The Dinglehopper

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Warning! Incoming Reboot Reboot

Reboot Logo

There’s been a lot to be excited about in the last month or two. I’m a little late in talking about upcoming Reboot, uh, reboot, but I feel okay about that. I was a little late discovering it the first time around. I’m pretty sure I first heard about it from the amusing titled Cyberpunk Handbook: The Real Cyberpunk Fakebook.

Reboot Cyberpunk Handbook

Despite my inauspicious initial contact, I came to love the show with the same kind of immoderate enthusiasm that drives our engagement with Once Upon a Time.  There is, in fact, a Mad Max themed episode designed by Fury Road‘s co-writer and story boarder that features the villain as a war rig hauling Mainframe’s equivalent of gasoline. It’s a post-neo-meta-reference or something.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the original. And it’s being celebrated in the traditional way, with a brand new update. Corus Entertainment has ordered 26 episodes of the “hybrid live-action/CG-animated series” with “a groundbreaking multi-platform experience.”

Like most reboots, this one seems to have only the most tenuous relationship with the original.

Transcending age groups with appeal to kids, tweens and teens, ReBoot: the Guardian Code is an adventure-comedy series about four teens (Austin, Parker, Grey and Tamra) who discover that they’re next-gen Guardians with a mission to save the world, by defending it in cyberspace. The Internet revolutionized the world, but it also left it vulnerable to attack. With the help of VERA, the last surviving cyberbeing from the original Reboot new posterGuardian Program, our heroes stream into cyberspace where they use their awesome code-based powers to battle viruses that have been unleashed by a ruthless hacker. Known only as the Sourcerer, he seeks to rule the world by controlling cyberspace. Original fans of the show will be happy to hear that Megabyte will be back and he’s getting a major upgrade. ReBoot will showcase leading edge technologies and bring coding into the mainstream for kids.

When Austin, Parker, Grey and Tamra are not trying to stop viruses from overloading a nuclear power station, or remotely opening a dam to flood a city, or playing Criss Cross Crash Hour with a city’s transportation grid, our heroes are being typical teens: arguing with their parents over curfews; dealing with crushes; or trying to avoid getting suspended for skipping class when they’re really on a cyber mission to save the world!

But, like most reboots of stuff I liked once upon a time, I choose to remain cautiously optimistic. The original series is available on DVD. And you can keep up with breaking news at Reboot Revival.

 


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Happy Independence Day!

Hey, since you’re looking at this post rather than enjoying a parade or barbecue, I suggest you spend your screen time with one of these thematically appropriate sci-fi gems:

  1. Starship Troopers–because it is sci-fi satire at its finest.
  2. Star Wars: A New Hope–imagine the exhaust port is Boston harbor and Luke’s dumping some tea.
  3. Independence Day–cuz the world is saved thanks to a Mac.

indday


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Comic Review: A-Force #2

Just a reminder–I’m not reading Secret Wars at large, so the greater context and ramifications that might be reverberating off of other comic series throughout the cross-over event are going to be entirely lost on me. However, when our toddler asked to go to the comic store on Wednesday of this week, I asked for A-Force #2 to be brought home.

aforce2runawaysIgnoring all else, this issue was worth the cover price for one panel depicting Nico’s girlfriends from her time in Runaways, especially Arsenic (may she rest in peace). I miss that young lady.

Okay, but moving away from my Runaways nostalgia, the issue opened up new questions about how this Battleworld runs, developed the relationships between the A-Force women, and gave us a better look at our sky-clad mystery lady.

Marvel’s marketing blurb:

With monsters appearing on the utopian island of Arcadia and threatening its inhabitants, She-Hulk and her team of Avengers set out to discover the source. But when they stumble upon a conspiracy that reaches far beyond Arcadia, She-Hulk may just find herself on the wrong side of the law!

aforce2coverWith the help of their Sub-Mariner pals, the team figures out what must have caused a prehistoric shark to attack Arcadia. However, the A-Force is still shaken by America Chavez’s imprisonment. Some, like long-locked Medusa, start openly questioning She-Hulk’s leadership. Meanwhile, Nico brings the sky-lady home to hide her from She-Hulk, afraid that she’ll be turned over to Doom or imprisoned like America was.

