Category Archives: MonSFFA Website

This category is for postings specific to the setup of the website.

DINOSAUR MOVIES at AUGUST MEETING!

The next club meeting is this Sunday, August 27, and will feature another edition of Sunday Sci-Fi Cinema Matinée. In honour of the premiere, later in the meeting, of the club’s animated short film, which features paper cut-out stop-motion dinosaurs, we’ll be showcasing dinosaur movies!

The Matinée begins at noon! MonSFFen present will be asked to vote for their favourite of five vintage dinosaur movies; the movie garnering the most votes will be the one we review!

Here are the five dinosaur movies we’ve listed for your consideration:

                      WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (1970)A prehistoric adventure pitting tribes of cave people against both each other, and a number of dinosaurs! Apes the success of the 1966 Raquel Welsh vehicle One Million Years, B.C. and features quality stop-motion dinosaurs animated by Jim Danforth.

 

THE LAND UNKNOWN (1957)

Classic schlock! A prehistoric world is found to have survived into modern times at the bottom of a deep crater in Antarctica!  Originally to be shot in colour,    the ambitious production spent so much money on a full-scale animatronic Elasmosaurus that they overshot their budget and in the end, could only afford to shoot in black and white! The movie’s “terrifying” T-Rex is clumsily portrayed by a technician in a rubber suit!

 

DINOSAURUS (1960)

A perfectly preserved Brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus are uncovered by a construction crew on a Caribbean island, then reanimated by a lightning strike! The dinosaurs endanger the local populace while a caveman similarly revived befriends a local orphan boy, the two of them getting into all manner of mischief. Proceedings culminate in an exciting duel between the Tyrannosaurus and a skip shovel! Stop-motion powers the film’s dinosaur stars through more than an hour of B-movie action and silliness.

 

 

THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1974)

You may recognize star Doug McClure from such movies as Terror in the Sky, Satan’s Triangle, and Humanoids from the Deep! Here, he’s taken aboard a WWI German submarine that discovers the mysterious island of Caprona, an unknown land where several eras of the Earth’s prehistoric evolution co-exist and survival proves a dicey challenge! Based on the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs adventure novel.

 

THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969)

A rollicking adventure pitting cowboys against dinosaurs and showcasing the superior stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen, undisputed master of the craft! You’ll be astonished by the cowboys’ roping of the titular Allosaurus, a stunning visual effects achievement and the peak of first-rate dinosaur movie action prior to the advent of CGI many years later.

 

Municipal Fantasy – a bibliography

This is a rough bibliography of the works mentioned in my essay about “Municipal Fantasy”. All enumerations of works in a given universe are as of June 2017. I also quote two posts that I made elsewhere on the subject, one to the comments section at File770, and one in the comments section at Charlie Stross’s blog.

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Agent K is from the 1997 film Men in Black. It’s not fantasy at all, but it does have the ‘hidden reality’ trope.

“Sufficiently analyzed magic” is taken from Phil and Kaja Foglio’s webcomic, “Girl Genius”, about mad science.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer“, a 1997-2003 TV show, and also novels and comics. It’s about slaying vampires and fighting evil (and it does eventually make the changeover from Urban to Municipal, but that’s at the end of the last season of the show; you’d have to read the “Season Eight/Nine/Ten” comics to know more).

Anita Blake“, protagonist of 20+ novels by Laurell K. Hamilton, beginning with 1993’s “Guilty Pleasures” There’s also comics.

Harry Dresden, protagonist of 15+ novels by Jim Butcher, beginning with 2000’s Storm Front. There’s also short stories, comics, and a TV show.

Felix Castor, protagonist of five novels by Mike Carey, beginning with 2006’s The Devil You Know.

the “Rivers of London” series (also called the “Peter Grant” series) by Ben Aaronovitch, has six novels, beginning with 2011’s “Rivers of London” (published as “Midnight Riot” in North America). There’s also a comic.

the Shadow Police are the protagonists of three novels by Paul Cornell, beginning with 2012’s London Falling.

The Ministry of Magic appears in the Harry Potter novels by JK Rowling, and was first mentioned in 1997’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (published as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the USA).

Mur Lafferty tells the story of travel writer Zoe Norris, beginning in 2013’s Shambling Guide to New York City.

Technically, the novels about Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris are the “Southern Vampire Mysteries”, beginning with 2001’s Dead Until Dark; True Blood was the TV adaptation.

