Speaker for the Dead: Card’s Creatures (Part II)

This is the second part of a two-part post. Click here for Part I

Hello again, everyone.

This is the final post in my series on Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead and the last post of my rotation this month. Last week I started explaining how Card’s Piggies demonstrate his advice about writing aliens from his book How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy .as I’ve previously discussed in my series on writing aliens. This week I’ll finish that up with the last two points: Culture and Environment. This is a really great book and series (I’ve since gotten into Ender’s Shadow and love it so far) so I highly recommend them! As before, a warning:


Culture: The Problem of Monocultures

spock leonard nimoy generation 1 star trek
Star Trek is rife with monocultures. They tried a little harder in later generations.

As I’ve said before, the concepts of Biology, Culture, and Environment that Card focuses on in his advice are interrelated. But the fact that these elements blur only occurs if you are approaching the writing of your aliens correctly according to Card’s method: if you want to make memorable, believable, and unique aliens, you have to think about these elements of biology, culture, and environment related to each other. To do otherwise is carelessness or flawed in concept.

Culture is a construct, as much in the fictional world as in reality. The way we live here on the east coast of the US is different from how they live in the Congo, for example. Much of this has to do with people having to learn how to adapt to their environment, and our biology dictates our needs and desires within that environment. Other elements are dependent on the rational mind: art, science, law, and other marks of civilization go beyond mere survival to creating a distinct culture. You’re well served to think through all of these things, of course, but there’s one big problem you should avoid as much as possible: monocultures. You’ve seen them in Star Trek and other science fiction, and it’s incredibly lazy. An entire world, one giant, homogeneous culture? Even if you’re trying to convince me that your aliens have formed one world government and nation, it is unbelievable that regional differences would not create a varied culture, even if there are some overarching constants. It’s one of the weaselly ways that stories get around the problem of entire worlds needing to be filled.

I give up on finding illustrations of the piggies that aren’t either terrifying or terrible.

That said, the Piggies are, in a way, a monoculture. If the author’s tendency for making monocultures is based in the difficulty of filling an entire world with varied aliens, Card sidesteps the issue quite nicely. The human scientists who encounter the Piggies are not allowed to go out and explore the rest of the planet by order of the International Fleet, for one thing. They can’t verify how the rest of the planet’s Piggies act, so we can’t see if there are significant variations of culture. The Piggies are all stone-age in their technology, so that does limit how much their culture would have differentiated (very low communication technology, for example, restricts the spread of ideas). But the main reason the Piggies make sense as a monoculture is because their lives are tied so closely to their biology. As I mentioned in the last post, the Piggies’ reproduction is tied to the forests they live in. The trees themselves play a role, because in a way the trees are Piggies. I’ll leave the exact mechanism a secret for now (mostly because I can’t think of a way to explain it that makes much sense or doesn’t come off as really weird), but the basics are that Card has come up with a really unique life cycle for his aliens which defines everything they do, from their language, to how they make their tools and weapons, to how they interact with their females. Card’s Piggies are not quite a monoculture, but in this case, Card has shown a narrow exception to his own rule.

Environment: Defining a People’s Limitations

Assuming biology is basically the same across the board, the way your aliens live in different environments should look very different. Think about how humans live on Earth: in the desert, on the tundra, on the coasts and islands… we are very fortunate that Earth’s environment is so beautifully varied. The mistake many SF writers make is that they decide on a particular biome and say “Yeah let’s just make an entire planet like that.” Well, it’s not that easy! First of all, you have to make sure what you’re describing is actually possible. Even if you’ve come up with some contrived reason that the planet makes sense, someone, at some point in your story needs to be curious. It would make sense that the stone-age natives of a cube-shaped planet wouldn’t blink at the revelation of this fact. But it would be silly if no one took issue with this fact and tried to figure out the mystery of it. Barring any crazy, plot-affecting features, if a planet is hospitable for whatever reason, if we are to assume that something can live there, it’s got to be well adapted. If the planet is  fairly hospitable, you would be well served to come up with some reasons why it isn’t basically just Earth 2.0 (unless that’s a plot point).

Piggy acryllic painting
I guess this one is pretty nice, although a little inaccurate.

