Trying to listen to The Martian
by Andy Weir, because I find people building things with science incredibly calming, which is working out. Mostly, however, I'm struck by how Mark would never, ever have passed the NASA psych evaluations that are required for a long-term mission. No one would put up with him. I think it says a lot about the author that he doesn't seem to realise that at all. I don't think he knows that his protagonist is an immature jerk who would never make it in space, because Wier's likely projecting himself and his peers into the story, and doesn't realise that that 's not what the rest of the world is like (and hasn't read Chris Hadfield's An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth
). It's of very little surprise that he mostly reads other straight white male authors like himself. Nenya (unusually uncharitably for her, but provoked by me): "Maybe they're the only ones who cater to his id."
I think the movie will be an improvement.Book: You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes by Chris Hadfield
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I know that pictures from space are an old hat by now, but this is a fantastic selection, and beautifully framed. Hadfield mostly likes dry places I think, so there's A LOT of Australia, and not very many islands in the Oceania section, but that's a quibble. I got this from the library, but will probably buy it once the price comes down.
Radio play: Dark Eyes 3
by Matt Fitton
Wow. That was disappointing. They tried to do everything that worked so well in the first two and totally fubbed it. The storytelling that was non-linear for most of the characters but followed a throughline for something else (in this case the Human-Eminence War) didn't keep me guessing as to what was happening and how it would turn out, it just made me not care. It was confusing, and since they kept resetting the timeline, there were basically no stakes and no reason to get invested in any particular characters. No matter what they did, it'd all get undone by the next story. Plus there was some really heavy-handed and gross Colonialism Is Bad, But the Colonised Are Dumb message in one episode, which.... It's not like the English shouldn't ever engage with their Imperial Past, but I've basically never seen Big Finish do it well, and maybe they should stop trying. Anyway, all that wasn't my biggest complaint.
In Dark Eyes one, the companion was basically also the McGuffen, the mystery of her origins drove the story, BUT they also let her have her own motivations, personality and let her influence events. The same was true of the second one. This time, Molly spent almost the entire episode either brainwashed, drugged or both, while the Master basically mined her body for its power. It was every bit
as awful as it sounds. It also made it really hard to enjoy the Master's scenes. He's usually over the top awful, and that's fine, but this was just so personal and gross that it really undercut him. I just wanted him to die, not keep the Doctor on his back foot until the end when the Doctor finally won. Liv was also more or less a pawn the whole series, and Sally absolutely was. And so the fight went on between four or five dudes in power, who all used and fought over women. It was just terrible.
There are better Big Finish titles, and you can enter to win some by completing a survey here
Movie: The Grandmaster
directed by Wong Kar Wai, staring Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi
Very, very thing on plot, not much in the way of memorable dialogue (though maybe it did better in Chinese), but very, very pretty. This is a movie that aside from enjoying highly stylised kung fu fights, wanted to look at the actors' faces a lot
, and also show rain and flowers and period hats. Mostly though it wanted us to look at Leung and Zhang, and I have NO problem with that. Totally fine by me. I appreciated that it spent almost as much time on Gong Er's story as it did on Ip Man's, even if the plot was all silliness.
Novella: Water to Wine
(A METAtropolis Story) by Mary Robinette Kowal, narrated by Kate Mulgrew
You probably don't need to have heard any of the other stories in the shared universe to follow this one, as the woldbuilding is pretty standard, and the story mostly deals with local concerns.
It's about the youngest daughter of a vintner, her father, her sisters, and the challenges they have to deal with twenty minutes into the future. The story is pretty straightforward, and mostly focuses on the relationships between the sisters and their attitudes toward the vineyard. It worked really well for me. I appreciated that one of the sisters was queer, and that her wife was a major character as well. And, you know, read by Captain Janeway, so can't go wrong there.Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, narrated by the author
Short, passionate and to the point. Again, I'm not the target audience, but I think it's the clearest explanation and exploration of race relations in America that I've read. As with his first book, it didn't have much to do with women, though they're mentioned as peers more here, but he seems less to be ignoring them then intentionally not wanting to presume to speak for them, which I can respect. Toni Morrison called this, "Required reading," and I can see why, but I can't think of much else to say.
I didn't put this in my posted review, but listening to this book had an odd side effect. I don't want to read any more about race politics in America. Not because I think this book is definitive and I'm done learning, though it is very good. And not because I don't think they're unimportant. But I kept feeling this urge to turn back to my own country. I felt the same reading about the women's movement in The Secret History of Wonder Woman
, that I know more about America than I do about where I actually live.
It's so easy to get sucked into American media, and I don't think it's wrong to do so. A lot of the pop culture I enjoy comes from there, so I think it's reasonable to read up on the background for it, especially when it comes to histories of violence and oppression. Plus, US stuff is so much easier to find, especially in audio versions, whereas Canada, which has a population smaller than quite a few states, is a little more catch as catch can. However, I am going to try read more of my own history for a bit, especially First Nations stuff. -picks up a book about Nazi Germany-
. Or not.