Quick update - this week been strange as we’ve had an unexpected death in the family. A relative who when I was a kid introduced me to Star Trek, Doctor Who and Horror Films but as I got older we went very separate ways. Lots of memories and stuff flying around my head now but it’s always to focus on the good memories but I think next couple of weeks will be strange as we have a bit to sort out in the family. Thanks for the good wishes and kind messages received this week - much appreciated.
The Lady Vaults
I really enjoy the vlogs of Elizabeth of the BooksAndPieces channel (on twitter at @Books_Pieces especially for her enthusiasm for books, great analysis of the genre’s history and its way forward as well as so many good book recommendations. This week she’s announced a new monthly readalong focusing on books by women authors from mat least 10-15 years. This month the readalong which can be found on Goodreads starting with The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein or on Twitter #LadyVaults. Really looking forward to finding new stories and taking part in the discussion. I think this will be a fascinating journey – I didn’t read much contemporary stuff in the 80’s and 90’s my library seemed to just have the older doorstep trilogies of certain big-name white male authors at the time and I could not get into them so finding out the good stuff I’ve missed is always welcome.
There is a slightly different interview with the great N K Jemisin I’ve been gripped by this week as the podcast host Ezra Klein does an 80-minute worldbuilding exercise with Jemisin based around a similar thing she does with her students. Although I am not a writer I really found how she took the idea of the world and its core geography to create cultures, politics and economies absolutely amazing – authors are magical people! This then leads to a great discussion of what world building can do in terms of opening our eyes up to how our own world works. Really worth a listen at the link below
Television – I’m in a comfort watch mode so this week the big one has been Season 4 of Leverage. This is one of my favourites and is a tale where a group of con artists and thieves decide to help people in need. The pilot episode introducing everyone is one of the smartest pilots I’ve seen, and the cons are slick, fast and clever. But the big draw is the found family aspect that evolved as these all slightly flawed but loveable people learn from each other. Lots of heart, humour and an amazing amount of SF in-jokes/guest stars you can watch out for. Bad guys really do make the best good guys!
Films – At the Movies I saw Ant-Man and The Wasp and it was…. ok I guess. I really enjoyed the smaller scale of it – focusing on a rescue mission rather than the fate of the world but at the same time it felt unusually mechanical for a Marvel film. The action sequences and the emotional beats were all what I expected but no big surprises and my main issue was a lot of the drama would have been stopped if people had actually chatted for five minutes. Its diverting but doesn’t stick in the memory.
The Jumanji remake however was a lot more fun. I’ve not seen the original (I knowww) but four teens are plunged into a video game and turned into action movie characters such as Dwayne Johnson or Karen Gillan actually I thought was pleasantly subversive about how teens always want to be fitter, stronger sexier and play to ridiculous icons/templates you cannot be. It had heart and laughs, and Jack Black was funny again.
Also saw Rampage (yes I appear to have had a Dwayne Johnson double bill) which is what you would expect when an evil corporation releases a mutant virus that grows creatures into those of incredible size. The monster versus humans versus monsters aspect is all very standard action but the fun bits are the character moments. In particular really hard not see the bromance between Dwayne Johnson’s primate specialist and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s sinister Man In Black as just total flirting. I was less impressed with how little they gave Naomi Harris to do but it’s a fun movie with a great few unexpected twists.
Podcasts – I finished the last half of Zig Zag and less comfortable with the focus on the CVL crypto-currency and subscription service. It felt at times slightly more advertorial than newsworthy, but I will be intrigued how season 2 works as my impression is that the idea of funding by such a currency is not really taking off yet.
What I read
- The magnificent Age of Assassins by RJ Barker (reader I swooned at how good this trilogy is and how this wraps the whole thing up in a beautiful bow decorated with antlers) – see below for the review!!
- Currently reading the beautifully terrifying The Tower of Living and Dying by Anna Smith Spark I’m intrigued where this story is going
What I want to read next
- Darksoul by Anna Stephens – the sequel to another one of my favourite debuts Godblind
- Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – I loved Uprooted and read the novella version of the tale earlier this year. This goes in a different direction so think it sounds just what I need
- Kings of the Wyld/Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames – I want to catch up on this which I heard many good things about and I understand there is humour and that’s what I will need next week