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Showing posts from May, 2018

Infinity Links

Somewhat surprisingly for a film that has so little time (and possibly also inclination) to explore any interesting ideas raised by its premise, Infinity War has resulted in a rather vibrant conversation.  I'll say from the outset that most of the links I've collected proceed from the point of view that the film is at the very least flawed, if not genuinely bad.  This is probably my selection bias speaking, but I really haven't seen any interesting positive discussions of the film--any in-depth engagement with it, it seems to me, must inevitably grapple with the film's myriad, foundational flaws.  Also rooted in my own preoccupations is the fact that a lot of these links end up talking less about the film, and more about how it exposes some uncomfortable truths about how Marvel sees its franchise, its long-term goals, and its audience.
Of the mainstream reviews--that is, those prohibited on pain of death of discussing the film's ending, AKA the only thing that is re…

Review: Paris Adrift by E.J. Swift at Strange Horizons

My latest Strange Horizons review looks at E.J. Swift's time travel novel Paris Adrift.  I've been hearing Swift's name spoken with admiration for several years now, as more and more readers I trust became absorbed by her Osiris Project trilogy (Osiris, 2012; Cataveiro, 2014; Tamaruq, 2015).  As a standalone, Paris Adrift seemed like a perfect opportunity to hop on, but unfortunately what I found was a classic case of what is good is not interesting, and what is interesting is not good.  Paris Adrift is a rather slight story of a lost young person becoming even more lost when she discovers the ability to travel in time--the sort of thing that would probably have worked very well as a novella but is stretched into shapelessness by the novel length--combined with a political story that doesn't really bear much scrutiny.
It's perhaps unsurprising that a novel so rooted in the notion of special people will also filter its politics through the lens of great men and wome…

A Political History of the Future: The City & The City at Lawyers, Guns & Money

My latest Political History of the Future column takes the opportunity of the BBC having released a miniseries adaptation of it to discuss China Miéville's The City & The City, a novel about two cities that exist side-by-side but have erected a convoluted mechanism of psychological self-deception to "unsee" one another.  When I reread my 2009 review of the book, I was struck by how much it emphasized Miéville's poking at core fantasy tropes over what feels now like a blatantly political premise.  But as both that review and the miniseries have reminded me, that imbalance exists in the book itself.
despite a surface feeling of relevance, the premise of The City & The City doesn’t map to any real-world political situation. Unseeing isn’t a way of ignoring an inconvenient or ugly reality, but a hefty psychic burden that the citizens of the two cities undertake out of ingrained habit and fear of retaliation. And despite multiple attempts to read it as such by rev…