Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

11 Jul 2022, 16:00 p.m.

Some Recent Books, TV, Films, Etc.

Some things I've been enjoying reading, listening to, watching, etc.

Leonard reviews the movies we watch. We recently enjoyed the Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure trilogy, and subsequently listened to the Film Reroll adaptation.

I deeply enjoyed The Lost City, a fast-paced, funny wish-fulfillment fantasy about a guy supporting the woman he loves. We then watched Romancing the Stone, a kind of inspiration for The Lost City, and I found that I did not particularly like Romancing the Stone, which has a lot more "jerk with a heart of gold" characterization and "I know you're supposed to be sheltered but COME ON" disbelief. Heads-up that The Lost City is streaming on Paramount+ in the US, in case you have subscribed to Paramount+ for its approximately fifteen current Star Trek shows (Discovery, Lower Decks, Picard, Prodigy, Strange New Worlds, Enterprise But Phlox Is the Captain, Peter David's USS Camelot, Milky Way Mayhem, Batman With A Bat'leth, Kira, Sickbay, (The) Morn The Lurian, We Deepfaked Majel Barrett And She Plays All The Characters, Salamander Babies, and the Freaky Fridays for Sarek miniseries).

Strange New Worlds just wrapped up its first season -- one of the strongest first seasons I've seen for a Star Trek show that's in the "fly around and have episodic adventures" mold. It's up there with Lower Decks as one of my favorite current Trek shows. Prodigy is about the kinds of teens who often make impulsive bad decisions, which is the opposite of what I want in Trek (a team of skilled adults smoothly cooperating to creatively solve problems). There are things I like about Discovery, and I'll keep watching it, but there's so much arc stuff to keep track of and the Fate Of The Galaxy is at stake too often for my taste. Lower Decks is sometimes very funny but also I wish Mariner's character growth wouldn't keep resetting; at her worst she is a bully and I don't root for a bully character. And Picard can be fun but also I want my scifi to explore new stuff, not just try to pander to who it thinks I am with "hey, these people are related to the folks you already care about from when you watched this franchise decades ago!" I think Strange New Worlds hits this balance better, although this might be because I have watched nearly none of the original series so I am probably missing some pandering that would be clangingly obvious to a more comprehensive fan.

And I've been rewatching various individual episodes of Leverage, aided by the spreadsheet that Jed Hartman made to catalog John Rogers's blog posts answering questions about them. (Back in 2008 I started watching Leverage mainly because I was already reading Rogers's blog for the political posts, and wanted to understand his shoptalk posts better.)

The deadline for ballots for the Hugo Award is August 11th, and Ada Palmer's Terra Ignota series is on the Best Series ballot, so I am making my way through those (I read the first book, Too Like the Lightning, ages ago, but am only now reading the other books; I've just finished The Will to Battle and am starting the final book, Perhaps the Stars, soon). I'm having a mixed time. There are several very unpleasant people in these books and I took a break in the middle to read a few Celia Lake romances where kind, considerate people treat each other well. The narrator is pretty unreliable, and I know Palmer is writing a big giant epic and I've heard things get even weirder in book 4, so I'm waiting till I finish the last book to mark down complaints of the "but why is [aspect of how large scale societies and historical changes work] completely absent from this story?" type. I do want to know how the plot resolves, and enjoy many bits of the dialogue and the worldbuilding details (the kitchen trees! the Utopian oath!) and the mystery investigations.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is a sublime film and I loved how generous and surprising it was. I wrote about it some on FanFare but in summary: hurray for movies where I do not know what is going to happen next but I can trust that the filmmakers are interested in viewer pleasure and in characters courageously being vulnerable to each other and to themselves!


12 Jul 2022, 20:44 p.m.

Hee! I laughed out loud at your list of Star Trek shows. I would especially watch Enterprise But Phlox Is the Captain, Kira, and We Deepfaked Majel Barrett And She Plays All The Characters.

25 Jul 2022, 20:03 p.m.

It's funny that you and I have the same two fave new Trek shows, although I watched TOS obsessively as a kid, and you've hardly seen it. I can't imagine how the season ender must have seemed to someone who hasn't seen "Balance of Terror."

Lower Decks panders tremendously to Trek fans of my generation, mostly in the form of having aliens from the original 1970s Animated Series show up in minor roles or in the backgrounds.