Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Five Questions, take two

Andrew Cory sent me these in e-mail, and I answer them here. Behold!

1) What genera of fiction makes you all gooey-week in the knees? Which example of that genre do you think exemplifies the highest qualities of that genre? Which is of so low quality that you're embarrassed to admit you like it, and wouldn't have liked anything of similar quality in another genre?

In recent years, I've become less of a "genre" reader -- there are genres I like a lot, but none that completely captivate me, as genres-in-themselves. Likewise, I'm not against any genre; I'm more a "good book" kind of reader. A good book in any genre is more likely to thrill me than a mediocre book in a preferred genre, if that makes sense.

That said, my SF reading tastes gravitate toward big-scale space operas -- the more planets and spectacular battles and clashes with good and evil, the better. I tend to not like Military SF as much, but I did like the first two Honor Harrington novels (by David Webber) quite a bit (even if his constant infodumps are really annoying, and I hear they get even worse as the series goes on).

2) Heinlein's multiverse theory turns out to be correct. Two warring factions grab the best Admirals in all of fiction and make them face each other in an intergalactic, interdimensional war of annihilation. One side grabs Ender (from Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and sequels), the other gets Grand Admiral Thrawn (from Timothy Zahn's post-Return of the Jedi Star Wars novels). Who wins?

I haven't read Ender's Game, so I'm going to have to stick another Admiral in there. And the one that leaps to mind is one whose career as an Admiral was notable but short: Admiral James Tiberius Kirk.

To put it bluntly: Kirk would defeat Thrawn, but only after something of a pitched battle. I'm not sure exactly how he'd win, but at some point he'd make a grand speech about humanity, and at some point he'd talk Thrawn's servant droid into self-destruction by using a logical contradiction to confuse it to death.

3) Who is buried in Grant's Tomb: Why is this a trick question? What is the answer to the real question?

Well, by strict definition, no one is "buried" in Grant's Tomb, since the former President and his wife are entombed in above-ground sarcophagi. (BTW, if memory serves, this question was on one of the original Trivial Pursuit cards, with the answer reading, "Ulysses S. Grant and his wife". When people answer "Grant" but omit the wife, they get the question wrong. Suckers!)

4) What's the worst movie you've ever seen?

Geez, that's a toughie. There's the awful Beaches, which everybody swore would have me in tears by the end -- and yet, there I was at the end, glaring in anger at the screen because I was supposed to be moved to tears when some woman dies after she's spent the entire movie treating her supposed "best friend" like dirt (and vice versa). Nauseating crap.

And then there's The Usual Suspects, which annoyed me because it wasted what could have been a fascinating drama about some interesting low-lifes on the dumb "Who is Keyser Soze?" mystery, the solution of which I spotted within two minutes of the first mention of the name "Keyser Soze".

I could also mention Aliens, which I found boring as every single event that was heavily foreshadowed in the first half unfolded like clockwork in the second half.

And there's the supremely stupid Scream, which couldn't make up its mind if it was a straight teen horror movie (a genre I genuinely hate, by the way) or a parody of a teen horror movie, and didn't do either well at all.

But I guess the prize has to go with Highlander, which may be the single dumbest instantiation of fantasy I've ever seen. God, that is a bad movie, with a colossally stupid premise that wastes not one but two of my favorite actors (Sean Connery and Clancy Brown). Pure crap. Ugh!

5) Humanity is doomed. We've all contacted some horrible, horrible disease. What's worse is that it attacks scientists and medical people first, so there won't be a plucky young heroine teaming up with a beautiful young man to save us all from certain doom. No matter how amusing the antics of a certain ex-president-turned sidekick, the doom is, in fact, certain...You're at the end of the world party, and Kofi Annan reveals to you that he is in real-time communication with aliens. The aliens can use their teleportation technology to fit just one piece of artwork, and a drunken Secretary General asks you to pick the art. To make sure that no one else contract the Human Virus, the Earth's Star (Sol) will be destroyed, taking Earth with it. Whatever piece of art you choose will be _everything_ that remains of humanity. What do you choose and why?

Since we're not quibbling for size, I'd save the Sistine Chapel. (Since this is happening present-day, I assume that the Voyager Record is still intact, somewhere in interstellar space. So at least something of our music will survive.

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