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Viewing Blog: Asking the Wrong Questions, Most Recent at Top
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Abigail Nussbaum is a writer based in Israel.
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1. Review: Snowpiercer

As I say at the beginning of my review of Korean director Bong Joon-Ho's first English-language film, if you're like me then the first thing you ever heard about Snowpiercer was that it was in danger of being chopped down and dumbed down by its distributors for the sake of English-speaking audiences.  And then you were probably incensed, not only because you're fully capable of watching a

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2. Recent Reading Roundup 36

So the good news is that since the beginning of the year I've been reading up a storm, the last vestiges of the reading drought I'd suffered under for nearly two years blowing away.  The bad news is that I'm much more interested in reading books than writing about them, which is why this recent reading roundup only covers a selection of my reading this year, the others having passed too long ago

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3. How I Met Your Ending

One of the reasons that I'm not so down on spoilers is that, for someone who consumes pop culture the way I do, they're essentially impossible to avoid.  Online fandom talks a big game about its spoiler-phobia, but if you've ever spent a day on twitter in the wake of a major pop culture event, you know that there's no way not to pick up exactly what happened, even if people haven't said it

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4. The 2014 Hugo Award: My Hugo Ballot, Best Novel and Campbell Award

With a little over 36 hours left in the Hugo nominating period, we come down to the last two categories on my ballot.  In recent years, I've found the best novel category less and less interesting, partly because I'm not interested in keeping up with novels as they're published (that's a great way to concentrate on a single genre and let all other kinds of books go ignored) so usually don't have

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5. The 2014 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Media Categories

Continuing on to the media categories, which include some of the most popular categories on the ballot, and also the ones that have become the least interesting to follow.  The problem of the Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form category is well-known.  For years the award has belonged to Doctor Who, which routinely receives three nominations on the ballot, all but ensuring its victory due to

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6. The 2014 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories

My, how the time has flown.  I had honorable intentions of posting new segments of my Hugo ballot every few days, but here we are with less than a week to the nominating deadline and only three categories covered.  Let's continue swiftly, then, to the publishing and fan categories, an easy choice for the next step through my ballot because I won't be bothering with several of them.  As has been

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7. The 2014 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Short Fiction Categories

I don't think it will come as a shock to regular readers of this blog that the short fiction categories are my favorites on the Hugo ballot, to the extent that I attach to them an importance that is probably completely out of proportion to how most of the voting base thinks of them.  Yes, I know, the best novel category is the only one most people (and especially anyone outside of fandom, or even

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8. The 2014 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on Award-Pimping

It might be hard to remember, because there have already been two bigger and more bitter slapfights since, but the first genre kerfuffle of 2014, lo these six or seven weeks ago, was about award-pimping.  More specifically, it was about the increasing prevalence, in the last half-decade, of "award eligibility posts," those lists posted by authors around the beginning of the year and of

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9. Short Fiction Snapshot: "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling" by Ted Chiang

When I introduced the Short Fiction Snapshot series at Strange Horizons, I noted that it wasn't intended just for positive reviews.  Reviewing short fiction at essay length can mean reviewing it negatively as well, and in today's installment I give the series's first negative--or at least mixed--review to Ted Chiang's "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling," from Subterranean Online.  Chiang is

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10. Her

Science fiction films, it often seems, are the idiot cousin of the genre.  Not that there aren't some excellent SF films out there, but even if you ignore the vast majority, which are actually action or horror films in an SFnal setting, what you'll be left with will be mostly small, simple stories in thinly drawn worlds, often with a thuddingly obvious political subtext.  Again, that's not to say

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11. SherLinks

One of the good things about the long, two-year gap between Sherlock's second and third seasons (aside from the fact that in it we discovered Elementary, and suddenly Sherlock and its flaws seemed a lot less important) is that in that time the mainstream conversation about the show shifted from a tug-of-war between near-ecstatic praise and near-total denigration to a more universal acceptance of

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12. The Detective Dances: Thoughts on Sherlock's Third Season

As the 2014 Sherlock extravaganza draws to a close, let's pause and reflect on a single moment.  The star of the show is buttonholed.  In front of an expectant audience, he's asked to read words not of his own composition.  Words of an emotional, overheated nature.  Words that might be considered embarrassing.  Great merriment is had, both at his embarrassment and discomfort, and at the silliness

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13. Becoming Something Else: Thoughts on Arrow

For the last decade and a half, as superheroes have migrated from the pages of comics to the very heart of mainstream pop culture, they've been almost exclusively the purview of feature films.  This despite the fact that the long-running, episodic, open-ended comics medium and the bite-sized film medium map very poorly onto one another, a disconnect that has told in what passes for most superhero

