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Showing posts from March, 2019

Us

There's a scene about halfway into Jordan Peele's Get Out that to me sums up the genius and horror of that movie. It's wordless, and begins with a series of seemingly disconnected images: a crowd seated before a gazebo; a photograph of Daniel Kaluuya as the film's lead, Chris; Bradley Whitford, as the genial father of Chris's girlfriend, making strange hand gestures; people in the crowd holding up bingo cards. Then the camera pulls out, and the disparate pieces come together in a startling crash. Whitford is auctioning Chris off to a crowd of fellow white people. Later in the movie we'll learn more about what this will entail and why this abominable practice continues, but it's in this moment that Get Out spells out its terms, establishing stakes and villains, as well as its wicked, take-no-prisoners sense of humor.

There is no moment in Peele's follow-up to Get Out, Us, that delivers the same sense of revelation with a similar elegance. If Get Out was …

The 2019 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Novel, Series, and Campbell Categories

As the Hugo nominating period winds to a close, I find myself a bit out of sorts with this final batch of categories.  For one thing, I was hoping to read Rachel Hartman's Tess of the Road before the nominating period ended, so that I could consider it for the Lodestar award for YA novels.  For another, I'm even more than confused than usual about Campbell eligibility--the Writertopia site remains an invaluable resource, but this year they've also linked to Rocket Stack Rank's list of eligible short fiction writers.  On the other hand, this year I actually have things to nominate in the best series category, which I hadn't thought would happen since I don't usually read more than the first volume of any series.

Previous posts in this series:

The Short Fiction Categories

The Media Categories

Publishing and Fan Categories
Best Novel:

The Breath of the Sun by Isaac R. Fellman (review) - In my review of The Breath of the Sun I compared it to Sofia Samatar's A Strange…

The 2019 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories

With only a few days left to nominate for the Hugos, we come to our third batch of categories.  One thing they all have in common is that they I tend to nominate the same things here each year.  Partly this is a function of the limitations of my perspective (I don't always, for example, have time to follow a new short fiction venue that might make it onto the semiprozine ballot), but partly it's a way of recognizing people and organizations that have been doing great work for years, without nearly enough recognition.  (Another thing this group of categories has in common?  It's also the one where I tend to leave more categories blank: once again, I won't be nominating in the best editor, best fancast, or best fanzine categories.)

Previous posts in this series:
The Short Fiction Categories

The Media Categories
Best Semiprozine

GigaNotoSaurus - this little magazine that could continued plugging away in 2018, publishing one story per month and finding interesting new voices to…

Captain Marvel

There isn't really that much to say about Captain Marvel in itself.  As a movie, it is a pleasant but unremarkable way to spend two hours.  Brie Larson is extremely winning as Air Force pilot turned Kree warrior Carol Danvers, but the film built to introduce her is rather nondescript, offering up neither the original, format-busting heights of Black Panther or Thor: Ragnarok, nor the pointless tedium of Doctor Strange, nor yet the infuriating pseudo-ethics of Captain America: Civil War.  I might call it inessential, if it weren't for two things: the film's significance as the first female-led foray in the MCU, and Carol's obvious significance to the upcoming Avengers: Endgame, and the future of the MCU after it.

Which is really the most important thing you can say about Captain Marvel: this is a movie that is important not because of what happens in it, but because of what happens around it.  The most interesting conversations you can have regarding it all take place i…

The 2019 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Media Categories

Part 2 of my ballot covers a lot of the "fun" categories, the ones that get a lot of nominations.  In several of them, it can be pretty easy to guess who the nominees will be, with or without your input.  Still, there's room here for off the wall choices, and for a reminder of how even the most mainstream work can still expand the genre's boundaries and do new things.

Previous posts in this series:
The Short Fiction Categories
Best Related Work:

As usual, I haven't done nearly enough reading in this category, to the extent that it's hard for me to even imagine how it might shake out.  The recommendation list in this year's Hugo spreadsheet, for example, includes books, essay series, individual essays, and even a recipe (which I've made, by the way, and highly recommend, though I wasn't planning to nominate it for this award).  I will, however, point out that my series A Political History of the Future, which started publication at Lawyers, Guns &…

Recent Movie Roundup 32

I was hoping to get this post done before last week's Oscar ceremony (with its eye-rolling final result), but this week feels like an equally good cutoff point.  In a few days Captain Marvel will be upon us, and the blockbuster movie season of 2019 will have officially started.  Before that happens, there are still a few stragglers from last year's prestige film season that I was able to catch up on (though several films I really wanted to see never even made it here--chiefly First Reformed and If Beale Street Could Talk).  Here are some thoughts about them.
Cold War - Poland's entry in this year's best foreign picture race follows the on-again, off-again relationship of a couple, pianist and conductor Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and singer Zula (Joanna Kulig), over a span of about fifteen years in the mid-20th century.  The titular conflict lingers in the background, but its effects shape the relationship just as much as Wiktor and Zula's own hangups.  Their first break co…

The 2019 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Short Fiction Categories

I've been nominating for the Hugos for about ten years now, and putting my ballots online for most of that period.  The centerpiece of those ballots has always been this post, in which I presented the results of a weeks-long trawl through various short fiction venues.  It's been an interesting project, and for the most part I've enjoyed spending each winter searching for interesting nominees, and trying to highlight authors and titles that not everyone may have noticed.  It's always rewarding when you can champion a worthy piece and watch it get the attention it deserves.  But this year's experience has confirmed for me that the project has become a little too time-consuming, a little too distracting from my other writing commitments.  This is probably the last year that I'm going to do a comprehensive mega-read of the year's short fiction before nominating.  I'm glad I got to do it one last time, and on a year in which I'm planning to attend Worldc…