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Showing posts from May, 2013

Watson, I Need You: Thoughts on Elementary's First Season

A week or so ago, the US broadcast networks announced their lineup of new and returning shows for the fall of 2013, and since then the internet's premier TV sites have been abuzz with a flurry of analysis.  Trailers have been dissected, ratings and demographics calculated, schedules critiqued.  It's all a lot of fun, in an inside baseball sort of way, but in the midst of all this excitement, it's good to be reminded that in the end, nobody really knows anything.  Exhibit A: Elementary, a show that had absolutely no business being any good whatsoever.  On paper, it seems to epitomize all the worst failings of network TV, the kind that make us TV snobs sigh and complain that everything would be better on HBO.  Its genre is arguably the most overexposed, and dramatically inert, on TV, the procedural, and what's more, it's a procedural featuring a quirky, irascible detective surrounded by put-upon enablers, of which we've had far too many over the last decade.  It&…

Recent Reading Roundup 33

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The last recent reading roundup chronicled several months of slow reading.  This one covers several weeks of fast reading (a period that also included the Clarke shortlist, reviewedelsewhere).  There are several books here that I would have liked to write full-length reviews of, but I read them in such quick succession with several others that any chance of disentangling my thoughts enough for that is now lost.  Here, then, are some shorter reactions.
Anno Dracula by Kim Newman - Newman's much-loved vampire novel, originally published in 1992 and reissued, with a snazzy new cover design, a few years ago, has a crackerjack premise that is simultaneously the best and worst thing about it.  Best simply because it's so much fun: Newman posits a world in which not only do the historical and literary figures of the Victorian era rub shoulders--in which Fredrick Abberline serves on the same police force as Inspector Lestrade, for instance--but the ending of Bram Stoker's Dracula i…

The (Belated) Pilots of Spring

The original plan was for this post to go up a month or so ago, when all of these shows were really at the pilot phase or just a bit after it.  But with one thing and another, here we are already at summer's doorstep (and thus, at the doorstep of the summer pilot season), and some of the new shows I'm about to write about have already wrapped up their debut seasons.  Still, there's a lot here to talk about--some interesting ideas even if the execution sometimes leaves a bit to be desired, and several venues that I hadn't been paying much attention to and which now might be worth a closer look.
In the Flesh - Despite its unnaturally long afterlife, the zombie craze is at least five years past its peak, so it's a bit surprising to find anyone, much less the BBC, trying to put a fresh spin on it.  Still, the premise that In the Flesh comes up with is at least a little bit different, as its focus isn't on surviving the zombie uprising (which has already happened, an…

Crooked Timber Seminar on Felix Gilman's Half-Made World Books

If you haven't yet discovered the group blog Crooked Timber's book seminars, in which several participants are invited to write essays about a certain book, you're in for a treat.  Previous seminar subjects include Francis Spufford's Red Plenty, China MiĆ©ville's Iron Council, and Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

The latest seminar focuses on Felix Gilman's duology The Half-Made World and The Rise of Ransom City, which I previouslyreviewed for Strange Horizons, and to my great surprise and pleasure I was asked to participate.  My entry, "On the Meeting of Epic Fantasy and Western in Felix Gilman's Half-Made World Duology," appears today.

Don't forget to check out previous entries by Francis Spufford, John Holbo, and Lizarbreath, with future pieces from Miriam Burstein, Henry Farrell, and Maria Farrell yet to come.

The 2013 Clarke Award Shortlist Reviewed + SpecFic '12

This evening will see the announcement of the winner of the 2013 Clarke Award, after the more than normally contentious response to this year's shortlist.  At Strange Horizons, I take on the traditional task of reviewing the shortlist (in twoparts)--for the first time since 2008, which means I've had five years to forget how exhausting a task this is, but also how much fun.  At the Strange Horizons blog, Niall Harrison has collected other reviews of the nominated books (including several others from Strange Horizons), as well as the various responses to the shortlist that have appeared in the last month (inthreeparts).

In other self-promotion news, my review of Frances Hardinge's A Face Like Glass was selected to appear in the inaugural volume of SpecFic, a series seeking to highlight online genre criticism, with the first volume edited by Justin Landon and Jared Shurin (as were several Strange Horizons reviews).  A full list of contributors can be found here, and the book…