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Here are the reasons why you should go out and watch District 9 right now:

1.  A gun that makes people explode into dribbly bits of goo.

2.  A baby alien that is somehow adorable and repulsive simultaneously.

3.  Those wicked-cool South African accents.

4.  A new use for cat food.

5.  The most impressive character arc this side of Pilgrim’s Progress.

It’s development like the one experienced by the main character, a man named Wikus, that sends me giggling back to my keyboard day after day.  To see an ineffectual, unlikeable corporate toadie become a genuinely sympathetic character, and to see it happen without any jarring, unlikely behaviour, and to see it happen in less than two hours…  Well, it’s a work of art.

Kudos to Neil Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell.  Kudos, I say.

I long to create something so delicate as the handling of poor Wikus.  I ache to create something so subtle and nuanced in a world that has been bludgeoned with hyperbole to the point that loudmouthed infomercial stars (“You’re gonna be slapping your troubles away with Slap Chop!”) are accepted as reasonable.  TV is a spout of clichéd lines, flat characters, and shameless overacting (Yes, Erin, I’m talking about Y & R).  99% of the movie industry revolves around pyrotechnics and sex.  Formula trumps originality in popular fiction.

Everything has become bright and garish and loud and blunt.

One of the Children of the Storm, another product of the District

One of the dark ones (Children of the Storm), another product of the District

I want to make sympathetic aliens and flawed humans.  I want little details in a story to make people cry.  I want to tell tales of improbable things that still feel as real as the page in your hand.  I hate that my brain struggles so much to do it.  I want to paint the verbal equivalent of the Mona Lisa, but someone has handed me a two-inch utility brush and all the paint is in shades of fluorescent.

Twice during the day, Emily saw a single dark one break from the group, hanging back and watching the fields.  And each time that happened, two other scouts would place themselves within sight of the lone target.

“They’re trying to bait thee,” Trust said after the second time it happened.  “Just as they tried yesterday.  They are willing to risk one of their own in order to catch thee.  They do not care for their kin’s safety.  They are animals.”

The two of them peered through the tall grasses of a hilltop.

Emily watched them closely.

“No,” she said.  “They aren’t.  They look like us, more or less.  They talk like us.  They care for their children.  They are awful, and they are murderous, but they aren’t animals.”  Emily loathed herself for saying it, but she loathed herself even more for having killed so many of them, even if they were responsible for the death of her friends.  There was something about the presence of another person, a real, warm human being that had drawn her out from the deepest depths of her hate.  She still wanted revenge, and she still wanted freedom for the peregrini captives, but she did not feel like that black cloud was about to drag her under again.  Not for now, anyway.

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