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14. 2013, A Year in Reading: Best and Worst Books of the Year

I read 47 books in 2013, a marked improvement on last year's dismal showing but still far from where I'd like to be.  I still find myself in periods where reading just doesn't appeal, but happily these are interspersed with others when it's the only thing I'm interested in doing, and hopefully the latter will grow more common in 2014.  And, as in 2012, what my reading lacked in quantity it made

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15. Recent Reading Roundup 35

One last edition of recent reading roundup for 2013, before the obligatory summary of the year's reading (coming on December 31st and not a moment sooner, she said, glaring darkly at certain people and publications who list their favorite reads of the year in November, for pity's sake).  This one comes with a particular slant--a few weeks ago, I received a care package from NYRB Classics, that

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16. Recent Movie Roundup 18

Wow, it's been a while since we did one of these.  Usually fall and early winter are a dead season for movies, with the summer's blockbusters having died down and the winter's prestige films not having arrived yet, but this year there's been a deluge of genre and genre-adjacent work.  I've written about some of these films--Gravity and Catching Fire--at greater length, and some others, like

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17. Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Over at Strange Horizons, I review Catching Fire, the second film in the Hunger Games series.  I was quite excited going into the movie, since while I'd read the first book before seeing the film based on it, and have picked up the major events of the third book, Mockingjay, by fannish osmosis, I went into Catching Fire "clean," knowing nothing about it.  In hindsight, I probably should have

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18. Five Comments on Gravity

It's hard to imagine two films that are more different than Upstream Color and Gravity, but in one sense at least they ping me the same way--they both seem like films about which it would be a waste of time to try to write a conventional review.  Or at least, the way I write reviews, focusing on plot, character, and theme.  Like Upstream Color, Gravity is a film whose power lies elsewhere, in its

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19. They're All Going to Laugh at You: On Three Versions of Much Ado About Nothing

People my age, I think, can for the most part be divided into two groups--those whose first encounter with William Shakespeare the playwright (as opposed to William Shakespeare the cultural icon and creator of such linguistic commonplaces as "To be or not to be") came from Baz Luhrman's 1996 Romeo + Juliet, and those for whom it was Kenneth Branagh's 1993 Much Ado About Nothing.  I'm in the

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20. Thoughts on the New TV Season, 2013 Edition, Part 2

By most yardsticks, I suppose, this year's fall pilot season isn't much worse than previous years.  But it is much more boring.  For every show I've written about this year, there are two or three about which I had nothing to say that I haven't said a million times before--unoriginal plots, underdeveloped characters, blandly beautiful leads, indifferent procedural stories, poorly defined

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21. A Sense of an Ending: Thoughts on Breaking Bad and Dexter

The most shocking moment in Breaking Bad's final episode, "Felina," happens in its teaser.  Having spent months holed up in rural New Hampshire as his body finally succumbs to cancer, fed only by scraps of news about his family's (mostly ill) fortune in the wake of his exposure as the meth manufacturer Heisenberg, Walter White is headed back to Albequerque.  Slipping into an unlocked car, he

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22. Thoughts on the New TV Season, 2013 Edition

Well, here we are again.  With almost no time to grow accustomed to the glut, the new fall shows are here, and even omitting a huge number of them simply because there's really nothing to say, I've had to split the discussion of already-aired shows into two parts, with more to come.  I wish I could say that in the midst of all that quantity there are also signs of quality, but most of these shows

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23. Review: Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox + Strange Horizons Fund Drive

My review of Elizabeth Knox's YA novel Mortal Fire appears today at Strange Horizons.  As I write in the opening of the review, I was introduced to Knox by Nina Allan's Short Fiction Snapshot about Knox's short story "A Visit to the House on Terminal Hill."  Mortal Fire turns out to be less focused and not nearly as weird as the story, but it is nevertheless an intriguing, richly detailed, sharp

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24. Where the Cool Kids Are: The New Breed of TV Anti-Heroes

"We had a name for people like you in prison.  We called you the mean clique." Community, "Competitive Ecology" The era of the anti-hero is over, so says everyone.  In TV reviews and discussion boards, there is a growing consensus that shows about white middle class men behaving badly (and often illegally) and taunting the audience with how outrageous, destructive, and toxic their behavior is

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25. Four Comments on Upstream Color

It's been a week since I watched Shane Carruth's second film Upstream Color, and since then I've been trying to work out not what I want to say about it, but whether I wanted to say anything at all.  Which is not to say that I didn't like the film--I found it rich and moving, and incredibly exciting for the growth it shows in Carruth's abilities and interests as a filmmaker, and an SF filmmaker

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