Showing posts from March, 2006

The Excitement Wears Off: Scattered Thoughts at the End of Battlestar Galactica's Second Season

First, a word about the title: it was originally my intention to write this piece as a counterpart to the one I wrote last September, and to continue to treat, as I have done in everything I've written about Battlestar Galactica this winter, the summer season and the winter season as distinct and separate entities. Along came Niall and pointed out that a more natural and obvious splitting point for the season is "Home II". According to Niall, the first seven episodes of the second season should more accurately be called the end of the first season, and while I'm not certain that I'd go as far as to say that (I still think that they indicate the writers' worthy willingness to take their time wrapping up a tricky plotline instead of resolving all the issues raised in "Kobol's Last Gleaming II" in a single episode), there's no question that "Home II" represents a turning point in terms of the show's plots, themes, character

England, In Bullet Points

In a nutshell: great fun. I spent time with my friend Avigail (yes, we have the same name), met new and cool friends, saw new and cool places, and just in general relaxed and didn't think about the things that I'm going to have to start thinking about now. A definite success. The flight out was divine, and even the flight back, as one-hour-delayed, packed night flights in which I get placed in the middle seat of the middle block of seats go, was fairly harmless. I finished my book and even watched those segments of The Family Stone which didn't seem completely boring without any sound, which frankly seems to me to be the best way to appreciate the film. Too bad the same approach couldn't do anything for Rent on the way out. The weather seemed to be on my side as well. It was cold, obviously, but I actually find that novel and refreshing, and it only rained for the last two days of my stay (although my innate Israeliness shone through when I peevishly wondered why the


The original plan for this post was to report on my travels, possibly with pictures. But, quite apart from the fact that it's election day and I've been volunteered for six hours on a polling station committee, there seem to be about a hundred e-mails, twice as many updates on my various RSS feeds, God only knows how many updates on my friends page, and about a dozen hours of television to catch up to. This may take a while. I've got some posts of substance planned, though--my review, finally, of Battlestar Galactica 's second season, something about the Hugo short fiction nominees, and maybe even some stuff about Sean Stewart's Perfect Circle . And, possibly, some pictures.

Self-Promotion 6

Just popping my head in to say that my review of Jeff VanderMeer's Shriek: An Afterword appears in today's Strange Horizons . If you're coming here from there, you might also be interested in my review of VanderMeer's earlier novel, Veniss Underground . England lovely. Weather beastly. Having a wonderful time.


AtWQ is going on hiatus for the next two weeks as I enjoy my graduation gift to myself--a trip to the UK, visiting friends and hopefully not freezing to death (apparently, it's still winter over there, whereas I am already seriously considering my summer wardrobe). Expect me back some time around the 27th, with tales of my travels and possibly some thoughts about Battlestar Galactica (in a nutshell: "Lay Down Your Burdens II" rocked and even did a little to retroactively improve my opinion of part 1; the winter season is four for ten, and I'm not at all certain that the shocking reboot is enough to get the show back on track). Feel free to poke around the site if you haven't already done so--the 'Posts of Note' section to the right has some good starting points--or explore the blogroll. I should be reachable by e-mail, but I can't promise a prompt response. By the same token, weblog comments will probably be ignored until I get back. Have a lovely two

The Best Thing About the Clarke Award

It's the c-word, presumably, that has earned [Never Let Me Go] its place on the Clarke list, although it's a justification of 'WMDs-in-Iraq-therefore-we-invade' slenderness. Cloning in this novel means only two things. It means a certain difference between the protagonists and 'normal people': difference that is slight, in many ways, but felt profoundly by the individuals concerned. And it means death: the fact that these bright young people will, inevitably, have their bodies invasively compromised and their lives ended whilst they are still young. It may be that Ishiguro frames his fable as obliquely as he does in order to try and prevent it becoming too obviously an existential allegory -- 'for are we not all,' intones the pompous critical voice, 'in the same situation? Are we not all in a sense executed for a crime we did not commit?' Actually I'm not quoting criticus pompous here, I'm quoting Woody Allen's Love and Death, the bit

I Am, Unsurprisingly, Less Than Broken Up About This

The SCI FI Channel's top-rated original series will break the mold and jump to a fall season premiere, the network announced today. The 20-episode third season of Battlestar Galactica will premiere in October 2006 on the cable network. The move potentially demonstrates Sci Fi's faith in the show, in spite of the recent drop in its ratings, but it also represents a chance for Moore and his writers to get their act back together. There isn't necessarily any more time for them to plan the season (filming begins in April, as it would have in the case of a summer season), but there is a difference between planning the season in two separate blocks and laying it all out in advance. Hopefully the writers will take this opportunity to develop storylines and character arcs more seamlessly than they have done thus far. Also, absence may make the heart grow fonder.

You, Sir, Are No Stanley Keyworth and Other "Lay Down Your Burdens I" Thoughts

I actually had no plans to write about Friday's Battlestar Galactica episode, "Lay Down Your Burdens I", which I found decent but forgettable--certainly not an worthy counterpoint to last season's "Kobol's Last Gleaming I", which it was obviously meant to recall. Then last night I caught a rerun of the second season West Wing episode "Noël", one of the most harrowing hours of television I've ever seen, in which Josh is finally forced to confront the aftereffects of the trauma he experienced when he was shot at the beginning of the season. Like Chief Tyrol in "Lay Down Your Burdens I", Josh is aided in this struggle by a spiritual advisor--psychiatrist Stanley Keyworth, played by Adam Arkin. A comparison between these two retellings of the same story reveals, I think, quite a bit about what's wrong with Galactica these days, and what needs to be done to set things right. The first thing that needs to be said when discussing

So That's How You Pronounce 'Quay' and Other Life on Mars Thoughts

In all honesty, I didn't think they'd be able to pull it off. When I sat down on Thursday to watch the first season finale of Life on Mars , I expected disappointment. I expected the writers to avoid resolutions, to ignore the various eerie and bizarre elements they had sprinkled into their storylines, and give us nothing even resembling an answer. I can't even describe my joy at realizing how wrong I was. Without committing to an answer on the time-travel-or-coma question, the finale made perfect sense of many of the images that had been plaguing Sam, and gave us a definitive answer to the question of why he ended up where and when he did. I've complained about the obviousness of some of the show's mysteries, but I gasped with surprise when Annie showed up in that red dress, not least because this solution retroactively justifies some of the plot points that I found so problematic over the season's run--I worried that using Sam's dreams to lead him to his

The 2005 Nebula Award: The Novella Shortlist

[Ed Champion has the first complete list of links to the nominated stories.] Here's an interesting fact about the novella ballot: unlike the short story and novelette shortlists, it is dominated by futuristic, space-set SF. Here's another interesting fact about the novella ballot: unlike the short story and novelette shortlists, it is dominated by crap. That Kelly Link's "Magic for Beginners" is going to take the Nebula would probably have been a given no matter what pieces the story competed against, but I am frankly baffled by the fact that the rest of the nominated stories were even published by professional venues, much less nominated for a major award. The ballot is nearly an insult to Link's artistry--she deserves to win over deserving fictions, not these inexplicable failures. But to get the good news out of the way: "Magic for Beginners" is superb, and really drives home how atypical Link's nominated novelette, "The Faery Handbag&q