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  3. Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Richard Linklater is was really cool! I didn't realize it was by him until the end when the credits rolled, but I can see his touch on it now I know to look. The story follows a fairly standard formula, but the actors pull it off exceptionally well. Thieves and Liars was also fairly entertaining, if a lot lighter fare. Guy with an art degree worked for a couple different companies installing security systems for art and now is going back and stealing a bunch of art for someone he owes a lot of money to. Inexplicable attraction to a super hot girl at a house he's robbing (he tends to do it during parties) leads to complications and shenanigans. Can't really complain though—had fun watching it overall.
  4. Started on Fall or Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson. I didn't realize it was in a way a sequel to Reamde (which I own but only vaguely remember). It was only after a few pages in that my brain went "hey, these characters seem vaguely familiar". I either didn't read the cover and blurb closely enough or it doesn't mention it at all (which would be weird). Anyway, a couple of dozen pages in, Stephenson seems in good form in this one.
  5. Earlier
  6. Dracula did not go where I was expecting it to go in its final episode, but it's all good. It's a solid reinterpretation that continues to play with the concepts of Vampires in an interesting way. It's also good to see it actually ends and doesn't leave it open for sequels. Sometimes things are allowed to be one-offs. Perhaps somewhat embarrassingly, I watched all 3 seasons of "Anne with an E" in short succession. A modern adaptation of "Anne of Green Gables". Cute, feel good. I believe there are some changes from the original work, this takes some progressive stances and adds some darker undertones that the original material probably didn't. But it works with the characters.
  7. heavyboots

