In my many years of reading, I’ve encountered three “perfect” science fiction books, and I’d like to share them with you, because they are more than worth your time.
As a short preamble, this isn’t a listicle, and this isn’t a “Top 5 Sci-fi Books!” for two reasons: One, I hold a distinction between “favourite” and “best”, and not all of my favourite books are likely to also be yours. Second, I’m not going to share the runner-ups here, this list is about perfect books.
Second, before we get to the list itself, I want to say a couple of words about science-fiction. Science-fiction isn’t merely futuristic or in space, but it’s about stories that ask questions, that posit changes and explore them, or advocate for said changes. The setting can help, but isn’t necessary, for instance, Star Wars is famously an Arthurian fantasy series, that happens in space, rather than a science-fiction story.
(Guy: This post might be controversial, it also presents some of my personal views on life and life-philosophy. As such, I might find the need to moderate the comment section, if things get out of hand. Especially following this week’s Presidential Elections in the USA, the topic is even more topical than it always is. As always, this is not a review, but a Things I Like post, which contains spoilers for the Gatchaman Crowds series, though a bit more slight this time around.)
Probably the most controversial line in Gatchaman Crowds is when in episode 7 Hajime tells Utsutsu, who wonders how she can take all the crap that’s written on her online, “They’re people I don’t know. If I don’t like it, I can just turn it off.” This line is important enough that later on when Rui is bombarded by vile messages online after his identity is revealed, that it is repeated to him. This line comes off incredibly similar to “Grow a thicker skin. It’s your fault you care.”
The fear of doxxing and trolling.
Now, I’m going to address this line from Hajime’s perspective in a bit, but first I’m going to start with a controversial opinion I myself hold, but I’m going to actually break down why it’s not as controversial, perhaps, as it’d appear on first glance. The opinion is, “people choose to be offended.” And before you accuse me of saying that being offended is thus meaningless, people also choose to get married, and to have children. People still choose to kill one another. Choices aren’t meaningless, quite the opposite.
Return to the Gatchaman Crowds Project page.
Rome wasn’t built in one day, and neither was this blog. We’ve passed several noteworthy milestones over the past couple of months, so it’s a nice opportunity to take a moment and reflect on the journey this blog and I have gone on over the years, as I highlight them.
First, 1 million page-views was reached late at night on April 29th! It’s taken us a long time to get here, and I thank all of you who’ve read the posts, and took the time to interact with me, and other readers on the blog. I know I haven’t always been the best about responding to comments timely, and have gone on periods of inactivity at times, but thank you for all visitors, past and current. Trolls aside. Nobody likes trolls. Sorry.
An accurate depiction of the blog’s owner by Sephyxer.
Speaking of how long it’s taken to get here, the first post on this blog was made on March 3rd, 2009. That’s just over 7 years ago! It was an early screening review of the Watchmen film. It wasn’t a very good film, let me tell you that. Later that month, I covered the beautifully written Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susannah Clarke, which isn’t perfect, but is quite good. As you can see, the blog’s start in particular was much more wide-ranged than otaku interests alone, and later down the road I even covered a geeky bootleg shirt!
In case you’ve missed it, FLCL (pronounced ‘Fooly cooly’), which originally aired in 2000-2001 is getting a direct sequel, which will air in 2017. Most people’s response has been “Why?” I sought to calm these people down by reminding them that no matter how bad the FLCL continuation is, they’ll still have the original, untouched. But is that really true? One of the reasons Tolkien’s estate had been so reluctant to allow for movies to be made off of his work is the knowledge that the total mindscape of a franchise is indeed affected by all that it contains. Then again, look at Psycho-Pass’s 2nd season, or Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice, where the argument is that the new people in charge of the franchise don’t really understand what made it good to begin with, and don’t understand its core messages. So we use this argument to do away with dissenting evidence. Then again, we also see this argument with reboots such as female Thor, or black Spiderman, etc.
And this is what it really comes down to; just as we dismiss the latest creation as outside “canon”, for not getting the original, we fear that somehow, we’ll be the ones left behind, where the newest creation will reflect on what the original has said and ruin it for us – not just our memory of it, but what it even said to us. And this is one of the reasons fans of source material are so often unhappy with adaptations: There are as many narratives on what the material really says as there are people who consumed it. This is unsurprising, because we filter the material through our own understanding of the world, and our own media preferences, until the effect of the media on us, through us, is as unique as the experience of having consumed it (and might be different should we revisit the material later on).
(This post will have very light OreGairu (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU in English) seasons 1-2 spoilers, mostly of a meta-nature, discussing where the story went rather than its details.)
The lateral tracking shot and I have had several encounters lately, particularly in Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED in English), where the use of the lateral tracking shot by director Itou Tomohiko, to symbolize a specific aspect of a time-travel story, where the protagonist pushes his way from out of the frame back in, clawing their way to victory over the frame itself, over time, reminded me of its use in Hosoda Mamoru’s film, where Tomohiko was the assistant director. The lateral tracking shot has more good uses, which you can check in Every Frame’s a Painting video on the subject, focusing on another of Hosoda Mamoru’s films, Wolf Children. Here’s a video showcasing the moment I’m speaking of in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time:
The rest of this piece will be about the direction in Grimgar in general, and some musings on the Lateral Tracking Shot, which in this show is more often a “panning” shot. I’ll make use of moments from episode 5 of Grimgar, so there might be some scant spoilers for it in the form of an untranslated video segment.
(Guy’s preamble: This was originally posted on my ask.fm, where a Fate/Stay Night fan asked what sort of behaviour I’m anticipating from F/SN fans that’d impact the fun out of non-fans’ viewing. I edited some of the specific references out or added others. And sad to say, all these things I predicted did indeed come to pass, and with double the vigor once full series/cour reviews had come out by people who were not True Fans. Of course, this is relevant in any season where a popular franchise is adapted, which is basically every season. I’d like to reiterate that this behaviour is understandable, and even I sometimes engage in it, but as always, we can strive to do better, especially if in our zeal to convince people to love our favourite shows as much as we do, we rob them of the opportunity to engage in it as we had.)
A lot of it is down to the same sort of behaviour that is prevalent when any adaptation comes out, or when people read/view one part of an interconnected universe, or even when people read the first part of a series you’ve read the entirety of. It just happens that the more “hoops” you have to jump through in a specific work (in terms of word-count, how many interconnected series there are, etc.), or rather, how artificially high the barrier of entry to “true fandom” is, the more this behaviour is prevalent.
In a nutshell.
So, what to do or not do, right?
Shitposting, it’s hard to define, and we shrug it off by “You’ll know it when you see it,” a form of communication that is becoming inescapable around message boards, Twitter, and chat-rooms. It’s basically memes responding to memes, which have been fermented in the noxious gases of Twitch chat. But are they a form of communication? Are they a form of humor? What are they there for, and how are they misused? I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of shitposting and memes, and never have been, so I’ve spent quite some time from my perch, looking at everyone running amuck in the communities I frequent, trying to understand why people do it, and what purpose it serves.
Well, as Hajime of Gatchaman Crowds had so aptly put it, people won’t stop doing what they’re doing if they’re having fun, but there must be some specific need this addresses, and that’s what I’m going to think over, and also how it’s being co-opted by outside forces.
(Note, the post’s previous title was “Shitposting Lonely Geeks, and The Corporations That Take Advantage of Them”, but corporations aren’t the focus of this piece, but how shitposting is closely-related to loneliness and in-jokes. So it was changed to reflect that better.)