Showing posts from November, 2008

The Final Cylon, Revisited. Again.

I know, I said I didn't care . But then that's been the arc of my entanglement (it is by now far too long since I could call it fannishness) with Battlestar Galactica since the middle of the second season--I'm annoyed and even disgusted with the show, but I can't seem to break away. SyFy Portal is claiming to have a reliable source about the identity of the final Cylon. They're not revealing who it is, but they have posted a list of five contenders, one of which is, to their knowledge, the real one. I have to say, I hope their carefully worded caveat that this information " could be incorrect, changed, or even part of misinformation " is more to the point than the list itself, because if any of these people turn out to be the final Cylon, I am going to be so disappointed. The revelation that any of these characters are a Cylon would undo so much of the show's character work, not to mention hobble its underlying themes of morality in times of cris

No Less Sad For Being Expected

After many, many hints that this was coming, Pushing Daisies has been cancelled .  (So have Dirty Sexy Mone y and Eli Stone , but I don't watch those shows and therefore don't care.) As so many others have said, the fact that this smart, unusual, gorgeous show has been cancelled while shows like Knight Rider (which I've never watched because every reaction I've seen has been wholly negative) and the new Life on Mars (whose unsubtle hectoring drove me away after two episodes) survive is a travesty, and something that ABC, and the television industry in general, should be ashamed of.  And no, the fact that Daisies creator Bryan Fuller might now be available to return to Heroes (where, in its first season, he wrote the standout episode "Company Man") is no consolation.   Heroes is a critically injured show which has done so much to squander my never-particularly-great affection for it that I doubt it could ever work its way back into my heart.  No show tha

Recent Movie Roundup 9

Obviously, the real movie news of the week is the release of the new Watchmen trailer (beautiful and despite my misgivings, quite promising, though I'm not as in love with the original book as some) and the even newer Star Trek trailer (awful, and looking very much like your run of the mill J.J. Abrams crapfest). Still, here are some looks at the leftover films of summer and fall. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) - My expectations for this film were somewhere in a sub, sub-basement beneath the movie theater, what with my lukewarm reaction to the first film and the even more tepid critical response. Which might go some way towards explaining why I enjoyed it as much as I did. The first Hellboy film couldn't stop undermining itself, inching towards the over the top weirdness of the original comic's universe and then immediately retreating into the standard superhero film template as though afraid that that weirdness would put audiences off. It thus ended up being n

Recent Reading Roundup 19

Excession by Iain M. Banks - In the best 20 science fiction novels of the last twenty years discussion a few months back there was a spirited sub-discussion on the question of which was the best Culture novel, Excession or Use of Weapons . As the latter was already my favorite of his novels, I decided to make Excession my next Banks read. This was not quite a mistake-- Excession is entertaining, funny, and as masterful a combination of SFnal invention, social commentary, and gosh-wow adventure as I've come to expect from Banks--but count me in with the Use of Weapons crowd. Excession reads like a better version of Consider Phlebas , the first Culture novel (with which I was rather di s appointed ). A McGuffin--in this case an alien artifact representing technology far in advance of the Culture or its main rivals and allies--appears in a semi-neutral location, and both the Culture and its less civilized enemies scramble to gain control of it. Unlike Consider Phlebas , E

Sad Thoughts On a Happy Day

Like many Israelis, I hold dual citizenship, and in my case the second is American. People who know this have taken to asking me, in the last few months, whether I was planning to vote in yesterday's election, to which my answer has always been no. I don't approve of expatriates or, as in my case, their children, casting absentee ballots to influence the running of a country they don't live in, whose most direct consequences they won't feel. Still, I think I might have had a harder time justifying this decision if it didn't seem clear that both of the states I might register to vote in (New York and Colorado) were going to go to Barack Obama. Though I don't feel entitled to cast my vote as an American, it's been difficult to tamp down the little voice that says that as an Israeli and as a person who lives on this planet, I ought to have had a say in selecting the single most powerful person on it. In the last eight years, the American president has remad

Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig

According to the author bio in my reprint edition, around the turn of the 20th century the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig was an international literary sensation, his plays, novellas, and biographies translated into more than a dozen languages. Nowadays he is known mainly in his native German, but the good people at NYRB have been working hard to rectify this situation. Judging by Beware of Pity , a meaty, intense novel of obsession and psychological manipulation, one of Zweig's latest works and his only full-length novel, this is something to be extremely grateful for. Set in the months leading up to the first world war and in the an out-of-the-way Austrian garrison town, Beware of Pity is told through the reminiscences of Hofmiller, a young cavalry officer stationed at the town. Poor and of an undistinguished family, Hofmiller is ill-at-ease among his fellow officers, most of whom are wealthy and titled, and protective of his reputation and honor. When a friend secures for him a