Tag Archives: Genre

The Dunwich Horror

Delta-vee presents classic Old Time Radio productions and modern audio drama, today’s episode: “The Dunwich Horror”. The works of H.P. Lovecraft have had a pervasive and lasting influence on modern horror writers, from his themes of forbidden knowledge and nihilism to his habit of founding mythology upon a secret history fabricated from whole cloth. Of his many works, the most well know are unarguably the Cthulhu Mythos, a loosely defined collection of secret history lore upon which Lovecraft built many of his stories, and which he encouraged his contemporaries to reference in their own works. “The Dunwich Horror” stands as perhaps the quintessential representative of the Cthulhu Mythos as a whole, containing as it does nearly every staple element of Lovecraft’s other fiction. His horror fiction is replete with monsters beyond the ken of man, secret cults devoted to the outer gods, and heroes whose credentials are more scholarly than physical. In one aspect only does “The Dunwich Horror” depart from traditional Lovecraftian storytelling: the heroes not only survive their adventure with body and minds whole, but emerge triumphant … after a fashion. Despite the not-completely-nihilistic ending, Lovecraft considered this story “so fiendish that [Weird Tales editor] Farnsworth Wright may not dare to print it.” Wright did not agree with this sentiment, and snapped up the story for $240 (about $2800 today), making this the single largest payment Lovecraft had yet received for his work (Lovecraft, Selected Letters Vol. II, p. 240; cited in Joshi, p. 101). “The Dunwich Horror” was first published in the April, 1929 issue of Weird Tales; this episode of Suspense first aired on November 1, 1945. And now, our feature presentation ….

The Defenders

Delta-vee presents classic Old Time Radio productions and modern audio dramas, today’s episode: “The Defenders”. The works of Philip K. Dick repeatedly treat themes revolving around our perception of reality and personal identity. Protagonists in Dick’s work were often regular people rather than action heroes and did not need to be human at all; the qualities that defined humanity for Dick included traditional virtues such as honesty, kindness, and the ability to act rationally. Dick’s heroes often engaged in extensive rational analysis of their world, often concluding that the world around them could not be objectively real but a product of their own perception and interaction choices. Dick displayed an overarching fear and hatred of war, both as a political and social instrument, believing it to be an expression of the immaturity of human culture. Jungian psychology played a large part in Dick’s thinking, shaping his stories around themes of the collective unconscious of humanity, the behavior of individuals in groups, and the intrinsic nature of personhood. Film adaptations of Dick’s work include “Minority Report”, “Total Recall”, and Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”; Dick’s work has been pervasively influential in the science fiction genre as a whole. “The Defenders” presents a world where a war started by humanity is prosecuted by machines, precursing both Keith Laumer’s “Bolo” stories and James Cameron’s “Terminator” franchise, and treats Dick’s three themes in a very succinct and expressive way. “The Defenders” was first published in the January, 1953 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. This episode of X Minus One first aired on May 22, 1956. And now, our feature presentation….

Sam, This Is You

Delta-vee presents classic Old Time Radio productions and modern audio dramas, today’s episode: “Sam, This Is You”. Murray Leinster wrote more than 1500 short stories and novels during an extremely prolific writing career under a variety of pseudonyms, the “Leinster” persona being the most famous of them. His writing career began well before World War I when he wrote for a wide variety of genre fiction magazines, including westerns, mysteries, and romance, but it wasn’t until pulp science fiction started to become widely accepted in the 50s and 60s that he published routinely under his real name, William Fitzgerald Jenkins. Leinster accumulated many “sci-fi firsts” to his credit, including genre conventions such as parallel universe stories and the universal translator. Leinster’s most famous story is unquestionably “A Logic Named Joe”, where he predicts not only personal computers associated with everyday tasks, but the existence of a pervasive network of interconnected information systems. The “Sideways Award for Alternate History” was created in 1995 to recognize outstanding parallel universe stories, and takes its name from Leinster’s story “Sideways In Time”. Leinster’s story “Sam, This Is You” dabbles in time travel without dipping into the complex arguments of causality and predetermination that accompany this kind of exercise in the modern and post-modern storytelling era. Instead, Leinster lets events play out in a continually unfolding drama that assumes history will play out more or less the same way regardless of outside meddling; that era’s optimistic outlook stands in sharp contrast to contemporary attitudes of mistrust and fear that now form the prevalent reaction to personal insecurity. “Sam, This Is You” first saw print in the May 1955 issue of Galaxy magazine; this episode of X Minus One first aired on October 31, 1956. And now, our feature presentation ….

Sucker Punch Gut Shot

If you’ve found this review, chances are you’ve already read half a dozen others either deploring Zack Snyder’s film for its concept or praising it for its appearance.

All those reviewers are wrong.

