Month: January 2012

Ego, Ego, Ego

One of my mad-dash self-pimping posts, this. If you’re averse to the odd spot of self-promotion and shoes with goldfish in the heels* then this is probably the time to look away…

If you’re still here, that’s good. This was worth sticking around for.

Last week, Solaris announced the line-up for their autumn anthology (you might well have read “End of the Line” or “House of Fear”, which were released in 2010 and 2011 respectively). This year, the theme – and the title – is Magic.

Full details including the line-up are on the Solaris blog, and if you look carefully, you’ll see that the “and others” includes, umm, me.

I can’t even begin to explain how excited I am about being involved in this: quite apart from the fact that so many of the people on that list are authors I admire hugely, Audrey Niffenegger is the kind of name that makes my jaw go from here ^ to here _.

The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of my favourite books (because I am a girl and in love with Henry, even though he’s an idiot for most of the book, yes, I know, don’t even try.) and so for me, this is a very, very big deal.

Random other pimpening: I’ll be turning up at the SFX Weekender coming up next weekend – I won’t be doing anything other than mooching around and enjoying myself, hopefully, but there’s a good chance I’ll be lurking around the Rebellion / Solaris & Abaddon crew at least some of the time so if you spot me, come and say hello! You can even ask about the fish.

I’ll be at a couple of conventions this year, attempting to sound intelligent… or at the very least, to smile nicely while failing to sound intelligent.

You can catch me at AltFiction in Leicester (April 14th & 15th), where I’ll be wearing my editor’s hat (which has a really big feather in it and goes nicely with the shoes) for one panel to discuss SFF non-fiction. Then I’ll be joining in with the “New Writers” panel, with Jon Weir, Tom Pollock and Vincent Holland-Keen – I’m particularly looking forward to this one.

I’ll also be at the Discover Festival in Snibston (May 18th – 20th), where it’s entirely possible I could be wearing a different hat. With or without feather…

*Note: no goldfish were harmed in the making of this blog post.

No Exit to Kansas

Settle down, everyone. Teacher’s back in the room. I hope there was no messing around while I was gone–I’ll be checking the cupboards later, you know.

I’ve been hamstrung time-wise by (a) two family birthdays, (b) yet another Random Virus, Probably Brought Home By Small Boy, And Which Required Tea, Stroking Of Hair and General Soothing Noises to see it off, and (c) finishing a book.

The latter has seen me spending the last few days getting up at somewhere between 5 and 6 in the morning to work–which thankfully, has paid off. After rattling round in my head on and off for just over a year, it’s done. Well. The first draft is, anyway. I’m not actually going to consider that for a few days.

So. While I was on hiatus, I finally managed to see Red Riding Hood.

Gosh. Now there’s a film that doesn’t know quite what it wants to say with its subtext… and ends up saying something rather icky as a result.

I also watched Labyrinth, for what must have been the hundredth time, because it is wonderful and funny – and if you look closely at the scene where they storm the goblin castle, you’ll see there are two pints of milk sitting on the doorstep. How can you not love a film which does this?

[SPOILERS]

[and seriously, if you need a spoiler warning for Labyrinth, you really do need to sort that out. Go and watch it.]

There’s something about the way these films end that bothers me. I’m not the only one, either: during a recent Twitter conversation, someone pointed out that were she in Sarah’s position at the end of Labyrinth, there’s no way she could go back to the normal, everyday world. A heated discussion ensued in which several of us debated the merits of staying in the Goblin Kingdom as Queen (and which inevitably wound up discussing David Bowie’s costume. As you do) but the sticking point was this: in the midst of Jareth’s little speech, he asks her to “Let me rule you,” – which he promptly follows up with “Fear me. Love me. Do as I say.” That’s Jareth all over for you, isn’t it?

The thing, though, is could you go back? Yes, I know it’s all about Sarah taking responsibility for her actions and discovering her power as a young woman rather than as a girl–but… yeah.

Kingdom. Magic castle. Floating bubbles with ballrooms in them. Would you go back to the real world, or would you stay put and arrange for Jareth to fall off a high tower sometime soon…?

Red Riding Hood has a similar issue, but is much more frustrating. While Labyrinth‘s Sarah is essentially finding her own identity, Red… isn’t. She decides to take on someone else’s, and hole up in her grandmother’s house in the woods.

