My experience with cyberpunk has not been large. I have read Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and The Diamond Age, and liked them well enough. This Canadian novel is the archetypal cyberpunk novel and won the triple crown of sci-fi literary awards: the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award. For most of the novel, I was not too enticed. I kept waiting for myself to care, and to feel really invested into the plot. It did not happen, at least not the extent that I wanted it to. As a a result, I have feeling I’ll forget the plot of this book fairly soon. I think the blunt and straightforward prose are an advantage, but I was not wholly interested in the story. There are interesting concepts about AI, genetic engineering, cyberspace, and the concepts of the power of the free market to over rule the current world structure. Gibson wrote about all these before it was popular in the mainstream. If only I did not feel I have already read it all before because this fifteen years on. This would probably be a good introduction to cyberpunk as it has all the elements.
His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass
When I read this book the first time, I was a little older than the protagonist’s age. I’ve reread the books twice since, in audiobook form last year, and yesterday before I saw the movie. I love the HDM trilogy because is an extremely well done fantasy series that is complex and layered. It’s definitely not just for kids and is rereadable for a variety of reasons including the questions and ideas it elicits.
The idea of a movie has been around for a long time, and I remember there had been some issues with the script and switching of directors. I am really glad it has been done. I enjoyed myself. It was great to see all the concepts in the books such as the daemons, and Iorek visualized. The special effects were some of the best things about the book. The casting is fantastic. I think everyone, including newcomer Dakota Blue Richards, did a fine job. I really want to the film to do well; this is actually the first time I’ve been in a movie theatre since May 2006. The success of this movie will determine whether New Line green lights the other two films. The ending is abrupt as a result which brings me to more in depth comments below.
First Among Sequels
This is the fifth book in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, but it marks the second part of the series and is the first part of the next four books. For maximum enjoyment of this book, I recommend you start with the first four books. It’s been so long that I don’t remember how good those books are individually, but I love this series as a whole. It’s fun, unique, different, hilarious, and well written. I forgot how many plots Mr Fforde can balance in these books. This may turn some people off because he does have so many plot lines set up, but most of them are closed without much fanfare in the last couple of chapters. The other ones are set ups for the next books. For a more in depth review with slight spoilers from the previous books and this one (nothing major), click below.
28 Days Later
I never watch horror movies. When I got this movie last month, it was on a whim because it was around the time of the release of the sequel, I had heard good things about it, and Christopher Eccleston is in it. Since I don’t generally care for horror or scary movies, I can’t say if it was a good movie of its genre, but certainly an entertaining film overall. The beginning was pretty slow, but I noticed the nice soundtrack which only got better as did the plot, characters, settings, and scariness of the film. Yes, it reminded me of Shaun of the Dead a lot, but not in the psychologically scary parts surrounding Christopher Eccleston’s character. It was the fear of what happens to people in post-apocalyptic and dystopian worlds, not of the zombies. As usual, I’m pleased with CE’s work here even if the character was sometimes both dimensional (his psychology) and flat (bit stereotypical). The equally attractive Cillian Murphy really carries the film because slowly, his and the other characters are revealed to us and shown to be resilient capable survivors. There’s actual character growth. The screenplay is quite good then. Even though I haven’t seen any horror movies, I have a feeling the writing is better than most of the genre. I like that it was an original screenplay rather than adapted from novel, short story, graphic novel or comic book which often happens in science fiction. Director Danny Boyle said the writer Alex Garland cited The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndam as an inspiration for the book which I mentioned the other day. I liked the ending which I read was the original one. The sequel does not have any of the original cast, and there is apparently to be a third. I’m not quite sure I will seek out the sequels in the near future even if I did like this one. All because I liked this movie doesn’t mean I’ll make a habit of watching more horror films.
On a lighter note, here is a hilarious interview Time interview with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Ellen Barkin and Brad Pitt. I really want to hang out with these people.