Review of The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter


The full review is over at Spec Chic, again.  Basically, that’s where I’m playing these days.

Short summation:  I really liked it, but I can see why some people wouldn’t.  Goss makes an interesting style choice that I thought paid off really well in terms of characterization.

Review of The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

Catching up on the small screen

So I finally got around to watching Orphan Black.  Or at least season 1 of it.  And all of you praising it to the skies are right.  It is an awesome show.  I don’t particularly like any of the characters, but it’s sure fascinating to watch them make the decisions they do.

I’ve also realized again how face blind I really am.  I tend to recognize people by hairstyles, so I keep stumbling over the moments where the show gives us yet another Tatiana Maslany, because as far as I can tell, new hairstyle, new actress….  This also explains a lot about why I can never find Matt Damon on the screen.  He has an everyman hair cut in a basic color.  I kind of knew this already because I have a friend who patiently had to reintroduce herself to me every year because she kept changing her hair style and color!

Anyway, all my nonsense aside, Orphan Black is an excellent excellent example of character actions driving the plot in an organic way, and in complicating the character lives in ways that also feel organic.  I may have to rewatch it and take notes.

Beyond that, I was surprised at how domestic this clone thriller conspiracy story really is.  I kind of love that.  It’s definitely a different style than the genre usually gives us.  I’m pretty convinced that if they’d started with male clones, it would have been a lot less oh crap I need a babysitter, and why is my Sig Other such a jerk, and more shoot-outs and high-level conspiracy talk right away.  Instead this is definitely a boil-the-frog kind of story.  The clones are presented so matter-of-factly that it’s easy to forget that this is SF.  I am assuming there are superpowers involved at some point–accelerated healing at least–because I can’t see any other way that Helena survives.

I’m looking forward to season 2.

Catching up on the small screen

Looking for movies

So, you should know this about me.  I rarely watch movies.  Somehow I got out of the habit of my teenage years, where like most teens, I spent every weekend binge-watching movies (before binge-watching was a term, I believe).  Part of it is ADD–isn’t that supposed to get better as you get older?  Part of it is just that movies are getting SO MUCH LONGER.  It’s a chore to stay in a seat for that long.  I’m up, I’m out, I’m roaming the theater.

But, I kind of miss movies.  I love the world-building that goes into them.  Shot for shot, it seems that most movies pack in more immersive detail than a television show.  Budget, I presume.

The point of this confessional being that I’ve taken a vow to watch at least 1 new-to-me movie a month.  Can’t hack the theater that much!  Too loud, too long, too slow, too cold, too much freaking 3D.  But there’s a whole slew of movies I’ve missed and I’m daunted by the selection.  Mostly what I’ve seen in the past few years have been the Marvel blockbusters–all spectacle and well-choreographed violence.  Though I did watch Resident Evil: the Final Chapter, and enjoyed it.  Which tells you a lot about my tastes, I bet.

Help me out!  Tell me what SF/F movies you’d recommend.

I’m not a huge fan of “gritty”, especially when it feels shoehorned in for the sake of it.  Do not get me started on my opinion of Seven.  (shorthand–I loathed it. LOATHED.) I don’t like characters making multiple dumb choices.  Despite Res Evil up there, I’m not a fan of zombies.  I will not watch anything that could be labeled “torture porn”.  Just not my cuppa.  My brain is enough of a horror show; I don’t need to give it more material.  I don’t like movies that take place almost entirely in the dark; that’s a technical thing.  I watch movies on my computer and I just can’t SEE the dark movies very well.  I made the mistake of watching Immortals (so many mistakes there), but the most irksome one was that I physically could not see what was happening in a whole bunch of scenes.

I like competence in characters.  Leverage was my TV jam. I will watch movies that are badly flawed if they’re interesting anyway (Jupiter Ascending, I’m looking at you.).  I especially like movies that have significant roles for women.   I love witty banter.  I get very tired of the one-liners that pass for witty banter.  Anyway, if you feel inclined, throw some titles at me.  Please, pretty please?

Looking for movies

2016 Writers to love

Every year, I read a lot of books, with two goals in mind. 1) To find entertaining books (naturally) , and 2) to find a new (to me or otherwise) author. 2016 gave me three new authors to follow.

Gaie Sebold, who wrote the charming Babylon Steel (one of my favorite books of the year) as well as Dangerous Gifts, Shanghai Sparrow, & Sparrow Falling.  Her writing is energetic; her characters are awesome and appealing; and her worlds feel flush with life.

Shanghai Sparrow (An Evvie Duchen Adventure Book 1) by [Sebold, Gaie]

JL Bryan, whose Jenny Pox claimed my weirdest book of the year title.  But I started with JL Bryan for the Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper series, which started off slowly and has become one of my most “oooh, a new one, grab it!” series.

Maze of Souls (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper Book 6)

And this year, I made a concerted effort to read more short stories, aided by the sheer number of good, online spec fic magazines.  One of the first stories I read this year was Sam J Miller’s “Angel, Monster, Man” published in Nightmare Magazine  I wasn’t sold 100% on this story, but I loved so much of it, that it left a big impression.  One that only grew more favorable after I read “When Your Child Strays from God” (Clarkesworld), and “Things with Beards” (also Clarkesworld).  Sam J Miller’s gone from completely new to me, to a writer that I’m excited to see.

Anyone else have new, or new to them writers they fell in love with this year?

2016 Writers to love