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Showing posts from August, 2006

We've Had Ours Served Cold: Scattered Thoughts at the End of Deadwood's Third Season

Hate me if you want to, but at this point, I'm actually relieved that Deadwood has been cancelled.

Those of you who read my pre-season wish list might feel that I'm being a tad ungrateful, perhaps even hypocritical. After all, I did wrap up that essay by concluding that
if I have a wish list for Deadwood's third season, it is that its main characters return to form--that Bullock become again a player in the town's politics, that Al demonstrate the capacity and the willingness to hurt even those who might not deserve it, that Cy be marginalized, and that Hearst prove a more interesting, more believable character than Wolcott.Which, by and large, is what the third season has delivered. Cy was indeed marginalized--not only in terms of the character's screen time but within the story itself. Much as I would have preferred to see Cy unceremoniously dumped from the show, there was a certain gratification to be found in watching him realize how incidental to the running of …

Well, At Least They Got the Dramatic Presenation Awards Right

Locus Online has the Hugo results, and the short fiction category winners are nothing short of dispiriting. OK, so I called Peter S. Beagle's "Two Hearts" winning the novelette category (and anyway there was no other story on the shortlist that desperately deserved to win), and I can hardly say that I'm surprised that Connie Willis' "Inside Job" triumphed over stronger, more interesting, and better written work by Kelly Link and Ian McDonald, because that pretty much sums up her entire award-winning history (I'm still baffled by Doomsday Book's double whammy). But how is it possible that Margo Lanagan, with one of the strongest short stories I've read in ages, lost out on both the Nebula and Hugo?

Oh well, I suppose I should just be grateful that it wasn't Mike Resnick or Michael A. Burstein that took the trophy.

UPDATE: The vote breakdowns are now available online. Here's a helpful primer on what all those numbers mean.

Modern Noir Linkdump

Well, if two links can be called a linkdump.

Rian Johnson, writer and director of the awesome Brick, has made the film's shooting script (plus annotations) and the original novella on which the film is based available on his website. (Via)
Hot off the season two DVD (on sale starting today), the Veronica Mars gag reel. Trust me, you haven't lived until you've watched Joss Whedon, in character as the uptight rental car guy in "Rat Saw God", compare himself to "the minstrels of old." (Via)

In Which I Come Out for Censorship

Making the rounds of news sites and blogs yesterday was the report that, following a complaint by a viewer (or, presumably, the parent of a viewer) a UK channel had decided to excise positive depictions of smoking from Tom & Jerry cartoons. Which is obviously the cue for all right-thinking lovers of liberty to break out their emergency stores of derision and lament the takeover of our airways and public media channels by a hand-wringing horde of politically correct yahoos imploring us all to please, for the love of God, think of the children. Under other circumstances, I might have joined in the collective eye-rolling, but in this case I'm not convinced that the decision is unwarranted, and I suspect that it may do more good than harm.

The thing is, cigarettes are evil. They're the worst of the legal drugs--by all accounts, far worse than at least some of the illegal ones. By a bizarre confluence of common sense and ruthless self-interest on the part of cigarette manufactur…

Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land by John Crowley

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In the acknowledgments page for Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land, John Crowley refers to his ninth novel as an impertinence. He's referring, one assumes, to his own audacity in putting words--an entire novel's worth of them--in the mouth of the romantic poet Lord Byron, most famous for, well, being infamous--mad, bad, and dangerous to know (in her review of Crowley's novel, Elizabeth Hand cleverly points out that more people are familiar with this piece of wittiness--by Byron's former lover Caroline Lamb--than are acquainted with a line of his poetry). But the word, its with airy, frivolous connotations, seems also to capture the novel's tone--an atypical one, in Crowley's bibliography. His novels usually have a palpable heft--even his early forays into science fiction, svelte volumes clocking in at barely 200 pages, made for meaty, substantial reads. Lord Byron's Novel, in contrast, is positively lightweight.

