Monthly Archives: July 2012

#CBR4 Maneuver #25 – Salute the Dark

Target: Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Salute the Dark (Shadows of the Apt #4)

Profile: Alternative Fantasy, Steampunk, Epic Fantasy

Summary: From the back cover, “The vampiric sorcerer Uctebri has at last got his hands on the Shadow Box and can finally begin his dark ritual – a ritual that the Wasp-kinden Emperor believes will grant him immortality – but Uctebri has his own plans for both the Emperor and for the Empire.

The massed Wasp armies are on the march, and the spymaster Stenwold must see which of his allies will stand now that the war has finally arrived.  This time the Empire will not stop until a black and gold flag waves over Stenwold’s own home city of Collegium.

Tisamon the Weaponsmaster is faced with a terrible [future]: a path that could lead him to abandon his friends and his daughter, to face degradation and loss, and probably bring him before the Wasp Emperor with a blade in his hand – but is he being driven by Mantis-kinden honor, or manipulated by something more sinister?”

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#CBR4 Maneuver #24 – Palimpsest

Target: Catherynne M. Valente’s Palimpsest

Profile: Fantasy, Weird Fiction

Summary: From goodreads.com, “Between life and death, dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. To get there is a miracle, a mystery, a gift, and a curse—a voyage permitted only to those who’ve always believed there’s another world than the one that meets the eye. Those fated to make the passage are marked forever by a map of that wondrous city tattooed on their flesh after a single orgasmic night. To this kingdom of ghost trains, lion-priests, living kanji, and cream-filled canals come four travelers: Oleg, a New York locksmith; the beekeeper November; Ludovico, a binder of rare books; and a young Japanese woman named Sei. They’ve each lost something important—a wife, a lover, a sister, a direction in life—and what they will find in Palimpsest is more than they could ever imagine.”

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#CBR4 Maneuver #23 – Amusing Ourselves to Death

Target: Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Profile: Non-fiction, Epistemology, Sociology

Summary: From goodreads.com, “Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media, so that they can serve our highest goals.”

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#CBR4 Maneuver #22 – Phoenix Rising

Target: Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris’ Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1)

Profile: Steampunk, Mystery

Summary: From goodreads.com, “Evil is most assuredly afoot—and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade . . . and a librarian.

These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling—will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest . . . and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.

For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun—he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices—must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot . . . or see England fall to the Phoenix!”

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Television Review – The Newsroom

The Newsroom:  Season 1 – Episodes 1 & 2.

I’ve never really tried to review a current television show in any sort of active context before, so take this with a few grains of salt.  What I’m trying to say is that it is very easy to form a review of a book or a movie after experiencing it, because it is, to a greater or lesser extent, a complete experience.  Similarly, it is easy to review a full season of a television show, because it is a complete experience.  I was having trouble getting traction on what was bothering me about The Newsroom after just one episode.  The internet raving wasn’t helping either.  But now, I think I’m starting to see the shape of series.

I suspect that the reason The Newsroom has been getting so many negative reviews is rooted in the fact that the show isn’t really sure what it’s trying to be.  The two, or possibly three, aspects of the setting that are being explored in these early episodes are jarring when put together and therefore, off-putting.  Reviews from cyberspace have put the blame on Aaron Sorkin’s bad writing, but I think that’s only half the story, if it is the case at all.

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