Showing posts from July, 2022

Four Comments on Netflix's Persuasion

Last week I wrote about the dubious pleasure of reading or watching something so hilariously terrible, you have to tell everyone about it. Most bad things aren't like that, though. Usually, when a book or movie or TV show are bad, they're bad in a boring, depressing way that makes you sad for all the energy expended on them. Such is the case with Netflix's film adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion , directed by Carrie Cracknell and with a screenplay by Ron Bass and Alice Victoria Winslow. When the trailer for the film dropped last month, full of pratfalls and fourth-wall-breaking asides to the camera, Austen fans reared back in dismay. Why take Austen's saddest, most mature novel and reimagine it as a Fleabag -esque comedy in which the heroine muses, of the man who got away, "we're worse than exes; we're friends"? The film itself, however, is hardly worthy of all that outrage. It's bad, but doesn't even have the decency to be interestin

Recent Reading: A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

I enjoyed the first volume in Martine's space opera series, A Memory Called Empire , though I fell short of its general acclaim (it went on to win the Hugo, and was nominated for the Nebula and the Clarke). To me it paled beside the other lauded space operas of the last decade, lacking their clarity of purpose and inventive worldbuilding choices. The sequel works better, for various structural and thematic reasons. But it still leaves me wondering what this series adds to the field that justifies the accolades it has received. Memory introduced us to Mahit Dzmare, newly-appointed ambassador from the small, independent space station Lsel to the neighboring Tleixcalaan empire. Like most people on Lsel, Mahit carries the personality imprint of her predecessor in the position, Yskandr Aghavn, whose memories and experience are meant to merge into her own personality. But when she arrives at the imperial court, Mahit discovers that the imprint has been sabotaged, and that the older Yska

Review: The Time Traveler's Wife, Season 1 at Strange Horizons

One thing that has happened as I've gotten older and more experienced as a critic is that I tend to write fewer outright pans. Life is too short to spend consuming things that you hate, much less expending the mental energy to explain and illustrate why they should be hated. But every now and then, a work comes along that hits just the right sweet spot, so terrible that there are only bad things to say about it, but in a way that makes it impossible to look away, and which compels you to share your dismay with everyone else. HBO Max's The Time Traveler's Wife , based on the bestselling novel by Audrey Niffenegger and adapted by TV wunderkind Steven Moffat, is such a work. Over at Strange Horizons , I try to summarize the many ways in which this show fails. More importantly, I try to figure out whether the root of the show's badness lies in the original novel—whose problems have been amply elaborated upon over the last twenty years—or in the no less problematic showrunn