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I'm Smirking
Moon which is a very decent little film, if not particularly original, beat Avatar for the Hugo drama award, long form.


Congratulations to Charlie Stross for his novella win.

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Yes, that struck me as a particularly pleasing result.

Bunn and I went to see Avatar for the first time (yeah, we take our time about these things) on Thursday. It's way short of Hugo standard. I've not seen Moon, but will try to.

Personally I don't think 'The City and the City' was Hugo standard, but I seem to be in a minority on this. I thought it was an interesting setting wasted on a mundane conspiracy theory / whodunnit plot of the sort that Dan Brown would have thrown in his wastepaper basket.

I haven't read either of the two joint winners in the novel category. Mind you, some past winners make you go, "Whaaat?"

It's a damned good thing.

Why was Avatar even nominated? They were grown-up Smurfs.

I presume that Avatar was nominated for the world building and the FX. It can't have been for the plotting, the dialogue or the characterisation. Pit the 3D still doesn't work properly and that the world-building stops dead in its tracks when it comes to the Na'vi biology, society and language.

I don't get what they mean by "world-building". Do they mean CGI or do they mean having interesting creatures? If it's the latter, I'd say that The Neverending Story did a better job of world-building. If it only counts as world-building when you have interesting creatures which were created by CGI, then I think they are narrowing the field a bit too much.

World building is putting together a full ecology, (plus geology and climate) and/or a non-human or future human society, together with resultant technology and economics. It has nothing to do with FX.

In this case, the world had well-designed ecology (and people like Jerry Coyne thought it was well-designed and who am I to argue with them.) In fact, the ecology was, to me, the only interesting thing about the movie. Of course, the human society and the Na'vi society were overly simple, and the flying rocks didn't make sense, but there you go...

World building is putting together a full ecology, (plus geology and climate)

Ah, like Return Of The Jedi. :P

I mean seriously, there are lots of creatures in a jungle and they worship a tree. That's not exactly a full ecology, is it?

people like Jerry Coyne thought it was well-designed

Perhaps if you give me a link, he can convince me.

Actually, all the animals except the Na'vi have similar body structures, lay eggs and breathe through spiracles, and also fill various respectable ecological niches, while the plants use interesting methods of reproduction. A lot of thought went into them, though they are not highly original.

No-one ever accused Lucas and Co of building complex ecologies! Or even complex societies.

Well, I'm not sure how Lucas' ice planet is any less complex than Cameron's jungle planet. Like I said, if you've got a link to a good article from Coyne, I'd be interested.

Hang on...

Similar body structures?

Similar in what way? I mean, sure they're similar.

There are some that are similar to panthers, some that are similar to rhinos, a whole bunch that are similar to birds/pterodactyls and there's something similar to a jellyfish only it floats in the air rather than the water.

I'm not sure any of those are similar in structure to one another. The original part is that they are all brightly coloured and have special tubes through which they can get brain-raped.

I've been told that Moon is similar to Silent Running and 2001. While it might be the same stylistically, it's not really at all the same plot wise. In fact, when judging it on its plot, it kicks both Silent Running and 2001's collective arses. (That said, the computer is very similar to HAL, the character with the most personality in 2001.)

When you say it's not original, what other movies do you have in mind?

The one that sprang to my mind was Solaris, particularly the Soderberg version, but I wasn't thinking entirely of movies. The identity thing (I am trying not to spoiler) has been a major trope in SF for a long time.

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