Review of Incredibles 2 

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This is an animated film written and directed by Brad Bird, starring Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson and Samuel T. Jackson. It was produced by Pixar, distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, and released to theaters June 15, 2018. This is the second animated film in this series. For anyone who missed it, the first film titled The Incredibles was released in 2004. This review contains major spoilers.

This film picks up right where the last one left off. The Parr family are “Supers” who are hiding out under a government enforced program of secret identities called the Super Relocation Program. The Underminer bores into the Metroville Bank and the Parr family (a.k.a. The Incredibles) tries to stop him from vacuuming all the money out of the vault. There’s a lot of property damage but they fail to stop the robbery. This leads to bad press. Man-in-Black Rick Dickers informs the Parrs that the Super Relocation Program has been discontinued, which means, at this point, they’re on their own in maintaining their secret identities. The program will only pay for two more weeks at a motel, so the family is facing homelessness. Bob and Helen are approached by media mogul Winston Deavor and his sister Evelyn, who admire superheroes and want to launch a media campaign featuring Elastigirl to get them back to work on stopping crime. Bob agrees to watch the three kids, Dash, Violet and baby Jack-Jack, while Helen takes the job. This turns out to be more than Bob bargained for, as he has to deal with math homework, budding romance and Jack-Jack’s emerging powers. He gets support from his buddy Frozone and super-costume designer Edna Mode. Meanwhile, Helen finds her job isn’t what she thought. Can Bob and Helen figure out what’s going on? Can the kids save the day again?

So, Brad Bird made his point about superheroes hiding out in the first film, and the messages here are a little different, leaning heavily to the adult philosophical. Some of it comes out in straightforward conversations between Helen and tech talent Evelyn, and between Helen and Bob, while more of it is embedded in the characters and plotline.

Message #1: Can you help people too much? Evelyn thinks superheroes make everyone weak and unable to fix their own problems, while, as a Super, Helen thinks it’s right to help people in any way she can. When asked what people really want, Evelyn thinks it’s always ease over quality, and to be taken care of by Supers, which will lead to disaster. Again, I’m not the greatest on ideologies, but this looks like libertarianism vs. socialism with some overtones of Social Darwinism. How much should we help others? Does too much help really keep people from reaching success on their own?

Message #2: What should you do if laws are wrong? If laws are immoral, is it more right to follow the rules or to break the rules? Helen decides on breaking the law to appear as Elastigirl, with the hope her actions will bring about a change in government policy.

Message #3: Role reversals are tricky. Everybody needs to respect the jobs other people do to make the world run—especially moms. Bob really struggles through the family thing, but eventually gets it under control.

Message #4: Beware of social media. Evelyn turns out to be a social media activist. In her role as Screenslaver, she hypnotizes anyone who looks into her screens and forces them to become her minions in a bid to destroy the Supers. Besides this, Winston looks suspiciously like someone who recently testified before the US Congress about the use of social media in the last US presidential election.

Highly recommended. High five on the Ideation Scale.

Five stars.

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Am Gone Again

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I’m actually gone for a couple of weeks on a working vacation, but I’ve got blog posts scheduled to continue while I’m gone. I’ll try to keep up with comments, as the upcoming posts might be a little more discussion-worthy than just reviews.

Take care, all!

RIP, Harlan Ellison. Another of the great voices gone.

Am Gone

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Will be out of touch starting Saturday for a week or so for a trip to Germany. I’m not taking my laptop. The Nebula reviews are scheduled and will continue to post. Thanks for any comments! I’ll attend to them when I get back.

The SFF Community Bullies another Author: John Ringo

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I’m running a little behind on this, but I’ve caught up on things today, so I’ll devote a few minutes to pointing it out. The target this time is John Ringo, who started writing military SF in 1999 and has had several appearances on the New York Times bestseller list. He was scheduled as a special guest for ConCarolinas 2018, to be held starting June 1 in Charlotte, but has now withdrawn. As far as I can tell, Ringo has not been involved in the Sad/Rabid Puppies activist movement at all, so he was singled out apparently based on the community’s perceptions of his politics.

You’d think a writer with these credentials would be considered an asset for any SFF convention, but Ringo falls on the conservative side of the spectrum. According to Eric Flint, Ringo “more-or-less anchors the right wing in science fiction.”

