Posts Tagged ‘sci-fi’

AFI: 10 Top 10 – Science Fiction

June 18, 2008

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So, the American Film Institute (AFI) once again made a list.  That seems to be what they do.


On Tuesday, June 27, 2008, The AFI: 10 Top 10 was broadcast.  Basically, they took ten genres (TEN?!?  Really?) and declared the top 10 movies in each genre.  And, as usual, they were wrong.


I don’t want to go into all of the various lists, but since this is The Steve Austin Book Club, I thought we’d take a look at what the AFI is calling the top 10 science fiction films of all time.


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10 – Back to the Future – Okay, I liked this movie a lot… but putting it on a top 10 list for science fiction?  Seems a little much.  When I think “science fiction,” I gotta say – I don’t think, “Back to the Future.”  Yes, I know, it does revolve around time travel… it just doesn’t leap to my mind.  Still, for mass appeal and movie quality, I suppose I can go along with this, especially since it is this low on the list.


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9 – Invasion of the Body Snatchers – This one should be in this list.  Maybe even a little higher.  My only complaint with this film is the sorta cop-out “happy” ending – which was tacked on.  But, without a doubt, I think that this one does belong on the list.


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8 – Terminator 2: Judgment Day – Yeah, I’ll go with this.  At first, I was thinking that the original film should be here, but I can’t deny how much better overall this sequel is to the original.  This one seems right, and probably about this spot.


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7 – Alien – Now, some would argue whether this one or the sequel, Aliens, really belongs here.  I won’t get into that, but I will say that this seems a little low.  I would’ve thought this film would be in the top five, but I could be wrong.  At least it is on the list, right?


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6 – Blade Runner – At the risk of losing more geek-cred, I don’t like this movie.  I know I’m in the minority here, but I can’t help it.  Despite that, given the popularity of the film, I can see it in the top ten… I suppose… but certainly lower than the sixth position.  Like I said, though, my personal taste is factoring in on this one.


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5 – The Day the Earth Stood Still – I would’ve made it a little lower, but the 5 spot is perfectly acceptable.


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4 – A Clockwork Orange – I don’t know that I can adequately express how much I hate this film.  As such, and regardless of the way others feel about it, I can’t believe this is on any top 10 list, especially when I factor in the ridiculous number of other science fiction films that could have been on this list.  I… I have nothing more to say on this.


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3 – E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial – And as much animosity as I have for the previous film, I have an equal amount of love for this film.  Great movie.  That said, I don’t know that it would’ve made my top 10 for specifically science fiction films.  I probably throw it more in with family films.  And, if it had made my list for science fiction, I think it would’ve been a little farther down.


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2 – Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope – Of course a Star Wars film was going to be on this list.  I’m just surprised by two things – which one, and how high it is on the list.  I suppose A New Hope, being the original film and essentially self-contained, could make the list, but in my experience, most people seem to agree that The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the Star Wars films overall.  As for position, I would’ve put the representative of the Star Wars films somewhere in the fourth to sixth position.


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1 – 2001: A Space Odyssey – Not my favorite science fiction film, but I can absolutely understand it being on this list, and why it is 1.  If there is to be a flagship for science fiction film, this one fits the bill.


My biggest complaint with this list are the things that are missing.  I’m not positive that films like John Carpenter’s The Thing, Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan, Twelve Monkeys, Planet of the Apes, Total Recall, or Robocop would’ve made my top 10 list for science fiction films, but they would certainly have been more likely to be on this list than some of these offered by AFI.  And what about films like Forbidden Planet and Fantastic Voyage?  Or even The Running Man and The Matrix?


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Without a doubt, though, what makes this list most suspect is one ommission that is completely unacceptable in my mind – Where is Close Encounters of the Third Kind, AFI?  How can there be a list for the best science fiction films of all time that doesn’t include Close Encounters?!?


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Bah!  AFI, you have failed again.  Hang your head in shame.

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MY GREAT SHAME, Part 1

March 20, 2008

Hey there good people of Blogveria!  How art thou? 

So, there’s been plenty of big comic book news out there in the wake of Wizard World LA, but none that really floats my proverbial boat.  I mean, Matt Fraction is one of my favorite current comic book writer’s, but the excitement of him joining with Brubaker as co-writer of “Uncanny X-Men” was immediately urinated on with the addition of these four words:  “New artist, Greg Land.”  And to think, they almost had me considering buying that title. 

No, none of that news was as exciting to me as the word from Stephen King (an not news from a con, mind you, but from NPR.  What’s that?  A comic story on NPR?  What happened?  Did they run out of stories about wheat harvesting?) that Marvel comics is going to be putting out a graphic novel adaptation of his epic novel “The Stand.”  

Here’s a link to the story:   http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=150380 

I am a big fan of the King.  I’ve liked pretty much every book I’ve ever read of his and have been reading since I could get my hands on the stuff.  But, and this is a cause of great shame for me, I have somehow never made the time in all these many years to read “The Stand.”  I’ve read plenty of long books in my day, but for some reason the page count of this particular book has just always been too daunting to me.   

