Category Archives: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Hopping Through Life: A Review of Easter Bunny

Today’s post will be a quick review of the short film Easter Bunny in honour of the Easter holidays coming up this weekend. This film was created by Asa Lucander in 2012, and I enjoyed it so much I simply had to share it with all of you.

Feel free to watch it before reading my review if you’d like. It’s about two minutes long, and the plot follows a small, black rabbit who is bouncing and hopping through all sorts of different environments.

Easter Bunny from Asa Lucander on Vimeo.

One of the things that first stuck out to me about this short film is the fact that it has no dialogue. There is some bubbly background music, but anyone could understand the story just fine if they couldn’t or didn’t want to hear the music. I haven’t seen too many examples of short films like this, so it’s a treat every time I stumble across one.

I liked the fact that this storyline seemed to be created for kids and adults alike. Without giving away spoilers, there were certain things that happened during the course of the bunny’s journey that were definitely meant to make adults laugh while still being totally appropriate for even the youngest audience. It isn’t easy to appeal to such a wide audience range, but Mr. Lucander made it look effortless.

One of the questions flitting through my mind as I watched was why the bunny was called an Easter bunny since the beginning didn’t seem to have anything to do with that holiday at all. The answer to this question wasn’t immediately obvious, but I did like seeing what the filmmaker came up with to tie everything together.

Normally, I include constructive criticism in my reviews if there was something about the characters, dialogue, or plot that didn’t quite feel right to me. I believe in being absolutely honest in reviews while also treating the creator with the same kindness and empathy I always hope the reviewers of my work will have for me. There’s also something to be said for building up a reputation as a reviewer who doesn’t sugarcoat the things that didn’t work for you.

With that being said, Easter Bunny was perfect the way it was. I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about it, and I will be recommending it to family and friends of all ages.  Two minutes was exactly the right amount of space to give to this plot, and I’m glad the creator didn’t try to shorten it down or stretch it out.

I don’t recall ever watching one of Mr. Lucander’s films before. Based on my experiences with this one, I’ll be keeping an eye out for anything else he’s created. He has a playful and creative storytelling technique that I enjoy quite a bit.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all of my followers.  If there’s another holiday at this time of the year that you celebrate, Happy _____ as well!

My 4 Favourite Fantasy Tropes

Last year, I had a blast blogging about my favourite science fiction tropes. It occurred to me recently that I’ve never given the fantasy genre the same treatment, so that’ what I’ll be talking about today.

Reluctant Heroes

Photo credit: Jackie lck.

Example: Bilbo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”

If someone were to knock on my front door and tell me that I needed to go with them on a quest to save the world, I would not be particularly excited about that experience.

Yes, we’d probably see some incredible things along the way, but I really enjoy sleeping in my warm, soft bed at night and not being eaten by giant spiders named Shelob.

The fact that Bilbo was so hesitant to go on this quest made me like him even more. I totally understand the desire to stay home and avoid danger.

Magical Forests, Swamps, and Other Places

Example: The creepy Fire Swamp in William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride”

Nothing gets my heart racing faster than realizing that the hero of a tale is about to wander into a forest, swamp, or other wild place not usually inhabited by humans that everyone knows  is filled with dangerous creatures, unpredictable magic, or both.

I love seeing how characters react to the creatures and potential traps they find in these places, especially once they’ve wandered far enough into them that finding their way home again is going to be tricky at best.

Since I’d be perfectly happy to stay home and not wander around in these unpredictable spots, it’s nice to know that there are folks out there who are willing to see who or what might be lurking in them.

 

Quests That Go Terribly Wrong

Aslan, the creator and protector of all things Narnian.

Example: C.S. Lewis’ “The Silver Chair”

In the beginning of The Silver Chair, Jill and Eustace, the main characters, were given a specific list of four signs by Aslan to keep an eye out for in order to help them find Prince Caspian and return him to his rightful place as the future king of Narnia.

The world they were visiting could be a tricky one, and there were many characters who would stop at nothing to prevent these kids from fulfilling their mission.

Why Aslan didn’t simply do this stuff himself is a question for another blog post, but I was intrigued as soon as I realized that Jill and Eustace had quite the journey ahead of them.

These were the signs they were to look for:

  • “As soon as the boy Eustace sets foot in Narnia, he will meet an old and dear friend. He must greet that friend at once. If he does, you will both have good help.
  • “You must journey out of Narnia to the north until you come to the city of the ancient giants.
  • You shall find the writing on a stone in that ruined city, and you must do what the writing tells you.
  • You will know the lost prince, if you find him, by this: that he will be the first person you have met in your travels who will ask you to do something in my name, in the name of Aslan.”

