John Scalzi’s “Denise Jones, Super Booker”

There’s a reason why John Scalzi is (as of 3/17/2012) the President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). He is a genius story-teller who clearly has no problem in using humor to point out all of life’s fallicies and keeping the reader drawn in, desperate for more. The language John uses is simple and lets the reader know that he is a real person just like they are. Getting from the opening sentence to the last word of a John Scalzi story ins unbelievably easy because he doesn’t allow his readers to get bored with what they’re reading. I can find no better example of John’s amazing accomplishments in storytelling than his short story “Denise Jones, Super Broker.” According to John’s blog, “Whatever”, the story was first published on Subterranean Online in September, 2008.

The plot of the story is as simple as the format it’s written in. The story is set up as a transcript between an unknown interviewer (dialogue suggests maybe a radio or talk-show host) and a woman who works as a booking agent for an international society of superheroes. Denise Jones is an ordinary human with no super powers yet is the first to respond whenever a government official requests the aid of a superhero. Most of the interview is spent explaining the business aspects of her job as a “super broker”, but along the way she also admits an unusual hatred for the city of Tempe and gives us a nice idea of John’s inspiration for all of his superheroes. First we have ArachnoLad (inspired possibly by Spider-Man), an Extraordinary Man (Superman) is mentioned as the cream of the crop of superheroes, and then there’s a Bryan Garcia. While his particular powers are never explained the main character does mention that he thinks costumes and secret identities are “silly.” This brings a more modern feel and attitude to the classic superhero story when most heros disguised themselves to protect the ones they loved. It’s obvious that Bryan Garcia is determined to protect the ones he loved simply by going out and fighting “in jeans and t-shirt.”

What I liked most about this story is that John brings up some very important points from the real world that have usually only been touched upon in comic books. In the story Denise Jones talks about a hero named The Crimson Valkyrie who was held accountable for property damage after saving the city from a monster. She was then forced to give up everything she had to pay for the damage, prompting her to have to leave the hero business and work in a toll booth. The heroes in Scalzi’s story work as heros asa job because they couldn’t hold real jobs anyway. Toll booths aren’t very common in the real world, and Scalzi points that out nice and clear. And as I mentioned at the beginning, we have John’s amazing sense of humor. Amazing in the sense that its manical, goofy, sarcastic and sometimes very male. The is a LubricantGrrl who is often booked for parties (though not the bad kind, Denise is quick to point out), the Sandpaper People she saved Reno from and an army of evil robot cats. Add all of these together and we have one great story in front of us.

John, this is a really great story. I’m trying my best not to sound like a complete and total fan right now, but it’s just hard not to. You really took the literature of ideas to a whole new level. You’ve combined modern and realistic ideas (which is what science fiction is all about in the first place) and mixed it with an army of evil cyborg cats. Well done! Now if only you had taped bacon to those robot cats…


Captain America: The First Avenger (The Bomb!)

Captain America: The First Avenger

Image via Wikipedia

Words can not express how much I loved Chris Evans in Marvel’s latest superhero film. I had been looking forward to that movie for lord know’s how long. I was very disappointed to see that it wasn’t the biggest blockbuster hit of the summer, but hopefully Josh Wheddon’s “The Avengers”–also starring Chris Evans as Captain America–will blow every movie ever made out of the water. I don’t see how having Cap, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury all in one movie (and fighting aliens, too 🙂 ) could not be the biggest movie of all time. I’m not saying that just because of the superheroes (although that was what was on my mind when I decided to write this line) but because of the various different styles of acting, the bringing together of many popular and talented actors of today and a chance to see Scarlett Johannson  kick some more butt like she did in “Iron Man 2”

But moving on to “Old Wingtips”, I really, really enjoyed that movie. I went and saw it like five times in the theater, it was so good. I thought it was really funny how when we first see Steve Rogers in the recruiting office after he puts his paper down we see Chris Evan’s GIANT head on top of a tint little body that couldn’t support it. That didn’t bother me  too much, I thought it was pretty funny. What we see in our first impression of Steve Rogers is a young man with great ambition, who is willing to do whatever it takes in order to go fight overseas. He is selfless and strong, but not headstrong. He knows he is not better than anybody else. He just wants to be a simple soldier. Luckily, he says his lines at the right time, and Dr. Erskine–played by Stanley Tucci–signs him off so he can join The Strategic Scientific Reserve (the movie’s version of Project Rebirth). The SSR’s goal is to develop “a new breed of super soldiers.” Despite initial doubts by Tommy Lee Jones‘s character Col. Phillips, Steve is chosen to be the first super soldier. Just in time too, as the villainous HYDRA leader Johan Schmidt sends an assasin to steal the formula and murder the good doctor. He escapes, but can’t get too far before the newest super soldier is on his tail, jumping from car to car and over high fences like an Olympic gold-medalist (platinum, if there was a such thing.)

