Quotes: Finland Is Weird. Finland Is Different

I first became aware of Adrian Tchaikovsky when he won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2016. I’ve been meaning to check out his writing since then. Ironclads, a limited-edition hardcover novella, finally made it to the top of my TBR pile last month.

The novella was great in several respects, but I was especially tickled by the American POV character’s descriptions of Finland and Finns. For example:

“All the middle of Nordland is the bit we’ve got problems with, basically: Sweden and Finland, say the maps. Sweden is where the fighting is, and the other place… Finland is weird. Finland is different.“

– Adrian Tchaikovsky: Ironclads

The version of U.S. in the story is fighting in Scandinavia, and, due to having laxer laws on genetic modification, Finland apparently has become home to very interesting types of special forces.

But the best, the absolutely best detail is mentioned in this section:

Quotes Tchaikovsky Ironclads

“[F]or a long time I couldn’t even work out what was on her screens. Then it started animating, frame by stilted frame, and I worked out that some parts of what I was seeing were a satellite view. The vast majority of what should have been contested Swedish soil was smeared with roiling dark clouds that obscured any sight we might have had of what the enemy was doing.

“’Seriously,’ Sturgeon hissed, ‘what is that?’

“’Is that the flies?’ Lawes asked gloomily.

“’Yeah.’ Cormoran gave us a bright look. “Gentlemen, this is a gift from the Finns. They breed these little bugs, midges, they chip ’em and ship ’em, and every so often the Nords release a batch. There are millions of the little critters each time, and they basically just block the view of our satellites – and we can’t see a thing – no one can. So every time our forces advance, we’re going in blind. Makes for all kinds of fun.’

“’They bite?’ Franken asked uneasily. We were all thinking it: mosquitoes, disease, some kind of Finnish labgrown plague that zeroed in on the stars and stripes.

“’Not yet,’ Lawes told us. ‘Jolly thought though, ain’t it?’”

– Adrian Tchaikovsky: Ironclads [original emphasis]

The militarization of mosquitoes! We already joke—as a way of dealing with an irritant that’s just a part and parcel of life—that mosquitoes are the Finnish air force. Finally, someone did it! 😀

It makes perfect sense in a world with aggressive biological research to turn a ubiquitous pest into an asset. Come to think of it, it sounds very much like the strategies that Finns used in the Winter War of 1939-1940 against Soviet forces—making native conditions work for you and against the enemy.

Of course, no one person can disapprove or approve of any characterization on behalf of their whole group. However, in My Official Opininon As a Finn, Tchaikovsky managed to balance well the view of Finland as part of Scandinavia with Finns being distinctly different from their Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish cousins. Also, he got so many little details right, like the way the Finnish language sounds, or our deep appreciation of nature.

I practically tore through the book. Kudos!

Tchaikovsky, Adrian. Ironclads. Oxford: Solaris, 2017, p. 22 and p. 29.

This post has been edited to correct a typo.

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.

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Indie Scifi-Western Prospect

I saw this a couple of months ago and meant to write about it then, but apparently stored *cough cough* the link somewhere really effectively and only now rediscovered it. Anyway:

A feature-length indie scifi-western Prospect, written and directed by Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell, premiered at the SXSW festival in March 2018.

An official teaser trailer is available on YouTube:

Prospect 2018 SXSW Teaser Trailer OFFICIAL by Prospect on YouTube

“A teenage girl and her father travel to a remote alien moon, aiming to strike it rich. They’ve secured a contract to harvest a large deposit of the elusive gems hidden in the depths of the moon’s toxic forest. But there are others roving the wilderness and the job quickly devolves into a fight to survive. Forced to contend not only with the forest’s other ruthless inhabitants, but with her own father’s greed-addled judgment, the girl finds she must carve her own path to escape.”

The movie stars Sophie Thatcher, Pedro Pascal (whom I’ve seen in Game of Thrones and Kingsman: The Golden Circle; he is also slated to appear in Wonder Woman 2), Jay Duplass, Andre Royo (appearances in Agent Carter, Elementary, and Fringe), Sheila Vand, and Anwan Glover (also visited in Elementary). The runtime is about 1 h 40 min.

About a month ago, in early May, Variety announced that Gunpowder & Sky (who bought worldwide rights to Prospect) will release the film theatrically in the U.S. later this year. It looks also to be available for streaming on SingularDTV at some point. Until then, according to the movie’s Facebook page, it looks like Prospect will be playing at select film festivals and/or independent theaters.

An article in Ars Technica says that

Prospect thrives more as a character-study due to the strength of its performances. In particular, Thatcher as Cee makes you feel each step of her transition from book-reading, punk- listening teen to cunning, hardened survivor […]”

Sounds intriguing—has anyone seen this yet? Thoughts?

