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Showing posts from October, 2008

The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Ellen Datlow

Several months ago, around the time that the debate on the viability of the genre short fiction scene was having its semiannual resurgence, I participated in an SF Signal Mind Meld on the subject. Most of the other participants were authors and editors, which left me as the lone representative of readers, from whose perspective, I wrote, the short fiction market seemed not endangered but fragmented, no longer dominated by three magazines but by a whole host of on- and off-line markets and an ever-growing original story anthology scene. As a possible reason for this fragmentation and for the increasing popularity of these anthologies, I suggested that for younger genre fans
a magazine subscription isn't an automatic, or even reasonable, choice. People who want more bang for their buck are more likely to plop 12-15$ for an anthology published by a recognizable name, and featuring at least three or four authors they know and like, than they are to pay 50$ for a year's subscripti…

Good News on a Saturday

The Sarah Connor Chronicles has been picked up for a full second season.

Of course, this would be even better news if the show gave any signs of improving, but five episodes into the second season, the flaws that marred it in its first are still going strong: great acting, great character work, great individual scenes, but the plotting, in both individual episodes and the overarching save the world arc, is nonsensical.  The next to last episode aired, "Alison from Palmdale," is a perfect example.  Summer Glau is incredible as three different people in the same body who combine into whatever the hell Cameron is right now, but the notion that Cameron has enough empathy to become Alison--who understands and feels emotions, like fear, grief, and anger, which in the past have left Cameron baffled--is too much to swallow.  We've already got one show about a genocidal war between dirty, sweaty humans and immaculate machines confused by these things we call 'feelings' in …

Life on Mars US, Take Two

If I were a particularly cynical person, I'd wonder whether the first, abysmal pilot for the US remake of Life on Mars had been intentionally released online once the decision was made to completely retool the show, as a way of lowering expectations and making the new, actual pilot look good by comparison. Most of the buzz I've been hearing in the last couple of weeks, after all, has tended towards the surprised discovery that the new, new Life on Mars doesn't completely suck, which in today's degraded television market is almost the same as saying that a show is good. (Seriously, is it just me or are things rather dismal on the TV front? The best I can seem to hope for is for shows to hold their ground, which in some cases--Pushing Daisies, Dexter, How I Met Your Mother--is good, in others--Sarah Connor, Chuck--is not nearly as good as I'd like, and in other still--Heroes--is grounds for dropping a show. And when the best new show of the fall season is Fringe, …

Recent Movie Roundup 8

It's fall, which means that it'll be some time before I feel the urge to write a full-length film review again, mainly because I haven't been inside a movie theater since the middle of the summer. Nevertheless, I have been watching films on DVD, and here are some thoughts.
Waitress (2007) - An underdone romantic comedy with a somewhat misleading title, as the main character not only waitresses at a diner but also bakes the pies which are its chief draw and whose preparation frequently punctuates the film's action, to mouth-watering effect. Waitress starts out from a rather bleak premise--Keri Russell's Jenna is trapped in a (chillingly portrayed) abusive marriage, a dead-end job, a pregnancy that she is at best ambivalent towards, and, worst of all, a bitterness about her life that rejects any hope that things might get better. Comedies have been built on grimmer foundations than this, but where Waitress falters is its inability to decide just where on the spectr…

Recent Reading Roundup 18

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Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve - As the reprinted Martin Lewis review that first got me interested in this book points out, Mortal Engines kicks off with one hell of a first sentence: "It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea." The first in a quartet of YA novels, Mortal Engines takes place in a post-environmental collapse future in which mobile cities roam the blasted landscape, hunting and consuming one another for their resources. It's a great setting (and one that seems to crop up rather regularly in science fiction) which is matched with an equally intriguing premise--London apprentice Tom chases an intruder into the city's bowels after she attacks a prominent citizen, but instead of being hailed as a hero he finds himself banished from the city, forced to partner up with his former prey and to learn the ugly truths underlying the false history he's bee…

Self-Promotion

Happy 5769, and sorry about the prolonged period of silence recently--a combination of work and the holidays is keeping me a little busy.  Today, however, Strange Horizons has my review of Paul McAuley's The Quiet War, and there's some stuff in the pipeline for the near future.