Month: June 2002

Winning the Loser’s Game (Third Edition), Charles D. Ellis

McGraw-Hill, 1997, 142 pages, US$24.95 hc, ISBN 0-07-022010-7

I have long been fascinated by money, and mot merely for the obvious reasons. In a world where money has been standardized as a universal exchange medium, economics are rivaling in importance with political science and sociology as a way to understand why society behaves the way it does. Where does money come from? Where does it go? Where does it accumulate? Can it be seen as a fluid or maybe even a force? How do you even begin to understand the complexities of money flow?

Then again, as with every good citizen/consumer of our oh-so-wonderful capitalistic societies, understanding how to make money ranks only slightly below how to eat and obey traffic laws. There’s enough ranting about early retirement to make it imperative to learn how to accumulate enough money to -ironically enough- not work for the rest of your life.

Charles D. Ellis’ Winning the Loser’s Game is a splendid investment manual, a reasoned treatise that may make almost too much sense for everyone. It’s a small book, but every single page is worth its weight in greenbacks. You don’t need to be a genius to understand this book, and the advice it provides seems appropriate for everyone. I can’t know whether it’s the ultimate investment theory, but at the moment it’s just perfect for my own level of financial savvy.

Ellis starts by explaining the realities of modern investment. It’s not a domain where a genius can simply outperform everyone: it’s a field where thousands of equally-capable professionals are all second-guessing each other. (The metaphor here is amateur’s sport (where one tends to be scored against through luck or incompetence) versus professional sports (where players will score points, often deliberately exploiting opponent’s mistakes). Over the long run, everyone will do equally well, except for obvious mistakes. In this context, time-investing (buying low, selling high such as in commodities trading) won’t work, and neither will any scheme trying to “beat the market”. The only way is to stay in the game long enough and to avoid obvious mistakes such as panic-selling or impulsive trading.

Winning the Loser’s Game appeals to me because it’s the ultimate antithesis of those doubtful make-money-fast “magic recipes”. It tells you to invest and forget. It explains to you through statistics why stocks aren’t such a bad idea in the long run. It drills in the notion that risk is, well, risk: higher margins to gain, higher chances to lose. It busts a few myths and teaches you the counter-intuitive logic of investing. It’s reasonable, makes as many warnings as recommendations and it written in a limpid style. Let me repeat that: A limpid style. I’ve seldom encountered a most compulsively-readable financial treatise.

Naturally, one could make a case that in preaching faith in the overarching system and promoting long-term stock investments, Winning the Loser’s Game is a self-fulfilling instrument of capitalist thinking. If everyone followed the advice of the book, everyone would be a winner. Well, yeah. Duh.

But Winning the Loser’s Game isn’t the soulless capitalistic textbook you might expect. Ellis spends some time discussing the significant disadvantages of leaving too much money to your children, and heavily promotes the virtues of philanthropy. It also helps that Ellis regards unethical business practices as anathema to good investment; even anti-business activists might have a hard time disagreeing with this book, if they would stoop so low as to read it.

As for me, well, reading Winning the Loser’s Game is like attending a lecture from an advanced economics course. I’m left with nearly as many questions as before, but they’re -I think- entirely more sophisticated questions. I intend to keep the book handy and refer to it once my mortgage is paid and I get into the “Loser’s Game” myself. Hey, I’m still a third of a century away from retirement; I can take the long view he’s espousing.

Bug Park, James P. Hogan

Baen, 1997, 405 pages, C$8.99 mmpb, ISBN 0-671-87874-3

There is something comfortingly pleasant about reading a novel by a professional SF writer. The most reliable of them know enough about satisfying the readers that even the most hackneyed premise can be brought to life with mildly interesting characters and sustained plotting.

There’s not much that’s innovative about James P. Hogan’s Bug Park. In fact, you might even call it retrograde: After reading so much about nanotechnology, going “back” to insect-sized micro-technology doesn’t seem to be all that exciting.

And yet… micro-technology is easier to conceptualize that nanotech. You can at least imagine some direct interaction between humans and machinery at those scales. The visual kick in seeing micro-machines meddling around with insects is also suitably cinematic, enough to excite even mildly jaded readers.

Mix the promise of such technology with teenage protagonists and you have the making of a rather interesting SF novel for teen audiences. Even though obviously aimed at teens, Bug Park was published by Baen exactly as one of their more mainstream novel. Still, at the heart of the book lies a teen’s novel.

