TV Reviews

Jun. 18th, 2011 01:10 pm
julieandrews: (Default)
"Nine Lives of Chloe King"

(My brain keeps wanting to say Chloe Chant.)

The concept has promise. I liken it to Veronica Mars or Joan of Arcadia. I dunno about the whole cat thing. I'd almost rather it was werewolf or vampire. Why invent something new if it's just sort of going to be the same old thing? But that aside, my real issue was with the delivery of snarky, funny lines. They'd go by and I'd be like.. well, that could have been snarky and/or funny, but it wasn't. Why wasn't it? The actors' fault? But it happened to more than one actor. And to my relatively untrained eye, they seemed to be okay actors for the rest of the time. Is it just mediocre acting and I can't tell it's not very good? Or is it the director's fault?

Those lines just fell flat. Or, more like.. blended in with all the other, less interesting lines.

For anyone who watched it, then particularly the scene where the guy has her up against the wall in the hall at school. She says some snarky things that.. aren't. And then the other guy outside the shop when he talks about indulging in his headwear fetish. He kinda mumbled that one so you nearly miss it. (I had to rewind.)

"Teen Wolf"

Better than Chloe King. But not much like the movies at all. They kept two names, "Scott", and "Stiles". But changed Scott's last name, randomly. And other than two names, a teenage werewolf, and a high school sport, it bears no resemblance to the movies. One of the best, most interesting things about the movies, I thought, was that his lycanthropy was inherited.

While the show is not entirely dark, it's not a comedy either. So the tone isn't even quite right to match the movies.

I do find that the sport is lacrosse to be interesting. Much better than wrestling, which is just gross! And basketball, which seems to be all about sweat.

"Switched at Birth"

While watching Chloe King, I saw an ad which mentioned Marlee Matlin, so, since my Tivo has been pretty empty lately, I got a season pass for this one. And it turns out to be more interesting than I thought.

Basically, take a Lifetime movie about babies switched in the hospital (really, pick any one of those you want), and then they condense that down into the first five minutes, and go on from there. The aftermath. The figuring things out. The readjustment of the families. You know, the interesting stuff. And it turns out one of the kids is Deaf, so that just makes it extra interesting to me. And so far, from what I can tell, they're doing everything right there.

I haven't even finished watching the first episode and had to come on here to tell you guys.


Do Watch: Teen Wolf (though it has a masculine vibe), Switched at Birth (though it has no sf/f element)
Don't Bother: Nine Lives of Chloe King (Unless you're the sort to watch and hope it gets better)

Coming up soon: Expedition Impossible (reality show) and new episodes of Futurama and Leverage.

And Torchwood? Maybe? Was that July?

Anything else new I should check out?
julieandrews: (Default)
Katharine Quarmby's top 10 disability stories

This is from the author of a new book, Scapegoat: Why We are Failing Disabled People.

That subtitle reads a little funny to me. Maybe it's the Us Versus Them of it.

Because of my bookfast, I can't read this book, or any of the books on the list (unless they happen to be in the house, which actually, several of them probably are).

I am puzzled as to why Gulliver's Travels is on there. The size difference is not related to a disability. Dwarfism and gigantism are not solely about size, there are often medical complications. And just.. yea.

"It's also interesting to note that there are fewer disabled characters in the canon nowadays, except in children's literature, where there has been a deliberate attempt to promote positive images of disabled children and adults, thanks to activists like Richard Rieser and Susie Burrows."

I'd say it's probably because it's gone beyond the careless use of disabled characters to 'I'd better not get it wrong and offend people, so I won't do it at all.' Except that I wonder what she's been reading? Because I can think of a ton of examples. And at least three of her examples are considered children's/teen books anyway.

Though I have to weed through my mental list to remove the children's books. (Odd. Why did I think Count Olaf had a hook? Was that one of his disguises?)

You can read most any of Bujold's books to find disabled main characters. Look at television and there's House front and center. And having just watched X-Men, there's Professor Xavier, and the whole extended mutant metaphor.

Blind characters make great superheroes and detectives, apparently. Deaf characters make great murder victims or witnesses. Characters on the autism spectrum (I know some have trouble with the label disabled on this one) are appearing more and more.

Then again, what's 'canon'? Maybe it's 'books everyone is supposed to read'.

