On the day Death came calling for her, Antonia Priver had already left. Clothes shopping, as usual. Unfortunately, given the ever-increasing weight of his workload, Death had barely had time to skim through her case notes that morning, let alone analyse her spending habits. He’d clocked her age and address and committed her photo to memory (there’d be hell to pay if he took the wrong client by mistake) but the detailed lists of likes and dislikes had rather fallen by the wayside.
I wrote about the first two Hobbit movies and their major problem (they’re not about Bilbo) last year.
Last night I rewatched The Battle of Five Armies for the first time since it came out in the cinemas. And it’s hard to muster the energy to talk about it. Everything I said before is true: Bilbo is lost as a character, there’s too much about Thorin’s backstory, and there’s too much meaningless tertiary stuff.
So Batman's not Bruce Wayne, there's a new man (with a terrible haircut) in a new Bat-suit, everyone knows Clark Kent is Superman, he's hanging out with Alfred, and Bruce has a new girlfriend with "fridge fodder or secretly a villain" written all over her. Plus, there's a new villain in town and he's pretty creepy. Say hello to Mr Bloom.
Batman #43, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is the latest One Comic. Highly acclaimed as a highlight of the New 52, their run has taken a definitely different turn with this new status quo.
And for this show's Three and One, Bex looks at superhero origins, in anticipation of yet another telling of Batman's in Batman vs Superman.
Do you want to watch some film noir?
I hope so, because I have five films to suggest. Films about dames gone wrong, poor doomed saps, murders, sex and modern knights errant. I suppose, to me, noir films are shadowy films about darkness seeping in and seeping out. If you like these films, you might want to look a little more into the filmographies of Jacques Tourneur, Ida Lupino, Edgar Ulmer, Nicholas Ray, and John Sturges.
Meanwhile, beware of spoilers. I tried to keep some secrets, but in the end, I'm a femme fatale. I've always got my own game going.
Out Of The Past / Build My Gallows High (1947) (Jacques Tourneur)
Some people, most people even, think of Double Indemnity (1944) as the quintessential film noir, but my Double Indemnity is Out Of The Past. It stars Robert Mitchum as private detective Jeff Bailey. (90% of Mitchum's characters are named, “Jeff” no matter what IMDb says).
Cowboys battle monsters in the lost world of the forbidden valley!
Stark says: GWAAAAAANGI!
By genre? Alphabetical? Autobiographical? Serious question.
Answers in the comments, please.
We don't shout about it much, but Pornokitsch doesn't have advertising or affiliate links. And it isn't Kickstarted, Patreonised or otherwise crowd-funded. In short, we don't take in any money at all. Not a nickel. We're very happy this way.
But... our contributors are awesome. We're lucky to have a team that includes Becky Chambers, Rebecca Levene, Stark Holborn, Mahvesh Murad, Jesse Bullington and Molly Tanzer - all of whom are responsible for some fantastic books. So if you like what you've been reading, why not check out the rest of their work? And, even better, support them by picking up one or two or three.
After the jump, a smorgasbord of literary talent for your browsing pleasure.
This week's guest is Kuzhali Manickavel. Kuzhali is the author of the excellent, brilliant and totally disconcerting collections Insects Are Just Like You And Me Except Some of Them Have Wings and Things We Found During the Autopsy. Her short story, "Six Things We Found During The Autopsy", is also collected in the brand-new The Apex Book of World SF 4.
Without further ado...
And by ‘weird’ I mean I didn’t understand why I was watching them or I was watching them by accident. Also I didn’t always pay attention or watch the whole thing.
Welcome to New York
Not gonna lie, for some reason I thought this was a Philip Seymour Hoffman movie about bees. But as this movie progressed and there was no Philip Seymour Hoffman and no bees and lots of Gérard Depardieu having the sexuals with lots of ladies (LOTS. Like, LOTS), I began to suspect that neither the bees nor Philip Seymour Hoffman were going to make an appearance except possibly to have sex with Gérard Depardieu which might have been interesting but maybe not also. As far as I could tell, the only instances that Sexual Time with Gérard Depardieu was not happening was when they all took a breather so Gerard D could be rapey and when Jacqueline Bisset and him were yelling at each other. In the end, I have to say that the Philip Seymour Hoffman movie about bees might not actually exist.
A bit clickbaity, sorry - the answer is actually found over on Tor.com, where I'm giving advice on where to begin with K.J. Parker.
If you've chosen to begin with The Folding Knife (one of many excellent ways to begin!), the Tor.com 'reread' can be found here.