It features kids as protagonists, rich bored teenagers with advanced skills in micro-robotics, which is probably linked to their parent’s business interest in such things. But no matter; When Kevin and Taki get to work on something, those teen hackers can do anything. While their interest in micro-robotics is initially driven towards a “Bug Park”, their capabilities will become handy when they discover a plot afoot to kill Kevin’ father and take over his company.

As you might expect, most of Bug Park is a series of adventures in which our teenage protagonists get to use cutting-edge big-sized machines in order to foil evil plans. It works well, as a matter of fact: Thanks to Hogan’s lean prose, there aren’t any problem sin picturing the micro antics, from fancy spying to intricate sabotage… without forgetting epic half-inch fights. Hogan manages to transform backyards into battlegrounds! It doesn’t take much to imagine this as a film, somewhere between SPY KIDS, JURASSIC PARK and HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS. Except with better special effect.

Hogan’s science is reasonably exact, though readers who know about his penchant for weird science will smile knowingly at his short diatribe against the “establishment science’s” theory of relativity. Fortunately, he stops there and leaves his usual pseudo-scientific rants for other novels.

There isn’t much that’s spectacular in Bug Park, but even then the book works adequately well for readers of all ages. Teen might like it a bit more given the lead characters, but the rest is a serviceable fun SF adventure. Give it a try if you want to; it’s not essential, but it passes the time.

Taking Your Talent to the Web, Jeffrey Zeldman

New Rider, 2001, 426 pages, C$59.95 tpb, ISBN 0-7356-1073-2

Zeldman. Jeffrey Zeldman. Mis-ter Zeldman… which should be said with a slight French accent: Mys-tère Zeldman, for it’s not clear how someone with so much personality was allowed to write a technical book about web design.

Most of the time, a technical book review will focus on the nuts and bolts of the content, the accuracy of the advice and the freshness of the details. But Taking Your Talents to the Web suggests a different approach. Whereas most technical books are dryer than a sunny Arizona day, Zeldman’s book is infused with so much personality that reviewing the authors seems as valid as reviewing the content of the book.

Naturally, I’m biased in this regard. Through his evangelism at, his editorship of the weekly e-zine and his blog at, Jeffrey Zeldman has been a guru of sorts for me as a web designer. His tireless push towards web standards meshed with my own preferences, and if I can blame a single person for my increasing professionalism in terms of XHTML design, Zeldman would be it. Reading the book came after my worship of the guy, not the other way around. This being said, I’d defy any professional web-person not to be impressed by Taking Your Talent to the Web.

It’s also different from the usual technical manual in terms of target audience: Zeldman is a designer first and foremost, and an XHTML maven second. (Or maybe third; his strong writing skills might make him a writer first.) Taking Your Talent To The Web is, as the subtitle says, “A Manual for the Transitioning Designer”. In other words, the target audience for this book already knows design; what they won’t know as much is the web. This makes for an interesting reading experience; the readership of the book is decidedly technical, but in a non-computer-related domain. The angle of attack is slightly askew, and for a computer-technical person with deficient designing skills such as myself, this makes for an interesting reading experience. Zeldman is writing for a smart audience, but they may not know exactly what XHTML geeks already know.

Zeldman’s overview of the origins of the web is wonderful (“Chapter 4: How This Web Thing Got Started”), as are his considerations on the nature of being in the web design business (“Chapter 7: Riding the Project Life Cycle”). Taking Your Talents To the Web isn’t quite so compelling when it delves into acutely specific technical details (“Chapter 12, Beyond Text/Pictures”), but I doubt that by then, most readers will stop reading.

The reason is simple: Zeldman may very well be the funniest technical writer ever to write about web design. Fireworks of wit and humor pepper every page of Taking Your Talent to the Web, from headers to body text itself. I found myself reading this manual concurrently with one of Dave Barry’s anthologies and finding scant difference between the two styles. Don’t think Zeldman skimps on the technical accuracy, though; it’s just that he’s funny in addition of being implacably correct.

This sense of fun is also reflected in the advice told by Zeldman. I’ve had my fill of technical manuals telling me that usability is factor number one, and it took a pro designer to point out a simple truth: All web sites do not have to sell something. They don’t all have to provide information. They can be entertaining, or expressive, or simply baffling and there is nothing wrong with that. No one is forcing you to make your personal web site user-friendly. It’s all right to be non-linear if that’s what you want. It’s a stupid revelation, really, but in a field where usability guru Jakob Nielson is worshipped by many, including your reviewer, it’s useful to take some time and realize that not all of us are designing for Fortune-500 companies. It’s not forbidden to have fun.

