Data, Join Me In Stellar Cartography: Parts 2 & 3 (TV, Lit & Comics)

"This is it. This is all we are."

- Dr. John Thackery, The Knick

(This is the next section from my notes on all of the media I consumed this year. Read the original list here. As for the notes: Part 1 is here and Part 1.5 is here.)

2. Television


The Knick Seasons 1-2 -- This is one the greatest television shows I have ever seen in my whole goddamn life and there is no point in my writing about it except to say that if you haven’t watched this then you are living a lie. 

Big Little Lies -- Laura Dern is positively messianic in this (if only Rian Johnson had given her character in TLJ some real material to dig into). Kidman and Witherspoon are better than they've ever been. And while I don’t really understand what purpose it serves, the ability that many of the characters possess to simply conjure up music in every house or car they step into provides a moving, whimsical quality to the show.

Rick and Morty Season 3 -- Definitely not the funniest season but certainly the best written and, by god, the darkest. "Rest and Ricklaxation" was my favorite episode of the season. It reminded me very much of the classic "The Enemy Within" episode of Star Trek.

The Leftovers Seasons 1-3 -- Here’s all I have to say about this:

Silicon Valley Season 4 -- TJ Miller is a fucking prick, but he was responsible for many of Silicon Valley’s laughs. I wonder how they’ll work around his absence.

Master of None Season 2 -- The Thanksgiving episode was one of the best thirty-four minutes of television to have ever aired exclusively on an internet based streaming service. 

Game of Thrones Season 7 -- Definitely a low point for the series. But the lowest point for Game of Thrones is still higher than a great deal of the other "content" we shovel down our mind-throats everyday.

Stranger Things Season 2 -- Get those new characters out of here! Except for Bob. Bob was great. I would pay real money to see Sean Astin in more things.



3. Literature & Comics

Childhood's End -- I like science fiction that dares to ask “What would you do if a race of devil aliens came down to Earth to prepare the next generation of children for their ascension into a collective cosmic super-consciousness?”

The Stars My Destination -- The first few chapters of this novel led me to believe that it was essentially “Parker in Space,” but things were much more complicated than that. And while I didn’t necessarily like what I got by the end of it all, I do think the sheer inventiveness of Arthur Bester’s 1956 novel makes it a worthwhile read. It’s filled to the point of overflowing with the kind of (proto-)cyberpunk concepts we take for granted nowadays but were probably mind-blowing to people in the year my father was born.

Time and Again -- Great concept: Man travels from New York in 1970 to New York in 1882. The execution? Not so much. Many people will consider this nitpicking but I take umbrage with the mechanics of how the time travel in this book works. Apparently all anybody ever needed to do to travel through time was to imagine really hard. Nah, man. You’re going to have to do a little better than that. There’s “slingshot around the sun,” “going 88 MPH in the Delorean,” “using the dagger of time,” etc. Take your pick.

The Greatest Sci-fi Movies Never Made, Revised and Expanded Edition -- For every great science fiction movie made there are at least a dozen great science fiction movies never made. Some of the entries in this snappy tour through Hollywood Hell are heartbreaking. Ah, what could have been?

Superman: The Unauthorized Biography -- Jesus, Captain Kirk, and Superman are the three best fictional characters ever devised by humankind. All of them are either Jewish themselves, portrayed by a Jew, or were created by Jews. I am also, as I've mentioned before, Jewish. Not sure how this all connects...I'm really losing the thread here...

Between the World and Me -- Ta Nehisi Coates is a fantastic writer doing some really important work. A great gift for your racist aunt or uncle at Christmas.

But What If We're Wrong? -- I am never wrong so reading this book was a real eye opener for me. How can people live with themselves being wrong all the time?

Normal -- Warren Ellis has written some of my favorite stories. His concepts, no matter how outlandish, always seem so firmly rooted in reality (not the reality, but a reality). One of his strengths, however, has nothing to do with the quality of his writing or his imagination or his prolificness, but rather his willingness to experiment with format. I’m thinking specifically of his foray into the webcomics space with FreakAngels. Normal is a novella, which is a format I’m not all that used to. But I would love for more contemporary scifi to exist in that kind of space.

The Wild Storm -- I admire DC’s current practice of letting big writers oversee a small imprint whilst writing the flagship title associated with that imprint (Gerard Way's Young Animal for example). The first arc of Warren Ellis' main Wild Storm book is a little decompressed for my tastes, but I will follow Ellis anywhere. Ask me how I feel in a year.

PayWall -- Fighting fascist corporations is a time-honored science fiction tradition and Joseph P Kelly honors that tradition in this beautifully drawn comic. Matt Seneca (who is a talented cartoonist in his own right) did a great write up on it over here.

Grand Theft Imagination -- Ben Moore is currently working on getting this published, so hopefully it will be available for people to purchase and read in the not-too-distant future. I promise you that it is delightful, harrowing, heartwarming, and hilarious in equal measure. And I also promise you that if you are not prepared for it, the work may be so enjoyable to you that your anus will prolapse.


Tune in tomorrow for Parts 4, 5 & 6 (Music, Videogames & My personal work).