Mark David Major | Author and Artist http://www.markdmajor.com Sat, 04 Nov 2017 12:37:09 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 http://www.markdmajor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/mark_120dpi-60x60.jpg Mark David Major | Author and Artist http://www.markdmajor.com 32 32 FILM REVIEW | The Girl on the Train (2016) http://www.markdmajor.com/film-review-girl-train/ http://www.markdmajor.com/film-review-girl-train/#respond Sat, 04 Nov 2017 12:34:26 +0000 http://www.markdmajor.com/?p=1480 FILM REVIEW | The Girl on the Train (2016) Starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, and Luke Evans Written by Erin Cressida...

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FILM REVIEW | The Girl on the Train (2016)
Starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, and Luke Evans
Written by Erin Cressida Wilson based on the novel by Paula Hawkins; Directed by Tate Taylor
Review by Mark David Major

(Film blurb begins) Rachel, devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds. Based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling novel. (Film blurb ends)

The Girl on the Train (2016) starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, and Haley Bennett is a disappointing film, especially after reading Paula Hawkins’ source material. It was always going to be difficult to adapt The Girl on the Train to film due to the first person perspective of the novel (as told from the point of view of the characters played by Blunt, Ferguson, and Bennett in the film). Why the producers/studio/writer then furthered complicated the task by changing the setting from London to New York is bizarre, to say the least. Anyone familiar with trains in England and the United States understands there is a kind of intimacy between the trains and houses/buildings along the tracks in London, which tends not to exist in America. This flaw comes to the forefront during the pivotal scene of the story when Rachel’s eyesight suddenly develops an incredible zoom capability because otherwise, the houses are so far back from the tracks that very little is discernible from the train (especially since the train rarely stops in the film though the regular stop at this location due to the signal is a key component of the story in the novel). This New York setting leads to a series of questionable casting choices. I was very happy to see Haley Bennett again though I don’t think she was right for the role of Megan. Emily Blunt should be perfect for the role of Rachel but she also seems discombobulated by the setting change. While she continues to speak in an English accent, other non-American actors such as Luke Evans and Rebecca Ferguson adopt an American accent. It is almost like Blunt realized the magnitude the producers’ error but she could not do anything about it. However, it affects her performance, which seems unnecessarily melodramatic. The Girl on the Train is a film where the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Mark’s Grade: C

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BOOK REVIEW | The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins http://www.markdmajor.com/book-review-girl-train/ http://www.markdmajor.com/book-review-girl-train/#respond Thu, 07 Sep 2017 08:44:59 +0000 http://www.markdmajor.com/?p=1473 BOOK REVIEW | The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins Review by Mark David Major (Book blurb begins) Every day the same… Rachel takes the...

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BOOK REVIEW | The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Review by Mark David Major

(Book blurb begins) Every day the same… Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life — as she sees it — is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. Until today… And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon, she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? (Book blurb ends)

When I began reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, my first reaction was ‘Oh no, not another first person narrative?!?!’ I have previously expressed some frustration about the recent flood of first person narratives in contemporary literature. On one hand, such egocentric perspectives seem entirely appropriate to our culture and time. On the other hand, it is all-too-easy for some writers to manipulate readers with contrived plot twists using first person narratives. By nature, such egocentric perspectives are relative and unreliable (for example, 14-year old Katniss’ perspective of Panem in The Hunger Games). However, given this misgiving, it is to Paula Hawkins’ inestimable credit as a writer that her debut novel quickly pulled me into its world of suburbia crime, betrayal, and intrigue. Hawkins’ crafts a well-paced plot composed of interesting and believable characters in compelling situations, especially the female characters. The male characters come off as somewhat ‘all men are potential rapists’ one-dimensional stereotypes. One could argue this is entirely in keeping with the feminine perspective of the story but it is a little too black and white for the real world. It leaves one with the stereotypical conclusion that some women have really, really bad taste in men. It might be an interesting exercise if Hawkins wrote a companion novel (The Man in the House?) telling the same story from the perspective of the male characters. I, for one, would be intrigued to hear Scott Hipwell’s perspective about the characters and events in this novel. Mark’s Grade:

The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

Paperback, English, 416 pages
Riverhead Books; Mti Rep edition (August 23, 2016)
ISBN-10:0735212163
ISBN-13: 978-0735212169

You can purchase The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins on Amazon here.

