shadowkat: (tv slut)
Just finished Season 1 of Sense8 and was blown away by how well written, acted, and produced this show truly is. It may well be the best sci-fi and/or superhero series that I've seen on television. By far the most innovative, not to mention positive.

Why didn't you tell me about this? No, wait you did. I ignored you. Hardly your fault.

Yes, it's far from perfect, the villain (Mr. Whispers) is a bit of a cliche and I keep wishing someone would just kill him off so we can go about our business. The conspiracy plot with the evil government funded corporation, I could do without. Because that's in every show to date, and hello, overdone. I actually think the show would have worked better without that.

Backing up a bit...Sense8 is a story by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski. The Wachowski's are transgender and were the same team that did The Matrix series. J. Michael Stracznski did Babylon5, possibly the tightest sci-fi series, because he plotted it out ahead of time. Which is why this ambitious piece of art works - because Stracznski knows how to build character and multiple plot threads that connect with each other. He's a planner.

Anyhow, the story is about eight people who have the gift/curse of being able to share thoughts, abilities and bodies with each other. They can visit each other, share emotions and feelings and senses, and even occupy each other's bodies utilizing each other's skills or aiding each other, when someone needs help. There are eight of them, and they are intricately connected by spirit, heart and mind.

1, Sun - Asian Female, South Korea, Martial Artist, Business specialist, lost her mother to cancer.
2. Leto - Hispanic Male (incredibly hot), Mexico City, Top-rated action movie star/romantic hero, gay, and in the closet. Lies for a living. In love with Herandez.
3. Will - White Male - Chicago, Cop.
4. Riley - White Female - Iceland/London, DJ
5. Naomi - White Female (transgendered from male), lesbian romance with Almamita (whose black), hacker extraordinaire.
6. Kalia, Indian, Female, Mombai, India, chemist, struggling with her upcoming marriage to Raj.
7. Wolfgang, German, White Male, Gangster, fighter/killer,
8. Van Dam - Nairobi - Kenya, Black Male, driver, struggling with gansters to get medicine for sick mother.

I loved all eight characters, which is rare, and the people they loved and cared for in their lives. (The only characters I didn't like, I'm not supposed to.) Usually there's at least one main character I don't like, and that's not the case here.

Sensie are grouped in clusters, and there eight in a cluster, who can share emotions, sense each other. They are an advanced form of human. There are the humans who can no longer feel empathy or feel for others, and as a result can kill without remorse and cause pain, and those who can feel connection with others, and cannot.

This has a large caste. And jumps from various places around the globe.

There's some beautifully moving moments within it...one in which Riley is listening to her father's concert in Iceland, and it triggers a flashback of when she was born, which triggers everyone else in her cluster to remember their births. Another moment in which the German has to get up to sing karakoke in front of people and is terrified, so they all sing the song with him, giving him the support to do it. And get past the negative flashback.

In one scene...Sun must make the difficult decision on whether to take the blame for something her brother has done, which would put her in prison. She discusses this with two of her cluster, Riley and Van Damn...and both share their own versions of similarly difficult decisions.

Each problem is resolved collaboratively, people aren't alone, and the underlying message is love and kindness can still and often does triumph in a painful, nasty world run by people who are dead inside. In a way, much like the Matrix before it. Also like the Matrix, it is a scathing critique of our society.

It's hard to describe, because it really should not work, but somehow it does. Each story building and flowing into the next. Each character building and supporting the next character and informing them. Also watching it is a bit like watching five different genre television series at the same time. One a gangster movie, one a Bollywood film, one a London grunge film, one an American cop film, etc. It's amazing that it works at all. (Clearly it didn't for everyone or it would have done better.)

Also there's some great throw-away lines that resonate long after the screen grows dark...with a soundtrack that sticks with me.

And amongst the many themes...these stick out...

* Be careful with choices, if we do not make the choice, the choice will often make us.
* Worse than losing your career or all you worked for, is continuing to not let yourself be who you are, to live that lie.

Season 1? Overall rating? A solid A.

Best television series I've seen in ages. I'm told S2 is better, hard to imagine.
shadowkat: (work/reading)
Finally finished this book. It's probably good to know where and how I read -- I read on my commute. Each day I travel by foot, subway, foot, and train to my workplace. It's about an hour and fifteen-twenty minutes give or take each way. I also read whenever I'm traveling by train elsewhere. Mainly? I read primarily in transit. Travel reading is a very different thing than stationary reading. For one thing it's far harder to read dense fiction or philosophical meanderings while in transit. It tends to give me a headache. Why? Well, distractions.

