Saturday, 2 January 2010

Top Ten of 2000-2010

Allow me to join the fanfare of decade's-best lists with my own submission. The following are ten of my favorite entrees into the genre of Scientific Romances from the last ten years. It is, I admit, slightly skewed by the fact that I don't read a lot of modern literature, and leaves out quite a lot that I would have liked to include. It can also be hard to recall what was actually from this past decade and not what I simply discovered for myself, otherwise this list would be full of films from the 1930's. So in roughly chronological order...

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volumes I and II (1999-2003)
Technically the first volume began publication in 1999, but thanks to ongoing delays ran well into 2000. Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill Invigorated and popularized the current wave of Scientific Romance pastiche by both uniting and dismembering their corps of classic characters as they faced off against Fu Manchu, Moriarty, and the Martians.
Read-or-Die anime OVA (2001)
Completely insane. That is the only way to describe this work of furious genius. Superpowered secret agents of the British Library Special Forces try to stop a gang of genetically engineered and steam-powered historical figures from tracking down a lost manuscript of Beethoven's which will help them take over the world.
Tokyo Disneysea theme park (Opened 2001)
Couched within the confines of the Tokyo Disneysea theme park, in the shadow of it's great Mount Prometheus, is Mysterious Island. Within its secret recesses, Disney's Captain Nemo invites visitors to travel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and to Journey to the Center of the Earth in two of the most amazing theme park attractions in the world.
Treasure Planet film (2002)
An unsung Disney classic. Almost universally panned for having a story that was no worse than any other Disney film, the stunning and inventive setting is more than enough to compensate. It proposes a swashbuckling, romantic aesthetic for the Hubble Age that prefigured the popularity of Disney's pirate band and silhouettes them against beautiful novae and nebulae.
The Amazing Screw-On Head comic (2002) and TV pilot (2006)
Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy, distills all those strange ideas that didn't quite work for his other stories into a completely off-kilter one-shot about America's most amazing Civil War-era secret agent. Then some maniacs decide that this would be great fodder for a TV show. The animated series never made it past the pilot, an adaptation of the comic, but it and its source material are, indeed, amazing.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow film (2004)
A high Pulp adventure cramming every single trope of the two-fisted genre into a single knowing film. Ridiculed by critics who didn't "get" it, Sky Captain was exactly the sort of movie they would have made in the 1930's if they had CGI, right down to the dialogue and acting.
Doctor Who TV series (2005-Present)
Undoubtedly this strains the credibility of this list, but one truly cannot get far in the genre without coming across the TARDIS materializing out of time and space. Several episodes did deal with specifically Victorian-Edwardian settings, like The Next Doctor's steam-powered Cyber-King, Tooth and Claw's lycanthropic threat to Queen Victoria and the Doctor's Edwardian professor's life in Human Nature/Family of Blood. Moreover, it brought back the Doctor from oblivion.
The Prestige film (2006)
Quite likely the most... prestigious... genre film since Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Christopher Nolan, betwixt Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, directs Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in a tour de force of slight-of-hand and scientific abomination. The Prestige is very much in the top echelon of Scientific Romances on film.
La Mécanique du Cœur album (2007)
This album by the French band Dionysos, based on a book of the same name by band founder Mathias Malzieu, tells the story of Jack, a boy born in Edinburgh in 1874 on the coldest night in history. Because of the cold, his heart stalls, forcing the midwife to replace it with clockworks. The catch is that it is so delicate that he must never even left himself fall in love... which, of course, he does. A wildly gyrating album, it is beautifully accompanied by the illustrations and the Burtonesque video for the single "Tais Toi Mon Cœur".
Simoun anime series (2007)
This anime series takes place on a fantastic world where everyone is born female and only those who have not yet chosen a gender are entitled to become the priestess-pilots of the mysterious "Simoun" airships. Though ostensibly a yuri series, far more interesting fodder is found in the theme of an enlightened theocracy holistically integrating religion and technology, and how that society deals with the wars they are forced into with one secular, industrial nation and another zealously fundamentalist one.

Very honorable mentions go out to the Bang! Howdy (2006) and Bang! Heroes (2009) online video games, Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), The Celestial Railroad planetarium show (2006), Sarah Brightman's La Luna album (2000), The Call of Cthulhu modern silent film (2005), Studio Ghibli's Iblard Jikan (2007) short and the whole Studio Ghibli Museum (Opened 2001).


ArtSnark said...

great suggestions. Looking forward to checking out R.O.D. - looks like it is available on Netfix "watch instantly"

Cory Gross said...

You're welcome! They were really tough to narrow down and came down to choices about "what would my life be more impoverished by lacking?" ^_^

I hope you like ROD. It's insane and awesome!

Pierre Fournier said...

A terrific list, and some intriguing suggestions. Thanks!

Gotthammer said...

What did you think of Steamboy?

Cory Gross said...

Not much ^_~