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Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Cabin in the Woods

To celebrate my victory over my multivariate regression analysis statistics course, I allowed myself to watch a movie. Hearing that it had some Lovecraftian elements in it, I decided to take advantage of Netflix’s offering of The Cabin in the Woods. I am not yet sure if I regret watching it or not. It was certainly a very well-made movie, but I am not sure if I liked it personally. I have a very low tolerance for gore and on-screen, graphic violence – as well as too-intense suspense – and the film certainly had those things, even if a lot of the violence (especially near the end) was almost over-the-top CGI. I was busy being very squeamish during the latter half of the movie, which did not make me like it too much.

However, the film was a very well-thought out and filmed satire of classic horror/slasher films, that was itself horrific. I was expecting a lot from Joss Whedon, and he delivered. Apart from a few plot holes, the most glaring one being how the facility was created and maintained with less technology than is available now, as it presumably had to have been in the past, the movie was seamless. I found myself cheering for both sides as I watched it, due to Whedon’s ability to make you sympathize with any character he wants. He presented us with a lose-lose situation, in which you want both groups to survive, but in the end you know they can’t. As such, every time someone died, I was both saddened and happy, and it was a rather confusing emotional experience as a result (and I must say I loved Marty!).

The suspense was amazing, the monsters (the initial ones especially) terrifying, and the plot actually surprisingly complex and deep. I was on edge the entire movie, and not in vain; in true Joss Whedon style, everyone you ever cared about dies. And then some (sorry for the spoiler, but it had to be said). The ending was a little bit over the top (and who even put that cleanse button there? Who thought that was a good idea), but the mix of humor, cosmic horror (though it wasn’t nearly as Lovecraftian as I had hoped), fear, and examination of ethics made it for a very good movie, but not one I am sure I would recommend. If you can handle gore, then watch it, and if not, don’t; that’s my final piece of advice.

Ta-ta for now!

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in Watchings

 

Domechild

I recently had the pleasure of reading the novel Domechild by Shiv Ramdas. A quick reading of the blurb would lead you to believe that you were going to read another dystopian science fiction novel, in which machines rule over mankind, which has become impotent and degenerate. The first pages reinforce this belief, and I had almost consigned it to that overused trope. But I read on, and then everything changed. It quickly became apparent that Domechild was not about machine-human relations in a dystopian future. The future Ramdas describes in the novel is certainly, by all definitions, dystopian, but it is fundamentally about human relations with each other.

After disabusing myself of the notion that Domechild was mostly about humans and machines (though there are certainly well-used elements of that), I began thinking of it more as social networks gone completely out of control, and Ramdas’ portrayal of life in the City neatly captured the paradox of hyper-connectivity’s close relationship with loneliness and isolation. Just when I had a fix on where I thought Ramdas was going with his book, he threw me a curveball and cast me into a whole other world, where more basic issues of what it means to be human and what it means to be decent came to the forefront. We left behind the world of the city and its titular dome and finally began to learn the truth – or at least some of it. While I could guess at a few elements of the truth through careful hints dropped by Ramdas throughout, I was still surprised and impressed by the complex plot unfolding before my eyes. Alas, this novel ends rather abruptly, and there had better be a sequel coming, because I need to find out what happens next!

Ramdas’ writing style is overall very smooth and often very witty, though I think another round or two of copy-editing would have helped some of the bumpy typos and grammar errors that disrupted the flow, more often than I would have liked. Through his excellent writing, Ramdad was able to craft not only a fascinating world, setting, and plot, but also memorable characters, each with their own unique voice, from Theo to Marcus to Colby and his squad to Father to Ollie to June and even to Vail and the Deacon. His characters are very well-developed and believable, and I was drawn in enough to care deeply about their fates.

My one complaint with Ramdas’ characterization is that of his main character and audience pull, Albert. Albert starts off questioning the system of the City, but is naturally too afraid to do anything about it, which sets the tone for the rest of the novel expertly and gets the plot moving quickly, rather than forcing the reader to wait around for him to develop. However, I am not sure Albert develops naturally either as a person or as a voice; he seems like a hollow vessel for the reader, but I am not sure it works entirely well in the novel. He seems to swing wildly from meekness to confidence, with no real way to tell which way he would go, and seems to gain everyone’s confidence awfully fast for someone they had just met. Something about him seemed off to me, and I found that he was actually the one character I was not particularly concerned for (though he was much more sympathetic at the start of the book than the end). Still, Albert’s flaws were not nearly enough to detract from the graceful prose, excellent characters, well-developed settings, and perfectly-paced plot of the rest of the novel, which I would recommend to anyone! So get out there and buy it from somewhere, like here on Amazon. Get reading!

Ta-ta for now!

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Readings