1: Exhalation by Ted Chiang: Some might complain that there isn't much of a story here. It is a big idea piece, describing a strange world based on a single idea. But it also is one of the more clear descriptions of Entropy I have ever read. While not directly similar to Anathem, it is exactly the sort of story someone who loved that book would like.
2: 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss by Kij Johnson: This is a lightheared modern day fantasy piece in which the protagonist feels compelled to buy a trained monkey act. It's the sort of story that puts you in a good mood and yet still has a bit of depth to it. This is the sort of American fantasy that there just isn't enough of. It is not dwarves and elves or gods and monsters. It's the strange occurrence at the carnival, the sort of thing that Bradbury excelled at and no one much does anymore.
3: From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled by Michael Swanwick: I liked this one a lot. It's the tale of a human caught in the destruction of an alien habitat. The aliens are *very* alien and the hero is perhaps not much of a hero. It is an extremely good work of world building despite the short length. It's about cultures that just don't entirely understand each other, with different basic economics and world views.
4: Article of Faith by Mike Resnik: This is the story of a robot who wants to join the church. Frankly, I thought this was cliched. It is yet another round of "robots as proxies to talk about discrimination". The big problem I have with all of these stories that ask "is a robot human inside" is that every damn one of them assumes "yes". The story itself isn't bad...it's just a very "been there, done that" thing.
5: Evil Robot Monkey by Mary Robinette Kowal: I didn't much care for this one. It starts out promising enough, but there just isn't any real meat here. It's more of a flash fiction piece than a short story.
We saw "Up" this weekend. This is really an amazing film, and not one that should ever be written off as a kids movie. In fact, my biggest complaint is that it sometimes left my kid a bit bored. The opening half-hour montage is one of the most wonderful yet bittersweet things I have ever seen on film. It is something that will make the adults cry, but may bore the kids a bit.
The rest of the movie descends a bit from this height, but is still a classic. Where most of the kids films give you cute animals and fart jokes, "Up" is a story about promises and regret and has a protagonist who undergoes real growth. Only Pixar would have the sheer balls to make a "kid's movie" about an elderly man dealing with a life alone. Hell, most studios don't have the balls to make an adult's movie with that kind of theme.
The visuals are, of course, amazing, but honestly, the plot had me so hooked that I barely noticed. For all that it is consistently at the top of the CGI game, Pixar movies never make the mistake of having the story serve the graphics.
Quite easily the best movie I have seen in a very long while.
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