Archive for March 6th, 2009
The subeditor on Peter Bradshaw’s piece draws the obvious comparison between the Red Riding trilogy and Life On Mars and their very different depictions of Seventies policing. In some ways they embody the different instituional spirits of their creators: the BBC (even handed but authoritarian) and Channel Four (radical, polemical, perhaps too easily distracted by sex and violence). Whilst Life On Mars is at least partially nostalgic, albeit in a compelling fashion, no one in 1974 – policeman or otherwise – is to be sympathised with. The bully boy cop in LoM might call you a puff, here he would break your hand and laugh whilst doing it. The nearest equivalent to Gene Hunt here is Warren Clarke’s sour, taciturn and malevolent Bill Molloy: you can’t imagine anyone sticking him on a T-shirt.
The film depicts the West Riding of Yorkshire as a Lynchian nightmare world into which our glib protagonist – poisoned and weak from exposure to London – is gradually enveloped and destroyed. It has a mesmorising, hallucinatory intensity, the naturalism and period detail giving way to a sort of magical realism. The Yorkshire landscape is naturally given to brooding but here it takes on extraordinary levels of pathetic fallacy. The humans who walk on the skin of this land are closed, shaded and unknowable. 1980 and 1983 are highly anticipated.
My review of Lost In Space by Toby Litt is up now at Strange Horizons.
I mentioned Ursula K LeGuin’s review of it earlier and, as usual, I disagree with her but it does make interesting reading and I will be looking forward to other reviews of the novel.
ETA: Litt in Prospect on his love of science fiction:
Young-Toby is more into television than books, and more into films than television, but the books he does buy tend to come out of cardboard boxes on trellis tables at fêtes, harvest festivals and bring and buy sales. He judges books entirely by their covers and, if he’d seen a book like Journey into Space in 1979, he would have bought it—despite the fact that it doesn’t bear those ultra-desirable words: “Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards,” sci-fi’s two most august prizes. Although he hasn’t yet realised it, young-Toby is a big fan of Chris Foss—the leading sci-fi artist. Whenever he sees one of his battered, heroic spacecraft on a novel by EE “Doc” Smith, Isaac Asimov or Arthur C Clarke, young-Toby knows that it’s the right kind of thing… Since the age of 11, I’ve constantly moved away from and then back towards science fiction. William Gibson (Count Zero) brought me back, as did Iain M Banks (Use of Weapons) and Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash, The Diamond Age).
Tantalisingly he concludes: “I want to write more science fiction. This wasn’t a one-time visit.”