Example?
Read more... )

I also read before bed at night. I tend to read more ...dense stuff at night. I read Blind Assassin before bed at night for three years -- that's why it took so long to read that book. I'd read it in snatches for twenty to thirty minutes before bed. Couldn't read it on the train -- mind refused to focus on it. It's very hard to read literary or dense material when people are chatting on the phone, listening to loud music or coughing around you, not to mention the train announcements and noises. Also I tend to read standing up and I cart the book around with me -- so it's better if it is a Kindle and not a hefty hard back or paperback, preferably with a light in case all the lights go out on the train, which happens.

Anyhow, enuf on that..

Review of Witches of Karres

A co-worker thrust this one on me. One day at work, he came up to me and handed me a ratty old paperback from the 1980s (actually it was from the 60s, but this copy was 1983), and said, you have to read this ! I just read it and I really think you'll love it.

So, with much trepidation I did. Book rec's don't always work out. And co-worker and my tastes don't always coincide. What's that phrase? You say tomato, I say tomatoe....? Anyhow, I read it and liked it a lot better than I thought I would.

mild spoilers for Witches of Karres )
shadowkat: (work/reading)
1. I'm enjoying "Witches of Karres" -- it's not the book's fault that I keep going to sleep on the train. Has zip to do with it. I'm just tired. Or my mind keeps wandering and telling itself a somewhat erotic sci-fi story. The commute is not always the most conducive for reading -- for one thing there are lots of noisy distractions.
about what I'm reading next or rather not reading next and why )

2. Best Books Every Written Meme Anyhow, Good Reads came up with another book list, some of their selections once again make me wonder about the folks on Good Reads and people in general. But I've been wondering about people a lot lately. I think people have gone crazy, too much media. Everyone needs to take a month long vacation to some destination that does not have any access to internet, social media, news, phones, television or any of that stuff. Also maybe away from other people.

Best Books Ever According to Good Reads

At any rate, forget about that list, all it did was motivate me to write up my own list of best books ever written...many of which I have not exactly read. (So you are probably asking yourself this question right about now, how in the hell do I know it was the best ever written if I haven't bothered to read it? Well it appears to have lasting value, and I trust the folks who think it has...and I want to read it, and it's my meme. Go create your own.)

Rules of Meme, should you choose to play.

*. Come up with a list of books that you want to rec to people that you believe/think are the best books ever written (Granted this list may tell people more than you want them to know about you as a person...)

* It can be any book that has been written and published (this includes independently published books and self-published, it doesn't just have to be traditionally published works. But don't include fanfic published only on the internet. It needs to have been actually published as a book that is printed on paper.)

* You don't have to have read the book, but it does help if you know what it is about and whether you want to read it. You should be able to defend the choice on some level -- say you saw the movie? That helps. It's not the Best Books You've EVER Read, it's the Best Books Ever Written, after all.

* You can only include "one" book by an author. In other words, you can't take up ten entries with Harry Potter, or ten entries with Shakespeare Plays, or four entries with Tolkien books. You have to choose "one" work by that writer. Just one. (It's a lot harder than it sounds.) Although you can cheat and put "The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien" or "the Complete Works of William Shakespeare" if you so desire. Just don't have them take up more than one spot.

Okay, here's my list of best books written and everyone should try these, in no particular order because I hate ranking things

100 Best Books Ever Written )

So, what are yours?

Going to bed, fighting a sinus headache from hell.
shadowkat: (work/reading)
1. Still reading The Witches of Karres by John Schmitz which is more of a sci-fantasy and sort of comical, although I've never laughed, just smiled. My sense of humor is very dry and more towards witty, puns and absurdist humor for absurdity sake (see Hitchhiker's Guide) doesn't really work for me. It's hit or miss. If I feel like the book is just one joke after another, I get rather bored. In regards to Terry Pratchett, I don't really know if I like Pratchett or not. I loved "The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents" which I fought was a rather clever take on the Pied Piper of Hamlin, except with a clever cat working with clever mice. But "Good Omens" written by Gaiman and Pratchett started to drag, it was funny to start, but the joke was drug out too long and began to wear thin (sort of similar to my issues with Hitchhiker and The Palace Job.) The other one I tried and could not get through was "Monstrous Regiment" - which I had to look up and bored me silly. It was a clearly a satire about war, but I don't do well with satire for satire's sake -- that's my problem with Jonathan Swift and 98% of American Satirical comedies ("The Good Place", "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt", "The Office", "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and "The Simpsons"). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they are poorly written or anything, just that I get impatient and bored during them, because the "satire" and "themes" are more important than the characters or the characters arcs. Yes, the characters are interesting and even complex, but..I feel distanced from them somehow, as if they are satirical tropes. And they are. Nothing wrong with that, but, I'm a "character" gal as an old college buddy likes to say. Character sort of comes above all else with me. Not everyone is like that. Most folks aren't. And that's okay, although I wish it was the opposite, but what can you do, and differences and diversity make life interesting.