It helps, of course, that Zeldman himself looks as if he’s having a lot of fun doing what he does. Furthermore, he keeps preaching -through all the fun- rigorous web design methods, from useful divisions of responsibility to adequate use of bandwidth and validated XHTML coding. Hm, an author who’s technically adept and constantly fun… Trust Zeldman. Zeldman is your friend. I’m not sure if I can make this book any more attractive to you, so why don’t you go out and rush get a copy, already?

(For a preview, extra info and more plain good fun, don’t forget the book’s wonderful web site, at )

Windtalkers (2002)

Windtalkers (2002)

(In theaters, June 2002) It’s no secret that I generally worship John Woo and his entire oeuvre, but even I can see when something is clearly not working. In the case of Windtalkers, the Woo-fan in me found plenty of things to like: mayhem-packed war scenes filled with spectacular explosions, intricate choreographies and impeccable cinematography. Alas, the budding Woo-doubter took pleasure in pointing out the awful script and the inappropriate nature of Woo’s direction in this case. Whereas the post Saving Private Ryan films have accustomed us to a more realistic view of war, Windtalkers is a throwback to the gung-ho kill-all-Japs attitude of the 50s John Wayne war epics. Protagonist Nicolas Cage mows’em down with glee and soldiers are repeatedly sent flying by gigantic gasoline-fuelled explosions. It’s all so very impressive, but hardly realistic. That’s not even talking about the ludicrous dialogue, the awfully explicit racist subplot needlessly crowding out a more subtle racial message and some terrible “bonding” scenes we’ve seen countless times before. Christian Slater’s happy-puppy role is a joy to watch and the action scenes are impressive in their own fashion, but otherwise Windtalkers is painful to watch, a depressingly unrealistic film about a subject that deserved so much better. Woo fans, take note.

Sewer, Gas & Electric, Matt Ruff

Warner Aspect, 1997, 560 pages, C$8.99 mmpb, ISBN 0-446-60642-1

I staggered in my local SF bookstore and painstakingly made my way to the counter. “Booktender!” I rasped, knocking on the counter. “Give me an antidote to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged!” “Coming up, chief!” he said, sliding a copy of Matt Ruff’s Sewer, Gas & Electric on the counter.

It may be slightly insulting to write about Sewer, Gas and Electric as merely an answer to Rand’s work. But in these days where hundreds of SF books are published per year, everyone needs a hook to attract readers, and Ruff’s second novel does, among other things, offer a compelling counter-point to Ayn Rand’s most celebrated novel.

It doesn’t stop there, of course. While a holographic projection of Rand (stuck in a hurricane lamp, no less) accompanies one of our heroines throughout her adventures, Sewer, Gas and Electric is a full-course weird trip through a future wacky enough to be believable, starring a variety of fantastical characters and quirky concepts. Fans of Neal Stephenson, Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon, take note; giant sewer critters duel for attention with grandiose conspiracy theories in a delicious writing style that’s worth the price of the book by itself.

It’s impossible to reduce Sewer, Gas & Electric to a simple plot description, but that’s just how the book is written. There’s an industrialist named Harry Gant, building a mile-high tower in the middle of New York. There’s an oversized shark—named Meisterbrau- loose in the sewers of the city. There’s an environmental terrorist defying rampant industrialism aboard his polka-dotted yellow submarine. There’s an American Civil War veteran running around. There are black servants called “Negroes”, and no one is offended because the whole black population was wiped out years before by a sudden epidemic. (Is this a “funny background detail”? Don’t bet on it.) There’s what’s probably the funniest submarine battle ever written. There’s a rather more aggressive Queen Elizabeth II. There’s a lot of stuff in these 560 pages.

Make no mistake; it will take you some time to make your way through Sewer, Gas & Electric, if only because this is one of those novels where you’ll want to slow down in order to savor the prose and the weirdness. Ruff isn’t a professional hack content to churn out a novel per year to pay the rent; he’s a real honest-to-goodness author and as far as readers are concerned, this means jolly good fun. A conversation with two possible meanings is one of the comic highlights of the year as far as I’m concerned. (“A thousand ironic… convictions.” See P.306-307, but beware spoilers!) Oh, oh, and don’t forget the “Mr. Science” segment!

