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Friday, December 7, 2012

Spock Dying? Again?!?!? I Don't Think So

J. J. Abrams newest Star Trek adaptation, Star Trek Into Darkness, (see awesomeness above) will be hitting theaters this coming May 13, 2012. If you are anything like me, you will be anxiously waiting for that day. Since the farthest back I can remember, I have always been a huge Star Trek fan, and I absolutely loved what Abrams and crew did with their last outing. That being said and knowing the quality work Abrams has done with other material, I have high hopes for this new film. Hopes that were only bolstered by the release yesterday of the first teaser trailer for this latest trek in space. If you have not seen the trailer yet, what the heck are you waiting for? What are you... living under a rock? Check it out! Now!

For your viewing convenience, it just so happens to be, well how about that... right here:

Totally freaking legit, right? Right?

If Abrams understands anything, it is the art of the 'tease,' and tease he does. He makes every second count in this short trailer to draw the audience in: hook, line, and sinker. He also leaves enough questions to make everyone, anyone, want so much more. Who's the guy on the vengeance kick? Who pissed him off and why? What's the deal with so many shots on what seems to be Earth? I thought this was supposed to be in space? Um, hello, Star... Trek, anybody? So many questions, and so very much time to think them over and grow more and more anxious and restless to know the answers (and then buy loads of tickets to watch the film).

So the rumors have been flying that this new villain is the newest incarnation of Khan, the major baddy of the second, and, to most every fan in the world, greatest film of the Star Trek movie cannon. In the original series, Kirk pissed this guy off by banishing him to a world out in space. Well, come to find out in the movie Star Trek II, it amounted to a death sentence when the neighboring planet blew up and Khan's new home became a living hellish nightmare. So that ticked him off enough to want revenge, hence the Wrath of Khan title, and the rest of the plot of the second movie. So great, that's all good and dandy, but that was then and this is now. Abrams' playful time gimmicks with his Star Trek changed all that, right?

Well, yes, and no. Abrams' plot device altered the history of the Star Trek universe, but only after the point in time in which the Romulan ship the Narada traveled back through the wormhole to the year 2233. So, since Kirk encountering Khan and banishing him to the deserted planet happened after that point, all of that changed. What did not change, however, is the nature of the character Khan before 2233.

According to the original series, Khan was a superhuman who ruled part of Earth in the 1990s. Khan's life up until 2233 will have to be the same in the new movie as it was in the original series. So the character remains intact, but all the interactions with Kirk and crew are free to change. So that begs the question: why is he so pissed off now? Did the new Kirk follow in the steps of the old Kirk and banish him to the same planet setting off the whole series of events to happen again? Unlikely, if only because we've already seen that, and it would be tiresome to watch again. However, there is something Abrams included at the end of the Japanese version of the same trailer that further leads one to believe otherwise. Check it out, and pay close attention to that last scene:

Seem familiar, two hands almost just touching but separated by glass, one making the all too familiar sign of the Vulcan's calling card "Live Long and Prosper"? Wrath of Khan, hello, people, Spock... dying?

Abrams is a clever clever man, and once again, loves to tease. This first look has a lot of questions, and, though, the trailer points to a Khan-like villain, with a similar revenge story arch and superhuman power, no one will find out the villain's true identity for sure any time soon. Anything that flies around the web before the movie hits theaters is, and will be, just speculation, no matter who it comes from (I would not doubt for a minute that the cast and crew themselves would say the villain is someone who it's not just to cause a stir).

What's the gimmick this time, though? What's Abrams masterful play? Well, what I don't think Abrams did is remake the Wrath of Khan. That would almost assuredly be a huge letdown.With that said, I'm just going to go ahead and say it: he's not going to kill off Spock either.

The teaser trailer is just that: one HUGE tease.

There would be so many problems with that scenario. Spock is undoubtedly the second most popular character, the only one to rival Kirk, in Star Trek lore. If Abrams killed him off, he would be faced with the same problems that arose after the release of the original Wrath of Khan. Namely, figuring out how to bring Spock back. There is no Star Trek, at least the original crew incarnation, that could continue without Spock. He's just too pivotal.

