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Month: May 2005

Smoke break

Hey, look, A Feast for Crows is done. By which we mean that the massively huge tome Martin was writing has been split into two parts, geographically, due to the physical limits of book side. The first part is complete and going into production.

Well, hey, I’ll take that.

Places to talk

Announcement: C. E. Murphy Fans is now open for business. C. E. Murphy is a dear, dear friend of mine who has just broken into publishing in a fairly big way, with six books sold over the course of the last year or so. Her first book, Urban Shaman, just hit the shelves. I’m running her unofficial forums.

Boom choice

Note: the cloture vote for the current debate on Priscilla Owens’ judicial nomination is scheduled for Tuesday. Barring a compromise over the weekend, the cloture vote will fail and Senator Frist will begin declaring the Senate rules on filibusters unconstitutional.

The compromise is very unlikely. The key religious right lobby wants all the controversial judges confirmed, and a compromise would result in some rejections. We’ll find out, I dunno, Tuesday or Wednesday? One of those. We’ll find out then whether or not 50 Senators will vote to eliminate the judicial filibuster.

Where it's due

Much of my Count Dooku opinion was shaped by Sean Stewart’s Yoda — Dark Rendevous. Sean Stewart is one of the best fantasists working today; his Star Wars novel rises way above the pack. It’s all about the relationship between Dooku and Yoda and Stewart knows how to write about mentor/student relationships.

He’s also got a surprisingly good knack for writing lightsaber battles; or maybe not so surprising when you consider the swordplay in Night Watch. The… second to last? I think so. The second to last time I saw Stewart read, he read that portion of Night Watch and it was clear he loved writing it, but he hasn’t returned to any action to speak of since.

Yes, fanfic, fine

In my Episode III, Palpatine’s temptation of Anakin is mirrored by Count Dooku’s struggle with his own desire for redemption. As Palpatine is to young Anakin, so Yoda is to his best student, Count Dooku. Count Dooku is the man he pretended to be in Episode II.

The movie has a tighter focus: Obi-Wan and Anakin pursuing Dooku against the backdrop of the Clone Wars. (None of this nigh-instantaneous transport between star systems.) This, too, is a mirror: this time we’re reflecting the pursuit of Luke and Leia. Dooku moves from system to system, just ahead of the Jedi, directing his grand strategy from behind the scenes. He is still Palpatine’s creature; the Clone Wars are still orchestrated. But he has potential.

Somewhere along the line, and it’s part of Palpatine’s temptation, Anakin dons the armor. It’s not because he’s horribly scarred, although he knows that use of the armor will scar him as it draws upon his life force. It’s because he can’t catch Dooku without it. He needs this crutch before he can fulfill the orders of the Jedi Council. Obi-Wan is outraged. Palpatine is smiling.

In the third act, Obi-Wan and Anakin catch up with the Count. He disarms Obi-Wan with ludicrous ease. Dooku is the best Jedi duellist of his generation, and he has a real claim to the title of the single best lightsaber duellist ever to pass through this galaxy. Obi-Wan watches, pinned, while Dooku and Anakin duel. Anakin is almost up to the task. But not quite. Anakin reaches to the Dark Side, finally, his final surrender in the face of certain death. Dooku cannot allow this: he cannot allow another Jedi to go down the path he foolishly chose. It’s the moment of Anakin’s failure and the moment of Dooku’s redemption and there is no turning back. Dooku slays Anakin rather than allow him to become a monster.

But what now? Dooku could perhaps win the Clone Wars. If he does that, he shatters the Republic. He could allow himself to be defeated, but then Palpatine wins. He cannot return to the Jedi Council, because there is no turning away from the Dark Side.

He makes the only choice. He dons the armor; he seals himself into it, knowing that he cannot be released short of death. He turns back to Palpatine, with another name. He’s the only person who could carry out such a deception; had he not already turned to the Dark Side, living such a lie would surely bring him there.

Decades later, he will gently tease Luke, the son he never had, into reaching his potential. He will, in the end, see the Emperor killed. Nobody will ever know who he was, and he can’t admit it even at the end: to do so would be to shatter Luke, after all. Yoda will die thinking that Dooku was never redeemed.

The real Episode III was pretty good. There’s one scene made up completely of cut shots, back and forth between two principles, that works amazingly well. (Then Lucas reuses the technique and drains the life of it, but oh well.) The lightsaber duels are very good. The dialogue is laughably bad, worse than anything in any other Star Wars movie. Best of the prequel trilogy by a long shot and possibly better than Return of the Jedi.

Above the main

A Sundial In A Grave: 1610 is what the Kushiel books wanted to be, but less gilded. Late Renaissance, swordplay, espionage, desperate adventure, and dominance/submission games? Check. It’s possible there’s even a Mary Sue character, depending on how you look at things.

And yet A Sundial In A Grave does not over-enthuse about the joys of pain in the bedroom, it does not linger endlessly on the prowess of the hero, and it is not a morass of angst. It swashbuckles, all the while aware of the contradictions that lie at the heart of the protagonist. He is a duellist: he is a man who desires — but that would be telling.

It doesn’t quite so much beat the living crap out of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, but if you were wanting plot with your mock historical, well, this would be the appropriate port of call. The territory is similar, if more mystical. Where one plot is driven by the wisdom of Isaac Newton, the other is driven by Giordano Bruno.

I loved it.


This one’s for Jeff.

By last count, I had 528 DVDs — this includes TV shows and some wrestling, though. So maybe around 475 if you only count movies. A relatively small number of those are in a sell stack.

The last film I bought was The Life Aquatic, in the Criterion 2 disc edition. It looks like another great Criterion production.

The last film I watched was Serenity; it’s been an off-month for me.

Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me… let’s see. Brazil, which is the movie that taught me that there was life beyond the summer blockbuster; Days of Being Wild, which was my first Wong Kai Wai movie; Magnolia, which makes me cry; Ronin, the most underrated Hollywood action movie of the last 20 years; and Crash, which is probably my favorite Cronenberg movie.

I’m not going to tag anyone, but pick this up if you’d like.

Building up

I am fantastically excited: Fangoria has the first peek at the FanTasia film festival lineup. As I’d hoped, Night Watch and Kitamura’s Godzilla: Final Wars will be there. Night Watch is the Russian conspiracy modern fantasy epic which has a ton of buzz, and Kitamura is of course the director of the insanely spirited Versus. Those were the movies I’d really wanted to see.

Lots of other cool stuff, too. Lion’s Gate has a small slew of J-horror sequels, which I’ll see if it’s convenient, and the horror anthology film Three… Extremes by Miike, Fruit Chan, and Chan-wook Park. I’ll see that for shock value. Lots of zombie movies. Hm, and Paul Spurrier’s “P” — made in Thailand by a British director, looks interesting, gives me some creepy vibes. I love fusion and I want to see that one badly.

Speaking of creepy, Creep looks intriguing as well. I don’t know a lot about it, but I like subway movies and I like Franka Potente. There’s a capsule review of it on Twitch, from whence I also got the Fangoria link.

I love this festival so much.

Past words

Community Book Solutions is a company which takes book donations and gets them to libraries. They also seem to have a book sales arm, which they don’t talk about much on their web site. That’s a little skeevy, if they’re selling the books people donate to them. On the other hand, I’ve found a few recommendations from librarians. And when you get right down to it, the fact that they’ll come to your house and box and pick up your books? That’s a total win for me. They take just about everything, too.