Why ‘Cloud Atlas’ is no ‘Magnolia’

MJG and how to fix it, Book / Movie Reviews 16 Comments

Cloud Atlas is not a normal movie. It’s epic, glorious, ambitious, complex, etc, but as you’ll have surely heard from other reviews, it’s not a normal movie at all. Rather, it’s a kind of sprawling poem, in film, that ruminates on weighty issues like the ‘natural order’ behind slavery, and the revolutionary forces that rise up against it. Over nearly 3 hours, it tries to blur 6 stories together, cross-cut over time and space, from 1849 on a South Pacific island to Neo Seoul in 2321, aiming for a climactic coda similar to Magnolia’s crowning ‘rain of frogs’. But in the end it disappoints, because in combo these stories fail to deliver any larger karmic punch, and never unite for …

Cullsman #9 @ Andromeda Spaceways

MJG Books, Writing Leave a Comment

The Cull needs you. My story Cullsman #9 is now available to buy in Andromeda Spaceways semi-pro zine, in edition 55, here. I first wrote Cullsman some 5 years ago, inspired by an idea I had 10 years ago, of a galactic hunter-gatherer ‘snail’ civilization that trawls across the universe dragging its own Dyson sphere with it, stopping to harvest planets along the way. Awesome? I always thought so, but I couldn’t make the story kick the way I really wanted to- it was all idea and no forward momentum. Then a year ago I dusted it off, completely rewrote it, and am now totally proud of the result. It even features King Trunk, a slight ad-lib on our family …

Why Neal Stephenson’s ‘Snow Crash’ needs rebooting

MJG and how to fix it, Book / Movie Reviews 5 Comments

Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash is a blistering assault of techno-punk babble, metaphoric memetic conspiracy theory, and hubristically confident authorial voice, half-baked into a bun so undercooked it’ll likely stodge up your wind-pipe and throttle you. But also- brilliantly ambitious, stunningly complex, exciting, hilarious, and (still) so razor-cool you’re likely to embolize your brain on its bleeding edge. Let’s try to square that circle. Snow Crash was Stephenson’s 1992 breakout sf debut, which catapulted him straight to stratospheric comparisons with William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, such was its hip density. To its supporters, it predicted a virtual internet (Second Life, AKA the Metaverse), surfed meme theory as that wave became a viral tsunami, forecast the corporatization of the …