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text 2017-07-24 04:33
Valerian from Page to Screen
Valerian Volume 1: The New Future Trilogy - Jean-Claude Mézières,Pierre Christin

On a whim (and due to a complete implosion of plans for D&D today), I ended up catching Valerian, which timed nicely with the fact that I borrowed Valerian, Vol 1: The New Future Trilogy from my library to read.

Right off the bat I have to say the movie is utterly gorgeous.  Absolutely breathtaking, with moments of travel that I think if I watched in 3D or IMAX I'd end up trying to fall out of my chair.  Some of the aesthetics and feel look like the work of the Wachowskis.  Overall, a fun, consistent story, if a bit heavy on the romance.  Though I'm forced to ignore the implications of all the structural damage inflicted.

I started out a bit hesitant.  The trailers made me think the film was some hot new YA series, and I had stumbled across a few reviews saying the movie lacked in substance.  That our first interactions with Valerian and Laureline involves heavy flirtation and a clear statement of romantic intent on Valerian's part increased my wariness.  But you know what?  She spends just as much time rescuing him as he does her (if not more, to be honest), and the relationship between them in the graphic novels is... odd.  Constant referring to each other as "my Valerian" and "my Laureline," with an undefined relationship that reminds me of relationships in Heinlein's work.  And while Laureline is certainly capable, she spends noticeably more time in the role of arm candy, supporting lady, or as a maiden in distress in the graphic novels... even if some of those times it is as part of a plan.  So I'm actually happier with the on-screen characterizations.

You can very easily see how the graphic novel that this was based on inspired many of Sci-Fi icons, which will undoubtedly have many people calling it out as "derivative" wherein the accused derivations were in fact inspired by the original.  Perhaps most present is the influence of Luc Besson's work on adapting Valerian from before he made The Fifth Element, in which he included specific elements seen in Valerian and in the concept art submitted by Jean-Claude Mezieres himself.  If you like The Fifth Element, you will see "pieces" of it all over Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.  Pieces that you'll also see when reading this graphic novel from the 60's.

Highly enjoyable translation of visual elements from the comics, with various tweaking of narrative place, name, and role.  Some elements are spot on, like their armor and their ship.  We even see a Transmuter in Circles of Power, though it is not at all in the same role as the Mul Transmuter.  Regardless, the illustrations are unmistakably the same creature.  Others like their actual roles (spatio-temporal agents vs military officers), and different concepts have been more dramatically modified.

Good way to spend an afternoon.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/07/valerian-from-page-to-screen.html
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text 2017-07-15 16:41
The Once and Future Duchess By Sophia Nash $1.99
The Once and Future Duchess - Sophia Nash

A duchess in time saves a noble line …

 

In theory, the Duke of Candover is the most eligible peer in the realm. But in truth, he has a deep aversion to the merest hint of marriage, not to mention two botched engagements which have marked his jaded soul. Now, after a debauched bachelor party that causes public outcry, the Prince Regent is demanding that it's Candover's turn to be brought to heel. And Prinny secretly believes that Isabelle Tremont, the Duchess of March, is precisely the lady up to the challenge.

 

Isabelle must marry, but a day of reckoning with the man she's loved for years is her greatest fear. If Candover insists she's too young and innocent for a seasoned world-weary man like him, there's no shortage of other candidates. Gentlemen of prestige and position. Gentlemen whose attentions are driving Candover to jealous distraction. Yet one abandoned moment under the stars hints that if they can put aside pride and duty, then a love once denied might just be their destiny.

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review 2017-06-26 10:14
The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting - Anne Trubek

I was enjoying this until I hit p.50 "The most beautiful of these hands may well be Insular, developed in Ireland by Saint Patrick, who had learned half-uncial in Europe and brought it to Ireland in the latter half of the fifth century." the small postits came out and there's a "citation please" note on it. Because, even though she annotates almost everything else this one came out of nowhere.  Having studied Early Irish Script in college this is unfounded.  Patrick brought Christianity and Latin to Ireland and from that came the Insular script; Irish scribes are also supposed to have introduced spaces and some of the common abbreviations.  Plus, while the Book of Kells is in Insular Script and resides in Ireland, common scholarship attributes it to somewhere in Scotland.

 

So after this I took a lot of what she said with a grain of salt. It misses the modern calligraphy revival, the proliferation of calligraphy on Pinterest, the use of pseudo calligraphy in a lot of places and the new discoveries about things like journalling by hand, like Bullet Journals and the resurgence in fountain pens.  It's an interesting read but lacks a certain amount of true depth.

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review 2017-06-23 03:43
The Once and Future King by T H White (Audiobook)
The Once and Future King - T.H. White,Neville Jason

Series: The Once and Future King #1-5

 

Narrated by Neville Jackson

 

This was supposed to represent a collection of five books, but the titles didn’t seem to be announced (or I kept missing them) so they all just blurred together. I liked the first book, The Sword in the Stone, and I’d give that one 3 stars because although I liked it the animal stories became a bit repetitive. That covers Arthur’s childhood (I think). I’d recommend stopping after that because the rest just seemed long. Stop after he becomes king, anyway, at whichever book it is. It seems like it’s impossible to write an Arthurian story where Lancelot and Guinevere aren’t boring and whiny. Later on Merlin went on some long rants about the nature of man and war that could seriously put you to sleep.