The titular novel--composed, according t…

Looking For Stats in All the Wrong Places

It's been three days since either the main site, the forums, or my user site responded at all, and I think it's time to admit that my beloved StatCounter is dead, dead, dead. Which leaves me in need of a new stat-gathering service, and so far they've all been depressingly awful. I gave Google Analytics the old college try, but it's clearly oriented towards business users and drowns me with useless information while ignoring or burying the data I need. For example, it only lists referrring sites by the root directory, which might make sense if you're running a business, but when trying to engage in a coversation, there's a huge difference between a person clicking through from anybody.livejournal.com and someone coming from anybody.livejournal.com/friends, or between a person who clicks through from a blog entry posted six months ago or this afternoon.

So, does anyone out there have a good (free) website statistics service to recommend? I'm looking for someth…

Look, Up in the Sky!

It's Andrew Rilstone, discussing a Silver Age Superman story which, apparently, manages to treat the 'Superman as Jesus' analogy with a great deal more wit and delicacy than the recent film.
For anyone who grew up with Stan Lee's melodramatic over-writing, this 1950s Superman is astonishingly simplistic; even naive. There is hardly one word of what you could call dialogue in the whole story: everyone talks in pure exposition and the "Alice in Wonderland" line made me cringe with embarrassment even when I was 10. However, like many superficially naive children's stories, it actually has considerable complexity and emotional depth. We have a character whose literal darkness is the outward representation of an inner darkness – she has no father, her mother is poor,she thinks that there is nothing nice about the world -- all summed up in her disbelief in Superman. Superman heals her, restores her inner light, her family, and makes her see things she never saw …

Recent Reading Roundup 8

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Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers - I don't imagine that I'm the first reader to pick up the next-to-last novel in Sayers's Peter Wimsey detective series, Gaudy Night, and then move backwards through her bibliography to the origin of Wimsey's relationship with Gaudy protagonist Harriet Vane. As was the case with Gaudy, I found Strong Poison compulsively readable and a great deal of fun. It was also, in spite of the rather grim plot, which sees Harriet accused of murdering her former fianc√© and facing the gallows, surprisingly funny, although Sayers does on occasion stray too far into farce, and on other occasions (especially when delving under the surface of Wimsey's over-the-top persona) into melodrama. In her first appearance, Harriet is only very faintly sketched, and a little too perfect to be believed--I certainly see how Sayers fans might jokingly (and sometimes not so jokingly) accuse her of having written Vane as a self-insertion character. Her intera…

Yet More Self-Promotion

The Internet Review of Science Fiction's August issue contains my review of Mark Z. Danielewski's--best known for the trippy, experimental ghost story House of Leaves--new novel, the even more trippy and experimental Only Revolutions. Like all IROSF articles, the review is behind a subscription shield, but registration is free.

Self-Promotion 9 - Special Doctor Who Edition

It's Doctor Who week at Strange Horizons! The reviews section is dedicated to contemplations of the show's second season, kicking off today with Iain Clark's Doctor Who and the Nostalgia Factor, which discusses "School Reunion" and companions past and present. Tomorrow, Tim Phipps will be chiming in with his take on "Love & Monsters" and the fannish mindset, and on Wednesday it'll my turn to offer some observations on the season finale. Graham Sleight will review the season as a whole on Thursday. New reviews will go live every day at SH's reviews page--enjoy.

Jo Rowling, Killer of Ambiguity

Speaking in New York this week, J.K. Rowling put an end to several burning fandom discussions (is Dumbledore really dead, is Snape really evil, a broad hint about whether Harry is going to survive the series--click through at your own risk). I'm not remotelysurprised by any of her responses, but I am surprised that the usually close-lipped Rowling has suddenly decided to spill the beans on so many contentious issues. To be perfectly honest, I wish she'd kept mum. It's one thing to feel certain that a story will unfold in a certain way, and another to know that it will because the author told you. The former allows the reader to maintain a frisson of suspense, whereas the latter takes something away from the reading experience.

On the other hand, maybe Rowling is just as tired as I am of some of the more inane Potter-related speculation that's been floating around lately (Rowling should kill Harry because children need to learn about death is a recent personal favori…

Darth Vader as You've Never Seen Him Before

There honestly aren't enough words to describe how awesome this picture is.

(Via. And according to Boing Boing, this is a photoshopped image, not an actual costume.)