As with the first issue, this installment nicely weaves from action to character development. This is no small feat. In a comic like Iron Man or Spider-Man, or even Captain Marvel, the characters frequently interact with heavy sarcasm. That keeps the deep feels at bay. But A-Force’s characters are absolutely earnest. It takes a deft hand to move from girl-bonding character moments to out-and-out ass-kickery without making it feel campy, trite, or melodramatic. The title’s authors, Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson, totally pull it off in the writing.

Jorge Molina’s art is the other half of this success. His depictions of facial reactions build the fitting emotional tone. The sincerity stays true to the characters’ feelings and motivations without ever becoming over-the-top or ham-fisted.

As the twists of Battleworld revealed themselves to A-Force and they in turn attempted to piece together what this all meant, the narrative successfully got its hooks in me. aforce2page


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Wisecrack’s Newest: ‘Boss Bitches of History’

Let’s not bury the lead: Wisecrack’s brand new video series Boss Bitches of History is developed, written, and hosted by porn stars. But these are no ordinary porn stars (I can only surmise, though my experience and insider knowledge is extremely limited.) Ela Darling has a masters degree in library science. Her co-host Sovereign Syre has a masters in creative writing and a background in sociology. Are these the new millennial adult entertaintresses? Highly educated but also in total control of their sexual selves? That sounds feminist AF.bbofhistory

If so, they may be the perfect hosts for the new show which focuses on a “boss bitch” of history in the Wisecrack way. I’ve been a fan of Wisecrack’s edutainment videos since I first saw Thug Notes: Pride and Prejudice.  When they added Earthling Cinema and 8-Bit Philosophy, I was tickled. These guys know how to make a fun but informative video. Now they’re giving us the greatest “give zero f**ks” women in history–yes, please!

The new comedic series is dedicated to celebrating emboldened women throughout the ages who bucked the system and boldly faced the sexist hegemony of their time.

One difference from the other shows to be aware of. There is sexual innuendo and some cussing. This isn’t a show that will likely find its way into history classrooms, except perhaps at the expense of the teacher’s job. History teachers: for now, stick with John Green.

But in your off time, after you put the kids to bed, do enjoy Boss Bitches. The first two episodes are out and embedded below.

 

 


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Book Review: The Just City

The Just City by Jo Walton

The Just City

Created as an experiment by the time-traveling goddess Pallas Athene, the Just City is a planned community, populated by over ten thousand children and a few hundred adult teachers from all eras of history, along with some handy robots from the far human future—all set down together on a Mediterranean island in the distant past.

The student Simmea, born an Egyptian farmer’s daughter sometime between 500 and 1000 A.D, is a brilliant child, eager for knowledge,  ready to strive to be her best self. The teacher Maia was once Ethel, a young Victorian lady of much learning and few prospects, who prayed to Pallas Athene in an unguarded moment during a trip to Rome—and, in an instant, found herself in the Just City with grey-eyed Athene standing unmistakably before her.

Meanwhile, Apollo—stunned by the realization that there are things mortals understand better than he does—has arranged to live a human life, and has come to the City as one of the children. He knows his true identity, and conceals it from his peers. For this lifetime, he is prone to all the troubles of being human.

Then, a few years in, Sokrates arrives—the same Sokrates recorded by Plato himself—to ask all the troublesome questions you would expect. What happens next is a tale only the brilliant Jo Walton could tell.

I discovered Jo Walton through Tor.com’s Rothfuss Reread. It’s among the most enduring and cited ongoing book discussions in the genre, and she’s shepherded it for years, now. Of course, she’s also written a dozen novels and won a Hugo and a World Fantasy Award.

I’m always excited when she releases a new book. She has a gift for sweeping the reader into other worlds and keeping them there. It’s always with a touch of trepidation that I risk the first page, knowing that I’ll be obsessed with finishing and dazed after I do.

