Archive of ‘Science Fiction’ 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:


And here it is again:






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





Sneakpeek (4): Who-ology Review (S1: 9,10)

I love writing these Doctor Who reviews. Here’s a piece from my upoming review, which you can find over at Reel World Theology sometime this month. Follow me on Twitter @Laura_Fissel, or Reel World Theology @ReelWorldTheo to make sure you catch the whole thing when it’s released! BE WARNED: SPOILERS GALORE. 

CHILD [OC]: Mummy? Mummy? Please let me in, mummy. Please let me in, mummy.
(A little hand comes through the letter box.)
DOCTOR: Are you all right?
CHILD [OC]: Please let me in.
(Nancy throws something that breaks, and the hand withdraws.)
NANCY: You mustn’t let him touch you!
DOCTOR: What happens if he touches me?
NANCY: He’ll make you like him.
DOCTOR: And what’s he like?
NANCY: I’ve got to go.
DOCTOR: Nancy, what’s he like?
NANCY: He’s empty.
This is the fulcrum of the story. Our “big bad” here (Whedon reference: check) is this child, once a little boy named Jamie. Nancy warns the Doctor that though the boy looks alive, he is actually a hollow, dangerous thing that can pass his condition to others by touch. Throughout the episode, we watch as this “empty child” searches for his origin (“are you my mummy?”). Each time he instinctively reaches out to connect, he only manages to spread his emptiness. The Doctor discovers a whole hospital full of people to whom this has happened. They all bear the same head-trauma, scar on their hand, and gas mask that is not covering their face as much as it has become their face. They are an extension of “Jamie,” who unwittingly controls them all.

What better setting to explore real-world brokeness than WWII-era London, at the height of the London Blitz? The city is dark and dust-covered. Sirens are wailing, warning people to get to bomb shelters. The troubled Nancy is surrounded by starving kids. The four-year-old Jamie, now our “empty child,” was killed. Even as Moffat takes us into a fictional story about aliens and time travel, the historical setting presents the undeniable reality that mankind’s brokenness has catastrophic consequences.

Nerdy Thursday: Future Library, Katie Paterson

This week, my husband and I attended a Bryan Series event to see Margaret Atwood (one of my favorite authors of all time) speak.27_margaret_atwood
Among other things, she talked about her involvement in the Future Library project, conceived of and designed by Scottish artist Katie Paterson. This project enlivens my imagination even as it fills me with emotion-confusion. It’s a thing.

So basically, the low-down is that there’s a forest that’s been planted in Norway and it’s going to be allowed to grow for 100 years before it is cut down to print a library of books. Which books? That’s the kicker. Books that we have NEVER READ BEFORE by authors we know and love. Margaret Atwood is the first. Every year for 100 YEARS, another author will add an unpublished unREAD manuscript to the project. Can you read these books? No. And you never will. Unless of course they defeat mortality before then and we are all living forever. Your chances are not great. The best you can do is buy a certificate that entitles you to a complete set of the texts, and hope that it stays in your family to be read by your heirs (ie: someone you *hypothetically* love).

As you can tell by my use of ALL CAPS, the concept of the Future Library is difficult for me as a reader–some of my favorite authors will have written books that I will never read!–but also as a writer. To think: an artist creating something that no one in their lifetime will ever see. With no guarantee that it will make it to the day of its debut!

I guess that’s not such a crazy reality. Many artists weren’t known or appreciated in their day, and as an unpublished author, I am dealing with that issue right now (What is the purpose of my art if no one but me ever sees it? What if I’m never published? Will that negate the work that I’ve done, the stories I’ve told?)

Plus, there really is something romantic about this idea. It is lavishly generous and hopeful, and as close to time travel as we can get right now! We (as in our time, place, context) are being given the opportunity to live on through artists of our day. And in the years to come, the same will be true for our future generations.

Regardless of which side of the emotional fence I’m on at any given moment, I am always sure of one thing: this project is very artistically brave! It requires a lot of letting go and trust in the future. I hope that in my lifetime, I can learn to be that courageous and selfless with my art.