The One Comic team tries to avoid being too continually mainstream in our choice of comic to cover, and in pursuit of that goal we've landed on Volume 1 of Sunstone, from Top Cow/Image.
We marked this one explicit for a reason: in Sunstone there's nudity, there are "adult themes" (as they say on the film classifications) and there's some graphic language. Much of this - though not the nudity - is shared in the team's discussion.
But it's not all smut. Sunstone surprised and provoked us in a number of ways. No, seriously.
This week we're handing the reins over to Djibril al-Ayad, editor of The Future Fire. The magazine is celebrating its tenth anniversary. If you're interested in supporting both The Future Fire and its long tradition of critically-lauded anthologies, you can back it (and receive lovely goodies) here.
The Future Fire’s tagline, as it has evolved over ten years of publishing, promises “Feminist SF, Queer SF, Eco SF, Postcolonial SF and Cyberpunk,” all this in the service of social-political speculative fiction and showcasing underrepresented voices.
I’ll try here to recommend five awesome stories that demonstrate what we mean by these five categories (and what we’d like to see more of in the zine). I’d love more recommendations from you along these lines in the comments!
Help Becky Chambers choose which vintage PC game to revisit for her Extended Memory series!
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Becky Chambers' award-winning and absolutely sensational The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is now available in both ebook and glorious hardcover.
The story of The Long Way is pretty well-known at this point, but, in case you want to relive it, here's the Guardian on how this kickstarted debut novel became one of Hodder & Stoughton's summer blockbusters.
Here are how a few people have reacted to the book:
"It is a quietly profound, humane tour de force that tackles politics and gender issues with refreshing optimism." - Guardian
"Humane and alien, adventurous and thoughtful, vast in its imagination and wonderfully personal in the characters it builds. But above all else, it is joyously written and a joy to read." - Claire North
"A joyous, optimistic space opera. Although it isn’t shy about tackling Big Questions, Planet is a heart-warming debut novel that will restore your faith in science fiction (specifically) and humanity (in general)." - Tor.com (uh, me)
"Does The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet really live up to the buzz? The answer is a resounding, and unconditional, YES!" - SFF World
"A refreshing, joyous book that skips neatly around convention, and – with the flick of a page – sucks you utterly into its world, so much so that you become reluctant to leave the Wayfarer and its crew" - Stark Holborn
"This is an impressive debut from an exciting author. If the series continues in this vein, we’re sure to have a new sci-fi classic on our hands." - We Love This Book
"Imagine smashing the groundbreaking, breathtaking science fiction of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch saga against the salty space opera of The Expanse; The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet lacks the wall-to-wall action of that latter, and some of the former’s finesse, yes—nevertheless, Becky Chambers’ debut is a delight." - Tor.com (not me)
"What it is, rather, is a book about friendships, about chosen families and how they form, about being on someone else's side, about banding together while still being yourself. It's about people making a living in a hard universe, together. It's full of heart, and I loved it.... It was the most emotionally satisfying book I've read so far this year." - The Eyrie
"In a perfect world, all books would give me the warm fuzzies the way The Long Way To A Small, Long Planet did. It is a delightful novel, full of witty repartee, nice people being nice to each other and developing warm and important relationships be them romantic or not. I can’t wait to read more from Becky Chambers." - The Book Smugglers
The first two-thirds of Zot! (1987 - 1991) are certainly enjoyable enough. Scott McCloud creates a fun, thoughtful, and zany superhero pastiche featuring the invulnerable teenaged Zot and his Earth-pal, Jenny.
Zot fights surreal foes who are rarely menacing, except in their ability to provoke existential crises. The 'villains' often embody abstract concepts, and rare do little more than rant and, er, make art. These portion of Zot! are oddly charming, although not spectacular - perhaps because, as a superhero epic, we're expecting more in the way of action. Or, at the very least, palpable tension.
The superhero stories pick up some assistance from the notes at the end of each arc. I'm generally not so fussed about this sort of whatnot, but McCloud is nothing if not a thoughtful creator. Especially as a reader that's not familiar with art and its history, having McCloud explain his influences and ambitions was surprisingly useful. Similarly, McCloud draws thoughtful connections between Zot! and its autobiographical inspirations as well - how his personal life changed his work (and possibly vice versa).
If Zot! stopped two-thirds of the way through, it would've been an educational read, and an enjoyable one. And that's about the end of it.
But... then there's the final third of the collection, the 'Earth Stories'. Which elevates Zot! to being one of the best comics ever created.