It does get less amusing after a while, though. As the plot mechanics (yes there is a plot) get rolling and more serious issues are tackled, the laugh quotient diminishes a lot. The ending isn’t as jolly as you might want, though it remains light throughout.

It’s hard to overstate the joy of reading Sewer, Gas & Electric. It’s the kind of fun novel you don’t see much and treasure forever after. You can make comparisons with Snow Crash or David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, but this novel is its own animal in the weird-future subgenre.

What about Ayn Rand, though? Well, she’s a feisty character all right; as one character comments even before encountering her, “Rand’s a total loon—but a fun loon” [P.261]. The novel will be highly pleasant to everyone who was amused by Rand’s works: Not only does Chapter 12 feature a terrific plot summary of Atlas Shrugged, but later on, one of the characters neatly eviscerates Rand’s philosophy in what might best be described as a no-holds barred philosophical argument spectacular.

Naturally, Gas, Sewr & Electric is a lot more fun if you’ve read Atlas Shrugged. But don’t think it’s in any way a requirement; Ruff’s novel stands on its own as a fun novel. I can’t recommend it any strongly.

Trekkies (1997)

Trekkies (1997)

(On TV, June 2002) As a reformed trekkie, it was both sad and embarrassing to watch a full-length documentary (developed and hosted by Trek actress Denise Crosby herself) about the length to which some Trek fans will go in order to express their admiration for everything related to the show. Some of the trekkies featured in the program exhibit real talent (like the teenage computer-graphic whiz, which whom I identified rather strongly) but others… well… need something. Obsessing over Brent Spiner like that can’t be good. There is a circus-like atmosphere in Trekkies that never quite goes away, sort of a freak parade one step short of showing a car accident in progress. What is it about a Star Trek fascination that makes it so compelling for civilians? Five years after the film’s initial release, though, the question pops up; where are these people now? Are they still so inspired by a fictional mythology? Would a sequel be ninety, or fifteen minutes long? And how lucky am I not to have been consumed by full-blown Trek fetishism once I got out of my own teenage years?

The Sweetest Thing (2002)

The Sweetest Thing (2002)

(In theaters, June 2002) It had to happen at some point: A gross-out comedy by and for girls. Eh. To be fair, The Sweetest Thing presents an appealing trio of girlfriends: Cameron Diaz is as loveable as ever, Christina Applegate deservedly gets a good screen role at last and even Selma Blair is rather attractive here. The girl’s chemistry works well and is a welcome change from the usual testosterone-laden sex comedies. A lot of the jokes work well, even though they’re not all that different from what you’d see in movies from a male perspective. (Why is it that stalker-type behavior is almost always funnier if it’s a woman doing the stalking? It’s surely equally creepy in real-life, isn’t it?) Unfortunately, there are several dumb (and gross) moments, enough that they collectively dull the impact of the film to a merely pleasant film. (if that; your tolerance may vary) Maybe worth a curio viewing to compare and contrast with, say, Tomcats, but not an essential film. Unless you’re in that kind of thing.

Spaceballs (1987)

Spaceballs (1987)

(Third viewing, On DVD, June 2002) Hmmm. Even though I had rather good memories of Spaceballs, seeing the film once again somehow wasn’t the same thing as before. Hey, make no mistake; it’s still a pretty funny film, an amusing take-off on those seventies SF movies. But whether it’s familiarity or incipient maturity, some of the gags just seemed… lame. This DVD version doesn’t add much: The making-of is mildly interesting, but even if Mel Brook’s audio commentary is constantly amusing, it’s also kind of boring. Maybe I just need to shelve this one for a few years and see how well it fares once I’ve forgotten most of it.

Queen Of The Damned (2002)

Queen Of The Damned (2002)

(In theaters, June 2002) It’s difficult not to laugh during some of the film’s most ridiculous moments: Much like most Goths are simply ordinary folks trying to pass off as somehow special, this is really a B-grade horror film with his pretensions of high darkness. Most of it doesn’t work, and we’re stuck with a bunch of vampire poseurs for ninety minutes. This can be insufferable or amusing, depending on your mood at the moment. At least it’s consistently interesting, moving from vignette to vignette in an expedient fashion. As far as vampire films go, I’m a Blade type-of-guy, but Queen Of The Damned could have been worse. Much, much worse.

