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31 January 2018 @ 07:21 pm
Reading, Listening, Watching  
Ooh! Haven't done one of these for a while.

Reading: Companion Piece. One in the line of books that started with Chicks Dig Time Lords. I was somewhat bemused by the popularity of Chicks Dig..., I think in part because it didn't seem to bear any relation to my own experience as a female Who fan but I rated Queers Dig Time Lords very highly. So far I'm feeling a bit `meh' about Companion Piece though I'm only a couple of essays into it - in general (though not exclusively) it's been a bit short on the analysis and a bit long on the summaries, but early days yet....

Listening: I've started listening to the Philosophise This podcast. I'm enjoying the survey of the history of philosophy but I find some of the presentation a little hokey.

Watching: Apart from the Randomiser we're not really watching anything consistently at the moment. Odd episodes of Tintin, and Star Trek (both TOS and Discovery). Comparing and contrasting original Star Trek with Discovery is interesting, for all its cheesiness to modern eyes the original series was trying to be high concept in a way Discovery isn't (or at least from what we've seen so far). Discovery seems to be going much more down the space opera/politics route which feels very familiar, particularly viewing it hot on the heels of The Expanse. I feel there is quite a lot of Discovery-like stuff about at the moment but not much original Star Trek-like stuff (possibly Black Mirror but we bailed halfway through the first episode unconvinced by the set-up and another episode I was shown by a friend left me with too many questions about how the concept was supposed to work to feel satisfied- high concept, particularly when you have to both tell a story and set up a convincing world in the space of 45 minutes is hard).

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/481558.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on January 31st, 2018 08:51 pm (UTC)
I confess I haven't seen Discovery, I'm too busy watching Doctor Who for my writing project. I might also have been a bit put off by watching DS9 in 2015-2016 and finding it not as good as I remembered, mostly because the politics wasn't as central as I remembered. It's interesting that the politics approach seems passe when it was once groundbreaking. I guess that's life, although it shows how far behind I am that that hadn't really registered with me (I'm not familiar with The Expanse or Black Mirror).
louisedennis: Space Operalouisedennis on January 31st, 2018 09:03 pm (UTC)
I was thinking much the same thing. I didn't watch a great deal of DS9, but did see all of Babylon 5 and Discovery feels very similar. The characters and their situation is more nuanced and complex than original Star Trek but original Star Trek is full of grandiose ideas and strange aliens and questions about how humanity copes with things and measures up to its ideals and that feels much fresher in a strange way.

Black Mirror, as I understand it, is an anthology show which aims to tell high concept SF stories with a near future slant and a particular focus on new technologies, the internet and social media. The two stories I've seen at least some of, I felt suffered from making simplifying assumptions about how people and systems (or perhaps people within systems) work. I suspect you would find it overly cynical and rather unpleasant.

The Expanse is space opera about politics in a future where The Earth, Mars and the Asteroid Belt are distinct political entities. I'm sure its view of politics is simplistic but it is less obviously so than in Black Mirror and it does suffer from a certain soap opera-ness - it is all an ongoing story (based on a series of novels) but the ending points of seasons seem arbitrary and it is not clear there is any over-arching narrative that ties everything together as opposed to some disparate groups of characters, each with their own stories, that sometimes interact. It is also cynical and unpleasant in places, but overall I would suggest more optimistic than Black Mirror and it is distinctive for having a very diverse cast (though no one Jewish, or at least no one obviously coded as such so far as I can tell).
daniel_saunders: Kotel at Twilightdaniel_saunders on January 31st, 2018 09:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this (I wasn't expecting you to summarise, but thanks anyway!). The Expanse sounds vaguely interesting, but I have a long to-watch list...

I should probably also say that I don't need Jewish characters in everything I watch/read! I do play that up a bit to make a political point, because I get annoyed that 'Jewish' isn't considered a 'real' identity by most identity politics people or, perhaps worse, is just considered a subcategory of Western/white/oppressor, whereas the reality is more complex. It does occasionally bother me that if I want depictions of people like me (Jewish and religious, but engaged with the secular world) in contemporary settings, I'm extremely limited in choice, but I do know that Jews are a tiny minority, religious Jews a minority of a minority and religious Jews in some sense engaged with the wider world a minority of a minority of a minority! So I don't need religious Jews, or aliens who can be analogised as Jews, but it is nice to have them sometimes, if done well!
louisedennis: Space Operalouisedennis on January 31st, 2018 09:51 pm (UTC)
On the other hand, I do know you have an interest in the representation of Jews in media, so it seemed silly to recommend something as having a conspicuously diverse cast without the caveat that that diversity did not cover Jews - though, TBH, the diversity in The Expanse is mostly in terms of race and gender, I can't think of any obvious examples of religious characters, non-straight characters, or disabled characters.