“Sucker Punch” is a subtle, complex, and carefully executed exercise in storytelling and filmmaking. Snyder tells us the story of Baby-Doll, a young woman we meet immediately following the death of her mother, and stay with her during her tragic attempt to save both herself and her sister from their abusive step-father. In retaliation, the step-father commits her to an asylum where she is scheduled to be lobotomized. Baby-Doll retreats from reality into increasingly complex fantasies in her attempts to escape from the asylum and regain her freedom.

If “Sucker Punch” sounds depressing on the outset, it is. This movie deals with horrific themes of abuse and social disassociation, but does so through coy manipulation of the main character’s perception of reality. The imagery ranges from historical 1920’s to romanticized burlesque to fantasy-steampunk-scifi in a visual treat fluidly appealing to modern video gamers and fanboys. The heart of the film remains with its treatment of theme, and “Sucker Punch” is a film that deserves to be studied and appreciated for its attention to the finer points of filmmaking and storytelling.

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Dimension of the Mind

Zero Hour by Stoney M. Setzer“Zero Hour” is the new book from ResAliens collection the spiritual suspense stories of Stoney M. Setzer. Setzer’s stories have appeared previously in Residential Aliens and Christian Sci-Fi Journal among other venues. Edited by Lyndon Perry, this collection brings together twelve previously published stories along with three never before printed.

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Crisis on Two Earths

Alternate and parallel earths are a staple of modern science-fiction, due in no small part to the prevalence, or even dominance, of these stories in the pages of the DC comics titles all through the 60’s, 70’s and into the 80’s. Though the company departed from this convention during the late 80’s and 90’s, duplicate earth stories are back with a vengeance, in the comics, on the tv series, and finally in the movie-length releases.

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Planet Hulk

I was surprised to find “Planet Hulk” on the new movie shelf this week, not having seen any trailers for the project at all. Given Lion’s Gate’s track record with Marvel properties, and especially with adaptations of existing stories, I didn’t hesitate to slip the Blu-Ray version in between the laundry soap and frozen pizzas, where my wife would hopefully overlook it until we’re at the checkout lane….

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Speed Racer

In a world where drivers of consummate skill and daring steer super-charged racing machines across tableaus of light, color, and motion through tracks and stunts that defy the laws of physics themselves, one young man learns the cost of integrity pitted against the unassailable might of money.

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Public Enemies

A tale of loyalty and unlikely friendship featuring two of the most famous super-heroes on the planet, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies pairs the Man of Steel with the Dark Knight.  The iconic heroes unite when President Lex Luthor accuses Superman of terrible crimes against humanity and assembles a top-secret team of powerhouse heroes to bring Superman in.  But the “World’s Finest” duo are determined to topple the corrupt president’s reign once and for all!

-from the ad copy on the back cover of the trade paperback edition

Perspective: I picked up issue one of the new series Superman/Batman with hope that the adoption of the Kids WB Superman/Batman logo from the Saturday morning adventure hour heralded the same kind of storyteling, glanced at the clean, manga-esque interior art by Ed McGuinness, and finally noticed Jeph Loeb’s name in the writer’s credit.  I put the book down and walked quickly away.  Loeb’s excellent thriller Batman: the Long Halloween had made enough of an impression in my mind that I also purchased the overly sentimental Superman For All Seasons by the same creative team.  After that disappoinment, Jim Lee’s astounding art coupled with the promise of another detective thriller lured me into the twelve-part Hush – densely packed with guest-stars, nonsensical plot device, and held together by author’s fiat.  It wasn’t until issue seven centered on Superboy and Robin that I reluctantly acquired the back-issues; at that I point I felt morally compelled to at least purchase the book until the story-arc had been completed.  Twenty-five issues later, I want my money back.

Surprisingly, when Green Lantern: First Flight included a teaser for this project, I couldn’t wait to see the translation to animation.  I expected a clean adaptation of Ed McGuinness’ spectacular and dynamic artwork accompanied by a team of editors to turn Loeb’s poorly plotted showcase of his partner’s artistic talent into a massive brawl wherein the World’s Finest take turns whuppin’ up on a parade of guest stars.  Time for popcorn.

Background: The “World’s Finest” team of Superman and Batman have appeared in one form or another as friends and allies in adventure since 1941.  The two characters share an iconic status in the pantheon of DC heroes, and it is this status rather than equality of ability that has them joined at the hip in graphic literature.  The so-called “contrasting characterization” is a relatively recent innovation, as the heroes shared virtually identical story structures even into the 1980’s: villain appears; villain confounds hero; hero uses deus ex machina to restore the status quo.  These characters have not been used consistently in this fashion, nor in any continuing shared publication, since DC reorganized their internal continuity of story in 1984.

Following the success of adapting Darwyn Cooke’s Justice League: the New Frontier from graphic novel to animation, the adaptation of other best-selling publications seemed only natural.  Superman/Batman: Public Enemies presented an opportunity to use multiple DC character properties without attaching the words “Crisis” or “Justice League” to the project.

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