Monday roundup

February 13, 2017

My current knitting project is a giant shawl done on #4 needles.  For non-knitters, #4 needles are small (not the smallest), and make dainty little stitches.  This thing is going to take me all year. It’s gonna be gorgeous, but wow.

So I’ve been watching some TV while I work on this.

Voltron.  This is a Dreamworks Animation reboot running on Netflix.  I watched a ton of 80’s Voltron as a kid, enough that I pretty much adored that scene in Pacific Rim when Gypsy Danger draws a sword out of nowhere and slices a ro-beast — I mean kaiju — from shoulder to hip.  So I had to give this a try.  And I like it.  It’s cute and fun and has the spirit of the old show while updating some things (and very surreptitiously and neatly adding another girl character).  I’m halfway through second season and Shiro is about to go do something foolish, I fear.  But that’s what he does so it’s okay.

Taboo.  I’m only a couple of episodes in, but I’m intrigued.  This is Tom Hardy in 1814 London going up against the East India Company.  There’s some very pointed post-colonial critique going on, which I hope to see more of. In the meantime, it’s sort of the evil opposite of most Regency-era stories.  I gotta tell you, when Jonathan Pryce (playing the head of the East India Company) drops an f-bomb I about jumped out of my seat.  I’ve been watching him in movies for thirty years and I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say fuck.  Huh.

CW DC superhero shows. These days, I just flat-out call this the Superfriends.

And a movie:

Lego Batman.  Well, it’s pretty much what it says on the tin.  The first five minutes were kind of my favorite, where the pilots of McGuffin Air manage to poke at both The Dark Knight and Tim Burton’s Batman.  So yeah, a little meta going on there.

 

Is it?

Is it really the final chapter?

I’m going to take them at their word, because they did some stuff that really did make this seem like the end. But in Hollywood, never say never, because this is the year we’re getting sequels to both Blade Runner and Twin Peaks and dear god when will the 80’s movie recycling jamboree ever end?

Anyhoo.  I STILL LOVE THE RESIDENT EVIL MOVIES.  This series has been so consistent in delivering exactly what it promises, with stylish techno action set pieces held together by theme and aesthetic more than plot, and making that entirely okay. Alice continues to be magnificent.

I actually have a lot more to say about this movie, but in a strange twist it looks like I’m going to be reviewing it for Lightspeed next month, so I’m saving my analysis for that. Because really, with this ostensibly being the Final Chapter, I have a chance to review the franchise as a whole. With the release of this film, the previous chapters have been popping up on TV, and I’ve caught some of them, and I’ve been developing some ideas. Whatever you say about the plot and action of these movies, I’m going to propose that thematically, they’ve been impressively consistent. These movies are saying something, and next month I’ll talk about what that might be.

Until then, the usual review applies:  if you like the Resident Evil movies, you’ll probably like it. If you don’t…then why are you asking?

 

Hidden Figures

January 27, 2017

I finally finally got to see this one, and it’s earned all the buzz it’s gotten.  Absolutely everybody should see it. It’s just about perfect. Inspiring, but also enraging, and also about SPACE and it’s got plenty of spaceship stuff.

Everybody should see it.  I think it would make a really cool double feature with The Right Stuff.

And it’s a great demonstration of the concept of societal privilege.  In that privilege isn’t about getting extra stuff — it’s about all the crap you don’t have to do, all the hoops you don’t have to jump through because the playing field isn’t level.  It’s about not having to explain yourself every time you walk into a room.

This should win all the awards.  Well, this and Arrival should win all the awards.

 

some links for you!

January 11, 2017

A number of online opportunities presented themselves this week:

There’s a special Wild Cards e-book bundle available that includes the first five Wild Cards novels.  These include my stories in the reissued versions of #1 and #4.  If you’ve been wondering where to start with the series, this is it!

Tor.com is giving away an anthology Some of the Best From Tor.com for 2016, if you sign up for the newsletter.  I’m in this one too!  It includes my story “That Game We Played During the War.”

And my January movie reviews for Lightspeed went live this week.  It in you can see more of my comments on Moana, Rogue One, and Passengers.

Continuing on with Julia Child’s My Life in France and I got a little teary-eyed thinking that I was about the same age when I started my own Operation Learn To Cook as she was when she started classes at Le Cordon Bleu.  A couple years younger maybe.  But still.  It’s never too late.

