A Scanner Darkly (movie)

I have never read the novel by Phillip K. Dick.  I will at some point, because the film seemed more a character study of drug addicts than anything else.  It was a visual feast of rotoscoped character study, but still a character study.  Beyond the lovely plot twist at the end, Scanner doesn't have much to recommend it.  This is a movie about how addictive drugs mess up people's lives.  It's not
preachy about it, and it's funny at times, but the basic subject matter is rather depressing. 

Despite what the previews may have lead you to believe, had you not already read the book, Scanner doesn't fit much in the sci-fi genre.  Aside from the blur suits the agents wear to protect their identities while in the office, technology takes a back seat in this one.  Even the police-espionage aspect of it is very, very muted.

I'd recommend Trainspotting over Scanner on the subject of drugs, but you won't find a review of it here, as it is not speculative fiction.

Sat Jul 22 00:06:34 CDT 2006 by tsarren@infodancer.org. Comments

The Protector's War

Nine years after Dies the Fire, an unsteady truce reigns over western Oregon. Mike Havel's Bearkillers and Juniper Mackenzie's Wiccan clans, along with some other loose federations, are strong enough to have prevented the despot Norman Arminger from overruning them - so far. Occupying the rich farmlands south of Portland, these groups have quickly adapted to life after the Change, and have thriving societies with bustling economies.

Their cultures are starting to take root, too - the younger generations know nothing of gunpowder, electricity, or gasoline beyond stories from the adults. Most members of the Mackenzies have converted to the Wiccan religion, even though tolerance is still upheld as valuable anywhere outside of the Protector's territory. The Bearkillers are finding more and more of J.R.R. Tolkein's fictional traditions woven into their lives, even the elven language itself, thanks to a couple of young die-hard fans.

(Read More...)

Fri Jul 21 23:22:35 CDT 2006 by tsarren@infodancer.org. Comments

Kiln People

The creative exercise in this book is the cheap and easy creation of human 'dittos', copies of one's mind complete with a body, albiet one that only lasts 24 hours. Once the life of a ditto is nearly over, its creator can inload its memories, effectively allowing people to experience multiple lifespans. Even the poorest people can create at least one ditto a day to earn a wage as an unskilled laborer. Others do more interesting things with their copies, anything from selling them as specialized courteseans, to experiencing thrills much too risky for a real body, to creating a team of hyper-focused detectives.

The latter is the MO of Albert Morris, whose various selves independently stumble onto some disturbing happenings that seem to be unrelated at first - but when the creator of the primary dittoing technology, his chief scientist, and the scientist's daughter are all involved, things get interesting quickly.

Like Brin's other works, Kiln People starts at a reasonably fast pace and maintains it for the entirety of the story. This is especially impressive since his four first-person points of view are of Albert and his three dittos, and the entire book only spans a handful of days. The book is also nice and long, the paperback weighs in at a meaty 567 pages. Brin continually delights with little details of how dittotech has impacted society, though his prose is nothing special and I was not particularly attached to any of the characters. All in all, a good solid speculative work of science fiction.

Mon Jul 17 01:36:40 CDT 2006 by tsarren@infodancer.org. Comments

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