Sneakpeek (3): Who-ology Review (S1:8)

Today’s writing project combines two of my greatest loves: the Gospel and Doctor Who.
I am especially thrilled with how this review is shaping up for the next in my Who-ology series. Here I offer a rough rough rough cut of a couple of paragraphs from the piece. Look for the finished whole sometime towards the end of the month over at Reel World Theology. In the meantime, enjoy!

…there is Someone [who] is trustworthy to cause “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

If you’re like me, that verse has long lost its potency, thanks to the years and years of being quoted at when struggling through painful life circumstances. But let’s hold its truth up to something that we can’t accuse of being touchy-feely or hypothetical. Contrarily, it is raw and tangible (and God knew we needed it): Jesus willingly put himself into experiences just as dark, painful, and inexplicable as the ones we are facing. Not only did he experienced ultimate physical and emotional pain, but spiritual as well: “Why?” he agonized to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, literally sweating blood. And then again on the cross. But Hebrews tells us that he trusted in the end goal, the eternal perspective, and saw suffering through “for the joy set before him.” The Joy–that’s us.



Sneakpeek (2): from THE HEAP (YA sci fi)

This is my Save the Cat (term defined under “origin of title“) for one of the MCs in my work-in-progress The Heap. I love these characters so much, and I’m proud of how distinct they are.

Leonard Scruggs, Ph.D, had not showered in seven days–at least. Scalp grease had unacceptably begun to leave streaky prints all over his equipment. At least great strides had been made in kicking the habit of combing his fingers through the self-cut mop on his head.

There was no time for personal hygiene. He was so close he could taste the shifting ions. He had to optimize every last second of his time. Time, time, time. He had to spend it to make it.

Besides, the water and power had been shut off at the apartment. If he returned, he’d only face a lurking landlord ready to evict him. He slept these days in a sleeping bag cartoonishly printed with the solar system. It had not been appropriately sized for him for about 15 years.

“Nope, nope, no! You tried that, Scruggs,” he cried, tossing away the wrench in his hand. It clanged dully against the rock floor. “If it didn’t work the 49th, it’s not going to work the 50th time. Try something else. Rearrange. Innovate. Evolve.” He sat back on his heels and bit his lip. He rubbed the one spot on his jaw where hair refused to grow. He cocked his head to the side and stared at the monster before him: Mismatched sheets of metal were welded together, overlapping to form a shape previously unknown to man. He leaned forward on hands and knees between the massive sawhorses that held it aloft. He studied its underbelly.

“Lunch break,” he proclaimed.

Hardboiled eggs, as per usual. Keeping Henrietta well-fed was priority one, and she rewarded him for it. Of course he had taken her with him when he left the apartment. No place for the two of them anyway: The landlord had complained about the smell and kept threatening to report him. Leo didn’t know what the fuss was all about. Cats and dogs didn’t smell much worst–plus, they messed in apartments all the time, and weren’t half as well behaved or as clean as his chicken was.

Scruggs dug out a few Messy Burger salt packets from the pocket of his discarded khakis, lying on the cave floor at the foot of his “bed.” He tapped the first egg along his knee and started to peel it. “Thanks, Henry,” he said as she waddled past, scratching a moment in the dirt before moving on. She pretended not to pay Scruggs any mind. “See?” He said aloud. “Just like a cat.”

The cave suddenly quivered. Machines began to rumble through the quarry a few layers of rock above his head. Scruggs shivered. It was only a matter of time. Every moment mattered.

Loose stones crumbled and fell across the machine with a series of small pings. Mouth full, he ran to his workbench and tossed a clean canvas across everything. Then, he hurried to the machine and did the same. “This is not a drill!” He shouted, pulling aside the canvas and ducking between the sawhorses. Henry skittered after him. From where he crouched, he could watch as his clothes, toiletries, and sleeping bag were showered with debris. He popped the rest of the cold, salted egg into his mouth and chewed.

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