    Interviews

    New interview up at The Guardian. Pretty in-depth and interesting.
  8. The Witcher - I talked a little about this before but this was really a great season. I admit to having something of a man crush on Henry Cavil, and Anya Chalotra is pretty hot too. The non-linear storyline rewards people that really pay attention, and I assume that most of the people that didn't like that were probably watching it while doing other stuff. The Expanse - I am giving the series another chance now that there is a new season and this time I am less distracted by comparisons to the book. Although the acting is sometimes weak, once Thomas Jane is gone and the actors seem to settle into their roles a bit better that ceased to be an issue. The whole thing is still too "pretty" for sci-fi. Ships have very dramatic lighting and tons of useless space to keep warm. Regardless, it is a fine show and gets better as the seasons go by. The following two I watched when I was pretty stoned, so the reviews might be affected by that. Booksmart - the coming of age film by Olivia Wilde was like a surreal Fast Times at Ridgemont High mixed with some elements of Superbad (a tedious comparison by the haters but not entirely wrong). It was surreal in that the high school in the film is a fantasy, run by students and high achievers with little relationship to real schools. I didn't care, it was fun, irreverent, and profane. I loved it. Right after Booksmart we watched the first Ep of Dracula. An homage to Bella Lugosi in many ways, this freaky, creepy, and yet still somehow pg-13 episode clocks in a 90 minutes and had me alternately cringing and giggling throughout. I hate horror movies, but this isn't horror, its a great monster movie though.
  9. Tried to read Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James but just… could not. It's on everyone's best of lists, but I was pretty well bored and lost within a couple of pages. For that kind of book to work for me, I've got to be quite heavily invested in the characters and the protagonist is not someone I would ever want to have a conversation with or anything like that. Some of the writing is quite eloquent and there were scenes that I enjoyed, but overall it couldn't hold my interest enough to continue. On the other hand, Catfishing on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer was hilarious good fun! It's more of a YA read, but the AI is such a positive influence in the book that you can't help but want things to go well, even as they go oh so badly for a while. I think I read this one in about 3-4 hours in a single sitting. In some ways it reminds me of Agency just because they both have thoroughly enjoyable AIs in them. And… that's what I'm doing now is re-reading Agency so that it will be fresh in my mind when it drops pretty soon now!
  10. Same, same… hope everyone is well.
  11. yeah, I have been thinking of Bravus, Lithos, Misty, & Herr Kuchen a lot lately...
  12. It's funny, I got into Vandermeer through a mutual friend, Jesse Bullington. Jesse wrote "The Sad Tale Of The Brothers Grossbart", "The Enterprise of Death" and "The Folly of the World". I wrote a amazon review of "The Bros. G", and ended up corresponding with Jesse, eventually sending me his gally sheets for "Enterprise". Imagine my delight when I found out the name of his agent at Orbit books was, at the time, a certain mr. Jack Womack. Small, and funny smelling.
  13. It is not really new, as most translations are made years after the Japanese publication (except for Murakami, of course). But Foyle's was promoting it last summer when I was in London. I liked Vandermeer's City of Saints and Madmen in a queasy, uneasy way. But the following books, Veniss Underground and Shriek left me quite cold, so I have not read anything he wrote after that. Maybe I should give him another chance. But as Frank Zapa said, "So many books, so little time." On the other hand, as Murakami makes Nagasawa (Norwegian Wood) say, “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” I am on a strange Japanese mood, because we had decided to return to Japan for our 20th anniversary, but it is likely we will do something different. So I am in the middle of Dale Furutani's Matsuyama Kaze trilogy, in French, and also got as a present a Spanish book doing an in depth analysis of Hokusai's 36 views of Mount Fuji.
  14. I <i>really</i> enjoyed Borne. I don't know if he's going to tie the Southern Reach into Borne/Dead Astronauts via the company or what, but that blue fox referred to in the synopsis of DA is from the Borne universe, as is the company itself. The fox guides the titular "Strange Bird" through some pretty messed up tribulations.... I find a strange beauty in the bleakness of the alternate dimension dumping grounds the company made...
  15. Huh, curious that I've not seen new Hiromi Kawakami, Strange Weather and Nakano Thrift Shop seemed to do quite well, and I enjoyed both. Looks like there are more listed from small press that I've not seen as well. I started her collection of three long shorts, Record of a Night Too Brief, but that first piece was an incoherent dream piece and I never got round to reading the other two (I would have sworn it was still sitting on pile beside my home desk, but apparently not). Will still look into her new stuff though. I'm still on hold with Commendatore, finding it really slow and the translation/writing seems overdone so that it is repetitive. I'll get back to it though, Murakami does remain one of my favourite writers. And I have Alternate Routes sitting on my kindle, it sounded curious when I read about it. Just finished "Gideon The Ninth" by Tamsyn Muir, which is one of the most hyped books I've come across in a long time. Authors falling over themselves to sing its praises as far in advance of an actual publication as was possible. Which, honestly, starts to become a pain in the arse, yes, yes, we get it, we should all read this book that you got to read and we'll not see for another year, thanks. On other hand, given how many of those authors are folk I do enjoy, generally, I did get a little curious. With that, this wasn't necessarily the bat shit, lesbian space necromancers I was lead to believe. Gideon in an orphan, raised in a nunnery, she is raised with the daughter of the lord and lady who run the sprawling gothic crypt/church/death cult. They are best friends, except for the stabbing, the skeletons and general hatred for each other. So when the 9 houses are called together to visit the sprawling, near derelict mansion of the First, home of the Undying Emperor, Gideon gets to be Harrow's other half. So 8 couples, and a twin, turn up at the home of the First, where they are set on a treasure hunt/murder mystery. Oh, and each couple is comprised of each houses's top necromancer and sword wielding bodyguard, and each house has their own peculiarities which makes the other houses despise them, with the skull face painted bastard house that should have died being represented by the necromancer Harrow and swaggering swordswoman Gideon. On some level it perhaps reminds of Knives Out or The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, it feels like it should be an Agatha Christie whodunnit, with locked rooms, puzzles and twists, only with a lot more skeletons and walking dead. Tonally it was actually much more understated than I expected, subtle given the way it had been talked up, which in someways was a good thing. Overall, I enjoyed this a lot, crammed it into the post new year/pre-return to work work, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable page turner. I may have some reservations about the ending, but likely minor all things considered.
  16. There's more than one Japanese writer? I should really check out more literature from Japan but not sure where to start. As I've been home a lot, reading slowed down considerably (I mostly read on trains or otherwise on the road). I'm finishing up Ted Chiang's collection of stories "Exhalation". As expected there are a lot of interesting ideas and original takes on SF, so it's a joy to read. I also picked up Stephenson's last book "Fall or Dodge in Hell" from the library, but have not started yet.
  17. Keep it that way! Are you affected by the fires at all?
  18. Gromit

