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About williamjm

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  • Birthday 04/29/1981

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    Cambridge, UK

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  1. Yes, I think parallels are fairly clear, particularly since many of them are fleeing a conflict in what would be Syria in our world. The character auction was won by a crowdsourced bid lead by one of the teachers of one of the victims. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/28/philip-pullman-raises-30000-for-grenfell-tower-in-character-name-auction
  2. williamjm

    His Dark Materials Series

    It probably helps her look a bit more rounded that we're not just seeing her through Lyra's eyes. Lyra does seem to know just how to wind her up, although it's probably partly because while Mrs Coulter is very much in control of every other aspect of her life she clearly has no idea how to deal with an uncooperative child. Are the Sally Lockhart books any good? I've only read Pullman's five novels in the HDM setting. I don't know what the US ratings are like but it had the biggest ratings for a first episode on UK TV in the last five years. The second episode did drop off a bit, but that's fairly standard. As Ran says, they're already filming season 2 so the real question is whether we get a third season or not. The portrayal of the Magisterium is fairly true to the books but as the story progresses there are some much more morally ambiguous characters introduced.
  3. williamjm

    Fourth Quarter 2019 Reading

    I finished Preludes and Nocturnes, the first volume of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. This is a series that comes with a huge reputation and I thought it mostly lived up to it. In the afterword in this edition Gaiman comments that reading them again he finds these early issues to be a bit awkward and ungainly, I think he's perhaps being a bit too critical of his own work because I think the storytelling does feel assured throughout but I think I can sometimes see what he is referring to - the final confrontation between Morpheus and John Dee fell slightly flat and it maybe felt a bit too conventional for this story to have such a showdown between the hero and villain. There were a lot of fascinating side stories, which were often more interesting than the main plotline. To begin with Morpheus was a fairly enigmatic protagonist for whom his quest was all-consuming but the final issue does start to shed some light on his character. I think I'll read the next volume soon. I then read This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. There were a lot of things I liked about this novella but also some aspects that didn't quite work for me. I think there's some great writing in here, particularly in the letters exchanged between the two protagonists and how their tone changes over the course of the story and reflects the change in how Red and Blue feel about each other. The plot is also cleverly constructed with things that initially seem minor coming to have a huge significance by the end. It's a great premise for a story and I like the playfulness of the jumping between different timelines and places, with some fairly standard time travel destinations mixed in with places like Atlantis. However, I did have an issue with the novella which kept me from being fully invested in it, although the relationship between them may be interesting I did feel that Red and Blue were a bit too alien in their outlooks for me to really connect with them as characters.
  4. williamjm

    His Dark Materials Series

    They've done a great job with Pan and with showing the viciousness of the golden monkey. The daemons do give an extra way to show characterisation both in their reactions and in how their humans interact with them. It's been over a decade since I read the original trilogy, so I can't remember whether Lyra saw the monkey running about on its own in the book? It would fit in well with parts of The Secret Commonwealth. I agree, all the scenes with Ruth Wilson and Dafne Keen were great. I thought Kidman was good in the role but Wilson seems almost born to play this. The gyptian subplot was less compelling, but will hopefully pick up a bit once Lyra meets them. I was a bit surprised that they brought that plot element in so early. Since we've now seen 'his' Oxford I wonder if we'll see Will later in this season?
  5. williamjm

    His Dark Materials Series

    I think some of my reaction to it is judging it as a pilot episode, because I don't usually expect them to be the best of a series and I think this does have some common first episode issues. It is fairly common for the narrative to have to spend a lot of time explaining the premise (particularly for a fantasy show) and actors can sometimes take a while to really get their character right. I agree that was a weird line. I don't know why Asriel is even bothering to explain himself to a servant. John is also Scottish so I think can get away with such comments. I think for that specific scene it makes sense for it to be stagey, he is giving a dramatic performance to try to win the scholars to his cause.
  6. It is a bit weird that the books where lots of children got kidnapped and then have their souls ripped apart or were murdered feels like a happier and more pleasant time.
  7. williamjm

    A Super Necessary And All Important Survey Question

    There's a group in Edinburgh who run a fire festival for Beltane (end of April) which is quite a big event, and they do a smaller event for Samhuinn - in this case it is a revival, having begun in the 80s.
  8. williamjm

    A Super Necessary And All Important Survey Question

    The whole 'going around in costumes' thing originally comes from a Scottish Halloween tradition called guising. America then added 'trick or treating' and lots of chocolates which was then been exported back to Britain, although I don't think it's anywhere near as big here as in the US. I don't know whether it's done much in other European countries.
  9. williamjm

    A Super Necessary And All Important Survey Question

    I don't think I've ever seen it. That isn't stopping the ads in the sidebar from trying to sell some to me, but I'm guessing it's imported.
  10. williamjm

    His Dark Materials Series

    I remember hearing that they had moved away from the original five season plan, although they could always return to it by adapting some of the Book of Dust. I was wondering whether they would have the rights to the Book of Dust, but including the scene from La Belle Sauvage suggests they do (unless they mention the Great Flood in the original trilogy, which isn't something I remember). The Amber Spyglass seems like a tricky book to adapt. They've been very faithful with what we've seen so far and I think that should work well for the first two books but maybe less so for the final book.
  11. williamjm

    His Dark Materials Series

    I thought it was a great beginning. I thought it moved at a good pace while still having time for more characterisation than the film had. The scenes with the assassination attempt and then Asriel presenting his findings were particularly compelling. I liked the interactions between Asriel and Lyra, it manages to show that Asriel does care about her but also shows the colder and more ruthless aspects of his personality. Ruth Wilson was also perfect as Mrs Coulter, not that I expected any different. They've done a good job with the daemons as well, I liked the little touches such as Lyra making sure Pan gets a good look at the alethiometer when she first gets it. I also liked the new prologue with the nod to La Belle Sauvage, even if the scene is missing Malcolm and Alice - which is understandable since if they do want to adapt in future they don't want to cast them now. Not many downsides, although it's a bit hard to really take adult characters saying the word Gobblers entirely seriously. In some ways I'm starting to think it could be the right approach because Sam Elliot is so perfect for the role as shown in the books that maybe they should go a different way so it's not as easy to compare them. I think that's what their current plan is to do one season a book.
  12. williamjm

    UK Politics: A Partly Political Broadcast

    It was particularly bad last night when even the dead appeared to have been so incensed about Brexit being delayed that they rose from the grave and wandered the streets demanding chocolates.
  13. williamjm

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

    I did like Salvation, so I'll probably pick this up soon.
  14. williamjm

    UK Politics: A Partly Political Broadcast

    It's a bit difficult to say what the threshold might be since it would also depend on what the other parties were doing. They might have to get up towards 30% to really start to have a big contingent of MPs. I think other than Soubry the remainder of the Party With Many Names are former Labour MPs. I was curious so I looked up on Wikipedia, two of them aren't standing. Of the others Mike Gapes is standing in a constituency where he got 76% of the vote for Labour and Chris Leslie in one where he got 71%. Since both are Remain-leaning constituencies it would be take some very unlucky vote splitting to let the Tories win. Soubry's seat on the other hand looks like one where she could easily split the vote with Labour and lose out to her former party.
  15. williamjm

    UK Politics: A Partly Political Broadcast

    Presumably the latter given how many times Farage has unsuccessfully run for Parliament while being a MP.