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BOOK REVIEW | Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke http://www.markdmajor.com/childhoods-end/ http://www.markdmajor.com/childhoods-end/#respond Thu, 27 Jul 2017 12:47:30 +0000 http://www.markdmajor.com/?p=1462 “A first-rate tour de force.” – The New York Times “Frighteningly logical, believable, and grimly prophetic… [Arthur C.] Clarke is a master.” – Los Angeles Times...

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“A first-rate tour de force.” – The New York Times

“Frighteningly logical, believable, and grimly prophetic… [Arthur C.] Clarke is a master.” – Los Angeles Times

“There has been nothing like it for years; partly for the actual invention, but partly because here we meet a modern author who understands that there may be things that have a higher claim on humanity than its own ‘survival.’ ” – C. S. Lewis

BOOK REVIEW | Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
Review By Mark David Major

(Book blurb begins) Childhood’s End is one of the defining legacies of Arthur C. Clarke, the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey and many other groundbreaking works. Since its publication in 1953, this prescient novel about first contact gone wrong has come to be regarded not only as a science fiction classic but as a literary thriller of the highest order. Spaceships have suddenly appeared in the skies above every city on the planet. Inside is an intellectually, technologically, and militarily superior alien race known as the Overlords. At first, their demands seem benevolent: unify Earth, eliminate poverty, end war. But at what cost? To those who resist, it is clear that the Overlords have an agenda of their own. Has their arrival marked the end of humankind… or the beginning? (Book blurb ends)

Over the years, I have read books I love, books that I enjoy, and books ranging from merely OK to severely overrated. However, it has been a while since I read a book that truly blew me away. Childhood’s End (1953) by Arthur C. Clarke blew me away. Clarke’s prose is easy to read. The story of Childhood’s End itself manages to be, simultaneously, wonderful and bleak, tragic and triumphant. It achieves an amazing narrative balance. Childhood’s End is the best Arthur C. Clarke book I have ever read – and I have read quite a few – period, end of story. For years, I have been saying that, in my opinion, The Martian Chronicles (1950) by Ray Bradbury was the best science fiction novel ever. I have no qualms about saying Childhood’s End is its equal. Truly, a masterpiece of literature in general; and specifically, for the science fiction genre. Mark’s Grade:

Childhood’s End
by Arthur C. Clarke

Paperback, English, 256 pages
Del Rey; 1st Impact ed edition (July 3, 2001)
ISBN-10: 0345444051
ISBN-13: 978-0345444059

Do yourself a favor and buy Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke on Amazon right now here.

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FILM REVIEW | Inside Job http://www.markdmajor.com/film-review-inside-job/ http://www.markdmajor.com/film-review-inside-job/#respond Wed, 02 Aug 2017 19:55:05 +0000 http://www.markdmajor.com/?p=1454 Inside Job (2010) Narration by Matt Damon Directed by Charles Ferguson; Written by Charles Ferguson, Chad Beck, and Adam Bolt Review by Mark David Major (Film blurb...

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Inside Job (2010)
Narration by Matt Damon
Directed by Charles Ferguson; Written by Charles Ferguson, Chad Beck, and Adam Bolt
Review by Mark David Major

(Film blurb begins) From Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, Charles Ferguson, comes Inside Job, the first film to expose the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008 (Reviewer’s note: not really). The global financial meltdown, at a cost of over $20 trillion, resulted in millions of people losing their homes and jobs. Through extensive research and interviews with major financial insiders, politicians and journalists, Inside Job traces the rise of a rogue industry and unveils the corrosive relationships which have corrupted politics, regulation and academia. (Film blurb ends)

