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Showing posts from November, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

There's a scene that comes about halfway into Charlie Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and very early in the romance between its main characters, Joel and Clementine.  After a less than ideal first meeting, Joel visits Clementine at her workplace in search of a second chance, and though she's willing, she also matter-of-factly lays down the ground rules of their fledgling relationship.  "Too many guys think I'm a concept or I complete them or I'm going to make them alive," Clementine tells Joel, "but I'm just a fucked-up girl who is looking for my own peace of mind."  A beat, and then the two shift character, into the Joel who is deleting his memories of Clementine following the failure of their relationship, and the Clementine in his head, who acts as his tour guide in a nonlinear reenactment of it.  Ruefully, Joel admits that he didn't heed Clementine's warning.  "I still thought you were going to save me.  Eve…

Recent Reading Roundup 23

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It's been a long time since I did one of these, so long that some of the books I read in the interim have already faded so much in my memory that I can't comment meaningfully on them.  Here are my thoughts on the ones that have lingered.
Sunnyside by Glen David Gold - Gold's long-awaited follow-up to the enormously enjoyable Carter Beats the Devil features the same careful attention to period detail, and the same seemingly effortless evocation of early 20th century Americana, but it is also so shapeless, so caught up in the desire to make Meaningful Statements, that it becomes the exact opposite of Carter--a genuine chore to read.  Like Carter, Sunnyside is a When It Changed novel, this time focusing on film, and particularly film star celebrity, rather than television.  But whereas Carter made a relatively modest statement--that the invention of television changed the face of public entertainment, in the process putting acts like the superstar magician out of business--Sun…

Thoughts on the New TV Season, 2009 Edition, Part 4

My God, it willnotend.  Progress report: Community and The Good Wife remain very good.  Stargate: Universe seems to be using the loosest possible interpretation of 'plot' (it would be nice to think that the two episodes in which the characters gloomily contemplate their imminent demise as the ship flies straight towards a star, only for its automated systems to save them at the last minute, represent the nadir of the show's storytelling, but as we're only seven episodes in that seems unlikely) while expending most of its energy on soapy shenanigans.  But since most of the characters are underdeveloped, the relationships between the main castmembers are nearly nonexistent, and the writers show little or no flair for enjoyably trashy, Melrose Place-style plotting, it's hard to care about X's affair with Y and A's unrequited crush on B.  The show seems determined to alienate the franchise's core fanbase without doing enough to capture a new one.
White Colla…

Thank Goodness for Small Favors

TV site CliqueClackinterviewsDefying Gravity creator James Pariott about his plans for the now-defunct series's future, and his revelations about the planned storyline for the character Nadia--a no-nonsense, unemotional, extremely sexually aggressive German woman--put even the most fail-tastic of science fiction shows to shame:
Nadia — She had quite the odd hallucinations, didn’t she? Who was that man she kept seeing, and why did he look so much like Nadia? As Parriott revealed to me, some fans of the show got it right in their guess that she was, in fact, a hermaphrodite when she was born. The choice was made for her when she was 11, by her parents, which sex she’d ultimately become. So that man we’re seeing is actually what Nadia would have been, had they chosen to raise her — or him — as a man.
Now, here’s the wild kicker. All those DNA changes that are happening with the crew, caused by Beta and the other artifacts? Well, they would eventually wind up causing Nadia to gradually…

Future History, Repeated

In my post about The Children's Book, I suggested that historical fiction might be broadly defined as fiction that takes place in a time and setting not directly experienced by its author.  Within that definition one can distinguish between different kind of historical novels according to how close they come to recorded history, to the people and events in the history books.  A historical novel can center entirely or for the most part around fictional people living ordinary (for their time) lives in the past (The Little Stranger, Sacred Hunger, Possession).  Or it can describe fictional people being caught up in momentous events (Octavian Nothing, Year of Wonders, The Children's Book).  Or it can place fictional characters at the epicenter of the great changes of their time, sometimes rubbing shoulders with historical figures, sometimes taking their place (Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles, The Baroque Cycle).  Or it can dispense with fictional characters and plots altog…