A while ago I split my blog Lacer’s Life into two and started this blog Lacer Writes to talk about solely writing, books and TV, however since then there has been some improvements in WordPress blogging (actually there are improvements in WordPress blogging all the time, I am always impressed with their efforts to make an already good blogging experience better) and now thanks to a new menu function it makes sense to move Lacer Writes back into my main blog. There are now some menu buttons at the top of my main blog (just underneath the photo header), so that if you’re just interested in my views on writing or on books or on TV, you can skip all the stuff on embroidery. I hope to see you there!
Two book blog posts in a day – bliss (I have bad hayfever so am only capable of reading – whilst simultaneously holding a tissue over my nose).
Flashforward on TV never totally grabbed me, it was a bit too American and those FBI agents annoyed me, so I stopped watching it after a while, although the husband continued to do so and if I happened to be in the room whilst he was watching it, I knew just about enough to follow what was going on. So when I heard that the Flashforward book was quite different, I was interested.
And Flashforward the book is very different, no annoying FBI agents for a start (phew!) and instead it concentrates on the two scientists Lloyd Simcoe and Theo Procopides who work in CERN, where most of the action takes place. Rather bizarrely, even though one of the scientists in Flashforward the TV series had the same name, when picturing the characters as I read I imagined the actor who plays the scientist Simon Campus (Dominic Monaghan) playing Lloyd Simcoe in the book and the actor who plays Lloyd Simcoe (Jack Davenport) in the TV series playing (in my head) the character of Theo Procopides in the book. In the book Lloyd Simcoe in the more senior, more together of the two scientists and Theo the junior partner, whereas in the TV show it’s the character of Simon Campus pulling the strings and is, for want of a better word, slightly more worldly. So it’s weird, like they’ve taken the two characters and swapped them around.
Of course the names are not the only difference; there is no sinister plot in the book, the Flashforward is the result of an accident and most importantly the resulting Flashforward is not of a few months ahead but instead thirty years, therefore Flashforward the book is a lot more sci-fi than the TV series. There is a lot of discussion of the theoretical physics that may or could be involved, with lots of physicist characters sitting round in the staff canteen giving lectures to other physicist characters (and who would therefore already know – that always bugs me) about various interpretations on reality, free will and quantum dynamics and to be honest after a while I was beginning to skim read those bits, as they were a little boring and didn’t seem to be advancing the plot.
There are some similarities to, there is a character (who like the FBI character in the TV series) knows he’s going to be murdered because he doesn’t get a Flashforward and there are various romances.
Overall it was an interesting read, if not initially attention grabbing (the opening chapter with its geographical description of CERN read like the very long opening of a slightly sleepy New Scientist article).I don’t read much sci-fi for adults and I felt slightly jaded when I got close to the end of the book and there was a sequence which seems to be in all the sci-fi books I do read, something I always equate to that weird sequence at the end of 2001. But despite all that, worth reading.
One glance at the contents of my iPhone and you’d see that I’m the sort of sucker who downloads anything and I’m always willing to give something a go, so I downloaded the Kindle iPhone app quite a while ago and The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second in the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series featuring Lisbeth Salander, the girl with Asperger’s, a mysterious past and a tendency to kick back. A quick play with it made me realise that although the Kindle app on iPhone is better than the only other iPhone e-reader that I had so far tried, the stand-alone The Left Hand of God app (which I think was a free first three chapters and I didn’t even get to the end of the first chapter because the page control was so clumsy), I still wasn’t going to get through this book at a great rate of knots. If anything because the best place for me to read is the bath and I ain’t about to take my iPhone into the bath with me (which basically says about me then that until they invent a waterproof e-reader, e-books are always going to be second best for me). So whilst I’ve been reading The Girl Who Played with Fire, I’ve had lots of other paperback books on the go at the same time, books meant for the bath but crept into other reading times as I became more interested in them than in Larsson. It also doesn’t help that with a paperback book you obviously can’t check your twitter, e-mail or RSS feeds and sometimes picking up my iPhone for a few pages before my head hit the pillow meant my finger was straying from the Kindle icon to another icon instead. However the very negatives caused my trying to read on my iPhone, also proved a bonus, as I’m never normally that organised if I’m out somewhere to take a book, whereas I always take my phone and over the last few weeks I’ve had quite a few appointments where I’ve been sitting waiting in waiting rooms on my own and being able to whip out my phone and read has been lovely.
So, as a result I’ve read The Girl Who Played with Fire quite piecemeal and consequently there were a few scenes when I had trouble remembering which bad guy was which. It was also slightly disconcerting that a bad guy character that Salander devoted quite a lot of time to at the beginning of the book turned out to have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the story (I kept reading expecting to find a link and never did). However Salander as usual is a wonderful, unusual heroine and the final, relatively close to the end, revelation as to what exactly “All That Evil” was, was a surprise I hadn’t seen coming. I will be reading the next book.