Yes, Inside Job (2010) examines the 2008 Financial Crisis through the rose-tinted glasses of the far political left in America (center-left in Europe). In part, there is little doubt the film provides a contextual basis for the rise of Bernie Sanders and the Occupy Wall Street movement. However, this also means there are important parts of the economic, political, and regulatory story that are glossed over, missing, or (perhaps purposefully) ignored. For example, Inside Job begins its story – as you might expect – with the Reagan Administration (the left cannot ever stop itself from blaming Ronald Reagan for most anything) though the story actually goes much further back to the late 1960s/early 1970s during the Johnson and Nixon Administrations. But that would implicate a time of overwhelming Democratic legislative power at the Federal level, so the phrase ‘mortgage bond’ is not mentioned once in this film nor is the transition of FreddieMac and FannieMae into publicly-traded entities discussed. To be fair, this film was released in 2010 and probably filmed mostly in 2009. Some of these other crucial aspects about the 2008 Financial Crisis might not have yet come fully into the light. Having made this disclaimer, Inside Job is well worth the time to watch (with a little grain of salt, e.g. critical thought) as it does fill in some interesting gaps in the story. For example, I was absolutely shocked that American academics in the field of economics do not cite funding sources or potential financial conflicts of interest at the end of published reports and articles. I could not find anything but I would not be surprised to discover that George Soros partially funded this film. This Academy Award-winning Best Documentary is definitely worth the watch but all audiences should approach with extreme care. Mark’s Grade: B+

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FILM REVIEW | Suicide Squad and Independence Day: Resurgence http://www.markdmajor.com/film-review-suicide-squad-independence-day-resurgence/ http://www.markdmajor.com/film-review-suicide-squad-independence-day-resurgence/#respond Sun, 30 Jul 2017 14:04:20 +0000 http://www.markdmajor.com/?p=1443 FILM REVIEW | Suicide Squad and Independence Day: Resurgence Reviews by Mark David Major Suicide Squad (2016) Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, and...

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FILM REVIEW | Suicide Squad and Independence Day: Resurgence
Reviews by Mark David Major

Suicide Squad (2016)
Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, and Margot Robbie
Written and Directed by David Ayer

(Film blurb begins) From director David Ayer comes Suicide Squad, starring Oscar nominee Will Smith, Oscar winner Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, and Oscar nominee Viola Davis. It feels good to be bad… Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself? (Film blurb ends)

I thought Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice did not make any sense but then I saw Suicide Squad (2016). Now, I have to completely re-evaluate my concept of ‘not making sense.’ Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is the most interesting and funniest ‘bad guy’ in this film but almost all of her best lines/scenes were already spoiled in the trailers (just like DC Comics). Jared Leto’s Joker had potential but the metal grill teeth is a huge visual distraction. There is not much else of interest (directing, acting, story, etc.) in this film and a loaded soundtrack (Queen, Rolling Stones, Eminem, etc.) cannot cover the numerous flaws. Mark’s Grade: D

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
Starring Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, and William Fichtner
Written by Seven People; Directed by Roland Emmerich

(Film blurb begins) We always knew they were coming back. After Independence Day redefined the event movie genre (Reviewer’s note: not really), the next epic chapter delivers global catastrophe on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction. (Film blurb ends)

Is Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) as bad as the critics say? No. Is it a good film? Well, no but it is not a horrible film, either. Resurgence is just as silly as the original, perhaps even more so. For example, Judd Hirsch’s character somehow manages to drive cross-country from the U.S. East Coast to Area 51 in Nevada in a matter of hours. The real problem with Independence Day: Resurgence is the new, younger cast members are so bland. In 1996, characters masked fear of extinction with naive arrogance (Will Smith, Bill Pullman) or obvious insanity (Randy Quaid). In this film, younger characters mask fear with even heavier doses of somberness. It is boring. Liam Hemsworth is the only new addition who escapes the film with some credibility. Maika Monroe is a huge disappointment (especially after her performance as Ringer in The 5th Wave). Jessie T. Usher as Will Smith’s son is plain awful. So it is left to the older, returning characters to inject some life (such as it is) into this film like Jeff Goldblum, William Fichtner, and Brent Spiner. Charlotte Gainsbourg as an older, romantic interest for Goldblum’s character is actually the most interesting new character. There is not nearly enough humor in evidence to keep a silly, popcorn film like this afloat. Resurgence has seven credits for the script. In keeping with the themes of Independence Day (everything plus the kitchen sink), when you have seven scriptwriters, you might as well get seven more and throw in couple of comedians as well. The film needed the help. It is still watchable but… Mark’s Grade: C-

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BOOK REVIEW | The Last Star | The 5th Wave Series http://www.markdmajor.com/book-review-last-star-5th-wave-series/ http://www.markdmajor.com/book-review-last-star-5th-wave-series/#respond Wed, 09 Aug 2017 21:49:18 +0000 http://www.markdmajor.com/?p=1433 BOOK REVIEW | The Last Star (The Third Book in The 5th Wave Series) by Rick Yancey Review by Mark David Major (Book blurb begins) The...

