Showing posts from June, 2012

The Legend of Korra, Season 1

When I watched the Nickolodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender a few years ago, it was, despite the recommendations of a few rabid fans whose blogs I follow, with no small amount of doubt and trepidation.  When I finished the series, having become a rabid fan myself, and tried to pass on that rabid fannishness to some friends, it occurred to me what a tough sell Avatar is.  If you're not a fan of animated (and specifically anime or anime-style) shows, or of children's TV, the series could very easily have flown under your radar (in fact it's likely that the title will cause associations with either James Cameron's unrelated movie , or M. Night Shyamalan's by all accounts dreadful live action film adaptation of the show's first season).  It certainly doesn't help that the series take a while to get up to speed, and that its first ten episodes are broad and very consciously child-oriented--I wouldn't blame someone from my corner of fandom who


There are a lot of things I like about online fandom, but one of its traits that gives me pause is the speed with which it forms an overwhelming, inescapable consensus about certain pop culture artifacts.  Not to keep beating a much-too-lively horse, but this strikes me as a much bigger problem than the dreaded spoiler.  It's one thing to know what's going to happen in a movie, but quite another to know how you're expected to react to those events--to know that The Avengers has been judged the greatest thing since sliced bread, or that Prometheus , Ridley Scott's prequel-but-not-really-but-actually-yes to Alien , is generally reviled.  Which is not to say that I disagree with the fannish consensus about Prometheus , which is indeed a terrible, terrible film.  But I am a bit troubled by the fact that when I settled into my seat at the movie theater on Saturday, a mere week after Prometheus 's release and without having gone to great lengths to take the temperature o

Review: The Black Opera by Mary Gentle

My review of Mary Gentle's The Black Opera appears today in Strange Horizons .  I've liked pretty much everything else I've read by Gentle, particularly 1610: A Sundial in a Grave , which The Black Opera resembles in several ways, so it was a particular disappointment to discover that her latest effort is a baggy, unconvincing exercise.  Better luck next time.

From the Horse's Mouth

A bit surprised that this hasn't had more play: in an interview with Empire last week, Neil Marshall--who directed the penultimate episode of the second season of Game of Thrones , "Blackwater"--has this to say on the subject of the show's use of nudity: The weirdest part was when you have one of the exec producers leaning over your shoulder, going, "You can go full frontal, you know. This is television, you can do whatever you want! And do it! I urge you to do it!" So I was like, "Okay, well, you're the boss." This particular exec took me to one side and said, "Look, I represent the pervert side of the audience, okay? Everybody else is the serious drama side. I represent the perv side of the audience, and I'm saying I want full frontal nudity in this scene." So you go ahead and do it. (The original quote is in a podcast.  Here are two text reports, both of which seem quite cheerful about HBO courting the pervert demograp

Game of Thrones, Season 2

By a lot of conventional yardsticks, the second season of Game of Thrones is less successful than its first.  It lacks the commanding, gravitational figure of Ned Stark at its center, and the strong throughline of his investigation into the death of his predecessor as Hand of the King and the maiming of his son.  It's a more diffuse narrative, flitting between an ever-increasing number of locations and characters, and not properly a story at all.  Most of the season is spent laying the groundwork for a single battle in a war in which no side has a particularly strong claim on the audience's sympathies, and that battle turns out to be not only far from decisive, but perhaps not even very important in the grand scheme of things.  And yet it can't be denied that the second season of Game of Thrones is better and more engaging than the first, that over the course of its ten episodes the pull of its narrative, of the various clans warring for control of Westeros and the two fo

The Book Migration

Setting up my new apartment is a lengthy process, involving many cycles of shopping, positioning, evaluating, and making lists of what's still missing.  But possibly the most important part--the one without which I couldn't have felt properly moved in--was moving and arranging the books. The first part took a while to accomplish, spread out over two weeks and several stages, and mostly taking advantage of my brother's limited free time and strong back.  Slowly, The piles of books started accumulating in my new place. I spent most of yesterday sorting, forming teetering, alphabetized piles. With more than 30 Discworld books, the letter P is the big winner of this construction project, though M (MiĆ©ville, Mitchel, McEwan, McDonald, Morgan), and C (Crowley, Chabon, Angela Carter) weren't far behind.  I, O, and U had only one representative each ( The Weight of Numbers by Simon Ings, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, Morality Play by Barry Unswor