Tuesday, May 3, 2016

12 Monkeys 2.3: Primaries and Paradoxes

The word "primaries" these days usually refers to the current phase of our Presidential election - insane enough with Trump doing so well, but not (yet) paradoxical or having anything to do with time travel, at least as far as I can tell.   In 12 Monkeys 2.3 tonight, though, "primaries" and paradoxes are closely related.

That's because a "primary" is not an election to choose a candidate, but a person with special powers, who can see into the future, and trace its connections to the past. Jennifer is such a person, and tonight we meet Thomas Crawford, who has similar powers.

Now in the movie, there were nut cases on street corners, like the guy who warned Cole about the "science bozos," but these were presumably time travelers who got stranded, not people whose minds were somehow able to see the interconnections between the future and the past.   Jeffrey Goines (Jennifer in the TV series) may have had some kind of insight into what was going on, or may have just been crazy and astute with his insights.  Jennifer has far more power, and is far more important in the long run to the narrative in the TV series.

Since Crawford has the same power, he could be just as important, which is why the bad guys aka the Messengers want to kill him.  And here's where the paradox sets in: despite Cole and Railly's best efforts, Crawford is killed - stabbed to death - with a bone from his corpse from the future.   That's certainly ironic and bizarre, but I'm not clear why it triggers such a profound paradox.

From its inception last year, 12 Monkeys has insisted that two objects in the exact same time and place have literally explosive effects on at least part of the space-time continuum,   I've never understood exactly why this would or should be.   If you meet yourself in a trip to the past, that can indeed create an insurmountable paradox of memory in your head, as you suddenly remember remember remember meeting yourself, for the first time.   And that could drive you crazy - hey, that could be a source of why Goines and Crawford are the way they are - but not necessarily blow up a part of the world.

Of course, 12 Monkeys is entitled to just say that in this, their universe, an object and itself in the same time and place can rip a part of the universe apart.  Since no one has time traveled in reality, as far as we know, we have no idea what putting objects and themselves in physical proximity will do to the world.   So, yeah, I can accept this as a dramatic conceit, without fathoming the necessary logic.

In any case, the disruption in time causes good narrative effects in the future, and leaves Cole and Cassandra untethered in the past, so there's lots of good story all set to go.

See also 12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be, Will Be ... 12 Monkeys 2.2: The Serum

And see also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"

And see also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"

podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys



 three time travel novels: the Sierra Waters trilogy

 photo LateLessons1_zpsogsvk12k.jpg
 photo lastcalls-thumb_zps0e5aro8w.jpeg photo LooseEnds-series.png_zpsvr6q50f0.jpeg
What if the Soviet Union survived into the 21st century,
and Eddie and the Cruisers were a real band?