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BOOK REVIEW | The Last Star (The Third Book in The 5th Wave Series)
by Rick Yancey
Review by Mark David Major

(Book blurb begins) The highly-anticipated finale to the New York Times bestselling The 5th Wave series. The enemy is Other. The enemy is us. They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us. But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves. In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves… or saving what makes us human. (Book blurb ends)

Apparently, multi-character/first person narratives are a ‘thing’ now (A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones series, The Expanse series, the third book in the Divergent series, and so forth). I am not sure who is to blame for this literary trend. For the multi-character perspective, probably George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire). However, this has blended with first person/female-perspective narratives (Twilight series, The Hunger Games series and so forth) into what seems to have become the dominant form of literature today. Of course, there is nothing wrong with first person narratives. They are great for deeper, more meaningful characterizations. The problem is multi-narrative/first person narratives is all-too-adaptable for covering gapping plots holes in a story under a mask of the relativistic, ego-centric perspectives of the characters.

In fact, this is the greatest accomplishment of Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series. The particulars of the alien invasion in The 5th Wave series does not make sense. Almost every character discusses (either among themselves or using their inner monologue) at one time or another in the series how this alien invasion does not make any sense. Some readers will appreciate Yancey’s audacity in attempting to turn the fact of all-too-apparent-nonsense from a liability into an asset within the context of the story. It forces the readers into their own ‘fight-or-flight’ decision about the trilogy, i.e. ignore the plot holes, enjoy the characterizations – which are compelling, for the most past – and fight through to the end or give up and flee the series entirely. Yancey heavily relies on the fact that a lot of his readers will be anal retentive completists (like myself), who hate to leave anything (be it a book, job, etc.) undone. This means most readers will enjoy the journey that The 5th Wave – and its concluding book, The Last Star – take us on but we will not take much away because the plot holes are so gapping, which Yancey works so hard to distract the reader from them. In the end, this is an alien invasion story without any aliens (perhaps… maybe… not sure). SPOILER ALERT! Like the Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, Yancey’s protagonist in The 5th Wave trilogy willingly pays the ultimate sacrifice to set things to right. Also, like Veronica Roth’s Four in the Divergent series, Yancey realizes at some point that his chosen protagonist is not the most interesting character, which would be Ringer in these novels. Both books series struggle under the realization of both author and reader alike.

In the end, what is The 5th Wave story about? Love conquers all? We have seen the enemy and he is us? The soul of the universe can be found in the dead eyes of a teddy bear? I am still not sure. Even the book blurb above seems confused about the matter. More importantly, I am not going to worry too much about it. Mark’s Grade:

The Last Star (The Third Book in The 5th Wave Series)
by Rick Yancey
Paperback, English, 368 pages
Speak; Reprint edition (May 23, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0142425877
ISBN-13: 978-0142425879

You can purchase The Last Star by Rick Yancey on Amazon here.

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FILM REVIEW | Wonder Woman (2017) http://www.markdmajor.com/film-review-wonder-woman-2017/ http://www.markdmajor.com/film-review-wonder-woman-2017/#respond Wed, 12 Jul 2017 12:46:23 +0000 http://www.markdmajor.com/?p=1422 FILM REVIEW | Wonder Woman (2017) Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, and Robin Wright Written by Allan Heinberg and Directed by Patty Jenkins Review by...

