m-cubed

m-cubed

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Latest Topics

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    Hard and Soft Science Fiction

    Define ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ sci-fi. [See for distinction: (link) Why are they distinct? Where are each found (types of books, age/gender-demographics, or region)? Where does ‘soft sci-fi’ end and fantasy begin? Are they distinguished by authorial background? What trends have been seen in both over time (what are the trends right now?). Most importantly, what are their different narrative functions/potentials (are hard meant for commentary on humanity while soft are just set dressing? Vice versa?)? And why does the distinction matter?

    Some examples of ‘hard sci-fi’: works of Isaac Asimov/H.G. Wells, The Martian, The Diamond Age, Interstellar (arguably)
    Some Examples of ‘soft sci-fi’: Dune, Star Trek, Ender’s Game, Slaughterhouse-Five, most dystopians

    • Adding to the list above, I think Ted Chiang is an author who writes wonderfully in both soft and hard science fiction. Even his hard science fiction works still reveal a theme about humanity.I think these two distinctions are based on the social sciences vs. stem (chemistry, engineering, physics, etc.) but I think both groups are important. Soft is just as important as hard; the one biggest thing that truly differentiates them is the subject matter, but both types of fiction still tell a story. – seouljustice 7 days ago
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    The Success of Herbert's Dune

    Why was Dune so successful despite being largely inaccessible to a mainstream audience? How did Herbert manage to write the best-selling sci-fi novel of all time (surpassing classics such as the works of Asimov and Wells)? While rumors of its reboot arise, why might a major studio (Legendary Entertainment) take on such a sprawling project?

    Overall, what is the appeal of Dune, and why has it been so enduring?

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      What Determines Success When Challenging Convention?

      Many directors who have a very distinct style; however, some are criticized for not adhering to convention (Batman V Superman’s lack of establishing shots, Le Miz’s use of handheld and disregard of the fourth wall*) while others are praised for it (Wes Anderson’s constantly symmetrical shots, which ignore the Rule of Thirds). Why are these so differently received? Which filmmakers are successful when they challenge convention, and why? Success here is defined by critical and popular opinion (‘majority rules’), rather than box office returns.

      This topic should mainly address technical aspects of filmmaking such as lighting, camera-work, and cinematography, rather than plot or character.

      *from Film Crit Hulk’s excellent review

      • Interesting observation, but I think what these directors are being critiqued or praised for is not so much the mere act of "breaking conventions," but rather the results of their artistic choices. To use your examples, Snyder's lack of establishing shots may be a creative choice, but it makes the plot harder to follow, which complicated the viewing experience. Alternatively, Anderson's symmetrical framing enhances the viewing experience, adding to the overall whimsy of his trademarked style. (I won't comment on Hooper, because I rather liked what he did with Les Mis, attempting to replicate theatre aesthetics in cinema. However, I feel that Joe Wright did this much better that same year in his Anna Karenina, but that was also torn apart by the critiques.) My point is, iconoclasm in and of itself has no inherent value; it depends entirely one what is being revolted against, for what reasons, and what comes of it. – ProtoCanon 2 months ago
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      Latest Comments

      m-cubed

      I like this as character study but feel like it’s not relevant to feminism? You’re generally arguing that they’re good characters/people. Like, Cinderella suffers abuse but stays because she’s goodhearted. This can be perceived as strength, but I feel like within the realm of feminism it’s more of fulfilling a woman’s classic role (doesn’t get angry, serves family)…. I guess I think you should have addressed the specific aspects of feminism you were referring to for each princess. Because a flattering depiction of a female isn’t the equivalent of feminism.

      Also, maybe define what you believe to be feminist, because it’s extremely varied (the objectification/sexual-for-self debate, for example).

      (This isn’t for all the examples you gave, just a general thing)

      Thanks for the positive article, though. Lots of feminism today dismisses these ladies without really considering them or the times they lived in.

      Feminism and Disney: They're Not As Different As You Might Think
      m-cubed

      Maybe they’re not ‘officially’ different, but there are certainly two distinct types (with different narrative functions), and they’re useful to distinguish when analyzing fiction (and pretty entertaining, too). Just silly/fun nerd talk.

      Parallel and Alternate Realities; Fiction Tells us the Difference
      m-cubed

      (@Philomena) I’m realizing that I sounded really belligerent, which was not my intention. Apologies. I agree with you on mot fronts, but I feel like the onslaught of bad movies recently has caused an overcorrection, and I often find myself feeling vilified for not being pretentious enough, I guess. You probably weren’t doing that, I just projected it on you.

      Any thoughts on good/original popcorn movies? I heard Kingsmen was in that vein, but I’ve yet to see it.

