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Asking the Wrong Questions

Updated: 2018-04-26T18:43:10.907+03:00


Recent Movie Roundup 29


Avengers: Infinity War is just around the corner, which in some way feels like the true beginning of 2018's movie year.  We've mostly wrapped up last year's Oscar hopefuls, and the more experimental action-adventure fare of the year's early months, and now it's time to get down to business.  I'm not feeling terribly hopeful about Marvel's fourth attempt to wring a coherent dramatic work out of

A Political History of the Future: The Expanse, at Lawyers, Guns & Money


Just in time for its third season premiere on Wednesday, I dedicate my latest Political History of the Future column to The Expanse, a show with tremendous potential as a piece of political storytelling that is mostly being squandered. I haven't written about The Expanse since I reviewed the first few episodes, and the impressions I formed then have mostly persisted--the worldbuilding is still

Recent Reading Roundup 46


The first reading roundup of 2018 covers an eclectic bunch of books, some of which I really liked and others I found pretty meh.  It veers back and forth between rather experimental fare and stuff that sits squarely in the mainstream of literary fiction.  It's not the best possible start to the year, but it's a solid one, and one that reminds me that being adventurous in my reading usually pays

A Political History of the Future: Iain M. Banks at Lawyers, Guns & Money


In my latest Political History of the Future column, I discuss Iain M. Banks, in the context of Paul Kincaid's excellent biography/critical study of him, and Amazon having announced a planned adaptation of Consider Phlebas.  Readers of this blog know that I spent the better part of the decade making my way through Banks's SF, and in this essay I try to synthesize those individual reviews into an

Strong Female Characters: Thoughts on Jessica Jones's Second Season


It's a bit strange, coming back to Jessica Jones two and a half years after its first season.  When that remarkable, groundbreaking story dropped, it--and the Netflix MCU project of which it was only the second chapter--felt like a breath of fresh air, a genuine breakthrough in how superhero stories could function on TV.  If Daredevil's first season suggested how a long-form superhero story could

The 2018 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Fiction Categories


With a little under 24 hours left in the Hugo nominating period, it's time for the big fiction categories.  As I wrote earlier this spring, I'm giving the short fiction categories a pass this year, but I have read enough interesting novellas to have a few nominations in that category.  In the novel categories, however, we've seen a bit of an explosion in the last few years, with the Best Series,

The 2018 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories


A lot of my nominations in these categories this year are going to be repeats of stuff I nominated in previous years.  These are the categories that got hit hardest by puppy interference, and a lot of people and institutions that should have had a chance to win Hugos in the last five years were pushed out of nomination entirely.  There's a backlog, in other words.  On the other hand, this is also

A Political History of the Future: Altered Carbon at Lawyers, Guns & Money


My latest Political History of the Future column discusses Altered Carbon, which recently received an appropriately neon-lit, grimy-yet-expensive-looking adaptation from Netflix.  My emphasis in this column, however, is more on the original, 2002 novel by Richard Morgan.  I reread the book before watching the show, for the first time in close to 15 years, and wasn't terribly surprised to discover

The 2018 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Media Categories


The Hugo nominating deadline will soon be upon us, and as ever there are a million things I wanted to watch, read, play, or ponder before the nominating period closes.  Just in these categories--in which I feel reasonably well-versed this year--the list of things I really wanted to get to include the Japanese anime film Your Name, the fourth season of Black Mirror, Fullbright's recent game Tacoma

A Political History of the Future: Black Panther at Lawyers, Guns & Money


In my latest Political History of the Future column at Lawyers, Guns & Money, I discuss Black Panther, a genuinely remarkable movie that sets a bar that other MCU films are going to struggle to clear.  There's been a lot of fascinating conversation about this movie, not least its importance to African-Americans as both the first MCU movie to star a black man, and a representation of a fictional

Through a Mirror, Darkly: Thoughts on Star Trek: Discovery's First Season


Well, folks, what is there to be done about Star Trek: Discovery?  Four months ago, writing about the season's first few episodes, I said that there were things about the show I really liked, and things I really disliked, but that it would probably take me until the end of the season to decide where I stood on the matter of the whole.  But here we are, nearly a week after the finale, and I'm no

Recent Movie Roundup 28


Here we are again at that special time of year where every single one of the previous year's prestige movies and Oscar hopefuls gets dumped in Israeli movie theaters at the same time.  I've found myself scrambling from one screening to another, just trying to catch up to movies that reviewers abroad have been talking about for months--I suspect I will have seen more than half the total movies

