In a few quiet moments, I’ve been watching some TV.
Iron Fist – is really, really bad. It fails basic questions of story telling – what is it that Iron Fist guy really wants? Is it to mope around, in general? Who really knows, because all of the characters wander round having these random conversations without trying to achieve any clear goals. The fight scenes are worse than you’d expect.
Lovesick (also listed in some places as Scrotal Recall) is hilarious. Laugh out loud hilarious. It is a story of a young man named Dylan, who gets chlamydia. He has to call everyone he’s ever slept with (at least, within the last several years), tell them the news. He uses it as a chance to revisit. Throughout, theres a ‘will they / won’t they’ vibe about Dylan and his best friend, Evie.
Dylan is an utter wet rag, and the TV show is worse for him being a character in it. Ted Mosby at least managed to be interesting, and to occasionally take decisive action trying to achieve particular things. Dylan, by contrast, is a disorganised bum, who wanders around taking absolutely zero action, and floating along with whatever happens to him. In real life, this is the guy who you have to kick out after he’s slept on your couch for three months, eaten all your cereal and not even offered to pay rent. The closest he comes to a goal or direction is signing up to a course because someone at a bar played a word association game, and the pointed out to him that he had a strong reaction to gardening. He is the personification of a wet rag. Somehow, though, implausibly, every woman he comes into contact with finds him charming, and he ends up sleeping with a large number of them. This is particularly implausible because he’s such a nob; in one scene, he ends up meeting up with an ex. When she tells him he was awful, he doesn’t listen, or apologise – he just tells her she was wrong, and that it was all wonderful. It wasn’t, mate. You’re a nob. I’m tempted to try and use this as a reflection on the broader state of society, and the lack of liminal rites of passage to help drifters know when to grow up, but I can’t be bothered. Dylan is the case study of a teenager who still wants to lie around in his socks and underwear all day.
His friends are hilarious and interesting, though, and they redeem the show. It’s worth watching just to see the hilarity of their antics, and the script writing, which is great.
The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin is an interesting piece of writing. It tells the story of a group of Chinese scientists. It turns out that the strange phenomena they’re trying to understand are because aliens are coming to earth, and have been communicating. Those aliens come from a planet with three suns, that struggles to predict weather and temperature, and hence they’re keen to get to the paradise of predictability that is an earth atmosphere.
Liu Cixin has a fascinating imagination, and tells a genuinely intriguing story. There are interesting characters, complex sci-fi questions, and some decent plotting. For me, the major drawback to the book was the writing. Now granted, there may be quite a lot that I’m missing in the English translation. But it felt very abrupt and rushed to me. Scenes that could easily have been a chapter are meted out in a few pages, or paragraphs. This rush through the material lets Liu Cixin cover a lot of ground (in the first novel, a secret organisation dedicated to advancing alien life is formed, ruptured, faces internal conflict and then defeated in the space of a few chapters). But it feels very … superficial, and it doesn’t draw you into the story. It feels very much like you’re reading an interesting set of questions that Liu Cixin wrote, rather than losing yourself in the story.
It’s not that he can’t write well. There are some short passages that are evocative and beautiful. It’s just that he seems to dole them out, at a rate of about three or four per book. The rest is a rapid scan through a hurried storyline.
Worth it if you like good sci fi, but be aware of how it’s written.