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FILM REVIEW | Wonder Woman (2017)
Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, and Robin Wright
Written by Allan Heinberg and Directed by Patty Jenkins
Review by Mark David Major

(Film blurb begins) Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny. (Film blurb ends)

We need to consider both the recent and long-term history of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) to put Wonder Woman (2017) into its proper context. The recent half-decade run of mediocre DCEU films – shepherded in one fashion or another by Zach Snyder such as Man of Steel (2013) and Suicide Squad (2016) – established a very low standard for audiences. We are only too eager to embrace the first, halfway decent DCEU film to come our way. Is Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman a great film? No, but it is a pretty good one, which easily surpasses this recent run of mediocrity. In doing so, we can only hope it cements Snyder departure from DC and strengthens Jenkins’ role in future films. Surprisingly, the long-term history of the DCEU actually constitutes 16 films over the last 40 years. It is true all but two of these films feature Batman and Superman with the former proving far more successful than the latter, especially the first two films by Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton, respectively. Over this 40-year history, Jenkins’ Wonder Woman comfortably sits atop the middle tier of films such as The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Batman Forever (1995). It does not have the greatness of Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Burton’s Batman, or even Richard Donner’s Superman but it is close in quality to the last one.

DC Extended Universe Best-to-Worst
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
2. Batman Begins (2005)
3. Batman (1989)
4, Batman Returns (1992)
5. Superman II (1980)
6. Superman (1978)
7. Wonder Woman (2017)
8. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
9. Batman Forever (1995)
10. Superman Returns (2006)
11. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
12. Suicide Squad (2016)
13. Man of Steel (2013)
14. Batman and Robin (1997) Hard to believe Batman and Robin is not the worst film based on a DC Comics character…
15. Superman III (1983)
16. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

However, there is a promise of greatness to come in Wonder Woman, especially in Gal Gadot’s wonderfully rich portrayal of the title character, Diana Prince. Wonder Woman confirms Gadot is a star for those who might have been unaware of her supporting role in the Fast and Furious franchise. Chris Pine as the male lead (Steve Trevor) provides a sturdy, supportive presence for Gadot’s ‘fish-out-of-water’ to play off in the film. It is unfortunate the other supporting characters were not as richly drawn as Diana or Steve (for example, by comparison to Captain America’s crew in The First Avenger). I still do not know the names of Wonder Woman’s crew. Yes, the marketing of Wonder Woman suffers the same problem as other DCEU films with all of the best parts and lines already used in the trailers. Fortunately, there is a firmer foundation (namely, the script and a sense of humor) for Wonder Woman than those other films. Still, it would have been nicer for audiences if something was left for surprise. Yes, the closing CGI action scene of Wonder Woman goes on for far too long just like other DCEU films. Wonder Woman could be edited down by 15 minutes and it probably would be a better film. Oddly, the musical score does not build anything out of the catchy Wonder Woman theme song introduced in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS:DoJ). Yes, the bastardization of Greek mythology for the origin story is irritating for those in the know. For some reason, the Amazons have a odd accent. It seems for no other reason than Gadot – who is Israeli – has an unusual accent, which is the sort of thinking that gave us the ’emotional climax’ of BvS:DoJ (i.e. both of their moms were named Martha). However, if you are going to set a Wonder Woman film during World War I, then there has to be a scene of her crossing No Man’s Land. The film delivers in this regard. In fact, it is the biggest highlight. Wonder Woman is not a perfect film. It is a pretty good film in which the casting of Gadot was perfect. For DCEU, that is good enough for now because it represents a HUGE improvement over their recent stillborn films. Mark’s Grade: B

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BOOK REVIEW | The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin http://www.markdmajor.com/book-review-left-hand-darkness/ http://www.markdmajor.com/book-review-left-hand-darkness/#respond Tue, 04 Jul 2017 13:57:15 +0000 http://www.markdmajor.com/?p=1414 BOOK REVIEW | The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) by Ursula K. Le Guin Review by Mark David Major (Book blurb begins) A groundbreaking work of...

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BOOK REVIEW | The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) by Ursula K. Le Guin
Review by Mark David Major

(Book blurb begins) A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can choose – and change – their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters. Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction. (Book blurb ends)

The phrase that comes to mind about The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) by Ursula K. Le Guin is wonderfully different, especially for a genre like science fiction. Le Guin’s writing style is more akin to the lyrical qualities of Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles with an harder anthropological edge. The story itself is as fascinating as the premise (e.g. a harsh frozen planet where humans lack gender distinctions). Definitely warrants its place on many lists of “must read sci-fi/fantasy books.” Mark’s Grade:

The Left Hand of Darkness
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback, English, 304 pages
Originally published in 1969 (Ace Books Edition, 1987)
ISBN-10: 0441478123
ISBN-13: 978-0441478125

You can purchase The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin on Amazon here.