      Should Superhero Franchises have a Definite Ending
      m-cubed

      Not all are so mindless… Doctor Strange, though far from revolutionary, was still objectively good. Cap 2 was pretty great. Lots of people just want fun at the movies. The general public isn’t dumb for liking something that isn’t high art. An analog might be food: am I stupid for liking spagetti and eating it regularly? Should I be eating ‘foodie food’ instead? No, it’s just something I like.

      I dunno’, maybe I have lower standards than you, but most superhero movies are fine to me. Definitely formulaic, but that doesn’t have to be a negative. Hero’s Journey? Bond movies? Coming-of-age stories? Heck, even ‘sad dog books’ have a formula. That doesn’t make ‘Old Yeller’ bad.

      They’re “popcorn movies”, and I see no problem in indulging in harmless fun. I’ definitely go see higher quality movies, but not exclusively. Should I be vilified for doing so? Am I ‘dumbed down’?

      Should Superhero Franchises have a Definite Ending
      m-cubed

      I’m personally fine with adaptations, which is what superhero movies are. Without adaptation, tons of classic movies based on books wouldn’t exist. There is a reboot/remake problem, but superheroes exist independently of it. Though I definitely would trade ‘Ant-Man’ film for something original, ha.

      Re-adaptation, though? I’ll refrain judgement until the new Dune comes out and I watch the ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’ series.

      Should Superhero Franchises have a Definite Ending
      m-cubed

      All these upcoming releases, yet I still cannot find my Dick Grayson solo movie, ha.

      Superhero movies have definitely become a genre, the best analog of which I’d say is the western genre. It will definitely die out, but I don’t foresee any ‘revival’ being very successful. That’s probably because products like Star Wars and Harry Potter are unique and expandable because of world-building (and other factors), while Marvel movies don’t really have any reason to create more. There’s no sense of ‘more to be seen’ for superheroes, while works like ‘The Clone Wars’ and ‘Fantastic Beats’ demonstrate that their respective properties have almost infinite possibilities (yet TFA was so trite…*sigh*. Good movie, but TCW has given me way higher expectations for Star Wars).

      I do see the counterargument that superhero movies embody multiple genres, but I the only movies that have really strayed from the ‘norm’ are Deadpool and Zack Snyder’s works, only one of which was well-recieved. Maaaaaaybe Cap 2. Maybe. People always say ‘Ant Man is a heist movie’ and ‘Guardians is a space opera,’ but they never FELT that different from other Marvel movies. I hope other superheroes get the Deadpool treatment—not the R rating, but the radical tone change. That’s what will save the genre. Logan looks like it will do really well on this front (but so did Suicide Squad, so we’ll have to wait and see).

      Hmmmm… I wonder what dashing young ex-Robin might be able to do a really cinematic/artistic/philosophical take on familial and romantic relationships, with focus on paternal pressures and mentorship…. But kind of earnestly? Like, not ‘edgy’. I WONDER WHO.

      (Dear Warner Brothers Pictures, familiar with Dick Grayson, my fav boi? You will be….).

      Should Superhero Franchises have a Definite Ending
      m-cubed

      Hmm… Maybe I should start considering this in my college search, ha. I never even knew about this divide, but I love genre fiction and definitely want to write it (perhaps not exclusively, though).

      Interesting that this divide doesn’t seem to be present in cinema, where many popular/mainstream works are praised by critics as well-crafted. Spielberg is universally acknowledged as a master, but mainstream audiences still love his movies.

      Genre Fiction in University Writing Programs: No longer the MFA's Red-headed Stepchild
      m-cubed

      I think internet-fandoms always focus on ‘big’ aspects while seemingly dismissing the ‘small’ ones as less important. The silliness you mentioned seems to be integral to what little I’ve seen of the show, yet the internet portrays it as an epic that completely gives itself to social issues.

      Is there a point where the original appeal of a show is perverted by the desires of its fandom? I remember watching Adventure Time clamoring for big overarching epics like the Lich storyline, while not appreciating the small yet profound silliness of episodes like “Jake the Brick” and “Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe”.

      Hmmm…. Guess what I’m trying to say is that fandoms tend to exaggerate an artwork’s drama amongst themselves, leading to situations such as your own. But at the same time, I’m trying to say that Tolkien-esque epics aren’t the perfect epitome of all media? Not that you did anything wrong in seeking that, I’m just musing why so many people fixate on drama rather than the little things…. Like, can’t something be great without being transcendent?

      Also “Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe” is a masterpiece.

      Steven Universe: The Rise of Popularity in Internet Fandoms