The Martian and Mad Max

Two spectacular movies were released in 2015. Both of them were set in the future. Both of them focused on a single man desperately trying to survive in the face of overwhelmingly negative odds. One of these futures was depressingly bleak, populated with violent, deranged maniacs. The other future was incredibly positive, where human beings worked together, and put substantial amounts of hardware — not to mention astronauts — on another planet.

One of these futures would be a delight to live in — the conquering of the solar system, by a planet Earth which has somehow managed to overcome its problems, enough to reach for the stars.

The other future would be a literal hell — civilization has fallen, tribal war is the new normal, and human beings have regressed to a state of endlessly cruel barbarity.

Guess which future the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) voted as their favorite?

Now, anyone who knows anything about the field of Science Fiction and Fantasy (SF/F) shouldn’t be surprised — no, not even a little bit — that Mad Max: Fury Road was the top pick of SF/F’s so-called professional body, for professionals. The fans of Andy Weir’s book-to-movie hit The Martian gave it a valiant try, but SFWA isn’t about Hugo Gernsback’s “scientifiction” anymore, as much as SFWA is about soft science majors (lit and humanities degrees) using SF/F as a tool to critically examine and vivisect 21st century Western society.

Did I mention that The Martian had a world-wide take of $630 million dollars, while Mad Max took in just $378 million by comparison?

Clearly, audiences across the globe had a much greater preference for the science fiction movie that focused on actual science being employed in a setting where science — and mankind — are making miracles happen.

But the professional body of Science Fiction and Fantasy writers liked their bleak future better. The future where a despotic madman keeps women as breeding and food stock, while the young men all die very bloodily, and too early; before the lymphoma and blood cancers (from the nuclear fallout, naturally) can kill them slow.

I saw both films, and I liked both films a lot. As a huge fan of the second, original Mad Max installment — known to United States audiences as The Road Warrior — I put Fury Road second on my list (all time) of Mad Max movies. It wasn’t quite as good as Mad Max 2 (the title by which the world knows The Road Warrior) but it showed us just what kind of insane, pyrotechnic brilliance director George Miller is capable of producing, when equipped with modern technology, and a modern budget. Fury Road was everything The Road Warrior wanted to be, except The Road Warrior was shot on a virtual shoe string.

Nobody is really sure if Fury Road is supposed to be a reboot. A sequel seems likely — which may tell us more, about how the Fury Road universe meshes with the old movies. Will we see more of Furiosa? How about Nux? Because, frankly, the single largest flaw in Fury Road is that it is focused on both Max and Furiosa, while Nux had the fullest, most satisfying character arc. Both Max and Furiosa are largely the same people — at the end of the film — as they are at the beginning. Nux, meanwhile, did a complete 180. Naturally, Nux died. So his reappearance would seem problematic at best. But when has the death of a character ever stopped moviemakers from bringing him/her back for more?

I would have liked to see Furiosa sacrifice herself to save the Wives, with Nux returning to the Citadel. I think this would have worked much, much better, for both character arcs. But that’s just my back-seat writer talking.

The Martian is equally boggling, in terms of the visual grandeur being offered to the audience. Also, like Fury Road, this was a case of one of the trendsetting directors of the 1970s-1980s cusp period, coming back to gift us with some of his best work in a long, long time. But The Martian is a classic man-versus-nature story, with a single survivor of a space disaster working tirelessly — to the very limits of his mental, emotional, and physical endurance — to save his own life. Along the way, his comrades must overcome huge technical and bureaucratic hurdles, culminating in what essentially amounts to a crew mutiny, in order to return to Mars — and rescue Astronaut Watney.

The future Earth of Weir’s imagination, is as far from the future Earth of Miller’s imagination, as Mars is from Venus.

Of course, The Martian was every inch a Campbellian movie, while Fury Road was almost entirely New Wave.

Guess which aesthetic dominates and excites the imaginations of SF/F’s cognoscenti?