And, I suppose the fact that I’ve gotten so excited about this adaptation full of purdy pictures and all (ya know, so’s I can easily understand it) should also be shameful to me.  And, well, it is.  Just shameful.  And, It’s sad that my first encounter with the book that, outside of the Dark Tower series, is supposed to be the signature work of an author I adore might be in comic form due to my own bestial laziness.   

Well, this shame got me to thinking of all of the other books that I really should have read by now.  In fact, that list is a good part of what motivated me to start this blog in the first place. 

So, in the interest of full disclosure, I thought I’d share the top 15 sci-fi and fantasy novels that I’m most ashamed to have never read.   

I hope and assume you’re sitting down.  It’s not pretty people.  Here they are in alphabetical order: 

THE TOP 15 SCI-FI/FANTASY BOOKS I HAVEN’T READ (to my great shame): 

1984 by George Orwell:  Seems like everyone but me had to read this one in high school.  It’s one of those rare books (like “Catch-22”) that I haven’t read but that I make reference to on a regular basis. 

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle:  I can’t even tell you how many times I must have picked this one up in the library of my junior high school, carried it around for twenty minutes, and then saw something I wanted to read more and put this back.  Not sure what held me back each time but I have a good feeling I’ve been missing out every year since. 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll:  Another of those quintessential texts you find referenced on a regular basis in pop culture but one that many folks, I’ve found, haven’t actually taken the time to read.   

At The Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft:  I wrote this Lovecraft off early in life as a “poor man’s Poe” and, having now read many of his stories in the past few years, I can say that I was mostly right to do so.  But, I think before I finally write him off completely and for all time I should read this signature work since I understand everything else I’ve read only nibbles at the periphery of the themes and concepts that this one explores.   

Brave New World by Aldos Huxley:  I’ve been told to read this one so many times and in the most finger-waving, shame-on-you sort of terms that I fear it’ll be like taking cough syrup.  I guess it makes me a bit of a blockhead, but I really just want a novel to be fun.  I’m always nervous when a book is supposed to be “good for me.”   

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke:  A big RIP to this old gent this week.  As big a fan of “2001: A Space Odyssey” as I am, it’s downright uncool that I haven’t read a single one of Clarke’s novels.  This is the one I’ve always known about as THE BOOK of his to read but I could just as easily add “Rendezvous With Rama” to this list.   

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury:  Another title from the high school reading list that I somehow avoided and, from what I understand, another one like “Brave New World” that I need to read not just for its merits as a novel but for my betterment as a human.  Well, as I said, that kind of “good for you” crap is certainly not going to get me to read it any faster.  What will do it for me, though, is the fact that I really like Bradbury.  “Martian Chronicles” is one of my old school favorites and I remember many frightened nights in the thrall of “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”    

Foundation (series) by Issac Asimov:  By the way, I didn’t just miss these “Foundation” books.  I never read the “I, Robot” stuff either.  So, just tell me where I turn in my “Geek Credibility Card” and I’ll get to it right away and never bother you again.   

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley:  Not just a horror classic, but one of the granddaddy’s of sci-fi.  This one’s even on my book shelf, so what exactly am I waiting for?  Of course, I haven’t read “Dracula” either.  

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson:  Netflix just advised me that I should have the film version of this in my mailbox today.  Will Smith already killed my desire to read the aforementioned “I, Robot” so I’m wondering if I’ll have any appetite for this one after this weekend.  Here’s hoping.  All I know is that I should really start chipping away at this list before he adapts any more of these books.   (Ironically, the ridiculous yet sublime “Omega Man” only makes me want to read this one even more!) 

Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick:  True confessions time.  I have a blog about science fiction and I’ve never read any Phillip K. Dick.  What am I even doing here? 

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut:  True confession number two.  Never read Vonnegut either.  If it makes it better, I haven’t read any John Grisham or V.C. Andrews either.  It doesn’t make it better, does it? 

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein:  I remember reading “Have Spacesuit Will Travel” and thinking that Heinlein books were just goofy, outdated fodder for kids, but I’m told that I am very much mistaken.  This one and a few other of his books are on the very long to-do list.   

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells:  Couldn’t decide if this or “War of the Worlds” should be on this list more, but ended up picking Time Machine because of how much I’ve heard reference to the mythology of that universe.  Additionally, I really ought to read this just to scrub the memory of that terrible film that came out a few years back with Guy Pearce from my brain.  Ugh.   

Watership Down by Richard Adams:  Any “Lost” fan worth his salt is supposed to have read this one, so I guess I can’t go on much longer without doing so.  Not that “Lost” is about anthropomorphic bunny rabbits, but I hear along with “The Stand” that it’s a crucial reference point. 

And, that’s it folks.  Of course, “Dune” and “Ender’s Game” would have easily been on this list were it not for the book club, so at least that’s something.  If EG hadn’t (I think) already read most of the above I’d be adding those to the Steve Austin curriculum as well. 

Anyway, now that I’ve got that off my chest, you may commence being disgusted with me now. 

COMING SOON:  My Great Shame, Part 2: Movies