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FILM REVIEW | Jason Bourne (2016) http://www.markdmajor.com/film-review-jason-bourne/ http://www.markdmajor.com/film-review-jason-bourne/#respond Mon, 03 Jul 2017 14:53:10 +0000 http://www.markdmajor.com/?p=1387 Jason Bourne (2016) Starring Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Julia Stiles, and Alicia Vikander Written by Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse; Directed by Paul Greengrass (Film blurb begins) It’s...

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Jason Bourne (2016)
Starring Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Julia Stiles, and Alicia Vikander
Written by Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse; Directed by Paul Greengrass

(Film blurb begins) It’s been 10 years since Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) walked away from the agency that trained him to become a deadly weapon. Hoping to draw him out of the shadows, CIA director Robert Dewey assigns hacker and counterinsurgency expert Heather Lee to find him. Lee suspects that former operative Nicky Parsons is also looking for him. As she begins tracking the duo, Bourne finds himself back in action battling a sinister network that utilizes terror and technology to maintain unchecked power. (Film blurb ends)

There is nothing wrong with Jason Bourne (2016) per se, except its ambition. Take the plot of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, mix together and you get the plot of this new film. It all has a ‘been there, done that’ quality about this film franchise based on characters originally created by Robert Ludlum. The film is OK. Its certainly done well, Matt Damon still delivers in the role despite begin older, and Paul Greengrass knows how to build the tension. Tommy Lee Jones plays the resident antagonist, who represents yet another level of the Treadstone program. Julia Stiles returns as Nicky Parsons, Bourne’s former handler with whom he might have had a romantic relationship. Successive films have hinted at such a relationship enough for Stiles to sufficiently step into the Franka Potente role, providing emotional motivation for Bourne’s crusade against the deep state in this film. Alicia Vikander continues to make a strong impression as a young actress. This time she steps into the Joan Allen ‘is she playing Bourne or on Bourne’s side?’ role. Like I said: been there, done that. But still, where is left for this franchise to go if they do not change the direction and try something different? Is Bourne next going to hunt down and kill the Vice President/President at the time he was recruited to Treadstone but also, it turns out, ordered the assassination (somehow) of his long dead mother? Mark’s Grade: C+

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COMING SOON | The Syntax of City Space http://www.markdmajor.com/coming-soon-syntax-city-space/ http://www.markdmajor.com/coming-soon-syntax-city-space/#respond Thu, 06 Jul 2017 13:47:27 +0000 http://www.markdmajor.com/?p=1378 The Syntax of City Space: American Urban Grids by Mark David Major with Foreword by Ruth Conroy Dalton (co-editor of Take One Building) is now...

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The Syntax of City Space: American Urban Grids by Mark David Major with Foreword by Ruth Conroy Dalton (co-editor of Take One Building) is now available for pre-order from Routledge, Amazon, and other online retailers. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group will release The Syntax of City Space: American Urban Grids in November 2017.

Many people see American cities as a radical departure in the history of town planning because of their planned nature based on the geometrical division of the land. However, other cities of the world also began as planned towns with geometric layouts so American cities are not unique. Why did the regular grid come to so pervasively characterize American urbanism? Are American cities really so different?

The Syntax of City Space: American Urban Grids by Mark David Major with Foreword by Ruth Conroy Dalton (co-editor of Take One Building) answers these questions and much more by exploring the urban morphology of American cities. It argues American cities do represent a radical departure in the history of town planning while, simultaneously, still being subject to the same processes linking the urban network and function found in other types of cities around the world. A historical preference for regularity in town planning had a profound influence on American urbanism, which endures to this day.

Download the Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group European promotional flyer here.

The Syntax of City Space: American Urban Grids is available for pre-order purchase with Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, Amazon, Waterstones and Foyles in the UK as well as other online retailers around the world.

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About the Author
Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A is a Professor of Urban Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He is a graduate of Clemson University, University College London, and the University of London.

The Syntax of City Space: American Urban Grids
by Mark David Major with Foreword by Ruth Conroy Dalton
Hardcover, English, 260 pages
Routledge, First Edition (November 2017)
ISBN-10: 1138301566
ISBN-13: 978-1138301566

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