Matthew Kressel
Author Website
Review of “Cameron Rhyder’s Legs”

This morning I found this nice mini review of “Cameron Rhyder’s Legs,” my story which appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine​ back in November:

“What a strange time travel/alternate reality story. A rock concert is the ultimate battleground in a war to preserve True Time. In this battle technology so advanced is used to instantly occupy and control minds. Warriors from the future try to change the outcome of the concert by manipulating small details of the lives of people in the concert hall. Sound confusing? Well, it kind of is but the author does a great job of keeping the story from spinning out if control. It’s disorienting enough to make you feel like you’ve had one too many drinks before you started reading.This was definitely strange and fun.”

Recently I was asked what my favorite short story was that I had written, and I said, “Cameron Rhyder’s Legs.” It’s nice to see others enjoying it as much as I did writing it.

We Really Don’t Need Blade Runner 2
Do we really need more dystopia?

Do we really need more dystopia?

As someone who’s seen Blade Runner over a 100 times, who has given talks on the film, and has given private screenings for friends in which I (a) add trivia and commentary and (b) occasionally recite lines from memory at their request, I’m disappointed I didn’t get asked to participate in this speculative plotting for Blade Runner 2. So here goes my take:

Don’t make the film.

Yes, that’s right. I said it. While I love visiting the Blade Runner universe, and it’s my favorite film of all time, the film itself is a product of 80s cyberpunk verve and retro noir pessimism with a little apocalypse thrown in for fun. In Blade Runner they don’t have flat screen TVs and it’s four years in our future. The world in Blade Runner is a polluted, corrupt, disintegrating mess, and all the wealthy have jumped ship for (supposedly) happier pastures off world. Likely, they’re just destroying another planet.

And all this is disgusting. I don’t mean the film itself, but the world humanity has brought about. A lot of science fiction serves as a warning: “Look, if you’re not careful, this may come about.” For decades the Blade Runner Hades landscape (the opening scene of smog-choked, smoldering Los Angeles) and the neon-lit, rainy, overcrowded streets, have been the default vision of the future. The landscape was specifically named after the Greek version of hell. It’s only now, after some 35 years, (with a few bright exceptions) that visions of the future have turned at last away from the dystopian darkness envisioned in films like Blade Runner into optimistic visions of the future. Do we really need to head back into darkness again?

Blade Runner 2 shouldn’t be made because (a) the film doesn’t need to be improved upon or expanded because it’s a complete and perfect object and (b) what the world needs now is not more dystopian, bleak visions of the future, but positive, bright, optimistic ones. Instead of destroying people’s spirit by positing a bleak future for humankind, let’s lift people up, inspire, and encourage them to greater things.

It’s a movie that doesn’t need to and probably shouldn’t be made.

 

 

“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” published in Chinese

The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye Chinese Logo

I’m happy to announce that my Nebula Award-nominated story, “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye,” (米克和全能眼) has just been published in the Chinese language magazine World Chinese SF Association. The story was translated by 耿辉 (Geng Hui), who was a real pleasure to work with. The Nebula section of the magazine was edited by 林苡安 (Yi Lin Ann). As you can see, they created this very cool artwork for my story. I am now officially part of the Illuminati!

This is my first story published in Chinese and I’m very excited to see my work published there.

Does Star Trek Need a Villain in Every New Film Now?
But it has cool special effects!

But it has cool special effects!

I read this article this morning and it made me both sad and disappointed:

Idris Elba In Early Talks for ‘Star Trek 3′ Villain

So Star Trek needs Khan-like villains now in every new film? Once, I remember Star Trek was about exploration, discovery, big ideas and the betterment of humanity, about the movement away from a world of scarcity and divisiveness into a world where each person is free to seek out her bliss in whichever way they see fit. Now it’s all about space battles and evil nemeses. This is why I have enjoyed films like Interstellar and books like Kim Stanley Robinson’s amazing 2312, which both explore what humanity might become without need for an arch-nemesis or evil mastermind. Can you imagine? No? Sorry, but that’s your fault. Except it’s not your fault, not really. It’s what you’ve been conditioned to think through years of pessimistic visions.

Some say science fiction is never about the future and always about the present. And in this case of Star Trek they are right. Under Roddenberry’s command, the Star Trek enterprise (see what I did there) was always about envisioning a positive humanity for us. With his passing, the show reverted to a Star Wars like laser-gunslinging adventure. Now every new film is about some evil mastermind, a la James Bond or Holmes’s Moriarty. It’s never about how humanity, in the centuries from now, overcomes our worst tendencies of violence and barbarity and explores the unknown. Starfleet is depicted less like an advanced university now and more like a military academy. Roddenberry was always aware of the fine line between the command structure of the ship he envisioned and one of a military vessel. But the Enterprise was primarily a vessel of exploration, not offense.

That has been dropped in favor of new villains. We are no longer exploring what’s out there, venturing into the deep unknown. Hollywood, because most of the producers have the imagination of a paper bag, can’t see beyond the next space battle. And so we are left stuck in the Us vs. Them mentality. Nothing against Idris Elba. He’s a fine actor. But I have to say that Star Trek is beginning to bore me.

Dear Hollywood, can you envision a positive future for humankind? I dare you.