The Republic featured prominently in the thoughts of the protagonist of her award winning Among Others, so The Just City feels like a natural step sideways in the imagination of the author. It opens with Apollo baffled by Daphne choosing to become a tree rather than submit to him. Artemis, equally baffled at his ignorance, sends him to Athene. She tries to explain consensuality and equal significance.

These are themes explored in The Just City through eyes of an incarnate god, a former slave, and a woman ill served by the attitudes of her time. The cast of characters includes some of the most famous minds of antiquity and the Renaissance. But lest you think this is a paean to Plato or anyone else, I assure you nothing’s safe from Socratic interrogation, including the premise itself.

In lively narrative and conversation, the implications of Plato’s thought experiment are explored with frank, often uncomfortable, directness. Compelled sexuality, survival, identity, citizenship, slavery, and responsibility are discussed openly. From children to artificial intelligence to divinity, the concepts of consent and freedom pervade the text.

And it’s never boring or didactic. Walton’s a fan of The Republic, but she’s also a student, and ultimately, appropriately, a in dialogue with it. She brings a daring, bold challenge to even the softest interpretation of Plato. It isn’t pretty. But how much ugliness can people withstand in order to achieve and ideal? A Platonic one. The Just City seems to pick up where Walton feels he left off, discussing the actual living in and with rather than the lofty should.

Recommended for fans of Ada Palmer, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Parthenius..


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First Reactions: Netflix’s ‘Sense8′

sense8 logoWe have just finished the fifth episode of Netflix’s Sense8, a show created, written, and produced by the Wachowskis (Andy and Lana) and J. Michael Straczynski. It is a show that has two great qualities: beautiful, fascinating diversity and absolute ballsiness. Of course, there’s also a premise that provides mystery, sci-fi mind-explosions, and surprising twists.

Eight people suddenly start accessing each other’s sensory experiences. Of course, they have no idea what is happening or why and have to figure all of that out while also dealing with the conflicts of their non-Sensate lives.

 

The first aspect of greatness that struck me is Sense8’s diversity. In the mix: a Chicago cop, a Mexican film star, a Kenyan bus driver, a German safe-cracker, a Icelandic DJ, a Korean banker/kickboxer, an Indian woman about to get married, and a transgendered woman living in San Francisco.  The various locations alone add layers of interest–although Chicago tends to look pretty mundane, the cinematography of San Francisco, Nairobi, Mumbai, and Mexico City are simply gorgeous. Different languages, different accents, different cultural situations. On top of that are the characters. Obviously their racial and ethnic differences are clear and compelling, but there is also variety in the sexual and gender identities. And with the eight individual storylines going on simultaneously, the shifting narratives keep the audience fully engaged.

sense8 diversity

The second aspect of greatness is the likability of the characters. At the top of the charmer charts are two black characters: the Sensate Capheus who drives a bus in Nairobi named Van Damn and is clever and caring and positive in the face of terrible situations and Amanita the girlfriend of transgendered Sensate Nomi. Amanita is played by a former Dr. Who companion, Freema Agyeman, and has a sassy awesomeness to match her incredible hair. Lito, the Mexican film star, and his boyfriend are both absolute dolls. I can’t say enough about the fact that I just want to spend time with these people. Anti-heroes be damned–it’s a nice change to actually be charmed and care about protagonists.

The third aspect of greatness is the absolute fearlessness to depict awkward and/or explicit sexuality. The first episode practically opens with a lesbian sex scene depicting orgasm and a dildo hitting the ground with a splash of fluid. In the fifth episode, a female character is shown inserting a tampon to wordlessly explain why a male character, connected through their Sensate link, is experiencing the emotions and physical sensations of menstruation–and his experience of it is hilarious, reminding me of the classic feminist essay, “If Men Could Menstruate.” In the same episode, a male character swims naked in a pool in Berlin, mentally linking with a woman getting married in Mumbai. When he stands up out of the water, she finally sees him. When her eyes and the camera take in his penis, she falls to the ground in a faint.