Anyhow..as a result I don't know if I like Prachett. I've only tried three books that he wrote. One - I loved, and remember fairly well, one disappointed me, and one just could not finish (which was a shame because it was a gift from a dear friend at the time, who thought I'd love it. I had to side-step that with her.) Sort of like Opera, I don't know if I like Opera -- only really seen Carmen, listened to some on CD (high soprano, doesn't do a lot for me -- my parents love it and played it constantly when I visited for a while there), parts of a comic opera, and listened to Mozart (I love listening to Mozart, how can you not?). Should try the city Opera at some point, be warned not to try the Met, it's pricey and not comfortable.

I do however love Gilbret & Sullivan Operettas...I've seen every single one in the space of a month on VHS, plus two performed by a G&S troop. We did the Mikado in high school (I was on the makeup crew, which was fun. As a result, I saw the Mikado a million times and almost have it memorized. I adored it.) See, that's interesting -- because G&S is pure satire and parody, yet I find it hilarious and loved it. (Hmmm, haven't seen it in a while though...so it is possible my tastes changed).

I don't know if I like Roger Zelzany either, just that I could not finish "Lord of Light" but that means nothing. It's possible I'd like another one of his books?

Too many books, too little time. Which makes me wonder why I am writing three at the moment. Oh that's right, because no one else has written them and I want to read those stories.

2.) Romance Genre has a frigging lot of sub-genres, some favorable, some....that ahem give it a bad name and make me wonder about people. This is unfortunately about the latter...and yes, I've read a lot of it, so I feel qualified to rant about it for a bit. (I only feel qualified to rant and rip apart things that I've experienced and read. Not that that always stops me...unfortunately, and much to be my own chagrin, but still.)

Was wandering about on Amazon during work, and Amazon being Amazon decided to rec Paper Princess by someone named Erin Watt..who is an erotica writer, writing a YA romance novel or at least this is marketed as a YA. I think Amazon rec'd it because I'd read Royally Matched and Royally Screwed and this story appeared to be in the same vein? Who knows? Amazon can't figure me out any longer -- it's just throwing everything at me including the kitchen sink.

Anyhow the title perked my interest. So I checked it out. And...I think YA may be the wrong subgenre for it? The marketing blurb is rather amusing.


QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BOOK

Q: Is this really a YA?

We recommend this for young adult readers, age 17 and up. We think it’s a book that will appeal to older teens and those adults who are in touch with their inner teen, like us.


Uhm, hate to break this to you, but that isn't "Young Adult", young adult is teens, between 14-18 usually. (ie. Twilight, The Hunger Games, Maze). 17 and up is New Adult - basically college kids. Post-high school age readers. (ie. 50 Shades of Grey, CrossFire, Colleen Hoover's books, Beautiful Disaster, etc.)

New Adult often syncs into the Billionaire Boys Club romances -- which is basically 50 Shades of Grey erotica Cinderella fantasies. Think Cinderella, except her Prince is into BDSM or rough sex. But not always does it sync into this ...sometimes it's more along the lines of Colleen Hoover and Jamie McGuire novels which is melodramatic teen sex romances. They are either in college, high school, or somewhere in between...having lots of forbidden elicit sex. The reason the writer goes younger -- is the want the virgin and the badboy trope or in some scenarios the naughty girl/bad boy trope. But unless the girl is 17-22, you can't really make it a big deal that she's having sex in contemporary romance novels.

rant about our societal insecurities and crazy ass assumptions regarding sex and other's sexual lives which I've lost all tolerance for )

Enuf of the rant.



Q: Is there a cliffhanger? I’ve heard there’s an awful cliffhanger! Why’d you write a cliffhanger?

We promise that we didn’t set out to write a cliffhanger, but Paper Princess does end in one. The good news is that the next book is up for pre-sale and it will be released July 25, 2016.