Looking at my most recently read books, here's some:

Skyfall by Catherine Asaro - One of the main characters is epileptic
The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin - Main character is blind
The Colony by Jillian Weise - The book is pretty much about the main character's disability (a 'missing' leg + other stuff)
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1960s) - Main character has mental retardation brought on by untreated PKU.

Those are all adult books, and only two are recent releases. But this is just my reading for less than 2 months. And while I might specifically read a book for the presence of a disabled character, that was not the case with any of these. Two were for Triple Take. One was because it made the Tiptree list, and the other was because I knew it would be awesome. I wasn't even aware there were disabled characters except for in Flowers for Algernon.

Now, it so happens that two of those are about disability. And all of these are generally positive portrayals, I think.

So, yea.. what have you been reading, Quarmby?

Other notable books I've read from this past year that would also qualify:

Among Others by Jo Walton
A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane (perhaps iffy)
Babel-17 by Samuel Delany (also perhaps iffy)
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
Mean Little deaf Queer by Terry Galloway (memoir)
Forest Mage by Robin Hobb (if obesity counts, which it does according to Quarmby's list)

The iffyness because there are autistic characters that have been in some way 'cured', and I'm not sure if it's been done well or not.

If I go too far back, I find books I barely remember, so whether they had disabled characters or not isn't something I can easily answer!

But you can tell most of those are sf/f, even if they are adult sf/f. So maybe those don't count as 'canon'.
julieandrews: (Default)
If you're going to Wiscon and you have an lj or dw account and want a sticker with your userpic to add to your Wiscon badge, go here!

The awesome Shweta Narayan is co-editor of an upcoming issue of Stone Telling, so if you've got some sf/f poetry, send them it!

That's all.
julieandrews: (Default)
I read 164 books in 2010, which is 3 more than I've ever read in a year, and double my average since I started keeping track. And while there were kid's books and manga in there, it wasn't disproportionate compared to some other years.

Best books I read in 2010. I was going to list all the ones I gave 5 star reviews to on Goodreads, but apparently I was generous. Consider this list the 5+s. In order of awesomeness:

A Brother's Price by Wen Spencer
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
Singing the Dogstar Blues by Alison Goodman
Oooku: The Inner Chambers by Yoshinaga Fumi
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath

The other 5s were: the final volume of Afterschool Nightmare (you really have to read to the end), a couple of Jeeves/Wooster collections, and also a book on ASL for kids called A Show of Hands.

And I sort of think it's not a coincidence that the books I really loved were somewhere on a Tiptree list. So that is spurring me to read more, as is the fact that a number of the authors should be at Wiscon this year.

Here's a link to my goodreads account, if you're curious. I have not reviewed every book in 2010, but most of them.
julieandrews: (Default)
Have you read the latest eCube?

If you were waffling about attending Wiscon this year, you might want to check that out. Because the Tiptree Award is inviting all past winners to come. And, y'know what, that could very easily generate a climate of AWE-some!
julieandrews: (Default)
But they just announced they're putting more stuff onto the e-readers! A story by Nalo Hopkinson and Steampowered: The Lesbian Steampunk Anthology!

You know you want it!!

Go buy tickets!!

No, wait, don't. You'll lower my odds of winning!
julieandrews: (Default)
ETA: If you were planning to read Never Let Me Go, then don't read the blurb they provide. It's spoilery. Similarly, if you click through to their original list of 10 and haven't read Ender's Game, also a complete spoiler! Since I haven't read most of the books, it's entirely possible there's other spoilers as well. So if you intend to read any of these books, safer to skip the blurb and move on.


Flavorwire has just posted 10 Contemporary Books That Challenged White, Male Literary Dominance. And I was like.. yes, awesome.

Until I read the list.

Now I am just puzzled.

"Last week, we published a list of 10 essential books of the past 25 years. It was one of our most popular posts of all time, as well as one of our most contentious, racking up over 100 comments. Much of the argument has focused on the list's lack of diversity: of the 10 books, eight were written by white men."

So.. this is a list of 10 awesome books by people who aren't white men? An otherwise rather random list of them? Because that's what it looks like.

While Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale (which I was surprised to see, because I guess my concept of 'contemporary' did not encompass 25 years ago) does 'challenge' white male dominance in the world, in an outside-the-book kind of way, the world itself in the book is very white male dominated!

But Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro struck me as more about class than anything to do with gender, race, or national origin. Perhaps I'm mis-remembering.

So if the texts don't have to challenge the white male dominance, then the books are challenging them.. simply by being written by women (white or otherwise) or men of color? Um, well.. did you really need to make a top 10 list to prove the majority of the population on the planet is capable of writing good books?! The list didn't even confine itself to books first published in English!

Which just makes you have to question why so many American, Canadian, and British authors made it into the list!

I was originally going to look at the list and complain if there was no sf/f on it. I have a little trouble doing that because whatever Atwood says, her book is sf. And wherever Ishiguro's is placed in libraries and bookstores, it's sf too.

I dunno.. I just.. seriously? There were several approaches you could take to 'challenging' the 'literary dominance' of white males and I don't think this list reflects any of them.

* Books that actually challenge that dominance by exploring worlds where white men aren't dominant, or by subverting that. You know.. feminist or anti-colonialist books, though not limited to those.

* Books written by women or men of color that dominated the bestseller lists. Rowling or Meyer, anyone?

* Books by women or men of color who won the Hugo or the Nebula? (Ah well, pipe dream this. Because sf/f isn't 'literary'.)

* Books by women or men of color that appear on school reading lists? I know that would include Octavia Butler.

* Books that are really big with book groups? With or without the Oprah Bump.

I'm annoyed that this list doesn't have LeGuin or Butler or anyone else in the sf/f world who is a major, major player and who challenged the status quo just by getting their voice heard.

Even while another part of me thinks that was too much to expect.

I should stop reading these top whatever lists just because Shelf Awareness points me to them. They're all rubbish. :P

ETA: I was also wondering about this summary of Handmaid's Tale. "As a result, some are virtuous Wives while others are Handmaids, like the novel's protagonist, Offred, named for their male masters and forced to bear their children so the Wives don't have to." Don't have to? I thought they couldn't! Am I misremembering here? No, wait, that was girly of me. I know they couldn't! That was the whole point! (But if you really want to satisfy the 2% of my brain that isn't sure, could you confirm it for me? Thnx.)
julieandrews: (Default)
Since I got thanked for posting links about this subject, here's some more links. :)

John Scalzi posted again: "Who Lost Scott Westerfeld?". Where he counters the argument that one more sf/f writer writing ya is one less sf/f writer writing adult, which is a sad loss to the adult sf/f market. This post, like Scalzi's first one, has a lengthy comment thread that's worth perusing.

I have no idea who Raph Koster is, but his post is entitled "YA SF/F is rockin'". (Which would look better as a title if you turned off smartquotes in WordPress. Just sayin'.) He gives us some authors and titles to look out for. If you were looking to add to your reading list.

The Website at the End of the Universe has a good roundup of recent blog posts in "Explore the strange new world of YA science fiction". Which also mentions OSC's homophobic, sexist rant at J. K. Rowling.

Don't think I linked to that earlier, so here is Feminist SF - The Blog!'s take on it. "Orson Scott Card is a misogynistic homophobic wanker".

And Googling also dug up this interesting post: "Do teens really prefer their books without eyeballs?". If you usually browse with images off (as all the coolest people do), then turn them on for this one.
julieandrews: (Default)
From The Sunday Herald, which is apparently a newspaper in Scotland, though they need to better identify themselves on their individual pages if they're going to be linked in to Google and the global internets.

How myriad galaxies far, far away are producing the geniuses of tomorrow
by genius reporter Jasper Hamill

This is an article about Ken Macleod (insert your own Highlander joke here) and an upcoming Glasgow Science Festival that's going to be discussing science fiction's role in science. But that's not the bit worth quoting!

The whole basis of the internet was famously inspired by William Gibson's book Neuromancer and Isaac Asimov, who recently died, "invented" earth-orbiting satellites in one of his tales.

Reeeeeeeally? 16 years ago is recently, is it?

Interestingly, it is the anniversary of his death today. Maybe Asimov is asserting his influence from beyond the beyond to take credit for other writers' work?

In this case, that other writer would be... GOD.

Though, you never know, Asimov might've been around whispering in God's ear. "You know what would look really fabulous next to that blue planet? A smaller, grey sphere."


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