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Showing posts from June, 2006

Recent Movie Roundup 2

Haven't done one of these in a while. Mostly because, if you go through the AtWQ archives and dig up the three or four posts I've written about films in the last six months, you'll have a pretty good record of my movie-going activities. Seriously, is it just me or are there less and less reasons to go to the movies these days? It's been months since I walked into, or out of, a movie theatre feeling that my time and money were well-spent. This particular roundup incorporates rented films and even one that I caught on TV, but I can't say that it whets my appetite for more of the artform (which is not to say, of course, that I don't have appointments for Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and Superman Returns. I'm a good little sheep in that respect).
Casanova (2005) - I really wasn't expecting great things from this movie. The trailer makes it look like yet another attempt at clunky historical revisionism, plus that old chestnut, the rake reformed by a progr…

Good News, Everyone!

It's finally official:
Comedy Central has resurrected the former Fox animated series from "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening and David X. Cohen. At least 13 new episodes will be produced -- the first since the series' original run from 1999-2003.

The new batch is part of a deal the cable network made with 20th Century Fox Television last year to pick up syndicated rights to the existing "Futurama" library of 72 episodes. Comedy Central also had an option to air any new episodes produced.

New and old episodes will begin airing in 2008 on Comedy Central. Actors Billy West, Katey Sagal and John DiMaggio have agreed to return as voices for "Futurama."So, what's next on the list of beloved, unfairly-cancelled series whose names start with an F?

UPDATE: Something to tide us over until 2008: A Terrifying Message From Al Gore.

Graduated

Abigail Nussbaum, Bachelor of Sciences in Computer Science.

That is all.

Don't Plan Anything For the Next Couple of Hours--I've Got Some Reading For You

Those of you with LJ accounts may have noticed the increasing references, this past week, to Charlotte Lennox's (an assumed name) The Ms. Scribe Story: An Unauthorized Fandom Biography. If you've passed on reading this riveting, meticulously researched and extremely well-written account of lies, cruelty and manipulation within Harry Potter fandom because you're not a fan of the series or involved with that particular community, I urge you to give it another look. Lennox's document isn't simply an account of one fandom's descent into madness. It is a vital study of group behavior, and of how the online medium accelerates and exacerbates (but by no means causes) the worst impulses of those groups. If you've ever been a member of an online community, no matter how diffuse and ill-defined, if you've ever given any thought to the ways in which the internet redefines the communal experience, you owe it to yourself to read this document.

This is too obscure…

At the Risk of Offending Ursula K. Le Guin and Studio Ghibli Fans...

...neither of which I personally am*, can I just ask why, in light of the furor that met the Sci Fi Channel's decision to cast their version of Earthsea with white leads, hasn't there been a similar uproar at Studio Ghibli's decision to do the same?

I mean, hell, even the Sci Fi Channel cast Danny Glover as Ogion.

* For, interestingly enough, roughly the same reasons. I admire the craftsmanship in both Le Guin's novels and Hayao Miyazki's films, but find both sadly lacking in humor, appealing characters, or a coherent plot. Both novels and films are very beautiful, but offer me nothing to hold on to.

Betrayals by Charles Palliser

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Charles Palliser's novels keep improving on me. His first and probably best-known work, 1989's The Quincunx, is a dense Victorian pastiche, recalling Dickens and Collins as it charts the rising and falling (but mostly falling) fortunes of an innocent boy and his rather foolish mother as they become entangled in a decades-old conspiracy of hidden wills, secret paternities, shady financial schemes and the occasional murder. The Quincunx is an accomplished novel but also a rather chilly one. Palliser's period recreation is pitch-perfect, but he takes far too much pleasure in educating his readers. A good half of The Quincunx's generous page-count is given over to (admittedly fascinating) lectures about the inner workings of some obscure aspect of life in England in the 19th century--the secret society of sewer-combers, who make their living by sifting offal for discarded cash and valuables; the intricate pecking order that governs the downstairs sections of a grand house;…

Self-Promotion 8

My review of Geoff Ryman's latest novel, The King's Last Song, appears in today's Strange Horizons.

SH's reviews editor, Niall Harrison, is also the new co-editor of the British Science Fiction Association's critical journal, Vector, and along with fellow editor Geneva Melzack has recently launched Torque Control, a Vector blog which is well-worth a bookmark. Today he posts an edited version of a conversation he and I had after I turned in my review of The King's Last Song, which I think makes an interesting accompaniment to my review, and also to Niall's review of the novel, which will hopefully be appearing on an online venue near you sometime in the near future.