I know, I know, I am a broken record about this stuff. But it never ceases to amaze me (in an unhappy way) how the so-called writers of Science Fiction, seem to be in such a huge hurry to run away from the roots of the field. I’ve read and listened to all the many arguments — pro and con, from both sides — about how Campbell rescued the field from the Pulp era, but then New Wave in turn rescued the field from the Campbell era. So it might be true that we’re finally witnessing the full maturation of SF/F as a distinct arena of “serious” literature, but aren’t we taking things too far? Does anyone else think it’s a bad idea for the field to continue its fascination with cultural critique — the number of actual nutty-bolty science types, in SFWA, is dwindling, while the population of “grievance degree” lit and humanities types, in SFWA, is exploding — while the broader audience consistently demonstrates a preference for SF/F that might be termed “old fashioned” by the modern sensibilities of the mandarins of the field?

Now, I think there is a very strong argument to be made, for the fact that Campbellian vs. New Wave is merely the manifestation of a deeper problem — a field which no longer has a true center. The two “sides” in the discussion have been taking shots at each other since long before I was born. The enmity may be so ingrained — in the internal conversation of SF/F — that nothing can reverse it. Save, perhaps, the total explosion of the field proper. Like a puffball of dandelion seeds that’s been hit with a strong wind, the various sub and micro genres within SF/F may simply fly away into the bigger world of literature, sprouting up separately all across the spectrum, with no single colony being identifiable as the “source” or capitol of SF/F.

Lord knows that those New Wavers within SF/F who are covetous of “proper” literary recognition, acclaim, critical applause, etc., are perfectly happy to shed their “skiffy” skins when it suits them. They desperately want to have a seat at the literary grown-ups table, despite desiring to also keep a hand in with the snot-nosed propeller-heads at the kids’ table. It’s a cake-and-eat-it-too problem. Just look at some of the covers being put on “science fiction” books these days, and you can tell that there are a lot of SF/F authors, editors, and marketers, who wish very much that SF/F literature would look (and read) very differently, from the SF/F that helped make the field successful — as a broad-market force, in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

My personal stance has always been, “To hell with the hoity-toities! Give me my space cruisers and galactic adventure, like that which fired my imagination in the beginning!” But this is a very passé attitude. Nobody wants nuts-and-bolts SF/F anymore, do they?

Do they??

Maybe those who avidly attended screenings of The Martian, know.


55 thoughts on “The Martian and Mad Max

  1. Oh, it’s definitely been happening for quite awhile – I recently listened to the audiobook for Pohl’s Gateway, which swept all the awards in 1978 for best novel. Now I remember reading the book in 1986 or so, in high school, and it stuck with me enough that even on just one reading, 30 years later I still remembered the characters and the basic plot, so I knew it was pretty decent. But what I didn’t remember was how damned bleak and depressing it was. And it was good enough that it was worth the “reread” after a few decades, but I’m not at all interested in a reread of the sequels. I know I read through at least Heechee Rendezvous in high school, but can’t remember any of the plot of the books past the first one.

    Looking at the other nominees that year, Lucifer’s Hammer was definitely my favorite of the three I read, and I don’t remember ever reading either the MZB work or the GRRM one. Although strangely I remember enjoying all five novellas despite reading almost no short fiction in high school. Someone must have loaned me a ‘best of 1977’ book at some point.

  2. I consider myself a New Wave author (despite being forty years late to the party) and I’ll admit that I loved “Fury Road” and still haven’t been interested enough in “The Martian” to see it. And I think you’re right about New Wave being, in many ways, a reaction against the Campbell vision of Science Fiction.

    However, I don’t see the alternatives being necessarily in conflict. I happen to enjoy the hard science fiction of Niven and Pournelle, for example (and I enjoyed your own novel “The Chaplin’s War”.) I even tried writing a hard science fiction story for a recent collection and have received some very positive reviews for it.

    The essence of New Wave, for me, is surrealism in the classical sense. But that is a technique, not a philosophy. While the New Wave spawned “The Sheep Look Up” and “Bug Jack Barron”, it also gave us “The Lathe Of Heaven” and “The Anubis Gates”. And I would call “On The Beach” and “No Blade Of Grass” hard science fiction. Happy stories and depressing stories can be told using any technique.

