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hugo voting closes tonight! plus my thoughts on dune, the eternals, and where you can hear my voice this week

kat kourbeti
kat kourbeti
welcome back to honest to blog, a newsletter with thoughts about writing, movies, music, science fiction and fantasy, and general creative process blah. if you were forwarded this email, you can subscribe (and read the full archive) here.

vote 'strange horizons' to save a life*
first things first: have you voted for the hugos yet?
this movie is 2.5 hours of ~mood~ and i'm here for it,  but...
this movie is 2.5 hours of ~mood~ and i'm here for it, but...
unpopular opinion #1: dune kinda sucked, actually
now don’t get me wrong: is dune (2021) an absolute mood piece?? YES, and the mood is SOMBRE, and UNEASY, and SUSPENSEFUL, and also bloody GORGEOUS. i am so here for the brutalist architecture (down to the ships!! hell yes!!), the costumes, hans zimmer’s unsettling and evocative score, the muted desert palette, the cast, just the overall ~vibes~ of it all, holy sh*t. it’s everything i love about sci-fi, on a macro level.
…except it’s not a full movie though. somewhere between getting all the individual details adapted right (or so i’m told) and making sure the film is crafted perfectly from all angles, someone forgot to tell a damn story, or to make me care about the fate of any person involved in it. i have not read the books, and so don’t already have a base knowledge of who these people are, or why i should care if they die or not. i had a distinct moment while watching the film (around the climactic big action scene, funnily enough) where i thought “huh… the POV is absolutely arbitrary. if they all die right now i wouldn’t even be sad about it”.
i’m gonna hazard a guess and say that’s probably not the desired effect denis villeneuve was going for here.
maybe it’ll all come together with part 2, which is now confirmed for a 2023 release, and you bet i’m absolutely going to go see it and bathe myself in the sombre brutalist gorgeousness of it all… but i would have liked this to work on its own, too. much like any part of any series (whether book/tv/film), it ought to have its own narrative arc, a beginning/middle/end, an emotional journey with catharsis and trepidation that could’ve left us at a cliffhanger where the uncertain fate of these characters actually meant something. as it stands, it’s 2.5 hours of beginning, and while i feel like i know the broad strokes of the world and some of the people in it, i simultaneously don’t really know anything, or care about anyone, and that’s a damn shame.
verdict: ⭐⭐⭐; was considering giving it an extra star because of the ~vibe~ being perfect, but alas, that does not a good movie make. i really wanted to like this more than i did ☹️
uh oh, i think i love this movie a lot
uh oh, i think i love this movie a lot
unpopular opinion #2: eternals is kinda great, actually
people really came for this movie before it was even out, which is not all that surprising given the director is a woman, but i had a sense i’d be into it because the themes that were apparent from the trailer were so my thing. i wrote a twitter thread a day or so after seeing it that i stand by:
kat kourbeti ✨
Firmly in the minority here but I kinda LOVED #Eternals, in big part because it shares some thematic elements and tropes with my longest standing WIP; large-scale questions about humanity and fate packaged into immortal characters' pathos?! Sign me up fam
kat kourbeti ✨
It's not without its weaknesses, namely one MacGuffin/subplot too many and surprisingly bland performances from people like Salma Hayek (why??) - but overall it was so my vibe that it invoked memories of watching Thor (2011) which as y'all know is my fave Marvel movie of all time
kat kourbeti ✨
I'm just here for slow, introspective, Shakespearean-scale space fantasy with occasional action sequences lol, gimme soliloquies and long-drawn arguments about the fate of mankind and war and cosmic destiny (and dysfunctional families) ✨💫
(there’s more tweets with spoilers underneath, so click any of the tweets above to read on if you’re into that)
i have been listening to the score since watching this as well (ramin djawadi strikes again!) and thinking about why these themes have resonated so much with me through the years. my decade-long, paradise lost-inspired WIP has SO MUCH in common with this (swap the eternals for angels and there you have it) that i found myself buzzing throughout this movie with yes and that’s awesome and that character’s so cool. i kinda love where it sits in the MCU mythos as well, snug inbetween thor and guardians (which are two of my faves, for different reasons).
is it a bit ambitious for a two-hour superhero film? absolutely. there was a great piece by leah schnelbach on that i agree with 100%, about how eternals is marvel’s first ever existentialist movie, and how that can be pretty heavy for some people, but it’s also a great time for others:
Eternals is basically “Let’s Attack and Dethrone God: The Movie,” with a lot of fraught debate about whether that’s the correct thing to do, who gets to decide (deicide?), what the consequences will be, whether humanity is worth those consequences, etc. etc. And maybe your mileage varied, but for me that’s a fun fucking night out at the movies.
anyway, listen–i’m the weirdo who enjoys reading the silmarillion more than the lord of the rings; big picture things are my jam. so my verdict is ⭐⭐⭐⭐ and i ain’t even sorry.
where you can find my latest stuff
i'm briefly featured on KBP's October news round-up!
i also had the chance to meet up with the kneel before blog/pod team last week for host Craig’s housewarming party! it was my first trip out of london since march 2020, which is crazy to think about, and it was such a good time seeing everyone and having a good old-fashioned catch up. what’s more, craig went ahead and commissioned an awesome canvas print of us all as mcu characters!! one guess as to who i am:
It’s finally time to reveal this commission I made for @KneelBeforeBlog!
The Avengers theme was so fun! I loved playing in the Marvel Universe for this one.
They’re a fun group of people, check out their podcast if you haven’t already 💜
(flashbacks to my days working in cinemas, with “thor” plastered under my name as my favourite movie… still have that name badge somewhere!)
as always with scotland, i’m already looking forward to going back. sooner rather than later, this time, for sure!
also, i made a thing! that thing is a mug! which you can buy, and support Spectrum London in the process :)
i also designed some pretty badass stickers for Spectrum, so grab a few if you're keen ❤️
speaking of spectrum, we just wrapped our annual short story contest, and announced our winners and runners up! it was great fun for me this year as i stepped more deeply (hehe) into the organising waters, and sorted out all the admin behind the scenes. a big thank you to friend of the group, author cherae clark, for providing our winner with their grand prize, a critique of the winning story. i’m sure it’ll be invaluable as they polish the story up before submission :) cheers and onto the next one!
that’s all from me this time! as always, feel free to reply to this email with any comments and thoughts about the contents herein, or forward it to anyone you think might be interested in it (along with my thanks!).
until next time, stay safe and creative!
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like this newsletter? help me make it more regular by buying me a coffee ❤️
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kat kourbeti
kat kourbeti @darthjuno

writing, media and arts commentary from a queer g(r)eek writer of science fiction and fantasy works.

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