Review: Terminator Dark Fate

I loved the terminator franchise. It, like Alien, RoboCop, Star Trek and Star Wars, shaped my view of science fiction and action films. Sometimes gritty, often funny, with fantastic fight scenes and eye catching special effects.

Of course when they announced Terminator Dark Fate I watched the trailer hoping for a great new movie….and it failed to compel me. All of the things I wanted, action, special effects, a touch of humor…not there. What they did have was an all female cast. That was the important point they had to tell me in this trailer. We aren’t protecting a guy who will save the world, no, this time it’s a WOMAN. The blatant “for women” mentality behind the advertisement completely turned me off. I’m not looking for girl power, I want a good story!

But when my roommate bought us tickets I didn’t say no. The three of us went off to the theater. I hoped for a decent movie, but my expectations were not high after the trailer.

Watching the movie I have to say that the trailers did not do the film any favors. The movie is a decent enough popcorn flick. Lots of action, a few great laughs, but no real meat to the film. It was a solid okay.

A few minor spoilers beyond, but I try not to be very specific.

A few things did bother me about the movie. One, they absolutely ret-conned a large section of the franchise. This is a series that deals with time travel, so it isn’t unheard of, but the way they did it felt like they were just dismissing all the previous movies as if they didn’t matter.

In fact when the new female hero finally meets up with Sarah Conner her reaction is…. “Who are you?” She has never heard of Sara Conner, effectively overwriting the previous history.

The best part of the movie was actually Arnold Schwarzenegger. He had the funniest lines, giving them in his usual dead pan terminator style. His action sequences were some of the best. He fought off the new terminator while the person they were rescuing stood by with wide eyes watching everything happen.

On that note, let’s talk about the new cast. We have Grace, the augmented human from the future who isn’t half bad. She’s kind of a bad ass, and kicks some butt. However, I felt like we didn’t get enough time to really get to know her as anything but a body guard. She hides the reason she is helping Dani until the end, and by then I just didn’t care enough.

Then there is Dani, the person Grace was sent to save. She almost seems to go from scared little girl to inspirational leader in five seconds flat. She lets others fight her battles for her. She keeps trying to run back into danger when she knows it will kill her. Over all she wasn’t an effective character. She isn’t going to be this inspiration just because future girl says so.

When I saw the original Terminator I felt like Sara Conner was an amazing woman who dealt with the bad hand that she was given, and made the best of it. She was scared at first, but she made every effort to fight for her life, and for everyone else’s life. She didn’t keep running back into danger, or stand around staring at everyone else fighting. She ran when she needed to, and she fought when she had to. She grew into something amazing so that she could inspire her son to do the same.

Dark Fate had the same problem that a lot of modern movies seem to have. The characters don’t grow over time, it’s more of an instant thing. Something happens, or a flip switches in their head, and all of a sudden they are a new, better version of themselves, if they grow at all. It’s unrealistic, and abrasive.

The last part that I found really cringy about the entire movie was the whole “they want you for your womb, not for you” part. Yes, I get it, Conner is pissed off at the world because her life was messed up, but the whole “we want you for your womb” part was over the top and reaching. Conner was a great character because her strength inspired her son to become who he was. That was the point. Without her he would have been nothing.

Still, the cringy parts are short, and easily overlooked if you just want a nice popcorn flick to get you through the weekend. It did have some great fight scenes, and the new terminator was kind of cool with the combination metal skeleton and liquid skin. And, of course, Arnold was fantastic.

Stars and Cards

I’ve published TWO things this weekend!

First, Stars End. A collection of science fiction short stories that you can read in bite size pieces.

The four short stories contained inside explore what life might mean in a distant future when space travel and longevity are things humanity take for granted.

Second, I’ve been working on Vertigo, a card based litRPG, for a while. I decided I wanted to publish it on Royal Road and Wattpad as a free title. So you can find the first to chapters there right now.

New chapters will be uploaded every weekend.

This is an experiment to see if it encourages me to write more. I’m hoping that writing in such a public way will force me to stay accountable to myself.