Ringo was challenged as a guest with the usual charges against conservative writers, that he is racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist. I’m not familiar with his work, so I checked around. Regardless of the author’s conservatism, his novels seem to feature diverse characters, and Flint even noted that in some cases Ringo stretches reality in his representation of powerful women fighters. I also found an opinion from the female ex-military R.G. Dole that the question is a matter of realism versus fantasy, and that Ringo represents things as they happen in the real world, rather than a fantasy world we’d like to believe in.

After the Con announced Ringo as special guest, the opposition quickly heated up with other guests and attendees threatening to boycott. On social media, Ringo’s work was described as “rape fantasy” and comments ran to the effect that female attendees would not feel safe with him there, presumably because of this Ghost series.

At first the Con staff tried to stand their ground, quoting their policy against harassment, but eventually the hostility got to the point where they encouraged Ringo to withdraw due concerns about his personal safety—which he then did. Jon Del Arroz immediately interpreted this as trend toward bans on conservative authors at SFF conventions.

So, what did this accomplish? It’s certainly not going to hurt John Ringo a lot. He’s already got a solid spot on a national Best Seller list and this is just more publicity for him. It seriously annoyed the staff at the Con, as John is a successful author and had by far the biggest fan base of the invited guests. As a result of the harassment, they were faced with hiring expensive security to ensure his safety and faced liability issues in case things got out of hand. Con attendees lost out on Ringo’s input on the panels, where he might have discussed his personal approach to writing and marketing. Basically, all I can see that this did was provide still another example of activist author bullying. In this case, the staff at the Con was bullied, too. How should the SFF community respond?

I think I need to buy and review few of Ringo’s books. I might attend the Con in support of the staff, too.

Happy Holidays!

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I’m mostly taking Christmas week off. Watch for more reviews and discussion in January. Happy holidays, everybody! Be safe.

 

bells

In Memoriam: Mattie K.

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Mattie

We had a death in the family yesterday. Please spare a thought to help lift her over the Rainbow Bridge and into heaven. RIP sweet Mattie.

World Fantasy Awards

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While I’ve been doing my own thing, the World Fantasy Awards have happened. Here’s the list of nominees. Many of these are the usual suspects, but I’ll try to do some reviews to fill out the rest of the fiction categories. Many congrats to the winners!

Novel
• Winner: The Sudden Appearance of Hope, Claire North (Redhook; Orbit UK)
• Borderline, Mishell Baker (Saga)
• Roadsouls, Betsy James (Aqueduct)
• The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
• Lovecraft Country, Matt Ruff (Harper)

Long Fiction
• Winner: The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
• The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
• Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
• “Bloodybones,” Paul F. Olson (Whispered Echoes)
• A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)

Short Fiction
• Winner: “Das Steingeschöpf,” G.V. Anderson (Strange Horizons 12/12/16)
• “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies,” Brooke Bolander (Uncanny 11-12/16)
• “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
• “Little Widow,” Maria Dahvana Headley (Nightmare 9/16)
• “The Fall Shall Further the Flight in Me,” Rachael K. Jones (Clockwork Phoenix 5)

Anthology
• Winner: Dreaming in the Dark, Jack Dann, ed. (PS Australia)
• Clockwork Phoenix 5, Mike Allen, ed. (Mythic Delirium)
• Children of Lovecraft, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Dark Horse)
• The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, Karen Joy Fowler & John Joseph Adams, eds. (Mariner)
• The Starlit Wood, Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe, eds. (Saga)

Collection
• Winner: A Natural History of Hell, Jeffrey Ford (Small Beer)
• Sharp Ends, Joe Abercrombie (Orbit US; Gollancz)
• On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories, Tina Connolly (Fairwood)
• Vacui Magia, L.S. Johnson (Traversing Z Press)
• The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu (Saga; Head of Zeus)

Artist
• Winner: Jeffrey Alan Love
• Greg Bridges
• Julie Dillon
• Paul Lewin
• Victo Ngai

Special Award, Professional
• Winner: Michael Levy & Farah Mendelsohn, for Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction(Cambridge University Press)L. Timmel Duchamp, for Aqueduct Press
• C.C. Finlay, for editing F&SF
• Kelly Link, for contributions to the genre
• Joe Monti, for contributions to the genre

Special Award, Non-Professional
• Winner: Neile Graham, for fostering excellence in the genre through her role as Workshop Director, Clarion West
• Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
• Malcom R. Phifer & Michael C. Phifer, for their publication The Fantasy Illustration Library, Volume Two: Gods and Goddesses (Michael Publishing)
• Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, for Uncanny
• Brian White, for Fireside Fiction Company

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