If Angels Fall, Rick Mofina

Pinnacle, 2000, 477 pages, C$8.99 mmpb, ISBN 0-7860-1061-4

(Necessary Disclaimer: I met Rick Mofina at the local mall, where he was holding a signing session for his three books. Half an hour later, I had discovered that Mofina was a local author and left with three autographed books. Adjust the following review accounting for my favorable bias in favor of Canadian/Ontarian/Local authors. Oh, and visit, willya?)

It can be difficult, in this age of jaded readers, for a new writer to distinguish himself from every other storyteller on the market. Dozen of crime thrillers are published every month; how can they stand out?

Sometime, just doing the job well can be enough. Rick Mofina’s first novel, If Angels Fall, is in some way a novel we’ve seen many times before, with a deranged antagonist, kids in peril, a burnt-out hero whose involvement eventually becomes very personal and an ace policeman who’s seen far too many of these cases… but in its own fashion, If Angels Fall is a fine thriller with just enough distinctiveness to make it a worthwhile read.

It certainly grabs you by the throat right at the beginning, as we’re witness to the sudden kidnapping of a young girl from her unsuspecting father. Crime is one thing; crime against children is another. You don’t need to be a parent to be involved. Manipulative or not, this draws us straight in the novel as we try to figure out what is happening, and as we empathize with the grieving parents. We also identify with the kids, as Mofina draws us into their mind-set in a fashion that is not predictably patronizing.

In short order, we’re introduced to the two protagonists of If Angels Fall: One is Walter Sydowski, a veteran policeman whose cynical behavior has been made impregnable by years of police work. The other is the far more interesting Tom Reed, a journalist who has to live, every day, with a fatal mistake. This division of hero-duties is one of the things to like about If Angels Fall, as the protagonist doesn’t have to be an omnipotent superhero to be at all places at all time. Sydowski handles the police viewpoint; Reed the media aspect. The two rarely mesh well together.

As a matter of fact, the journalistic angle brought up by Reed is the one of the main selling points of the novel: While crime thrillers all too often consider the media as annoying gadflies (or even worse; bunglers with ghastly consequences), this insider’s look at journalism is original enough to be compelling. As both the media and the police investigation converge on the main suspect, this makes things more interesting than usual. As a journalist, Mofina’s familiarity with the newsroom shows and illuminates an original section of the novel.

What’s less original is that eventually, Reed’s involvement in the case becomes very personal. This loved-ones-as-victims crime-thriller shtick is something that’s been driving me nuts for a while now, but I can still get over it, and it’s not as if Reed’s conflict with the murderer isn’t completely organic to the story. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the crucial elements of the plot and doesn’t feel overly tacked-on: Reed has tremendous personal issues to solve, and the involvement of his family only makes a bad situation even worse.

Considered as a whole, If Angels Fall works quite well. The writing is fluid and limpid. The plot converges to a tense resolution. The characters are depicted with an adequate amount of vividness. There’s a lot to like here for genre readers. While Mofina’s first novel doesn’t redefine the genre, it doesn’t need to: what it needed to do is to prove that Mofina can handle a genre novel with aplomb, and that is obvious by the time the story ends. On to his next book, then.

Le Pacte Des Loups [The Brotherhood Of The Wolf] (2001)

Le Pacte Des Loups [The Brotherhood Of The Wolf] (2001)

(In theaters, June 2002) I really should have liked this film. On paper, it sure sounds like a winner: An action-packed monster movie set in medieval France, starring a libertine scientist, his Mohawk kung-fu master, Monica Bellucci as a courtesan and a villain played by Vincent Cassel? With wire-fu action scenes inspired and staged by Hong Kong martial artists? Mixing political intrigue and religious conspiracies? I’m there! Unfortunately, while Le Pacte Des Loups has fascinating components, it never manages to put everything together seamlessly. The film jumps from one emotional register to another without smooth transitions and uses various cinematic tricks without seemingly understanding why they should be used. The result is a loud, incoherent mess that ironically feels very, very long. (It doesn’t help that the last forty minutes are repetitive and essentially useless.) This is a film by technicians, not storytellers; the plot is weak and senseless, whereas the images are often gripping. (I laughed out loud at a cheeky transition pan shot that neatly dissolves from Monica Bellucci’s curvy naked body to a CGI shot of hills and valleys.) There is a palpable sense of missed opportunities amidst the stunning scenery, the expensive special effects and the interesting back-story. It’s just too bad that nothing more intriguing has been done with it.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