If you haven’ read this book yet, I’ll leave it up to you to find out which of these signs these characters actually listened to. All I can say is that I loved seeing how these kids interpreted the signs and what happened when things didn’t go exactly as planned. It felt quite realistic to me that Eustace and Jill wouldn’t necessarily do everything they were meant to do when they were supposed to do it.

Magical Schools

Examples: Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians,” or, obviously, Hogwarts

The Great Hall at Hogwarts

What could possibly be cooler than going to school to learn how to be a magician, witch, or wizard? It’s even more interesting when one or more of the characters weren’t aware they had any magical powers at all until that fateful letter or invitation arrived one day.

I could read a thousand books with this sort of setting and still want more examples of it.

The only thing I’d change about this trope is adding more examples of magical schools for adults. I think that even the strongest magician would eventually need to take a course or two to freshen up their skills or learn some new spells as such things were invented.

What are your favourite fantasy tropes?

 

Picking Character Names Is Trickier Than It Looks

The sci-fi novel I’m currently working on is coming along slowly but steadily. I’m planning to write a full update on those goals later on this spring, but for now I wanted to talk about picking character names.

I find it fairly easy to describe little things like what characters eat for dinner or how they’d react to a beautiful sunset if such a scene were somehow relevant to the storyline.

Picking names for them, though, is tough.

I can’t tell you all how many hours I’ve spent combing through sites that suggest names for human babies, pets, and/or Dungeons and Dragons characters in order to get as many different possibilities as I can. Google is probably thoroughly confused about what on Earth is going on in my household by now!

Names have all sorts of associations with them in general, from the naming fashions of certain decades or centuries to personal experiences a writer or reader may have had with someone who had a specific name.

Naming Trends

If I read a blurb about contemporary characters with vintage names that fell out of fashion a century ago, I’d generally expect their story to be set in an era when those names were more common or for the plot to give hints about why these characters were given such old-fashioned names.

A few years ago, I noticed a surge in young adult novels that gave their protagonists names that are very rare for contemporary teenagers. The plots themselves were well done, but I found myself getting so caught off-guard by teenagers who had names that I’d previously only seen on gravestones or room tags in nursing homes.

With that being said, I have an older relative who was given an old-fashioned name they didn’t like at all when they were young. Skip ahead a few generations, and that name became wildly popular once again. So the fashionability of a name definitely can change.

Personal Experiences

Talking about naming trends doesn’t even begin to take account for all of the positive and negative associations we’ve all formed based on our experiences with people who had or who have certain names. (No, I don’t have any strong opinions about the name Wilbur. I simply liked this stock photo).

When I was a freshman in high school, my district hired a new music teacher whose only previous experience with someone called Lydia had not been a positive one. She didn’t go into detail, but she eventually mentioned something about her opinion of this name improving quite a bit based on her good experiences with me as a student.

There are a handful of names I’ve formed unpleasant relationships with due to past experiences I’ve had with people who had them. I’ve steered away from using them in any of my stories, and I think that trend is going to continue for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, I’ve met some people who are so lovely that I’m eager to use their names in stories when possible. I still don’t know what the etiquette of this is, but I’ve found myself asking a person or two for permission before using their names even though the characters I’m creating otherwise have little or nothing in common with them.

But Does It Fit the Character?

Even after all of this research, you still have to figure out if a specific name actually fits the character it was intended for.

One of the wonderful things about creating characters is how unpredictable they can be. I’ve had some characters who lean into their names right away and others who don’t quite fit the first half-dozen names I test out on them.

If you’re not a writer, know that these kinds of experiences are common. Just because a writer comes up with a character doesn’t mean that we have control over how that character behaves!

A few times a week I see updates from fellow writers who were surprised by what their creations do. It’s quite common and can be pretty funny in retrospect if you have a good sense of humour about it.

If you’ve ever had to name a character, what have your experiences been?

 

 

Future Trends in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Genres

When I was growing up, I borrowed as many books from the sci-fi and fantasy genres as I could find at our local library. Occasionally, a relative or a family friend would lend me a title that I hadn’t found elsewhere. Many of these tales were classics that had been published years before I – or even my parents – had been born.

One of the most interesting things about reading these old stories was getting a glimpse into parts of the past that history teachers generally didn’t discuss. Some of the characters in them worried about things that were controversial in certain eras or communities but that sounded old-fashioned and downright odd to me as a reader who wasn’t from that time and place.

Others discussed much more reasonable fears like the threat of nuclear war. Based on what I’d learned about the end of World War II and the Cold War in school and from reading about them in my free time, it made sense to see folks in 1940s and 1950s thinking about this topic and, in some plots, attempting to survive after the big bombs went off.

With these thoughts in mind, I’ve been thinking about what the science fiction and fantasy genres might be like in the coming decades. Here are my predictions of a few of the things I think could happen to them in the future.

