Saturday, April 16, 2022

A little something for the weekend?

By a curious fluke of the cosmos Easter (Western), Passover, and Ramadan all overlap right now, which makes this about the holiest possible weekend of the year, at least in the Western hemisphere. Personally I plan to spend as much of today and tomorrow as I possibly can with my children and grandchildren, celebrating Easter, so to my Catholic and Protestant friends, I say, Happy Easter! To my Jewish friends and relatives, I say, Chag Pesach Sameach! To my Eastern Orthodox friends, I say, Have a joyous Palm Sunday! And to my Muslim friends—actually, I’m not sure what to say, but whatever the wish is for a happy and peaceful holiday, I sincerely wish it for you.

Now, as for the rest of you lot…

In the 1970s there were a spate of what Larry Niven termed “Big Rock Hits Earth” novels. The best known now is probably Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, although I have a personal fondness for Shiva Descending, by Greg Benford and William Rotsler. There were many more such novels, all mostly forgotten now, and I don’t know how or if there were any direct connections between any of these novels and the spate of cheesy disaster movies like Armageddon and Deep Impact that appeared in the 1990s—the lack of known plagiarism lawsuits suggests otherwise, or at least that there was nothing actionable—

Suffice to say, the “Big Rock Hits Earth” story usually unfolds with the same beats:

  1. Minor/amateur astronomer protagonist working in remote/minor observatory someplace discovers that Big Rock is heading straight for Earth.

  2. Protagonist struggles to convince the authorities that the Earth is DOOMED! but no one takes them seriously.

  3. Until protagonist manages to get through to one person in a position of authority, who looks at the protagonist’s data, smites their forehead and says, “My God, it’s true!” and becomes a champion for the protagonist.

  4. Whereupon the authorities are roused to action and do something incredibly grand and heroic, to unite all mankind in the face of this impending disaster.

  5. And in the end, by the barest skin of our teeth, humanity survives, and a new day dawns, etc., etc.

With that established: now I want you to imagine a “Big Rock Hits Earth” novel as if written by Douglas Adams and made into a film by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, only with American actors and an American blockbuster movie budget. (Sidebar: Ron Perlman does a great Bruce Willis in step 4, and the “new day dawns” ending is hilarious.)

That’s what DON’T LOOK UP is: a 95-percent brilliant and viciously satirical story about a society (ours) that really deserves to be satirized savagely and without mercy and then have a big rock dropped on it, and about a 5-percent bummer of the self-realization, “Boy, we really are that screwed up, aren’t we?” sort. 

It’s not what I’d call a “feel-good” movie. But first it will make you laugh and then it will make you think, and I love it when a movie can do that, because it’s so rare.  



Because it was 24° with snow flurries this morning and this weather is supposed to continue through the weekend, and because SHOWCASE contains Sipora Coffelt's story, "Finding Spring," about a girl stuck in a world where winter never ends, we’re doing a free e-book promo. This weekend only, the Kindle edition of SHOWCASE is free for the price of a click. Tell your friends. Share the link.