RIP Christopher Tolkien

Word came out today that Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R.R. Tolkien, passed away. For storytellers and world builders, Christopher is the one known for organizing his dad’s notes over the past many years into the History of Middle Earth. He and his work will be missed.

Water, Oxygen, and NaNoWriMo

This morning’s news feeds featured three stories with a future impact on the search for extraterrestrial life in our solar system and the eventual colonization of our solar system.

National Geographic.co.uk features an article with the title: “Mysterious oxygen spike seen on Mars puzzles scientists“. Nature.com has the news article “A whole new world: astronomers draw first global map of Titan“. And, Space,com features “The Weird Plumes of Jupiter’s Moon Europa Are Spewing Water Vapor” on its newsfeed.

If you’ve followed along with various bits of stories that have appeared in this blog, you know that, like many other scifi writers, I believe either out of necessity or curiosity, humanity will one day be a species existing on other space objects. The common thread in these three stories is the presence of oxygen or surface liquids in places that are not Earth. The implications of this are potentially huge.

We may be one step closer to finding life or being the life on these other solar system neighbors.

I’m still slowly making progress towards my NaNoWriMo goal of 50k words. I am currently at 4723 words. On a plus note, I’ve gotten two in-story groups to where they need to go for future story events.

Distractions

Distractions are always a problem when writing. Sometimes it’s weather. Sometimes, it’s a new job. Sometimes it’s a new medication adjustment. The past few days have been all of the above. I am sitting at 3065 words out of the 50k target as of the moment. I’ve also discovered my latest distraction to add to those previously listed: Disney+.

For those waiting for a paycheck to subscribe, Disney+ is offering a 7-day free trial. So far Disney+ is amazing and the choice of things to watch is huge. For me, so far I’ve watched Star Wars (A New Hope) as a test of the service and I’ m stuck on watching the show Rebels.

For us, this is replacing Netflix for us and World of Warcraft for me. Though I’m starting to think this is going to be a much bigger distraction overall for me.

NaNoWriMo Update and Von Braun Wheel Hotel

My NaNoWriMo project is still behind, but as of this moment, I have committed 2171 words. I should probably stop revising and rewriting as I go to up the number count.

If you’ve followed and read posts here for any amount of time, you know that the Von Braun is a reoccurring theme in my writing and artwork. I personally think moving this from concept to reality is the key to exo-Earth-orbit space travel.

So, imagine my joy and surprise to find this article in my news feed this morning. Titled “Yes, the ‘Von Braun’ Space Hotel Idea Is Wild. But Could We Build It by 2025?” over on Space.com, the article discusses a company working on developing a hotel in Earth orbit using the von Braun wheel for its design.

Image stolen from the Space.com article.

Brightburn

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Spoiler Alert:
While I normally attempt to avoid spoilers in discussions of movies and books, the nature of the story of this movie means the discussion necessarily involves some spoilers.
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Brightburn offers an unusual take on the superhero story. Although in some ways there’s elements here that remind one of M Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable trilogy, it is the Superman origin story that is important to be familiar with here.

Brightburn parallels the Superman story. Kyle and Tori Breyer replace Jonathan “Pa” and Martha “Ma” Kent. Brightburn, Kansas replaces Smallville, Kansas. Brandon Breyer replaces Clark Kent.

From the crash of Brandon’s spaceship on Earth through puberty, the story parallels that of Kal-El’s childhood from the Superman story. However, once the child hits puberty, the story takes a turn to address the nature versus nurture debate in terms of superhero stories.

Around the time of his 12th birthday, the young Brandon starts to develop abilities that are beyond the norm. Instead of a green glow and a message to protect the Earth, Brandon’s spaceship glows red and offers strange whispers in the night, hinting at a more ominous source than Jor-El and Krypton.

When he first comes in contact with his spaceship, Brandon, who up to this point in the story has never been cut or injured, is cut by a piece of the ship, which is also witnessed by his mother Tori, again paralleling that the one weakness Brandon has is similar to Clark’s kryptonite.

The origins of Brandon are left unrevealed in this story. However, the dark whispers to “Take the world”, the red glow of the spaceship, Brandon’s own acknowledgment of being “special” and “superior”, and the design of the mask Brandon takes to wearing as he goes about his actions hints at something Cthulhuish and Lovecraftian in origin.

The rest of the story is a play on the 12 year old Brandon discovering and using his powers to protect his powers and identity. Most of those who know Brandon’s secret, weakness, and identity are removed by the end.  The ending ambiguously offers the possibility of sequels and more stories to follow. As the closing credits run, they are interspersed with clips showing that Brandon’s actions stretch beyond the borders of the town of Brightburn and his alter ego is called “Brightburn” in the media.

Since this is billed as a horror movie, there are elements of horror gore in a few of the scenes, but otherwise, this is easily viewed as a superhero/supervillain origin movie. This is a must view for fans of superhero stories, fans of comic book movies, and those with an interest in the nature versus nurture debate.

Little Monsters

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Note:
I will avoid spoilers here and request that any comments remain spoiler free as well.
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So, Little Monsters is a movie that’s currently only available on Hulu. The Hulu description read:

A film dedicated to all the kindergarten teachers who motivate children to learn, instill them with confidence and stop them from being devoured by zombies.

I’m not really a fan of zombie movies. I’ve seen most of the big ones, but they’re just not my thing. However, between the description and the promotional picture in Hulu, the same photo on the image above, I got a Shaun of the Dead vibe about this one. And since SotD is one of my favorite movies, zombie, comedy or otherwise, I decided to push “play”.

The opening credits and the first part of the movie is slow. Sadly, it’s rather painfully so, but once the “real” story of the movie starts up, it’s worth the wait.

Based in Australia, the real story starts up with the school kids going on a field trip to a petting zoo, which just so happens to be right next door to a super-secret U.S. military base testing facility. What could go wrong? Glad you asked. Everything you can imagine is the answer.

Somehow the field trip group featuring the main characters manages to avoid the big wave of zombie attacks before making it back to a souvenir shop where they prepare for what they believe will be their last stand. This group of kindergartners is dependent on a school teacher who plays a ukulele and sings Taylor Swift, a womanizing alcoholic children’s show star, and the unemployed slacker uncle of one of the kids, who’s only agreed to go on the field trip only to improve his chances of hitting on the teacher. The odds don’t seem to support these kids making it to the end of this movie.

Surprisingly, for a zombie movie, gore is on the minimal side, at least until the final battle. Also, surprising is the fact with gore toned down so much, the adult language usage is still heavy.

But despite the language and several inappropriate jokes, the movie ends up being pretty funny and sharing a story about adults who care, make the best of a bad situation, and keep the kids unaware of how much danger they are really in,

I recommend this one to fans of zombie movies, fans of Shaun of the Dead, and fans of just general absurd humor. It does take a bit for the real story to start up, but it’s a pretty fun ride once the real story starts.

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Note:
I again request that any comments remain spoiler free.
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