Sunday, May 01, 2011

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Sapphire and Steel: "Assignment Six: The Trap" - Let me start by saying that was the worst ending to a series ever. Ok, maybe not ever, but it ranks up there with some of the lousiest endings. Sapphire and Steel join Silver in an abandoned gas station, only to figure out that time isn't running in the place and several strangers from other times are showing up. The atmosphere was tense, the events were strung together nicely, leading to more and more strangeness. But the ending... ug. I almost want to go buy all the Big Finish Audios just to wash the dreadfulness of that ending out of my head.
  • Doctor Who: "Day of the Moon" - I found this episode to be really really frustrating. There were so many pieces that we weren't allowed to see fully, and bits of the ongoing storyline that took over too much of the episode, leaving me disappointed in what we did get. However, there was a discussion between the Doctor and Rory that somehow made up for a lot of the frustration, and there was a moment when Amy called Rory a name that made up for even more. So, overall, not as bad as I started to fear it would be. But I'm still frustrated with the ongoing season storyarc and what little we've seen of it so far. And I don't like the feeling that you have to know the recent continuity to understand what's happening. So there's a lot of room for improvement here.

This week's comic book related review is Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess. My initial thought upon reading this was that I need to give a copy to each of my nieces. I have a few, and all of them are special in their own way and all of them deserve such blessings. It's a sweet little book, not terribly substantial, but the beautiful artwork and lyrical words lend it both weight and lightness. It's a wonderful little book, and as much as I want to keep it, it definitely wants to be given away. I wonder which niece will get it?

My library book this week was Ranger's Apprentice Book Nine: Halt's Peril by John Flanagan. I find it mildly hard to believe that this is the ninth book in this series. It picks up right where the previous book left off, with the trio chasing a nasty around the world. The key action of this one is an injury to Halt and how Will and Horace deal with it, nicely done and building on the characters' pasts. As usual, while there is fighting and strategy and all the usual neat action, the book is about how people deal with situations that are difficult. The result is a very good read indeed. Book Ten is newly available, and this series seems to just keep going... but I've read that Ten will be the last of the regular series, and there will be a final volume to wrap it up. So perhaps it's almost over.

Fortean Times #272
Fortean Times #272 (April 2011). The cover proclaims "Psychic Spies" and has menacing eyes looking over soldiers on a battlefield. I have talked with a person who was in the Remote Viewing program, and so I have a fairly good idea of the limits of the method if you believe it works. The cover article pretty much confirmed what I already suspected. Remote Viewing seems to work better than chance would dictate, whether by subconscious cues or by actual psy, but it doesn't work well enough to be particularly useful. The article has much more info, including suspected espionage that might have thrown off results.

Strangedays starts out with a roundup of bird and fish die-offs from around the world, and assurance that such things have been happening for many years and aren't a sign of the apocalypse. There's a rather impressive photo from China of a truck hanging off a bridge held by a tire and piece of crushed metal, with several similar incidents detailed in the text. Another piece is on Romanian witches who cursed the government for charging them taxes.

Stan Gooch is honored in the necrolog with an obituary and also in the magazine with two related articles about the dual nature of modern humans that Gooch attributed to the intermingling of Neanderthal with Cro-Magnons, an event that he believed led to modern humanity. With the recent discoveries of Neanderthal DNA in modern humans, perhaps he was right. The second article is one of Gooch's last articles before his death.

The Science article is on the intelligence of slime mould, and how it performed astonishly well in a maze test. Archaeology is about Irish giants and the DNA analysis that indicates they may have been fairly common. Ghostwatch is a probably doomed attempt to explain orbs scientifically and convince people they aren't supernatural. The UFO Files has more on the increasingly confusing Rendelsham Incident and a bit on an alleged UFO crash on Berwyn Mountain in 1974. Blasts From the Past covers the Trundle Hill black ball and tries to confirm the legend with historical facts.

Another article finishes off the tales from Worlds of Wonder, which still sounds like something begging for a nice reprinting. The Forum has one article that goes into recent sightings of strange lizards in Europe that match the legendary tatzelwurm. Another Forum article is about the confessions of Isobel Gowdie, an accused witch from 1662 who gives such detailed accounts that historians are fascinated with the cultural clues she gives about peasant life in the era.

The reviews, as usual, give me a handful of books I'd like to read that I probably won't be able to get at the library. Among them is True Giants by Mark A Hall and Loren Coleman, Slaughter on a Snowy Morn by Colin Evans, and Scientific Feuds by Joel Levy. The Letters pages are as strange and wonderful as usual. Another great issue of the best magazine available.