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Showing posts from October, 2011

The Time Machine

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‘Scientific people know very well that Time is only a kind of Space’, says the Traveller in Wells's The Time Machine. That being so, of course, it is incumbent upon him to explore it. He mounts his chrono-cycle with only a few items in his pocket, and sets off into the future. I'm always reminded of pictures taken of Empire explorers and adventurers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as the Mallory-Irvine expedition to Mount Everest in 1924. In the photo here, (from the Natural History Museum website), the expedition look as though they might be about to have a walk in slightly inclement weather somewhere on Hampstead Heath, rather than trying to ascend the highest mountain in the world. This is how I imagine the Traveller, somewhat unprepared, somewhat naive, about to trust to luck and his own wits.

The adventurer-hero of Imperial Romance is easiest identified with the figure of Allan Quartermain, protagonist of several books by H.Rider Haggard, and more recent…

Two-a-day

I've found keeping up to date on the blog difficult over the last few months. Tiredness at the end of the last academic year, then a need to rest and recuperate over the summer meant that I only posted again last week. With the new year, new ENGL365 classes beginning tomorrow, I'm going to post once a week until Christmas on a topic related to the classes the week after next is Wells and The Time Machine, so expect a post on that later in the week.

The title comes from Gibson, and Count Zero. I've never quite known what it refers to. But if I can't mange two-a-day, I'll go for once-a-week.

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Close Encounters

The other day, I caught the end of James Cameron’s The Abyss (1990) and thought: so, alien beings are angelic jellyfish that read text messages? It’s all very bathetic. The mock-profundity of the sequence where Ed Harris is saved by the underwater beings conspicuously lacks the sense of wonder that Steven Spielberg achieves in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), let alone Kubrick’s much more radical means by which to imagine the transcendent in the Stargate sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). When the giant sea/spacecraft emerges from the deep, with US Navy ships left stranded on it like so many bathtime toys, the result is curiously unengaging. There is, of course, a long-standing connection between the oceanographic and the cosmological, not least in Arthur C. Clarke’s long-standing love-affair with the sea (he abandoned Europe and went to live in Sri Lanka), but The Abyss, with its ending of a clinch between husband and wife Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, stan…