SciFi and Fantasy Book Club discussion


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message 1: by Matt (new)

Matt | 8 comments Well, a teaser was FINALLY released today....and it looks amazing!!!

You can watch it here:

message 2: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (Sandikal) Dang, I thought you were talking about this one: The Last Airbender.

Avatar is one of my favorite animated series. I'm so excited about the movie, but so disappointed they couldn't use "Avatar" in the title.

message 3: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 255 comments Sandi,
That's what I assumed, too. As much fun as the cartoons were, I don't feel any desire to see how Shyamalan butchers the material I've already seen. (Especially if the trailer is any guide.) Why couldn't they use Avatar? Because of the film Matt linked to?
Who is the audience for Avatar? Is it derived from something else? It looked entertaining, if a little too XBox-ready.

message 4: by Matt (last edited Aug 21, 2009 03:59PM) (new)

Matt | 8 comments Well it's James Cameron's, (director of Terminator 2, Aliens, Titanic, etc) latest film. He wrote it over a decade ago but technology wasn't advanced enough to portray his vision on film. The cgi does look a little cartoony but supposedly the small screen doesn't do it justice and it needs to be seen on the big screen or IMAX for full effect.

I would imagine it is going to be widely marketed towards a fairly wide audience. Even though you'd think it would be geared towards the sci-fi/action audience, they are stating it is "from the Director of Titanic".

colleen the fabulous fabulaphile (blackrose13) | 1390 comments Cameron's Avatar looks interesting, but it sort of reminds me of Battlefield Earth for some bizarre reason.

As for Last Airbender, I loved the cartoon and will wait to see the reviews, but I agree with Thomas - I'm expecting Shyamalan to butcher it, and will have to hear really good things about it, from fans of the series, before I submit myself to the completely and utterly unnecessary live-action version of it.

message 6: by Brooke (new)

Brooke I dont understand why they changed the ethnicity of the characters either.

You ARE talking about the industry that cast Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince of Persia.

colleen the fabulous fabulaphile (blackrose13) | 1390 comments Well, I understand why they made them Asian, since they are supposed to be Asian, even though they look Caucasian in the cartoon. Why they cast an Indian for Zuko, though, is beyond me - except that there was a big uproar when they had cast a white kid in the role originally, from what I heard.

But I was also gobsmacked when I heard Jake Gyllenhaal was cast as the Prince. So wrong, on so many levels. *shakes head*

message 8: by Brooke (last edited Aug 23, 2009 08:32AM) (new)

Brooke I thought that the Asian characters in Airbender were replaced with Caucasian actors? From the blogs I've read that complained about it, the cartoon itself didn't really have any Caucasian characters in it, and yet almost all the live-action actors are.

ETA: Here's where I've been reading a little about it -

colleen the fabulous fabulaphile (blackrose13) | 1390 comments Interesting. That's not the guy I thought I saw as cast for Sokka. I thought he was tan, so now I'm wondering what pictures I saw. And he also looks older than Kitara, which is also wrong. But I'm not surprised. Just another reason for me to take a pass on this one.

colleen the fabulous fabulaphile (blackrose13) | 1390 comments I was referring specifically to Aang, who I still think looks pretty Anglo in the cartoon. I always thought the Fire Nation looked more Asian in feature, but the skin tone was still too light. Even Katara and Sokka, while having a darker skin tone, had blue and green eyes. Of course, it's not uncommon to have Anglo features in anime styles.

I heard that Dev Patel was cast after he was originally slated to be played by a white kid, as well. I imagine that he was cast because of his popularity at the time, what with Slumdog and all, and not because they wanted to make the bad guys dark. Besides, Zuko is far from purely a "bad guy". He's the most complex and interesting character in the series, in a lot of ways, and also a bit of a fan fave. (My problem with the casting is that I'm not sure I think Patel is good enough of an actor for the role.) Not to mention that Iro, played by a guy born in Iran but raised in England (who is far too thin!), is far from a 'bad guy', and certainly one of my favorite characters.

I am someone who is often bothered by this sort of thing. Gyllenhal as the Price of Persia boggled my mind. It even annoyed me that the 'hero' of "The Forbidden Kingdom" was a white kid. But, while I don't agree with the casting, I'm just not convinced it's as insidious as people are making it out to be.