 

My opinion may be in the minority but it is what it is. Oh, and I could definitely have done without so many songs. The narrator wasn’t bad but he couldn’t make Merlin’s philosophizing interesting.

 

Previous updates:

1023/1983 minutes (52 %)

681/1983 minutes (34 %)

 

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review 2017-06-20 19:49
A symbiosis of the genres of the noir detective novel and science-fiction with a hero with a dark-sense of humour and a heart
The Last Detective - Brian Cohn

Thanks to Rosie Amber for organising Rosie’s Book Review Team and for providing this great opportunity for reviewers and authors to meet. If you’re an author, check here how to submit your books to the team.

I don’t read many purely science-fiction books (I’m not a big fan of lengthy descriptions, and world-building can take a fair amount of space while I generally care more for characters) but I’ve read a few recently that I’ve enjoyed, enough to make me pay more attention to sci-fi offerings. Some novels combine sci-fi with other genres and that usually brings them onto more familiar territories. This novel is one of those cases. It is a fairly classical (in style) noir detective novel:  you have the disenchanted detective who has left the police disappointed with the way things are done now (in his case, though, there was an alien invasion on Earth that all but destroyed Humanity’s achievements and progress over centuries [no electricity, limited access to fuel, no telephones, no TV, no democracy]… Humans have become prisoners, rationing of food has come back, and aliens control access to the few resources left, and they send humans to ‘labor camps’ somewhere outside of Earth with some cooperation from the human ‘authorities’) and who is called back because he’s the only one who can solve a murder. Now that the police have become no more than puppets of the aliens (also called ‘slicks’, because of the peculiar aspect of their skin), there is nobody else who still remembers how things were done. This is a DIY police procedural novel (no computers, no DNA analysis or blood tests, only very basic gathering of evidence and use of deductive powers, almost back to Conan Doyle or Christie) with a main characters, Adrian Grace (a very apt name, as we discover), who has probably lost everything and who describes himself as being ‘addicted’ to detective work. There might be other reasons (read excuses) why he chooses to accept the case of the murder of a Slick (they have somewhat of a herd mentality and do not hurt each other but it seems unthinkable that a human would dare to try and kill one of them) but the main one is because he misses being a detective.

The story is told in the first person, present tense, from Grace’s point of view, and it follows the chronological order, with the main action taking place over only a few days. Although he has fallen quite low, he hasn’t reached the level of others, and he is smart, witty, and has a rather black sense of humour that is what keeps him going.  Although he does not dwell for too long on his circumstances, or those of humanity (the novel starts with a brief chapter that takes place right at the moment when the aliens arrive, that allows us a glimpse into Grace’s work before normal life came to an end, and we get to meet his partner, Yuri, who is missing by the time the main action of the novel starts), he is harder in appearance than in reality. He trusts his instincts; he suspects everybody but is also quick to believe in first impressions and happily accepts as a partner a young female detective, whom he trusts from very early on (because he needs somebody to trust). Grace reminded me of many of the hard-boiled detectives of old, but he is not violent by nature and avoids guns if he can help it, and in contrast to more modern models, he is witty but not foul-mouthed. He drip-feeds us details about his life (he was brought up a Catholic, he was married with kids, he talks about his mother’s death when he explains his lack of faith…) and he still looks after his father. His relation with his father is heart-warming, despite the terrible situation, and it only reinforces the fact that we are dealing with a human being and not a collection of clichés. Although I’m very partial to unreliable narrators, Grace is not one of them, at least not by design. This being a mystery, we are not always given always given all the information, but if we are misguided, it is because Grace is mistaken or wrong-footed (by others or himself).

The book is not heavy on descriptions and the world the book describes is like a ghost of our world, like those empty and abandoned towns we sometimes see on TV that have fallen prey to disasters (economic, natural, or man-made). We have human beings that have lost their purpose, groups of religious extremists (the Abandoned, who sustain God has abandoned Humanity), resistance groups, and the aliens can also function as stand-ins for many dictatorial regimes bent on the destruction of all opposition (Nazi Germany comes to mind, but many other, recent and distant, would also fit the bill). Some of the humans are complicit with the regime whilst others are not what they seem to be. The book allows for reflections on the nature of society, politics, religion (there is a priest that plays an important part), family, betrayal, guilt, and ultimately hope. Grace is not always right, but he has not lost his humanity, and he is a realistic character we would all like to befriend.

This is a tremendous book, where the science-fiction and the detective genre work in symbiosis and create a novel that is more than the sum of its parts. Recommended to fans of both genres, especially those who don’t mind experimentation within the genre, and in general to people who enjoy fiction that pushes them to think whilst keeping them turning the pages.

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