Michael Marshall Smith’s ‘Only Forward’

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I first read Only Forward 20 years ago when I was 18, shortly after it came out. Now I’m 38 and just reread it, and it blew me away just as much as it did back then. For a debut it is phenomenal. For any book it is phenomenal – there is just SO MUCH STUFF in it, all of it cool, fascinating, prescient – I highlighted a section and got my wife to read it too and it made us both smile – about a tablet screen that shows where you are on a map and gives you directions …

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger – book review

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For 20 years I’ve been reading books by the author variously known as Michael Marshall Smith and Michael Marshall, beginning with his sci-fi triumvirate of Only Forward, Spares and One of Us – three mind-slappingly entertaining thrillers – and moving through his Straw Men series as well as various creepy standalones. Now he’s writing under a third pen-name, Michael Rutger, and the first book is The Anomaly. As soon as I saw it, I picked it up. I still have those early MMS SF books on my shelf, despite having lived in Japan for 10 years – I took them …

Media Review 2019 week 6 & 7

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It’s been a slow few weeks of media intake. TV Sex Education – All the week Su and I watched Sex Education! Of course I’d already watched it, but I thought that she might enjoy it too. She doesn’t normally like US high school stories about kids trying to get laid on prom night, which is what this basically is, but I figured there’s more to it than that. She loved it. I enjoyed watching it over again. Russian Doll – Everybody is talking about this show, about a woman who dies again and again, like Groundhog Day. I watched …

Media Review 2019 week 5

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It’s been a great week of media intake!! Well, except for Roma :(. TV Sex Education – I watched Netflix’s new show Sex Education within the week, and think it is really fantastic. So good-hearted, so upbeat, but also not shying away from darker moments – a coming of age tale for the millennial generation, where sex, masturbation and even nascent stalking, bullying and shaming behaviours are not considered nasty or even evil, but rather accidents of fragile minds on unfortunate detours. Essentially, nobody is beyond saving – at least at this stage. I love its bright palette, its redemptive …

Media Review 2019 week 4

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Recently I’ve been indulging my fascination with the news more than ever – still limited to reading in the morning once (waking up) and afternoon once (on the train home, as a treat). Su and I have also been aiming to watch more worthy movies and spend our weekday evenings working/studying rather than just vegging on the sofa. News I read BBC news, then NBC, then Salon.com, then Washington Post opinions page, then the Guardian, then the Atlantic, then maybe New York Times, then if I’m very hungry I check out how CNN and Fox both depict the day’s events. …

Red Dead Redemption is getting uncomfortable…

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A few weeks back I raved about the cowboy game Red Dead Redemption 2. You’re a cowboy criminal, you can go anywhere, do anything, and it all feels so real. Well, last night I finished chapter 2 and entered 3 of the game (I’ve been parsing it out gradually), and was made to feel pretty queasy at my role in all the criminal escapades. Spoiler alert – chapter 2 ended with a big shootout in the town of Valentine, after Leviticus Cornwall, a rail magnate whose train we’d recently robbed, turned up with some Pinkertons to arrest the leader of …

Doctor Who series 11 episode 8 & 9 – reviews

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The last couple of Doctor Who episodes haven’t had bleeding-heart Social Justice Warrior plots – the kind of stories that led someone on ‘Have I Got News For You’ to call the show ‘lectures in Social Justice’ – and I’ve been quite happy with that. Don’t get me wrong – I love the Social Justice stories. Rosa Parks stands as very powerful TV. But all that worthiness can be exhausting, and we needed a break. Episode 8 The ‘Witchfinders’ offered that very nicely. Yes, of course, abuse of witches is a social justice issue, but not a very current one. …

Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald – Review

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Saw The Crimes of Grindelwald today, and very much enjoyed it. J.K. Rowling certinaly knows what she is doing. It plays with such a different tone from the Harry Potter movies. Like a thriller, jumping around these exotic locations, with spies and spy agencies and grand, epoch-shaping forces in the mix. She’s remarkably good at inserting real stakes, and real hurt, into her characters and their backstories. She makes us feel it. The theory in back of the story is a little murky, though. In Harry Potter we had that with the Elder Wand and the two other Deathly Hallows, …

Doctor Who series 11 episode 6 – Kerblam! review

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After five episodes of this new Doctor that were often heavily freighted with political overtones, moral messages and Social Justice Warrior battles, it was extremely refreshing to get episode 6, Kerblam, that had almost nothing political about it at all. Except it did. The political bit got snuck in during the last maybe 5 minutes, and provided a glorious reversal that I hadn’t seen coming. Also – despite it being set in the future – it echoed the historical appeal of Luddism beautifully. Plus it mocked/tore up/tipped its hat at Amazon. I enjoyed it very much. Image from BBC The …

Red Dead Redemption 2 Review – I feel guilty when I don’t play…

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Red Dead Redemption 2 has sucked me in. I’m a recent re-convert to console gaming. In my 20s I had an X-box and played Halo and Rock Band (see this post here for rocking-out awesomeness and me with hair) with friends round at my house with pizza and beers. Then I entered my 30s, coupled up, and the gaming largely stopped. A year ago I bought an X-Box wanting to play The Last of Us, the zombie epic. I played a little, but struggled with the 1st person controls and couldn’t kill the zombies. I also bought The Witcher, but …