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Worth the “Upgrade”

Upgrade is the most recent film from director Leigh Whannell (of Saw fame). The Science Fiction film seems to be flying slightly under the radar, likely as a result of its microscopic budget. In an era where Sci-Fi films like Blade Runner 2049 are produce for upwards of $185 million, a $3 million-dollar sci-fi film seems to pale by comparison.
But Upgrade gets back to the basics of science fiction. In true Asimoff style, the story is a collision between mankind and technology. Set in the near future, the film explores life in the perpetual surveillance state. The film also explores implants and augmentation, and when we combine the human body with tech, where does one end and the next begin. For a Luddite like me, this is the most terrifying film I have seen in a long while.

Spoilers.

The film follows Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) an auto mechanic who makes a living in the digital-world of the future by restoring classic cars. He is a man desperately out of touch with the rest of the planet. After his wife is murdered in a car-jacking and he is left a quadriplegic. After contemplating, and then attempting, suicide, Grey ends up hospitalized where he meets a tech-billionaire who promises to restore his motor-function. STEM is how he does it, an AI spinal cord implant which help to reconnect his nervous system.

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wool cover

Reading for Writing – Wool

Wool hugh howeyby Hugh Howey

One of the first major success stories of the self-publishing revolution, Wool is the tale of a post nuclear war dystopia where what remains of the human race is confined underground in a giant silo stretching deep into the earth. The silo lives under strict protocols which begin to unravel when a new Sheriff investigates a recent series of murders.

A large part of what made this book compelling was its surprising twists, so SPOILERS AHEAD:

What I learned, Part 1 – Bold choices early in a story can give a reader a sense of uneasiness which can carry through the whole book. The first two main viewpoint characters, the original Sheriff and the original Mayor are both killed within the first 1/3 of the novel. Because they are both quite likable and resourceful, as a reader we can never be quite sure that our newest main character is going to survive. It was a risky choice because it may have alienated readers, but I found it to be very successful.

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