The other major flaw in this situation is the continued existence of the Old Spock in the new timeline. Old Spock knows this Khan and all too well. He also surely remembers dying (it seems like that would be a hard thing to forget) and how. Even if Old Spock is not directly involved with the new Enterprise crew on a regular basis, the cataclysmic events portrayed in this trailer, particularly an assault on Earth by a superhuman villain named Khan, would undoubtedly bring him back to Earth from any part of the galaxy. Back to warn Kirk and crew about what happened in his timeline and how to avoid it happening again.

No, Spock won't die. Especially not the same way Old Spock did. There are too many problems with that playing out, again. In the end, it would only come across as tired, cheap, and familiar. Abrams likes his tease, and this one was surely too hard to resist. There are many questions still to be answered about the new Star Trek film, but one we can scratch off the list is will Spock die? Again? Heck no! If we learned anything from Abrams' first venture into the Star Trek universe, we learned that Abrams likes to surprise. He is a creative mind, and creative minds rarely tread the same ground as those who came before.

Star Trek Into Darkness will be a treat, and a wild ride. I'll be looking forward to it, and its sequel, sure to follow, both just as surely to feature a still living, breathing, and relentlessly logical Spock.

What do you think? Will Spock die? Will the new film be simply a remake of the Wrath of Khan? Who's the mysterious villain and where did he come from? Post your comments below.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Power and Value of Scarcity: A Review of The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy writes prose as poetry. He is a man with a purpose, or, at least, a man that writes with a purpose. McCarthy’s The Road published by Vintage Books is a powerful gripping tale of the relationship of a man with his son that just so happens to be set in a post-apocalyptic world. 

The Setting:  McCarthy constructs a depressing future-scape as his setting. The world of the Man and the Boy, the two unnamed protagonists of the story, is as lacking in identity as the names not given to the characters. The author gives the reader just enough to know that the world his characters inhabit is terrible beyond imagination, devoid of almost all life and resources, and moved on from civilized order. Utilizing sparse details and even sparser hints and glimpses at a backstory to his holocaust of future destruction, McCarthy invites his reader into a world of loss, fear and utter depravity of humanity and hope. The scarcity of details, though exasperating at times, provides an unsettling element throughout and helps to build, instead of hinder, the gripping suspense, fear, and uncertainty of the time, space, and plot of the novel. 

The Story: The story wraps itself in the journey along an unnamed road towards an unnamed destination, somewhere on the coast. The road the father and son travel in the wasteland of what appears to be the ruins of the United States is at once both the one referenced in the title and yet simply a mirror, an allusion, of the real ‘road’ traversed in the work: the relationship between the man and his son.  The real story spends itself here with the boy and his father and their struggles to communicate and to not give up: on life, on each other, and, ultimately, on hope. 

The Reason to Read: McCarthy is the master illusionist. The smoke and mirrors of his apocalyptic world tantalize and intrigue, but, in the end, are meant only to draw the reader in further along the ‘road’ to the real heart of the story, the humanity and love shared between a father and his son. At times, the story advances slowly. Sometimes days pass for the protagonists, pages for the reader, without any movement in any direction besides the slow prodding progress through the traumatized countryside. The dearth of action and even dialogue, though at first frustrating, brings the reader, in the end, to appreciate the value in what is provided. In this, the momentary flashes of dialogue and action carry a greater weight and significance for their brevity. The power of the story is found in valuing the gems of humanity in the relationship of the father and son found covered throughout beneath the ashes of the subtle details of McCarthy’s world.

The Reason Not to Read: McCarthy does not give the reader everything the reader wants. He believes in the idea that anything worth having or learning must be fought for. Without taking this into account, some readers undoubtedly will be discouraged by what McCarthy does not answer or does not address. What happened to the world? How did the man and the boy get to where they are? Why are they traveling this road and to where are they headed? The big questions of the setting and the impetus for the action are never answered.  However, what is answered is so much more powerful. Most readers will surely not care in the end what happened to the world or why, but rather find satisfaction in uncovering what happened to the boy and his father in their journey together.

Conclusion: McCarthy requires the reader to meet him in the story. He does not give the reader the whole picture, but asks the reader to engage him and his characters in the heartfelt struggle in their quest. The Road is a worthy and powerful read, and, at a slim 287 pages, well worth the investment of time and energy of the reader in the journey.

