Monthly Archives: February 2014

Mini-review: Thor: Mail Order Bride (sorry, The Dark World)

‘Thor: The Dark World’ is as expected. 3 out of 5 stars.

It’s enjoyable pap with a high rewatcheability factor. Hemsworth is great casting for the hunky but slightly dim-witted god of thunder. I just wonder why the plots of movies have to be rubbish compared to the comics that spawned them. It’s a serviceable movie, though. Kids will like it. Good visuals, good action, some absurdity and full of SCIENCE! ™ with little regard for real science. If anything doesn’t make sense just throw QUANTUM PHYSICS! ™ at it.

The film is full of cliches, though. I mean, planetary alignment portending momentous events? Please. Visual cliches abound too. 

A few things bother me: Being a London kid myself I don’t buy the idea of inner city London kids not being able to identify the cops. I mean, really? You see waif-like Natalie Portman and you ask ‘are you the police?’ Nope. Not even. More likely they would say ‘give me your purse and mobile phone’. 

Also, Sif has the hots for Thor. Thor imports Natalie Portman as his mail order bride (that’s what she is. Richer, (much) older guy from higher civilisation brings hottie from lower civilisation…metaphor breaks down, but still…) and Sif has zero jealousy. This is a mean warrior mama from Asgard, an equal to Thor and she’s not even throwing a tantrum? I don’t buy it.

All that aside, Marvel is doing a good job of building a coherent shared-world and the movies capture the spirit of the 60s and 70s comics. I can’t help thinking that Jack Kirby would love this. In case you live under a rock Jack Kirby’s influence is in everything from the Avengers, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four all the way to the movie Argo (yes, that Ben Affleck one. The mock-up art for the fake science fiction movie? That was Kirby.).

‘Thor: the dark world’ is fun to watch as long as you don’t think to hard. This comic is for kids.

 

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Wicked Links

All right. Some randomness in lieu of original content.

-I have a cold and am reading Chekhov’s About Love. That guy could write a short story like no other. Each tale soothes me.

-Did I mention I have a cold? I can barely hear and I am officially a mouth-breather.

Nebula Awards Nominations. Two of my friends on the list. Doesn’t get better than this.

-Listen to Drum n’ Bass. I insist. 

A Korean-American’s point of view

Is Steampunk relevant in Africa? 

-Apropos, here is the Table of Contents for the upcoming Steampunk World Anthology with my story Budo or The Flying Orchid as number 14. 

-Short fiction: Jackalope Wives by Ursula Vernon. Excellent. Go read it.

 

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10 Things Fathers Should Teach Sons

Not exhaustive and in no particular order:

1. The condom is your friend.

2. Just because you’re a nice guy doesn’t mean she owes you sex.

3. ‘No’ really means ‘no’. No, seriously, it does.

4. She can change her mind at any point.

5. Notching up ‘scores’ does not make you a man. The number of sexual partners you have had bears no relationship to your masculinity.

6. You don’t have to please your friends.

7. It is never okay to hit.

8. Just because you buy her dinner does not mean she owes you sex.

9. Everybody gets their heart broken at some point. This is normal. It’s how you handle it that makes you a man.

10. Society’s big secret is that physical beauty is overrated. Don’t believe the hype. Love a person, not an object.

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Cracked the 25000 word barrier (Or, Kids Don’t Try This At Home)

 

Yep, that means it’s at least going to be a novella.

It’s not the usual way I write. ‘Rosewater’ is more character-based and follows a loose plot structure. The key thing is I’m enjoying the process. Whether people enjoy reading it is another matter entirely.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d share what I do when I’m creatively blocked.

(I originally shared this as an answer to a question Kaaron Warren posed. )

(Kaaron wrote the novel ‘Slights’ which is one of the most disturbing I’ve ever read. And I’ve read disturbing books.)

(This is a cure for writers block that only works for me. Kids, do not try this at home.)

 

I have a ritual for refreshing.

1. Visit to the National Portrait Gallery in London (or sometimes the British Museum, it varies). Visual imagery unclogs the pipes for me.
2. Immediately after the visit I get a massive sheet of paper (A1 or A2) and spill either Indian Ink or thinned acrylic paint in Pollockesque splashes which may transmogrify into doodles or sentences.
3. The next stage is to leaf through the complete works of Shakespeare and read random passages out loud. Sometimes I just copy out the Shakespeare and I’ll start writing my own stuff immediately after.

It never fails.

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Charlie Parker: Be Bop A Lula

Because, Jazz, na.

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February 16, 2014 · 14:21

Stabby-Wolf-Guy and Floating Body Parts: Two Micro-reviews

As a consumer, I feel I have certain rights and entitlements. I’m gonna start classifying items as either keepers or charity shop. I work hard for my money, therefore I have the right to comment on the items on which I choose to spend it.

This week I consumed ‘Age of Ultron’ a trade paperback graphic novel from Marvel and a digital novellete called ‘The Body Project’ written by Kameron Hurley.

‘Age of Ultron’ is either a disappointment or not, depending on which direction you view it from. On the one hand it’s the same kind of multi-crossover event graphic novel that Marvel and DC have been churning out for decades now. They are generally forgettable cash-cows. From that perspective I should not have expected much and therefore should not have been disappointed. On the other hand I bought the book because I usually expect snappy dialogue from Brian Michael Bendis and good art from Bryan Hitch. Personally, this is how I look at comics: art and writing (I include inking, lettering and colouring in art as well as editing in writing).

In this comic the art was partly fantastic, because of Hitch, but mostly mediocre, because of the other interior artists. There wasn’t enough Hitch to make me want to own the book.

The story was weak, the characterisation was weak, the execution was a series of wide-shots of large-scale destruction that swelled the page count without narrative progression. Bendis is usually entertaining but he appears to have phoned this one in. I have found him over the years to have a great ear for dialogue, but in this book it was just so-so. The whole book was just the usual fare of, “oh, let’s concentrate on Wolverine because kids like Stabby Wolf Guy” and “oh, isn’t Tony Stark so smart and amoral” and “shall we go and kill Hitler” and “space-time continuum”. Meh. I cold not begin to care about anyone in this book. I found myself wanting them to die and when they did I didn’t care because I knew they were all just going to come back to life.

Why marvel doesn’t look to stand-alone narratives like Thor’s ‘Godbomb/God Butcher’ must be related to the gazillions they can fleece from their punters by foisting this pap on them.

Verdict: straight to the charity shop (with some ethical concerns about perpetuating this type of sequential art thuggery on the next sucker to read it)

‘The Body Project’ I bought and read within one hour. You can read the first half of it here. We’ll skip past the troublesome definition of the word count of a novellette. This novel is set in Kameron Hurley’s ‘God’s War’ universe (of which I was an early adopter). It’s pacy in a well-realised world which is complex, full of danger and entertaining. I noticed a nod to ‘Die Hard’ and a possible influence of the Bene Gesserits from ‘Dune’, but this may be saying more about myself than the author. It follows former Bel Dame Nyx and her band of misfits on a side adventure involving guilt, sexual tension, violence and dismembered former soldiers with floating body parts. This may or may not entice you to read the other related books. It is enjoyable and bite-sized although it sometimes felt like the fantasy role-playing game prototype where you gather a team of different skills and go on a quest. Here’s the warrior, here’s the magician, here’s the mercenary, etc. That said, the story delivers and Hurley, as usual, brings her A game.

I did like it and would recommend.

Verdict: Keeper.

 

 

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Wow…

…this novel is writing itself. 

Solved a plot problem without having to think about it.

All I did was sit my ass down.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere, but I’m too sleep-deprived to elaborate.

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