The Chronology Protection Case movie 

~~~ +++ ~~~

#SFWApro

Monday, May 2, 2016

Game of Thrones 6.2: The Waking

I titled this review of Game of Thrones 6.2 "The Waking," because I didn't want to give too much away, in the unlikely event that anyone reading this hasn't seen the episode.   I might have entitled this review "The Melting," since ... well, read no more, if you don't want the last moment of the episode deprived of its shocking power on its first viewing.  [spoilers ahead]

Now, I'm such a romantic I was hoping that Ned would somehow be brought back from the dead after his stunning death at the end of the first season.  When he wasn't, I figured there was not much point in hoping for the same for his out-of-wedlock son, Jon Snow.

But hey, that's just what happened in the last minute, and I'm glad about it.   Jon is too important a character to lose in the confrontations that reside ahead, which I assume will be between the fiery dragons of the south and the frigid demons of the north.  Of course, we have no idea what condition Jon will be in his resurrected form.   If he's lost his mind, then what's the point of bringing him back? But it also seems unlikely that he'll be exactly or even more or less the same as he was before his death.   As a possible point of comparison, the loyalty of the resurrected was a key element in the early books of the Frank Herbert's Dune series, one of the best series in science fiction (in fact, second only, I would say to Isaac Asimov's Foundation series).

Meanwhile, we have at least two other re-awakenings or reacquaintances in this fine episode of GOT. Bran was MIA all last season, and it's good to see him back on the screen, with a character played by Max von Sydow just to add some interest.   Bran's powers have now expanded to vividly clear trips in his memory, approximating travels back in tine, and these should gives us some important missing elements in the back stories.

And the two dragons have been unchained by Tyrion, which is about time, and very much welcome. The revelation from Tyrion that they are as intelligent as they are fierce promises some crucial turning points in the story ahead.

I'm so far liking this new season better than the beginnings of any of the previous seasons, except the first.

See also Game of Thrones 6.1: Where Are the Dragons

And see also Game of Thrones 5.1: Unsetting the Table ... Game of Thrones 5.8: The Power of Frigid Death ... Game of Thrones 5.9: Dragon in Action; Sickening Scene with Stannis ... Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale: Punishment

And see also Games of Thrones Season 4 Premiere: Salient Points ... Game of Thrones 4.2: Whodunnit? ... Game of Thrones 4.3: Who Will Save Tyrion ...Game of Thrones 4.4: Glimpse of the Ultimate Battle ... Game of Thrones 4.6: Tyrion on Trial ... Game of Thrones 4.8: Beetles and Battle ...Game of Thrones 4.9: The Fight for Castle Black ... Games of Thrones Season 4 Finale: Woven Threads


And see also Game of Thrones Back in Play for Season 2 ... Game of Thrones 2.2: Cersei vs. Tyrion

And see also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things  ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After ... Games of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces ... Game of Thrones 1.8: Star Wars of the Realms ... Game of Thrones 1.9: Is Ned Really Dead? ... Game of Thrones 1.10 Meets True Blood

And here's a Spanish article in Semana, the leading news magazine in Colombia, in which I'm quoted about explicit sex on television, including on Game of Thrones.

And see "'Game of Thrones': Why the Buzz is So Big" article in The Christian Science Monitor, 8 April 2014, with my quotes.

Also: CNN article, "How 'Game of Thrones' Is Like America," with quote from me

 

"I was here, in Carthage, three months from now." 

#SFWApro



Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Girlfriend Experience: Eminently Worth It

If it had to pick the best new 2016 television series on any medium - network TV, cable, or streaming - it would be The Girlfriend Experience on Starz.   And though it's hard to compare The Girlfriend Experience to the science fiction, crime, and historical drama I usually review here, it may well be the best series now on television, period.

What's it about?  Well, the girlfriend experience is offered by call girls who not only provide sex, but companionship, dinner, affection, conversation, attentive listening during the time that is purchased, for a thousand dollars or more an hour.   The purveyor of the experience thus needs to be not only beautiful, but intelligent and empathetic.

In order for a series like this to work, the lead actress has to not only be gorgeous, but convey that intelligence and sensitivity.  That would be Riley Keough, who gives a virtuoso performance as Christine Reade.   She's Elvis Presley's granddaughter, by the way.   I don't how she sounds on record, but she has more acting talent than everyone in her family combined - and I liked Elvis in Jailhouse Rock, and Priscilla was pretty good in Dallas, too.  But their granddaughter is something else again on screen.

The story's excellent, too.   Christine has a day job as a law student and legal intern - which is also why she needs to be so intelligent - and this puts The Girlfriend Experience on a continuum with Secret Diary of a Call Girl on Showtime (about a straight-up prostitute) and every lawyer show ever on television, including The Good Wife, and that matter in a different way with Girls on HBO and The Devil Wears Prada in the movies, too.

But the subject of The Girlfriend Experience is something all its own, and the narrative does a good job of mining its possibilities and complications. Christine's clients range from obsequious to savvy, from brutal to sweet to even sometimes cool.   One of them realizes he can't afford to continue shelling out the big bucks for this and asks for discount.   Another drops dead (off camera).   A third craves the jealousy part of any real relationship, and asks Christine to set that up.

The pacing in the 13-episode season, each 30 minutes, took a little getting used to, and wasn't helped by the fact that Cablevision didn't have all the episodes up on Starz On Demand as advertised - maybe I should pay for a more satisfying cable experience (wait, I thought I was already doing that) - but in the end and in retrospect I rather like the way the story is rolled out, especially the unconventional season finale.

