log: humanoids

Finishing a semester feels a bit like running into a sudden void. Less so when I was working, of course, and probably less so pre COVID, not that I can remember.

But now

Time blooms around you. And time is a hungry fucker. Time likes to be filled. No idea why.

I’ve been feeding my fat pet time some movies and some writing. I also read the textbook for my Korean history class and am about to dive into The Three Kingdoms. Been meaning to read that one for a while but just haven’t gotten around to it.

Since I already have the workbook and know how the book works, I might also do my conversational Korean class before the class begins. That way I can do the class twice.

It might help. I don’t know.

I did bump into something pretty damn good though.

I shit you not, I regard this as one of the finest science fiction movies I’ve ever seen. I watched it last night then I watched it again today. I really fucking like it.

It’s very much the sort of sci-fi I always read and liked. I’ve never seen any of this style of stuff put on film before – at least not in any way that is at all true to how those books read. Watching it, I feel a bit how a fan of 30s pulp must have felt seeing Star Wars.

But it was just a back in time feeling. It also went forward.

Last time I had this feeling was hearing Raymond Scott. It was like finding a common ancestor for all my favorite shit. It made a lot of that stuff make more sense. I have the same basic feeling about this movie. It’s foundation.

I had a brief look into the movie and found out that it’s based on a book written by Jack Williamson.

Like me, he had a hearty distrust of sci-fi taking on Literary values. Where I differ with him is that he frames this as a sort of commercial vs literary thing.

That’s how this debate is usually framed and it’s bonkers. I think it comes from a lot of these writers writing for money. But a lot of these sci-fi cats really have no idea just how weird and noncommercial, even anti-commercial, their pulp shit actually was. And I, for one, think commercial values have done a lot more damage to sci-fi than Literary values. Tho, I’m not wild on either intruding. They’re both gentrification – one is the art gallery, the other is the condos.

To my view, sci-fi has its own set of aesthetic qualities. And these are often both anti-Art and anti-$$$. Fuck’s sake, they’re often anti-drama. They can’t even exist within the rules of “good” drama.

An example.

In this movie, the robots are talking. Part of the scene goes something like this

Robot A: I’m experiencing doubts about this plan.

Robot B: You may withdraw if it is against your circuits.

Robot A: Nah, I’m good.

Any sensible dramatist who cared about art or money knows that you don’t just invent and deflate conflict like this. Here, you can turn the robots into baddies YOU MUST COMPLY or into goodies or you just milk that conflict and use it to have character growth or some shit. This has none of that.

Now, someone might look at that and go, well this is a terrible and boring movie amd that’s why.

But, if that bullshit doesn’t worry you and you have some fucking imagination still rattling around in that skull of yours, in that moment you brush up against how alien these robots are and how differently they think. They don’t even care that they’re in a movie! Human drama means nothing to them. It’s strange.

It’s awful drama and great science fiction. Sci-fi can be like that. It’s fine. It doesn’t have to be dramatic. Drama often wrecks it.

It’s strange that the writer of this movie would think this was commercial fiction. I mean, we’ve all seen the commercial version of this movie a million times and it’s not scene after scene of people and robots talking about things. It’s a guy with a gun taking the law into his own hands and things getting blown up. That’s not this. This is not that.

This is sci-fi and great sci-fi at that. It’s not worried about art or money or, if it is, it doesn’t know how to make either. It’s just its own weird thing. I’m so happy to have seen it. One of the best.

And, yeah, it’s flawed but I put “The Creation of the Humanoids” up there with 2001 and probably prefer this. No joke.

It’s just awesome.

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