Movies and TV of 2016

New TV:
Molly * Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo * X-Files (reboot) * Sonic Highways * Once Upon A Time (season 1) * The Night Manager * Carmilla (season 2) * The Expanse (season 1) * Agents of SHIELD (season 3) * Orphan Black (season 4) * Trepalium * Revolution School * Games of Thrones (season 4) * Game of Thrones (season 5) * Games of Thrones (season 6) * The Americans (season 1) * The Americans (season 2) * The Americans (season 3) * The Durrells * Once Upon A Time (season 2) * Once Upon a Time (season 3) * Person of Interest (season 1) * Carmilla (season 3) *

TV, rewatched:
Fringe (season 2) * Fringe (season 3) * Fringe (season 4) * Pride and Prejudice (BBC) * Jericho (season 1 and 2)

New movies:
Dallas Buyers Club * San Andreas * State of Affairs * Captain America: Civil War * Deadpool * The Hollow Crown (Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 and 2, Henry V) * Ghostbusters 2016 * Frozen (um, without most of the singing) * Batman v Superman * Sherpa * Pride and Prejudice and Zombies * The Art of Flight * X-Men: Apocalypse * John Carter * The Huntsman: Winter’s War * Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children * The Congress * Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy * Only Lovers Left Alive * Lover Come Back * Underworld: Awakening * Jason Bourne * Suicide Squad * Star Trek Beyond * Independence Day: Resurgence * Rogue One *

Movies, rewatched:
Mad Max: Fury Road * Sahara * Aliens * Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade * Chronicles of Riddick * The Fifth Element * The Avengers * Ghostbusters (original) * The Edge of Tomorrow * Thor: The Dark World * Captain America: The Winter Soldier * Independence Day * Alien * Top Gun * Beverley Hills Cop * Beverley Hills Cop II * It Might Get Loud * Bridge of Spies * Crimson Tide * Stargate (the movie) * The Edge of Tomorrow * Underworld * Underworld Evolution * Blade Runner * Mr and Mrs Smith * Enemy of the State * Pacific Rim * RED

Galactic Suburbia 158

Happy New Year edition! One last episode before we squeak into 2017. In which we sum up a year of culture consumed and other interests, and mourn the recently departed. You can find us on iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

WHAT’S NEW ON THE INTERNET?

Carrie Fisher
George Michael
Richard Adams
Vera Rubin
(note: we recorded this ep before the death of Debbie Reynolds was reported)

CULTURE CONSUMED IN 2016:

Tansy: Rogue One
Alisa: Operation Apocalypse Plan (books mentioned: Will McIntosh’s Soft Apocalypse as a guide to the probable future, Defying Doomsday)
Alex: The Arrival
Tansy: Hurricane Heels by Isabel Yap (& Buffy rewatch with daughter, because this is what 11 yr olds are for)
Alisa: PhD & Jamberry
Alex: The Expanse
Tansy: Check Please fandom & Yuri on Ice
Alisa: Paleo Cinema Podcast
Alex: Octavia Butler

Link to call for Letters to Butler

Tansy — 2016 culture round ups in Smugglivus & Ambling Down the Aqueduct

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Enemy of the State

Enemy of the StateUnknown.jpeg

Every … now and then… my beloved and I are watching a film by either Ridley or Tony Scott. We’re watching in chronological order. There are, of course, spoilers.

Tony: 1998

J: Straight into the action – with the same credits sound effect as Top Gun.

A: I haven’t seen this in ages… is it pre-2001? Yes, 1998. Because whoa, the whole thing about spying on American citizens… feeling very apropos.

J: Oh the poor Goldie.

A: Given that I’m also currently obsessed with Person of Interest, this is feeling a bit surreal. Urgh surveillance state.

Watching the credits and wait what? Jack Black is in this?? I had forgotten that!

Lisa Bonet, you are awesome. Will Smith, you look sharp as a lawyer, but I’m a bit worried about the dealings you two appear to be having.

Video player! And a mafioso… uh, mob… in a kitchen. Seems a bit old-fashioned frankly. Oh and now we have a mini video cassette player in the woods. Naw, 90s.

J: Love a good ops center… ‘Call it a training Op’ …. Duh …. Continue reading →

Sisters of Tomorrow

This book was sent to me by the publisher, Wesleyan University Press, at no cost. It’s available now.

Unknown.jpegIt’s no secret that I like science fiction and history and am feminist, so books like this are like a perfect conjunction for me. I’ve previously read Helen Merrick’s Secret Feminist Cabal, and Justine Larbalestier’s Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction AND Daughter of Earth, which is a compilation of early female SF writers. So I’ve got a bit of background knowledge – not that you need it at all for this anthology, because Lisa Yaszek and Patrick B Sharp set the scene magnificently in their intro to the book and to the chapters.