It also makes me happy that my daughter drew the figure on the cover. I gave her a basic idea of what to draw and she went with it.

I already have several chapters of Vertigo ready to go, I’m just editing and cleaning them up before posting every week. That doesn’t mean the other writing stops, it just means fora day or two a week I am devoted to one chapter from Vertigo. But it’s been fun, and I can’t wait to hear what you think about it.

Kindle Unlimited for FREE for 3 months!

Amazon Prime day was just last weekend, but they didn’t stop everything. I just found out today that they are giving away three months of Kindle Unlimited for absolutely free for three months. You have to cancel after the three months or get charged $10, but there is no obligation to keep your subscription after the three months.

If you have a phone, tablet, computer, or any other Android or Apple device, you can read kindle books wherever you are. And the authors still get paid, so it’s great for everyone involved.

Also, my books are in KU so if there is one you’ve been thinking about reading the next three months have you covered. From litRPG to fantasy, and all the short stories in between.

It doesn’t matter how much or how little you read, this is your chance to check out what is available in KU, and get your summer reading. Here are some suggestions:
The Hollow Series by Kim Harrison (A little like a female Dresden, but with her own twists.)
Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko is one of the best litRPG adventures I’ve ever read.
Life Reset by Shemer Kuznits where a player gets trapped playing a monster and the only way out is to get stronger.
The Fallen Empire series by Lindsay Buroker. Think Firefly, cowboys in space, with a new flare.
The Baine Chronicals by Jasmine Walt. A young shifter in a world of mages. Fantasy with a touch of steam punk and political intrigue.

Happy Reading!

Crissy

All the books!

giveaway 3It’s time for a HUGE give away. If you go HERE you can download more than fifty free books from various scifi, fantasy, and horror authors. There are even a few super hero books, and a couple YA books.

My book, Witch’s Sacrifice, is also available for free. Get it now, this is probably one of the few times I will offer it for free.

You can’t go wrong just by checking it out. Plus you can sign up for their roflcopter and try to win a free kindle. More free stuff! I know, it’s amazing!

Strong Female Characters

I saw another post asking which stories could use strong female characters, and my answer probably wasn’t what they were looking for: None of them.

Now, before you get up in arms please hear me out, because I do have a reason behind it.

There are already a lot of wonderful books out there with strong female characters as the lead character. A short list:
Aurian by Maggie Furey
Rhapsody: Child of Blood by Elizabeth Haydon
The Hallows Series by Kim Harrison
Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
The Twenty Sided Sorceress by Annie Bellet
The Little Flame Series by Melissa Lummis
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Magnificent Devices by Shelley Adina
White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
Several books in the Xanth Series by Piers Anthony
Anything by Anne McCaffery
Elvenbane by Andre Norton
Several books in the Wool Series by Hugh Howey
The Shambling Guides by Mur Lafferty
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Hit Girls by Garrett Robinson
Anything from the Buffy the Vampire universe.
Harper Collelly series by Charaine Harris.

And these are just the books that I know of because I’ve personally read them (or watched the movie in the case of Hunger Games). There are over 6,000 books in this list with strong female lead characters, many of which have been on best seller lists, or made into movies. And this isn’t even counting all the strong, wonderful women that play secondary roles in books like Kitiara from Dragonlance Chronicles, Catti-brie from the Dritzzt series, or Hermione from Harry Potter. That’s not even getting into comic books. And I’m sure there are thousands more that aren’t even in that list.

All of the stories in my list are sci-fi and fantasy. That’s because I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. But I also know a lot of strong female characters from paranormal romance. I also know of characters from other books, games, and films in many other genres that are strong female characters.

Am I saying we don’t need any more? Of course not, that would be like saying we don’t need more books. I really enjoy reading about strong women doing extraordinary things, and even wrote my own series of books with that in mind so I hope my favorite authors continue writing theirs. I also enjoy reading about mages that slowly go mad, or women who are hell cats and need to be tamed. There are all kinds of books out there, with all kinds of characters, because people come with different attitudes, desires, ideas, and personalities. But I would also encourage more authors to include strong female characters…IF they are a benefit to the story.

