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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

Ripleys

[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

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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

Recent Reading Roundup 60

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The first recent reading roundup of the year reflects the reading preoccupations of the first few months of the year. Which is to say, catching up with all the books I mean to get to last year and either didn't have the time, or the access to. Only one of the books discussed here is a 2024 publication (and even that is a reprint from 1844), and there is still quite a lot published last year that I'd like to get to. Orbital by Samantha Harvey - More a prose poem than a novel, Harvey's slim, evocative volume is a minutely detailed description of one day aboard the International Space Station. Divided into chapters according to the station's orbits around the Earth (sixteen in one day), the novel delves into both the personal and the mechanical with equal degrees of sensitivity and emotional remove. We learn about the station's routines, the compromises and indignities of life in zero gravity, and the mechanics of maintaining the station and caring for the—far from pr