    I think there is a large measure of personal taste in fiction and it’s a disservice to art when personal taste stands in for objective standards of quality. I like to think that I can appreciate the craft of “The Foundation Trilogy” even though I didn’t particularly enjoy the parts of it that I’ve read.

    My fiction is not popular with a wide audience. That’s just the way it is, just like jazz is less popular than rock or country. I could spend a lot of time moaning about how unfair that is, and that the masses are stupid, but that’s not very productive. Instead, I want to make what I do as good as I can for those few that do like it.

    The beauty of the free market is that it allows niche producers to serve niche audiences. We don’t all have to eat at Taco Bell, some of us would rather get bulgaki beef and kim chi. Best of all, I can get Korean food when I want it, and Taco Bell when I want that.

  3. The Martian was not just a great movie, it was one that I appreciated seeing a second time. Unlike either Mad Max or Star Wars, both of which were fine to see once but were just visually impressive without any characters I wanted to care about or a plot that was satisfying.

  4. The community nominated both films. Only one could get the top nod, but the community values both, as well as Star Wars, Ex Machina, Jessica Jones, and I forget what else. Between the two you focused on, the community chose the one with more explosions, more guns, more fights, more blood, and more person-to-person conflict, with more lives at stake. Obviously that’s not the one that I would choose, but it’s a far cry from hoity toity. Yes, the director skillfully wove in his own philosophy on cultural matters, but that’s what we expect from art. And among my friends, only one would see it with me in the theater. They all saw Mad Max in the theater, and they’re not exactly New Wave. (They read a lot more Weber, Correia, and Ringo than me!)

    Meanwhile, in the short story category, the community again nominated works from across the full range of the genres — including one by a guy who is unabashedly Campbellian. And though in the final analysis they didn’t select his story, person after person told him how much they loved it, both before and at the conference. People across the community, many telling them that they voted for it. SFWA president Cat Rambo thanked Campbell Guy for that story. Three times. Effusively. And editors he had never met before asked him for stories.

    As for that wild band of New Wavians that wrote all of those other stories? THEY told Campbell Guy how much they loved the story. More than that, they welcomed him with open arms and made him part of the family, no matter how odd he might be by comparison. Both before the conference and on scene, they engaged Campbell Guy and drew him in and became his friends. In their eyes — and in his — they were all winners, they all deserved the trophy, and they all applauded wildly no matter who won. Campbell Guy had as much fun as he has every had at any conference. More than any other, he felt like an insider, not an outsider looking in. (The only reason Campbell Guy wasn’t up there in that dance routine is that his Spirit Animal is Peter Boyle in Young Frankenstein, and he would’ve stunk up a funny, classy performance. But they DID invite him to join in, he just had too much discretion for that.)

    It’s too bad that the Alternate Universe Acceptance Speeches weren’t streamed. Not just because Campbell Guy made a tribute to his Brain and to his late mother-in-law and wanted more people to see it, but because Chuck Gannon — the Campbell Guy of the novel category — made a brilliant analogy of an art gallery. In each wing of the gallery, there may be one centerpiece on a stand in the middle, but no one piece can possibly represent the rich breadth of an era. So a gallery doesn’t just have one piece, it has many pieces representing the best of many styles and methods. You might think it’s important to ask why THAT piece is in the center; but if you do, you’re overlooking the rest of the gallery. Yes, the curators put one piece in the middle, but they honored all of them, because the field is that broad.

  5. And no. Still no. No, no, no! Campbell Guy does NOT dance, so don’t ask!

  6. Cue the inevitable howls of outrage as the Usual Suspects skim your post to find something to be offended by, followed their minions slamming you for months to come based on third-hand innuendo.

    You know, the usual. 🙂

  7. Mr. Shoemaker: your story is excellent, but it’s not what Mr. Torgersen is talking about. A story about a caretaker robot’s emotional relationship with its dying patient is hardly “Campbellian,” however much attention you devoted to getting the engineering right. To be kind of flippant, “where’s the exploding spaceship?”