And back to the other Avatar. I agree that it looks really cartoony. I'm also a bit unclear on the storyline. So the soldiers are made into the Avatars - but then are they fighting against the tech guys, or with them? I couldn't quite tell from the trailer who was fighting with and against whom?

message 11: by Brooke (new)

Brooke I don't know if "insidious" is the word, but there is definitely an idea in the industry that a movie with a minority cast won't sell tickets. This link is an article about a filmmaker who was explicitly told this by a distribution house:

As far as James Cameron's Avatar, the opinions I've been reading since the trailer came out seem to think it's going to end up being a fantasy movie masquerading as sci-fi, somewhat akin to Star Wars. Will be interesting to see how much that ends up being true.

colleen the fabulous fabulaphile (blackrose13) | 1390 comments The sad thing is I wouldn't be entirely surprised if it's true - but I don't blame Hollywood for that...

(As a random side note, I've always wondered why they don't use a five elemental system - tho they do sort of introduce the notion with spirit bending.)


Well, I tend to prefer fantasy to sci-fi, so I'd be ok with that, though it begs the question, for me, of where the line gets drawn. It could happily be a little bit of both.

message 13: by Brooke (new)

Brooke For me, the line tends to get drawn (although I'm willing to view it as a sliding scale instead of one line) at whether or not the movie follows the Hero's Journey (Joseph Campbell writes a lot about this storytelling device) - Star Wars, for example, is far more about Luke's hero journey than it is about technology or 'what if?' scenarios. Luke has more in common with Ged from A Wizard of Earthsea than he does with any true sci-fi protagonist.

colleen the fabulous fabulaphile (blackrose13) | 1390 comments Interesting. I always considered it to be more the general set-up - if it's got space or future and science and tech, then it's sci-fi. If it's got magic and magical creatures, then it's fantasy. Of course this is blurred if the creatures are created by science as opposed to magic, or just existing in a magical world. (And then there's low fantasy which has little to no magic, and further confuses the issue. I'm still not entirely sure why stories set in pseudo-medieval time periods, but with no magic or magical creatures or anything, are fantasy and not just fiction. But that's ok, 'cause I like them anyway.)

Like vampires that are created as a sort of demon thing is fantasy-horror (i.e. Buffy), whereas vampirism which is seen as a virus is science-horror (i.e. Blade). (Which is why it doesn't both me that the SciFi channel has all those cheesy monster horror movies, since most of them are created via scientific means, so I figure they fit the theme of the channel, even if they are hokey as hell.)

But wouldn't that make Dune more fantasy than science-fiction as well? (Granted I'm basing this on the movie and mini-series and not the book, so don't shoot me if I'm wrong. :> )

**Just brushed up on the Hero's Journey on wiki, and it lists Ender's Game as an example of the monomyth as well...

(As a side note, I think I read something back when the Star Wars prequels were coming out about how the story, as a whole, is really about Vader - about his rise and fall and redemption. Which doesn't change your point, really.)

(And I apologize for this post being all over the place... )

message 15: by Paul (new)

Paul | 131 comments Well, Dune does have an archetypal doomed hero journey in it, as a central element. But then Stranger in a Strange Land, and Ringworld have the heroic journey as crucial elements as well. The latter is certainly science fiction - hard science at that. Couldn't be classed as anything else.

message 16: by Brooke (last edited Aug 24, 2009 11:12AM) (new)

Brooke I think in Dune, there's such a heavy focus on technology and ecology that it grounds it pretty firmly in the sci-fi category. On the flip side, as much as I try to convince myself that the Force and the Death Star are sci-fi technology, I can't find anything that makes them any different than wizard magic and a well-fortified castle.

Part of my musings about this has been developed while trying to convince people who have written off sci-fi because they don't like Star Wars to give the genre another shot because SW isn't exactly the best example of sci-fi, despite the fact that it takes place in space and has lots of lasers.

colleen the fabulous fabulaphile (blackrose13) | 1390 comments The Bene Gesserit and the Weirding Way always seemed rather mystical to me, with some parallels to Eastern philosophies and meditative abilities, imo. Ditto with the Force - which I much preferred without the stupid midochlorians. I always liked that it was pseudo-Taoistic philosophy, but, then, I suppose my bias is showing.

As to the people who write off sci-fi just because they don't like Star Wars, I would just tell them that they're stupid for judging an entire genre on one example of it. Perhaps not the most diplomatic approach, but it drives me crazy when people do that. *grins*

message 18: by Random (new)

Random (rand0m1s) blackrose wrote: "As to the people who write off sci-fi just because they don't like Star Wars, I would just tell them that they're stupid for judging an entire genre on one example of it."

Or Star Trek. I wince when people think of these as true representatives of an entire genre.

message 19: by ajah (new)

ajah | 19 comments Eh. All hype, no follow-through.

Way too young too.

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