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williamjm

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    Cambridge, UK

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  1. williamjm

    Westworld VIII: Forging On

    I like how specific the "Now 35% more romantic" claim is.
  2. williamjm

    Hugo Nominations and Awards - Onwards to 2020

    I did read them as they came out, and I think there might have been advantages to reading them together because there are so many characters and factions that I did forget some of the details between books. I agree they are good books, although perhaps not quite McDonald's best. With so many plotlines some of them more interesting than others, but there are plenty of great scenes in it and I did find the lunar society he has constructed fascinating. I just read The Menace From Farside which you should probably enjoy as well, it's only loosely connected to the Luna novels since it is set several decades beforehand. It is interesting to see the Moon at a point in time when many of the key parts of the Lunar society in the novels are either new or still taking shape.
  3. williamjm

    The Books That Have Just Come Out: New Release Thread II

    Ben Aaronvitch is doing a book signing at one of the local bookshops tomorrow so I'm going to pick up a copy then.
  4. williamjm

    Watch, Watched, Watching: Hindsight in 2020

    I mentioned earlier in this thread that I was trying to catch up with some of the Studio Ghibli films that have been appearing on Netflix. I watched Porco Rosso, which might not quite be among Ghibli's best but still good. It's definitely a slightly weird film where almost everything about the film is comparatively mundane except for the fact that the main character is a humanoid pig, something that the film does acknowledge is weird but steadfastly refuses to explain even when other characters try asking about it. I liked the between-World-Wars setting, with the story of rival seaplane-flying aviators set against a backdrop of the Depression and the rise of Italian fascism. One of the supporting characters has ambitions as a Hollywood actor and the movie does have a bit of a Golden Age Hollywood feel to it. As ever with Ghibli the animation is great, particularly the aerial dogfights and the flashback scene where the main character sees (or hallucinates) the planes of dead pilots ascending into the heavens.
  5. williamjm

    First Quarter 2020 Reading

    I finished Iain Banks' The Crow Road. I thought it was a good book, it does take quite a while for it to become clear where the plot is heading but even the early stages which feel more like a series of vignettes of things that happened to various members of the McHoan family is entertaining. Prentice is an entertaining narrator, it can be frustrating as he makes a sequence of incredibly poor decisions but he does at least develop as a character as the story moves along. I also liked the flashbacks to the previous generation, particularly those following Prentice's father in his younger days, I think some of the best writing in the book comes from Kenneth McHoan's storytelling to the children. While the book's main theme is death and how people cope with it, it didn't feel like a particularly gloomy book, there is plenty of humour in here (even if some of it is a bit morbid), and while the ending may be bittersweet it at least has some hopeful elements. Now I've moved on to Ian McDonald's novella The Menace From Farside, a spin-off from his Luna series.
  6. The Government does seem to think there are a lot of Schrödinger's British Low Skilled Workers out there who are simultaneously fully employed and unemployed because those pesky immigrants have stolen their jobs.
  7. williamjm

    Moody Murder Mysteries

    It does make me wonder why Cambridge seems to have a much lower fictional murder rate (even taking into account Granchester).
  8. williamjm

    Moody Murder Mysteries

    I'm not sure the rest of the British Isles are any safer judging by what we see on TV. It does make me wonder which is the most dangerous part of Britain according to murder mysteries. I'd think Glasgow (Taggart), Oxford (Morse, Lewis, Endeavour) and Midsomer might be the top contenders.
  9. williamjm

    First Quarter 2020 Reading

    I think the Braided Path trilogy is definitely worth reading as well, but I'd probably put it behind his other works. Comparing it to The Ember Blade, I think the Braided Path books are more interesting in terms of setting and premise but I probably enjoyed The Ember Blade more. It does have the best footnotes (and also the longest footnotes).
  10. williamjm

    First Quarter 2020 Reading

    I enjoyed The Ember Blade, it was deliberately designed to be a bit of a throwback to 80s/90s Epic Fantasy and I thought it did that well. I'd say out of Wooding's work I preferred his Tales of the Ketty Jay and The Fade.
  11. williamjm

    Doctor Who II

    I agree it was good. It did seem to be a fitting ending, whatever the risks may be of things going horribly wrong it isn't really the Doctor's way to give up on someone's life even if there could be severe consequences further down the line. I thought Jodie Whittaker did well with one of the moments we sometimes see from the Doctor where they can let some arrogance slip through. I thought it made better use of the historical characters and integrating them into the plotlines than some other episodes have.
  12. williamjm

    DCEU: Killer Clowns from Gotham City

    I saw Birds of Prey. I wouldn't say it was necessarily anything special, but it was good fun and definitely a big improvement on the likes of Suicide Squad and Justice League. The cast seemed to be having fun with their roles. Harley was the most memorable of the main characters, but I also liked Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the Huntress. Montoya was a bit dull, however, even the film points out that she's mostly a collection of cop movie cliches. Ewan MacGregor seemed to enjoy chewing the scenery as the main villain, I wouldn't say he's the most memorable of villains but at the least the final confrontation with him was refreshingly CGI-free for a superhero movie.
  13. williamjm

    Watch, Watched, Watching: Hindsight in 2020

    I watched The General, a film I don't remember hearing about before (it's from 1998) but stumbled across on Amazon Prime. The film is a biopic of Irish gangster Martin Cahill who is playing a cat-and-mouse game with the Irish police after a series of audacious heists, but gets into trouble after unwisely trying to deal with both the Provisional IRA and the Ulster Volunteer Force. I think the highlight is Brendan Gleeson's charismatic performance in the lead role, with Maria Doyle Kennedy and Jon Voigt offering good support. At times it is almost comedic as Gleeson and his gang repeatedly trick the Gardai, but it does have its darker moments as well. Afterwards I read an amusing bit of trivia that a scene where Cahill steals a gold disc from a house was based on a real incident where Cahill burgled the home of John Boorman, the film's director.
  14. I remember watching a historical documentary about how you managed to pack it away in a warehouse and then forget about it. As I understand it, the European Court of Human Rights is not an EU institution (and covers many non-EU states like Russia and Turkey) so we are still part of its jurisdiction. It wouldn't surprise me if the Tories decided to pull us out of it as well at some point, but it's not happened yet.
  15. williamjm

    Trailer Thread VI

    It does feel like that's a trailer for two completely unconnected movies that have somehow been combined into a single trailer.
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