Here’s the thing that makes this book really special: while the biggest section is on the authors, because they include some stories – including a fairly long novelette – the editors don’t stop there. They also have sections on the female poets, and artists, and journalists, and editors of the 30s and 40s. This blew my mind. I’d vaguely heard of Margaret Brundage, I think? But I certainly didn’t realise that there were women active and influential in all of those spheres. Yaszek and Sharp also cross into the amateur magazines, where women were also hugely important in the development of “understandings of science, society, and SF in different arenas of SF production” (xxiii). If you’re interested in early science fiction at all, if you’re interested in women in literature, if you’re interested in the history of SF – this is an excellent anthology.

Continue reading →

Cooked, by Michael Pollan

images.jpegThis book was recommended to me by the sourdough baker whose course I took. It turned out that I had already one of Pollan’s books – The Botany of Desire, which was awesome and looked at various plants in light of the general idea of desire. (My biggest take away message: the Agricultural Revolution was the grasses using humanity to destroy the trees. Also that all edible apples are clones.)

This book is Pollan’s attempt to learn more about cooking, having looked at the gardening and the eating side for a long time. He divides the book into four sections: Fire, Water, Air, Earth. Or, basically: barbecue, braise, bread, and fermenting. Continue reading →

Galactic Suburbia: Bloodchild

isaac-asimovs-science-fiction-magazine-june-1984-aIn which parasites are creepy, pregnancy is body horror, and consent is important! You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

Get comfy and listen to Alex & Tansy’s discussion of Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” and her essay “Positive Obsessions,” both available in the Bloodchild & Other Stories collection (plus Bloodchild is available as a single story digitally).

Don’t forget: submissions for the Octavia Butler tribute anthology are due on Jan 8! See Submissions for details.

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Blade Runner

images.jpegBlade Runner

Ridley: 1982

Over this year my beloved and I are watching a film by either Ridley or Tony Scott. We’re watching in chronological order (well, except for this one, because it took us a while to find it…). There are, of course, spoilers.

J: Hello vintage opening … Like something from an 1980s computer game…

Also old school long from credits up front.

A: love a good scroll-up of back story. Early 21st century artificial people eh? Using them as slave labour? Not so hard to believe if you push it back another century or so. Love that this also imagined humanity was colonising other planets already.

J: Visual cues that link bank to Alien.  The pyramids.  Lights.  Tones. Also Harrison is so young!

A: well that was a bleak opening. And I’m not just talking about the colours, but that is a big part of it. Did the giant ad on the side of the building of the Asian lady start with this movie? And you want young? Edward James Olmos! By golly he’s young! And his eyes are freaky.

J: Blue and teal started before Michael Bay … Just sayin’.

A: the music is going to be an interesting part of this care of Vangelis. Very noir-futuristic. I also wonder whether The Fifth Element was deliberately mirroring the Chinese takeaway scene. Continue reading →

Proof of Concept

Proof_final.jpgThis novella was sent to me by the publisher, Tor.com, at no cost. It will be out on 11 April, 2017.

Um. Wow. No seriously. Terrifying and amazing and absolutely captivating.

Jones is saying a lot about modern society in this novella and most of it isn’t very nice. She’s also presenting a compelling story and believable characters and… this is yet more evidence that novellas are a fantastic length for stories.

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about how facebook mediates news and how people who only get their news from facebook can end up in an echo-chamber, essentially, with their own opinions endlessly reflected back to them. Jones presents GAM: Global Audience Mediation. An avatar, the AI of GAM, asks questions for news broadcasts – it’s “the statistical sum of… real-time responses” from the global audience (4). It’s crowd-sourced journalism, where presumably minority views and questions get drowned out in the fantastically huge audience. No room for dissenting voices then. Then there’s the  broadcasts of the VLDMT (Very Long Duration Mission Training) – in theory Earth 2-like training situations for people who might go on interstellar missions, but effectively ending up like reality tv – Big Brother in extremis.

And this isn’t even really what the story is about. They’re just creepy incidental issues that Jones throws in to show that this is a real and believable future story. I love Gwyneth Jones.

What the story is actually about is getting off Earth as the population and climactic situation gets progressively worse and worse. There are two solutions being proposed: the VLDMT people imagine a space ship, while Margrethe Patel is working on a method of hyperspatial travel that shifts within 4D information space. (Happily, Jones is not Greg Egan, so there’s no vector diagrams to attempt to understand.) The two groups come together when an enormous abyss is discovered under Poland and it appears to offer a place to practise for both groups. They need complete isolation from the rest of the planet, and things go from there…

Did I mention that the focal character, Kir, has an AI in her head? Yeh. There’s a huge amount going on here.

