Tuesday 23 January 2024

Movie Review: Outland

Directed by Peter Hyams, 1981
IMDb listing

After being transferred to be the new head of security on a mining colony on Io, Marshal William O’Niel must decide if he wants to toe the line or bust the drug ring he uncovers.

The special effects are really good. The station looks dirty and lived in, with a claustrophobic mix of large spaces broken down into small cubicles and living quarters. It’s very much a realistic - and rather horrifying - guess at what a company town would look like. Little private space, little regard for the workers, lots of emphasis on productivity and profit for the company.

There’s a realistic 3 day transfer time from the orbiting space station and the planet, which the story uses to good effect. The tech is all so outdated watching them write emails and watch video messages is kind of painful, though it was futuristic stuff for the early 80s.

The extended final fight was entertaining. I question some of the structural integrity of the complex and the mine’s ability to continue operating after some important sections of the base were destroyed though. Oddly the massive damage to the base isn’t commented on by anyone in the film.

While it’s not the best film set in space, it was entertaining and embodies a lot of the themes later 80s films would focus on.

Tuesday 16 January 2024

TV Show Review: Severance Season 1

Created by Dan Erikson (2022)
IMDb Listing

Lumen Industries has discovered how to surgically separate the brain. Their workers have no memories of what they do on the job, and their ‘innies’ have no life outside of work.

After a co-worker suddenly leaves, Mark S. is promoted to team lead of data refinement. His first task is to help the team’s replacement, Helly, with her adjustment to severed life.

But Helly doesn’t want to work at Lumen and it’s truly bizarre office culture. And she will do whatever it takes to get out.

This is an absolutely brilliant show on Apple TV. It’s slow moving and takes its time letting you get to know the core characters and their issues. It asks some great questions about memory, work, and work-life balance. Having seen it twice now, it’s also a show that gets better upon rewatch as you can pay attention to smaller details you missed the first time around.

The story is bizarre in all the best ways. There’s so much that’s simply ODD about Lumen and the office. The show has a lot of bright lights and long white corridors. It’s also got some creative photography choices, making good use of reflections and cramped spaces. There’s a sweet office romance between 2 older men (one of whom is played by Christopher Walken). A lot of 60s inspired sets and parties. A new age guru, and more.

The season has an electrifying finale that poses a lot of new questions and deepens the mysteries around the company.

I hope the series gets all the seasons it needs to tell its story as planned.

Tuesday 9 January 2024

Book Review: Mislaid in Parts Half-Known by Seanan McGuire

After losing years of her life in the Land Where the Lost Things Go, Antsy Ricci has found her way to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. But a school filled with kids trying to find their Doors back to magical lands might not be the best place for a girl that can find anything,

This is the 9th book in the Wayward Children series and is best read in sequence. It takes place a bit before and directly after the events of Where the Drowned Girls Go and Lost in the Moment and Found. It’s worth rereading those if you don’t remember what happened.

Antsy’s an interesting character. She’s 9 years old in the body of a 16 year old, with no idea of how to act around kids her visible age. Seeing her face her past and giving real resolution to her story in Lost in the Moment and Found, was wonderful.

I loved Sumi in this story. She can be a bit much but acts like a real mother hen crossed with a real no nonsense attitude. She has some of the most insightful lines in the book.

Despite the rules of the school, a quest is at hand. As a novella it only takes a few hours to read, but has a very satisfying story arc.

If you’ve read the prior novellas in the series, this is a strong follow-up. If you haven’t, I can’t recommend the series enough.

  - a review copy of the book was provided by NetGalley -