Monday, 13 July 2015

Jupiter Ascending

Just watched Jupiter Ascending this weekend, and had to comment, because really why all the negativity?  The Wachowskis describe their film as being the Wizard of Oz in  space.  I would say while channeling Charles Fort and Cordwainer Smith (the former for the idea that we're property, the latter for the whole Gothic Lords of the Instrumentality, underpeople and stroon).  Its also a rag to riches story, and therefore shares a lot of tropes with the Cinderella fairy tale.

So I'm finding it hard to understand how the reviewers were baffled by the story?

This is not to say that Jupiter Ascending is perfect.  It has a number of flaws, especially for an old fogie like me: explosions too loud, action scenes too long, not enough witty dialogue.  But it's a magnificent visual feast with eye poppingly gorgeous scenes of spaceships and underpeople.  Yes it's Candy floss, but Candy floss turned up to eleven on the scale of awesome flavoured Candy floss.

It also seems to have been received better by women and non-Americans, and I have to wonder if the current zeitgeist in America is moving further away from the tastes of the rest of the world?  If so what would that mean?  I have no idea.

Moving on, my wrist has been hurting me.  So on Sunday I took time off and sat and read all day.  I had several good books to choose from, but my partner wanted me to read the latest Charlie Stross Laundry series novel The Rhesus Chart, so that we could discuss it.  I really enjoyed the book, it kept me glued to my seat and turning pages.  So on that front ten out of ten.

However, I feel the book could have done with another editing pass, because there were several repetitions of jokes that while funny, get rather tired when used repeated; namely the play on Deeply Scary Sorcerer as the real meaning for the job title of Detached Special Secretary.  This is repeated in each book when Angleton is mentioned, and in the case of The Rhesus Chart more than once.  The repetition was clunky.

In addition, I felt that one of the two main protagonists was given the idiot ball.  I got the fact that there could only be one master vampire, but I didn't feel (given the history of the two vampire protagonists) that this come through.  It might be because we were told, rather than really shown what drives vampires to be the only one.  So I wasn't convinced that one of the protagonists would really feel the need to get his hands dirty, rather than use his resources to go underground and ride out the storm.

Also the events leading up to the ending felt rather forced.  Some of the action is told in a rather detached style, as an add-on commentary to what has happened.  It's a technique Stross uses quite often, but this time I found it broke the internal structure of the narrative by jumping back and forth in time within the same chapter.

However, The Rhesus Chart is well worth reading, and it's the best in the Laundry series as the story has consequences that I imagine will come home to roost in the next book.

Last week I managed to edit 6,684 words on Strike Dog, adding to the running total to bring it up to 101,777 words, which makes it now the longest of my three novels.  This also means I'm just a tad sort of half way through editing the novel, having edited a total of 47,774 words so far.  There has been a change in the tempo of my writing during this re-write, but I'm not sure that this is a good thing or bad.  Perhaps neither, but it's a thing for sure.

So that's it for another week.  See you all on the bounce.


  1. I watched it. I liked it. A lot. Which was surprising because, like you, I'd heard a lot of negative waves beforehand. Makes me wonder whether they were watching the same movie. My one regret was that I missed it at the cinema (it was on when I was poorly) and the small screen doesn't do justice to the stupendous effects.

    1. If and when you're next up in London, we have a 100 inch screen in our flat. While not quite cinema levels of big is pretty large. And we have the best sound system period.

  2. Not got round to watching it, but got the general impression that characterisation and plausibility were cut out in favour of spectacle. Nowt wrong with spectacle, but I don't only want that or I'd watch effects reels.

    I didn't much rate The Rhesus Chart and I'm now considering The Annihilation Score with some trepidation.

    1. I'm guessing that's because of the change in being a parody of spy stories into a thing of its own.

    2. Some of the parodies worked for me, though the Modesty Blaise one didn't because I'm very much a fan of the originals and, while I love Charlie dearly, he's not as good a writer as Peter O'Donnell. (I don't think that's much of an insult.)

      The Rhesus Chart felt like a hasty first draft. I know he can write better than that in his own voice (see Singularity Sky/Iron Sunrise for example) and it's a shame that, for whatever reason, he didn't.