Monday, 20 September 2010

Scarlett Thomas, Our Tragic Universe (2010)


My review of the new Scarlett Thomas is now up, at Strange Horizons. The reviews editor was genuinely puzzled by the 'people aren't wearing enough hats' line. It's possible you will be too. But ... really, people? Really?

Monday, 13 September 2010

Neill Blomkamp, District 9 (2009)


Not much time for reviewing at the moment, what with term looming and a short-deadline writing project leaning heavily on my time. So in lieu of a proper review of this widely discussed film, below is the result of me live-tweeting watching it, last night.
Watching District 9. Much better than District 8 -- the best District since 3.
about 23 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone
In reply, @Paul_Cornell tweeted 'Skip ahead to 13. It changes a lot.'
The aliens are called Prawns. I'd say they look more like Bishops.
about 23 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone
They don't look like Bishops, of course. If anything they look like Queens. But that wouldn't work, gag-wise, so well. Ho hum.
The main alien is called Christopher Prawn. Coincidentally that was A A Milne's original preferred title.
about 22 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone

Several close-up shots of people's faces running reminding me rather of Sir Digby Chicken Caesar.
about 22 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone
My wife was watching with me; it was she who noted the resemblance between this recurrent camera p.o.v. trick and the Mitchell and Webb sketch. She expressed eloquent and forceful annoyance that I was tweet-passing off her observation as my own. But, you know: that's marriage.
Ooh, I say!
about 22 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone
Can't remember what that one was about. Probably some of the loud bang-bang gunplay, and exploding-bags-of-blood special effects.

After the end of the film, I summed up my view of it in the following few tweets:
Good film. Though I get the feeling somebody from the Studio saw an early cut & said: 'hmm, needs another half hour of mindless shooting.'
about 22 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone

District 9: some plotholes. There are supposedly 1.8 million prawns, when the film clearly shows there are only 25 or so.
about 22 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone

Given that they're all CGI, presumably it wasn't a casting/budget issue.
about 22 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone

Also, I didn't understand why the prawns didn't just take their superguns and steal all the catfood in the world.
about 22 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone

That last tweet was about District 9. If you didn't realise that, or haven't seen the film, it might confuse you.
about 22 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone
I think that about sums it up, except for my sister, who tweeted me halfway through with: 'great film!! fakkin prahns!!', which has a certain laconic precision arguably missing from this post.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Brian Aldiss, Greybeard (1964)



Going back on what I said in my last post a little (and what a superb novel Greybeard is), I note the following piece of prescience on the 82nd page:
The war ended in 2005, when the government was overthrown,’ Greybeard said. ‘The Coalition was set up the year after, and I believe they were the people who first imported reindeer into Britain.’ [82]
A few years out on the end of the war, and on the coming to power of the Con-Lib Coalition -- but what's really interesting is that, presumably, massive reindeer importation is just around the corner. That will be fun.

Covers, though: your choice today is 'ugh!' or 'wha?'. That said, I quite like the 'wha?' one.