Monthly roundup culture consumed – November 2016

Hope everyone has had a great November, and you’re not freaking out about how close Christmas is all of a sudden.

Books

As foreshadowed last month I finished Revenger by Alistair Reynolds during November. This is an excellent book. Set in the far, far future, the matter in the solar system has been reconfigured to be a lot of small planetoids, using tame black holes and other sciencey things to maintain things like gravity at Earth levels. There have been a series of civilisations that have risen and fallen in this environment, and as a result the planetoids are littered with the junk of many civilisations, some of it much more advanced than the current civilisation. Treasure hunting spaceships travel between worlds, and the whole thing has an 18th century naval adventure feel to it. I won’t give away much of the plot – you should go and read this book.

I started another couple of books – a new anthology edited by Jim Butcher called Shadowed Souls and the second book in Ken Liu’s Dandelion Dynasty series, The Wall of Storms. Not far enough through either to have much to say as yet, although I can say that I really enjoyed Liu’s last book, and this one seems to be continuing on in a very satisfying way.

TV

I’ve been watching The Expanse on Netflix. The special effects on this series are amazing, and while it is a while since I read the book, the plot seems to follow pretty faithfully. Still got a couple of episodes to go, but a great show so far.

A couple of years back I watched the first two episodes of the sci-fi series Orphan Black, and while I enjoyed them I never got around to watching any more of it. I watched the first couple of episodes again in November, and again enjoyed them but I’m not finding myself drawn back to them. I’m going to try to power through at least a few more episodes – I’ve heard so many good reviews of this series and I feel like I’ve missed an essential part of the shared community experience.

The new Australian animated series Pacific Heat has started. At the time of writing, I’ve only watched the first episode. Very much like the American series Archer – same style of animation, very similar premise. I suspect the series will take a few episodes to find its feet – the humour was a bit hit and miss. The voice actors are a lot of the crew from the D-Generation (an Australian phenomenon) so there is a nostalgia angle here as well. If you’ve watched Archer and liked it, give this a go.

Movies

Didn’t go to the movies at all in December, but I did finally get around to watching The Martian. I found it surprisingly enjoyable. In some ways it is very old fashioned sci-fi, where the main enemy is a cold, uncaring universe and the problems can be solved by science and engineering. But Matt Damon played the main character with just enough wry humour to make him sympathetic and as a result the movie kept me very much hooked in.

Other

One of the podcasts I really like, Tea and Jeopardy, is starting its annual “Advent Calendar” style run – with very short episodes being published every day in the lead up to Christmas. An excellent podcast – usual format is a speculative fiction author interview with a small “radio play” around it.

Another favourite podcast, Sheep Might Fly, has just started a new audio story –  “Dance, Princes, Dance” by Australian author Tansy Rayner Roberts.

So, what have you been up to?

Monthly roundup culture consumed – October 2016

I’m a bit late with my October roundup – many apologies.

Books

I finished the first book in Tansy Rayner Robert’s Mocklore series, Splashdance Silver – more detailed review to come for the Australian Women Writers reading challenge.

For anyone who has read and enjoyed Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, the latest book (Mistborn: A Secret History) is a fun read. No point reading this book by itself – it only really makes sense if you’ve read the other books (or at least the first trilogy). If you’re a fan of the other books, you’ll like this one. It runs parallel to the original trilogy, fills in a  few blanks and brings back a favourite character. However, I must admit it has been quite a while since I read the original story and I spent half of this book trying to remember how it all fit together.

And finally I started on Revenger by Alistair Reynolds – more to say next month once I’ve finished.

TV

I finished Luke Cage on Netflix – an excellent series. It was very refreshing to watch a show that deals with themes of masculinity, but does it in a way that is respectful to women. I loved the nods to the seventies as well – even though it is set in the modern day, it had a 70s aesthetic which was cool. I kept expecting the theme song from Shaft to kick in. It was also good to see Rosario Dawson playing a larger role in this series. Clearly she’s going to be the person that pulls the heroes from Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist together, but she had a much bigger role in this series.

I just realised that The Expanse is also on Netflix. I’ll definitely be watching that one, the special effects and general look of it is amazing. Really liked the books, and keen to see a solar system sci fi series.

Movies

Got away to a movie in October – went to see Marvel’s Dr Strange. In some ways a very different Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, in other ways a lot of the same formula. I liked the way they brought magic in, some of the scenes were very trippy (a bit like Inception with buildings twisting and gravity going all weird). Enough humour to keep me interested as well.

Other

A lot of family and work related activity in October, so not much more from me.

So, what have you been up to?