The Zeroth

Zeroth, before all the rest.

Posts Tagged ‘Reviews

The Time Traveler’s Wife

leave a comment »

Like I’ve written before, I am a sucker for time traveling, and to finish this little trifecta of time traveling reviews I give you The Time Traveler’s Wife.  A novel by author Audrey Niffenegger, who gives us the tale of Henry DeTamble who has a genetic disorder which unexpectedly causes him to time travel without control, and the love of his life Clare Abshire who’s life is interviewed with that of Henry’s from different times. This isn’t a time travel story in pure sci-fi “conventions”. This is not to say this isn’t sci-fi, because, well, there is time traveling involved. The time displacement is just a plot device there to help tell a deeper story, based more on characters and their relations between each other.

There is some time traveling rules that are followed in the novel. My favorite by far it the Terminator rule, where time traveling happens naked, and you are not allowed to bring anything to and from the future, or past. And like the beginning of every Terminator movie, Henry has to go trough all of the trouble of not being seen running around naked like a mad man. Every single time he travels. This of course makes Henry develop certain skills, like lock-picking, pickpocketing, fighting, and generally just running around surviving. The second main rule used in the novel is that no matter how hard you try, or what you do, there is no way to change what ever happened: no changing the past, no affecting the future, nothing. “Causality runs forward” says Henry.

This of course helps to pose the usual questions of choice and free will. There is an accident early in Henry’s life that he keeps coming back to. Useless as he cannot change anything, but haunting his life everyday.

Like I said, this is basically a love story of 2 people weaving in and out of each others life until the moment is finally right for them to be together in the now. I read on the wikipedia article that the author was in some sort of bad moment of her romantic life and used the time traveling as a metaphor for people being apart and getting close. Like anything in wikipedia this may or may not be true, but I can definitely see it in the writing.

This maybe just because of my own romantic mind set at the moment but I think we can all relate to the sort of time traveling made by Henry here. As we all do it at one point or another. For example, we might get thinking about an incident, a defining moment on a past relationship, you think about it long enough that you remember every single detail, as if you were there watching. You think about the things you should have said, or done differently. You try to warn yourself about the things that will happened after, and because of that moment. But in the end it is all a futile attempt to change things that already happened. In the novel Henry goes trough this many times and is forced to watch, or even interact in these situations, knowing what is going to happen and completely unable to change any detail.

This is a decent work of literature, one that can be examined and studied with ease. There is some missed opportunities, I think, with themes and character development that would’ve gone a long way.  There is a whole layer of art, and music, both classical and punk going on in the book, which music fans will eat it up. And helps give the characters a more 3d feel.

The ending left me sort of unsatisfied, but not because it is a bad ending in anyway. And now as I sit here thinking about it, I realize that it is an ending to the love story, a very good one. But no ending to the sci-fi part of it.

I do recommend this book. It is a fun and quick read. And it will make a great gift for your wife or girlfriend and something for you to share with her.  I was thinking how it could probably work well as a movie. Sure enough there seems to be one coming this August, with Erick Bana (modern Hulk) and Rachel McAdams (cute girl from many movies). Which thank god I read about it after I finished the book or it would’ve destroyed the way I imagined the characters. Which now I have ruined for everyone else.

And I’m done. Read a book!

Written by geminiman

June 21, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Life on Mars

leave a comment »

*Big time spoilers read at your own risk*

I am a sucker for time traveling. If there is some sort of time displacement story involved I will watch the movie, read the book, or devour an entire season of anything. From Billy and Ted to Lost, to Quantum Leap, and Donnie Darko. I love a good Time traveling TV series. And we are lacking serialized time traveling. Lost made it awesome this year with season 5. But it is a shame that sci fi shows like this end up getting canceled.

Life on Mars is one of these shows, originaly a BBC series that did very well on the UK eventually spawning a 2nd series based on the same universe. ABC “ported” it to the USA where it ran for one season only. Fortunately writers of this kind of shows tend to like giving their series some kind of closure and everything was nicely wrapped in the end.

The story follows Sam Tyler a New York city cop in 2008 who gets ran over by a car and wakes up in New York in 1973. Inexplicably there he has an apartment ready for him and a job as a detective transferring from a place called Hyde. There he works under the L.T. Gene Hunt, a rough sort of old school cop trying to keep order in the city, but who doesn’t care much about police procedures and professionalism, in a way Sam is used to from living the job in 2008. He also works alone side fellow detectives Ray Carling and Chris Skelton. Ray is the macho anti-feminist cop and Chris place the rookie Jr detective. And there it also policewomen Annie Norris who plays the independent woman of the 70s trying to make it in a world exclusive for men.

Each week Sam takes on a different case where he uses his modern detective skills to help him solve the mysteries. While most of the cases have some sort of connection to his future life. Other give him glimpse and clues from the future, like visions of modern events, robots and space gadgets. And of course like any time traveling story worthwhile there are the interconnections with Sam’s own past. He eventually meets his mother and helps her while investigating his father realizing that his was a criminal, and the reason why he left his wife and kid when Sam was young. (He actually uses the name Luke Skywalker as to conceal his real name to his parents).