Not every story has a woman in it. What if you wrote a story about a man in a men’s shower room? Or a group of men going on a camping trip together? Or a father and son sharing a moment? Or a group of dwarves out to save their mountain? Not every story is going to have a strong female character in it. Not every story is going to have a woman in it. In fact when they added a strong female into The Hobbit some of the fans were less than thrilled with the addition.

A story isn’t always about sex, gender, political correctness, or whatever. Sometimes it’s just a story about a leaf blowing in the wind, or the history of salt, or vampire bunnies. And if a story doesn’t have a female character that doesn’t automatically make it anti-women. Hell, there could be a character in the story that is utterly sexist and the story still might not be about women.

My thought for those looking for strong female characters: Expand your reading list, because there are THOUSANDS of books out there with strong female characters, you just have to be open to finding them. And just so you know, MEN need strong male character role models, too. And both sexes need the ridiculously heroic characters, or the weak ones, or the the psychopathic murderous kings/queens to show them what not to be. It does not take away from your enjoyment of books/films/games/etc because the other sex also has what you are looking for.

And if you think any gender, or genderless, or gender fluid individual needs more characters like them out there: GO WRITE IT! That’s the beauty of the indy world. Anyone can make anything that they think should exist.

Fiction Tells Truths.

We will be recording our next episode of The Bradbury Challenge in two days. It will be episode 11. That means 11 short stories should have been written. Currently I’m at five finished. Five out of 11, and one novel finished, and a few really close to being finished, seems to be a great place to be right now.
That’s right, I finished writing Witch’s Stand. witchs stand

I’m satisfied with the cover yet, so I can’t revel it at this moment, but it’s getting there.

So what’s in store now that Witch’s Stand is finished? Editing, lots of editing. Plus I have more time to spend writing short stories for the Bradbury Challenge, and I have a few other projects I’m writing plot-lines for right now. I am going to try doing one of them in a complete plotter mode. I haven’t tried doing a really detailed plot-line before, but I think it might help my true goal, getting faster.

As for the stories…
I said at the beginning of this thing that I would write a short story every week and send it to my newsletter. Excuses aside, I didn’t do that. It bothers me that I didn’t do that. More importantly, it bothers me that I haven’t been keeping some sort of writing schedule and getting books out there. What kind of a career can I have if I don’t actually publish anything? Not much of one.

So, no promises. I should promise anything I can’t deliver on. But I am promising to do better.

However, I have written SIX stories, and I am sending the FIFTH story to the list today. I have one story that I never sent out. This was partly because I have been neglecting my news letter, and partly because it’s a really darn long story. All of the other stories have been about 2-3k words. “The Scarab Necklace”, the one I haven’t sent yet, is over 8000 words.

I am also planning on publishing Scarab. I still need to do a final edit, and make sure everything is in order before doing so, but I do want to have it up in a month. So I will probably be sending it as a freebie to my list at some time, and not including it in my regular mailings. I haven’t decided. Let me know if you think of something else that might be more fair.

On to tonight’s story.

I don’t want to tell you much about this story before I share it with you. Let’s just say, I was thinking about the future, and the past. That, combined with a few interesting news articles about biology, lead to this story. Cryptic enough for you?  Read on.

***********

A Child

“I want to have a baby,” Nancy said.

There was no emotion on her face  just a simple statement of truth. I knew this day would come. I saw the signs a long time ago, and chose to ignore them for the sake of her companionship. I loved her, I loved being with her. But you couldn’t stop nature. For decades she had been working in child care, learning about horticulture, and taking night classes for advancement. She was putting herself in the perfect place to have a child.

“Have you already applied?” I asked her.

“No, you’re my husband,” she said, “I wanted to talk to you about it first.” But she was looking down when she said it. She had looked into it even if she hadn’t applied.

“First? Then your mind is set,” I said. “You’ve decided.”

