Culture Consumption: July 2014

I know, I know! THIS IS SO LATE! But here it is, better late than never! As always, I’ll post a list of what I’ve read/watched over the past month, and in some cases, provide some commentary. If there’s anything you’re interested in or curious about, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments, and I’ll be happy to talk further!

July wasn’t very ambitious reading-wise, sadly. My comic pile is suffering too, and I’m reading at Sunday driver levels of speed. But hey, I’m catching up on some great television, and also, some great movies.

CULTURE CONSUMPTION: July 2014

Books

My goal for 2014 is essentially one book a week. I technically read just one single book in an entire month, so yeah, that’s a fail. And I can’t even rely on the short fiction in July to make up for it!

20) Nexus by Ramex Naam: I’d been eyeing this book for a while, so I was super-excited to get to read it as part of the Campbell short-list. The premise is one that always appeals to me, as I love seeing the different ways to link minds together in science fiction and fantasy. Nexus was interesting: the ideas were solid and I was excited to see them play out to their conclusion. But the actual execution of those ideas and the writing, well, let’s just say it was obvious in certain spots that this is very much a debut novel, and honestly, if not for the Campbell nomination, I’m not sure I would’ve made myself finish this book. Naam has a lot of potential, especially with ideas like this, but I hope his technique and storytelling choices improve with each book. (Science Fiction)

Short Fiction

So in June, I read so much short fiction that I had an excuse not to comment on each and every piece. I don’t have that excuse for July, but you know what? That’s okay. I don’t feel the need to comment on each and every story, so if you have questions, just leave a comment and we’ll dig into the story ourselves. 🙂

27) “Werewoman” by C.L. Moore
28) “Heaven Under Earth” by Aliette de Bodard
29) “The Cage” by A.M. Dellamonica
30) “The Angelus Guns” by Max Gladstone
31) “Shall We Gather” by Alex Bledsoe

Comics

Graphic novels first:

None. It’s gonna be a while, I fear, before I can tackle one of these again.

Individual Issues:

As usual, I suck at keeping up with my issues. I promise, for August, you’re going to see a list of individual issues so long you won’t be able to see straight, but until then, here’s my measly readings. Measly doesn’t mean bad, though. Seriously, there’s some great titles in there! I just wish Batwoman would bring back J.H. Williams III.

Batwoman #31
Batwoman #32
Batwoman Annual #1
Black Widow #6
Black Widow #7
Black Widow #8
Caliban #3
Caliban #4
East of West #12
East of West #13
Lazarus #9
Saga: Chapter 20
The Manhattan Projects #21
The Massive #23
The Massive #24

Movies

In Theaters:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: I enjoyed the previous film, and this, as a whole, was a great film. Better than the first. It’s main and somewhat obvious flaw is that it doesn’t even remotely pass the Bechdel (not even among the apes), and while I don’t like to use this measurement against a single film (it’s better when comparing groups of movies or television shows), I think it’s a sorry thing that would’ve made the movie just a bit better. Kudos to Andy Serkis as Caesar, though. That man has made a name for himself in acting when it comes to motion-capture technology.

Edge of Tomorrow: This movie has one major flaw. It should’ve been called Live. Die. Repeat., which is incidentally the tagline for the movie and what I thought the movie was called for the LONGEST TIME. Isn’t that such a better title? Anyway, barring that, it’s a fantastic movie. It’s one of those summer sci-fi blockbusters that you think is going to be all special-effects and weak story, but oh no. That’s not this at all. You’ve got the added bonus of watching Tom Cruise’s character die over and over (and there’s something gleefully cathartic about that), and overall, it’s a great story. The ending is a head-scratcher, one that both works and doesn’t in my poor brain. Here’s a SPOILER-FILLED YouTube video that attempts to make sense of it all, and it works for the most part, though I’ll still have to see the movie again before I really wrap my head around it:

At home:

Casino Royale: re-watch. I love Daniel Craig as James Bond, and we watched this for the billionth time to cap off our Spy!Movie night.

The Conjuring: I’m pretty sure I could write a dissertation about the problems of this movie. Let me say it’s good, but because it’s based on “facts” and those people the movie portrays are still alive (Lorraine Warren, played in the film by Vera Farminga, consulted), I feel like writers didn’t let themselves go full-story with this. There’s the whole subplot with Lorraine’s character that never feels resolved, there’s an appearance of a certain creepy-as-frak doll that should’ve come back ONE MORE TIME (but apparently they’re saving that for a prequel film coming out earlier this year?), and frankly, the title of the movie MAKES NO SENSE in light of the actual story. So yeah, I can nitpick this to death. BUT! It had some good scares, and I woke up in the middle of the night obsessing over it, and then it inspired what I think will be some kind of short story. So I guess it did its job, eh?

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: Not great, but certainly not horrible, and a good way to start off Spy!Movie night with the husband. Also, I like Chris Pine, and I was properly entertained. I still wish Keira Knightly’s character had been given a bit more to do, but alas.

