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My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Thursday, November 17

Arrival

Science fiction has always depended on alien invasion as one of its most reliable genres, some depicting hostile aliens here to destroy us and take over our world (or possibly to eat us), some depicting benevolent aliens here to help humanity find its place in the universe. Think back to H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters. There are more novels envisaging hostile invasion than benevolent visitation (hostility more suspenseful than benevolence). One of my favorite science fiction novels—hell, one of my favorite novels of any kind—is Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End. This novel helped me understand my beliefs in the future of man, that we’re only on the threshold of becoming what we will be, might be, in the future, gave me a reason to believe in the existence of God, or some creative force in the universe similar to what most of us think of as God. And the films that try to show this same thing: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Contact, and now Arrival, the movie just released with Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, with Renner playing Dr. Ian Donnelly, an expert in math and theoretical physics, and Adams playing Dr. Louise Banks, a world-renowned expert in linguistics who is given the task of learning how to communicate with these aliens who have come to earth either for conquest or benevolence, with foggy scenes of alien heptapods (seven-legged) that spoke to Dr. Banks in intricate smoke rings that looked a bit like ink squirts from gigantic squids. I loved this movie. I love language and the many ways we and other beings might use to communicate with each other. I loved what this film was trying to say—time as circular instead of just linear, peace in the world, a united mankind looking to the next frontier, space. Even though I loved this film, there were still things that either could have been done better or the plot lines could have been clearer. The background music was a bit too heavy, giving us unnecessarily menacing non-musical sounds (like whale songs) whenever the team approached the door to the hovering spaceship; the flashbacks (or brief memories Dr. Banks has of her daughter and her daughter’s tragic death from some incurable disease) helped us understand the circularity of time but which, in retrospect, didn’t make sense. Dr. Banks explains to Col. Weber (Forest Whitaker) that language can be misleading and infuriatingly complex. She tells him about modern man’s first encounter with Australian aborigines. When they asked the aborigines what they called that little animal that carried its young in a pouch, they replied “kangaroo.” But later, it was determined that “kangaroo” means “I don’t understand.” Renner asked her if that story was true, and she said, “No, but it made my point, didn’t it?” I too, must cry, “Kangaroo!” regarding this film’s meaning. Arrival owes a big debt to Arthur C. Clarke and Childhood’s End, the plot of which was also based on alien spaceships hovering over major world cities, with aliens and their unclear agendas about earth and mankind. I loved Clarke’s message and his optimism, and I loved Arrival enough to 4-star recommend it to all sci-fi fans and all who might become sci-fi fans after seeing this movie.

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