  8. The Cold Equations: No exploding spaceships.

    Foundation: No exploding spaceships.

    And He Built a Crooked House: No exploding spaceships.

    All Campbell-edited.

    Mad Max Fury Road: No spaceships, but plenty of explosions.

    I suggest that your definition of Campbellian is rather limited.

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  10. Martin, brother, I think you’re making a noble attempt to see the forest for the trees, and I commend you for it. Truly. Especially since you did take home the superior accolade, in the form of the Analytical Laboratory certificate. Well-deserved and well-earned, sir.

    Four years ago, I think I still had optimism — that this field was not in the gravitational embrace of certain attractors which will, over time, pull the field apart.

    I’ve had that optimism dimmed substantially, by people who’ve made it their business to scream (at high digital decibel level) that the field is their field, and that me and mine are not only no longer wanted in said field, but we are actively despised — for the fact that we would like to see the pendulum swing back to the middle.

    Now, it would be nice to think that these identitarian, culturally Marxist loud-mouths do not, in fact, represent the New Wave, and are limited in their artistic and professional influence. But I doubt that very much. I think they are the new establishmentarians, come to stay. They parade as marginalized outsiders, but they are legion, and they occupy places of prestige, influence, and decision-making, with ever-greater frequency.

    We will increasingly see their stridency overtaking every aspect of this field, as it increasingly overtakes our societal conversations at large.

  11. I enjoyed both movies and The Martian book. While I prefer hard science fiction, like Campbell’s and Niven, I find some character development deficiencies which later writers have fixed.
    But always, we have written about ourselves and our times. It’s all we know.

  12. As a reader, I’m increasingly bored with the culture wars. I’ve always looked out for stories that challenge our established perceptions, while at the same time enjoying stories that tread familiar ground. I’m pretty sure even you, Mr. Torgersen, enjoy both types of story. If the only way you can critique an award is via what it means regarding the culture wars, maybe you should re-think your criticism.

  13. I’m old and opinionated. For a few years, between free reads at the high school library and being able to afford paperbacks, SF lost its appeal. Baen brought me back with Weber’s Honor Harrington and Niven/Pournelle Fallen Angels.
    So The Martian really grabbed me. This is probably the opinion of most SF fans of my generation, but many of these may have already given up. Maybe Andy Weir will bring some back when they see the movie.
    Sarah Hoyt recommended Brad Torgerson based on my taste. I hope more of us read his very enjoyable work.

  14. I think I preferred The Martian to Fury Road but I loved both. I note that Jurassic World made more money than either. $1670 million. I’m confident that proves nothing other than Mad Max 4 would have made more money if Tom Hardy had to race velociraptors or that audiences would have rather seen Matt Damon trapped in the Cretaceous as he desperately tries to fix his NASA time machine with dehydrated potatoes [actually: I really want to see that film now]

  15. Actually, I do think that these identitarian, culturally Marxist loud-mouths do not, in fact, represent the New Wave, at least not the New Wave that I grew up reading and try to emulate. We may be using that phrase to mean different things.

    The New Wave that I identify with is anti-authoritarian, anti-political correctness, opposed to the entire concept of safe spaces and trigger warnings and inoffensiveness. I suppose it’s like old school liberals saying that modern liberals have corrupted that word to mean something different.

  16. Couple things. Your ideas might get less push back if you stop referring to the Sci-Fi writers with differing opinions and visions as “so-called”.

    Also, why do you think these results represents the SFWA voters choosing their favorite vision of the future? I really enjoyed both The Martian and Fury Road, but the later broke more new ground and was a fresher story. It’s about the quality of the work, not which future you want to live in… I’m a big Cormac McCarthy fan, but I sure as hell don’t love his vision of the future (or the “old west” for that matter).

  17. I’m accused of being both an new wave guy and an old wave guy, usually with equal venom from both sides. I used to think I was doing something right, but maybe not. Anyways, the greatest post-apocalyptic story of them all, “Alas, Babylon,” has an upbet ending.

