Her: A Very Short Review

by Brenda W. Clough

her2 Her, by Spike Jonze, is an Oscar-winning movie came out in 2013. I haven’t gotten around to seeing it until now, and it is, I am delighted to report, the purest SF you ever saw. You want near future tech? The impact of a new invention upon society? Here we go! And this is deliciously up-to-the-minute, with pocket computers, sexting, and online relationships. And, finally, we make that Asimov/Clarke jump into bigger questions that leave mere humans lamenting.

Joaquin Phoenix is superb in this film, nuanced and undramatic, conveying nerdguy angst beautifully. The genre writer in me kept on waiting for the explosions, the blood, the violence, but it never came. And have a look at the worldbuilding. A future world is hinted at, not with moving sidewalks or ray guns but with small daily things. Subtle and tight, all of it, the antithesis of the summer movie.

The ebook version of my novel How Like a God is now available from Book View Cafe.

How Like a God, by Brenda W. CloughMy newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.

I also have stories in Book View Café’s two steampunk anthologies, The Shadow Conspiracy and The Shadow Conspiracy II, as well as in BVC’s many other anthologies, including our latest, Beyond Grimm.

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Her: A Very Short Review — 8 Comments

    • It is the exact opposite of a summer blockbuster. It has not a prayer of winning the film awards. There are no SFX. There is no real sex. Everything is driven by the need and desire for =emotional= connection. How rare is that?

    • It’s definitely worth seeing. I didn’t think I wanted to see it, either, and I spent most of the movie thinking critical thoughts. But the end shattered all those opinions. It’s brilliant SF. Just trust Brenda and me and see it.

  1. I enjoyed “Her,” but (spoiler) when the book got published, I couldn’t let go of the copyright issues. Those letters were clearly work for hire, and he was probably under a confidentiality agreement as well! How could they get away with publishing them under his name?

    • It doesn’t go into the social impacts of his job at all. If you had a business, having emotional letters written for other people, then it must be well known. How would you get customers, without advertising? So =everybody= must know about it. It cannot be a secret.
      And therefore: when you receive a ‘letter’ from WhateverTheBusinessWas, it must be like Hallmark cards — you get a mother’s day card, and no it is not the same as a handwritten letter from your son, but it is tons better than nothing. Everyone must accept this. There is no expectation that the Hallmark card in your hand was written especially for you, and you would not expect to hold the copyright for it.
      The work-for-hire aspects, more difficult.

  2. Right — I was thinking that probably the company (it was called “BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com”) would own the copyrights to the letters. I would also expect that when a client signed up for the service, there would be some kind of privacy policy guaranteeing that letters written on their behalf, which might include intimate details, wouldn’t be made public. Either one of those would be enough to put the kibosh on any possibility of an employee writer publishing them in a book.

    Honestly, I think the existence of that company may have been my favorite thing about the movie. If I had the option to hire “BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com” to write my thank-you letters for me, I would totally do it.

    • One of the things the movie did really well was to get the computery-ness of modern life up in a viewable, movie-fied way. This is hard. My son reports of TV shows where when the characters text each other the words appear under their images on the screen. This is also how SHERLOCK does it, and the big downside is that the words flash up on the screen, usually against a moving and dark background, often in a font that is not large and high-contrast enough. So I can’t read it!
      In this movie it’s all verbalized Theodore talks to his computer aloud; he dictates the beautiful handwritten letters (which then appear on his screen in a handwrity font!). It is perfect. (And I have just written a trilogy revolving around voice control of tech…)