The Week (OK Month) in Womble aka Its a Picard Enough Life


Shorter update as you’ll note I was not largely around the last month.  The impact of my uncle’s death and helping organise a funeral and a few other things like sorting out belongings stirred a lot of stuff up and my brain was pretty much focused on that.  Reading was only a few pages after work and then sleep followed. Funerals really do help sometimes put a sense of closure to that and after a little bit of time to see family I feel a lot more relaxed that I have a for a while. I had to put quite a few heavier reads down for a while as I was not really in the right place for two many tales of pain and loss.

Relaxing in Spaccceeeeee

At times like this comfort televise was sought and this turned out to be watching a lot of very early Star Trek - The Next Generation. While the quality of these early stories is often low there was something incredibly relaxing settling back into this weird found family and watch a crew/cast start to bond.  Yes, Riker in those days is awful but Patrick Stewart really does make Picard seem a genuine person (and so so soothing as a grown up) and was already a much better model for masculinity than James Kirk (or for that matter William Shatner). Its been a while since I’ve seen the show which is good to watch a story and not remember what is going to happen but at the same time I’m watching a huge example of suck it and see writing as you get the feeling there is a great idea here but not sure how it needs to work.  My suspicion its when the show went slightly outside the remit of what Gene Roddenbury was demanding that we got the better stories with a tad more bite to them. Very much looking forward to the rest of the journey

I think it would be well worth your time to read my friend Ric Crossman (@squidfromspace) who has a column in the Geek Syndicate website comparing all the episodes of Trek series against each other – it’s a fascinating cultural voyage


The Lady Vaults

Weirdly though it was The Red Magician for the #LadyVaults I read last month in small doses that read this month that while quite a harrowing story grabbed me and dealing with grief in the story helped.

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.  She’s announced a new monthly readalong focusing on books by women authors from over 15 years ago. Last month the readalong which can be found on Goodreads started 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.  I’ve noticed quite a few reviewers lament that women who were once bestsellers in the 90’s appears airbrushed out of history so finding those authors is something I am planning to do a lot of! This month it’s the short stories of James Tiptree Jr contained in the collection Her Smoke Rose Up Forever.

Other Media

Television – The Good Place is back!!! One of the smartest and kindest comedies out there which I cannot really say a lot about without spoiling it for you.  A woman wakes up in the afterlife by accident and tries to work out how to avoid Hell. Superb cast and humour with added philosophy and examination of morality

Films – This month was rubbish I don’t think I saw a single one?  Any recommendations?

Podcasts – Audio shows I feel hugely relaxing when stressed so I played catch up on three shows I can recommend

99% Invisible – a show about design that covers everything from clothes to adverts. Always an interesting story and very good at explaining the social history that a design or choice can operate in.

The Coode Street Podcast – this is a SF& Fantasy podcast usually involving Gary K Wolf and Jonathan Strahan discussing authors, books or trends in SF. While occasionally it does have two white men of a certain age making it clear they are two white men of a certain age they are pleasantly ready to accept their own biases and often have a desire to see the genre wake up to its flaws and move on

Breaking the Glass Slipper – the three hosts Charlotte Bond, Megan Leigh and Lucy Hounsom explore the genre from a feminist perspective and challenge some of the stereotypes in the genre and explore authors and tropes. Really refreshing and this last few weeks I was listening female characters in books are written, interviews with Vic James, Catriona Ward and Anna Smith Spark – strongly recommended!

What I read (a light month)

-          Doctor Who Twice Upon A Time by Paul Cornell – a nice simple Target style retelling of Capaldi’s swansong

-          Saga Vol 9 by Brian K Vaughan and artwork by Fiona Staples - ahem OMG that ending and I’ve a year to wait???? Ahem

-          Monstress Volume 3 – written by Marjorie M Liu and Art by Sana Takeda – a weird almost Final Fantasy style tale of human, demons and those who appear t have animal powers/features. The wider story yet to be fully revealed and its enchanting and the art is Amazing!!

-          Sourdough by Robin Sloan- an everyday tale of a young software designer and a malevolent sourdough mixture – it has a lot of heart and I think will be reviewed soon

-          The Tower of Living and Dying by Anna Smith Spark – I think this is a an impressive instalment in a great fantasy trilogy – review should be below this blog – had to put it down but was very glad to get sucked back into this world.

What I want to read next (time to catch up!)

-          Rosewater by Tade Thompson – fascinating SF tale and review to come very soon next week

-          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

-          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

-          Burning Sky by Weston Ochse – an action SF tale about something strange happening to veterans