  18. I don’t get why it has to be a zero-sum game. I enjoyed both movies … only one can win. That Fury Road won doesn’t lessen my enjoyment from either (MY vote goes to Ex Machina so heck I should be angry and bitter that it didn’t win??) and I certainly don’t see it as any kind of plot or conspiracy or symptom of a disease or anything else.

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  20. (Caveat that I’ve seen neither film, but the lack of characterization in The Martian made it a book I’ve read once and probably don’t ever need to read again.)

    So it might be true that we’re finally witnessing the full maturation of SF/F as a distinct arena of “serious” literature, but aren’t we taking things too far? Does anyone else think it’s a bad idea for the field to continue its fascination with cultural critique — the number of actual nutty-bolty science types, in SFWA, is dwindling, while the population of “grievance degree” lit and humanities types, in SFWA, is exploding — while the broader audience consistently demonstrates a preference for SF/F that might be termed “old fashioned” by the modern sensibilities of the mandarins of the field?

    In a word, no. In other words, nein, nyet, non, nej. SF is and always has been about the exploration of ideas and culture and society. Sure, there’s plenty of action and adventure in our past — one only needs to read Doc Smith (which had plenty of cultural criticism on its own). But then you look at another Smith — Cordwainer Smith — and it’s almost entirely cultural criticism and literary fiction (and brilliant). Niven & Pournelle’s “Inferno”? Cultural criticism (OK, so that’ one is fantasy. Maybe you should look at “Fallen Angels” instead — oh, wait, lots of cultural critique there, too.)

    There’s a certain irony in essentially saying “there are some things Man was not meant to know” when it comes to the field of SF.

  21. “There’s a certain irony in essentially saying “there are some things Man was not meant to know” when it comes to the field of SF.”

    Which is why it’s a good thing Brad never said that. “Essentially” or otherwise.

  22. I’ve read Inferno as well as its follow-up, Escape From Hell. If there can be such a thing as Hard Fantasy, where the rules of physics are rigorously applied to a fantasy setting, that’s how I’d classify the two books. They both make two key assumptions: that Dante’s allegory is not an allegory, but entirely real, while the same laws of physics apply to the dead, as apply to the living. All else is a very engrossing puzzle, regarding one man’s attempt to not just grapple with the fact that an afterlife exists, and that both Satan (and God) are real, but that there might be redemption — even for someone who has been condemned to an eternity of suffering.

    I suppose there was some social critique, regarding which historical figures Niven and Pournelle chose to populate Hell with. Likewise, the types of sins that would get you sent to Hell in the first place. But social critique did not seem to be the foundation of the books.

    Fallen Angels was much more of a social critique — of environmentalism and statism — but still relied on a hard science puzzle as its core dilemma: how to return the fugitive astronauts to orbit, when space programs no longer exist? Many have called Fallen Angels a love letter to Fandom, though I think its an iteration of Fandom that doesn’t exist anymore; not with the advent of the new activist fans who see SF/F as merely a vehicle for more complaining and hectoring about (insert hobbyhorse oppression theory here) and the “purification” of fandom, by identifying all the Badthinkers, and calling them out and/or expelling them.

    And as Martin notes, I never made any statements which approach “Man was not meant to know.”

    What I have said is, “Man doth not live on social critique alone.” 😉

  23. No, it wasn’t the bleak future they liked more. The Martian was about a man. Mad Max was about a woman.
    That’s all there was to it.

  24. SFWA Nebula voters: We really dug “The Martian” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”, but we liked “Mad Max: Fury Road” better.
    Brad Torgersen: I really dug “The Martian” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”, but I liked “The Martian” better.
    Nobody Sane: Well, that just proves the SFWA are a bunch of chorfy SJWs!

  25. “Mad Max was about a woman”

    It’s hard to give serious consideration to a comment that ignores the title of the movie.