What really caught my eye when it got to this part was how deep Steve really was as a person. Just a little earlier on in the movie, Erskine told him that no matter what happens he must always remember who he is. “Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.” So when the assasin grabs a young boy and hurls him into the water, I was touched to see that he was willing to let the killer of his dear mentor escape just so he could have time to save a boy he didn’t even know. That right there makes him the best superhero Marvel has ever put on the big screen. Cap is a real hero, my brother said after the movie was over. And I agree with him.  A selfless, courageous, honorable man who considers himself no better than anybody else even though he is physically and mentally at the peak of humanity. Sure, he has flaws. He knows this. I think in a way he relishes that he’s not invincible. Nothing in the movie neccesarily points to anything like that, but if you look at his personality and how he reacts to certain things in the film, it couldn’t hurt to assume that.

I think it’d be a waste of time talking anymore about the plot, especially for those of you who may not have seen it yet, so I’m just going to talk a little bit more about some of the criticism I’ve been hearing about the movie.

One thing I’ve been hearing alot is his costume in the film (I’m talking about his second one, not the USO-knock off of his original comic book costume.) I agree it looks little like any of his costumes from the comics, but you have two look at any criticism like this from every perceivable angle. One, this film is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Believe it or not, this is just one of many Marvel Comic alternate universes. So in a sense, the movie doesn’t have to follow anything from the comic books if they didn’t want to. Things have to be adapted so that they can work in a live-action movie, after all. Secondly, we have to look at what Cap’s up against in the film. He’s facing high-tech HYDRA agents with weapons fuled by a Cosmic Cube. Some of the bigger HYDRA goons also have flamethrowers. Thus, it is only fitting that his suit looks like it is somewhat fire-resistant. It could have been a better costume, but it worked out ok for his World War Two costume. From here on out he’s in the 21st Century, so Marvel will have to be a bit more creative when it comes to any future costume of his.

Another major thing I’ve been hearing is about the special effects. people have said that they were too much like that of a video game. I have to admit that I never saw it in 3-D, but I know several good scenes in the movie where that would come in handy. But I have to agree that the special effects could have been much, much better. They could have done away with alot of the slow motion and speed up the fights a little bit. We don’t have to see Captain America kick a HYDRA soldier and send him flying and watch the enemy fall down in slow motion, and then see Cap’s leg go down afterward. Scenes like that deserve to be sped up, just to show us how strong and amazing Cap is as a hero. Another scene I didn’t like was when Cap was swinging on a chain over the army of HYDRA agents who were busy fighting the U.S. Army–this was also done in slow motion. Why? That was not a dramatic scene. Why place the emphasis on him swinging? That didn’t make sense to me.

But other than that, I thought the movie was great. I could write a book about what makes “Captain America: The Fisrt Avenger” an awesome movie. It has the right blend of action, humor, romance, evil and fantasy. I give this movie an A- in my book!

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Why I chose the title of this blog to be “Creator Gods”

I am not a very religious person. I didn’t choose this title as any kind of respect or nod towards any Christian religion. I actually chose it because of how I feel when I’m writing stories. Science fiction and fantasy are similar in almost every way. Both genres push back the limits of our imagination and open our minds up to endless possibilities, each in their own different ways. Science fiction (I probably will be using SF alot for this) always must be ground in reality. What could happen, or what is happening, or in some cases what actually DID happen. The boundaries for SF are nonexistent but are, nonetheless, restricted by science. Fantasy, of course, has no limitations.

Whenever I write my SF stories, or the occassional fanatsy tale I always take myself away from planet Earth and create my own worlds, with my own characters and people. I begin feeling like I’m the God of my fictional universe. A Creator God, if you will. I’m not trying to offend anyone who is Christian and believes that their God is the only God ever to exist, no. It’s just my mindset when I create characters that are unlike anything seen in the real-world, to create new things in my own images.

Such is the beauty of speculative fiction. The writer is in control of all the powers at be. I love being the highest power in the cosmos, and only in the realm of science fiction will I ever have the chance to enjoy such a high and exalted position.

Since this blog is about science fiction, I’m sure you get the point.

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Hello Universe!

My name is John Siebelink. I am (as of March 14, 2012) 22 years old, a nerd, Disney Cast Member, science fiction writer and college student. I have been a fan of science fiction most of my life. The purpose of this blog is for me to hone my skills both as a writer but also a reviewer of science fiction, fantasy, and other literary genres in all kinds of different forms (stories, novels, films, etc.) My goal is to post a review of a story every other day (I’d do it everyday but my schedule at Disney is making it hard to find time to do much of anything), as well as a review of a novel once a month and a film review at least once or twice a month. Occassionally I will also post clippings of my own fiction for the Universe to read, as well as any interview or ideas I might come across. The Universe is endless, so are the possibilities for this blog. Welcome home, loyal denizens of the Universe! I missed you!