Tag Archives: Books

Time Travel Theories

19 Apr

So, there are three main types of time travel. Or, at the very least, that’s the way I tend to classify time travel events in my head whenever I think about it. Which I kinda do a lot, because I’m that much of a nerd. Whatever.

With slight adjustments for the details of a particular time travel event, I really believe that these three categories can be applied to explain and classify every instance of time travel in comics/movies/books/TV shows/etc.

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1. Time is Unchanging: All time travel that happens was always meant to happen. There’s just one timeline; all events are fixed and built into it and can’t be changed. In fact, trying to change or avoid things often means that you, the time-traveller, are the one who makes them happen.

Ex: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure| Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban| Kate and Leopold| Premonition| Supreme| Timeline.

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2. Time as a River: Time travel can change certain things, but the things that were meant to happen will happen eventually. You might be able to change small details or delay things, but eventually the timeline will correct itself. It’s like throwing rocks into a river: pebbles make ripples, where you can see the tiny effects, but it won’t change the major flow.

Ex:  Doctor Who| Journeyman| Terminator| The Time Machine

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3. Time Changes into Alternate Timelines: The act of time travel always causes a change of some sort, and an alternate timeline branches off from that moment. This is where the most significant changes can happen and so it’s the most commonly seen. This one’s the most complicated just because different ‘verses deal with the role of the traveller and the state of their timeline in so many different ways.

Some ‘Role of the Traveller’ options:

  • merge with your other self and have memories of both timelines (I’ve only ever seen this in Harry Potter fanfiction, but it exists)
  • replace your other self (Batman/Superman Absolute Power)
  • cause yourself to never be born (why Marty fades in Back to the Future)
  • you and the other you(s) can exist simultaneously (old and young Spock in the ’09 Star Trek movie);

Some ‘State of the Timeline’ options:

  • jump between the past and the future making and seeing changes instantly
  • changes in the past create a new timeline, completely erasing yours giving you nowhere to jump back to
  • jump to the future and return to the past to create a new timeline based on what you learned

Ex:  13 Going on 30| Back to the Future| Batman/Superman: Absolute Power| Charmed| Cinderella 3: A Stitch in Time| Eureka| Heroes| Star Trek

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Can you think of more examples of time travel?

Is there anything that doesn’t fit into these categories? Anything that should be reclassified?

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Spoiler-free Book Review: The Court of the Air

10 Apr

If I’m being perfectly honest, I bought this book because of it’s cover.

It’s got a pretty font! And there was a cool looking balloon. And a super-cheesy, yet tantalising, tagline. (“A fantastical tale of high adventure, low-life rogues, and orphans on the run.”)

Can't argue with its appeal

Luckily, it managed to live up to my font-driven expectations.

Slotting this book into a genre actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be; all I have to do is string words together until they encompass it: it’s a steampunk Victorian fantasy adventure novel.

I think my favourite part about this book is how it shoves you into this new world and just goes, without tedious pages of background explanation. Through the clever use of jargon (in this case, words that are similar enough to their ordinary usage that you can understand their meaning, but used in unusual ways so the world still feels different) you’re plunged into the world without fanfare.

This is one of the few books where I’ve instantly thought “This would make a really good movie.” (Normally, I’m a stickler for original formats: I appreciate the nuances found in a book that a movie wouldn’t be able to convey. And vice versa; I’m an equal opportunity stickler.)

But this book? Would make an awesome movie! This world, done right, would be absolutely beautiful to see on the big screen. There’s so much unique detail: steam-powered living robots, fey mutations and magic users, armoured crab-people, flying bat-winged tribes…and those are just the character possibilities.

You know what would be even better? If it was animated. Not as a kids’ movie, and not necessarily computer animated because I don’t think you’d get the level of detail that this world deserves…but an old-school hand-drawn animated movie. Oh, why don’t I have any artistic skills? I really want this to happen now.

The Court of the Air can be enjoyed as a good old-fashioned adventure novel: exploring and experiencing a new world with the characters as they run for their lives from mysterious forces trying to kill them. (Always fun, right?)