    I loved both The Martian and Mad Max:Fury Road, and I’d have a hard time choosing between them, yet I don’t see how two movies that both hark back several decades for some of their inspiration say much, if anything, about the modern state of the field (other than that people take their great movies where they find them without caring about their antecedents?). Luckily there is a solution – the mere fact that they got nominated along with (finally!) good new Star Wars, and an interesting movie about AI, and a great piece of narrative TV, says that both were considered great pieces of work by the voters.
    Now, if those voters had sat down and decided that they cared so little about the work of Andy Weir that they wouldn’t even bother listing him, then that _would_ say something about their tastes.

  26. Campbell’s revolution was to move away from pulp writing with its cardboard characters and slam-bang action toward more equal emphasis on both Science and Fiction. I’ve never bothered seeing any of the Mad Max movies because they seem to me more like pulp stories than like Campbellian fiction, and certainly not like “New Age.” The distinction is =not= that between optimistic and pessimistic visions of the future, although Campbell himself preferred optimistic futures . He did not insist that every story have a happy ending; only that the protagonist goes down swinging and not bemoaning his own navel. Check out Edmund Hamilton’s The Haunted Stars for a Golden Age example of angst and darkness.

    A little-noticed feature of Fallen Angels is that most of the “bad” characters have “good” counterparts. For example, there are “good” environmentalists, etc.

  27. I enjoyed both stories. I prefer The Martian, but they both entertained me. I wasn’t really looking for a culturally relevant allegory in either, just some fun times. And while I enjoyed Jurassic Park as well, it still wasn’t as good (IMO) as Road Fury or The Martian.

  28. Every time Kathodus — or one of the other denizens of Pravda 770 — deigns to grace my comments with his/her unhappiness, I think of the rise of the Slayers from Krull. Right down to the screaming slugs that escape the Slayers’ skulls, upon being struck down.

  29. On the one hand, I get that you’re insulting me, but on the other hand, I’m stoked to find a fellow Krull fan.

    I really do wonder why you have to view everything through culture war-tinted glasses, though.

  30. Gee, I dunno, maybe it’s because the denizens of Pravda 770 are as predictable and reliable as the sun. I need but clear my throat, and Glyer is linking to it — fully knowing that his usual customers will devote hours and hours of time to religiously hating me, and every syllable of anything I’ve said.

    I mean, it’s nice knowing that I’ve gotten so far under your skins, without even really trying.

    But dude — it’s time for a new hobby for y’all.

  31. Huh? Brad, that wasn’t the question that was asked.

    Mike’s linking to your blog posts doesn’t have anything to do with you viewing everything through culture-war-tinted glasses. Because you really don’t have to do that, and I daresay you’d have a better essay without it. (I’m glad you liked Fury Road, but the movie I think got short shrifted by everybody was Predestination. That movie really did “All You Zombies” justice.)

    And no, I don’t hate you. I just don’t think you make very much sense.

  32. Torgerson, in the run-up to Sad Puppies III, you literally argued that one of the BadThings which those ee-vil Ess-Jay-Dubyas are responsible for… was the fact that you can’t judge a book by its cover any more.

    As if, you know, there ever was a time when you could judge a book by its cover.

    Somehow, I don’t think one needs to be one of the Ess Jay Dubya ilk to find your argument… lacking.

    And given that one of the core presuppositions of your pro-Puppies propaganda is that some sort of shadowy cabal of shadowy cabalists has been controlling the Hugos for the past N years (N not being a number clearly defined in your writings, but presumably somewhere over 30), one need not be of the Ess Jay Dubya ilk to observe the real-world results of the Puppies’ slating activities, and conclude that said results constitute evidence which tends to disconfirm the SJWites control the Hugos conjecture.

    But hey, if you want to go full metal culture war, have fun. Everybody needs a hobby, I guess.

  33. Man, they can’t even spell Brad’s name right on a page that has it prominently displayed . . .

  34. Man, they can’t even spell Brad’s name right on a page that has it prominently displayed . . .

    That’s because Torgerson is straw-Brad’s last name. Man, I hate that guy.

  35. “Does anyone else think it’s a bad idea for the field to continue its fascination with cultural critique . . . ?”

