Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I knew I had to see Firefly when I saw it mentioned everywhere. And I saw photos of people I respect wearing the "Joss Whedon Is My Master Now" t-shirt. Haha. I'm glad to say that the series did not disappoint, and I really enjoyed it.

Firefly is a Space Western. The concept is a spaceship called Serenity of the Firefly class, which is owned by Captain Malcolm Reynolds, that flies around with its crew taking on missions of questionable repute. They are criminals technically, but they are mostly relatively moralistic nonetheless.

The crew includes pilot Wash, his wife and second-in command, Zoe, Jayne the fighter, and Kaylee the mechanic. There are a bunch of other characters on board as well: Inara the Companion, or courtesan, who rents one of the ship's shuttles. Then there's the priest, Shepherd Book, who travels with them. And finally the doctor Simon and his sister River, who are fugitives.

The diverse crew and the world allow for many interesting missions.

Here's what I really liked about it:
  • The setting and genre: Space Western is an interesting combination. It's just so imaginative.
  • The characters. A lot of story is focused on character development, so it is very good that the characters are vivid and dynamic.
  • The spaceship itself: Firefly is simply a really cool spaceship design. 
  • The writing: The episodes are each written by a different person. On the one hand, this means the voices aren't 100% consistent, but it does mean that there are a lot of different ideas floating around about story and character.
  • Humor. It was funny sometimes, and it was just serious enough to take seriously.
Firefly is excellent, and I would definitely watch it again. I also want to find out what happens in Serenity, the movie that was released after the show was cancelled. Since it's short, it made it easy to watch 14 episodes without having to commit to a long series, but it really could have gone on for another few seasons. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Contract With God Trilogy

The Contract With God Trilogy by Will Eisner is considered  to be the first graphic novel. It's actually three parts as the name implies: A Contract With God, A Life Force, and Dropsie Avenue. It takes place in New York during the 1930s.

I've spent a fair amount time in New York City because my family is from there and my grandpa grew up during the Great Depression probably in a similar setting. There's also a lot of Yiddish colloquialisms that I'd never picked up before. Since I come from a Jewish family, I'm assuming some expressions have just fallen into disuse. It's amazing that even 80 years ago, the city was so developed; at least, coming from someone who lives in suburbia, it shows that even almost a century doesn't make a difference, it's still nothing like living in the city.

I enjoyed reading it to an extent, but it wasn't my favorite. I found some of it humorous, and the art interesting, and the writing consistent. Dropsie Avenue was kind of drawn out and has no chapters to separate it. The avenue is really the main character, as opposed to people, but that also made it interesting too. The other two stories are interesting as well, although memorable mainly for their art and the struggles the characters endure. For the first graphic novel it is still entirely readable.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Camelot on Starz

The new tv series based on Arthurian legends, Camelot, is awesome so far. The first episode was very good. So much happened in it, it was almost more like a movie than the first episode. There are enough conclusions that it would stand alone, even if there weren't more episodes to come in the series. However, it does leave open ends for the plot to continue. It was amazing. I hope the rest of the series is as good.

The plot is based around the death of King Uther. After he dies, the wizard Merlin goes to find Arthur, the King's son, who was sent to live with foster parents when he was born. Merlin asks him to take his father's place as king, and thus the story begins. However, his half-sister Morgan is determined to rule the kingdom herself.

It's rare that I see a fantasy tv series as good as this. They are relatively sparse as it is; at least, this kind of high fantasy seems to be. I hope that Game of Thrones is as good as Camelot. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

"The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains" by Neil Gaiman

"The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains" by Neil Gaiman is a short story from The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, V.5.

It's been a while since I've read any Neil Gaiman. I really like his writing style, it's very readable, and that's something I will continuously mention that I value.

In this story, a dwarf goes on a journey to a cave where you can find gold. It is very mysterious and hidden, so he has to get a guide to take him there. However, the gold you find in the cave is said to take something away from whoever takes it.

Here is a quote that I found particularly philosophical:

"I am old now, or at least, I am no longer young, and everything I see reminds me of something else I've seen, such that I see nothing for the first time...It is the curse of age, that all things are reflections of other things."

I can relate to this sentiment. Some time ago, I started to feel this way, too. It's like deja vu, but on a deeper, fundamental level. If our minds didn't have the faculty of association, though, I wonder if it would change the shape of consciousness.

It is a thought-provoking, interesting, and clever short story.