There's astute use of media in the story, with smartphones and videos playing crucial roles, thus giving the media scholar a great excuse to watch this.

But you don't need an excuse.  The Girlfriend Experience is brilliant, provocative, appealing television, and a unique addition to the screen.

 

#SFWApro






Saturday, April 30, 2016

Banshee 4.5: Alliances

A pretty good Banshee 4.5 last night, featuring a series of important alliances and one surprise killing, all of which will have impact on the continuing story.

Probably the most propitious is the alliance between Proctor and Hood, after Proctor burns down Hood's house in the woods.  Proctor's entitled, I guess, seeing as how Hood reneged on his promise not to bed Rebecca, though who other than Proctor could blame him.  But it makes perfect sense that Proctor would want Hood on the case now, and reporting to Proctor, the minute the killer comes into view.

This complicates the other good alliance of the evening, Hood and Veronica.   Proctor wants Hood to bring the serial killer to him, and not leave the killer in the hands of the FBI.  Obviously Proctor wants to do more to this monstrosity than just kill him.  Presumably Veronica would have other ideas - though you never know, given her unconventional ways.

But speaking of monstrous, that neo-Nazi Randall just released from prison was a vicious piece of work, and it was good to see Calvin suddenly kill him, after Randall threatened, taunted, and ridiculed Calvin, and stirred up the crowd, and Brock prevailed upon Kurt not to sniper-shoot him in the head.   The upshot is that Calvin is pretty tough after all, and may be harder to beat than his late brutal father-in-law.

Job is back to his reassuring looks and self, and tells Hood an interesting piece of news about Carrie that I don't recall before this: she's determined to avenge her husband's death and blames Proctor for it.  This puts another complication in Hood's alliance with Proctor - not really an alliance, I guess, but something like that.   Fortunately for Proctor, Clay seems to be in the best, most astute shape we've ever seen him.

Banshee has always been about complications, and they're piling up quite well in this final season.

See also Banshee Season 4 Debut: Whunnit? ... Banshee 4.2: Carrie and Rebecca ... Banshee 4.3: Serial Killers and Theories

And see also Banshee 3.1: Taking Stock ... Banshee 3.2: Women in Charge ...Banshee 3.3: Burton vs. Nola ... Banshee 3.4: Burton and Rebecca ... Banshee 3.5: Almost the Alamo ...  Banshee 3.6: Perfect What-If Bookends ... Banshee 3.7: Movie with Movie ... Banshee 3.8: What Did Rebecca Find with Burton? ... Banshee 3.9: Loyalty ... Banshee Season 3 Finale: Subtractions and Additions




Like crime stories that involve the Amish? Try The Silk Code

#SFWApro

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

12 Monkeys 2.2: The Serum

One of the perennially vexing problems for the time traveler - and especially enjoyable for the reader or viewer - is how does the time traveler have memories of what the time traveler changed in a trip to the past?   We need the time traveler to have these memories, otherwise she or he would have no idea what was going on.   This problem is a less severe version of the grandparent paradox - how can the time traveler exist and travel to the past if that travel prevented his grandparents from meeting and making love - and requires less extreme solutions, like universes in which the time traveler does and does not exist.   But the problem of knowledge of what you changed by a trip to the past needs to be addressed in some way.

What I do in my time travel stories is just stipulate that the ver act of time travel preserves all memories for the time traveler.  So, if I travel to the past and change some important event, I have memories of what the world was like, what history will be, both before and after the change.   Postulating that kind of time traveler, who has one foot on the shore and one in the changing river of of time, and therefore two or more sets of memories, seems no more incredible than the time travel itself.

12 Monkeys used a nice variation of this approach in episode 2.2 last night.  We learn that the serum that the time travelers take, to inoculate themselves, to some extent, from the psychological ravages of the time travel, preserves their original memories, before the effects of the time time travel.  But the time traveler has no knowledge of what the world is now like as a result of the time travel, and therefore must now set out to learn what's going in this new world.

12 Monkeys did an excellent job of this last night.   First, it had the nerve to have our time travelers actually make a profound change in history - something you don't often see in time travel stories, certainly not in such a clear-cut way.  But Cole and Railly do manage to stop the plague from being unleashed in 2016, and thanks to Cole's persuasion, without killing Jennifer and Ramse.   The new world they've created is thus eminently logically and fits the narrative well:  the plague has not been eliminated, just postponed, and but now destined to be not quite as severe as in the original reality. This has the good effect leaving Ramse's son alive, but giving all of our heroes except him a big reason to keep on the mission: stopping the new, slightly less destructive, but still plenty deadly plague.

And Ramse's not the only one with benefits in this new world.  Katrina discovers she has a lover, which is always good to see and have, though she (of course) is at first a little nonplussed about this. The focus now shifts to 1944, a room rented for perpetuity in a seedy hotel - always a nice touch - and Jennifer finding her "purpose" in the future in this slightly different tableau for the new season. Since we the audience are like Cole, Railly, and Katrina in not knowing what this future holds, I'm looking forward to seeing it unfold.

See also 12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be, Will Be

And see also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"

And see also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"

podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys



 three time travel novels: the Sierra Waters trilogy

 photo LateLessons1_zpsogsvk12k.jpg
 photo lastcalls-thumb_zps0e5aro8w.jpeg photo LooseEnds-series.png_zpsvr6q50f0.jpeg
What if the Soviet Union survived into the 21st century,
and Eddie and the Cruisers were a real band?


The Chronology Protection Case movie 