“I have. I would prefer to take this step with you.”

“That’s asking a lot. I’ve always loved you, and stood by you in everything you’ve done. But this is huge.”

(To read more please sign up for the newsletter here.)

Is Science Fiction Offensive?

Yesterday I posted some links to articles that I found interesting to read, or I thought other people would enjoy. This included a link to an article about the 100 must read sci-fi novels, and how the author, Lutgendorff, thought the list was filled with sexist and offensive books. Simon gave an interesting comment and I started to write my thoughts on the matter. After 300 words or so I thought it would be best if I wrote another blog post.

About half way through the article Lutgendorff brings up a version of the Bechdel test and states that almost all of the books failed. Her standard is a little stricter then the original (at least two women, one in a lead roll, with jobs other then traditionally female roles) but I don’t think many of the books listed would have passed the original test either (has at least two women who talk to each other about something other then men.)

I also agree with her that from today’s view point a lot of the books on this list could be shockingly offensive, especially if you are looking for those offensive things. There are books with rape, incest, and mandatory orgies. (Game of thrones is on this list people! It’s incredibly offensive.)

Before we go on lets just remember that this list was nominated by 5,000 fans and voted on by 60,000. The editors did toss out some of the nominations (because they were young adult, horror, didn’t fit criteria, etc) but otherwise it was all fan made. 60,000 people said this was the top 100 books in SF, not a small group of hetero white men.

Most hardcore science fiction fans will talk about the science in a world, world building, government, technology, and maybe at the bottom of the list will be a discussion about gender and gender politics (unless you’re talking to a trekky as that was very visible in Star Trek). And when we (I say we because I am a HUGE! science fiction nerd) tell you which novels are the best in our genre we are going to point to a lot of classics that shaped the world, changed thinking, or shaped the genre as a whole. This will include novels that might be offensive by today’s standards. In fact sometimes a book that is offensive will shape the world MORE than a book that is completely inoffensive.

Also, keep in mind that many of the books on the list were written before 1970, before female liberation and equality movements. And some of the books she described as offensive were MEANT to be offensive. Take Thomas Covenant who rapes a girl in the first book of that series. It is meant to be jarring and offensive because he is an anti-hero. In later books even he hates himself for what he did and he doesn’t get why people don’t just kill him and be done with it.

And as for her issue with “there are no women in some of these stories”… Okay, she’s right. There aren’t. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good books. If the only offense of the book is that there aren’t female characters in the book, or there are very minor female characters that don’t really contribute to plot, then I don’t find that offensive at all. I’ve read a lot of women’s chick lit that doesn’t have any male characters, or uses men as window dressing for a woman’s fantasies.

I love what one person pointed out in a thread on G+… That the romance genre is guilty of most of the offenses she lists in her. Novels written by women, for women, and filled with all the sexist stuff toward women that Lutgendorff is complaining about. I’ve read books where the main female interest was raped then falls in love with her rapist after being forced to marry him. And it was a very popular book in the romance category.

Going down the list of the 100 top Sci-fi I found myself saying “yes, that’s an awesome book,” and “oh, I can see why that one is on the list.” Time and again they were some of my favorite books growing up, and even now into my adulthood. Books about technological advances, alien creatures, censorship, exploration, and discovery. Amazing books that shaped me into a creative, and curious person who still loves finding out about new things.

Could science fiction use new books that are more female friendly, or directly speak to gender issues? Yes, of course it can. But that doesn’t mean the list of books here is offensive, it just means we have an opportunity to do more.

Science fiction is about exploring the world, the universe, and ultimately ourselves. Exploring gender roles is a wonderful way of doing that, both traditional and more unusual roles, expanding out idea of what is and can be as science fiction has always been known to do.

So yes, I disagree with Ms. Lutgendorff. I don’t find them completely offensive, even if there may have been parts of the books that were offensive when seen through the eyes of 2015. I find the books to be a fair, and wonderful interpretation of the best books in the science fiction genre. And I think we have room for even better books as time continues.