Or, for the literary analysts among us, there’s plenty to read more deeply into. Examples:

  • Political commentary easily conveyed by exaggerating the parliamentary procedures (they actually fight each other during meetings in order to get proposals approved).
  • Social commentary thinly veiled in the described class structure and differenced between the many species/cultures mentioned.
  • Religious contradictions examined, for instance, through the fact that steambots are more spiritual than humans, whose religion is almost indistinguishable from political theory.

The world doesn’t feel as crazy-expansive as most sword-and-sorcery novels do; it’s not spread-out so much that you feel the characters are taking months to trek across it. Not to say that it isn’t good world-building…there are plenty of aspects of this world mentioned in passing which hint at a larger and more detailed universe (which seems like it’s more fully explored and expanded upon in the sequels).

The other covers in the series are just as awesome, and more than enough to encourage me to finish the series. (Yes, I’m shallow in that way. And now I’ve admitted it on the internetz. Damn.)

Has anyone else read it? Want to let me know what you think?

Bah, Humbug! And Tribbles too.

10 Dec

Christmas is a time when people get all dressed up and go to the theatre. Not just Chinese food and the cinema: the Theatre (with everything that the capitalisation implies).

After seeing The Nutcracker for the twentieth time in a row, shouldn’t you try something …a little more exciting?

I have the perfect solution: A Klingon Christmas Carol.
(You might think I’m making that up for alliteration’s sake, but I’m really not.)

Not just a pure translation of the Dickensian classic, this is an adaptation where Scrooge is a Klingon warrior who recovers his honour and courage when three spirits visit him, just in time to save Tiny Tim from a horrible fate.

In case you didn’t know, Klingon (tlhIngan Hol) is one of the most complete fictional languages out there. There are hundreds of people who are conversationally fluent in it. There’s a multi-day convention held by the Klingon Lanugage Institute dedicated solely to the study of the language. Works of Shakespeare have been translated into Klingon. Everything from novels to opera, poetry, greeting cards, songs…the list of original and translated Klingon works goes on and on.

For those of us who aren’t so good at pronouncing or deciphering the guttural sounds of the space warrior race, the play’s narration is in English and it comes with supertitles so that you can follow along.

The play runs until December 19th at the Greenhouse Theater in Chicago.

Kuriositas
: for more info.

Magical Musical Geekery

4 Dec

HP7.1 totally re-sparked my love for the series and, addict that I am, I’ve been re-immersing myself into (the epic black-hole that is) Harry Potter fandom.

In case you’re unfamiliar with (the vortex of doom that is) Harry Potter fandom, it is vast and varied and often worrying. Whether it’s fanfiction stories that are longer than all the novels combined, or handcrafted wands that are practically works of art, or wizard rock bands that have sold-out concerts on a grand scale, the HP fandom is impressive.

(It’s also quite disturbing sometimes, and that only starts with how easy it is to degenerate into dirty ‘wand’ jokes. Part of the fun of the fandom is wading through the Hogwarts-sized piles of crap in order to find the diamonds in the rough.)

But, my favourite part about the HP fandom is how creative it can be. If you ignore all the derivative work copyright infringement issues, I think that the innovation this one series of books has sparked is admirable.

For instance, I present, for your consideration, A Very Potter Musical.

A little out of date (because I believe it was written before Book 5: Order of the Phoenix), but that doesn’t stop it from being fun. 
If you haven’t already seen it, have you at least heard of it? If not, what sort of Harry Potter fan are you?! I mean, come on! This is practically a classic now.

I’m holding my breath for Harry Potter on Ice, because I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. All those robes billowing gracefully as they skate by…

HP7.1

21 Nov

Harry Potter! Harry Potter! Harry Potter!

I’m still so split about that fact that they’ve split the movie into two parts. Part of me is repulsed by the overt attempt to milk as much profit from this movie franchise as they can. The cheapskate Indian part of my is unhappy that I’ll  have to pay for overpriced movie tickets twice in order to see both halves of the same story.

