Recent Movie: I Saw the TV Glow

Owen (Ian Foreman) is a lonely, withdrawn tween in an anonymous American suburb in the mid-90s. A chance encounter with older girl Maddy (Brigette Lundy-Paine) introduces Owen to the long-running supernatural adventure series The Pink Opaque , in which teens Isabel (Helena Howard) and Tara (Lindsey Jordan) use their psychic connection to battle monsters dispatched by the evil Mr. Melancholy. Supplied with past episodes on VHS tapes by Maddy, Owen quickly becomes entranced by the show's tangled mythology, evocative fusion of fantastical and everyday elements, and the close bond between its heroines. But as Maddy becomes more invested in the show, her dissatisfaction with her real life grows, and she eventually disappears. Years later, Owen (now played by Justice Smith) is shocked when Maddy returns, insisting that she has realized their world isn't real. She and Owen, she claims, are Tara and Isabel, who have been captured by Mr. Melancholy, dosed with poison, and buried alive.

Recent Reading: The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

In the near-future of Bradley's debut novel, the British government has developed a form of time travel. The newly-formed, titular ministry decides to test the technology (and discover any nasty side effects it might have) by reaching into the past and plucking from it several people who were on the verge of death—a near-victim of the great plague of London, a woman about to be sent to the guillotine in 1793. When these "expats" fail to immediately expire, the ministry establishes a program to slowly acclimate them to their new era by matching each one with a "bridge", with whom they will live for a year. The nameless narrator, a British-Cambodian woman, is assigned to Commander Graham Gore, a member of Franklin's doomed 1845 expedition to discover the Northwest Passage.  As Bradley writes in her foreword to my ARC copy, the inspiration for The Ministry of Time came from being locked down during the pandemic and binge-watching AMC's adaptation of The Te

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

The first thing that must be said about this movie is that it should not work. It's a prequel to one of the most mind-blowing, groundbreaking, and just plain revolutionary action movies of the 21st century—and prequels are a bad idea in most cases, but all the more so when the character they revolve around has already given you their entire backstory in their original introduction, which is also the final, culminating act of their character arc. (To put it another way, if you had asked me, nine years ago, which character I thought offered more fertile ground for prequel storytelling, Imperator Furiosa or Han Solo, I would have picked Han without a moment's hesitation, and I don't even like Han that much.) And it's a follow-up to a movie whose chief virtue lies in its conciseness—in being a single, drawn-out, pulse-pounding, increasingly deranged car chase. Which means you can either try to repeat that accomplishment, which will inevitably feel a bit old hat; or you can

Recent Reading: Henry Henry by Allen Bratton

Hal Lancaster is twenty-two, gay, Catholic, and the oldest son of a duke. He spends his days (and nights) bouncing from party to bar and back again, buying and consuming cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol, sleeping with inappropriate men, and dodging the calls of his father, Henry, who is constantly lamenting his son and heir's profligacy and dissipation, deriding him for his lack of purpose or sense of duty, and making dark predictions about the fate of the family line on the day Hal inherits his role. You may have already spotted some Shakespeare references in that description, but the early chapters of Allen Bratton's debut novel are positively swimming in them. Hal has a best friend named Ed Poins , and a frenemy named Harry Percy — who unlike Hal, perfectly embodies the ideal aristocratic heir while also having professional and political aspirations. Much of his carousing is done in the company of washed-up actor Jack Falstaff , and Henry only became the duke because his cousi


[This post first appeared on Lawyers, Guns & Money, April 26, 2024 ] I have an embarrassing reading habit to confess. A book can sit in my TBR for months, years, decades even, but the thing that will finally persuade me to read it will be the news of a forthcoming film or television adaptation. In the case of Patricia Highsmith's classic novel of psychological suspense and identity theft, The Talented Mr. Ripley , I have somehow outdone myself. I first heard about the book in my teens, when it was adapted to the screen by Anthony Minghella. And so, with every honorable intention of reading the book before watching the movie, I somehow set both aside for a quarter century. It was only this year, when the news broke that Steve Zaillian would be producing a prestige miniseries adaptation of the novel for Netflix, that I finally kept my promise. As is often the case with such extreme procrastination, once the mental block that kept me from picking up The Talented Mr. Ripley was br

Announcing Track Changes: Selected Reviews by Abigail Nussbaum

Cover design by Tom Joyes I'm thrilled to announce that my first collection of reviews, Track Changes , will be published by Briardene Books this summer. Track Changes collects nearly sixty reviews from nearly twenty years of writing, covering novels, short fiction, television, and film in the science fiction and fantasy genres. It is, as the title suggests, a chronicle of shifting tides in genre fiction, in world politics, and in my own understanding of both. I've been working on this book for nearly a year, selecting, evaluating, and re-editing my old material, and the result is something that I am very proud of. Track Changes will be published in paperback (and those of you familiar with Briardene will know that it is going to be a handsome, substantial volume) and ebook versions. Both are available for preorder from the Briardene website, and the ebook will also be available from other vendors. The gorgeous cover design is by Tom Joyes. Track Changes is scheduled for p

Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford

Joe Barrow is a big city murder cop in 1922. A hulking, silent type who dogs the footsteps of his flashier, more loquacious partner Phineas Drummond, looming threateningly over suspects and occasionally roughing them up to get a confession or a lead. In the early hours of a late winter morning, Barrow and Drummond find themselves at the top of a government building, examining the body of a clerk, Fred Hopper, who has been extravagantly and gruesomely killed: throat slashed, ribcage torn open, heart removed. The papers quickly decide that the murder is a ritualistic killing, a conclusion spurred on by the city's business elite, who hope to use it to foment racial violence. As Drummond pursues that line of investigation, Barrow is approached by powerful figures in the city's leadership, who want him to prove that Hopper's death was orchestrated by those who wish to undermine their power. So far, we have the makings of a classic hardboiled, Jazz Age mystery. But the context to