Viewing posts tagged reviews

Review: The Impossible Has Happened: The Life and Work of Gene Roddenberry, Creator of Star Trek

When I was writing my first volume of Vaka Rangi, I was faced with a dilemma on how to frame the book. I have little to no personal or nostalgic connection to the original Star Trek or its animated sequel so my episode-to-episode reactions were by definition going to be mostly as I saw it. But I still wanted to come up with something unique to say about this most important period of Star Trek history, so I initially decided to structure the book around telling as “real” a story about the franchise's formative years as I could, with a careful eye towards historical mythbusting in general, in particular how it pertained to the shows creator, the ever-mythologized Gene Roddenberry. I soon realised, however, that this was a task far too massive for me to undertake given the scope of the project I had cast, and quickly found myself intimidated and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of conflicting stories and seemingly deliberate disinformation surrounding Roddenberry and Star Trek. While I still hoped to convey a general idea for what Star Trek actually was and was envisioned as being (and I do feel, and hope, I managed some degree of ...

A Review of Vox Day's New Book SJWs Always Lie

"In a world that is really upside down, the true is the moment of the false." - Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

Also, it has two chapter fives.

All the Birds in the Sky Review

All the Birds in the Sky can be pre-ordered on Amazon here. Doesn't look like UK pre-orders are available yet, which is sad.  The first four chapters are online, starting with chapter one here.

So, with the eligibility period for the 2017 Hugos just four months from opening, I think it’s time to talk about the clear frontrunner for Best Novel, which is Charlie Jane Anders’s All The Birds in the Sky.

In some ways, it’s tricky to articulate just why this book feels so fresh and necessary. Its component parts, after all, are aggressively familiar. The “there’s a science side and a magic side and they have a bit of a rivalry” setup is a standard mash-up post-Harry Potter, and the overtly eschatological bent is pretty standard issue as well. There are, one suspects, dozens of really lousy novels with the setup “a witch and a boy genius team up to avert the apocalypse.” The thing is, All the Birds in the Sky is not any of those novels. Instead, it’s the debut novel of Charlie Jane Anders.

Anders has been buzzing about the short story market for a few years now ...

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Episode 3: The Education of a Magician

There we go.

It’s perhaps ironic that, having spent two episodes building up the Jonathan Strange/Mr. Norrell dualism that’s the core engine of the series, it’s the act of splitting them back up that drives it to its most emphatic heights thus far. 

In strict dramatic terms, this works because of Lady Pole. Even though Strange and Norrell are in different locations and pursuing entirely divergent interests through most of the episode, the dynamic of Arabella trying to uncover what is wrong with Lady Pole and Norrell working to keep the matter secret links events up well. It’s in some ways surprising this works so well - the plots really are quite separate in terms of what happens, with Strange entirely insulated from events in London, and vice versa. 

The linking moment is instead entirely symbolic - Strange being pushed to attempt ancient magic, and learns of the ways in which this magic is tacitly dangerous. On rawly symbolic terms, of course, it’s significant that Strange’s spell is a lesser version of Norrell’s original sin - both spells involve undoing death. 

But there’s curious nuance underlying this - up to this point ...

Comics Reviews (June 24, 2015)

Please be sure to stop by tomorrow for a very important post that will have some severe repercussions within the Doctor Who fan community.

From worst to best of what I paid for.

E is for Extinction #1

You can't go home again, and certainly can't by just hiring some Grant Morrison collaborators and hoping for the best. Perfectly adequate, I guess, if all you want is nostalgia. But you know what's better? The Grant Morrison run on New X-Men.

Crossed Badlands #79 (aka Homo Tortor #5)

Not a bad comic, to be clear, but one that's spinning its wheels a bit. There's no new concepts to introduce, it would seem, but plot to resolve before the end, resulting in an issue that's functional. I suspect coming out at the same time as the other "Crossed in a different time period" book is not doing Gillen any favors here, not least because the other one is written by Alan Moore. Really, one kind of has to pity Gillen; he must have assumed, starting his career when he did, that "having your book come out alongside an Alan Moore book with which it is inevitably ...

Comics Reviews (June 17th, 2015)

Old Man Logan #2

Well this went off the rails fast. After a first issue long on potential, this is a chain of scenes, all of them interrupted before anything interesting is allowed to happen so that Logan can be dragged to some new potentially interesting scene that won't play out. Sorrentino's art is very pretty, but it's unclear as all hell, and Bendis is in his "let the artist do most of the storytelling" mode, a mode he puzzlingly only ever takes when working with abstract and hard to follow artists, as opposed to when he's working with Bagley or someone who draws pages so that you can tell what's going on.

Blackcross #4

A rarity: a Warren Ellis book I'm just not digging at all. None of the characters stand out to me, I don't know the superheroes being referenced, and this is mostly vague implications in search of a plot for me. Not only do I not remember what's going on month to month, in the three hours between reading it and writing this review I've already forgotten most of this book.

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #13 ...

Comic Reviews (June 10th, 2015)

Hello all; as of this week, my comics reviews are being crossposted to ComicMix, so I suppose I should tack a paragraph introducing myself onto the start. I'm Phil Sandifer, a blogger covering various forms of pop culture and media with my own idiosyncratic long-form analysis. I'm responsible for TARDIS Eruditorum, my now-concluded history of Doctor Who, and the still-ongoing The Last War in Albion, a sprawling history of the most important magical war of the last century, the rivalry between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.

Everything reviewed is something I willingly paid my own money for, whether wisely or foolishly, organized from my least favorite to my favorite of the week.

Weirdworld #1

Snagged because it seemed to be taking the Secret Wars premise to an interesting extreme. But while this seems a functional mash-up of Frazetta-esque pulp action and superheroes, nothing in the first issue seems to rise above the basic "nobody's done a big Frazetta homage lately" appeal, and the whole thing ends up leaving me a bit cold. I'm sure this scratches someone's itch, but it doesn't scratch any itches of mine, or at least, doesn't provide $3.99 ...

Furiosa and Furiosa

Well, it's basically a two-hour chase sequence with a few pauses... but yes, it's amazingly well done.  Old hand George Miller takes advantage of all the modern techniques - hyper-fast editing, CGI, etc - but he uses these things for storytelling purposes, not to show us how fast he can edit or how good his CGI is.  He never sacrifices the clarity of the visual storytelling.  The production and costume design has a gnarly, knotty detail and complexity.  The brazenly ironic and stylised salvagepunk visual world of the movie makes it like an 80s auteur film made on a vast budget and with modern techniques.  The result is jaw-droppingly good.  It instantly makes just about every other blockbuster movie of recent years look quaint and windy.  Mad Max: Fury Road makes Avengers: Age of Ultron look like a Cameron Crowe movie in which the assembled twee, privileged assholes play with action figures and make "boom" noises.



I'm not going to go into much political detail.  I've junked most of what I've been trying to write about this movie, largely because of this article at Jacobin, which says everything I ...

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