The Dangers of Franchise Longevity

X-Men cover

Thanks to franchise longevity… she didn’t die, of course. Phoenix was worth so much more alive.

In the article The Dangers of Franchise Longevity, IO9 contributor lightninglouie examines the trend for popular series, for example the Simpsons and the X-Men, to eventually lose the unique quality that made them special and popular and end up as stereotypical as the rest of the media morass in their genre.

“There is a big danger associated with longevity, and it’s not what you’d think. Often you hear about creators losing sight of what the franchise was supposed to be about and going off on a bunch of pointless tangents. But I don’t think that’s the real risk at all. The big concern is that the people who are in charge of the thing will turn it into what they thought it was supposed to be all along.”

LL singles out other series falling into this, but I suppose the one that stings the most, to me, is Star Trek, going from its origins as a pseudo-intelligent study of the human condition and optimism for the future, into a senseless space combat franchise full of 50-year-old sci-fi gag tropes.  Read the article.

Extant: Just shy of working out

Halle Berry in Extant

Halle Berry in Extant (CBS)

Extant, the Halle Berry SF vehicle that tried to impress us this summer, turned out to be one of those cases of having all the right elements… and somehow just not using them right.

Part of me is glad we got it… the part that recognizes an attempt at serious science fiction television for what it is, that appreciates spending enough money to turn in good special effects and bring in actors who can act, that appreciates television producers willing to look further than the last successful movie waiting to be remade.

Nonetheless, I’m sorry it tripped over its own feet and did a header in our living rooms. Continue reading

The biggest hits to global warming


20140920_FBD001_1I was surprised to see the results in this Economist article, The deepest cuts.  It provides a handy graph for showing which actions, policies or events have most contributed to the cessation of greenhouse gasses, cutting our impact on the warming of the planet.  And the items on the graph, and their impacts, really took me for a loop. Continue reading

Entertainment over issues


Roger Rabbit I hate the newsLooking over the stats on this site, it has become abundantly clear that posts related to entertainment—a review of a movie, or discussion about a TV show or trope—do significantly better than posts about science, technology or social issues.  Like Roger Rabbit, my readers do not want to read about real world issues; they want to be entertained.

Good to know.  I can use that info to make some changes around here, away from news items and science and technology commentary, and toward comments and discussions about shows, movies, etc.


Or I can keep talking about the things I happen to think are significant, from a futurist’s point of view.

Hmm.  Tough choice.

Snowpiercer: Don’t miss this masterpiece


SnowpiercerThis weekend, I saw the Bong Joon-Ho experience known as Snowpiercer, on hotel pay-per-view.  I’d missed its appearance in theaters, so my wife and I were glad to see it in the hotel’s new releases rotation.  And we’re so glad we saw this movie.

First, it must be said that I realize quite a few people probably missed seeing this movie when it came out, just as I did.  That’s because the distributor, Harvey Weinstein, wanted to make cuts to the movie and add voiceovers for us poor, moronic, nose-picking U.S. audiences… which director Joon-Ho refused.  As a result, Weinstein gave the movie a very limited release, with almost literally no publicity attached (I’d been keeping up with Snowpiercer‘s progress on IO9, and I still managed to miss its release).

But, just like that recently-discovered masterpiece Cloud Atlas, this is one limited release movie that you need to find and watch.  (No spoilers ahead: Track is clear.) Continue reading

“The two types” of writers?

Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith

I was just linked to an article by Mary Popova on author Zadie Smith, and her comments on the Psychology of the Two Types of Writers.  It’s a great read, mainly to gain an understanding of how Zadie herself works, and how she sees the authors who work in a different manner than herself, in creating a novel.

Though I enjoyed the article, I must admit to my own subconscious red flags waving as soon as I saw the title of the piece.  Not long after I dived in, I found:

Smith begins by proposing the two psychological profiles into which all writers fall — a dichotomy reminiscent of Italo Calvino’s hedgehog-versus-fox classification system of writerly personalities.

Reading further, I confirmed my own suspicions: That the two psychological profiles that Smith proposes encompasses “all writers”… do not happen to include me.

So, I would respectfully like to submit that there is another, equally valid psychological profile for writers, the profile which does, in fact, encompass writers like me: That of the Craftsman. Continue reading