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10 August 2009 @ 03:43 pm
Reviews of things that don't go together  
Two of these things are not like the other; both of these things do not belong...

Seriously, over the weekend, I took in two different pieces of media. I suppose they could be more wildly different than one another than they are, but it would take some work to achieve. Herein, I will be giving you my opinions as a consumer of media on both. Your mileage may vary, but if it does, we travel very differently.

Seanan McGuire is a genius. What adjectives you choose to modify the predicate noun there are up for discussion. "Mad" might apply, as could "absolute." So far as I'm concerned, "entertaining" is always going to be true. With that in mind, consider that I just finished reading an advance reader copy of her debut novel, Rosemary and Rue, which we could also subtitle, "Horrible and awesome things done by the author on the character and body of one October Daye."

I'm always a little leary of spoilers when talking about media, so describing an individual piece of work is like a landmine for me. I want to tell you, for instance, that this is a novel that can be described as "urban fantasy" but that would also be well-described as "Faerie noir." The urban fantasy market is one that has a goodly number of entries these days. Some authors using the Fair Folk in modern, post-modern, or even post-apocalyptic settings treat them like human beings with pointy ears and funny names. Other authors treat them as alien beings, utterly incomprehensible by the rational human mind. Seanan walks the middle of those roads through the viewpoint of a character who lives at the crossroads. October Daye is a child of both worlds and, like any who tread in both, is fully accepted in neither. Through Toby, we see the motivations and perspective of one who has to tread in the equally dangerous worlds of human life and the deep and hidden world that the Fair Folks inhabit, all the time right underneath human noses. Toby is dragged headlong into a life she was trying to forget, back through grief and loss she wasn't willing to face, and into dangers no one should ever have to face alone.

Seanan's writing is engaging, and while I could say that at times I was looking for more descriptions, I was never left doubting or wondering about characterizations. As many fantasy and mystery novels as I read (a fair number of both), I was still caught by surprise a couple of times at the events of the book. I'm willing to believe in the characters as living beings with personal motivations. There are plenty of prose pros out there who can't manage that feat consistently, so for Seanan to do so in her first published novel (though not I think her first completed novel) is a good sign of things to come.

One metafandom point to consider is how Seanan interacts with her fans. She's not new to fandom, either as a general community of sci-fi/fan/whatever readers or in having a group specifically following her as an entertainer. She's got three albums of song currently available, for those interested. Seanan makes herself directly available to her readers and followers. It's very easy to tell where she is in her creative process, what's going on with her, how many zombie velociraptors she's raised from the dead for her personal army of darkness this week... wait, scratch that last part. Secret projects aren't hosted on her main website at http://www.seananmcguire.com; my bad.

The second book in Toby Daye's adventures will be released in March 2010; it's on my pre-order list, if that tells you anything. From what I'm hearing, there are plans out through book five at least, if not six, so I believe I shall be a happy camper for quite a while (if an impatient one, looking at the release schedule).

In the other direction, I also saw GI Joe: the Rise of Cobra.

Okay, if you're not a fan of GI Joe, as in you didn't grow up playing with the toys, watching the cartoons, or reading the comic books, let me break this down for you. Answer for yourself the following questions:
Are you a fan of over-the-top action?
Are you a fan of really hot people of nearly any culture or appearance?
Do you like watching Christopher Eccleston chew on scenery?

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, yes, you will like this movie. Boom, ka-boom, yum, oh gods yummy, BOOM, that made no sense but it kicked so much ass I don't care... yeah, that about summed up my thoughts while watching this movie.

If you ARE a fan of the old-school Joe action, just go watch the damn movie. Yes, they rebooted the thing. Yes, they tossed in about a million insider jokes. Yes, it's pared down compared to the freaking avalanche of characters and stuff we had back in "the day." No, I don't care one damn bit. It was a cool, fun movie that was made by someone who obviously loved the IP just like we did back then. Everyone played with their Joes differently from how other kids did. It's cool, okay? This guy kept the core of it and just added chrome, polished the black leather, and used up a big FX budget rather than spending $5 on an M-80 and $5 more to replace the Cobra trooper who died for your amusement. (Not that I ever did that. Umm.) There were moments where these characters were given depth, where their motivations went beyond four color villainy and into the realm of implausible but still cool.

It was a fun movie. You should tell yourself, "It's just a show; I should really just relax," m'kay? Go, enjoy it for what it is, and see if you don't leave the show smiling.
 
 
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