~~~ +++ ~~~

#SFWApro



Monday, April 25, 2016

Game of Thrones 6.1: Where Are the Dragons?

A feast-for-the-mind all-you-can-eat season 6 debut of Game of Thrones earlier tonight, with more bases covered than in just about any other single episode I can recall.

Also with lots of new questions raised, the most significant, I think, being: what happened to  Daenerys's dragons?  Why would they be absent from their mother in such a time of need?  Is this part of some master plan of hers? Possibly, but it doesn't look like that, and, if it is, she's cutting it pretty close.

Meanwhile, though the best conversation in this episode was among the Dothraki about their captive, the best action scene by far in this hour is Brienne riding into the scene and saving Sansa, with Theon's help.   It's good to see a chivalrous knight in shining armor coming to the rescue, and if Brienne's garb wasn't quite shining, she was at her knightly best, the veritable Lancelot in this story.

The biggest twist - and, again, I haven't read more than the very first novel in this series, so everything other than Ned Stark's death is new to me - so the biggest surprise for me tonight was how the Red Woman turned white, in other words, very old.   What's not clear is whether she's taking to her bed at the end to die - I don't think so - or just for a tossed night's sleep?   Will she put her charmed jewelry back on in the morning, and regain her fire and power, or will she turn into so much more snow before too long?

And speaking of which ... Jon has definitely been pronounced dead, but with the possible proviso that the "flames" aka the Red Woman (I assume) might say otherwise, at least according to Davos, who seems pretty savvy. But also missing in action is Bran - in fact, he's been missing for at least a year now, did I somehow miss his death, I don't think so - and if I recall correctly he had some magical powers, too, maybe even some truck with the dead, so maybe he can revive Jon.

But probably not.  Getting back to Ned, one thing about Game of Thrones is dead is usually dead, and I'm looking forward to more surprises among the living this season.

See also Game of Thrones 5.1: Unsetting the Table ... Game of Thrones 5.8: The Power of Frigid Death ... Game of Thrones 5.9: Dragon in Action; Sickening Scene with Stannis ... Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale: Punishment

And see also Games of Thrones Season 4 Premiere: Salient Points ... Game of Thrones 4.2: Whodunnit? ... Game of Thrones 4.3: Who Will Save Tyrion ...Game of Thrones 4.4: Glimpse of the Ultimate Battle ... Game of Thrones 4.6: Tyrion on Trial ... Game of Thrones 4.8: Beetles and Battle ...Game of Thrones 4.9: The Fight for Castle Black ... Games of Thrones Season 4 Finale: Woven Threads


And see also Game of Thrones Back in Play for Season 2 ... Game of Thrones 2.2: Cersei vs. Tyrion

And see also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things  ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After ... Games of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces ... Game of Thrones 1.8: Star Wars of the Realms ... Game of Thrones 1.9: Is Ned Really Dead? ... Game of Thrones 1.10 Meets True Blood

And here's a Spanish article in Semana, the leading news magazine in Colombia, in which I'm quoted about explicit sex on television, including on Game of Thrones.

And see "'Game of Thrones': Why the Buzz is So Big" article in The Christian Science Monitor, 8 April 2014, with my quotes.

Also: CNN article, "How 'Game of Thrones' Is Like America," with quote from me

 

"I was here, in Carthage, three months from now." 

#SFWApro



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