    I think part of the problem here is that — or so it sometimes seems to me — for the most passionate advocates of some of the themes and ideas being here examined, calling the works in question “cultural critique” is in some ways a considerable understatement. These are not just critical examinations of society in a spirit of dispassionate curiosity, whimsical speculation, or even well-meaning benevolence, they are intended as, and seen as, radical moral calls to real-world action on behalf of people in real desperate need.

    From this point of view, to dismiss that advocacy and philosophy as mere “cultural critique,” and suggest that maybe we’ve had enough of it, isn’t just a call for more perspective in an essentially aesthetic arena of entertainment; it’s an objectively immoral and destructive act, on a par with the Mayor’s dismissal of Chief Brody’s warnings about the shark in JAWS. And when one of the points of difference in a debate is the very nature of the debate itself — is this an aesthetic argument over the proper balance of entertainment vs. advocacy, or is it a moral argument about the necessity of advocacy and its proper beneficiaries? — it is unsurprising that there is a lot of talking past one another going on.

  36. To follow up on the above with regard to the original comparison of Fury Road vs. The Martian, let us stipulate that both are equally entertaining in their own way. If one is looking at the films with the perspective that something I will call “inspirational catharsis” — the evocation of wonder, hope, triumph, and optimism about humanity and the future — is the most important function of SF storytelling, then The Martian is the “better” film. But if one considers them with the perspective that something I will call “indignant advocacy” — the evocation of outrage on behalf of key characters, with catharsis achieved through investing in the characters’ defeat of their oppressors, and the goal of translating that outrage into action on behalf of real people in similar plights — is the most important function of SF storytelling, then Fury Road is the better film.

    Which, of course, leaves us with the question: which function is more important? And what is the appropriate response to those who disagree with one’s answer to that question?

  37. Torgerson, in the run-up to Sad Puppies III, you literally argued that one of the BadThings which those ee-vil Ess-Jay-Dubyas are responsible for… was the fact that you can’t judge a book by its cover any more. As if, you know, there ever was a time when you could judge a book by its cover. Somehow, I don’t think one needs to be one of the Ess Jay Dubya ilk to find your argument… lacking.

    No, what I argued is that a genre that deliberately mis-packages itself, does the customers a disservice. If I advertise to an American audience that Monday Night Football will be at 8 PM on Monday night, and they tune in to find . . . Australian-rules football — and I do this over and over and over — why should I be shocked that fans of traditional Monday Night Football, tune out?

    This is essentially what SF/F has been doing with increasing frequency.

    Not that I would ever expect my critics to actually deal with the words that I actually say, versus the words they try to put into the mouth of Straw Brad.

    I know that, in your minds, I will always be horrible and evil. Just admit that there will never be any ‘win’ for me — nor will there by any ‘win’ for any fan associated with Badthinkness and Wrongfun.

    Has anyone badgered Michael A. Rothman’s kids into loving Worldcon yet?

  38. Brad, nobody’s badgering you. You made a post on a very public place and allowed comments. People came and commented. Some agreed with you, some did not. If you don’t want a discussion, close the comments off. If you don’t want File 770 to link to you, don’t put it on the Internet or put it behind a member’s only wall.

  39. “On the one hand, I get that you’re insulting me, but on the other hand, I’m stoked to find a fellow Krull fan.”

    I think that both MAD MAX and THE MARTIAN should have voluntarily granted the award retroactively to KRULL. Not because KRULL is a good movie, but because it is a pure pulpy kitchen-sink kind of science fantasy yarn.

    I confess I don’t see anything in MAD MAX which is particularly New Age in style, tone, or mood. I thought the New Age movement was an attempt to bring experimental literary styles to science fiction. A New Age science fiction film would, one assumes, be like watching a Francois Truffaut science fiction film (like Fahrenheit 451).

    However, I do agree that THE MARTIAN was as straight-up pure quill Cambellian story as I have ever seen. If Mr. Weir turned out to be the the pen name for a collaboration of Arthur C Clarke and Robert Heinlein and Kim Stanley Robinson, I would not be surprised.

