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Showing posts from November, 2007

Self-Promotion 16

My review of the Battlestar Galactica TV movie "Razor" appears in today's Strange Horizons. If you've clicked through from there, you might be interested in some of my other posts about the show, or at least in the odd effect of the reverse chronological order they're presented in--you can watch me get less and less bitter, and finally enthusiastic, about the series.

Dexter

Last fall, I watched the pilot for Showtime's new series, Dexter, pronounced it impeccably well-made and impressively acted, and promptly decided not to keep watching the series. Based on the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay*, Dexter is the tale of Dexter Morgan, adopted son of legendary Miami police detective Harry Morgan. As a young boy, Dexter began exhibiting the classic signs of sociopathic behavior, and Harry, instead of carting the boy off to psychiatrists and institutions, started training him instead--first, to avoid detection and incarceration, and later to channel his murderous urges in socially beneficial ways. In the present day, Dexter is a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police department, where he works alongside his sister Deb, Harry's biological daughter. By night, he stalks and kills victims carefully selected according to a by-now deceased Harry's criteria--serial killers like Dexter himself, whom the law is either unaware of or help…

"Brad Pitt's hell-bride emerges from the bog..."

Slate reviewsBeowulf in verse:
Far had he fallen with Polar Express,
An animated washout whose technique
Obscured its content, thanks to CGI.
The Z-man's new technique, performance capture,
Looked creepy in those days. The critics snarled.

But brave Zemeckis takes them on again
With Beowulf, a 3-D spectacle
Like none before. The Anglo-Saxon poem,
Dreaded by school kids since the world was young,
His manly grip reshapes to graphic novel.It's a good review, but no matter how many of them this film garners, and in spite of Neil Gaiman's presence as adapter, which at the very least means that someone in the vicinity of the production gets what the poem is about, I have absolutely no desire to see it. It looks like the unholy love child of The Polar Express and 300, and my lack of desire to see it is equal or greater than the sum total of my lack of desire to see either of these films.

Recent Reading Roundup 14

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The pile o'books I brought back with me from the States is getting steadily smaller, and thus far performing quite well. As per recent discussion, this list includes several short story collections.
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner - Warner's slim 1925 feminist fable was a lucky find in the Strand's $1 rack. The novel's first half describes the title character's early life in the late Victorian period. With brisk, efficient prose, Warner takes us through Lolly's remote family history and her relationships with her more immediate family, particularly her doting father, in an enjoyable narrative flow that is never less than wry and often quite funny. Upon her father's death, a compliant Lolly goes to live with her brother's family, where she acts in the capacity of unpaid nurse, companion, and governess. With near-Austenish coolness, Warner describes the mindset that leads an intelligent, strong young woman of independent means to immure hers…

A Slightly Belated Observation

Like everyone else, I read Entertainment Weekly's Nov. 7th interview with Heroes creator Tim Kring, in which he winningly owns up to the show's vertiginous drop in quality since the beginning of its second season, and vows to do better in the future. A week ago, my only reaction to statements like
We assumed the audience wanted season 1 — a buildup of intrigue about these characters and the discovery of their powers. We taught [them] to expect a certain kind of storytelling. They wanted adrenaline. We made a mistake.was 'no shit, Sherlock,' but today, perhaps in the wake of this week's good-but-not-yet-great flashback episode, I got to thinking about this quote, and I just had to ask: why? Why would Kring assume that retreading season 1 would have good results? Heroes is a show that lives and dies with its plot progression, and it slows down the relentless pace of events and revelations at its own peril. Who in their right mind would think that stalling, and eve…

Best American Short Stories 2007, edited by Stephen King

Short stories are hot right now. Or rather, talking about short stories, specifically their commercial and artistic viability, is hot. For SF/F fans, this is a familiar discussion. Perhaps because of the greater importance that short fiction enjoys within these genres, discussions of the future, or lack thereof, the the print SF magazines and the form they peddle are a semi-annual tradition within the community. The most recent iteration (sparked by Warren Ellis noting that the circulation figures of the 'big three' SF/F magazines have once again dropped, though as usual the debate has ranged all over the SF litblogosphere), however, came shortly after a analogous debate was sparked in literary fiction circles. Lighting the fuse on the powder keg was Stephen King, guest editor of this year's entry in the Best American Short Stories series. In his introduction to the collection (reprinted in the New York Times in a somewhat reduced form on September 30th), King lament…

And So It Begins

Publishers Weekly's best books of 2007.

It's November the bloody fifth.

I don't know about you, but I've got two whole months left in this year, and I damn well plan on reading some good books between now and its end. AtWQ's best (and worst) reads of the year will be posted at the end of December as God intended.

So there.

Intuition by Allegra Goodman

This is a funny thing for a science fiction fan to say, but I don't read a lot of novels about scientists. Then again, I suspect that neither does anybody else. In any genre, depictions of science and scientific research are rare, and in SF in particular one more often comes across science in its processed form, technology. The popular SFnal depiction of scientists falls somewhere between Rodney McKay and Gaius Baltar--glorified engineers coming up with off-the-cuff solutions to immediate problems. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one novel, Gregory Benford's Timescape, which tries to depict the reality of the scientific process--painstaking, meticulous, and above all slow. As one of the characters in Allegra Goodman's novel Intuition says: "Can I tell you about the research that goes on here? People are saving lives every day in theory, in the future."

It was mainly curiosity, therefore, that caused me to pick up Goodman's novel, but within a few p…