Card’s Piggie homeworld Lusitania is basically what you’d call a “garden world,” being mostly habitable temperate zones with some small polar icecaps. A majority of the landmass is covered with vegetation, and the Piggies live pretty much everywhere. On the surface, it looks a lot like earth, which might otherwise be inconsequential to the plot (it doesn’t always have to be a big deal). But there’s one major difference that makes Lusitania very strange and un-earthlike: it lacks diversity to an extreme. An otherwise fertile planet that, much to the human visitors’ surprise, has very few species. This becomes extremely important to the plot of Speaker for the Dead as the human scientists unravel the mystery of the planet’s lack of numerous animals and plants, and its connection to the Descolada, a terrible plague that was only narrowly cured. I won’t spoil anymore, except to say that Card’s Lusitania is a great example of his interwoven approach, making each aspect of his world reliant on the other. The effect is unique and memorable.

That’s it for this week, and this series! I did my best not to spoil the best parts of the book, so if you haven’t read Speaker for the Dead, definitely pick it up! I’d also recommend How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy to anyone interested in writing in either genre. Card has a lot a great advice, with great examples from his own work.

Speaker for the Dead: Card’s Creatures

This is the first part of a two-part post. Click here for Part II

Hello again, everyone. Erik the Reddest here for the next part in my series about Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead, the second book of his Ender saga. I’ve spent the last couple weeks giving some additional counter examples to my HHH post based on my original example of Ender Wiggin. This week, I’ll be taking a closer look at how Card designed his aliens in this book, compared to a few of the more important pointers he gives in his book How to Write Science Fiction and FantasyOnce again:


It Would Be Rather Pointless If He Didn’t Actually Write This Way

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy Orson Scott CardI find it extremely interesting that there are so many “How to Write” books written and readily available to be snapped up and learned from, and just as many different, valid methods to the process. There are, however, a few constants in these books: you generally only want to really focus on the ones written by people whose writing you respect. If the book was written by either nameless authors contracted by the publisher, or someone who you’ve never read anything from, you’re not likely to connect with their advice, and they’re probably just regurgitating general academic conventions or mimicking the actual masters of the craft. You’re much better served to seek out books written by authors of books that really floored you, that did something you truly didn’t expect.

To me, Card was that author, and Card’s book on writing was like a window opened to let fresh air into a musty room. So much of the generic advice like “write what you know!” that I found in other handbooks and guides didn’t really make sense until I had a context to put it in. Card’s methods, for the writing process in general and the SF and Fantasy genres in specific, were both grounded in a book I had actually read in which he demonstrated these things. While it was important that Card actually did what he talked about, it was more important to see that it worked.

Much of his advice can be narrowed to one basic admonition: don’t be lazy, implications matter. This expresses itself in many ways, but three that I’ll talk about today: Creature Design, Culture, and Environment. The trick? All three of these elements are separate, but thoroughly entangled ideas. And Card demonstrates these three considerations expertly in the Piggies, the alien race introduced in Speaker for the Dead.

Creature Design: Clearly Evolved, but How?

aliens xenomorph
Scary and weird and completely nonsensical

As I said in Part I of my series on writing aliens, I don’t believe that macro-evolution occurs in our world. This doesn’t mean, however, that it could occur in a story, and it remains a very logical and effective means for brainstorming ideas for exotic and interesting aliens. It isn’t enough anymore for aliens to just be scary or strange. They need to make sense for modern audiences to accept them. If a creature simply doesn’t seem like it could exist (never mind whether or not it does, or should, for that matter), you lose your audience. Simple as that. And evolution is a convenient logical construction that makes the process fairly simple. You ask yourself: what sort of creatures could live here, based on the idea that life adapts to its conditions for optimal survival? So, you either decide what sort of place it is and figure out what lives there, or the other way around, starting with who you want to live there.

But Card’s Piggies turn that all on its head, to great effect. After clearly establishing what evolution dictates should be on Lusitania, Card gives us a world that doesn’t make sense. Where myriad diversity should have created a complex ecosystem, the number of species runs in single digits. Water snakes seem to spontaneously generate out of the riverbank. The large cattle are all female, but consistently give birth. And the one sentient race of creatures on the planet appear to all be male.

