Thursday, May 28, 2020

I Read Online Magazines: Twist In Time Issue 7

Twist In Time Issue 7

Twist In Time's fairy tale themed issue was published 1st January and I have given up apologising for my backlog. Here are some of my personal highlights.

Fairer by December Lace, a lament from the stepmother who can never match the original parent.

More explicitly about Snow White, The Mirror Lie by Lucy Zhang makes the point that a magic mirror does not show what a mirror should and therefore...

Low Hanging Fruit by Aviva Treger is deeply in conversation with Christina Rosetti's The Goblin Market and even more so with all the tales of changelings and fairy bargains.

The Nymph and The Maiden by Laura Kincaid is about beauty and revenge, and also about diamonds and being unbreakable.

A Dragon's Tale by Bruce Louis Dodson, a light-hearted poem about a dragon and a mouse and a knight.

In The Tree Between Us by Grace Stafford a husband and a wife do not trust each other and the tree has perilous advice for them.

The Red Dress by Lucy Whitehead is a story about a fairytale dress with no fairytale to dress up for.

There's plenty of other stories as well that I didn't feel I had anything interesting to say about, and one poem that I wrote a long author's note about, because I am the author: On The Glass Mountain. You can ignore that one if you like.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

I Read Books: Seduced By Moonlight

Seduced By Moonlight

Merry Gentry, the American Fairy Princess, has sex with several magical people which restores, or in some cases unleashes their power, later there’s an assassination attempt when she returns from LA to the fairy mounds near St Louis for Yule. The mounds themselves start to come back to life. Her Aunt, the Queen, is drugged into a frenzy, and they get into a fight, and Merry’s blood powers suck all her blood out including the drug so she recovers.

That’s most of the plot, though sometime the having sex isn’t having sex but is about blood, or being nearby while she has sex with others, or touching the magic fertility ring. Also the Goddess gets involved, giving visions while restoring powers, handing over the chalice (formerly the cauldron) in a dream etc. Also Merry meets a lot of people, mostly men, most of whom she will have to have sex with (as the sidhe are fairly infertile she can only become queen if she has a child). A couple she is barred from having sex with though.

Basically everything gets rather complicated, the cast of characters expands, Merry has to deal with all of the men who want to have sex with her for various reasons (politics, magic, power, lust and even love), with no indication that anything will be resolved soon.

Read This:
Because you were into Merry’s story of magic and politics and sex
Don’t Read This: If you wanted more of her trying to balance being a private investigator with being a princess (spoilers, she gives up on the PI bit as far as I can see)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Monster of the Week 25: Trixiana

Monster of the Week 25 is Trixiana who enforces the law of threefold return, wears a backpack with three straps and thinks that the correct time for afternoon tea is exactly three o'clock.

Monster of the Week is supported by my Patreon, and subscribers have advance viewings of Monster of the Week as well as access to vast quantities of my fiction.

Monday, May 25, 2020

I Watch TV: Killjoys


So Killjoys is over. It started as a space bounty-hunting-problem-of-the-week show, and despite all the hints that there was something bigger along the way, I kind of felt that it was at its best with the three of them doing something ridiculous in a weird place to try and get their man. Still, in the end they saved the galaxy from The Lady, Dutch turned out to have a twin who was millennia older than her and had been hidden in The Green, and Johnny and D’avin manage to come to terms with their various pasts and hang-ups.

So what did I like about it? I liked that it kept putting them into more and more difficult situations, especially ones that their skills (D’avin – kicking ass, Johnny – technical stuff, Dutch – yet more kicking ass) didn’t help with. And then technical stuff and kicking ass when that goes wrong. I liked that they put the concepts that drove it into the text:

“That's what us a great team. You lead, I shoot, Johnny gives a shit." (D’avin)
"I thought you were just the funny one."
"I multi-task."
"They don't call me the mouth because I'm bad with my hands."
It’s direct with its words but clever with it.

Having said that, when they left the Quad (one planet and three moons that was the main setting) in later seasons, and the over-arching plot got complicated and weird, I felt that it lost its way. It would have done better to drill deeper in the Quad. Which it did on occasion, exploring politics and weird communities and stuff, but in the context of what had gone on before rather than some random place we’ve never seen before and don’t care about.

