yet they produced something so realistic. I was so close to the original Millennium Falcon model that I could see the laser burns on the hull. It’s like they were telling a story through a sculpture of wood, LEDs, and molded plastic tank parts. 501st legion also showed up to pay their respects and pose for some sweet photographs. And then there was the Millenium Falcon theatre thing! I feel so bad for having Sara wait in line for all that, but it was all so totally worth it!

I wish I could work on something like Star Wars. I guess I’m unique in that when I look behind the magician’s curtain, it doesn’t ruin the magic for me, it makes it more exciting. I feel as though I’m looking at the product of a real life philosopher’s stone: Something as mundane as lead has been turned into gold through the power of illusion.

I love hearing stories about how they made this entire universe out random junk they found at a medical surplus store. All the failed plans and wrong turns just fascinate me. It took all their ingenuity and cunning to do what they did. No one told them they needed this degree or that skill, they just had 12 million dollars and a deadline to hit, and they did it! They turned a potential disappointment into one of the most important cultural forces of the last century. When my mid-life crisis hits, you can spare me your sports cars and fantasy baseball or fantasy rock and roll camps. Anybody who wants to profit off of my self-actualization can send me to Industrial Light and Magic camp.

Avatar: The Story of North America

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Avatar is one of those movies that you just have to see. In our thousand-channel, billion-webpage universe, sometimes we need to have a collective cultural experience. The CGI is amazing. I couldn’t tell whether it was through the use of clever editing or new software tools, but the live action blended seamlessly with the animation in way I’ve never seen before. The story strikes a fine balance, incorporating enough hard science fiction ideas to inspire the visuals, but enough mythological tropes to keep the audience involved. It’s cheesy, but not too cheesy.

It is by no means a perfect movie. I would’ve liked to know why the corporation was willing to go through with genocide to get at their unobtainium (I would’ve called in macguffinite myself). This is a movie more about spectacle than nuance. But as the success of District 9 has shown us, there is room for intellectual SF movies as well as the booming blockbusters. Avatar has been an easy target for internet snark ever since the first trailers came out, but I find I part ways with the critics when they start talking about the film’s racist/mysoginist/ableist overtones.

I’m not going to go into every political grievance against this film. Even anti-smokers are getting into the game. Yes, Avatar is essentially “Dances With Wolves” in space, but that doesn’t make it white supremacist literature. People respond to this story, especially in North America because it is, in essence, their story. Most societies on the Western Hemisphere are here because of political edicts of older, more entrenched societies in Eurasia. As time went on, we adapted to our new home and eventually broke free of our autocratic masters from across the ocean. A lot of people died or were subjugated over this period of history, but it does not change the fact that it is our story. Instead of simply decrying movies like this, we should learn why they resonate with us, and in turn learn a bit more about ourselves.

The Friday Files: May 29, 2009 Edition

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Sure, we like to complain about how complicated technology is, but even the most basic amenities that we take for granted today had a learning curve back in their day. Apparently this sign adorned some hotel rooms in the 1870s. A printable version can be found here. Found via BoingBoing Gadgets.

Blood of Bahamut truly displays the elegance of hardware and software pushed to the limit. Honestly, who cares about HD graphics when you can make a DS do this? Via GameTrailers

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There is nothing cooler than t-shirts with subtle geek references. A passing glance at one of these Metal Gear T-shirts leads the mundane observer to consider them a product of a rock band or an insipid fashion label. Closer inspection reveals that they are trophies of all the hours you logged trying to get past Sniper Wolf.Via BoingBoing OffWorld

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The more minor characters of the Star Wars Saga get their due with this funky ABC design set. Via Topless Robot

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Proof that Volks doesn’t just make those creepy dolls you find hanging around anime conventions. Via Neko Magic