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Very quick media reviews for June…

I blogged about some recent book and graphic novel purchases for my reading pleasure during June, so I thought it remiss if I didn’t follow up with some quick thoughts on what I enjoyed. In addition, I thought I’d also throw in some comments on the films I’ve recently been watching:

Books:

  • Idoru by William Gibson: Not my favourite William Gibson book, but even an average Gibson tale still contains something of interest for tech geeks and writers. I thought it was weaker than the first in this series (Virtual Light), or the later series that begins with Pattern Recognition, but still prompted a few thoughts and ideas.
  • Distrust That Particular Flavour by William Gibson: I was a little surprised by the age of some of the essays and magazine articles collected in this non-fiction book, but it’s fascinating to see a little more behind the writing process, inspiration and approach of one of my favourite novelists. It also gives you the chance to see what came to pass.
  • Wireless by Charles Stross: A short story collection which contains a small number of really quite lengthy stories – some more accessible than others. Stross certainly offers a very different perspective on sci-fi and the future, which was pretty refreshing. At least half of the stories would be worth the asking price alone, with only the P.G. Wodehouse-inspired robots of Trunk and Disorderly being a bit of a low note..
  • Rule 34 by Charles Stross: A brilliant book, although possibly inaccessible if you don’t have the slightest awareness of the internet, memes and tech. One of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and considering some of the plot elements may have cropped up in science fiction by other authors, it’s a testament to how good it is that the shared basis doesn’t matter at all.
  • Preacher Vol 4:  This isn’t part of the main Preacher storyline, but delves into the side characters appearing in the series. 3 stories are included, and it’s probably worthwhile purely due to the background on the ‘Saint of Killers’.
  • Preacher Vol 5: Back to the main storyline, and it’s as good as ever.
  • Transmetropolitan Vol 1: If I describe the plot as being the tale of future journalist Spider Jerusalem, it doesn’t sound particularly special. But it should be required reading for any aspiring journalist, and combines wonderfully twisted black humour, political commentary, science fiction tech, and just the right about of stimulating offensiveness. Why the hell didn’t I read this years ago?

 

Movies:

  • The Sweeney: You could get better acting and a similar plot by watching an Eastenders omnibus and flicking over to Top Gear repeats on Dave every 20 minutes. A plot full of holes, cockney cliches with no awareness and about the only redeeming feature in almost 2 hours is that Hayley Attwell is rather attractive.
  • Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: Slightly tame but still enjoyable journey for two characters facing the end of the world in a matter of days. There are a couple of brilliant moments which show that it could have been slightly darker overall, but it’s still interesting, enjoyable and pretty memorable.
  • Skyfall: Not a bad Bond film. Just not sure it’s quite as good as critics and box office records made out. A more human and fragile Bond might be more reflective of the modern world, but it’s not really the reason I want to watch a Bond film. But the action is good, the villain unsettling, and Bond, unlike The Sweeney, can maintain a decent suspension of disbelief. Although I did find myself disliking Judi Dench as M – unable to show any humanity or emotion in what was the biggest role for that character in a modern Bond film.
  • Despicable Me 2: Watched in a cinema packed with small children – it’s a pretty good sequel, with enough great moments for kids and parents alike. The only minor criticism is that Vector, the villain of the first film, was too brilliant to be matched in the second, and there does perhaps come a point where the Minions need to be reigned in in favour of the plot… Oddly enough, I’d introduced my son to Wall-E the night before, which is a more timeless kids film by tackling slightly more adult themes.

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