Mercedes Lackey began the SERRAted Edge novels with 1992’s Born to Run.

Holly Lisle wrote the “Devil’s Point” novels, beginning with 1995’s Sympathy for the Devil.

The October Daye novels by Seanan McGuire begin with 2009’s Rosemary and Rue.

The Kate Daniels books by Ilona Andrews begin with 2007’s Magic Bites.

Tinker, published in 2004, is the first novel in Wen Spencer’s “Elfhome” series.

Andrew Swann’s Dragons of the Cuyahoga was published in 2001.

Geoffrey Landis‘s Hugo-nominated short story “Elemental” was published in Analog in December 1984.

The Shadowrun RPG was launched in 1989 by FASA Corporation; the first novels were published in 1991.

The “Magic Ex Libris” series by Jim Hines begins with 2012’s Libriomancer.

The Laundry novels by Charlie Stross begin with 2004’s ““Concrete Jungle” (available free and legal).

The Kitty Norville novels by Carrie Vaughn begin with 2005’s Kitty and the Midnight Hour.

The Craft Sequence, by Max Gladstone, begins with 2012’s Three Parts Dead

Robin McKinley’s Sunshine was published in 2003. There is no sequel.

Felix Gilman has written two books about the city of Ararat, beginning with 2007’s Thunderer.

China Miéville‘s books about the world of Bas-Lag, and specifically the city of New Crobuzon, begin with 2001’s Perdido Street Station.

The Commonweal novels by Graydon Saunders begin with 2014’s The March North.

Poul Anderson’s Operation Chaos was published in 1971.

The Lord Darcy stories by Randall Garrett begin with “The Eyes Have It”, published in Analog in January 1964.

Dave van Domelen began writing the Academy of Super-Heroes stories on rec.arts.comics.creative in 1994.

The Dragaera novels by Steven Brust begin with 1983’s Jhereg.

The Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett begin with 1983’s The Colour of Magic.

Five Twelfths of Heaven, by Melissa Scott, was published in 1985 and is the first in the Roads of Heaven series.

Recalled to Service“, by Alter S. Reiss, was published on Tor.com in 2016.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, was published in 2004.

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I made the following post to Charlie Stross’s blog on October 14, 2014:

“SF set in a world perfused by mechanised, systematized magic”

The term I use, and am trying to spread around, is “municipal fantasy”. “Urban” fantasy is just an environment, but “municipal” fantasy implies a whole array of infrastructure and dependent businesses and regulations and humans being clever and figuring out how to exploit and use and adapt things, the way we have always done. In ‘Men in Black’, Agent K said that “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.” But panic doesn’t last, and when presented with new facts about the universe, people use them.

Key to the genre of municipal fantasy is that everyone knows about magic. Everyone knows about it, and it has become integrated into the stuff of modern life. There are no ‘muggles’. I was once at an urban fantasy panel at a con in Montreal, where first we discussed the ‘fantasy’ aspect’, and then the ‘urban’ aspect, and then the panelists said “wow, that’s everything, I guess we’re finished ten minutes early?”

and I realized that, no, there’s one other aspect crucial to urban fantasy and implicit in the name “urban fantasy”. There’s the urban, and there’s the fantasy, and there’s the space between them. In urban fantasy, the urban environment and the magical system are forcibly separated and held apart from each other. They have developed separately over the years (which is typically shown as leading to a certain degree of stagnation in the magic). The magic is hidden from the science and technology, and so it does not advance while they do.

If magic is real, and people know about it, then ultimately they will treat it as any other resource. Lord Darcy was municipal fantasy. So was Ghostbusters, and the Anita Blake stories, and the Southern Vampire stories, and Robin McKinley’s “Sunshine”.

All taxonomy is ultimately arbitrary, of course, and literary taxonomy more so (hard to make a dichotomous key when your subject has no particular physical existence!). That said, municipal fantasy requires more than just “everyone knows about magic”, otherwise we’d have to include stuff like Tolkien. I think another important trait is progress: that the society has had magic long enough, and/or understands it well enough, that they’ve actually made technology which uses it. Their society has gone beyond the crude imitation-medieval of the stereotypical fantasy novel. (Case in point: the later Discworld novels.)

So that’s my suggestion for what to name this subgenre. “Municipal fantasy”.