Card’s design for the Piggies is deliberately inter-related with his plot, his world, design, and the mystery of the rest of his world which is unraveled during the course of the story. The Piggies themselves are innocuous (I mean come on, what could be less threatening than a little pig-man?), mythical, and mysterious right down to the biological level. While they have some physical features that make immediate sense, like their opposable digits which generally accompany intelligent life, they are very specialized for their tree-dwelling culture. One Earth, or on another similarly diversely populated planet, we wouldn’t give that element a second glance. But on Lusitania, it doesn’t make sense.

If monkeys developed their climbing ability as a way to stay away from predators, why did the Piggies? For that matter, what about the strange multiple languages that they speak, especially the mysterious Father Tongue, which involves a ritual dance and beating of sticks and singing? Card’s design of the Piggies goes to show that you can’t just arbitrarily stick feelers and bug-eyes on people and call ’em aliens. I mean, you can, and lots of people would agree with you (heck, the feelers would be enough for that), but they wouldn’t be very good, would they? Unless you consider the implications carefully. Every decision Card made about how the Piggies look and act revolves around their connection to everything else in his story.

That’s it for this week! Next week I’ll get into the other two areas that Card’s Piggies demonstrate. Until then, have you read Speaker for the Dead or Xenocide? If so, what do you think of Card’s aliens? Let me know in the comments below.

Speaker for the Dead: The Piggies

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy Orson Scott Card
Card’s book on genre writing, which I definitely recommend!

Hello again everyone! Last week I tap-danced around spoilers while attempting to give an explanation of what Orson Scott Card’s character Ender Wiggin is in Speaker for the Dead, but this week I’m not going to be able to keep that up. I want to get into what makes this book good writing, and to do that I need to actually talk about the writing in more detail. I want to talk about the design of Card’s alien race which introduced in this book and plays a role in the next book in the Ender Saga, Xenocide, but to do that I need to spoil a few important plot-related details. I could try to do this in another very round-about post, but I’ve decided not to hamstring myself. All that to say:


But even if you decide to read the rest of this post and learn a few of these details, the book is still well worth your read. The details I reveal have vast implications that only become clear if you read the book, and Card’s other characters are excellent.

Another note before we begin: the reason I want to talk about the Piggies (and Speaker for the Dead, for that matter) is because Card demonstrates very well all of the things he talks about in his book How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, which I’ve examined thoroughly in a post series I did a while ago called Science Fiction Problems: How to Write Aliens. Check out the posts if you want to see Card’s tips and tricks, and my examples. Without further ado, let’s talk about the Piggies.

Piggies, Pequeninos, or “The Little Ones”: an Introduction

Ender’s life’s work, as I talked about in the last post, is to prevent a second xenocide from occurring. After the humans wiped out the Bugger homeworld and therefore killed every Bugger everywhere else in the galaxy, the humans started colonizing the now empty previously Bugger-inhabited worlds. During this process, the humans came across a garden world which they call Lusitania, and while it had a very limited ecosystem with surprisingly few species of flora and fauna, the colony, founded by a new wave of Catholic charters which were pushing out from the home system of Earth, was able to eke out a living fairly easily. All of this is complicated when the short, bipedal, pig-like creatures that lived in the forests of this world were found to be intelligent. For the first time since the Bugger Wars 3000 years before, humans had found a non-human sentient race.

But unlike the Buggers who were space-faring and efficient in war and inter-stellar colonization, the Piggies (called this because, well, they look like earth-pigs walking on their hind legs) were basically stone-age. Not even that, really. More like… wooden age? The Piggies didn’t event really use tools except some inexplicably sharp and durable wooden knives, and sturdy wooden clubs used in their infrequent wards with other Piggy tribes. They speak verbal language. In fact, they speak several of their own languages, and quickly learn the human languages of Stark (short for Starways Common) and Portuguese (the cultural language of the settlers of Lusitania). The Piggies love song and conversation, and ravenously seek knowledge and learning in any form they can manage, especially when they figure out that the humans have so much they could teach them. From a world-building perspective, the Piggies are basically a complete 180 from the Buggers, with one very important exception.

Formic Wars Burning Earth Vol 1 1 graphic novel cover
Another terrifying rendering of Card’s alien race. Seems like it’d be hard to feel sorry about killing those things!