Sigh. According to the reviews there is an awful cliffhanger, which appears to be the routine in New Adult romance novels. You only get the crazy cliffhangers in the New Adult and sometimes the Young Adult contemporary. You don't get them in the historical romances, the adult contemporary romances, just the frigging YA and New Adult for some reason. And they don't help the story. If anything they stretch it too thin.

So, yes, you silly marketing people, you did intend to write an awful cliffhanger. Who do you think you are fooling? You did it so you could sell two books not just one, possibly even a series of books -- because hello, we have six boys, which lends itself to a series...it just writes itself.

I despise the New Adult genre.

why I despise it and brief description of Paper Princess )
shadowkat: (fandom-tv sci-fi)
Pick your favorite tv show or book poll. Note - I deliberately left off choices such as "both" or "neither" - because I want to know which one people would pick if pressed. Granted, you probably haven't read or seen half of these - but that would make the choice easier, right?

The problem with posting polls - is as fun as they are, you really never know if anyone will respond. And if they do - how they will respond. It's a huge risk on the part of the poster, hence the reason I don't do them that often. But been thinking about this lately and wondering where folks fall - do people like Star Gate better than Farscape? Do they prefer Star Wars to BSG? Are they huge Twilight fans? This is fairly safe to voice your opinion on - because it requires work to figure out who voted and how they voted. And if you have quibbles, by all means complain in the comments.

I ended up making if 15 questions, was originally 13 - but didn't want to tempt fate. Silly, I know.


[Poll #1600338]
shadowkat: (Default)
Trying to shop for a swimsuit on landsend - but getting frustrated. I think I'm a little afraid of doing it - I don't like to buy clothing that I haven't tried on first. Yeah, yeah I know I can always return it - but that requires reboxing and lugging to the UPS office ten-fifteen blocks away by foot. Which I wasn't good at doing when I drove a car and it was easy to do.

So procrastinating by doing a meme - this is the sci-fi books written by women meme, with my own twist on it. Because lists are boring.

Sci-fi books written by women that I've read, with brief reviews on each )
shadowkat: (tv)
I am going to try to keep this review free of spoilers. Just finished watching what may well be the best science-fiction series pilot that I have seen. (And considering how much sci-fi tv shows I've watched in my lifetime - including ones released in the 1970s, that no one remembers such as Space 1999, and a sci-fi show that starred Ike Eiseman and Roddy McDowell, this is saying something. Sure Lost had a good pilot, but I saw flaws. BSG's mini-series pilot drug in places. If you count 33 as the pilot - yes that ranks up there with this baby.)

Caprica - written by Ron Moore and Remi Aubuchon, directed by Friday Night Lights veteran Jeffrey Reiner, and starring Esai Morales as Joseph Addams (Adama) and Eric Stolz as Daniel Graystone...is the prequel series to BattleStar Galatica. It takes place 58 years prior to the fall of Caprica and the events of BSG.

The themes covered in the pilot reminded me in some respects of similar themes that Joss Whedon has attempted to cover in Dollhouse and the creators of V are trying to address - in fact Caprica is covering a combination of those themes, but in an innovative and far less didatic, clumsy and confusing manner. This movie had me riveted. And the twist, blew me away, even though I saw it coming - actually because I saw it coming. It is a frightening film. And it addresses the themes of ethnicity, racism, identity, religion, souls, worship, and arrogance or "god-syndrom" in a way that is rarely done, and hardly this well. The last show that came close was possibly Torchwood: Children of the Earth.

Much like BattleStar Galatica before it, the themes were addressed in a manner that left more questions than answers. The moral lines here are blurred.
extreemly vague spoilers - if you've seen the trailer - you already know )

I can't say much more without giving too much away and this is a story that you really should not be spoiled on. It would remove some of the delight of discovery.

The pilot is due to air in January on SyFy, but it may be cut, so if you can rent the DVD via netflix or you may be able to find it online. The series will be run by Jane Espenson, but according to ImBd - Ron Moore and Aubonouch wrote the first 3-4 episodes. I pretty much know from the pilot who Marsters is likely to play now - and it will be interesting. Caprica like BSG plays with the moralities of science, and the conflict between science and religion. Where do we draw the line? It also plays with the moralities of warfare, violence and defense. Racial conflict. Ethnicity. How we identify ourselves and much like Star Trek DS9, Babylon 5, Farscape, and Torchwood Children of Earth - does it in a manner that does not always provide clear answers so much as more questions.

If you love science-fiction, you owe it to yourself to give this one a shot.
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