Found via File 770.

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Our Top 5 MCU Movies to Date

Roxi tweeted a question, and we have answers!

 

Eppu here. My top five Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to date are:

  1. Black Panther
  2. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  3. The Avengers
  4. Captain America: Civil War
  5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

My honorable mention is a tie between Ant-Man (which surprised me positively but ultimately won’t make the list due to the annoyingly large serving of ham for a villain) and Thor: Ragnarok (Jeff Goldblum was a fun villain but he shouldn’t overshadow the rest of the fantastic ensemble).

I see quite a bit of Captain America on my list. I didn’t think I’d be team Cap. I have to say, though, there’s an appeal in stories of someone trying to re-gauge their moral compass in a fast-paced, fast-changing world they’re scrambling to understand. (Hold on. That sounds like I might be… middle-aged?!? *LOL*)

Our Fav MCU Movies Poster Collage Sm

 

Erik here. My top five are:

  1. Avengers
  2. Black Panther
  3. Captain America: The First Avenger
  4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  5. Spider-Man: Homecoming

All of these movies have a clear and relatively straightforward narrative concept which is backed up by excellent design, direction, and acting. They are also all definitively superhero movies, unlike some of the other Marvel movies which are heist capers, space operas, or character studies that happen to have superheroes in them. As a whole, I think Marvel’s cinematic corpus is stronger for having the variety, but the movies I like best are the ones that face the superheroism of their main characters head on. (Also, as much as I appreciate Iron Man’s role in getting the Marvel Cinematic Universe started and holding the first couple of phases together, there’s only so much Tony Stark I can take at one sitting.)

We suspect our lists will look quite different after this summer (with AIW now and Ant-Man and the Wasp due in July), but we’ll see.

Want to chime in?

Images via IMDB: Ant-Man. The Avengers. Black Panther. Captain America: Civil War. Captain America: The First Avenger. Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thor: Ragnarok.

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

Avengers: Infinity War Opens This Friday and There Are Trailers

Good grief, I’ve completely lost the track of time—here in the U.S., Avengers: Infinity War opens this Friday (April 27, 2018). Eeeeek!

Here’s the first trailer (from November, 2017):

Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

The second trailer (from March, 2018):

Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War – Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

And, finally, a tv spot from early April:

Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War — Chant TV Spot by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

I know virtually nothing about the Infinity War, except that it involves the infinity stones and that Thanos is (in some form or another) pulled from comics. (I was an X-Men reader in my youth, and even though my sister read some Spider-Man, those were translated and published very spottily back home.)

However, it looks like we’re possibly in for quite a treat. I cannot see a mashup of all of the super-and-super-adjacent-heroes being anything but a Learning to Work Together story, at least to some extent. The setting of AIW also looks a lot like the setting for The Avengers, which I liked quite a bit (even despite its Smurfette-action). There’s nothing quite like repelling a force with unknown capabilities more numerous than yours to have our heroes pull together.

I’ve liked the Russo brothers’ Community episodes and previous Marvel Cinematic Universe movies from well enough to a lot, so I doubt I’ll be disappointed in the directing. The same more or less goes for dynamic screenwriting duo Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely: the Captain America movies The First Avenger, The Winter Soldier, and Civil War are at the top end of their work even if I’d prefer a lower amount of testosterone in my superhero stories.

One thing’s sure: it will be fabulous to see people from the Black Panther again (especially Okoye and Shuri!). I’m also curious to see how they’ll integrate the Guardians of the Galaxy characters. And we know already that there will be humorous quips!

Tumblr Daily Marvel Heroes Open Wakanda1Tumblr Daily Marvel Heroes Open Wakanda2Tumblr Daily Marvel Heroes Open Wakanda3

Images: When you said we’re going to open Wakanda to the rest of the world gifs via Daily Marvel Heroes on Tumblr.

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Fahrenheit 451 Reboot Trailer

The rebooted Fahrenheit 451 trailer is out:

Fahrenheit 451 (2018) Official Trailer ft. Michael B. Jordan & Michael Shannon | HBO on YouTube

This new movie adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s novel is by writer, director, and producer Ramin Bahrani. The flick stars Michael B. Jordan (lately appearing e.g. in Black Panther and Fantastic Four) and Michael Shannon (e.g. The Shape of Water, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Man of Steel). It’s set to come out May 19, 2018.