sense8 ballsy

There are other lovely things about the show. Just one example: Lito is working on a movie that appears to be directed by the Mexican Michael Bay, and the violent, climatic scene at the end of the film is shot like a cross between the end of Desperado and the metal detector-foyer scene from The Matrix–slow motion, bullets shattering marble posts, impossible dodges of enemy fire, multiple gun exchanges, and a score that sounds very similar to that Matrix scene. It’s this kind of humor and action that leave me grinning during the shows more uplifting moments.

sense8 matrix

 


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Comic Review: ‘Kid Code: Channel Zero’

kidcode1Okay, so I’m a middle-aged white woman. My relationship to hip-hop music and culture is, um, weak. I picked up Kid Code: Channel Zero out of curiosity, mainly, and to stretch my reading tendencies. The popping color and style of the art sealed the deal.

By Damian Duffy, Illustrated by John Jennings, Illustrated by Stacey Robinson

Kid Code is the first in what promises to be a long line of Black Kirby/Tan Lee productions. Kid Code: Channel Zero is a rollicking, cosmic, time-traveling adventure, fusing classic hip-hop culture and outlandish sci-fi fantasy in this alternate universe to create the ultimate mash-up. Everything’s a remix! And Kid Code and his comrades must fight against The Power, who eons ago sampled the first sounds made from the God MC and created the Dark Mix (a version of the universe that was never intended). Now there’s a race against and for time throughout the universe to assemble The Everlasting Cosmic Mixtape–nine tracks that can re-assemble the God Sample and help set things back on course.

Read the first eight pages as a sample pdf here.

Kid Code is an indie comic that retools the classic superhero good vs. evil conflict through the music and culture of hip-hop. The story starts with a remix of Genesis–this is the cosmological background for the God MC’s uni-verse, the story of the first freestyle. The uni-verse is corrupted by The Ultimate Hater, and now Knights of the Infinite Digging are tracking him (now known as The Power) down.

I can’t even begin to extrapolate the many layers of allusions embedded in the comic. There are geek-tastic comic book references, like the mock author names of Black Kirby and Tan Lee. Pop culture references to Doctor Who and Bride of Frankenstein. There are theological references like using the structure of Genesis or re-defining Akashic records. In fact, the cosmological references span many different cultures. There are even literary references to the likes of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Then there’s the hip-hop allusions. I’m sure I only caught a small percentage, like that protagonist Kid Code sports the high-top fade of Kid from Kid ‘n’ Play or that lyrics are used in dialogue–I noticed “samples” from Snap’s “The Power”, “The Humpty Dance,” and Run-DMC’s “It’s Tricky.” In fact, in the same way that Kid Code is attempting to gather up lost shards of corrupted rhymes to rebuild The Everlasting Cosmic Mixtape, the audience might do a similar thing of identifying and gathering up songs that are being mixed into the narrative. Are there nine of these peppering the 40 pages of the book? I’m not educated enough in hip-hop to know. But I think the idea of structuring the comic to be built of sampled hip-hop songs is brilliant.

So the comic is incredibly smart, but it’s also a great deal of fun. It’s witty, sassy, and having a grand time adapting comic tropes to a hip-hop format. For instance, The Power is a classic villain, but with a wide grill that reads “CREAM” (Cash Rules Everything Around Me according to the Wu-Tang).  However, for all the fun it’s having, it also has an emotional core and a universal message of strength in the face of greed, corruption, consumerism, and struggle.

The illustrations are electric. They remind me of street chalk art–exaggerated lines with popping bright colors. The depictions of the story are likewise full of energy and vision. The illustration of The Power is that of a giant mouth, grinning and all teeth. His henchmen have t.v. heads. The uni-verse floats atop giant speakers. This art is like nothing I’ve ever seen in a comic book before, but I’d love to see more of it.

In short, I really dug Kid Code: Channel Zero. I have great adoration for mash-ups of high and popular cultures, bridging gaps between people of different interests, cultures, religions, and creeds. Kid Code does this with intelligence, wit, and artistic panache. Truly, I recommend checking this one out. Perhaps we can convince Rosarium to publish another one.

kidcodefight

 

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