Monday, May 10, 2021

I Read Stories: Poise And Grace by Kyle RIchardson

Poise and Grace
by Kyle Richardson in Flash Fiction Online

Dint is a clockwork creation who has been building an airship for 911 days. But it was scheduled for 912 so she has a day off at the end.

Now she has to report back to the registry. But her father who programmed her has one last message.

Read This: A cute robot has a day off and an adventure
Don’t Read This: Robots should get on with their work not take time off

Sunday, May 09, 2021

I Read Books: The Great God Pan

The Great God Pan

Clarke is invited to observe Dr Raymond when he performs an experiment on the brain of a young woman in the hope of allowing her to experience the universe in an intimate personal manner, to lift the veil of the senses. He suggests the ancients experienced this as the spiritual world, and called it the Great God Pan. He succeeds but after a brief period of awe and terror she lapses into a state that he describes as being “a hopeless idiot,” here using the medical term of the period.

Some years later Clarke learns of some unusual events, in which a young woman named Helen is involved. Various of her childhood companions have terrifying experiences. Herbert, an acquaintance, has changed careers from gentleman to vagabond, claiming to have been corrupted body and soul by her when they were married.

Later still Clarke and his friends learn of mysterious suicides, all of which have in common that the last person to see (or perhaps “see” if you know what I mean, nudge nudge, wink wink) them is a Mrs Beaumont. It’s implied that she sexes them up so outrageously that they see beyond the material world and so have to kill themselves.

This is creepy, in part because it starts off with Raymond’s absolutely terrible experiment in detail before going on to obliquely refer to the uncanny events. (There is a more explicit scene of weirdness at the end). In this case the Victorian reticence works with the story; we cannot know what direct experience of the true nature of the universe is, as that is unbearable. A seminal work of weird horror fiction.

Read This: A classic early piece of weird fiction that holds up pretty well
Don’t Read This: It’s coyness and innuendo about both the unimaginable and the sordid are not for you
You Can Read It Online: Perhaps try here.
On A Personal Note: This is the last book I read in 2020, thus showing the length of my backlog (again)

Saturday, May 08, 2021

I Watch Films: Three Coins In The Fountain


Three Coins In The Fountain

It’s Rome in the 50s. Three American women are sharing an apartment and working as secretaries. They all have complex romantic (heh) entanglements.

The prince who has a habit of flying girls to Venice for the day, then his plane breaking down so that they have to stay the night with him is a bit sleazy and the women get one over on him. Following this the new secretary does some research and goes on a campaign to win his heart. Some entertaining stuff, turn about is fair play after all.

Very occasionally we almost touch on the war (two of the women are working for a US aid agency) but in other times not so much. The prince, a young man, has a mother but his father is never mentioned. Shadwell, an American author who the third woman works for, has not been back to America for twenty years. Where was he ten years ago? But none of this is important. Rome is an exotic place for adventures and foolish affairs, where you can get into trouble and also out of it again.

Watch This: A pretty and fun old-fashioned romantic comedy
Don’t Watch This: Pretty people and gorgeous backdrops do not hold up against a relatively slight set of plots

Thursday, May 06, 2021

I Read Stories: Environmental Disturbances by Anita Goveas

Environmental Disturbances
by Anita Goveas in Sinking City

Marcella got some frogs when she was young and went on to study biology. Her first research trip is out to Mangalore, where she has family, and she is studying the frogs, who are an environmental bio-indicator.

Sadly her boss is tempted by a large research grant from a mining company. But she has local contacts and the frogs are uniquely disease resistant. They put together a protest.

And maybe it helps her understand and connect her Mum and uncle Filip back home too.

Read This: A look at reconnecting with heritage and seeing it in new ways
Don’t Read This: If you don’t care about frogs

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

I Read Books: Moving Pictures

Moving Pictures

A mysterious ruin in the Holy Wood lets loose some strange anachronistic ideas onto the Discworld. Terry Pratchett puts a non-fantasy idea into his fantastic world, alchemists inventing film, and various minor Ankh-Morpork characters getting seduced into the movie business.

The novel cycles through the terribleness of the movie business, compressing half a century of nonsense into a handful of weeks. The main actor character is a student wizard who has been carefully failing his exams in order to keep getting his bursary, but makes sure his score is high enough to not get thrown out. This sort of links with the staff of the Unseen University, given characters here for the first time, and they have the b-plot of seeing how this effects Ankh-Morpork and also discovering there is a threat to reality.

Having seen more classic movies than when I first read it (and even more clips of classic movies) there were more jokes for me to get. And even if I don’t get it, or even if I tire of just referencing old films humorously, well the plot moves quickly and there are some other jokes too.

Read This: Many funny film jokes, and some good bits about how fame and the film industry distort things
Don’t Read This:
If constant references to old films annoys you

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Monster Of The Week 71: Tsunami


Monster of the week 71 is Tsunami, who lives in the sea but may come for a visit, brings unwanted gifts, not a very good guest, gets overexcited at the slightest disturbance, a bit of a drip.

With apologies to Katsushika Hokusai. Monster of the Week is supported by my Patreon.

Monday, May 03, 2021

I Watch Films: Prospect


A father and daughter take a ride on the last spaceship to the green moon, a job that should make them a fortune. Someone has found a hoard of potential gemstones and need someone who knows how to turn them into actual gemstones, a difficult and finicky process.

It goes wrong. The daughter is forced to team up with a stranded prospector who is more bandit than anything else, and he talks in that overlong style that old-fashioned gangsters and cowboys like. You know how it is, a man might choose to use a few laconic words to make his point, but between you and me I have thought we can stretch things out to come to a more pleasurable conclusion. That sort of thing.

Things go wrong, people get shot, there’s some impromptu surgery, mechanical breakdowns, that sort of thing. A dark, gritty western-inspired bit of science fiction. There’s some oddness about the series of events, not helped by drawing attention to the geography by bringing out a map occasionally. I still enjoyed it.

Watch This: A cool bit of indie sci-fi film
Don’t Watch This: If you want anyone to explain what’s going on rather than figuring it out for yourself as they walk slowly across the wooded landscape
I Was Directed To This: by Discount Robots And Time Machines, a new SF film website that I commend to your attention