The problem here is that the narrative is actively set up to discourage this. It literally makes no sense. Everything we have been told in the lead up to those final moments is suddenly chucked out the window, for the sake of… what, exactly? The least satisfying film I’ve seen in a long time. I’m not kidding when I say I actually sat up and shouted at the television at that point. Really shouted at it. I probably would’ve thrown something if I hadn’t known my husband would take a rather dim view me hurling objects at the household electronics…

Here’s the thing (and this is uber, mega, massively spoilery).

We already know that it’s the last night of the blood moon, and that someone bitten will become a werewolf instead of dying. We already know that Peter is the love of Valerie’s life, and they were going to run away together. We already know that Peter has been bitten. We already know that Valerie already has werewolf blood, and that this would make her stronger than previous generations of werewolves were she to be bitten…

So why, why, do we then watch her letting Peter go with the promise he’ll return someday? There’s virtually nothing left for her where she is, and we can’t even assume she’s staying for her mother, because she takes herself off to live outside the village.

Simply put, why doesn’t she go with Peter? We could have had some kind of happy lupine montage: a pair of wolves running through the forest or something. The film’s general attitude to who was a good guy or a bad guy was so cavalier that it wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference to a man v. monster debate–they were all as bad as each other.

Aargh. Look at me: I’ve got all cross again just thinking about it.

So, I’m curious. Have you seen Red Riding Hood? If you have, what did you think of the way it ended: did it make sense, or like me, would you really rather have left it with her eating half the village (they bloody well deserve it, if you ask me.)? Why can’t the girl join the monsters?

And what about you: if you were the protagonist in either of these films, would you go home at the end…?

Generation Kill

I don’t watch an awful lot of television these days – with one or two honourable exceptions, I tend to wait for big shows to make it onto dvd and blast my way through an entire series in a couple of weekends. I put it down to having an incredibly short attention sp… what was I saying?

Anyway. My latest discovery is twofold.

Firstly, that somewhere along the line, I’ve become quite a fan of modern war films.

This is something of a surprise to me–because however much I waffle on about guns–or write about them–I’m very aware of the fact that this is in a fantasy context. If you dropped a gun in my lap, I’d probably back away…. extremely…. carefully. Because I’m not crazy. (Although yes, I have handled a few. And discharged them. Insert usual disclaimers about proper environment, qualified supervision etc etc etc). Real guns scare the living bejeesus out of me, as well they should. So. To get back to my point: wasn’t expecting to discover I actually enjoy war films.

This leads me on to the second part of my discovery: Generation Kill.

Based on the book by Rolling Stone writer Evan Wright, who was embedded with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion of the US Marines in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, the series went out on HBO a few years ago (and before Alexander Skarsgard became better known for ripping hearts out instead of shooting people through them…)

It’s occasionally uncomfortable to watch: made all the more so when you remember that although it’s been filtered by two media, this is a real story with real events and–most importantly–real people. It doesn’t help that after a while, you find yourself increasingly remembering “Catch-22“…

On the other hand, it’s funny as hell: dark and snappy and with dialogue that’s pin-sharp (and apocalyptically sweary) and I absolutely love it.

Get some.

Wonders & Marvels

I spent New Year’s Eve with a superhero. No, really. And try not to make comments about Other Half–you’ll only encourage him.

No, I finally got round to seeing Captain America: The First Avenger. And it was good.

 

 

So good, in fact, that I think it’s just edged out Iron Man as my second-favourite of the Marvel superhero movies. (The latter lost the top spot to Thor pretty much as soon as I realised Thor is essentially Henry V with +1 added hero-muscles and less mud… Although now I think about it, there is actually some mud going on in there, isn’t there?)

 

 

Anyway. Yes. Captain America good.

The most interesting thing about all this is that of all the comic-book heroes, these were probably the three I’ve always been the least interested in. Thor’s appeal generally only went as far as the use of Viking mythology, and I really wasn’t fussed about Captain America at all. Dude with shield, right? Big whoop.

So consider me corrected. And here’s a question: which of the recent Marvel heroes has surprised you the most? Have there been any that you really weren’t too interested in, but came away loving? What about the way their stories were handled, and how do you think they’ll fit together once the Avengers movie rolls around?

And while you’re thinking about that, I’m going to let the boys go ahead and fight it out for the top spot.

Good boys.

I’ll fetch my popcorn…