Winter Crop, 2018 Edition


I don't always do reviews of the new TV series of the winter, which seems like a shame when you think about it.  As I've noted for several years in my fall reviews of new network shows, there's hardly anything worth looking for in that arena (always excepting The Good Place), and winter seems to be when the stranger, more interesting material gets released.  This year has been no exception,

The 2018 Hugo Awards: A Few Comments As Nominations Open


The nomination period for the 2018 Hugo awards opened a few days ago, and will conclude at 23:59 on March 16th.  Anyone who became a member of either the 2018 or 2019 Worldcons before December 31st, 2017 is eligible to nominate (if you think you're eligible and haven't received an email with your PIN, there are details on how to get it here).  As has become my practice, I have a few comments as

A Political History of the Future: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz, at Lawyers, Guns & Money


The first proper installment of my Political History of the Future series is up at Lawyers, Guns & Money.  The topic this time is Annalee Newitz's first novel Autonomous, about a corporatist future in which humans and sentient machines alike are subject to a system of indenture in which freedom is a thing to be purchased. The title of Autonomous is a pun, and a thesis statement. “Autonomous”, in

Night in the Woods


You've probably heard about Night in the Woods even if you haven't played it, or have only a vague idea what it is.  Released by indie studio Infinite Fall last year after a highly-successful kickstarter campaign, the game, an adventure-slash-ghost-story starring anthropomorphic animals who live in a dying Rust Belt town, is an irresistible combination of cute and spooky.  Its story, in which

Introducing A Political History of the Future at Lawyers, Guns & Money


The political blog Lawyers, Guns & Money has been a favorite hangout of mine for years, both for its sharp and often funny discussions of progressive politics, and for its vibrant, intelligent comment section.  As well as being political junkies, many of the bloggers and commenters at LGM are nerds, and the blog has hosted some great pop culture writing, including by Steven Attewell and the late

2017, A Year in Reading: Best Books of the Year


I read 67 books in 2017, a significant drop from 2016, but one that I was expecting.  More importantly, that drop in quantity was by no means accompanied by a drop in quality.  2017 was easily one of my best reading years, so much so that I've had trouble narrowing down this list to a manageable number of titles. If I have a problem with 2017's reading, it is that for various reasons, including

New Scientist Column Update


If you're a New Scientist subscriber, you can read my latest SF column, in which I discuss Rivers Solomon's debut novel An Unkindness of Ghosts, and M. John Harrison's short story collection You Should Come With Me Now.  I'm sorry that the column has been paywalled, because these are both books that deserve more attention, so if you're not a subscriber I'll sum the column up by saying that you

Star Wars: The Last Jedi


A few days ago, I reread my review of The Force Awakens, and found myself in the odd position of being completely unable to recognize myself in it.  It's not that I disagree with anything I wrote.  But only two years after the film's opening, it lingers with me so little that the strong feelings I had about its plot, themes, and approach to the broader Star Wars universe feel positively alien.  

Recent Movie Roundup 27


The blockbuster movies of 2017 are winding down--there's really only The Last Jedi left to go--and then it'll be time for Israeli movie theaters to furiously start scheduling the year's Oscar movies before the ceremony (still bereft of release dates: The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Lady Bird, and probably several others I'm forgetting).  Here are my thoughts on a

Recent Reading Roundup 45


This is a funny bunch of books: a few that I picked up on a whim; a few that I've been breathlessly waiting for since they were announced; and one that's been sitting on my shelves for years.  The result isn't as exciting--in good ways and bad--as the last roundup of books I published, but nevertheless there are some reads here that I can already tell are going to be highlights of this

Thoughts on the New TV Season, 2017 Edition


I've been doing these fall TV reviews for more than a decade, and every year they feel less relevant, as either a guide to shows that people might like to watch or a commentary on the state of TV.  It's not that I believe that network TV is no longer capable of producing worthwhile, exciting fare--after all, my favorite show currently airing, whose second season is somehow managing to top even

New Scientist Column: Maggie Shen King, M.T. Anderson, and Dave Hutchinson


My latest column at The New Scientist has a relationship focus: in Maggie Shen King's debut novel An Excess Male, China's one child policy leads to a population of unmarriageable men who are encouraged to enter into polyandrous arrangements.  There's a definite whiff of The Handmaid's Tale wafting over this novel (which, along with last year's The Power, leads me to wonder if we're seeing a

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin


It might seem a bit strange to say that The Stone Sky, the concluding volume of the Broken Earth trilogy, had a lot riding on it.  For the past two years, the SF field and its fandom have been falling over themselves to crown this trilogy as not just good, but important.  Both of the previous volumes in the series, The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate, were nominated for the Nebula and the Hugo.