  40. I’m too afraid to go back and re-watch Krull. From what people have told me, it does not stand the test of time. But man, that awesome weapon (the glaive, says google)! In my memory, it’s a creepy, scary movie, but also a little disappointing in its narrow focus, world-wise. I wonder if I could enjoy it as camp now that I’m no longer 10 (went to see it in the theater for my 10th birthday).

  41. “Brad, nobody’s badgering you. You made a post on a very public place and allowed comments. People came and commented. ”

    And Mr. Torgersen complained about people misquoting him, and playing the beat-up-the-strawman game, which you are here doing again, Mr. Gerrib, by implying his complaint was other than it was.

    Since you are also making comments on a public blog, and you are being dishonest, and aiding and abetting dishonesty, and decent men are right to be disgusted with you, and revolted. The difference is, honest men are disgusted with dishonesty because it is nauseating, whereas craven creatures of dishonesty are disgusted with honesty because they fear and hate the light.

  42. Combine a culture of serial liars, crass mideducated people of low character, racially and sexually intolerant bigots institutionally dug in like ticks, and people whose greatest talent is imagining they have any talent, and you have the 2015/6 Nebula Awards.

    Go look at the running Twitter commentary all weekend from “PoC” panelists like Tanya D, Mikki Kendall, Justina Ireland and all the rest of that round-robin of racial arrogance and hate to get the full impact of what failure looks like. 50 year celebration of the Nebulas? LOL. More like turning a Gothic cathedral into a lean-to. Pinsker’s story was a satirically unaware summing up of the arrogance, irritating personalities, boredom and failure typical of this cult. They’re making that America, not me.

  43. Mark,
    It’s hard to give credence to someone who didn’t watch the movie. The movie wasn’t about Mad Max at all, I don’t even think he had the most screen time in it. The movie was about the female character, not Max.
    If you’d watched it, you’d have known it. The director even said that was what it was about, her, not max. But the Mad Max name draws viewers, so he used it.

  44. I’m noticing a bunch of vagina-glorification about the Nebula awards again this year, not too much said about the actual quality of the stories.

  45. It’s the rare film that inspires me to do anything. It’s not something I am typically looking for in my entertainment options. Of the few times it’s happened, it may not have inspired me to do what the author/director/producer actually wanted me to do.

    Spenser For Hire made me look up the poet Edmund Spenser and The Fairey Queen, which I quickly chucked as not worth the effort.

    2010: The Year We Make Contact got me interested in Arthur C. Clarke and the moons of Jupiter. To this day I have a fond place in my heart for both.

    When I saw Predator it made me want to go hit the gym. Actually, most of Arnold’s movies do that. It’s not something I’ve ever gotten from Sly’s, Seagal’s or Van Damme’s movies, as entertaining as they were.

    Dead Poets Society made me go look up poetry again. Once again I chucked it soon after as just not worth the effort.

    Bandit Kings of Ancient China and Harpoon got me interested in military tactics. I read Sun Tzu and Sun Pin, and picked up copies of Jane’s Defense.

    When I look at The Martian, it gave me a similar vibe as 2010 did. Road Fury just made me want more popcorn.

  46. I sometimes plant a garden. After the 800 lbs of potatoes that we accidentally grew when I was a kid, I don’t plant potatoes, though.

  47. I got pissed if with Krull when I got into D&D and found out that that was not what a glaive was. Damn you Hollywood, how dare you lie to me?

    I agree that both Mad Max and The Martian were spectacular movies. Regardless of their SF genetics, Mad Max was the better *movie* – in terms of production, effects, acting and sheer spectacle.

    The Project Elrond scene in Martian was just gold though.

  48. Okay, I finally read Pinsker’s story on her Web site.
    It’s Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” turned into an SF story. Vanload of cool rock musicians get hassled by the Man, man. This is Nebula material?

  49. I haven’t read it, but all the posts I’ve seen on social media regarding the Nebulas are about Vagina Worship rather than how worthy the stories actually are.

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