The plot of Ender’s Game, centered around the looming threat of the terrible Bugger fleet which so incredibly outmatched the human starships, all stemmed from one primary theme: miscommunication. The entire Bugger war, from the initial contact in which the Buggers killed humans indiscriminately and viciously, to their wiping out most of the starfleet scrambled together by the frantic humans, to the annihilation of the Bugger homeworld, were all because humans could not talk to the Formics. The insect-like beings evolved, unsurprisingly, from a hive-like species centered around a queen, mingling the minds of the entire colony into one consciousness. They never talked to each other, and so did not have any idea how to communicate. In fact, the Formics’ mode of “communication” is basically telepathy, instant thinking to each other in such a way that made each individual drone nothing more than an extension. So the queens, controlling their drone-children from light-years away, came across the ships filled with squishy humans and thought they were basically killing communications antennae, not people. Opposite, the humans thought they were fighting a monstrous, xenocidal race of war-machines bent on destroying them. It was only through Ender, who lead the human fleet that destroyed the Bugger homeworld and killed all of their queens, that the human race eventually realized the tragic mistake, that they all killed each other only because they didn’t know how to communicate.

The Pequeninos, which is Portuguese for “little ones,” do speak, but a grave miscommunication occurs that Ender fears may result in another xenocide. As soon as the Starways Congress finds out that the Piggies are sentient, they order that the colony on Lusitania would be fenced in and isolated so that the new intelligent beings would not be contaminated culturally or technologically. They do, however, allow two scientists to directly interact with the Piggies to research them, disallowing and direct questions that might reveal information about the humans, or introduce corrupting influences. The Piggies kill two of the scientists working with them, ritualistically vivisecting them.

Essentially, Card has hit the same theme of miscommunication from an entirely new angle. Humans are in the seat of terrible power, able to completely destroy the Piggies just as the Buggers were no doubt able. And to some people, the Piggies have just announced that they are uninterested in living peacefully. After working so hard to get this second change right, for humans to redeem themselves for the mistake of the Bugger War, the pendulum has swung too far. By isolating the Piggies, their hunger for knowledge, to be uplifted from their primitive lives into the space age only grows, and the scientific community is completely incapable of learning anything meaningful about them.

Orson Scott Card Speaker for the Dead graphic novel #3 piggy and Ender
A little less terrifying. Still hard to empathize with, though.

The Piggies themselves are so integrated into their environments that they could literally not live anywhere else. They rely on the massive trees of their forests for their reproduction, just as every other species in the world of Lusitania (except the humans, of course) relies on a partnered plant species for its reproduction. The Piggies (and the Buggers, to a degree) are probably they only cases I’ve seen for legitimate monocultures, something I harped on in Part II of my series. But as I also talked about in Part II, this biology also figures directly into their culture. The Piggies revere the trees, and their terminology and turns of phrase revolve around their relationship with the forest, and not in the sort of cliche elf-y sort of way we hear so often in bad fantasy books.

And that’s enough for one post! Next week I’ll get into how the Piggies fulfill Card’s recommendations for how to write aliens quite beautifully. Until then, have you read Ender’s Game or Speaker for the Dead? What do you think of the Buggers or the Piggies? Let me know in the comments below!

In Defense of Daleks: A Short Examination of a Science Fiction Icon

Hello everyone! Last week I made a vague promise that I would post some of my own writing, and I will… next week! For today, I’d like to address what I see as an injustice in the science fiction world, one which rivals the assumption that Star Trek is overrated or that Jean Luc Picard isn’t the best captain of the Enterprise (all arguments to the contrary will be dismissed out of hand). I’m talking about the undeserved hate, derision, and mockery of those lovable murderous trash receptacles, the Daleks of Dr. Who fame.
Dr. Who daleks 2012I admit it, at first I found them to be cheesy and annoying. Seriously, the writers had to make them fly because otherwise their little wheels would get stuck on uneven pavement (not to mention stairs). But then I saw the original Dalek episode, from the original Dr. Who series, and I started thinking. What did the writers of various Dr. Who series accomplish with the Daleks? They created an iconic villain, and in the continuing series, barely modified them. And why not? The dorky cyborgs struck a coord, and BBC was quite happy to leave it at that..

Designing Daleks: Anything but Human

When you take a look at the Daleks, what do you see? A salt-shaker body? An egg-beater dalek designgun? A toilet plunger hand? What don’t you see?