Anyway Killjoys is done, they saved the galaxy, but they didn’t actually do a very good job as the alien monsters are still out there for them to have more adventures. They finished it before they went on too long, and they managed to get to a finishing place. So I’m pleased with it.

Watch This: For fifty episodes of space opera violence and plotting that is at its best when it pretends it’s just a fun adventure
Don’t Watch This: If you don’t like it when a fun adventure show drops the pretence and reveals there’s some deeper sci-fi meaning and questions that have been there all along.
Due To A Mix Up: This is not the last TV series I watched in 2019, but it is the last one that I finished in 2019 to appear on the blog, making it a poor indication of my backlog, but a fair one of my organisation.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

I Read Stories: Woman Reclining by Jamie J Kelly

Woman Reclining by Jamie J Kelly

A painting of a woman reclining is placed in the hall, opposite a mirror. The woman in the painting can’t quite reach the easel and brushes in her room so has nothing to do but watch. She watches as the couple who bought her fall apart.
And then she decides to do something else.

Read This: For a look at life inside and outside the painting
Don’t Read This: If you want the link between the painting and life to be more than oblique and tenuous.
The Painting In This Review: Is definitely not the painting in the story.
And In Addition: According to my notes this is the last short story I read in 2019, so much for the backlog

Saturday, May 23, 2020

I Read Books: Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge

(This is the 2006 Gwyneth Jones novel, named after the 1971 Jimi Hendrix compilation album and the film it comes from, and not any other Rainbow Bridges you might have heard of.)

The Chinese invaded England at the end of Band of Gypsies. Most of the country is occupied. They have declared magic and mind-matter technology a pernicious delusion, and also have been stamping it out. The old Second Chamber Regime has been massacred.

Ax, Sage and Fiorinda eventually surrender, to the disgust of some diehards. They go on tour to keep the peace. Maybe make the peace. There are four generals in charge of the occupation, but all the signs point to a hidden, fifth general, the one pulling the strings behind the Chinese actions. And if they can get them on side, this might just sow the seeds for the world state that’s needed to get humanity past the crisis.

But crisis might be closer than they think, as the Chinese will ruthlessly destroy any threat of magic, all of England if they need to. And this includes the now pregnant, and very magical Fiorinda.

Read This: For a final ending and some answers to the Bold as Love series
Don’t Read This: If surrender as victory sucks as a theme

Friday, May 22, 2020

I Watch TV: Worzel Gummidge

Worzel Gummidge (2019)

I haven’t read the books and was not a regular viewer of the old TV show (I think it clashed with something else on TV? Or maybe we had swimming or something?). So I had the impression that Worzel Gummidge was a very silly show.

And so it is in this revival, but that silliness is overwhelmed by the need to have several scenes of genuine magic and thoughtfulness and atmosphere, and there only being two episodes made. John and Susan are sent to the countryside by their foster home where Worzel, thinking that their fashionable town clothes must make them scarecrows, reveals himself as being alive. He gets them into trouble as his scarecrow mates do things then turn back into scarecrows letting them take the blame. So far so silly.

However in the first episode the seasons are locked and the harvest won’t ripen. Worzel has to figure out how to fix this in his bumbling silly way, and leads to (as I said) some good old-fashioned children’s TV magic. The second one, without the need to introduce Worzel, the farm etc. has the scarecrow biker gang and the scarecrow competition at the big house as its main plot, and that’s pretty silly. However it has Michael Palin as The Green Man (maker of living scarecrows, countryside deity) telling Worzel what’s what and then having Worzel make his case for revealing himself to the children. And that’s got some proper thoughts about countryside living and change and nature (at a children’s level but interesting nonetheless) that overwhelm the main plot.

The Green Man goes about in the human world as an itinerant hedgelayer called Jack Wodewose, and of course he’s called Jack and of course he’s called Wodewose.

Anyway, good on Mackensie Crook for doing this. I’d say he should do more, but a regular series would have to dilute the powerful magic he evokes. Maybe he can make two or three a year and have it work.

Watch This: For some excellent family friendly TV with something to say about England and the Countryside
Don’t Watch This: If a bumbling weird-talking living scarecrow is just going to annoy you.