Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic

A couple of years ago, I picked up a book to review for SF Signal, looking for something different. That book was Roadside Picnic, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, and it turned out to be one of those books that quietly never quite left my head.

Thinking about Roadside Picnic and its authors, as well as our last column on Stanislaw Lem, we get a good starting point for examining how science fiction developed outside of the United States. Given that a lot of SF has been published here in the US, we appear to be a leader in the genre, for better or worse.

At the same time, we forget, ignore or simply don’t realize that authors such as Lem and the Strugatskys were as big as the giants in the United States: on par with Bradbury, Asimov or Heinlein. Examining their publishing experiences and approaches to the genre is good to highlight the limits and potential of genre, but also where US authors and fans tend to put on blinders for the world around them.

As awareness of foreign SF grows (see Clarksworld’s Chinese SF project, funding now), it’s important to realize that a) this isn’t a new phenomenon, and b) SF isn’t limited to the United States and England.

On top of all that, go read Roadside Picnic. It’s a phenomenal book.

Go read Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic over on Kirkus Reviews.


  • Russian Experimental Fiction: Resisting Ideology after Utopia, Edith Clowes. This is a particularly detailed volume on Russian literature, and partiularly looks at the science fiction’s complicated relationship with utopian fiction and their own country’s political history. This particular book looks at how the Strugatsky’s works fit into this.
  • Science Fiction after 1900: From the Steam Man to the Stars, Brooks Landon. Landon discusses the brothers at length, with a fairly good analysis of their works.
  • Survey of Science Fiction Literature, Frank Magill. There’s an excellent review of Roadside Picnic here.
  • Soviet Fiction Since Stalin: Science, Politics and Literature, Rosalind J. Marsh. This book has a good look at works of the brothers.
  • The Strugatsky Brothers, Stephen Potts. This is a short book, but a good overview of the brother’s works and career.
  • The History of Science Fiction, Adam Roberts. Roberts has a couple of paragraphs of the brother’s career and how it fits into a bigger picture.
  • Critical Encounters II: Writers and Themes in Science Fiction, edited by Robert Staicar. There’s an excellent essay about the brothers here.
  • Roadside Picnic, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. This was my introduction to the brothers: the 2012 translation, which threw me at first, then drew me in completely. It’s a Weird book, while also a Hard SF one at the same time. It still sticks in my mind, years after reading it. Ursula K. Le Guin opens the book, while Boris provided an afterword.

Online Sources:

  • SF Encyclopedia. As always, the SF Encyclopedia has a good, comprehensive entry on the subject, particularly when it comes to their placement in the genre.

Two obituaries for Boris, one in the Independent and one in the New York Times helped provide some details of their lives, as well as some critical look at their careers:

I hate to do it, but I had to rely a bit on Wikipedia’s entry for the brothers, which provided some minor details, although I tried to rely on entries that were backed up with sources.


The Left and Right Hands of Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin is one of science fiction’s greats: her stories Left Hand of Darkness, A Wizard of Earthsea and The Dispossessed rank among the genre’s best works, and she moves easily between science fiction and fantasy, writing things that science fiction authors had barely touched before she came onto the scene. To say she was influential is to undersell one’s words.

I have to say, of all of Le Guin’s works that I’ve read, the ones that I’ve enjoyed the most was A Wizard of Earthsea, which I read years ago. Of all the fantasy novels I’ve picked up, it’s probably one of the ones that’s stuck with me the most.

I’ll say this once: there’s some columns that have come together quickly. Others are far harder to put together: case in point, trying to summarize the influence of one of the genre’s greatest living figures, Ursula K. Le Guin. Never mind that her fiction still challenges me and makes me feel incredibly tiny, or that her words are something that I can hardly imagine coming close to in style or grace. This was a hard one to write, but rewarding, all the same.

Go read The Left and Right Hands of Ursula K. Le Guin over on Kirkus Reviews.


  • Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction, Brian Aldiss. Aldiss devotes a number of pages to Le Guin and her influence on the genre, holding her critically at arm’s length, which is interesting to see: few authors have really had this treatment in this particular book. He acknowledges her stance in the genre, but chastise her for being preachy.
  • In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, Margaret Atwood. Atwood actually dedicated this collection of essays (which is very reminiscent of Language of the Night), and devotes one essay to her, where she discusses her fiction in a very useful way.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin: A Critical Companion, by Susan Bernadro and Graham J. Murphy. This is a dedicated volume on Le Guin, and I found it to be exceptionally helpful with some publication details and commentary on her works, especially the stories I haven’t read (yet).
  • Understanding Ursula K. Le Guin, by Elizabeth Cummings. Another critical survey, this one likewise had some helpful commentary and details.
  • The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Essays on Science Fiction, by Samuel R. Delany. Delany’s complicated survey of the genre is a dense, detailed one, and contains a good section on The Disposessed.
  • The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World, by Thomas Disch. Disch’s history is a decent one that I’ve used before, but I was a little surprised to see him absolutely castigate Le Guin and other feminist authors here.
  • The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Le Guin’s book of essays on science fiction and introductions to her book is possibly one of the best non-fiction books that I’ve read on the subject. It’s an excellent demonstration that Le Guin is an utterly powerful, brilliant and intimidating figure in the genre.

Online Sources:

Octavia E. Butler: Expanding Science Fiction’s Horizons

For years, I’ve had friends tell me that I should be reading Octavia Butler’s works, especially Kindred. I actually own a copy, and it’s been sitting on my shelves for years, waiting for me to pick it up. When it came to the point where I’d start writing about the 1970s, it was pretty clear that Butler would be one of the authors that I’d be covering, and I picked up the book as part of my research. She’s a powerful author, and I’m a little sad that I didn’t read the book earlier. Researching Butler’s life is fascinating, and it’s becoming clear to me that some of the genre’s most important works emerge from outside of it’s walls.

Go read Octavia E. Butler: Expanding Science Fiction’s Horizons over on Kirkus Reviews.


Book Sources to come – I don’t have them on hand at the moment.

Pasadena College
Carl Brandon Society
McCarthur Foundation
SFWA Interview
LA Review of Books: One / Two

Many thanks as well to Steven Barnes, Ann Leckie and Gerry Canavan for their input for this.

Edward Everett Hale’s Brick Moon

The Brick Moon - FC I’ve got a bit of a bonus installment for my column on SF History. I’ve got a limited amount of space that I’ve got to work with for Kirkus, and as such, I’ve had to blow past a couple of things. Fortunately, with Jurassic London’s new release of The Brick Moon by Edward Everett Hale, I’ve had the opportunity to circle back and write about this particular novel.

The Brick Moon is the first science fiction story that uses the idea of an artificial satellite, and it’s an excellent example of what science fiction is: extrapolation into the near future. In this instance the need for a navigational beacon in the skies. It’s a cool premise, and in one fell swoop, Hale comes up with the idea for a satellite, communications satellite and space station. (Yes, Clarke came up with the idea as well. His invention is notable because it wasn’t in SF, but a non-fiction speculation).


Read Edward Everett Hale’s Brick Moon over on Pornokitsch. Here’s the sources which I used:

  • Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it, by Mike Ashley. Ashley has a nice chunk of text devoted to this book, and it provides some helpful context.
  • The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction, edited by Mark Bould, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts and Sherryl Vint. There’s a single mention in this book, but it’s a juicy one that places it in a bit of context with similar works from around the same time in Arthur B. Evan’s piece, ‘Ninteenth-Century SF.)
  • To A Distant Day, Chris Gainor. It’s not often that I get to break out books on space history. This book is about the dawn of the rocket age, from the fantastic People’s History of Spaceflight series. Hale gets a good mention here.
  • Alternate Worlds, James Gunn. Gunn has a mention of The Brick Moon, with a little background.
  • The Brick Moon, by Edward Everett Hale. This new edition from Jurassic London has an incredible historical essay on The Brick Moon, which helped provide some vital details to this piece from Richard Dunn and Marek Kukula.
  • Explorers of the Infinite: Shapers of Science Fiction. Sam Moskowitz. Moskowitz is someone I’m reluctant to use, and I’m realizing that much of the perception of SF and its history is really framed by him. There’s an entire essay about Hale, and it provides some good information, but nothing hugely specific.
  • The High Frontier, Gerard K. O’Neill. There’s a single mention of Hale in this book, about habitats in space.
  • Edward Everett Hale, Harvard Square Library. This is an excellent short biography that provides some good detail on Hale’s early life.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t put something in that Jurassic London’s edition is now available.

Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons

I’ve had a passing fascination with McCaffrey’s books over the years, even as I never really dabbled in them. (I owned one book, Dragonflight, years ago.) I was always somewhat intimidated by the sheer size and scale of the series, and I was always more interested in SF than I was Fantasy (although now, I realize that that was a bit misguided.) Anne McCaffrey was always an author I was aware of: one of the female authors alongside the Asimovs, Herberts and Heinleins in my high school library.

Yet, in recent years, as I’ve been researching, I’ve become aware that McCaffrey has occupied an important role in the genre: she’s an extremely successful female author, but she also writes in such a way (and is marketed as such) that she’s an excellent gateway into the SF world for a huge range of readers.

Go read Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons over on Kirkus Reviews.


  • Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction, Brian Aldiss. Aldiss has some excellent points about McCaffrey’s early works in his book, although she’s mentioned sparingly.
  • Transformations: The Story of the Science Fiction Magazines from 1950-1970, Mike Ashley. Ashley provides some outstanding quotes and background into how McCaffrey got her start in the genre, and especially how she was aided by John W. Campbell Jr.
  • Gateways to Forever: The Story of the Science Fiction Magazines from 1970-1980, Mike Ashley. This book follows up with Transformations, but likewise provides some good information on McCaffrey’s work.
  • Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction 1926-1965, Eric Davin. This was a particularly good source, providing some interesting background information that didn’t appear anywhere else, but also helped my thinking with how McCaffrey got into writing in the first place, but how she viewed her stories.
  • Survey of Science Fiction Literature, vol. 2, William Magill. There’s an excellent review and overview of Dragonflight in this volume.
  • Dragonholder: The Life and Dreams of Anne McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey. This was a particularly helpful source, but very poorly laid out and written. It’s jumbled, and jumps from point to point, making it difficult to locate the right information.
  • The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction, edited by Mark Bould, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts and Sherryl Vint. This text had some good background information.
  • ISFDB. As always, this is a particularly helpful site for figuring out when and where stories were published.

Hugo Gernsback: Father of Science Fiction?

With Chicon-7 coming next month, I wanted to take a look at the man behind the main event: the Hugo Award ceremony. Over on Kirkus Reviews, I’ve got a brief history of Hugo Gernsback, often called ‘The Father of Science Fiction’. While it’s true that Gernsback coined the term science fiction, we’ve seen that he’s not the founded of the genre as a whole. Rather, he’s the founder of a modern strain of science fiction, and his influence persists to this day. Read Hugo Gernsback: To Great Heights And Down Again over on Kirkus Reviews.

An interesting letter that I came across came from Alex Eisenstein, who left me with the impression that Gernsback sat at the crossroads between quality literary style and commercial success. While the two aren’t mutually exclusive, looking at the attitudes science fiction over the last half-century, it’s clear which style won out. Here’s the sources that I used for this piece:

American Inventors, Entrepreneurs and Business Visionaries, by Caharles W. Carey Jr.: This book compiles a number of profiles of people, including a good thumbnail of Gernsback’s life and accomplishments.

– Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book, by Gerard Jones: This book is a great look at the rise of the comic book industry in the United States. Gernsback makes a brief appearance here in a section devoted to the pulps, which helps to provide a bit of extra insight into his life and how he influenced others.

– Hugo Gernsback and the Century of Science Fiction, by Gary Westfahl: This is an an academic book on the man and his influence: it provided some in depth information on Gernsback, but it is quite dense at points.

– History of Science Fiction, by Adam Roberts: Roberts puts together a good profile and analysis of Gernsback’s contributions to the genre, highlighting not only his life, but how he affected the genre as a whole.

– The Trillion Year Spree, by Brian Aldiss: Aldiss is less kind to Gernsback, providing an notably critical profile of the man and his contributions to the genre.