Anything human. This is the primary theme of the designer’s vision of the Daleks. Entirely inhuman, cold and invincible, mad and dangerous. You have to remember, most aliens of this era in tv and movies were just people wearing makeup and masks. While they still come off as corny looking back, there are numerous fans that say these contraptions scared the pants off them when they were little, and when you think it, that’s not surprising.

Ignoring the low-budget production values, even if you didn’t think the Daleks were scary, they were still intriguing as alien creatures. Who are we to say how a mad alien space nazi would design his cyborg creations, anyway? Why shouldn’t they fly, it’s not like they need to be aerodynamic with anti-gravity anyway. Stairs? Psh. As the saying goes, ‘A real Dalek doesn’t climb stairs, he levels the building.’ Even if the execution is a bit sophomoric, the Daleks are undoubtedly effectively designed aliens that made for fun tv.

And Then the Internet Happened

Fast forward twenty years or so, and we’re a lot less scared by non-human aliens. Daleks have ceased to scare anyone except the very young, and Dr. Who as a show has moved from trying to maintain any semblance of seriousness and instead embraces an attitude of endearing goofiness with some really neat ideas and a few genuinely creepy creatures thrown in.

dalek in bathtub Exfoliate!Yet the Daleks have a new place, one that didn’t exist in their debut: the internet meme. Along with the nostalgia factor, fans of Dr. Who love to laugh at (and with) the Daleks, creating images like these that almost made me spew my tea all over my brand new laptop while looking for images. Even if they don’t scare anyone anymore, people love these aliens to the degree that’s hard to replicate. I know I’d love nothing more than for people to endlessly photoshop and caption something created. While I am by no means a drooling Dr. Who fanboy, I’ve definitely stopped hating the Daleks and personally respect the stroke of brilliance (and good luck) that the designers employed to create one of the biggest cult icons in all of science fiction.

That’s it for this week! Next week I’ll introduce some of my personal writing process and show off some work of my own! Until then, what do you think of the Daleks? Let me know in the comments below!

Prometheus (a.k.a. Alien -1)

HPrometheus poster imageello everyone! This one’s running a tad late today- I’ve been training for a new job this week! I was also going to make this week’s post about Neuromancer, but after seeing Prometheus this last weekend, my brain’s been stuck in the Aliens universe (and no, not in a good way). So, next week I’ll be starting a two-parter on Neuromancer, but this week is going to be something of a review of Prometheus, as well as a look into some of the problems I see in the Aliens universe.

*WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS. I’ll try not to give anything important away, but I might accidentally spoil something cool for you if you haven’t already seen the movie.*

The Problem of Prequels

In case you didn’t already know, Prometheus is a prequel to Alien, the first movie of the Alien movie posterAliens franchise, and thus attempts to round out some inconsistencies and confusion of the series of movies as a whole. This is already a daunting task, as the list includes Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien Resurrection, Alien Vs. Predatorand Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem  for a total of 6 films, not including other related novels, videogames, and the Predator films.

With such a huge array of stories from so many different directors and writers, it’s no wonder that the Aliens universe is… less than cohesive. There are so many different plot elements and world elements that people find inconsistent, but here are a few that I have personally questioned, that I hoped the Prometheus movie would at least touch on:

  • The Origin of the Aliens: From the first movie, the nature of the xenomorphs (as they’re called in the canon novels and spinoffs) is extremely vague and cryptic. Are they intelligent? Where do they come from? Everything we know about the aliens from the other movies can only be inferred since everyone’s a tad too busy dying or running for their lives to stop and explain anything.
  • The Nature of A.I. in the Aliens Universe: The idea of “robots” (as they’re commonly referred to in the movies) is prevalant and consistent, and explained in far more detail than the xenomorphs are. However, by the time of the first movie, androids (artificial humans designed to behave and function just like their biological counterparts) are already very developed and continue to advance as the series continues. How did they begin? How come they haven’t basically taken over (there’s that hairy technological singularity question again)? There isn’t enough information yet to really understand the nature of A.I. in the Aliensuniverse.

    bishop android aliens
    It doesn’t take long for these guys to get torn apart or something. Poor Bishop…
  • Where do Humans Fit In: The state of humanity and its exploration of the universe is always very unclear in the movies, partly because different films are set in different time periods, some modern, some future, some really future. In order to understand the world more (for example, how people keep getting mixed up with these confounded aliens to begin with, and why are they seemingly always surprised to be) we need to have a better idea of where humans came to be exploring and colonizing other worlds, and why they went out there in the first place. Is Earth out of resources? Are corperations and governments seeking profits and boons from the stars? We don’t know.

