What Makes a Story Science Fiction?

After spending a weekend at FenCon IX in Dallas, I discovered a whole new world of science fiction. I’ve always been a sci-fi fan. I grew up with Star Trek and Star Wars. I just always thought of science fiction as any story set in space. I had no idea.

I found myself surrounded by men in kilts paying homage to Highlander. There were super heroes and swashbucklers everywhere. It seems even Sherlock Holmes himself was a sci-fi guru. Muppets—yeah, there were pigs in space. Phineas and Ferb? If a satellite crashes to Earth, Candace is in charge—conditionally. And don’t get me started on Perry the Platypus and his gadgets. Where is he, anyway?

We discussed Ray Bradbury. We chatted about fairy tales. We spoke of Tolkien and Lewis. We talked about Wonder Woman, Superman, the Hulk and Iron Man.We shared the love of Malcolm Reynolds as well as The Doctor.

We watched movies about Mars, a trailer for The Hobbit, and The Lost Skeleton Returns Again. Even Monty Python held a place of honor.

There were fairies, furries, foxes, and fans of every color, literally. One woman in a Starfleet uniform was painted Kelly green from head to toe. Another young lady wore a purple princess dress and My Little Pony ears, tail, and unicorn horn. Anime and Steampunk both made bold statements at the convention. It was fantastic, in every sense of the word.ked at science fiction with new eyes. I walked through the artists’ gallery in wonder. There were bronze sculptures, jewelry, large-scale paintings and small-scale pen and inks. My husband won a watercolor painting of Robby the Robot, which will soon reside in our game room next to our collection of movie posters. My son won a painting of a Cthulhu character inspired by Lovecraft. I’m not a huge fan of tentacles, but the painting is lovely.

Every element of the convention opened my mind to the definition and possibilities of science fiction. I’m looking at nearly every movie I’ve ever watched through a new filter. I’m thinking about all of the stories I’ve read with a new appreciation.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

My 1st Movie Review: The Avengers!

Here is my disclaimer: I am terrible at reviewing movies. I love them too much to write anything truly mean about them. There. I said it. So, here goes my first attempt at a review.

The other night I went to see Marvel’s The Avengers in 3D. I am not a huge comics devotee, and I’m not always impressed with wearing 3D glasses. To be honest, I usually become a bit woozy.

Until Iron Man came out in 2008, I had never heard of Tony Stark or his bad-boy/ good-guy escapades. I grew up watching the 1978 series of The Incredible Hulk, with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, on the small screen. I didn’t love the whole idea of the show, but the special effects were cool—I was ten. My superhero knowledge is limited to what I glean from movies and TV. I watched Batman and Wonder Woman on TV and Superman on the big screen. The only thing I knew of Thor and Loki was from Norse mythology. I had heard of Captain America, but never of Hawkeye or Black Widow. I have sons, so I watched both Iron Man movies, along with Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).

With that little background behind us, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed The Avengers. Joss Whedon impressed me yet again. When will he stop that?

The banter between the characters was clever and actually served to propel the story, and the actors really endeared me. I am now a Hulk fan. Really. He has one particular scene that absolutely cracked me up. Okay—maybe more than one. Mark Ruffalo is a terrific Bruce Banner. He’s so laid back that it’s not difficult to believe that he must be fuming inside.

I laughed aloud at one of Black Widow’s very first lines in the film. “I’m working…”

While Stark retains his selfish façade, Captain America leads with his do-good-always persona. The fact that it’s sincere makes it even better.

As the end credits began, I asked my boys which was their favorite Avenger. My husband and older son like Iron Man best, and my younger son refuses to answer. I think he’s like me, and can’t really decide.

The Avengers broke records with an opening weekend box office bringing in over $200 million. That makes sense to me. It was pure fun. I laughed, I (almost) cried, I jumped out of my seat a few times, too. It’s what a movie should be. Even the 3D was great—no wooziness. If you are one of the eleven people who didn’t see it this weekend, you should go. This is a family-friendly movie with lots of action.

I only have a few negatives to add. If you haven’t seen the other Marvel movies, you might be a little bit lost on minor points. I’d recommend watching them first. In addition, I would warn that the film is over two hours long—visit the theatre facilities before the movie starts.

There’s my first review. I’m sure some critics can find all sorts of ugly things to say about this film, but I was too busy watching it.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.