– Wells, Verne, and Science, Alex Eisenstein, from Science Fiction Studies: This letter was a turning point in how I thought about this piece: rather than just looking at the contributions of Gernsback, it made me realize that the story is more about just how much he influenced the genre that we know and love.

For the Hugo Awards, I did a bit of research online between a couple of websites:

INFOGRAPHIC: Everything You Need to Know about the Hugo Award: SF Signal’s Infographic covering the high points of the Hugos.

A Short History of the Hugo Awards Process: This page on the official Hugo Awards website is a good one to look into for year to year, and a general overview of the award.

Adapting Philip K. Dick

This week on the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I jump ahead from some of the older stories to a very modern author: Philip K. Dick and the adaptations of his works.

This was an interesting article to write, because I wanted to tie it in with the upcoming movie release of Total Recall. Prior to writing it, I was able to find a number of the films and watch through them over the course of a weekend, to get a sense of how they were adapted. Some were a pleasant surprise: Total Recall and Screamers were two that I particularly liked. Others, like Paycheck and Next, I didn’t like very much.

Dick’s works have translated interestingly into film, I suspect because the premise that he’s really known for – this world is not correct – is something that’s easy for a film to capture and challenge its characters with in ways that audiences can easily understand.

Here’s the sources that I used for this piece:

The Library of America Series (Four Novels of the 1960s, Five Novels of the 1960s & 70s, and Valis & Later Novels): This series examines notable works from American authors, seldomly looks at Science Fiction. These books are fantastic examples of the author’s works, but are also excellent for their in-depth chronological look at Dick’s life.

Minority Report Special Features: This is something that I watched way back, when Minority Report was the first DVD that I ever owned. It’s an excellent collection of special features, not the least of which the one that talks about the adaptation of the story and how it came to be.

Prophets of Science Fiction: Philip K. Dick: This was a really neat one to watch, even as it glosses over much of Dick’s life and dramatizes some of it. The most interesting thing was Ridley Scott’s impressions of the man, whom he met at a screening. There’s also some interesting points about how Minority Report was going to become a sequel to Total Recall.

Internet Speculative Fiction Database: This large archive was useful for tracking down the original publications of each of the stories, which allowed me to string them out in publication order.

The films: I was able to track down almost all of the films, with the exception of A Scanner Darkly and Radio Free Albemuth. Watching each (and reading most of the stories that they were based on) really helped to see what exactly was adapted.

Usual Suspects: The Stuff Dreams are Made Of, History of Science Fiction and Trillion Year Spree each have sections about Philip K. Dick and his works, which provide good background material on the life of the author and his contributions to the genre.

Looking Far into the Future: Olaf Stapledon

My latest post for the Kirkus Reviews Blog is now online! This time, we look at English author Olaf Stapledon and his legacy.

This wasn’t the post I’d intended on writing. Originally, this spot had been reserved for an examination of C.S. Lewis, and his Out of a Silent Planet trilogy. As this series has progressed, I’ve been finding a curious evolution of the science fiction genre, something that will continue on. From Mary Shelley to Edgar Allan Poe, to Jules Verne and to H.G. Wells, there’s a facinating story of connections between one another. They found influences in themselves, carrying ideas forward in time, changed somewhat by each author’s own sensibilities. Following Wells, we find Olaf Stapledon, who by his own words, was influenced by Well’s stories, and in turn, inspired future authors, such as Sir Arthur C. Clarke. Lewis, I found, wrote in opposition of the two, and in a large way, was out of place in my plans.

Stapledon was an interesting author, and the scale of his works and the themes behind them set him apart from just about everyone in the field at the time and since. Read Looking far, far into the future: Olaf Stapledon over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog!

Here’s the sources that I used:

An Olaf Stapledon Reader, By Olaf Stapledon, Robert Crossley: This book contains an interesting series of articles on Stapledon and his writing, but of most interest is two letters that Olaf wrote to famed science fiction author H.G. Wells, where he talks about how the former influenced him.

The Olaf Stapledon Online Archive: Located here, the site for Stapledon contains a fairly good biography on the author and some of his works, which provided a good starting point for the biographical elements of this piece.

