I have, for the time being, suspended actively writing on Princess of Fire in favor of doing research. I anticipated having to do this at some point, and this seems the opportune moment, before I get too deep into the first draft.
As for Princess of Shadows, I’m still waiting on my other two beta readers. I am past pleading and just about at the point of bribery. Which is kinda problematic, as I am currently quite broke. I am open to suggestions.
I just saw Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.
I am not going to engage in spoilers, as is my usual wont; that would be cruel and might possibly get me lynched. Here’s what I can say, as it’s all over the film’s IMDB entry– Bullock and Clooney are astronauts literally stranded in orbit after an accident destroys their spacecraft; they then have to figure out how to get home. The film was directed by Alfonso Cuarón, a director with whose work I am largely unfamiliar, except for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
There are some points I need to make clear at the start–
1. Don’t see this movie if you can’t stand to be on the edge of your seat.
2. Don’t see this movie if terrifying scenes of destruction upset you.
3. Don’t see this movie if you’re claustrophobic.
4. Don’t see this movie if you’re acrophobic.
5. Don’t see this movie if you get motion sickness (at least, not while you’re sitting behind me in the theater).
Clooney and Bullock are the only actors with face-time on screen, although there is a nice nod to previous space films with Ed Harris as the voice of Mission Control. Clooney is very good as a veteran astronaut, but this is Bullock’s film, and she delivers as a woman who carries the pain of a great loss, stuck in a desperate situation. She’s set up more-or-less as the Everywoman struggling to survive. Bullock’s performance is great, and she quickly hooks you into her struggle.
The great appeal of the film for sci-fi fans (although there’s really nothing terribly fantastic or sci-fi about the premise and how it plays out) is that Cuarón made an effort to try to get the physics of free-fall right, and the problems created by Newtonian mechanics play a central role in the story. In addition, refreshingly, sound itself is largely missing, except for radio transmissions, speech inside spacecraft and what the astronauts might possibly detect as vibrations in solid objects. Entire spacecraft get disassembled in total silence, which is certainly an improvement compared to the general run of science-fiction movies.
Having said that, Cuarón himself admits that the film is not one hundred percent scientifically accurate, and that some scientific laws were bent for the sake of the story. If anyone is curious, some of these technical inaccuracies have been called out online, but they were not glaring to this layman and my suspension of disbelief was never in serious danger of going spung.
The ride we go through with Bullock is terrifying, extreme, heart-rending and even occasionally funny– there are a couple of in-jokes slipped into the picture, and at least one homage to WALL-E. There may be even more, but that would require me seeing the movie again, which I intend to do soon– or, at least, once I secure a large supply of Dramamine and a heat-shield.
On the whole, five retro-rockets out of five.