I’m not normally a great fan of Chris Chibnall Doctor Who or Torchwood episodes, but I think he really surpassed himself with this two parter, a great opening episode with an even stronger second part. You don’t get much, what is essentially kids’ TV, dealing with such complex ‘moral issues’ in such an accessible way- ‘should’ the mother of killed the Silurian’; should we share our planet? And morals aside it was great visually to, with the Silurian city beautifully done. I even loved how the computer screen link up between the city and the church on the surface looked like the camera work was straight from a Doctor Who episode from the 70s, using muted dark colourings around the edges of the screen and complete with a dramatic close up jump on the Doctor’s face at a key moment. Keeping with the 70s feel, quite a lot of Doctor screaming in agony in this one to, I remember when I was a kid the Doctor seemed to be screaming in agony all the time in some alien death ray, haven’t seen much of the that in New Who. Also I am again loving strong Amy and vunerable Doctor, the Doctor gets knocked out so quickly in the Silurian city yet Amy manages to escape. And the bit at the end too, although slightly obviously tacked on to add more of a lead up to the final story, ooh what a final story it’s going to be (and I’m sure Rory will come back).
I liked this episode, it had a certain old school charm that matched the reintroduction of an old school enemy, the Silurians. There was a nice small cast, in a nice small, almost claustrophobic setting (things I think are always more scary when there’s less people around, sort of there’s less people to hide behind sort of thing). I think though that the second episode of this two parter will be a lot more expansive.
Plus once more I loved Matt Smith and we saw lots of his geography teacher on speed Doctor here, with some great lines from him that I can now only half remember properly. I particularly loved him in the scene above, it really felt like what it (fictionally) was, a meeting between the remainders of two great races.
Oh that was good, so good. As a lot of tweets were saying last night (I love how Twitter can turn TV watching into a national experience), that was TV at the best, something BBC can do, our licence fee paying for something with a bit of nerve and Sky can’t.
I’m not going to review the whole storyline because if you haven’t watched this yet, go away and watch it, but to talk about the end, wow. There were some bits I’d guessed, I’d guessed the policeman with the missing face was Gene Hunt but I’d assumed that whoever was Gene Hunt now had murdered the real Gene Hunt. I’d also guessed the fairly obvious that heaven was a pub and Keats was some sort of devil, but the whole twist of everyone being dead, I did not see that coming. Yet it was so obvious and worked so well, thinking back logically, of course Drake was going to die, she had a bullet slap bang in the middle of her forehead and if Drake was in a coma and then dead, like Alex Tyler, it makes sense that everyone else was to.
Philip Glenister played Gene Hunt beautifully in this, in all of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes really but in this final episode, absolutely superb, if he doesn’t get awards for this, heck the whole team should, it’d be unfair. The scenes on the farm where Hunt finally reveals who he is, brilliant. Daniel Mays (Keats) was fantastic to, that scene where he’s trying to convince Drake how bad Hunt is and he’s got his hands all over her and I just wanted to yell at the screen “Get your hands off her you creep!”, the way how he pawed the video tapes, I almost imagined his eyes to start glowing and later when it becomes more and more obvious what / who he is, letting his ‘civilised’ persona slip, it was as effective as suddenly whipping out the CGI and turning him into a real devil.
I thought the final scenes were lovely and very sweet, if complete lump in the throat time, it is a lovely thought that heaven is a pub and Gene Hunt is still out there shepherding lost departed policemen. I like endings like that, ones that suggest that even though the telling of the story has finished, it’s still going on out there, still ‘real’.
I caught up with the second of the Derren Brown Investigates series last night, where Brown and a feisty blind lady go on a Bronnikov course, which is claimed to allow the blind to see (and the sighted to see with blindfolds on). I’d also seen the first, where Brown meets Joe Power, a self proclaimed psychic. Both episodes made interesting TV and I thought Brown was impressive in his neutrality, openly looking for and apparently wanting to find proof that what Power and Bronnikov were claiming were real, despite Brown’s admittance that with his own work, which often replicates what these psychics claim to be doing for real, uses just trickery and psychological techniques. Brown manages to maintain his neutrality to, despite some of the claims these people were making being laughably ridiculous. I can imagine other presenters loosing neutrality far more easily, not that Richard Dawkins for example, would be presenting a programme on psychics, but I can easily imagine him looking ready for a punch up within about ten minutes. What finally seemed to get Brown’s goat (and mine to), was the way how both Power and Bronnikov were using their ‘skills’ to manipulate the vulnerable, in Power’s case the bereaved and in Bronnikov’s case a boy with cerebral palsy, that just seemed wrong. It was interesting how both programmes ended, with Brown wanting to run a test of each person’s skills, using a scenario that had been independently set up by him (it was amazing how willing Power and Bronnikov were perfectly happy to demonstrate their skills in scenarios they could control). In Power’s case he got the psychic reading wrong and then claimed that Brown had ruined it with his negative presence and Bronnikov used pretty much the same argument when refusing to look through a box with his ‘X-ray eyes’ to tell Brown what was in it, two people claiming to do two different things, yet when they were both threatened with an independent test, use the same arguments to get out of it, shows the common thread that runs through all these people.