Halloween Scare: Disney Buys Star Wars!

Actually, all of Lucasfilm, including Industrial Light and Magic. They’re planning to have a new Star Wars movie for us by 2015. And if that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. (Well, okay, maybe a hurricane.) In the last few years, Disney has acquired Pixar, Marvel, and now Lucasfilm. That’s a lot of heavy lifting, money-wise (over $4 billion  for Lucasfilm alone), and gives you some idea of how much gold the Mouse is carrying around.

But is it a bad thing, or a good one? Well, the Disney ownerships doesn’t seem to have hurt Pixar too much. And Marvel seems to be doing okay, judging by The Avengers. But Star Wars? Will we be glad to have another episode, and then another? Certainly the empire has been faltering creatively for decades, so it may be that new blood in the driver’s seat will be just what we need. But here’s some perspective offered by Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr:

The new “Star Wars” will come in 3D, IMAX, and someday — who knows? — holo-vision and jack-in brain cinema. But Disney CEO Iger’s announcement of the Lucasfilm acquisition is telling. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including ‘Star Wars,’ one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”

There are certain things missing from that sentence, words like movie and story and characters.

Yeah, there is that. 

Meanwhile, in book publishing, Random House and Penguin are merging, and I can’t  think of too many examples of giant publishers merging that have been good for either writers or readers. Will this merger better enable them to meet the challenges of ebooks, and promotion through social networking? Well… Richard Bowker has some thoughts on the question. They pretty much mirror my own, so I’ll give him the floor. 

$160 Billion Damage to New York City!

That’s the estimated cost for direct damage, economic impact, cleanup time, and loss of life resulting from the battle between our heroes and the minions of Loki, as depicted in the movie The Avengers. That’s according to Kinetic Analysis Corp., a leading disaster-cost prediction and assessment firm, which studied the question for The Hollywood Reporter.

Deciding who is liable for the damages could prove a more daunting task than rebuilding. Notes the report: “Most insurance policies have special provisions for acts of war, civil unrest or terrorism. Given the involvement of individuals considered deities in some cultures (Thor, Loki), there is even the potential to classify the event as an ‘act of God,’ though that designation would be subject to strenuous theological and legal debate.” I’ll say. Being a lawyer on that case could be job security for life!

The Avengers

For once, we got to a movie right after it opened! Four rockets for us, and four for The Avengers! The whole family went to the theater on Saturday afternoon (to the 2D version), and we all came out  grinning. (Despite having to sit in the very front row, on the side.) The movie is absolutely great fun, with lots of good repartee, and you can enjoy it without knowing the Marvel Comics back story. If you liked Ironman, you’ll like The Avengers.

I was never really a Marvel Comics reader. I grew up with Superman and Batman, but by the time the Marvel universe hit its stride, I had stopped following the comics. (Sorry about that. [Says me to my inner geek.]) In fact, my first exposure to Ironman was the movie, and ditto with the Marvel version of Thor, and with Captain America. So I can’t tell you how well the movie fulfilled the promise of the printed word. But I can tell you that it’s a pile of fun, even if you don’t know the characters in depth. Joss Whedon did a bang-up job, as Jon Favreau did with the first Ironman film.

Oh—and sit through the credits. There are two Easter eggs, one midway through the credits, and one at the very end.

Happy 2012!

It’s not quite midnight here in California, where Allysen and I are visiting her brother and family, but we jointly decided to call it New Year at 9:00, when we knew the ball had dropped in Times Square. (Well, call it faith; we didn’t actually check online to see if midnight had come to the Eastern time zone, but I’m pretty sure it did.) We’re having a very nice visit, except that I’m fighting off a cold or something, and hoping I don’t give it to anyone else.  We went to see TinTin today, and thoroughly enjoyed it in 3D, after an aborted effort to see it in Imax 3D. (The volume was earsplitting, and the theater people said they couldn’t turn it down. We weren’t the only ones asking for refunds on the Imax tickets.) Anyway, in regular 3D, and regular volume, it was a fun movie, even if it went on a little too long in the action sequences. 

Two of my good friends are taking the ebook plunge, and I thought this would be a good time to introduce them. First off is Richard Bowker, author of a bunch of novels ranging from straight SF (Forbidden Santuary) to supernatural fantasy (Marlborough Street) to techno-thriller (Replica) to SF-mystery (Dover Beach) to straight-up political mystery (Summit and Senator). He’s been out of print for a while, and has just created a website and blog at www.richardbowker.com, where he’ll post updates on the progress of converting and self-epublishing his previously published novels. Stop by and check on his progress. When his books go up for sale, I highly recommend them. 

Mary C. Aldridge works a completely different vein: African-folklore-inspired fantasy short stories. One of her stories was a Nebula finalist (“The Adinkra Cloth”), and one won her a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Fiction Fellowship (“The Work Leader”). She has five short stories up at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/728grdn90, and I hope they’ll also appear in the Kindle and Nook stores soon. (But you can buy the needed formats for both the Kindle [.mobi] and Nook [.epub] right now.)  Mary has a remarkable talent that has been expressed too infrequently. Why not give them a look?

And in the meantime…Happy New Year!

“Legacy of Light” at Boston’s Lyric Stage

We got to the theater today, a rare treat for us, and enjoyed a terrific new play at the Lyric Stage in Boston: Legacy of Light, written by Karen Zacarias and directed by Lois Roach.  Funny and thought provoking, it focused on two women scientists—one the Enlightment figure Emilie du Chatelet, friend and lover of Voltaire, who built on the work of Isaac Newton in understanding light and energy.  The other, a fictional (I think!) astrophysicist of today, tries to make sense of herself as a mother-to-be as well as she thinks she understands the formation of a new planet circling a distant star.  Light and love and energy and collision of masses—they all come together like particles in the Large Hadron Collider, splintering and showering everything around them with new particles and life. 

The theme music is Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me with Science.” Perfect!

If you’re in the Boston area, I highly recommend it.  Legacy of Light shows through March 13 at the Lyric Stage.  If you’re outside Boston, maybe it’ll come your way soon. 

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