Canceling the Apocalypse? Cosmic Monsters and Tiny Humans in ‘Pacific Rim’

This summer saw the release of Pacific Rim, the latest movie from Mexican-born director Guillermo del Toro, who won widespread acclaim for several of his earlier films, especially Pan’s Labyrinth. Though performing strong overseas, Pacific Rim has fared relatively poorly in America despite generally favorable critical reviews (a solid 72% at Rotten Tomatoes). This failure may be due in part to poor marketing; while the movie was heavily promoted by Warner Bros., previews focused almost ex … [Read more...]

Transfiguration Avenue: Michael Chabon and Relearning to See the World

The first reason and last reason for reading Michael Chabon is his prose style. We can start on page one: A white boy rode flatfoot on a skateboard, towed along, hand to shoulder, by a black boy pedaling a brakeless fixed-gear bike. Dark August morning, deep in the Flatlands. Hiss of tires. Granular unraveling of skateboard wheels against asphalt. Summer-time Berkeley giving off her old-lady smell, nine different styles of jasmine and a squirt of he-cat. This opening paragraph models Chabon’s o … [Read more...]

ELSEWHERE: How Should We Write When Words Are Cheap?

Should writers be 'compensated' for their words? How important is your 'voice' as an author? What of truth? Do you have to 'live a story' to write well? What of some of the more popular modes of internet writing? Do single-sentence, bolded, paragraphs shape, or mis-shape us? Matthew Lee Anderson reflects on the pitfalls, joys, and challenges of the writing vocation in an internet age when words are bountiful and cheaper than ever. … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Lowe’s versus George Herbert

My husband and I are working on some small home maintenance projects right now, little things that slid through the cracks during our younger child’s first year of life and our perpetual sleep deprivation. It’s good and generally satisfying work, but my husband gets peeved every time a Lowe's commercial pops up with the tagline “Never stop improving.”There's an assumption in the slogan: spend more, do more, be more — as if our house exists only for its resale value and not as our home. It’s n … [Read more...]

The Future as Myth: Celebrating 100 Years of Cordwainer Smith

Many fans of science fiction literature will be noting that today (July 11th) marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, better known by his pen name Cordwainer Smith. I first discovered his work when, as a middle school student, I found a copy of The Best of Cordwainer Smith on a shelf at my local haunt, Annie’s Used Book Stop. Remembering that David Pringle’s Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction had given that book its highest rating, I spent a dollar or so to purc … [Read more...]

Superman: Not Just a Man, but a Just Man

Note: This article contains references to events in the movie Man of Steel that could be construed as spoilers.It is no state secret at this point that Warner Brothers rather cannily marketed Man of Steel to Christians, playing on the obvious and intentional parallels between Superman and Jesus the incarnate Son of God. Our own Derek Rishmawy has done solid work in untangling these parallels and parsing out the values and pratfalls of viewing Superman Christologically. But there is another … [Read more...]

ELSEWHERE: A Feminist Defense Of C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is one of Christendom's most beloved authors, due to works like Mere Christianity, A Grief Observed, and of course, The Chronicles of Narnia. However, the Chronicles have resulted in Lewis being criticized for being "monumentally disparaging of women" (as Philip Pullman put it). However, a recent book by Monika Hilder aims to defend Lewis's writings as presenting a "radical theological feminism." … [Read more...]

ELSEWHERE: Terry Eagleton Reflects on American Sincerity

This week, Terry Eagleton joined a proud and storied tradition of European intellectuals by rhapsodizing about the American Experience. His thesis is that Americans need to tone down their sincerity in favor of a more ironical mien. Whether you agree with him or not, Eagleton couches his observations in prose that is—as always—entertaining and provocative. … [Read more...]

Why Does Science Fiction Invent So Many Foreign Gods?

The defining moment for my interest in science fiction came when I was in seventh grade and found a copy of David Pringle’s Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction on a bookshelf at a Mr. Paperback store near my grandparents’ home in Maine. I had already long loved the speculative genre, but Pringle’s book -- which gave capsule summary reviews of over 3,000 novels, collections, and anthologies -- proved an almost inexhaustible resource in my hunt for new titles to explore. I carried it with me to book … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Taking A Slower Family Path

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.Our parenting culture is fraught with anxiety about our children’s future prospects; we worry about technologies and jobs that have not yet been imagined, and we strive to prepare our children for success in spite of a thousand incompatible contingencies. Again and I again I hear about parents who spend most of their time as chauffeurs and who watch family time dw … [Read more...]