Last and First Men / Last Men of London, Olaf Stapledon: This collected version is a book that I picked up on a whim a couple of years ago, and read through Last and First Men. An interesting story, it was of particular use when coming to understand the scale and scope of Stapledon’s efforts – it’s a very different, but highly recommended novel.

Arthur C. Clarke: The Authorized Biography, by Neil McAleer: This biography of Clarke helped to confirm that Clarke was influenced by Stapledon’s works.

Survey of Science Fiction, vol 3 & 5, Frank Magill: This book as usual, is a particularly useful resource in looking up specific meanings and critical reviews of Stapledon’s works.

The History of Science Fiction, by Adam Roberts: Roberts devotes an entire glowing section to Stapledon’s legacy, shedding some light on the author and his influences.

Jules Verne and the Moon

My latest column for Kirkus Reviews is now online! In it, I talk about Jules Verne and his fantastic novel From the Earth to the Moon. I recently talked about Jules Verne in his influences that stemmed from Edgar Allan Poe, and I was particularly eager to return to Verne as a major influence in the genre.

As July is the month where the anniversary of the first Moon landing rests, it seemed like a good time, although Verne’s novels are closer to what happened with Apollo 8, when we first reached the moon, rather than landed on it.

You can read the entire post here on the Kirkus Reviews Blog.

Here’s the sources that I used for the column this time around:

Billion Year Spree, by Brian Aldiss: Once again, this book provides some good background on Verne throughout, and some of the things that helped to influence him and this particular novel, especially Poe.

The History of Science Fiction, by Adam Roberts: Roberts takes to task the idea that Verne ‘predicted’ how the space program would be put together, and lambasts critics who nitpick Verne’s story based on some of the things that he didn’t get right – such as using a giant cannon to get into space as opposed to that of a rocket. It’s a good perspective to understand, that Science Fiction doesn’t predict the future, but if the author is paying good attention to science, it’s not likely to change all that much, as is what happens in this situation.

Survey of Science Fiction Literature, Vol 3, by Frank Magill: Magill’s collection provides a great analysis of From the Earth to the Moon in its themes and influences.

To a Distant Day: The Rocket Pioneers, by Chris Gainor: This is a great history (and part of a great series on human space exploration, the Outward Odyssey series), on the development of Rocket Science. This book points to a number of rocket pioneers who read Verne’s stories and looked at how they could do that in real life. Verne’s an excellent example of where fiction becomes real.

Jules Verne, inventor of science fiction by Peter Costello: This biography of Verne was a particularly good one, outlining much of Verne’s life and some of his influences when it came to science fiction and storytelling. He’s a facinating individual, and the book provides a good overview.

From the Earth to the Moon and Round the Moon, Jules Verne: Of course, there’s the source material, in this instance, a nicely bound collected edition that my wive brought with her when she moved up to Vermont. This edition has several other books, and I look forward to someday reading it to whatever children we end up having.

Prometheus has Landed

Ridley Scott’s addition to the Alien franchise has finally hit theaters following a fantastic marketing blitz. Prometheus is a good, but at points flawed, predecessor to his own 1979 start to the franchise. One of my more anticipated films of the year, I found it to be a decent film, living up to my somewhat lowered expectations, and certainly one that I’ll watch again.

Prometheus follows a lot of similar formula as that of Aliens, with some notable differences. An archeological team comes up with a series of star maps that points the team to a distant world with extraterrestrial life. An interstellar expedition is assembled and financed, and sent off to a moon designated LV-223 in a far off system. Overseen by a robot overseer on the 200 day trip, the crew lands on the moon, and discover an unnatural feature. Suiting up, the scientific contingent set off to find what message might have been left behind. Helmets come off, people get lost and suddenly, chaos ensues as the relics infect the crew.

The key to enjoying Prometheus seems to be ignoring that the film is connected to the Alien universe. While it’s not as good as Alien, I did enjoy it a bit more than Aliens, and when compared to your average summer blockbuster, Prometheus comes off rather well.

