Code 46 **

I recently watched this on Netflix during a brief respite from tending to my three babies, who I now refer to as my “primaries” a la Below Deck (the name given to the passenger yachties that the crew tends to).  It’s a 2003 movie starring Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton. Incidentally, I found out that Samantha Morton is the voice of Ruby from Ruby & Max (which may only be of significance to my primaries, but I found it interesting).  The movie plot is about a future world where people are often found to be genetically related due to IVF, embryo freezing, and cloning.  There is no clear explanation as to why natural reproduction has fallen by the wayside.  The main character, William (Tim Robbins), is an investigator who is sent to Shanghai to investigate who is selling fake ID’s (“papeles”). Did I mention that languages have also blended in this future world? So, in the movie they arbitrarily use French and Chinese words here and there for no real reason (other than to make a statement about language blending – a la spanglish or franglais).  Also, although this is supposedly a movie set in the future, they use real life Shanghai of today with many scenes set at the Bund and in the subway and unconvincingly pretend this is the future.

Back to the story, so William falls for his main suspect Maria and covers up her crime after a fling. He then returns home and pretends nothing ever happened, but then he is sent back to Shanghai because the investigation is re-opened. He finds that Maria had been pregnant and that she had committed the additional crime of a Code 46 violation (incestuous relations).  [Spoiler]

William investigates and finds out that Maria is a clone of his mother from a long frozen embryo.  He withholds the information from Maria whose memory is erased with the removal of the pregnancy. Then, he continues to pursue the relationship with this knowledge.  This is where the movie lost me. There is no explanation for why the main character continues to pursue relations with his mother clone. The whole plot then becomes unbelievable.  In the end, William has his memory erased after a car accident with Maria, and she is sent to live in the desert for the rest of her days (as many sci-fi heroines are sent off when there is no reasonable conclusion to a story).

It’s an interesting enough premise regarding cloning and embryo freezing etc, but it’s hard to empathize with this incestuous Romeo and Juliet story. More compelling are the real life stories where half-siblings from donors unknowingly connect, and there are cases like this in the news all the time.  The science behind this fiction is where the story lies, but the movie doesn’t tell that story.  It raises some compelling issues, but falls flat.

Passengers ****

I give this movie 4*’s out of a scale of 1-5.

The special effects and story telling are superior to many sci-fi films.

What I enjoyed most were the special effects. I love seeing and experiencing a view of future space travel.  The technology is what one sees in many films (i.e. hibernation pods, holograms, holographic video games you place with life-sized characters, food fabricators, little robots that look like Roombas cleaning up the messes on the ship, fusion engines, and of course, a robo-bartender).

I believe Asimov said something along the lines of, technology is treated as a character in his books.   All good science fiction movies do this as well. It’s what we pay to see and experience.

There was not much new in terms of technology (a la Minority Report – the pop up ads – before that started happening on our smartphones), but it was satisfying enough.

[Spoilers]

Similarly, the premise of a passenger being stuck alone on ship after his hibernation pod breaks down is not something “fantastical” but it makes for a good story. A use of the hibernation pod trope to craft a story around is a reasonable choice for a story premise.  And the story goes on from there, and it’s a human story.  The character of Jim Preston is awoken too early and faces the choice to either:  (a) live the rest of his life alone on a space ship (because it takes 120 years to reach their destination and he was only 30 years into the voyage when his pod broke, and of course he can’t fix it even though he’s a mechanic)), and (b) he can wake up his sleeping beauty, Jennifer Lawrence/Aurora Lane.  Of course, he goes with choice (b) because there would be no movie otherwise.

It’s an interesting ethical dilemma.  Would you wake someone up or live alone (a la “Stranded” in space)?  Personally, I think I’d wake up some computer savvy people who could maybe fix the problem.

But, it’s a good thing Jim’s pod did breakdown, otherwise, the ship would have burned up due to it’s engine malfunction and no one would have reached their destination.

It’s a nice story, a fun ride on the ship Avalon. I give it 4 asterisks ****.

My one critique is with the screenwriters.  Dialogue and plot and all that are decent. The backstory on Aurora Lane is very pithy, but the backstory on Jim Preston is almost non-existent. He’s a poor mechanic and that’s all we know.  There’s a glaring inequity in backstory allotment between the two characters, and come on, there are only two characters in the movie.   One is a writer, a reporter, and although she asks Jim about his past, he evades the question, and the question is never re-visited.  Why?  Again, there are only 2 characters!  The screenwriters, could have given Jim some backstory.  They put so much into Aurora’s backstory – the writer with a Hemmingway-type father, hurling herself into space desperate for a worthy story.  Interestingly, the writer’s lack of detail here and the over attention to Aurora’s story actually makes it a mishandling of Aurora’s character as well.  Aurora, the writer, the reporter, would have prodded more into Jim’s backstory.

