Saturday, July 27, 2013

Nitpicking PACIFIC RIM.

Okay, I enjoyed Pacific Rim greatly while I watched it with my eight year old.  It delivered everything I need from a movie of this sort: Monsters and giant robots fighting.  And unlike the awful Transformers movies, the action was coherent and I could figure out what was going on.  It had a simple, old fashioned story of good guys versus bad guys and on that level the movie worked.

To nitpick this movie isn't difficult.
1.  The monsters are vulnerable to damage from conventional weapons, even as they inflict horrific damage to the robots.  So why build robots that get up close and personal when the monsters have no discernible long range attacks?  We currently have all sorts of super accurate guided missiles.  Why not equip these robots with such weapons and blast the beasts from out of harm's way?  Not very cinematic, I guess.
2.  Why do they let the monsters reach major cities before engaging them?  They know where the monsters come from.  Why not build a base and blast them out in the middle of the Pacific?
3.  Why exactly does it take two to tango or operate a giant robot?  Some nonsense about "neural load"  but really just to create an obstacle in the plot.
4.  If the pilots are mentally linked why do they keep asking each other "Are you okay?"  Why do they talk to each other at all?   Wouldn't they already know?
5.  Why are the pilots actually inside the robots where they can be killed during the fight?  Why not operate them remotely?  Much safer.  And we already do this sort of thing with TODAY'S technology.
The answer to all these question is that the writers thought these things would make the movie more exciting.  Who wants to watch a desk jockey push a button and beat a monster by remote control?  But still, I can imagine a giant robot movie  where you pay attention to things like logic and common sense that still conveys the horror of these creatures. 
Don't get me wrong, I loved watching a robot drag a huge tanker ship through Hong Kong and use it to batter a monster.  But, really, why???  Doesn't the robot have a whole bunch of weapons?  Were there any people on that ship?  How do they know?   

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fredric Brown - Sci-Fi Writer Extraordinaire!

Fredric Brown, who died way back in 1972 and is long out of print, was a science fiction pioneer and more importantly a major influence on other writers, myself included.  In fact, no book has had a greater impact on me than WHAT MAD UNIVERSE (1949) when it comes to writing exciting pulp fiction.  It's about a man named Keith Winton
 trapped in an alternate universe where the world of the pulp science fiction magazine stories he edits are literally true.  And space travel is accidentally discovered during a freak sewing machine mishap.  No joke.  (Want a copy?   Check out Ebay.  Really, it's great.) 

And it's not just me.  Brown was a major influence on the much more famous Phillip K. Dick, but where I find Dick almost unreadable, Brown's novels are light, breezy, fun page-turners full of mind bending ideas.  Brown was also a dedicatee in Robert A. Heinlein's STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND.

Sci-Fi not your thing?  Brown also wrote detective novels and crime stories with equal aplomb.  I truly hope this writer will someday be back in print and receive the recognition he deserves.

Fredric Brown's Wikipedia Page

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Welcome Aboard!

Hello, Everybody!

I'm a novelist and playwright.  Yes, I'll be doing a whole bunch of self promotion, but I'm also going to write about books, plays and movies I think are cool so  this blog won't be just a bunch of "Look at me!"

What do I think is cool?  Here's a quick list:

H.P. Lovecraft
The Parker Novels by Richard Stark
Film Noir
The plays of Sheila Callaghan
Octavia Butler
Charles Bukowski
R. Crumb
The plays of Kato McNickle
Orson Scott Card
Greek Mythology
Game of Thrones
Mad Men
Walking Dead

This list is by no means exhaustive.  It should give you a basic idea about my tastes.  I like my fiction pulpy.  If I read "literary" fiction it'll be somebody like Junot Diaz.   I like strong writing, but I want a cool story, too.  The average New Yorker short story bores me to death.

What am I reading right now?  THE GOD PROBLEM by Howard Bloom, non-fiction about how the universe was created.  It's way overdue from the library.  If looking at the true nature of the universe doesn't blow your mind, you aren't looking hard enough.

Okay, that's it for now.

Michael R. McGuire

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