June 16th, 2009

buzz

June Books 11) METAtropolis

This is an audiobook of five stories about future cities, read mainly by actors from Battlestar Galactica, on the Hugo shortlist for Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form. I whined a few weeks back about the technical difficulties I had in getting hold of it, because of the DRM protection on the official publication; my thanks to the person who helped me over that hurdle.

I confess that audiobooks, as opposed to plays, don't always work for me. Each of these five stories is of the order of two hours in length, so not well suited to the concentration span I normally have while commuting. In addition, I found the voice registers of three of the actors doing the readings (Michael Hogan, Scott Brick and Stefan Rudnicki) too low to really hear distinctly over the bacground noise of my train journey. This isn't usually a problem for me listening to Big Finish or Shakespeare productions with numerous actors playing different parts. I therefore didn't really take in much of the stories by Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell and Karl Schroeder, though I liked what I could hear.

The basic concept of the shared world, set in a near future where state structures have collapsed and cities per se have become largely autonomous political actors, combined with a somewhat sinister worldwide culture of game-playing which mixes geocaching with Diplomacy, is a great idea. Unfortunately I can't really render a judgement as to how well it was executed.

Having said that, I enjoyed the two stories I was able to hear clearly - Elizabeth Bear's "The Red in the Sky is Our Blood", read by Kandyse McClure, and in particular John Scalzi's "Utere Nihil...", a rather charming coming-of-age story in the comedic cyberpunk thriller mode, read very effectively by Alessandro Juliani, which to me stood out as the gem of the collection.

So, that concludes my absorption of the Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form nominees. My ballot in the end will probably go:
  1. Dark Knight
  2. WALL-E
  3. METAtropolis
  4. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  5. Iron Man
Unlike the films, I'm tallying METAtropolis as a book for bookblogging purposes, which is my usual practice for audiobooks with only one actor per story..
earthsea

June Books 12) Serenity: Better Days, by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews

A great nostalgia item, a new episode of Firefly in graphic novel form, set (obviously) between the end of the series and the movie. Another of the nominees for the experimental Hugo category Best Graphic Story, and so far my favourite of the three I've read. I tried the early Buffy season 8 comics, but didn't like the artwork on the characters; Will Conrad seems to have tried harder here, so that they actually look like who they're are meant to be. Though really what makes it is the script; a fairly ordinary space opera story, shot through with those moments of wit and characterisation that made the original TV series such fun. I can't imagine this appealing much to people who hadn't seen Firefly or Serenity, but they are clearly not the intended audience!