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I made the following post to File 770 on May 20, 2015:

“Magic Inc.” isn’t urban fantasy per se, it’s alternate-timeline fantasy, since the magic is openly known and used and regulated

This is what I call “municipal fantasy” (a term that I’m trying to popularize). The key component is infrastructure, which ultimately requires public knowledge. Take down ‘the Veil’, stop with ‘the Masquerade’, and let things happen instead of trying to preserve the status quo. Agent K may have been right that “people are dumb panicky animals”, but panic doesn’t last. And eventually people start to figure out how things really work. That’s the other half of his quote: “a person is smart”.

You introduce a new component into the lives of seven billion humans, and they WILL adapt to it and get used to it and figure out ways to integrate it into their daily lives. And then comes legislation, and businesses, and organized crime, and public works projects. Anita Blake, Sookie Stackhouse, Felix Castor, Rae Seddon, Peter Venkman, Adora Belle Dearheart, Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, Tara Abernathy.

“Urban fantasy” has three components: the urban, the fantasy, and the space between — the forcible separation between the first two. Without that space, so much more becomes possible because we’re not just trying to maintain the status quo, and because I should really write an article about this instead of trying to squeeze it all into a single post in a thread.

HERE THERE BE DRAGONS!

In keeping with the theme of our June 4 MonSFFA meeting this weekend, our scheduled early-bird installment of Sunday Sci-Fi Cinema Matinée will spotlight movies featuring dragons!

Show up early to participate in the vote on which one  of five available films we’ll collectively discuss and review! And, we’ll preface the chosen movie with a newsreel and cartoon–in theme!–just as was offered before the main feature at movie houses in decades past!

The chosen film opens at about noon, so show up maybe an hour before that to also catch the newsreel, cartoon, and other cool, fun and interesting material!

We’ve collected several recent “High Concept” movies for inclusion in this edition of Sunday Sci-Fi Cinema Matinée.

What is a “High Concept” movie? One the premise of which can usually be summed up in a single, brief phrase or sentence! These flicks often blend genres and take a decidedly off-beat, cool, unique or particularly interesting angle in telling their story.

Be advised, however, that sometimes budget and talent can fall short of ambition, so choose wisely!

We’ve also selected a couple of early-1960s B-movies to round out your choices, including a Kaiju classic!

And all five films on offer, of course, feature a dragon, or dragons!

AGE OF THE DRAGONS (2011)

Melville’s Moby Dick, substituting a dragon for the Great White Whale ! Call me “Its meal!”

GHIDRAH! THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (1964)

Kaiju classic starring a fire-spewing space monster inspired by Japan’s legendary dragon of myth, Yamata no Orochi. And if that isn’t enough, co-stars include Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan! 

REIGN OF FIRE (2002)

Science-fictional take on dragons, with Batman Christian Bale, Interstellar’s Matthew McConaughey, and a flock of fire-breathing lizards!

P-51 DRAGON FIGHTER (2014)

World War II fighter pilots versus Nazi dragons! Flights of fantasy!

THE MAGIC SWORD (1962)

A colourful fantasy adventure that tests brave knights with the Seven Curses of Lodac! Also featuring a beautiful princess, an evil wizard, a fire-breathing dragon, and dollar-store special effects!

See you Sunday morning…

To refresh your memories, here’s the full meeting agenda, as published in Impulse last month:

NEXT Regular Meeting

Sunday, June 4, 12:00PM-5:00PM

Grand Salon, Hôtel Espresso, 1005 Guy St., Downtown Montreal

Meeting Theme: Dragons! Wear a dragon T-shirt, socks, or cap; bring in a dragon-related item for our display table!

PROGRAMME

12:00PM-2:00PM

Sunday Sci-Fi Cinema Matinée: Showcasing movies featuring dragons!

2:00PM-3:15PM

Here There Be Dragons!: We examine the legends surrounding fantasy’s supreme beastie while highlighting some of the Genre’s most memorable dragons!

3:15PM-3:30PM

Break: Dragon-themed raffle-prizes featured!

3:30PM-4:30PM

The Dragon Slayer—Defining a Hero: What are the key attributes of the dragon slayer, and of fantasy and SF heroes in general? Discuss!

Fanzines are pouring in!

Something to read on the bus!

 Fornax is a fanzine devoted to history, science fiction & gaming as well as other areas where the editor’s curiosity goes. It is edited/published by Charles Rector. In the grand tradition of fanzines, it is mostly written by the editor. This is the April 2017 issue.