 

media catchup

January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!  You should know I made blood sacrifice to ensure a good year.  i.e. I sliced my fingers cutting limes at the New Year’s Eve party.  It’s fine, except sliced fingertips plus typing = ouch.  I also successfully sabred a champagne bottle with my rapier.  Not very well, mind you, but I did it.

Meanwhile, I’ve caught up on some viewing.

In this month’s Lightspeed, I briefly review Moana, Rogue One, and Passengers.

Here’s the short version of my review of Passengers:  This film miserably fails its premise.  It could have been a good middling Hollywood SF adventure romance.  If they both woke up at the same time, and by accident.  But he wakes up first, then purposefully sabotages her hibernation pod.  So it turns into a movie about how this stalker and kidnapper really isn’t such a bad guy once you get to know him.  Big side eye, there.  I have a lot more to say, in the full review.

Moving on.

Legends of Tomorrow:  I watched the first couple of episodes of this season to get the Justice Society glimpse, and my speculation was correct.  My longed-for Starman reference appeared here.  Well, not exactly.  I mean, my Starman is Jack Knight and the mid-90’s run.  This was Stargirl, a more recent incarnation.  But I believe that is Jack’s cosmic rod she was using (or what will become Jack’s, in 50 years…)  And it was kind of fun to get what is essentially her Bombshells version, sort of.  (Bombshells:  a graphic novel excuse to draw all the DC heroines and villains as 40’s pinups, but they have excellent adventures and it’s a lot of fun.)

And Rogue One was better on the second viewing.  I liked seeing the setup, that we do get a pretty good introduction to each member of our gang before they finally all end up on a ship together, bonded by chance and circumstance.  Classic gaming setup.

Those last five minutes are still a kick in the teeth.  The whole last battle, really, (The hammerhead corvette, OMG.  “Are they doing what I think they’re doing?”  Yes, yes they are.)  but once you understand what’s happening when that disk gets passed hand to hand and finally ends up on the blockade runner, and you know exactly what happens next — that’s how you do a prequel.  A brilliant bit of fan service, there.

 

Star Wars: Rogue One

December 16, 2016

First, some shameless self promotion:  the first chapter of Martians Abroad is up at Tor.com.  Less than a month to go till release day!

And now, to a brief-ish review of Star Wars: Rogue One, the movie I have been waiting for for 25 years.

First off, I’m really annoyed at a handful of people who are insisting that spoilers don’t matter on this because we know what happens because Episode IV, yadda yadda.  That’s not the point, and they know that’s not the point.  Yes, we know how it turns out, much the same way we know how Titanic  or Henry V are going to turn out.  But this is also a story about individual people and their arcs and what they do, and those are the details we don’t want spoiled.  I’m annoyed that I have to explain this to some people.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MOVIE, CARRIE.

Oh yes.  I REALLY LIKED IT.  I’m still processing.  As you’ll recall, my rubric was “a rollicking adventure espousing the heroic ideals of Star Wars,” and I got that.  And I also got what I’ve been wanting for since I started reading Rogue Squadron and playing the RPG, and that’s a Star Wars movie that breaks out of the strictures of the main saga and shows us some new characters and new corners of the universe and so on, and even uses a slightly different filmic language to do so.  YES.  This really opens up the world for even more storytelling possibilities.

So much more I could say.  I will refrain.

And I really want to talk about the part that kicked my teeth in. (In a good way.  A brilliant way, even.) But I won’t.  Not yet.

 

movies and sundry

December 14, 2016

My long review of Arrival is up at Lightspeed.  I’ll say again, I really liked this and want to see it again to catch what I missed the first time.  I hope between this, The Martian, Interstellar, and so on, we’re looking at a growing trend of smart, high-concept, problem-solving science fiction in the movies.  It’s like I’ve always said:  these stories don’t need monsters or explosions to make them riveting.

Yes, I have my Rogue One tickets for tomorrow night.  I’ll report in, without spoilers, on Friday.  I’m on review and spoiler lockdown myself right now.  I have no idea what to expect.  What I want is a rollicking adventure espousing the heroic ideals of Star Wars.  Fingers crossed.

The annual viewing of White Christmas has happened.  The annual viewing of The Muppet Christmas Carol is still on deck.  And I may or may not have added Hogfather to the annual holiday movie viewing roster… This year may clinch it.

Holiday countdown continues.  Packages arriving, presents coming together, decorations still going up.  Maybe not as much to do as I feared.  Maybe I can sit back and relax a little.  Enjoy things.  Except I haven’t started any baking yet…