Monthly Round Up – August and September 2014

Two months for the price of one – I got to mid September and realised that I hadn’t written an August round up, and by the time I had written it up it was almost time for the September version.

So, last time we were chatting about culture consumed I had, on a whim, started to read the Star Wars Fate of the Jedi series. Well, that was several books ago and I’m still making my way through them. I won’t even attempt to claim that I’m learning something about the cutting edge of the genre or anything, but there are lightsabers. Lots and lots of lightsabers. At a time where I don’t have a lot of spare brain power, this series has been just the right level of escapist-just-before-bed reading that I’ve been able to handle.

Two SF TV series I’ve been watching finished up over the period  – Falling Skies and Defiance. I’ve always been a bit of the fence about Falling Skies. The first couple of seasons seemed as much like a cheap copy of The Walking Dead as anything, with aliens substituted for zombies. But the series has been growing on me, and I’m still watching four seasons in, so that has to tell you something. The latest season provided some interesting character arcs, and although there was still the “reseting to zero” aspect to it (they really struggle to build and maintain anything at all in that show), the final episode did provide some intriguing lead in to the next season (assuming there is going to be a next season of course – I can’t be bothered looking up Wikipedia to find out).

Defiance  is a great little show, isn’t it? Especially seeing as it was originally set up to sell a game, as far as I can tell. The show is set quite a few years after Earth has been cataclysmically (but only partially) terraformed by the arrival of a series of alien races, and is centred on the town of Defiance, a kind of a “wild west” independent frontier town that has sprung up over the ruins of St Louis. This season has an excellent major story arc centring on a world altering diabolical plot and how that impacts with Irisa – one of the main characters. I really enjoyed the series, and thought the expansion of the world building was done quite well. I don’t know whether the series will go on (the Internet is ambiguous about its chances for a third season) but if it doesn’t get renewed, it went out on a good note.

To keep my quotient of genre TV, I’ve started on a few new series. The 100 is a post-apocalypse dystopia and has a Lord of the Flies vibe, as a group of delinquent children get sent down to the surface of Earth from their space station home to test out whether the nuclear radiation has dissipated enough to support life. I’ve only watched a couple of episodes as yet – not hooked but I’ll give it a few more episodes before I decide. My steadfast march into middle age has made me a bit less patient with teen angst, and I haven’t decided yet on whether there is enough genre elements to offset my general grumpiness.

This is going to sound a bit hypocritical given the last statement, but I really like Teen Wolf. Didn’t think I would when I started watching the series on a whim a few years back. But I must admit it has filled a Buffy the Vampire Slayer based hole in my heart. The last season was great, and so far this season seems a little less cohesive, but I’m invested enough in the characters that I don’t really care.

The Originals is a vampire show. I haven’t really watched many of the vampire shows on TV (True BloodThe Vampire Diaries etc) so I’m not sure what started me on this one. Actually I do know, I was travelling for work and the pilot episode was the only thing on TV when I got back to my hotel room. Don’t mind it so far, will let you know more.

Did I mention I’ve given up on The Walking Dead midway through season 4? I can’t tell you why – I like the show, but the second half of the fourth season has been sitting on my Foxtel hard drive for months now, and I’ve deleted to free up the space. I’ll probably get them on DVD some time in the future, but for now I just couldn’t go on. Don’t judge me.

And then there is the new Doctor Who. We’re only a few episodes in, but so far I’m impressed. Capaldi is great, and injects quite an alien persona. Love the Scottish accent, love the lack of a romantic relationship with the companion, stories have been good so far. It is early days, but I’ll remain a fan for the time being.

Saw Guardians of the Galaxy when it came out. Excellent, best Marvel film for a while. Don’t know much about the comic series, but it was a fantastic ensemble cast and great storyline. If you like the Marvel series of superhero films, you’ll like GotG. If you don’t, it’s different enough that it might be worth giving a go.

