I having to face the sober realisation that I may read more Fantasy Novels this year than any other genre, and if I'm not careful, more than half overall. OK, this isn't exactly a bad thing, but it's not how I naturally see my reading habits. That said, there isn't much of the Fantastic in Fantasy these days, seemingly, with the seeping Grimdark waters lapping up through the foundations and turning all the formerly sparkly and heroic carpets icky and soiled. Often held up as one of those surfing this rising tide, Joe Abercrombie is certainly a dark and gritty writer, and whilst I'm a little behind with his books, I have just finished Best Served Cold, a stand-alone novel set after the events of the First Law Trilogy.
So, we've been on holiday, and much of that holiday has involved being on the road, driving from place to place with adult and child geeks alike to entertain. So it was recommended to me that we give some of Big Finish's Doctor Who range a try, which seemed like great advice right until I actually looked at the number of options available. I mean, there's hundreds of the damn things, featuring every Doctor who isn't dead, plus some "elseworlds" style stories, plus companion stories for TV-era companions and ones spun off the audio line. It's clearly a "thing". So, after some advice from folks on twitter, I bought some, and had a listen.
I like being surprised by films. Well, in a good way at least; I've used the tag "wolfpunching" to describe movies where was surprised in a bad way by films that over promise, but I'm thinking of implementing a tag for the opposite case too. In honour of this weeks DVD, I'm thinking of calling it "Aca-scuse me?" This can be reserved for movies that are much better than, on paper, they have any right to be.
I think its fair to say that Iain (M) Banks has been my favorite science fiction author since I picked up Consider Phlebas many, many years back when I was first at university. I've a suspicion I picked it up at least in part because it was published in a slightly larger format, and so stood out on the shelf, and had a really cool reflective space-craft on the cover. But even if that was the reason, I fell for Banks as a writer, and fell for him hard. Even when my reading wandered away from the genre, I would still pick up the new Banks as they came out, filing them in my own personal ranking of "best" to "not as best as the others". And after Bank's death earlier this year, it meant that reading The Hydrogen Sonata in the knowledge that it is the last, not merely the latest Culture Novel, was a strangely somber experience.
Well, this is quite the eclectic double bill, isn't it? Extended Toy-advert GI Joe: Retaliation followed by gentle getting old comedy-drama Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, all on the same night is bound to cause some sort of tonal whiplash, and its possibly I ended up feeling warmer towards to the latter just because it was a lot smarter than the former. Although it did have less explosions....
Who'd have guessed that picking out a new lead actor for a TV show would turn out to be such a depressing experience? I mean, I'm quite sad that Matt Smith is leaving, because the Eleventh Doctor has really grown on me, and even with some of the weaker stories it's been a fantastically watchable performance, but the general state of community around the show at the moment is starting to fill me with fear. I mean, I hesitate to use the word "Fandom" any more; if you read around the web (and I've stopped doing this now, apart from occasional lapses) you'd get the impression that a substantive amount of the shows viewers only watch it to refuel their hate-batteries for the show, it's writers, its actors, and all for which it stands, yet still self-identify as "Doctor Who Fans".