Sunday, 16 April 2017

Ghost in the Shell


I have now been to see Ghost in the Shell at the cinema, which is a thing for us as we so very rarely go to the cinema nowadays because it's too expensive, and full of people being loud, possibly as we were once from just being young and exuberant.

I shall start by saying the critics are wrong.

This film, while not a classic in the same way as The Matrix or Blade Runner were when they were first released, is despite that a solid piece of entertainment.  Probably the best live action cyberpunk outside of The Matrix and Blade Runner.

It tells a slightly different version of the Major's origin story, and for that matter Section 9 too, but this is no way detracts from the film.  If anything it's the best bits version of the various iterations of the Ghost in the Shell stories, as told over the years through the various mediums of manga and anime.  Scarlet Johansson is perfectly cast as the Major, and Pilou Asbæk nails Batou.

If you want a big screen treat go see it.

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Expanse


We've managed to watch season one of The Expanse, and enjoyed it very much.  Certain caveats: it starts slow with the TV equivalent of an info dump/world-building that shakes itself out by the end of the second episode.  After that it's pretty much high-octane story telling.  The news is that it has been renewed for season three, but that numbers the viewing numbers are not what the network hoped for.  Knowing my luck it will be cancelled, but you never know.

If you haven't checked it out I suggest you do.  It has certainly piqued my interest in writing a novel set in our solar system: I fancy doing a pretty hard SF take, which is problematical because it will affect what stories can be told and how one tells them.

Still, what's life without a challenge.  I may be some time.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Grave


Reading wise I finished the third book in the Queen of the Dead trilogy by Michelle Sagara called Grave.  I raved about the first book, called Silence, here.  I wrote about the second volume, called Touch, here.  Now I've finished the third book and have mixed feelings.  I struggled to read the book because it felt over long and drawn out, but the climax was heart rending, as in it made me cry for the characters.  If only I could write that well.

What I would observe is that book one was a tightly written novel of 289 pages, book two was 325 pages and the third volume was 450 pages.  Assuming a page is 350 words that's 101,150 words for the first book, rising to 113,750 in the second, and 157,500 words.

What I take away from this is two things.  Longer isn't better.  Trying to fill in all the characters back stories takes away from the plot's momentum.

But, I should add the caveat that I'm less inclined towards reading long books, which is why I won't be buying the novels The Expanse is based on if the show is cancelled, for pretty much the same reason I stopped reading George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones series after the first volume.  This probably marks me as out of touch with the current fashion, but it's not long novels per se, just series that are made of very long novels that drain my will to read.