My first snarky comment solely on the basis of the trailer is “Do you think this movie has something to do with fire?” and the second “My goodness, so many men doing man things—where are the women?” Then again, I know that trailers always lie, and that may be the case here. According to IMDB, at least, the cast does have a number of women, including Sofia Boutella, whom I remember from Kingsman: The Secret Service. It remains to be seen how much of a role they’re given. And I hope Michael B. Jordan is given space to show his depth.

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Quotes: Humans as the Only Generators of Value and Purpose in the World

Author Kelly Robson describes the core conceit of her novel Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach in an interview with Ilana C. Myer:

“The habs, hives, and hells [i.e., city state -like population centers] compete for economic power, and economic power ultimately comes from populations. A free market requires free movement of population, so everyone is free to basically vote with their feet. If they don’t like the quality of life in the hab, hive, or hell they live in, they are free to move to a different one. A hab, hive, or hell with a shrinking population knows that it better change its quality of life offerings if it wants to stop hemorrhaging people.

“It’s a dynamic world that ultimately respects humans as the only generators of value and purpose in the world. I like it.”

– Kelly Robson describing her novel Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach

Aah, I like it too. 🙂 Plus, voting with your feet is a natural extension of voting with your wallet.

Myer, Ilana C. “Kelly Robson on the Economics of Time Travel in Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach.” Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, April 02, 2018.

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.

Pacific Rim Uprising Trailers

Pacific Rim Uprising opens in four weeks (March 23, 2018) and even the second trailer has been out for a few weeks now. First things first, though:

Pacific Rim Uprising – Official Trailer (HD) by Legendary

And here’s the second trailer:

Pacific Rim Uprising – Official Trailer 2 [HD] by Legendary

Pacific Rim Uprising is directed and co-written by Steven S. DeKnight; other writers credited with the screenplay are Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, and T.S. Nowlin. I have seen some of DeKnight’s writing and directing for Dollhouse and possibly even story editing for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The rest of the writing team are entirely new to me however (apart from having at least heard of one of Snyder’s latest producing credits, The Handmaid’s Tale).

While I’m mostly not in the mood, now and then I like lots of smacking monsters around and busting buildings. But not only that—destruction without a reason gets tiresome faster than you can say marmalade sandwich. Among the falling skyscrapers and lurching jaegers in these trailers I’m left wondering about the human stories.

The features of the first Pacific Rim that most strongly attracted me to the story were specifically that—human stories. One was Learning to Work Together and the other was the respect that Raleigh Becket showed Mako Mori. I’ve seen interviews with Guillermo del Toro and the design team where everyone kept calling Mako Raleigh’s “love interest”. Come on, dudes. Reducing a character to her gender and relationship to a male character is the worst kind of dismissal. She has a name and you know it, not to mention that Mako would kick your butt eight days in a week. (It’s sad when a fictional character has to take his creators to school on how to respect women as people.)

I really hope Uprising will be a case of Never Trust a Trailer, and the movie will be at minimum tolerable. Granted, the first trailer is more people- than fight-heavy, so that’s a reason to stay positive. At the very least we’ll see more of Rinko Kikuchi, John Boyega—looking forward to seeing what kind of depth he has—and Tian Jing, whose performance in The Great Wall I enjoyed but for whose character there was pitifully little to do in Kong: Skull Island.

This post has been edited for clarity.

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Two weeks to A Wrinkle in Time

It’s just over two weeks ’till A Wrinkle in Time opens at theaters (March 09, 2018). The movie is based on a young adult novel of the same name by Madeleine L’Engle. It was first published in 1962, and starts a series called Time Quintet.

While the book wasn’t for me, I have higher hopes for the screen adaptation. Here’s the U.S. teaser trailer…

A Wrinkle In Time Official US Teaser Trailer by Disney Movie Trailers

…and the official U.S. trailer:

A Wrinkle in Time Official US Trailer by Disney Movie Trailers

The adaptation was written by Jennifer Lee (of Frozen and Zootopia fame) and directed by Ava duVernay. A favorite actor I’m most looking forward to seeing is Gugu Mbatha-Raw, whom I loved in Doctor Who as Tish Jones (Martha’s sister) and Belle.

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R.I.P. Ursula Le Guin

Author Ursula Le Guin is no longer with us.

Eileen Gunn Ursula-39-small

One of the most poignant remembrances I’ve yet seen is by author Catherynne Valente on Twitter:

I’m most fond of Le Guin’s Earthsea stories, some of which I’ve read and re-read in Finnish and in English over the years. I’ve only managed one of her science fiction books so far, though. Time to rectify that.

Forever read, Ms. Le Guin. Your intellect, inner fire, and vision will be deeply missed.

(Hat tip to Nnedi Okorafor for the phrase “forever read” in lieu of “rest in peace”.)

Image by Eileen Gunn via Ursula K. Le Guin website