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16 september 2021

It is not easy to write an original story about an ambivalent cyborg, and to her credit Martha Wells doesn't really try in All Systems Red, the first of the Murderbot Diaries series. Wells' worldbuilding draws pastiche-like from what any reader, even a rare visitor to science fiction like me, knows about robots. Her "SecUnit" narrator, part clone and part machine, does have one distinctive character note: it is addicted to genre fiction. "Murderbot" pays minimal attention to its job while it surreptitiously consumes countless hours of entertainment, being particularly fond of a serial called Sanctuary Moon. Not since Baudelaire has a narrator stared so directly at readers and claimed kin with them.     read more

9 september 2021

Looking up some of my favorite operas in the Grove Dictionary of Music … Le nozze di Figaro is an "opera buffa." Lucia di Lammermoor is a "dramma tragico"; Rigoletto is a "melodramma." Eugene Onegin is a set of "lyric scenes" – I think Tchaikovsky made that genre up on the fly – La bohème is a "commedia lirica" – Der Rosenkavalier is a "Komödie für Musik." Sometimes I think that every opera is the sole example of its own unique genre.     read more

8 september 2021

I came to Stephen Rebello's 1990 Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho after seeing its 2012 film adaptation Hitchcock, which, being me, I didn't get around to watching till 2021.     read more

7 september 2021

The very first story in Luay Hamza Abbas' Closing His Eyes (after a brief prologue) is just one page long, but sets the tone for the volume. In "A Call," a man is reading about somebody eating fava beans and is inspired to go out and buy a can of fava beans. He starts to cook them. Somebody calls on the phone, asking if a neighbor is OK; the man suddenly realizes that the neighbor probably isn't. The fava beans start to boil over.     read more

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