 

 

Movie Reviews

My book editing is coming along (I assume) and will hopefully be complete by April 1.  Hopefully, that’s not a joke.   From there, I need to have it formatted and get some reviews of the book and then start marketing.  From researching about book marketing, it looks like a mix of advertising and trying to develop this thing called an author platform.  To some extent that is what I am trying to do here.  One word of advice that I have been mulling over is that if you write blog posts for other writers, those writers are not necessarily your book’s audience.  I get that.  Then, the question remains, what to post about?  This is my author site and I’m still working on my book.  So, my answer is to write some sci fi movie reviews. I’m a sci-fi writer after all, and I love science fiction movies.  I don’t have time to read, so I can’t really write a bunch of book reviews.  My only hesitation is that as a working mother of three, I also don’t get out much and certainly don’t have time to see new release movies.  So, my reviews may be dated, but in this age of Netflix and OnDemand movies, I’m sure there are others that may be interested in hearing my thoughts on all the fun science fiction movies out there. I begin…

Book Covers

I researched a lot about creating book covers.  It’s really hard to sift through all the information to find out who really can create an amazing cover at an affordable cost.   For authors on a budget, I think the best one can do is understand what makes a good cover and then find someone experienced enough to do it, without directing them too much. Some reasonable advice I’ve heard came from Derek Murphy’s blog:[http://www.creativindie.com] is that the author should not instruct the designer and just let them be creative. However, this creativity should be in line with what’s market for your genre.  So that’s easy enough right?  I’m joking.  If it were easy we’d all be Hugh Howeys… So I recommend looking at examples of best sellers in your genre to get a sense of what your cover should look like.   Finally, I think the best advice out there comes from Chip Kidd. His TED talks are amazing.  He’s the oracle of book covers. [http://www.chipkidd.com/gallery.html].

[https://www.ted.com/talks/chip_kidd_designing_books_is_no_laughing_matter_ok_it_is]

and

[https://www.ted.com/talks/chip_kidd_the_art_of_first_impressions_in_design_and_lif

 

 

Progress – is it ever enough – or is a book ever finished?

I hired a copyeditor and book cover designer.  Now, I’m learning about book marketing and self-publishing.  I thought writing the book was the hardest part…  There is so much to learn.  But, I’ve been tweaking my first page because that is a very important part of the book.  Here is what I have as of 9:39 pm March 21, 2017. I think it’s better than my first opening. I’m concerned it may seem a bit cliche, with all the lunar harvesting etc, but my story is unique and my characters are fun. Still hard to know how it will be received into the world when it makes its entrance on Amazon.

“Rex stepped out of the dust cloud he had created by digging around the stuck lunar harvester. His once bright orange environmental suit was now peppered with ashen regolith. The company’s logo on his right arm was barely discernible. The dust particles collected over the picturesque logo of the moon’s surface with the earth rising on the horizon, and the company’s name, MOON-X, in bold block letters at the center. The mission statement was stitched around the circumference of the patch and due to its iridescent lettering most of it was still legible. It read: “To Promote the Peaceful Use and Development of the Moon for All.” When the cloud dispersed, Rex turned back to the broken-down harvester and assessed the problem. A small anorthosite rock had lodged itself in between two of the harvester’s wheels, causing the track to slip off, preventing it from being able to climb up the steep side of the crater. The modified extra-wide treads were supposed to prevent this, but the company did not account for craters full of thick regolith. As Rex freed the rock with a crowbar, he noticed light reflecting off of the chromium-plated wheel. He instinctively turned around and looked behind him but found that the source of his distraction was above him. Rex could tell from the shape of the craft that an American shuttle was approaching, and he instantly knew what this meant. He hurriedly packed up his tools and ran-walked back to the base as quickly as his environmental suit allowed. Sergei, Nik, and Yelena did not deserve to be hauled away so unexpectedly. He needed to warn them.”

 

 

Logline for When the Earth Had a Moon Part 1

An American scientist , Rex, takes a position on the world’s first moon base to create nuclear fusion using Helium-3. When the relations between the collaborating governments that set up the base break down, Rex is captured by the Russian military and held prisoner aboard their space station. Thereafter, Rex must find a way home and prove that he is not a traitor once he gets there.