Galactica's Shadow Season Will Have to Wait For Another Day

SciFi.com has made available the deleted scenes from Battlestar Galactica's winter season (second item on 6/6/06). Now we too can watch such vital segments as Lee's first meeting with Shevon from "Black Market", or an extra two seconds of dialogue from "Scar" (there are also some cut scenes from "The Captain's Hand", but the new interface--something called SciFi Pulse--is quite dreadful. It crashed Safari on every single attempt I made at it, and I eventually gave up with most of the deleted scenes unwatched. Windows users might have a better time of it). There's no sign, of course, of the season's more vital deleted scenes, which kept showing up in the 'previously on Battlestar Galatica' segment--Kara pitching a Caprican rescue mission, or Baltar and Gina's meeting in "Lay Down Your Burdens I".

Strangely enough, I'm relieved by the absence of these scenes. They indicate that Galactica's producers are capa…

Dear David Milch: A Deadwood Wish List

Hopefully this doesn't shatter anyone's illusions, but a lot of the early pieces on this blog were reworked versions of essays I had written months, and sometimes even years, before it came into existence. Not having a forum for them, I put them aside, satisfied that I had at least gotten what I wanted to say out of my system. After AtWQ came into being, I found myself going back to my archives and digging out some of these old essays in order to repost them here. This piece is the very last one of them--based, albeit quite loosely, on a wish list I wrote nearly a year ago, at the end of Deadwood's second season. Happily, just as the show's third (and apparently not-quite-final) season is about to get started, some of my online friends have begun watching and writing about the first two--check out Dan Hartland's essays about the first and second seasons, and the discussion that arose when Niall Harrison expressed his dissatisfaction with the show--which helped resh…

A Desperate Cry For Help or, Your Host Asks for Book Recommendations

You know what's worse than a reading slump? Being able to read just about anything and not enjoying any of it. And that's where I've been for most of this year. I've read about 30 books since January (which is actually a bit low for me) and of them, perhaps four or five were genuinely enjoyable reads, books that captured my attention as opposed to just being a way to get through spare time. Truly joyous reading experiences, which used to be a staple of my life, have become vanishingly rare.

Which is where you, faithful AtWQ readers, come in: I want book recommendations. And not just good books. Not interesting or entertaining or diverting books. I want fantastic books. I want the books that made you grateful for their existence, the books that kept you up until 3 AM and made you late for work, the books you pressed into the hands of all your reading friends the moment you turned the last page. I want your all-time favorite books. Any genre, any style, any leng…

Recent Reading Roundup 6

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Look, it's the sixth recent reading roundup, posted on 6/6/06. That's kind of neat, right? No? Well, I thought it was.
Affinity and Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters - in retrospect, I think it was a mistake to move backwards through Sarah Waters' bibliography--first her superb third novel, Fingersmith; then her mediocre second, Affinity, and finally her embarrassingly bad first, Tipping the Velvet. Not only has Waters made great strides in terms of her facility with plot, character, dialogue and voice, but in her earlier novels, Tipping the Velvet in particular, she has yet to strike a balance between the demands of plot and the sensationalism of her premise. To put it simply, Waters doesn't really have anything to say about lesbianism in general, and beyond the fact that she was made her readers aware of their existence, she doesn't seem to have much to say about Victorian lesbians either. This wasn't a problem in Fingersmith, in which the main characters&…

Dammit, I Don't Need the Reissued Sandman!

But now that I've seen a sample of the recolored artwork, I want it.

I imagine that Preludes and Nocturnes makes a great deal more sense with a color palette that extends beyond green.

Mr. Darcy in the Fields of Bethlehem: A Shavuot Post

Last night we celebrated Shavuot, a much-repurposed harvest festival. Proving, yet again, that I should no longer be allowed anywhere near a synagogue, I found my mind wandering to strange places during the traditional reading of the book of Ruth. Specifically, to the similarities between this ancient family drama and the novels of Jane Austen (waits to be struck by lightning. No? OK then). Like Austen's novels, the book of Ruth is a celebration of the way in which a careful adherence to social conventions and customs, when coupled with wisdom and generosity, safeguards both the happiness and security of individuals and the continuity of society as a whole. As expressed through the device of a romance between two incredibly sexy people.

The book of Ruth is short (barely four chapters) and worth reading. You can find an English translation here. The story in brief, however: having lost her husband and two sons in Moab, the Israelite Naomi returns to her clan with her two widowed Mo…