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Recommended Reading 12

This week’s links and readings add up to an exceptionally rich and varied smorgasbord. Topics include: planetary environmental Armageddon plus other modes of doom, along with the American psychology of denial regarding the true direness of our present situation; the authentic rise of an American totalitarian state along the lines of Nuremberg; the egregiously overlooked (by formal policymakers and pundits) role of religion as a causative and formative factor in world affairs; Facebook’s Promethean desire to reshape the world and suck up all of its money with our collective personal data; the manipulation of our neurochemical responses by modern technology and advertising to induce maximum addiction; our perpetual state of chronic enslavement to clock time; a call to end the insanity of “maximum productivity” and build a more human and humane economy; a blessedly clear-sighted graduation speech that tells kids they’re not at all special; a defense of the value — not just aesthetic but political — of formally correct English; examinations of the cultural influences on Prometheus, the American gothic legacy of Ray Bradbury, and the exquisite horror of fairy tales; and a wonderful explanation of why reading Robert Anton Wilson is actually good for you.

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A Lovecraftian tragedy? ‘Prometheus’ may have finally killed del Toro’s ‘At the Mountains of Madness’

The sad news is currently sweeping through the fantasy/SF/horror community and the movie-oriented corridors of the Interwebs: Guillermo del Toro has publicly announced that his long-anticipated adaptation of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness is really and truly dead. What’s more, the (unintentional) culprit is Ridley Scott’s forthcoming Prometheus.

Say what? I wrote a recent column for SF Signal about the thematic links between Prometheus and HPL’s ATMOM, but I never expected to hear that del Toro would take the new film as a cue to abandon ship with his own project. So now I’ve written another column to process this information:

A couple of weeks ago, I used this space to speculate about the possibility that director Ridley Scott’s forthcoming Prometheus may prove to be a kind of heady hybridizing of 2001: A Space Odyssey with Lovecraftian horror. Now comes the news that the Lovecraftian elements of Prometheus may be so close to certain key aspects of Guillermo del Toro’s long-planned and long-anticipated adaptation of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness that they may have killed the project. And this comes straight from the mouth, or rather the keyboard, of the man himself.

…So now we are, I suppose, left with the hope that Prometheus will deliver these cosmic horrific philosophical-emotional goods…But this doesn’t soften the blow of losing del Toro’s take on Lovecraft’s novel, especially since, as The New Yorker‘s Zelewski reported, “Del Toro had hoped that a greenlight for ‘Madness’ would mark a new golden age for horror films” and had been planning to use the project as a cinematic channel for an authentically Lovecraftian sense of cosmic dread: “Del Toro loves the story in part because Lovecraft combines terror — the panicked effort to escape the creatures — with metaphysical horror: ‘The book essentially says how scary it is to realize that we are a cosmic joke.’”

Here’s the full piece: Guillermo del Toro Says ‘Prometheus’ Has Effectively Killed ‘At the Mountains of Madness’

Will Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ be a Lovecraftian ‘2001’?

In the latest installment of Stained Glass Gothic, my intermittent column for SF Signal, I raise the question of whether director Ridley Scott’s forthcoming science fiction/horror film Prometheus will be, in effect, a hybrid film of ideas that invokes and resonates with themes previously explored by Stanley Kubrick (and Arthur Clarke) in 2001: A Space Odyssey and by Lovecraft in his cosmic-literary mythos of ancient extraterrestrials and other-dimensional beings who interacted with humans in prehistory and, as Lovecraft frames it in At the Mountains of Madness, may even have created human life. It’s a column full of film trailers, discussion, and speculative analysis.

Here’s an excerpt:

It’s been a long time since I’ve so eagerly anticipated an upcoming film. Prometheus, which is slated for a June 8 release, feels to me like a cultural, psychological, and philosophical landmark even before I’ve seen it. And its profound resonance with two other cultural, psychological, and philosophical landmarks in the history of science fiction is become more clearly evident with each passing day and each newly released marketing item.

[…] It feels awesomely relevant, as if it’s set to channel the psychic energy of the epic Age of Apocalypse that we collectively entered with the dawn of the 21st century. To merge the Frankensteinian theme of Promethean overreach with the real-world crossover theme of the imminent discovery of human life’s ultimate origins, and to wrap it all in a horror-leaning take on the ancient alien hypothesis that channels the implicit but definite presence of H.P. Lovecraft and his mythos of cosmic monstrousness, seems, well, epic.

Full column:Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’: A Lovecraftian ‘2001’?“, Matt Cardin, SF Signal, April 23, 2012

Recommended Reading 4

In this week’s roundup of recommended reading: various developments in the ongoing global economic collapse, more dystopian/totalitarian trends, the problem with America’s enduring attitude of techno-worship, the crisis in America’s education system, an earthshaking religious discovery in the Middle East, Dan Simmons on the creative daemon muse, and the imminent promise of true cinematic brilliance in Prometheus.

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