This issue of The National Fantasy Fan was sent to you by the National Fantasy Fan Federation, founded 1941 http://N3F.org.

From Felicity Walker, BCSFAzine 521, clubzine for British Columbia Science Fiction Association.

We have also received, via TNFF, 4 issues of Mount Void and 6 issues of the Revenge of Hump Day.

MT VOID 1954

MT VOID 1955

MT VOID 1956

MT VOID 1957

Revenge of Hump Day 2017-02-08

Revenge of Hump Day 2017-02-22

Revenge of Hump Day 2017-03-01

Revenge of Hump Day 2017-03-08

Revenge of Hump Day 2017-03-29

Revenge of Hump Day 2017-04-05

 

Gazette reviews Ghost in the Shell

PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Scarlett Johansson was memorable if invisible as the voice of an operating system that falls in love with Joaquin Phoenix in Her. She was all physicality in Jonathan Glazer’s alien thriller Under the Skin. And so, accusations of whitewashing aside, she seems perfect to embody Major, the cyborg-human hybrid at the centre of the existential sci-fi action flick Ghost in the Shell.

Major combines a human brain in a robot body. In an opening sequence that borrows liberally from Westworld, Blade Runner, The Matrix and more, we learn that her original body was killed in a refugee crisis. Her new one belongs to the Hanka Corporation, which means that, legally, so does she. “My name is Major Mira Killian and I give my consent,” she rattles off whenever the company wants to modify her, but the line is delivered with all the introspection of someone clicking “accept” at the bottom of a 27-page iTunes agreement.

Hanka is run by Cutter (Peter Ferdinando) but personified by the more kindly Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche), who has a maternal relationship with Major. But she mostly takes her orders from Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano), a Zen security chief. In a nice touch, he speaks only Japanese, while his underlings respond in English. Major’s closest comrade is Batou, embodied by the wonderfully sympathetic Danish actor Pilou Asbaek.

As imagined by director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman), the future is a busy, scary place. Giant advertising holograms tower over the unnamed port city where the action happens: The effect is like Blade Runner on steroids, and the film skirts dangerously close to creating sensory overload in its viewers. Digital fish prowl the streets, as though a ’90s screensaver had broken out of its monitor.

Major’s brain-in-a-robot existence is only the most extreme example of future tech gone wild. Humans go in for “upgrades,” whether necessary — Batou’s new eyes — or purely gratuitous, like the character who boasts that his new synthliver means “It’s last call every night.” There’s an app for telepathy and robot geishas. But oddly, no self-driving cars.

But the story, beneath all the science-fiction and action-movie trappings, is fairly simple. Someone is threatening Hanka, and Major and the rest of her team have to figure out who is doing it and why. The first question turns out to be easy: It’s Kuze (Michael

Pitt), who in a delicious throwback stutters like Max Headroom. (The original Japanese manga is from the ’80s, after all.) His reasons turn out to be more complex than I should probably let on.

But the filmmakers have opted for flash over contemplation, image over reflection. Major is troubled by lifelike visions that come unbidden into her consciousness — or as you and I would call them, memories. And more than one character remarks that we are defined not by our memories but by our actions. That’s a great philosophical leaping-off point, but the screenplay, by Jamie Moss and William Wheeler, leaves it hanging and undeveloped.

The film’s slick packaging almost makes up for its lack of thoughtfulness — certainly it provides a distraction on par with Johansson’s flesh-toned combat suit, which renders her semi-invisible, emphasis on the semi. But this Ghost in the Shell, like the various books, films, video games and TV series before it, owes a debt to the mind-body problem, as raised by René Desartes and critiqued by Gilbert Ryle, whose phrase “the ghost in the machine” inspired the title.

There is some food for thought in this iteration, but by the time Hanka’s CEO rolls out the spider-tank (pretty much what you’d imagine), it’s clear that this ambitious effort has become a shell game with too much shell and not nearly enough ghost.

Meeting of March 12th, Recap

March 12, 2017 Even our friendly dragon mascot wore green for St Patrick’s Day!

In spite of the return of winter’s cold and the hour change, quite a few showed up for the Sunday Cinema Matinée. The theme was Flying Saucers, and Keith had several excellent movies and one bomb from which to choose.  http://www.monsffa.ca/?p=4565

After watching the trailers, the fans voted for This Island Earth, which was excellent for its time. The female role was largely decorative, the only person of colour was a maid, the science was lacking, but the plot made up for its shortcomings in those areas.

