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August 9th, 2015

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11:20 pm - A very good book and a fun movie
I recently finished The Pyramids of London by Andrea K. Höst, who is a fairly good self-published author and her books are available (in addition to Amazon & B&N) also published DRM-free on Smashwords. I read her Touchstone YA trilogy a while back, which was much fun and fairly good, and this novel (the first of a series, presumably another trilogy) was even better. It's not YA – there are 2 protagonists, one in her late 30s, another in her teens, who are both quite well done. The world can be considered steampunk if you apply the term broadly, but it's unique and interesting, with what can best be described as a distinct overabundance of active deities, vampires that are not merely publicly known, but also fully integrated into society, as well as airships and automata.

The author's post about gender got me to buy this book, especially this bit:
When drafting The Pyramids of London, I decided to try something different. I would skew the background character numbers female to see how a book would read with 33 percent men 'in the room'.
When I read the novel, it seems far more equal than that, at first I thought that this was just my perception being altered a bit by playing in several very long-running RPGs GM'd by my partner teaotter, who works to get close to 50/50 gender split in her NPCs, because if she didn't the vast majority of them would be female. Amusingly, I didn't read to the end of the post until just now - the author mentions:
in this book where I'd set out to achieve a 70/30 skew in favour of women, I created 82 female-presenting characters and 83 male-presenting characters.

I don't think I'll do this exercise with the books that I thought were 50/50. That may bring embarrassment.

I suspect that one of the reasons that Pyramids feels so full of female characters (beyond our apparently ingrained perceptions) is that the skew of powerful women to powerful men is much more distinct. Prytennia's Trifold is always made up of women. And when making clear that both men and women could hold important office, I did so by mentioning men formerly holding the roles, but naming current women. With the exception of Lord Msrah and Lord Fennington (and the foreign Gustav) all the people shown to be in charge of groups and organisations in Prytennia 'just happen' to be women.
I was also pleased in that within the first few pages we get the protagonist bonded to a brooding and irreverent vampire, and after the second encounter with the vampire, I was strongly betting on this novel having yet another paranormal vampire romance, and it didn't, which I found far more interesting than the alternative. In any case, it's quite fun and good.

In other news, teaotter and I went to see the latest Mission Impossible film – we've seen all but the first one (which I've heard is dreadful) and enjoyed it – it's far more fun than good, but it's fun – although the plot only vaguely hangs together and there's a single named female character in the entire film. We were planning to see the Fantastic Four film instead, but having found a complete absence of positive reviews and it running an truly impressive 8% on rotten tomatoes, I may see it, but I'm definitely waiting to see it on a cheap theater.

With trailers for both In the Heart of the Sea and The Revenant, one theme for films coming later this year seems to white guys dying in the wilderness in the 1820s – I think I'll definitely pass.

I remain puzzled at why it's so difficult to make a good video treatment of the Fantastic Four - from seeing the first of the two previous film efforts (which was also deeply terrible), the answer is obviously that starting with the origin story is a less than ideal choice for the Fantastic Four, and so making it into a super blockbuster – this very much seems like an excellent choice for a TV series (which is admittedly my reaction to most stories I'm interested in seeing in video).

With luck, this film will do sufficiently poorly that Sony will let the rights lapse and Marvel/Disney will both revive the comic (I've read that part of the reason they've stopped having a Fantastic Four comic is disliking the fact that Sony has the movie license) and instead of trying another movie, will go for a TV series. I don't expect this to happen, but I can hope.

(3 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:August 10th, 2015 08:33 am (UTC)
A close escape:

I suspect that a good FF movie would skip the bit where they get together, and instead just have an amazing series of adventures that mention their origins in passing.

Mission Impossible gets higher scores than either II or III, which fits my recollections. (Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation are, I suspect, the best ones though.)
[User Picture]
Date:August 10th, 2015 09:01 am (UTC)
I quite liked Mission Impossible 2, but much of that was because it was directed by John Woo and was utterly gorgeous in his very distinctive style. I don't remember the plot or characters at all, I do remember the dove flying through the burning doorway.
[User Picture]
Date:August 10th, 2015 09:09 am (UTC)
Dear gods, I just read that review, this makes the terrible 2005 film sound good in comparison - viewing it cheap has now been maybe replaced by watching on my tablet on a plane or simply not bothering.

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