The final episode wraps everything up, kind of in a rush, but gives answers to everything in a way. Sam’s dad kidnaps him and tries to kill him even knowing that somehow this is his kid from the future. The whole conflict is really about Sam’s issues with his father, the 2 father-like figures in Sam’s world are in a sort of race for Sam’s life. One one side is the criminal and evil dad who Sam resents for leaving him since he was little. And on the other side is Gene Hunt, who acts as a harsh but fair protector of Sam. The sort of father Sam kinda wished he had. In the end Gene kills Sam’s dad before he has a chance to kill Sam, winning over Sam’s life.

The big reveal comes at the end, Sam is standing at the edge of a rooftop convinced that it is the only way home. Annie tries to talk him out of it, but Sam convinces her and they both jump and the reveal comes to us. Turns out everything was a computer generated dream. Sam wakes up in a spaceship on the first maned mission to mars. Turns out there was a computer malfunction that the scenario Sam had chosen was corrupted and to avoid a fatality the computer had to reset the fantasy. Everyone Sam worked with turns out to be astronauts on the spaceship. Including Gene, who turns out to be Sam’s actual dad. Hyde turns out to be the name of the ship, and 2b, Sam’s apartment is actually the number on the pod Sam was sleeping.

The whole “it was all just a dream” is a pretty weak as far as plot lines go, and has used many times. But understandably it had to be done, and it wraps up nicely with all the hints delivered during the show. The vision of space rovers, robots, and the constant hint of Sam and spaceships. So in the end we getting everything tied up in a bow and conveniently delivered to us.

The show is worth watching it, the music is excellent and representative of the times. And the acting is all around very good. While the ending is not the most imaginative one it answers all questions, and doesn’t really leave us with questions and unsatisfied. Definitely worth a rental, or at least a few nights of bittorent if that is your thing.

Written by geminiman

June 14, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Batman: The Long Halloween

leave a comment »

Wow, it has been ridiculously long since I posted something here, even then I did not post much before abandoning the blog. Well either way I am back, so lets get cracking.  Someone might actually care about my writing.

Batman: The Long Halloween is a Batman story with villains, mobsters and serial killers. A great detective store grounded in what feels to me a lot like classic episodes of The Batman animated series.

TLH begins like every mob story begins since the Godfather, a mob wedding. From there it tells us the story of Batman, Jim Gordon and D.A. Harvey Dent trying to save Gotham from the grip of organize crime.  The catalyst of the story is the appearance of a serial killer, named Holiday who starts killing mobster, every month on a holiday staring with Halloween. The story unfolds throughout a year as everybody tries to get ahead of the killings.

This is an all out Batman story where all of the familiar villains show up at one point or another, where everybody is a suspect and at the end of the year Batman gets a new villain, and Gotham looses its grip of the Mob, but falls in the hands of the “freaks.”

The story also helps as an origins story for Two-Face. I remember Two-Face being my least favorite of the villains when watching the Batman cartoons. But I never realized how deep of a character it really was.

We have two normal guys: Bruce, and Dent who make an oath to themselves to try and save Gotham from the darkness. They both get caught up in the middle of a war, a war for the city, but also a war with themselves. They agree to bend rules, but never break them. But how far can you bend something before it snaps? Dent gets caught up in all, and when everything starts getting personal for him, he is to far in to be able to escape from falling into the “dark side.”

This could have happen to Bruce too, but the difference between this 2 normal guys is the Batman.  By having Batman, Bruce can let this side of the personality take most of the hits, but he balances it all because the real Bruce Wayne is still “clean.”  The Bruce that saw his parents murdered is there to prevent Batman from going to the other side, it prevents Bruce from crossing that line into villainy.

This also provides a reason as to the importance for a superhero to have a secret identity.  Whenever a heroic character turns to the other side it is when the danger of their hero life starts affecting their private life. Batman can deal with all of it because The Batman personality of Bruce is separated from the rest of his life. No matter how dark everything becomes, or how much he bends the rules in the end there is the comfort of going back to a semi-normal way of life where he is not always around, death, freaks and nightmares. Something Harvey Dent didn’t have here. He took his work home, his wife was endangered and in the end his life was threatened. The is no escaping that. It doesn’t get any more personal than that and the anger and the thirst of revenge turned Harvey Dent into one of the greatest Batman villains.

Unless you are crazy enough to not have seen The Dark Knight movie you will see how much from the comic is in the movie. The whole Harvey story in The Dark Knight, was my favorite part of the movie and I think it is because the character of Two-Face/Harvey Dent works so well to create a bridge, between the old-school gangster Gotham City into the new no-rules “freak-fest” it becomes. It helps to keep the story as grounded as it can possible be. It gives Batman a real, human, and complicated foe. And it is an example of the many things to come, of how easily a regular guy can turn into a super-villain.

Written by geminiman

May 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Comics, Essay, Reviews

Tagged with , , , ,

Y: The Last Man

leave a comment »

Like any geeky guy out there I like comics, like any pre teen boy I read a few of the Superman, Batman, etc. But like many others out there I got turned down with the huge amounts of different books out there, so I pretty much let that part of my geekery go away. Till recently.

I’ve been trying to read a lot of comics lately and last week I came upon Y: The Last Man.

You can follow the link to read the article on Wikipedia so you can get the authors and publishers, in case you live under a rock and had never heard about the book before.

I should warn that I might spoil some details on my review, but nothing I would call mayor spoilers

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by geminiman

December 4, 2007 at 11:42 pm