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Adam Miller

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II: A Conversation

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2)This past weekend, several of us here at Fantasy Matters got together and went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II.  We sat in the second row from the front (not recommended) next to this hilarious little kid who chuckled when Voldemort died.  Afterwards, we sat down and talked about the movie, the book, and the Harry Potter series in general.  Here are some of our thoughts...

We started off our conversation with Neville Longbottom:

[note: this conversation contains spoilers]

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Review: Assassin's Apprentice

I read each day on the bus.  Each morning after frantically getting ready for work and doing the 250-yard-dash to the bus stop to catch the 825 downtown, I’m able to spend a solid 23 minutes reading.  Then after work I get the same (if slightly less frantically-prepared) block of time to read and unwind.  One of my favorite experiences is finishing my book on the morning trip.  I’m able to spend the remainder of my time that day re-reading the beginning of the novel.  

Assassin's Apprentice Book Cover Beginnings of novels are strange places.  Readers are helpless, drowning in page after page of uncertainty.  Often nothing makes sense: you don’t know who the narrator is, characters are just names and especially fantasy books are stuffed full of words that sound like gibberish when you first see them.  After completing the novel the beginning is a totally different place: I can go back and find all sorts of extra depth that was invisible to me during the first read-through.  That was my experience after having completed Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice.  Especially after re-reading the beginning, I was struck by Hobb’s characters.  They are deep and complex, like real people.  There are no stock characters, and the ones that hint at less complexity also happen to be the ones that we don’t yet know well.  Each has a history that is gradually revealed over the course of the book which informs his or her choices and reactions.

Beloved’s Fool’s comment really resonates with me when I re-read it after completing the first book, especially the third paragraph:

I found the characters to be beautifully shaped and very human, very flawed in believable ways. I was so caught up in the characterizations, in fact, that it wasn't until I finished book one that I realized what Hobb had accomplished. She had slowly and subtly built this world around me as I read. Because I was learning about it along with Fitz, I didn't realize how much I was learning.

In particular, I like the description of the characters as “flawed in believable ways.”  To this I would add that the characters are also scarred by their experiences in very convincing ways. For example, the main character of The Assassin’s Apprentice, Fitz Farseer, lacks self-confidence, but in a way that makes him seem real, rather than in a way that beats you over the head with his potential for character development.

[Mild Spoilers to follow]

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BSFME Contestant #5: The Matrix

If you're just joining us, this week is "Best Science Fiction Movie Ever" Week here at Fantasy Matters.  You can read about the other contestants here; in this post, Adam Miller makes a case for his favorite--The Matrix.


The MatrixWill you take the red pill or the blue pill? 

Even thought it's been more than 10 years since The Matrix was released, this concept still shows up regularly in TV shows, books, and everday conversations.  Sure, 10 years might not seem like that much, but these days, when you consider how much the world as we actually know it has changed in the last decade, for a movie to continue to be a plausible vision of the future is a remarkable feat.  Science fiction movies don't tend to withstand the test of time.  Vangelis' electronic soundtrack for Blade Runner starts to sound a bit tinny, and The Planet of the Apes looks like an unfortunate costume party.  The Matrix, on the other hand, seems more and more possible in an age where the line between physical and digital reality becomes ever more difficult to distinguish.  While many films have taglines that catch on, this one is different because it alludes to the fundamentally different way that The Matrix made us think about reality.

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What to read next -- Poll Results!

First of all, thanks to all the people who voted this past week - this was Fantasy-Matters' first poll of all time, and it turned out great.  The winner of the what to read next poll was Robin Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice.  I'll be heading out to a local bookstore later today to pick it up, and from what I've heard, I won't be disappointed.

Thanks again!

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Of Jedi and Gamers

I’m not sure I can really consider myself a ‘gamer’.  I play video games a lot, that’s not in question.  In fact, I probably play them too much.  The part that makes me question my gamer-ness is my unwillingness to try new games.  I get stuck.  I played Total Annihilation (Gamespot’s Game of the year 1997) as my game of choice until I started playing World of Warcraft in 2005.  I got stuck on WoW for much longer than I’d like to admit and then Supreme Commander came along and I’ve been playing that ever since I found it.  I play other games, sure (Company of Heroes Online and C&C Red Alert 2 etc etc), but not for long, and I even when I do, my heart is always soon back on one of my old standbys.  Because of this, I’m not often tempted by new releases.  A game generally needs to be out for a while before I’ll hear about it and try it. That’s why it seems so strange that I’m excited about the new Star Wars themed MMO from BioWare. 

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