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October 2015
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Review Round-up: Flamesong, Sledgehammer and The Gameshouse

Gameshouse - PK

Three recent reads - a vintage fantasy, a terrific new trilogy and a particularly heavy-handed crime thriller.

Claire North's Gameshouse trilogy (2015), with apologies, as I did my frothing fanboy thing on Twitter, but, these are simply brilliant. The trilogy is comprised of three novelettes (novellas? long shorts? maxistories? minibooks?), each with a different narrator, setting and - wonderfully - tense. All three feature players in the enigmatic Gameshouse - a location/organisation for those that gamble, and gamble to win. The outer room is for the games we all know and love. The inner room is for the real players, the ones that manipulate lives and nations. 

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Radio Drama: "The Thing from the Darkness" (1942)

Thing from the Darkness"The Thing from the Darkness"

Original air date: April 3, 1942, from the series Dark Fantasy.

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Thoughts Before Listening

I am excited to hear this because the words ‘thing’ and ‘darkness’ are very promising. Things in darkness are often menacing except maybe things like bananas but I am confident this will not be about a banana in the darkness because they didn’t fuck around in 1942, this is probably going to be about something with teeth that eats people. Also, Dark Fantasy is the name of a chocolate biscuit in India and it’s really gross but I will not allow that to ruin my listening experience.

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Weirdness Rodeo: Reboots, Adaptations and Neko Atsume

Gilmore Girls

"Why are there so many cult TV reboots?!", via the Washington Post:

But in TV, a land where every meager success is formulized, the reboots are seen as cheap bets, with often low-risk premises, washed-up stars and built-in cores of superfans.

For networks struggling to hold onto cord-cutters, and streaming upstarts pushing to prove themselves, the ‘90s reboots offer another prize: The viewers who grew up on these shows are now, a few decades later, making the decisions on cable budgets of their own.

The article notes that there are 400 original scripted series set to air this year. Any reboot - even a cult one - starts with an audience of greater than zero. Which is already a slim lead in the race for survival. (Although for many, that still isn't enough.)

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Fiction: 'The Choreography of Masks' by David Pomerico

Masks - Banner - Jeffrey Alan Love

The candles mix with the floodlights, and down the road she sees the reflections off the tinted masks and plexiglass shields. She knows that only eyes like hers, eyes that are actually here, can catch that fiery gaze of the faceless men – there’s been a media blackout for days, cutting off the world from what is happening tonight. It was standard now, to deny real-time access to events as they unfolded, controlling the story and keeping it theirs. Yet another mask.

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Stark Reviews: Westworld (1973)

Brynner-headline

Stark says: Boy have we got a vacation for you! Where nothing can possibly go worng!

Let’s see now, we’ve done cowboys and dinosaurs, cowboys and Joan Crawford, cowboys and foxes…. What’s missing? Oh yeah, COWBOYS vs ROBOTS, otherwise known as Westworld.

Now, because Hollywood can’t leave any damn thing alone ever,* Westworld is being currently being re-booted into a TV series, starring Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood. I’ll keep my pistol in my holster until I’ve actually seen it, but in the meantime, let’s cast a beady eye over the original.

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Class (Cum Laude) by Cecily von Ziegasar

ClassClass (originally published as Cum Laude*, 2010) is an 'adult' book by Gossip Girl creator Cecily von Ziegesar. It is no secret that the Gossip Girl series of books is one of my all time favourites, so I was delighted to find this slightly odd and out-of-print one off from the author.

Generally speaking: eh.

There's a lot of interesting things about Class, but mostly they come from contrasting it to other books, and I'll get to them in a paragraph or so. Class qua Class is a fairly substandard entry into the canon of university literature. It features five freshmen at 'Dexter', a private liberal arts college that's your generic New England not-quite-Ivy (a joke they make early on) establishment: complete with gender-ambiguous professors, terrible university theatre, campus druggies and irksome townies. The five weeble and wobble their way through a tumultuous first year, complete with sex, drugs, art, fire and some half-hearted attempts at reinvention.

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