(On DVD, June 2002) This is a mind-boggling film: Not only for the intricate step-motion animation work that has gone into it, but also for the freedom of imagination and wit the filmmakers were allowed in making this film a reality. I don’t think anyone has ever seen anything like it before, and that in itself is sufficient to make it a solid recommendation. The art design is awesome, the characters are well-defined and the whole film has the feel of an instant classic. Kids will love it, sullen teens will love it and parents… well, they just might. It’s difficult to imagine anyone not loving it.

Minority Report (2002)

Minority Report (2002)

(In theaters, June 2002) The notion of being able to foresee crimes before they occur is nicely pulpish; not based on any scientific theory, but sufficiently interesting to make us say “what if…?” The problem comes when you try to fit this pulpish notion in a believable “real” world, in which case the incongruities between story conceit and execution become more and more uncomfortable. That’s a lot how I feel about Minority Report, an excellent SF film that takes itself so seriously that the seams holding it together become nearly intolerable. The original story by Philip K. Dick is interesting but abandoned midway through (as the whole “Minority Report” concept becomes merely a MacGuffin), and the film’s attempt to provide authenticity through a “real” future becomes increasingly ridiculous. The vertical highways clash with the film’s other levels of technology, the “precog” concept seems non-scalable and non-renewable, the logical loops become more and more convoluted… Even worse, the procedural aspects of the film are simply untenable, a fatal flaw in a film that spends a lot of time setting them up; a would-be victim is left alone after an aborted crime; the process “witnesses” disappear as soon as they should be important; the security measures of a top-secret facility are laughably deficient… I wouldn’t pick apart such flaws in James Bond movies or dumb SF films like Starship Troopers, but Minority Report is so seductive in its willingness to imagine an original, plausible future that it’s almost asking nit-pickers to double-check. And it fails the test of scrutiny. Or does it? Despite my multiple reservations, I realize that it’s one of the best SF films I’ve seen in a long time, and is likely to remain on my Top-10 list at the end of the year. It’s packed with great action scenes, posits fascinating questions and features some wonderful special effects. What it doesn’t do is damning, but what it actually does is impressive. Despite multiple problems and flaws, Minority Report remains one of the must-see films of 2002, a solid, provocative blockbuster that’s almost better than it deserves to be.

Life Or Something Like It (2002)

Life Or Something Like It (2002)

(In theaters, June 2002) There isn’t much to tell about this film, mostly because it’s so vacuous. The premise is familiar and short enough to be explained away in a thirty-second trailer, but the resolution is given away in the very first shot of the film, leaving the rest as little more than an exercise in filling in the numbers. Okay, so Angeline Jolie, Edward Burns and Tony Shaloub are talented actor who can rise above the material they’re given, but sadly, the screenwriter isn’t particularly gifted, and Life Or Something Like It flops around, goes through the motions and generally delivers what we expect from it, which isn’t much given that it’s a romantic comedy. I wish we could have had a longer glimpse of Jolie-as-a-teen-rocker (With glasses! Whoaah!), but that’s just me; the film does nothing with it. And so should we.

Jason X (2001)

Jason X (2001)

(In theaters, June 2002) After two years on the shelves, the latest installment of the Friday The 13th series is finally unleashed in theaters, with a title change and what I guess is an attitude change. After years of derivative knocks-offs, Jason X offers something (slightly) new; a rampaging serial killer… in spaaace! Well, okay, it’s not new after Hellraiser: Bloodline and Leprechaun 4: In Space, but it’s certainly a step more original than anything the series has had to offer before. Alas, the irritating porn-like slasher film structure is still left untouched. But the film exhibits an amusing self-awareness (“Do you want to have pre-marital sex? We love pre-marital sex!”) and even (gasp) some degree of SF literacy (take your pick; cryogenic death, nanotechnology or a funny riff on the whole Alien/Terminator concept). For us guys, it’s a shame that three of the lead actresses look alike and that, alas, the nudity is limited to a few all-too-brief seconds. Even though I generally loathe that type of horror film, I found a few things to like in Jason X, enough to generally enjoy myself for the duration of the film. It’s no classic, but it may be worth a look.