Recommendation:  GREAT    
Rubbish > Fair > Average > Great > Classic 

Where to Find It: Amazon : Barnes and Noble

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Most Hated Man in the West

In honor of the end of November and a hard fought win at NaNoWriMo, I wanted to share an excerpt of my novel Heroine. Though NaNoWriMo has finished, I as of yet still have not finished my first draft of  Heroine but hope to maybe knock it out in the next month.

If you like what you see, leave a comment or download what I've written so far. The work in progress manuscript is available for free download at SmashWords: Check it out, tell me what you think.

Now without further ado, The Most Hated Man in the West, an Excerpt:

White as death, the man gasped at the end of his marathon of speech. He lowered his head, tears flowing down, through, and into the deep furrows of the landscape of his sallow sunken face.

"They were together! Hot dog!" Calico hollered as if a small child excited by some trivial climax of action at a crude puppetry show. "He was here, and this time he wasn't alone. This time he was with someone else. Probably a fancy looker, too, that would be just his style. We're on his trail, Marshal! We got him and his partner! We got them both!"

"Shut up, Calico. We ain't got nothing. Until the gunslinger's dead at the end of a long braided rope, we ain't got nothing at all." The Marshal was right. They had not a thing at all save a big mess, a gutted Saloon, and two dead bodies. The gunslinger had gotten away, again, and the two bright stars of the Far West had come too late. Again.

Marshal Tall Shooter hated a great many things about this world. He hated disorder. He hated men who sat in shadows and preyed on the naiveté of others. He hated authority that was not his. He hated his dependence on the necessary supplements of life such as were sleeping, eating, and breathing. He hated the allure of women, his own evil lusts, desires, and passions. He hated rest and relaxation and frivolous pursuits, and after the incident with the Dark Hearts in the far quadrant, he had hated every third Tuesday of every month since.

Most of all, though, of everything he hated; he hated the gunslinger most thoroughly and completely. He hated him for the crimes he committed and the lives he had ended. He hated him for his prowess and ease with a weapon. He hated that he had never been able to catch him and made it stick, and now he hated him because he had drawn him here from his post in the cities to this Saloon and to this ramshackle town in the Far West. For almost a year now, the Marshal and his deputy had stalked this town and the countryside surrounding it, always just missing the man that rode with death, and now they had missed him again. The gunslinger always seemed to be one step ahead, and the Marshal hated him most for that.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What's It All About: Indiana Jones and Apple Pies

Ever since I was young, I can remember wanting to be an author.

Well, an author or Indiana Jones.

Ok, mostly Indiana Jones, but I don't mind trying an author on for size. I think trying to achieve one's greatest ambition is one of the greatest and most worthwhile challenges in life. There's always that nagging thought, "what if I fail," that is so hard to live down, but then again, there's always that carrot out in front, just outside of reach, "what if I don't?"

Life's not about doing what comes most easy but, rather, attempting, and possibly failing at, what doesn't but is what you feel most drawn to. And I feel drawn to writing. I'm scared, but who wasn't scared that eventually ended up doing something, if not really impressive, at least pretty cool.

We have to try those really hard frustrating things that are our greatest dreams. If we don't, what are we, really? I could be the greatest athlete or most winning politician or most critically acclaimed writer in the world. Yet, if my real ambition was making the world's best apple pie, I don't think I will have really succeeded until I got in the kitchen and really wrestled with perfecting grandma's worn and loved recipe.

Success is found in the journey, but only the journey worth taking.

Maybe, in the end, I wouldn't be able to make the world's best pie, but hitting home runs just cause it was easy or winning elections just because I possessed an above average winning smile could never mean as much as attempting and, even perhaps failing at, what I really desired most. As long as that pie idea floated out there just outside my grasp, and, "what could have been" haunted my nights, I don't think I would have succeeded at really much of anything at all.

I don't want to be the greatest author, but I want to see if I could be. If I just end up being a student of writing, I think I will still have discovered a little bit more about my defining purpose in this life.

So, in short, who I am is a student. I want to know what the world has to teach me. Let the learning begin...