First of all, I have been interviewed by Brianna Lee McKenzie at The Cozy Corner Reading Room, so come on over and say hello. I’ve also got a round-up of writerly links and plugs over at Pegasus Pulp.
iO9 asks whether Lois McMaster Bujold counts as a hard SF author. I’d say that she does, and let’s not forget that many of her short stories were first published in Analog, bastion of hard SF. However, since Lois McMaster Bujold focuses more in biology than on physics, the sort of people who extol hard SF above all other strands of the genre will never accept her. Besides, she is a woman and writes about things like uterine replicators rather than the singularity, so of course it can’t be hard SF, sigh.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia fins unexpected parallels between V.C. Andrews and H.P. Lovecraft. Like many of my generation, I discovered the V.C. Andrews novels as a teenager (via an older cousin who had the set and let me read the first) and found them really thrilling at the time. For all their inherent creepiness (and they are damned creepy), those V.C. Andrews books have that difficult to define something (fear of parents, fear of family, fear of sex) that appeals to teenagers. For a while I read some like I consume tortilla chips, just one after another. Then I stopped and never looked at them again. I never found them romantic, though, just pleasantly horrifying.
If you’ve ever wondered about the religious beliefs of various superheroes and some supervillains, this page has taken it upon itself to classify comic book characters according to their religion. It’s a bit odd, since feminism, environmentalism and animal rights activism are not religions. And Sabretooth as a born again Christian, Hulk as a Catholic or Wolverine as Buddhist did make me raise my eyebrows. Nor does the site support my assumption that Cyclops (and presumably Havoc and their Starjammers dad as well) as well as Cable and Rachel Phoenix are Jewish, even though it was always perfectly clear to me when I was reading the X-Men comics. They do list Jean Grey as a member of some protestant denomination, though.
Talking of comics, the readers of Comic Book Resources voted for their fifty favourite X-Men stories in honour of the X-Men’s fiftieth anniversary (The X-Men and Doctor Who? 1963 was certainly a great year for pop culture). There were pleasantly many of the classic Chris Claremont stories of the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s on the list, a bunch of the big 1990s holofoil crossovers I generally hated (My reactions at the time: “Hated this one and almost stopped reading the series.” “Hated this one and vowed I would stop reading the series.” “Hated this one and actually did stop reading… for two issues) and a couple of “after I stopped reading for good” (when I read Grant Morrison’s highly anticipated first issue and realized I didn’t give a damn) issues of the Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon era (well, it’s recent). Interestingly, Joe Madueira’s 1990s run, which was hugely popular at the time, is missing from the list altogether. The top two choices are pretty obvious (Come on, which two are the first X-Men stories anybody ever thinks of, which ironically ran right after each other?) and I can’t really disagree, number 3 is the dreadful Age of Apocalypse crossover which I really fucking hated (It was one of the holofoil event crossovers referred to above, the other two being The X-ecutioner’s Song and Fatal Attractions, which is probably my most hated X-Men story ever). My personal all-time favourite story, the Logan and Rogue team up to save the X-Men in Japan storyline, comes in at No. 8, which is a pleasant surprise, since I always considered that one rather obscure. Some other favourites from the early 1990s Jim Lee era don’t make the list at all (the Omega Red story and the X-Men in New Orleans story), but then I suppose I only love those stories so much, because they were some of the first X-Men stories I ever read.
I recently mused about this year’s Bayreuth festival and its new Ring of the Nibelungs production. Now the New York Times weighs in and is baffled. Though personally, I love the irony of someone called Attila singing the part of Hagen von Tronje, for in the original Nibelungenlied Hagen von Tronje was the guy who killed the heroic Siegfried, since he knew the only spot where Siegfried was not invulnerable thanks to the treachery of Brünnhilde (who had a reason to be treacherous). In return, Siegfried’s wife Kriemhild (who is called Gudrun in Wagner’s Ring for some reason) married Attila a.k.a. Etzel, King of the Huns, and used him to get revenge on those who killed her husband.
From one controversy to another: I have already blogged about my less than enthusiastic reaction to the announcement that Peter Capaldi will play the Twelfth Doctor. Reactions around the web are mixed with plenty of people wondering whether Capaldi is the right choice, whether he is too old and why yet another white man was chosen. Meanwhile, others try to see the positive and point out that Capaldi is an interesting choice and that he is a fine actor (which no one was disputing) and that he won an Oscar for a short film he directed. In short, most people seem to be baffled by the decision, while others desperately try to convince themselves that this casting choice was a good idea.
Personally, I think what this shows most of all is that it’s time to replace Steven Moffat as showrunner (a choice I never agreed with in the first place, always found his Doctor Who episodes overrated) and perhaps to let the good Doctor rest for another couple of years (or maybe forever). The franchise is played out once again, probably even more played out than it was in 1989. Maybe someday someone will come up with a way to regenerate Doctor Who for a new generation like Russell T. Davies did in 2005. Or maybe the Doctor has been played out for good. Hey, fifty years (minus sixteen, sort of) is a good run. Few other stories get as much.
Doctor Who has now joined the ranks of my personal “I really used to love this, but now I can’t even bring myself to care any longer” franchises along with Star Wars, Star Trek, the X-Men, Spider-Man and plenty of lesser known works. On the one hand, the fact that I can’t even enjoy some of the things I once liked most anymore is really fucking depressing. On the other hand, if enough people said, “Enough with this shit, I just don’t care anymore and I’m certainly not going to read/watch anymore”, then maybe the entertainment industry will stop wringing the last drop of fun out of once great pop culture.
At iO9, Charlie Jane Anders makes a similar point, namely that way too many of the reboots and reimaginations fall flat, because they do include a fan favourite moment or five, but yank them out of context.