The bomb? Well, that was of course Plan 9 from Outer Space. We have tentatively scheduled a viewing of this so-dreadful-it’s wonderful film for our October meeting.

Sylvain St-Pierre kicked off our main programme with a presentation he entitled “Can Government Get Any Weirder?” Inspired by the election of Donald Trump in the Untied States, this presentation discussed everything from anarchy to totalitarianism in our real world past and present, and in the world of science fiction and fantasy. Examples included books and BDs, in French as well as English, print and  webcomics.  The audience really got into it, cheerfully offering opinions and citing examples of government and bureaucracy gone “weird” or unwieldy.

At the break, MonSFFen enjoyed a variety of snacks, notably cupcakes and green pretzels baked by Lindsay Brown.  We browsed the book exchange, grabbed some freebies which included a bag of astronomy magazines, and admired Dom Durocher’s models.

 

Among other items, the raffle had a great print of a flying saucer, for which we thank Dom who donated it. There were also programme books from various World Cons to accompany the second part of the meeting which was about conventions, and a stack of Star Log magazines.

 

 

 

 

 

There was a special draw for 3 pairs of movie passes to an advanced screening of Life, and two passes to Parks Canada. The latter were donated by Mark Burakoff and Lindsay Brown.

Josée Bellemare models one of her self-designed shirts.

After the break, Sylvain and Cathy led a discussion on the conventions within driving distance of Montreal. Cathy had organized her points according to the various KINDS of con, while Sylvain focussed on SPECIFIC cons, which led to some confusion, but hopefully the fans became more interested in knowing about the conventions in our area, which are listed on our website here.

Maybe it was the full moon, or maybe it was because we only had half an hour left, or maybe it was because Cathy forgot the first rule of teaching grade school (always have a plan B in case the kids get rambunctious) , but the programming workshop went awry very quickly. There were more topics suggested than we have time slots for! Some very interesting topics were left orphaned as no one felt confident enough to take on the role of moderator. There is also a perception that topics need Power Point(or equivalent) presentations, which is not at all the case.  We need to put more effort into explaining how panel discussions work! (I blame Sylvain for raising the bar so high, grin)

After the meeting, 8 of us went off to the Irish Embassy Pub on Bishop Street for an excellent meal, and lively discussions on everything and anything.

Missed the meeting? Members will find more pictures by Cathy and Sylvain as well as a short snip of video here. http://www.monsffa.ca/?page_id=4646   

 

 

 

 

Sunday Sci-Fi Cinema Matinée: Flying Saucer Edition


THIS SUNDAY, MARCH 12:

We begin this Sunday’s MonSFFA meeting with another installment of our semi-regular Sunday Sci-Fi Cinema Matinée, this month spotlighting vintage science fiction films that feature flying saucers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To allow us the time necessary, we’re starting the meeting an hour earlier than usual, so note the 12:00PM start time, and remember, also, that this is the weekend the clocks are set ahead one hour (at 2:00AM, Sunday), so that’s 12:00PM Daylight Savings Time! Adjust your schedules accordingly so that you don’t miss the fun!

Here’s the word from the pages on this month’s Impulse:

12:00PM-1:45PM

Sunday Sci-Fi Cinema Matinée—Flying Saucer Edition: Chose for review one of five vintage sci-fi films on our list this month, all featuring flying saucers in honour of last month’s guest speaker on UFOs, Professor Don Donderi!

As always, MonSFFen will be asked to collectively choose one of the five films on our list this Sunday for review and discussion. We’ll evaluate script, direction, performances, and special effects. And we’ll talk about the selected film’s place in sci-fi cinema’s pantheon.

With this edition of Sunday Sci-Fi Cinema Matinée, we offer two of the finest sci-fi films of not only the 1950s, but of all time, two quality ’50s B-movies, and perhaps the worst science fiction flick ever made!

Aside from the flying saucers featured in all five films, you may choose to witness sensational scenes of destruction, both on distant alien worlds and in Washington, D. C., the latter choreographed by stop-motion magician Ray Harryhausen! You might just meet one of the two most famous robots in science fiction film, or an iconic alien mutant! Or, you may opt to  marvel at the rank incompetence of an atrocious director and his cast and crew!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose Wisely!

The five films on offer are:

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
This Island Earth (1955)
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Forbidden Planet (1956)