    Random

    I'm still alive and kicking. Carry on.
  19. I am quite behind in my reading, and even more in my reporting. Got Uprooted six months ago. Really liked it as a darkish fairy tale, mixed in with Polish self destructiveness. Killing Commendatore, from Haruki Murakami. On the surface it seems a typical Murakami novel, with a guy in his thirties lost and bewildered that just plods along being nice. But there are other currents, and it is probably the most explicitly sexual of his works. The fire at the end seemed too neat an ending, but in any case you have to choose your own interpretation. I do not remember if I mentioned Men without women, a collection of short stories. Maybe too similar, but he handles the format very well. Following with my second favourite Japanese writer, Hiromi Kawakami. I just read her The ten loves pf Mr. Nishino, where she presents a male character from the reminiscences of ten women that loved him, and at the same time presenting ten different pictures of Japanese gitls and women. Quite different from Murakami style. I still prefer he better known book, Strange weather in Tokyo. Tim Powers' Alternate routes, a kind of revisit to his California ghost stories, but with a twist, as the power source are the highways. Weak, which is a pity in a writer I like a lot, but with some moments of greatness, Similar in that respect to his previous novel, Medusa's web. To wash the bad taste I ended up rereading the California series: Last call, Expiration date and Earthquake weather. I also got as a present Martin's Blood and Fire, a kind of history book on the Targaryens, and as dry and unexciting as most history books.
  20. Tom Baker and James Goss, “Scratchman”. The book looks to be written with want of acting in mind, which is kind of neat, as some sentences hang with absence of interpretation. Meta spoilers: There are two manipulations, a good and a bad. The bad manipulation is framed by a character, the notion being a person told they make no difference over and over again, then confronted with an offer which makes them seem big, meaningful to others. (The offer entails a bad thing or bad things.) The good manipulation is by the story, which moves from a classical play between the old existential ‘hell is other people’, retreat into self, which can go into a kind of hate disease, as positioned against the need to help others because this is important, into something far more interesting making the whole read worth the contemplation: What happens, the way it happens, all of that is really a magic charm that mediates the problem of when a person, perhaps in old age, wants to get away from a particular relationship (say a relative in normal context) which one really can’t get away from, unless one dies.
  21. Wanderer

    Tour dates!

    Mel and I are planning to come to London for the event. We're probably going to skip Bristol though.
  22. So... I spent most of my time off playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I know it came out ages ago, and I always did want to try it out but never really got around to it. Now it has me completely hooked.
  23. I had a lot of time off recently, so had more time to watch some TV... The Witcher, season 1. Really great storytelling, it doesn't assume the viewer is a dummy that needs to be spoon-fed the details of every story-line. I actually enjoyed that the different different events could be set years apart without much of an indicator, it made it more interesting. Having played some of the games, I think they got the character of Geralt spot on. The comparison to GoT is easy, but also not really valid I think. It's less "politics in a fantasy setting" and more actual fantasy. It was interesting seeing the discrepancy between professional reviewers and how the public received it. I heard some people complain about the low-quality CGI and costumes but that didn't bother me at all. Dark, season 1. It's like Stranger Things, but German, and much more bleak. This has a high production value, with really great shots and visuals. Apart from how bleakly beautiful it is to look at, the story is interesting too, with some original takes on the genre. You're constantly left wondering how everything puzzles together in the end. The first episode of that new take on Dracula. It's by the people who did Sherlock, so you know it's gonna be slick and also somewhat funny. Mark Gatiss is a huge horror nerd, so Dracula is at least adequately creepy and the horror is well done. It's certainly a modern take though, with at least one the characters behaving in a way they'd never do in the era they're set in. But still... fun.
  24. got a Fitbit for Christmas. My sleep sucks
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