Archive of ‘favorite author’ category

Nerdy Thursday: Joss Whedon, the feminist

Today, I am feeling particularly inspired by one of my favorite writers of all time: Joss Whedon. And though I could go on and on and on and on about the ways he inspires me, I’m going to focus on one reason in particular. Here it is:

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And here it is again:

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And again! f8052b704453d3858a5b2e53f40a6076

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, today, I am thinking back on all the women I know and love from Whedon’s work, and am feeling not only inspired by them, but honored. Because you see, I can imagine myself among them.

These women are unique and varied. They come in all shapes and sizes and colors. They work in different areas, have a spectrum of expertise, and live into a wide range of roles, but they share some essential qualities:

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They are strong. They are intelligent. They are loving. They are flawed. They are learning, growing, evolving. They are self-aware.

7c4e66a679419b5ef1f39153793f039dInara-FireflyThese are qualities that I recognize. I know them to be true of myself. They are qualities that people of all races, ages, and genders can relate to.

It is refreshing to experience characters that reflect myself–they affirm my identity, but challenge me to be more than what I am. I can learn with them and from them.

So, for that gentle genius, Fred, and the bookish, compassionate Willow; for the stoic and fierce, yet down-to-earth Zoe, and the loyal, ass-kicking Natasha; for the graceful, nurturing Inara, and the kind, smart Kaylee: I give thanks.

1000px-WillowS7-1-And thanks, Joss, for your dedication to creating female characters with dignity and depth. Keep up the good work!

 

 

*Check out my take on Black Widow from AVENGERS 2: AGE OF ULTRON, posted here through Reel World TheologyAvengers_Black_Widow

 

 

 

 

Review: XENOCIDE & CHILDREN OF THE MIND, by Orson Scott Card

86489780765304742-lIf it seems unfair to review two books at the same time–then I do apologize. I don’t mean to offend, but I feel so similarly about them, and I read them so close together (via audiobook), that what I have to say about one, I have to say about the other.

I have to begin with this: I respect Card as an author. Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow have been in the top echelon of my favorites since the day my teenage self read them.

In both Xenocide and Children of the Mind, Card does something that feels quite different from these two favorites of mine, and also from Speaker for the Dead (book 2 of the Ender series, which I thoroughly enjoyed): instead of the moral or philosophical theme being the undercurrent of the story, Card uses these novels to directly deal with an array of philosophical ideas, one of which is this tiny, uncomplicated query: “what makes a person a person?”

Sheesh. Talk about light reading.

Honestly–Card poses some fascinating questions and presents inventive, well-thought responses to them. The ongoing plot of these two books–which include a continuing cast and situation–is intricate and complex. It juggles the personal growth and interpersonal relationships of about 15-20 people while handling huge moral quandaries. There are merits to these books, I assure you.

But I did not enjoy them very much, and certainly not as much as I enjoyed the first two of the series (Ender’s Game, Speaker). I think Xenoicde and Children could be absolutely riveting to a great many readers, but for my part: I found myself drifting, almost bored, through the long, scientific and philosophical conversations the characters exchange the majority of the novel. We are a party to the intellectual and moral struggling of almost every character, and although I can appreciate (to a degree) being allowed into the process, I found many of these long stretches of dialogue to be unnecessary and self-indulgent.

What kept me interested in the story were the characters I had come to know and love over the course of the series, and the relationships they formed. These connections felt overshadowed, and so diminished, by long philosophical discussions and scientific explanations. Perhaps it comes down to this: these novels had me so much in my head that when I wanted to feel with the characters, I found it difficult to emotionally connect.

I feel a deep emotional attachment to Ender Wiggin, the title character of the series, and so I know that Card can pull that kind of characterization off. I greatly missed the opportunity to form similar bonds with the characters from these novels, who were nonetheless intriguing.

I would recommend this series as a whole, but Xenocide and Children of the Mind were difficult for me to get through.

Nerdy Thursday: Neil Gaiman, 2012 Commencement Speech

This is Neil Gaiman being witty and honest and inspiring. Also, his voice is magic. If you think you need more than that to entice you, then you’re….well, you’re just wrong.

This month I’m locked in the struggle to believe that Making the art I love can be enough. The battle is hard, and this is the Braveheart-esque speech I need right now to bolster me.

Listen to the whole thing. Don’t be cheap with yourself.

Review: MADDADDAM (MaddAddam trilogy: book 3), by Margaret Atwood

MaddAddam trilogy: DONE. Fascinating, heartbreaking, compelling. Atwood does not have to go far from reality to create this vivid, believable world and the characters that people it. She employs scientific advances already in existence, parallels a consumerist culture already in motion, and simply…takes it one step further. In the MaddAddam trilogy, we see what humanity could, most probably will, become.

17262203But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk MaddAddam. This final book of the series combines previous voices with “new” characters who we observed before, and are now allowed to experience more intimately. As the book progresses, we are offered missing pieces of character history that bring us to a fuller understanding of the world and the unlikely community we have come to know (comprised of con-men, murderers, strippers, scientists, art students, gardeners etc.).

Although it was intriguing to watch all the pieces connected, all the mysteries unfurled, MaddAddam was my least favorite book of the trilogy. The pacing slows down considerably, and the interpersonal focus occasionally lost my interest. It often has the feel of a history book as it recounts the past and its connection to the present. However, MaddAddam does explore this interesting concept: has language lost is usefulness in our culture? As a lover of literature and language, I often wonder this. In the completely dismantled society of the MaddAddam trilogy, survivors are trying to rebuild their species and culture, and must make decisions about what to perpetuate and what to abandon. The juxtaposition of the old ways with the “new innocence” of the scientifically-created people the “Crakers” offers fascinating opportunity to look at words, their meaning, and their effectiveness. Atwood shows through this novel that more often than not, the words we use don’t communicate what we are really trying to say.

Overall thought? These novels are important to read (at the very least, book 1: Oryx and Crake). I know that’s a bold statement, but I stand by it. The series asks questions that humanity too easily ignores–questions vital to our future. What will happen if we keep moving along this trajectory of technology, justice, morality, consumerism…? What failsafes do we have in place, if any? Who will save us from ourselves? These things are worth considering.

I recommend the MaddAddam trilogy as a whole for mature audiences.