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Will Merge Into One Genre

The lines between these genres has only seemed to grow fuzzier over time. These days it’s becoming rare for me to find a book in either genre that doesn’t contain any elements from the other one.

This is especially true when I think about younger writers who appear to become more interested in mixing genres with every passing year.

We already colloquially refer to these two genres as sci-fi/fantasy or SFF, and I’ve seen multiple discussions take place about whether book or show X should be classified as fantasy or science fiction when it obviously was written to include elements of both in its storyline.

I think it will only be a matter of time before the majority of people start to think of them as more or less the same thing if this trend continues.

There Will Be More Diversity

…and it’s about damn time!

One of the most exciting changes I’ve seen in the sci-fi/fantasy genres over the past decade or so has been in the increasing number of diverse authors and stories. The demand for them rises with each passing years, and I think it will accelerate even faster in the future.

Climate Change Will Be a Major Antagonist

Yes, there already have been novels published about how humanity might fare as Earth’s climate continues to warm up in the near and distant future.

Unless something changes quite soon, I don’t think this is something future generations are going to escape. I expect more and more authors to write stories about characters dealing with water shortages, violent storms, and the erosion of coastlines.

Fiction isn’t always about escaping to a more pleasant place. Sometimes the same problems that plague people in real life leak into the stories we write and read about.

With more and more communities feeling the negative effects of climate change now and in the future, I believe that authors will dig into these experiences when they write about how their characters react to similar problems.

Hope Will Become More Fashionable

As I’ve written in my hopeful science fiction series,

The news is already overflowing with stories about miserable things happening to good people through no fault of their own. When I read fiction these days, I’m now looking for an escape from injustices that are never made right again.

I’m seeing signs that other readers feel the same way. This isn’t to say that horror or post-apocalyptic fiction will disappear entirely, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the SFF genre in general begins to turn its face towards those things in this world that help people believe tomorrow could be a better day.

People need hope. The more troubles they face, the truer this becomes in my experience.

How do you think the sci-fi/fantasy genre will evolve over the next few decades?

We Should All Have Android Bodies

You might think I’m joking about this, but I’m not. This is how the last couple of days have been for me.

Me: My injured foot is doing better. What a relief. I can’t wait to get back into my normal workout routines again.

Body:  Ooh, look! A shiny illness. I heard they pair perfectly with feet injuries, especially during cold and flu season when you can get fresh, locally-grown sicknesses at every corner store.

Me: Wait, what?

Body: It’s so sparkly. I want to cuddle it, name it Fluffy, and carry it around for a while.

Me: Illnesses do not sparkle and you do not want to touch that one. Trust me. It will be better for everyone if you put it down and go wash your hands with soap and hot water.

Body: Too late! Sorry not sorry, but I’m keeping it. The three of us are going to be besties until your immune and digestive systems figure out how fight back.

Based on how I’ve been feeling these past few weeks, I am beyond ready for humanity to figure out a way to give everyone an android body. Meat suits have some benefits, but they also need far too many repairs and recuperation time when they have accidents or pick up the wrong germs.

Give me a nice, robotic body instead. I’d be quite happy to never have to think about all of the things that can go terribly wrong with flesh, bones, and organs even when you’re only dealing with diagnoses that have an expiration date.

The science fiction genre often acts as though transitioning from having a purely biological form to at least partially existing as a computer program would be a terrible fate, but all I can think about is how nice it would be to no longer get sick or injured anymore.

Would you sign up to have your consciousness transferred to an android body if such a thing were possible?

 

3 Fictional Families I’d Want to Spend Family Day With

Today is Family Day for those of us who live in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, or Saskatchewan. Family Day was first observed in 2007 in New Brunswick, and it was created in order to give people a paid day off in February to rest and spend time with their families. Ontario first began… Read More

My Review of The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Earlier this year, I blogged about my to-watch list of science fiction and fantasy films. Since then, I’ve been periodically reviewing certain films that I enjoyed and thought you all might like, too. Previous instalments in this series include Into the Forest, Annihilation, Coco, Winchester, The Little Stranger, and Astraea. This is a spoiler-free review.  The… Read More

Hopeful Science Fiction: Astraea

Last June I blogged about my desire to read more hopeful science fiction. Since then I’ve talked about Woman on the Edge of Time, The Lovely Bones and Semiosis. Today I’m back with another recommendation for hopeful sci-fi, and this time it’s a film!  If you have recommendations for future instalments of this series, I’d sure like to… Read More

Don’t Make a Sound: A Review of A Quiet Place

Earlier this year, I blogged about my to-watch list of science fiction and fantasy films. Since then, I’ve been periodically reviewing certain films that I enjoyed and thought you all might like, too. Previous instalments in this series include Into the Forest, Annihilation, Coco, Winchester, and The Little Stranger. Content warning: death of a dog and… Read More