I’ve been watching the SBS (short) series The Real History of Science Fiction which has been interesting. So far I’ve seen the episodes on time travel, alien invasion and space exploration. It is mostly focused on TV and movies, with the occasional book reference thrown in. Extra points for including an interesting discussion with Ursula Le Guin on Left Hand of Darkness and the use of a gender-less species. I think it is still on SBS’s online catch up TV thingie if you’re in Australia and interested in watching (note if you’re living in the future and back reading this post, the link above probably doesn’t work anymore).

Next month I’ll be moving off my Star Wars kick and getting back to some other reading. The two books on my agenda next are Land of the Golden Clouds by Archie Weller, an indigenous Australian author whose work I encountered in Walking the Clouds (An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction) edited by Grace L. Dillon. I’ve been picking through Walking the Clouds a bit piecemeal – reading some of the essays introducing stories and some of the stories. It is not, as I initially thought, an anthology of short stories. Mostly Dillon has selected extracts from longer works that illustrate the points being made in the introductory essays. The focus seems to be more North American, but there are a good scattering of selections from indigenous populations around the world. I haven’t approached it in a comprehensive enough way to write a review, but Weller’s work did catch my eye from an Australian perspective. It took a bit of work to track down a copy of Land of the Golden Clouds, and I’m looking forward to the read.

The other book I’ll be reading is one that I backed in a recent Kickstarter/Indiegogo/Pozible (one of them) campaign, Kaleidoscope. Kaleidoscope is an anthology of young adult speculative fiction where the focus has been on lead characters from a diverse range of backgrounds. It has been getting some good buzz lately and the non-backer version is due out soon (I think you can get the eBook now from the publisher, Twelfth Planet Press).

I’m also continuing with my online reading of Musketeer Space by Tansy Rayner Roberts. Roberts has been producing the work serially, and at the time of writing I am at chapter 19. Very enjoyable retelling of The Three Musketeers, with gender changes in many of the main characters. Roberts is running a Patreon campaign to gather support for the story, well worth checking out.

In podcast world, I’ve finished my binge listening to all the back-espisodes of Tea and Jeopardy, and I am loving the podcast more and more as time goes by. The host, Emma Newman, has been running a Patreon campaign. Apparently if you support the podcast, you get to read the story of how she came to have her butler Latimer in her employ. When it was first mentioned I though “meh, who cares” but as time goes on I’m finding myself more and more intrigued. I’m getting close to the “I must know” state of being than I ever thought I would. Great interview/radio play format – well worth checking out,   especially if you’re interested in the Angry Robot stable of authors.

I’m now also listening to a new Australian writing podcast So You Want to be a Writer, hosted by Valerie Khoo and Alison Tate. It’s takes the form of writing news and interviews with authors. Not a SF podcast, but does keep my in touch with a broader range of writing news than I might otherwise hear. Main problem is that I don’t think I will ever be able to catch up on the back catalogue, so I might just have to skip forward to the more recent episodes.

That’s all my culture, and when it’s written out like that it seems like a lot more than it really is. Enough from me – what have you been up to?

Author: mark

A writer of speculative fiction and all round good egg. Well, mostly good. OK, sometimes good.

2 thoughts on “Monthly Round Up – August and September 2014”

  1. Don't blink or you'll miss October…

    I'm ok with The 100 so far, not a fan of The Originals (only seen the first episode though), still enjoying Orphan Black, still like Walking Dead, a bit meh over Falling Skies (have fallen behind a bit), stopped watching Teen Wolf, don't know why I was still watching The Dome and kinda glad it's over, lost track of Defiance (um-ah), love The Strain (big time) and adore Outlander to bits.
    My recent post The Motivation to Write

    1. I know Lyn – the months are flashing past way too fast!

      Orphan Black is one series I'm way behind on. Watched the first few episodes, really liked them, but haven't gone back and finished the first season, let alone the second. Consider it on my to-do list!


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