Snowpiercer: I love this movie. Don’t get me wrong: it’s flawed. It requires a high suspension of disbelief for the entire film and the ending, well, it’s a tough ending to swallow for anyone with a realistic bone in their body. But damn, I loved this. I loved the concept, the setting, the detail, the progression from worse-than-poverty to sheer-and-total excess of wealth. And it resonated with me on a deeper level, maybe because its set on a snow-covered world for starters, but it didn’t take long for me watching Chris Evans in the role of Curtis that I realized if my SF thesis novel (codename Telepathic Soulmates) were ever filmed, that’s who I want to play my hero, and that’s how I want him played. I even paused the film just to tell my husband that. 😉 Suffice to say, we bought the sucker off iTunes and I have no regrets.

Television Shows

As usual, such good television.

Mad Men, seasons 3-4: we’ve marathoned the crap out of Med Men in July and August, so much that we’ve just started season 7 and I can’t even begin to comment on seasons 3 and 4 simply because I’m too far away from them. But I understand the appeal of the show and what makes it so compelling. Some shows, I don’t feel the need to binge on. Mad Men, I do. With one exception, Joan is my new professional role model. 🙂

Orphan Black, season 2: how much do I adore this show? Let me count the ways. No, no, that would take too long, so let’s sum up: Tatiana Maslany. How the HELL has she not been nominated for an Emmy yet? Because I can watch this show with my eyes closed and just listen to the clones talking to each other and never get the clones mixed up. And that ignores all the wonderful visual cues Maslany gives to each character to make them their own unique individuals. Oh, there’s so much wonderful depth and exploration this season, and some great moments where you honestly and truly forget that one woman is essentially playing all the main leads on the show. Conspiracies unwind, surprises happen, and there’s road trips and dance parties. Oh, I love this show.

The Sopranos, season 2: unlike Mad Men, I have no great desire to shotgun this show. I enjoy it while I watch, but I don’t have any need to watch more than one episode a night, mostly because these characters are so damn difficult to love. Their plights are compelling, no doubt, but oh, it’s hard to watch sometimes. This is a show I’m definitely taking my time on, because I can only take so much at once.

Wilfred, season 3: finally, Netflix posted this season! We love this show, and I’m more and more convinced that I know exactly what Wilfred is to Ryan. My theories will have to wait until the series is over (we’re watching the final season on iTunes, two episodes left!), but I do know what I want the last shot of the show to be. It’s a great, smart comedy that knows how to be raunchy in the best ways, so if you haven’t discovered this gem on Netflix, get to it!


That’s it from me! Also, feel free to share whatever 2014 stats you’ve got! How many books? How many movies? What were your favorites? Lay them on me!

Cheers!

8 thoughts on “Culture Consumption: July 2014

  1. Dawn of the Apes:

    I had a daughter, she died
    I had a wife, she died
    I also had a wife, she died

    Thank God the ape wife didn’t die (hey, nice monogamous chimp family you go there). And there was at least one female soldier in the background.

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  2. I didn’t read many novels/non-fiction books either because I was trying to read as much of the short fiction for the Hugos as I could in an already busy month. The books I read outside of the short fiction tended to be light reading.

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  3. So here was my reading:

    Books read:
    1. Where Dreams are Written, by ML Buchman. 4 stars. A fast light read.
    2. Peter’s Christmas, by ML Buchman. 3 stars. Book 8/9 of the romance bundle I bought.
    3. Shades of Moonlight, by Karen McKee. DNF. Book 9/9 of the romance bundle. I bailed after less than 10 pages.
    4. Light, by M John Harrison. 4 stars. Well-written, non-linear, complex. This book took energy and time to read but was well worth it.
    5. Prisoner, by Lia Silver. 4 stars. Paranormal romance. I continue to enjoy this series.
    6. Mort, by Terry Pratchett. 3 stars. Read for Mark Reads.
    7. The Disappeared, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. 4 stars.
    8. Orange is the New Black, by Piper Kerman. 3 stars. Read for my local book club. I enjoyed this more than I expected I would, but it is still not my usual choice of reading.
    9. The Tropic of Serpents, by Marie Brennan. 4 stars.
    10 The Chaplain’s legacy, by Brad Torgeson. 2 stars.

    Books Re-read:
    1. Mastiff, by Tamora Pierce. 4 stars. Re-read for Mark Reads.

    Short Stories and Novelettes:
    1. Opera Vita Aeterna, by Vox Day. 2 stars.
    2. The Exchange Officers, by Brad Torgeson. 2 stars.
    3. The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling, by Ted Chiang. 4 stars.

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    1. I’ve always given Harrison the side-eye. I’ve heard he’s very difficult to get through, and while I’m not afraid of a challenge, I am afraid it’d be an exercise in frustration. 🙂

      I’ve read MORT: cute, but it didn’t compel me to read more Pratchett.

      I’ve got OITNB and the Brennan in my TBR. I watch the Netflix series, though I haven’t started season 2 yet. Great show. 🙂

      2 stars on those two pieces of short fiction? Seems generous. 🙂

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      1. I found those short works fairly inoffensive if not very interesting, especially given my expectations for the one in particular. I reserve my 1 star ratings for works that drive me up a wall. 🙂

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        1. Fair enough. For the one in particular, I’ve read unpublished fiction in college writing WORKSHOPS that was better, so it getting nominated for a Hugo? That weighs on me. 🙂

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