So, I don’t think those questions are unreasonable, do you? Considering that we already have six movies in the franchise, it seems like these should be a little more fleshed out. So, does Prometheus answer these questions?

In Short, Kind of.

I’m not going to get into all of the non-scifi aspects of this movie except to say that Rotten Tomatoes gives it passable 73% and IMDB gives it a slightly more enthusiastic 7.7 out of 10. You can make up your mind from these sites if that makes it worth the money as they’re a heck of a lot more qualified reviewers than I am. However, from a world-building and continuity perspective, I think this movie takes some strong strides to accomplish its function as a prequel, but fails to overall reconcile the franchise and simultaneously stay strong enough stand alone to warrant my $12. Based on the above three main questions, here’s how Prometheus handles it (again, some spoilers are inevitable):

  • The Aliens: This question is handled most directly in the movie, effectively showing that the xenomorphs were created as a weapon by an alien race to use against humankind, but didn’t quite make it to us (this plays a part in the movie’s presentation of it’s particular brand of Extraterrestrial Panspermia, but I won’t get into that yet). We see the aliens grow and develop from a jelly-like sludge to a primal form of the iconic sausage-headed brain muncher throughout the movie, which serves to at least show us how it got its shape. However, since the revelation of the aliens being created bioweapons is closely tied to the philosophical thrust of the movie, it creates problems. If the aliens were created as a weapon, why did their creators decide humans all need to die? Inevitably, this creates almost more questions than it answers, and we can only hope that the heavily hinted-at sequel to Prometheus further explains these new problems. Overall, it doesn’t feel like this has been resolved at all, just pushed further down the road.
  • A.I.: Here’s where my favorite part of the whole movie comes in: the character of David android prometheusDavid the Android. The fact that he’s an android (unlike in two of the other Aliens movies) is not a spoiler as you find it out almost immediately (and the studio released several promotional videos for the movies, one in which David is featured). David is exactly what we’d expect the first few generations of synthetic humans to be like: awkwardly or unsettlingly unemotional, extremely intelligent yet lacking human appreciation for life or morality, and a scary level of pragmatism that becomes a main catalyst for most of the plot. David explains the franchise’s A.I. characters to a further degree, at least giving us an idea of where they come from. While his character suffers from a few writing mistakes creating problems understanding his motivation (or at least his orders), I still think that he fleshed out this area of the Aliens world better than the other two points.
  • Where do Humans Fit In: Well, cosmically, I suppose this movie answers that completely (see: Extraterrestrial Panspermia), but I find that kind of odd because it’s not really a question that the Aliens franchise has ever been concerned with (at least not in any of them that I’ve seen, which I’m pretty sure is all of them). I won’t go into exactly how this plays out, but the origin of the xenomorphs is closely tied with the origin of humanity. Other than that, we get much closer (but still future) setting than the other Aliens movies that helps to fill in the gaps technologically. We still don’t know exactly why humans are taking to the stars, but by the conversation of characters in Prometheus we can deduce that it is fairly normal now and many companies are investing in terraforming efforts. So, the odd shoe-horning of philosophy aside, Prometheus does offer a few more glimpses into where humanity comes from.

Overall, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the movie, even if there were tons of little things that bugged me. I’ve always enjoyed the Aliens movies, even if they’ve always been pretty hit or miss (just check out those IMDB.com scores… they’re all over the place), but I think that most of the issues were writing-related rather than sci-fi faux pas. It was an admirable attempt to illuminate a pretty crazily constructed universe, and it did a decent job of it. If you’ve liked the Aliens movies in the past (even in spite of the stinkers and outdated special effects), you should definitely see it, if only to see the beautiful landscapes, neat sci-fi special effects, and to meet David, who is awesome.

So, what do you all think? Are the Aliens movies a hit or miss for you? Let me know in the comments below!