What’s notable for Prometheus is how absolutely gorgeous it is: the design of the world is one of the best that I’ve seen, a spaceship that looks practical and well-rooted in the modern world, much as the Nostromo likely felt back when it was first released. Outside of the ship, the film is treated to a phenomenal opening credit scene, and continues to put together some wonderful planetscapes and general images. It’s a slick, great movie, visually. Even the 3D, which I normally can’t stand, worked exceptionally well throughout the film – there were none of the flat sections where the film reverts back to 2D outside of the action sequences. Here, it’s seamlessly in the background, where it’s never intrusive.

Prometheus‘s story is where the film begins to stumble, while also attempting some very ambitious things. There’s a lot that Scott’s tried to pack into the movie, ranging from overarching themes of science verses faith, the idea of maker-gods who have helped along the human race, to the responsibilities of science and technology. It’s easy to see where the ideas are, and where they’re attempting to go, but it’s lost in a bit of a muddle. While watching the film, I got the distinct impression that there was quite a bit cut out of the movie to keep the run time under a certain level, and I can’t help but wonder if somewhere down the road, we’ll get the bits that were cut out, which will hopefully help to reinforce some of the characters and overarching themes.

Beyond that, some of the letdowns come with some of the really stupid things that the characters do throughout the movie. Characters take their helmets off at every point, even when it seems like it might be a really bad idea, quarantine protocols are ignored, and everything that should be done to keep a trillion dollar mission on schedule and safe really isn’t done. This is where Prometheus is a disappointment: there’s a lot of potential that’s lost in the characters and their actions.

The characters frequently have their moments to shine: Charlize Theron does a fantastic job as Meredith Vickers, the Weyland Corporation rep, while Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw finally finds her legs towards the end of the film, after she’s been pushed to the brink. Most notable, however, is David, portrayed by Michael Fassbender, the ship’s robot who has some considerable issues when it comes to his maker, Peter Weyland. Frequently though, each of the characters are drawn with too broad a brush and the often come off poorly. Other characters, like Captain Janek and the bridge crew, have great appearances – Benedict Wong especially, but just little enough to make us want more.

Where the story really does work is looking at the big ideas, and I applaud the film for really trying something, rather than simply mirroring the audience’s expectations. The idea of an alien race bringing their technology to seed a world, only to find that they’ve made a mistake is a rather epic idea, and I’m thrilled to see the ideas there: I simply wish that they’d been followed up on a bit more. The ideas of religion and science that come out of those ideas are similarly brought up, and not fully explored. While that’s not great, I can’t really think of the last major science fiction movie that put together interesting ideas with a dramatic story, (Maybe Inception?) and I’m happy to see a film at least try to do something a bit different.

Weirdly, this film felt very optimistic throughout: focusing on exploring and learning about our surroundings, it’s an interesting change from many of the reactionary (and still excellent) science fiction out there, even up through the end. Where Alien was purely a horror film set in space, Prometheus feels more like a space opera film, with quite a few horror elements.

Looking back, the film is stymied by its lack of focus: there’s several subplots, focusing on David/Weyland, the Engineers, and corporate intentions, all of which try to share the space with each other. The film never quite meshes in the way that it should have, and coupled with the extraordinarily high expectations set forth by the film’s marketing contingent; it’s no wonder that the film has received such mixed reviews. In a lot of ways, the film would have likely fared better if its connections to Alien had been completely severed, with it released as a stand-alone science fiction adventure. Here lies the major problem when attempting to bring back a well-worn franchise with an established fanbase: it’s almost impossible to capture what everybody loved about it, and entrenched expectations really prevent the filmmakers from really innovating. Prometheus is able to get away from this a bit: I’m sure that continuity hounds and nitpickers will argue for a long time about this, but Scott really is able to pull out a good movie out for his return to the genre.

But, despite all of the issues with the film, I really enjoyed it. I’m a sucker for great imagery in the genre, and Prometheus certainly delivers here. But beyond that is a film that, once some of the extra baggage is ignored, is a decent film when you look at it against the lesser Alien films, or even the broad canon of summertime blockbusters. It doesn’t quite stack up as high as Blade Runner and Alien do in the greater picture, but it’s a good film that should have been great. I can live with that.