Then again, the Harry Potter fan in me is delighted that my beloved series is lasting for so long. This two part movie gives me two additional things to still be excited about now that the books have all been published.  For all I know, the last movie might fizzle, and all my excitement will be for nothing… but seeing the posters on the sides of buses and on billboards and ads on TV/Hulu still makes me smile and gives me this little burst of ‘happy’ until the movies prove otherwise.

The HP7.1 was awesome. I don’t know if I’d say it’s the best of the seven so far (I’m still a huge fan of the fifth because I think it’s the best movie version of a very long book) but it was good! So much better than the sixth movie, which sometimes felt like just two people talking and they’d switch out who those two people were.

7.1 has a similar feel to movie 6 and 5, in terms of colour and a bit of tone, but it’s not as dark or slow. And, overall, I think it’s a great rendition of t he book. No spoilers, so I’m not going to tell you where it ended or how it played out too much, but let’s just say that they actually managed to make the boring, camping-in-the-forest part of the book not boring.

Seeing the movie reminded me of just how much I love this series. I’m off to re-read the books again. Let’s hope that sates my HP appetite for a little bit. Probably won’t last too long though, and soon I’ll be scouring the web for snippets about HP7.2.

Broomsticks and Snitches and …College Students?

12 Nov

There are very few things that can make me wish I lived on the East Coast. (I can’t handle the cold. California’s a chilly 54ºF right now and I’m wearing three layers, fuzzy socks and huddled under a blanket…)

However, this weekend, I would brave the bracing cold of a New York fall for the Fourth Annual International Quidditch World Cup (Muggle version).

Blurb from the official website says “On November 13 and 14, 2010, 46 official Quidditch teams from around the world – a total of 757 athletes – will descend on New York City for the Fourth Annual Quidditch World Cup. The teams are from 42 colleges and universities, three high schools, and one local community team, all from the USA and Canada.”

(Two countries involved, so it’s officially “international” and “from all over the world” apparently.) (Alright, to be fair, there are over 45 countries in the actual league, so that’s International, even if the actual cup isn’t yet.)

See the following video from last year’s World Cup for an idea of what it’s like.

The rules are pretty simple, modified though they are so that we mere Muggles can play this game of wizards. The players’ positions and duties are basically the same: Seeker, Chasers, Keeper, Beaters. The only real difference is that the snitch is real person (usually dressed in gold or yellow, sometimes with wings) to make up for our sad lack of actual magical flying golden balls. Well, that, and the fact that the broomsticks and Bludgers don’t really fly on their own either…

Sports and nerdiness are not completely separate, it seems. And the combination is pretty close to awesome.

Sh*t I’m Excited for this week: 11/07/10

7 Nov

Sherlock is coming out on DVD on Tuesday, November 9th!

No, not the Robert Downey Jr. movie, but the absolutely amazing British TV show with a kick-ass, modern-day Sherlock Holmes. The Menace previously blogged about it here.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out! The first series is only three episodes long (British seasons are always oddly short!), but they’re 90 minutes each and thus feel quite substantive. Like little mini-movies, except with a smaller budget and more of a chance that you’ll watch more than one in a row.

Reasons Why I Love This Show:

  • For anyone who’s read the books, you’ll see so many little elements from them in the show; it references the original story without being anchored to or weighed down by it. The glib little inclusions of details from the books serve as reminders that this character is more than just awesome right now, in this show, but has been awesome for centuries.
  • The cinematography is unique and Britishly fabulous.
  • The integration of modern technology is seamless and innovative and done in such a way that it adds to the story without overwhelming it.
  • The dialogue is quick and witty.
  • The acting is superb and detailled.
  • Sherlock’s got The Doctor’s frenetic energy (understandable, because Dr. Who’s Steven Moffat was one of its creators) and a smashing fashion sense. Watson’s the perfect foil: just the right mix of helpful assistant and clueless friend.

I could keep gushing, but, luckily, with the release of these DVDs, you can see for yourself.

My Megavideo minutes run out too quickly to watch more than 1.5 episodes at a time, so these DVDs are going to be a lifesaver. Well, probably more like a life-pauser because I will probably procrastinate by watching them over and over rather than doing what I’m supposed to be doing…but it’s totally worth it.

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