I loved Kir and how she faces the various problems – like annoying people and difficult work – that confront her. I was gutted by how Jones imagines this possible future, and I was enthralled by what she imagines as solutions. If you like science fiction you need to read this story. When it’s available.

The Edge of Everything

This book was sent to me by the publisher, Bloomsbury, at no cost. It’s being published in February 2017; RRP $16.99.

Unknown.jpegI have to say first off that I think the title is naff. It doesn’t tell you anything and it also doesn’t relate to anything in the story. So that’s my whinge.

The promo material for this book suggests 12+. I would say 14+, personally; I can’t think of a 12 year old I would deliberately give this. Some 12 year olds would take it for themselves and cope quite nicely, I suspect, but that’s a different issue.

Zoe’s father died a few months ago; her brother goes out in a snowstorm and she has to rescue him; she meets a stranger with tattoos and apparently some sort of extraordinary power. He has no name; she calls him X. He’s a bounty hunter; things of course do not go well for him or for Zoe and her family.

It’s not the most original-sounding narrative, but there are some remarkable aspects to the book. Slight spoiler: X is from what would be best described as hell, but the Lowlands are quite different from any other incarnation of hell that I’ve come across in fiction. It’s an intriguing vision of the place and of how it might be used. There’s no explanation of the Lowlands and how it operates; instead the focus of the narrative is on relationships, and the work of bounty hunters… it’s all about the vibe of the thing. And overall that worked. Certainly there are a myriad of unanswered questions about the mechanics, but they don’t really matter for the story itself.

The human world and especially Zoe’s family are beautifully realised. The different expressions of grief are portrayed sensitively and realistically. Jonah, Zoe’s brother, has ADHD; it’s just a fact of life and oh my goodness he’s a cute terror, as little brothers usually are. Mum is vegan and a bit nuts and fierce and has always struggled to hold the family together: I adored her so much. Zoe’s friends Val and Dallas are a delight (Val made a Tumblr of her girlfriend’s feet) and although I thought it was going to veer into dodgy love triangle territory Giles avoids that neatly. Dad… well, he was a struggler, and the way mum slowly revealed a bit more about what he was like to Zoe over the course of the book was heart-breaking and, again, intensely realistic.

Into this human world comes X, quite accidentally, and in some ways – although a third or more of the book is from his perspective – he’s the most opaque of all of them I think. Partly this is because he almost has no personality, thanks to how he has grown up; he really only starts to live after meeting Zoe. I was reminded of those suggestions of how Matt Smith’s Doctor ‘imprinted’ on young Amelia Pond, as I watched X and Zoe together. I was initially a bit squeaked by their budding romance because I thought he was much older than her; turns out he’s maybe 20 to her 16 (which is still a bit squick for me). The intensity of their attitude towards one another, especially his for her, was the main eye-rolly bit for me. It all seemed a bit too intense too fast.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing is that this is the start of a series. It felt to me like the sort of intense story and relationship that ought to be encapsulated in just one, say 450-page, book. I don’t know how it could have been resolved but I definitely would have preferred that.

Overall this is a well-paced and intense book that I read in the course of one day. I enjoyed most of the relationships and I was genuinely surprised by a couple of the revelations. I’m not sure whether I want the sequel because I’m afraid it will lose the intensity, but that’s a problem I’ll just have to deal with.

Snow White, Blood Red

Unknown.jpeg

I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages. And I do mean years. Finally got it this year because I was reminded of it by someone when I read a very poor version of the Snow Queen.

Many of the stories are excellent, although it’s not quite the anthology I was expecting. I wasn’t expecting there to be discrepancy in whether the stories were pretty faithful or quite different versions; I found it a bit disconcerting to bounce from one to the other, and then have completely made up (that is, not based on commonly told fairy tales) stories in there as well. I’m not saying any of those three options is bad but it felt jarring to have them all mixed together. But I think that’s mostly my expectations.

Lisa Goldstein’s use of Hansen and Gretel motifs to tell a story about a woman’s relationship with her daughters was a delight and a really intriguing way to end the anthology. I loved Patricia A McKillip’s take on the snow queen and Esther M Freisner’s “Puss” was deeply troubling. Actually a lot of them were deeply troubling, but that was kind of the point both because original fairy tales just were troubling and because this anthology was always intended to be about both the fantasy and the horror aspects of the stories. Hence the title. There were a lot of really great stories in this anthology and I can see why it keeps getting talked about. I guess I finally need to read Angela Carter now