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Showing posts from July, 2007

Self-Promotion 14

My review of Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union is up at Strange Horizons. If you've clicked through from there, you might also be interested in a response I wrote to another review of the novel.

This is also a good opportunity to mention that Strange Horizons has been running a fund drive this month. I think Strange Horizons is a fantastic webzine, and one of the most important and interesting sources of genre criticism out there. If you feel the same, please consider supporting it through a donation.

Attention, Israelis

This evening at 20:50, channel 8 will air Meni Philip's "Let There Be Darkness, Let There Be Light", an autobiographical documentary about his departure from the ultra-orthodox community in which he was raised, a decision in which he was ultimately followed by five of his ten brothers and sisters. I know Meni from Kiriat Ono's Reform congregation (brand new website here), where he has for years acted as our talented and hardworking cantor. I've therefore had the privilege of seeing "Let There Be Darkness, Let There Be Light" twice already--once, in its embryonic form, when it was screened for congregation members, and another time only a few weeks ago, when the final version was screened at the Jerusalem Film Festival--and I recommend it highly.

Meni and the new family he's formed with his secular siblings were also the subject of an article in Ha'aretz this week, which you can find here (unfortunately, there does not seem to be an English tran…

Harry Potter and the Neat Little Bow

In Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, three children--Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire--are orphaned by a mysterious fire, and subsequently plunged into an intricate mystery. Over the course of thirteen books they investigate their dead parents' history, the organizations they belonged to and fought against, the friendships, enmities, and love affairs they witnessed or were embroiled in, and the secrets they kept and revealed. Throughout their journey, the Baudelaires encounter many adults--guardians, friends, and acquaintances--some of whom are sinister, but most of whom are simply benevolent yet incompetent, too caught up in simple, one-sentence life philosophies such as 'He who hesitates is lost!' to be much more than hindrances, although they do teach the children about the existence of complexity and shades of gray. At the end of the series, the Baudelaires arrive at something like an adulthood, through the discovery that they have been subsumed i…

Beware, Politics Ahead

My review of Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union will appear in Strange Horizons next month. It will, I believe, be the first time an Israeli has reviewed the book (this is obviously your cue, loyal AtWQ readers, to point out the fourteen instances of reviews by Israelis which I have unaccountably missed), although I can't say that my reaction to it is primarily influenced by my national identity. Nevertheless, there's no doubt in my mind that the novel, an alternate history in which Jews flee Nazi persecution and later a lost war for Israeli independence to a temporary safe haven in Alaska, will have a different resonance with Israeli readers than it has had, thus far, with non-Israelis, and I am very curious to see what the Israeli literary establishment makes of it once the inevitable translation appears. An early example of one possible reaction was provided this week by the English-language daily The Jerusalem Post. Samuel Freedman, who writes a column …

Cue Incoherent Squealing

Sci Fi Wire reports:
SCI FI Channel will revive its popular original show Farscape as a Web-based series of short films on SCIFI.COM's SCI FI Pulse broadband network, part of a slate of new original online programming.

SCI FI has ordered 10 webisodes of Farscape, to be produced by Brian Henson and Robert Halmi Jr. and produced by The Jim Henson Co.Exciting as this news is, it's best to keep in mind that the webisode concept didn't work out so well for Battlestar Galactica, what with the killer celery and all (if you haven't watched Resistance, I just made it sound a hell of a lot more exciting than it actually was). That said, I trust the people involved a hell of a lot more than I trust the Galactica folks these days, and unlike Resistance and the upcoming Razor web-series (more info here) this series is probably not primarily intended to build up anticipation for traditional programming, which gives it a better chance of working as its own piece of storytelling.

Whatev…

And the Narnia Fans Think They Have It Rough

From L-space.org, a pictorial guide to the proper reading order of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, listing novels, graphic novels, short stories, children's books, and science books.

Or you could just do what I did, starting in the middle and picking books up whenever I found them in bookstores.

(Link via.)

You Know, For Kids

The last Harry Potter book is nearly upon us, which is as good a time as any to contemplate the twin publishing phenomena spawned by the series's success--adults reading books marketed for children, and authors of adult novels crossing over into children's fiction. The A.S. Byatts of the world would have us believe that the former is one of the signs of the coming apocalypse, or at the very least an indication that the adult in question has something wrong with them, but the issue is probably a little more complicated. There must be something that children's books do and adult books don't for so many adult readers to gravitate to the former (perhaps the answer is as simple as there being so few adult novels with adolescent protagonists--of the top of my head I can only come up with Donna Tartt's The Little Friend). With that question in mind, it's interesting to examine the ways in which authors of adult fiction tailor their themes and narrative voices in th…

It's 9/11, But With a Monster and Better Special Effects!

Courtesy of J.J. Abrams (producing) and Drew Goddard (writing, which is, admittedly, a good sign), I give you the trailer for 1-18-08 (I'm not so clear whether this is the title--IMDb still lists the film as 'Untitled J.J. Abrams Project').

I honestly thought it'd take longer to get to this point.

Let's Put On a Show: A Comparison

Now that it is over, let us take a moment to praise a show that did not, in life, receive nearly its fair share of accolades. A show about show-making, which starts with the realization, by a respected creator and long-time veteran of the battle between commercial and artistic considerations, that he has stagnated, and allowed the venue for which he has been responsible for decades to stagnate with him. His violent abdication can be remedied only by the return of his former protégé, a brilliant man who parted with his mentor after a brutal humiliation. He, in turn, must find a way to balance his artistic integrity with the financial considerations of his employers, who have little understanding of art and even less interest in learning about it, while battling his attraction to his leading lady, an aggravating but furiously talented woman.

I'm speaking, of course, of the Canadian series Slings & Arrows, which wrapped up its three season run (making for a grand total of eight…

Self-Promotion 13

It's Aegypt week at Strange Horizons, in honor of the publication of the final segment in John Crowley's monumental, 20 years in the making, series. My review of the first book, The Solitudes, appears today, and be sure to check in over the next three days to read Graham Sleight, Paul Kincaid and John Clute's takes on the rest of the series.

You can find some my other Crowley-related writing here, including reviews of his last novel, Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land, and of the short story collection Novelties & Souvenirs.