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Showing posts from October, 2010

Recent Reading Roundup 28

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October was a good reading month for me, and November may continue in that fashion, if Richard Hughes's The Fox in the Attic turns out to be as good as its first third promises.  In the meantime, however, here are the books I've read this month.
Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada - It seems that every few years the English-speaking world discovers a European author whose works on the Holocaust--preferably published posthumously, after their death at the hands of the Nazis--it can celebrate as the latest, most authentic, and most heart-rending exploration of What It Was Really Like.  I skipped Irene Nemirovsky, and felt rather good about that choice when the ecstatic praise for her novel Suite Francaise gave way to foot-shuffling at the internalized anti-semitism of her earlier novels, and laterrevelations of her own affinity towards fascism.  I was all set to give Hans Fallada the same treatment when Bookslut's Jessa Crispin began raving about his novels Every Man Dies A…

Now All Doctor Who Until the End

Syfy has not only canceled Caprica, but has pulled it from its schedule, promising to air the first season's remaining episodes some time in 2011.

Look, it's not as if you couldn't see this coming.  Hell, you could see it coming the moment the idea of a space-adventure-less, soap opera prequel to Battlestar Galactica was bandied about, and Caprica's pilot pretty much confirmed that this was not a show interested in wooing either Galactica's fans or Syfy's traditional viewership (which Syfy is now trying to with the just-announced, and hilariously-titled, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome).  Nor, to be honest, can I find it in my heart to grieve too much for a show that seemed already, in its last few episodes, to be veering towards Galactica's mythology in an all too familiar way.  I liked some things about Caprica, and thought that it had serious problems, and if I ever manage to watch the entire first season I might write about both, but the one as…

A Shire of Shopkeepers: Thoughts on The Hobbit

The most that can be said for the dwarves is this: they intended to pay Bilbo really handsomely for his services; they had brought him to do a nasty job for them, and they did not mind the poor fellow doing it if he would; but they would have done their best to get him out of trouble, if he got into it, as they did in the case of the trolls at the beginning of their adventures before they had any particular reasons for being grateful to him.  There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much. Last week's news that the long-beleaguered production of The Hobbit is finally getting on its way, and that certain roles, including Bilbo and Thorin, had been cast, sent me back to the book itself for the first time in nearly a decade.  I reread The Lord of the Rings every few years, but The Hobbit

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks

On the last installment of my quest to read all of Iain M. Banks SFnal output (I will get to the non-M novels one of these days, I promise), I sadly concluded that though there's a lot that I admire about Banks's writing, particularly his flights of invention, his flashes of humor and wit, and the grand achievement that is the Culture, there's always something a little off about his novels.  They've been, at various points, too shapeless, too sprawling, too caught up in the fun of spinning exotic locations and breathtaking set pieces, and, most crucially, too muddled in their handling of their themes, and particularly of the Culture sequence's repeated questioning of the right of an egalitarian, socialist, humanistic utopia to interfere in the business of other civilizations and impose its values upon them.  Along comes The Player of Games, the second Culture novel, which is as perfectly formed and streamlined as other Culture novels have been meandering, whittling…

Thoughts on the New TV Season, 2010 Edition, Part 2

After the appetizer, the deluge.  This post doesn't even cover all of the shows that premiered in the last week.  It leaves out the interchangeable lawyer shows (The Defenders, The Whole Truth), the forgettable cop shows (Chase, Blue Bloods, Law & Order: Los Angeles), and the lamentable comedies (Better With You, Raising Hope, Running Wilde).  Which is not to say that the shows I am going to write about have won my heart, or are even going to get the chance to do so.  Though I will probably keep watching at least a few of these to see if they get better (and am still watching Nikita for the same reason, though increasingly asking myself why I bother), there's been, as yet, no Good Wife this season, no show that came out the gate completely irresistible (though Terriers, which has maintained its promising blend of well-crafted characters and slightly sleazy mysteries into its third episode, comes closest).
Boardwalk Empire - This is probably a case of high expectations worki…