Women of sci fi #72: Arwen Undomiel

Arwen Undómiel Lord of The Rings film trilogy

Arwen (in the films) is brave and bold and intelligent. She rides a horse expertly, fights off looming horrors, out runs them and rescues small male hobbits. She is also breathtakngly beautiful with the most fabulous of dresses. She also loves with a quiet passion, one which is so strong she is willing to sacrifice her immortality for that love, to leave her family and protected life behind to have a life of love, even where there is the potential for hardship. She does not give up hope that her life can have a happy ending, and is willing to trade a shorter time in the world, for a life of true happiness and family. And swords! And frocks! And fabulous horse-riding!

I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone.

Monthly Cultural Round Up: January

So, how long ago was January? Yeah, yeah, let’s just get on with it…

BOOKS

Red Mars Kim Stanley Robinson

So sure, it might turn out that I am the only science fiction fan on this planet who had not read this book, but see, I have caught up now. Anyway, I thought it was a fascinating depiction of the colonisation of Mars. It was a very thoughtful book, and the approach to issues such as terraforming (is it environmental vandalism?), socialisation, and the role of multinational corporations and conglomerates I found genuinely thought-provoking. I found the second half of the book a bit hard going at times, but this is because it is so relentlessly depressing. That does not, however, make it bad. The depictions and characterisations of the various key players were excellent, and I particularly liked the way the switch in the narrative viewpoints demonstrated how frequent it is for people to have different viewpoints and perspectives and understandings of the events around them. Engaging and fascinations, it is definitely a must read for any hard core sci fi-sociology fan.

The Hobbit JRR Tolkien

So, challenged to a Hobbit-off by my 9 yr old, I embarked on the reading of my very beautiful The Annotated Hobbita lovely birthday present from long ago. I used to lust over the book found in a tiny bookshop where my best friend worked for a time, and our other wonderful friend who hung out with us there ended up buying it for me. But that was a long time ago, and enough reminiscing. Needless to say, it has been a long time that I have owned this book, and even longer since I read The Hobbit in full. I am pretty sure I have read The Lord of the Rings twice in the meantime. Thus the humour in The Hobbit is a little surprising, particularly given the large amount of grand seriousness in LOTR. I know that LOTR is not without humour of its own, but it doesn’t infuse the whole book quite as it does The Hobbit. The Hobbit is also a much simpler tale and it is interesting to see the extent that the elves, for instance, have morphed between the two books. I must say I enjoyed The Hobbit quite a lot, and found that it moved quite quickly for the most part, although towards the end it did take a bit of time to come to a resolution. Rather like LOTR, just when you think the main action is done, a whole bunch of other things happen. Well worth revisiting, it is also a relatively quick read, worth catching up on before the film comes out at the end of the year. By the way, I did defeat the 9 yr old in The Hobbit-off.

MOVIES

The Adventures of Tin Tin

Confession: I am not really a Tin Tin fan. I was always an Asterix girl. And I have been known to wince in horror when my small boys demand that I read various Tin Tins aloud. Especially when I get to the cringe-worthy depictions of “orientals” and the like. This didn’t mean I wasn’t interested to see the film, but it gives you a perspective on my view of the film. And actually, I rather enjoyed it. I found it pleasantly entertaining, without being word changing. It also wasn’t offensive. I am no fan of 3D, but I actually found the use of 3D quite good – not just annoying and gimicky, but well and cleverly used, and quite beautifully rendered. There are some fantastic scenes – the car chase and the crane fight in particular, and during these in particular the 3D really shines, as does the clever animation. The story could have been paced up in parts, but, really, it is Tin Tin, so how much can you do. For reasonably inoffensive family entertainment, I think Tin Tin meets the ticket quite well. Just don’t expect anything world-changing.

Footloose

So I guess I only saw this because I was on a plane. But hey, for a remake it isn’t bad. The young people are pretty and relatively competent in their roles, the dancing and the music are good. It does not stray far from the original with some scenes, particularly the dance ones, being almost shot for shot (not sure how I remember this after all this time). But the changes I don’t quite understand. HOW CAN IT BE FOOTLOOSE WITHOUT THE CAR SURFING SCENE?!? I kept waiting, but it disappointed me… Oh and I think the lead is better looking than Kevin Bacon, in a bland sort of way, but I am not sure he will ever achieve the same cult status.

Moneyball

For all the talk of this being an Oscar contender and Brad Pitt’s performance being outstanding and blah blah, I just didn’t see it. To me this was your stock-standard hero journey – hero takes chance, no one understands!, encounters setback, fights through and YAY wins. No surprises at all and utterly formulaic. You could pretty much predict every twist. With cute father-daughter relationship thrown in for extra pathos (Daddy, will you lose your job? *cue tear). The thing about the film I found most interesting, and also disturbing, was the entire discourse about baseball players which was interestingly taken for granted by the narrative. There was absolutely no compunction about the treatment of these people, because they are people, as tools or chess pieces, which could be traded, sacrificed or just thrown away. In fact the entire film revolves around the idea of treating people just so. Athletes as widgets in a factory process. Slightly horrifying really.

100 sci fi women #31: Eowyn of the House of Eorl

Eowyn of the House of Eorl   Lord of the Rings (both book and film)

Eowyn is exactly the type of determined, strong, brave, independent and compassionate woman that we like around here. She can fulfil a traditional female role in caring for her uncle, the much reduced King Theoden, however when told to stay at home when the men were going into battle she chafed against the restrictions placed on women. In a culture which valued the way of the sword, Eowyn recognised that one could never be an equal member unless one proved oneself with the sword, and she knew that she truly was an equal member. Eowyn also faces the unwanted attentions of Grima, but again was not willing to bed to a partnership with him because she should.  Ok, so she has a big girly crush on Aragorn, but let’s face it, with charisma like that, who amongst us could really have resisted? Eowyn is willing to hide her identity, to march into unknown dangers with her fellow Riders of Rohan, and because of her bravery saves her King and slays the Nazgul. In healing she her compassion helps to heal others and she comes to love Faramir, who has also been injured in both body and soul.  Eowyn is the best of the Tolkein women, brave and unwilling to accept conventions and strictures thrust upon her by men and the patriarchal society in which she has been raised.