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Showing posts from August, 2011

Strange Horizons Reviews, August 22-26

Chris Kammerud kicks off this week's reviews with a look at Kristin Livdahl's A Brood of Foxes, the story of a young woman stolen by fairies, whose charms Chris admires while wondering whether its conception of fairy tales is too moralistic for his taste.  Phoebe North has the opposite reaction when she reviewsA Monster Calls, Patrick Ness's follow-up to the Chaos Walking trilogy, from an idea by children's author Siobhan Dowd, which she praises for its avoidance of moralizing in favor of a tone of dark fantasy.  Finally, Indrapramit Das looks at Kris Saksnussemm's Enigmatic Pilot, an alternate history steampunk science fiction Western, and finds it an entertaining mess.

Shoutout to Erin Hodges.

59 Minutes Short: Thoughts on The Hour

The timing of The Hour, the BBC's just-concluded prestige series about the early days of British televised news, was always a bit dodgy.  In the wake of the News of the World scandal, how do you tell a story in which journalists are the brave, principled, truth-seeking heroes?  Even if you distinguish between commercial news and publicly-owned organizations like the BBC (which The Hour, set in 1956, would have had trouble doing) and between print and TV journalism (a difference the show never made much of except to note that some of the restrictions on the latter don't apply to the former), the fact remains that to argue against government control of the news only weeks after it was revealed that the present-day UK government is either too scared, too complicit, or too bought to even attempt to prevent the press from committing gross violations of privacy, tormenting the families of murder victims, and, in one particularly memorable case, trying to railroad a suspect in a murd…

B-Movie Summer

The end of summer is almost upon us, but before it arrives, let's pause for a moment to acknowledge something truly unexpected: the movies this year have been good.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who's gotten used to checking her brain at the door of the movie theater between May and September, to the extent that Thor, one of the silly season's earliest harbingers, was able to win me over with little more than charismatic actors and a few funny scenes.  Had I known what was coming, I would have been a lot less forgiving.  Sure, we've had our Green Lanterns, our Transformers 3s, our Cowboys and Alienses, but alongside those turkeys the summer of 2011 has also delivered a crop of solidly entertaining, well-crafted action flicks that a thinking person can enjoy without hating themselves in the morning.  What makes this whole thing even more surprising is how implausible all of these successes are.  X-Men: First Class is the fifth film in a never-too-great series t…

The 2011 Hugo Awards: The Winners

Well, here we are again.  That day in late summer when SF fandom blearily pries open its sleep-glued eyes after a long and dimly-remembered evening, and looks dizzily about itself to see just how bad the damage is.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Hugo awards.
In a brave but probably doomed attempt to wring something positive out Connie Willis's Blackout/All Clear having been deemed the best genre novel of 2010, let me use that victory as a launching point for an intriguing question: is this the very worst best novel decision ever made by the Hugo voters?  You could argue, I suppose, that Willis's victory over what must be admitted was an uninspiring ballot is nothing to her 1993 win (shared with Vernor Vinge for A Fire Upon the Deep) for Doomsday Book, over both Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars and Maureen McHugh's China Mountain Zhang.  On the other hand, Doomsday Book is well-regarded by a lot of people who are not me, whereas Blackout/All Clear has been poorly received eve…

Strange Horizons Reviews, August 15-19

Sofia Samatar makes her Strange Horizons debut this week with a fascinating review of Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud's collection A Life on Paper, a volume that seeks to introduce this much-lauded French author to the English-reading public.  Niall Harrison looks at another literary zombie novel, Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, which he argues is unique for combining the horror of post-apocalyptic zombie stories with the rarer strand of zombie romance.  Finally, Matt Hilliard is of two minds about Brent Hayward's The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter, impressed by its technical achievements but wondering about the whole they amount to.

This week also sees the latest entry in John Clute's column Scores.  This month, John takes a look at two urban fantasy anthologies in the slim hope of finding stories in them that actually talk about the urban setting.

Strange Horizons Reviews, August 8-12

This week on Strange Horizons: Matthew Cheney takes a look at Tor's reprint of Melissa Scott's cyberpunk novel Trouble and Her Friends and is underwhelemed, particularly by the way the novel's future has been overtaken.  Marina Berlin has mixed feelings about Paul Kearney's Corvus, which impresses her with its alternate history Roman military setting and battle scenes but disappoints in its handling of characters and the more unsavory aspects of its period.  Rhiannon Lassiter looks atThe Age of Odin, and finds its Norse gods brought to life characters and little too familiar and down to earth.

Shoutout to Erin Hodges.

Strange Horizons Reviews, August 1-5

Kicking off August's reviews is Dan Hartland's take on God's War by Kameron Hurley, which Dan, with a few reservations, is very impressed by.  Katherine Farmar makes her Strange Horizons debut with a review of the Haikasoru book Mardock Scramble, by Tow Ubukata, which she finds rather exhausting, full of great ideas and moments but on the whole a bit of an assault on the senses.  Hallie O'Donovan rounds out the week with a review of Franny Billingsley's Chime, a YA novel which Hallie compares to the work of Diana Wynne Jones and Frances Hardinge.

Shoutout to Erin Hodges.