Thursday, November 30

Book: Cibola Burn, James S. A. Corey Click for more info

If there's one thing I can say about The Expanse as a series so far, it's how varied the novels I've read have been. Here we have book five, with the focus moving to the newly discovered worlds, their inevitable colonisation by humans, and the conflict that arises by competing interests in that pursuit.

The same variety brings with it a sense of pace; the protomolecule seems like a lifetime away... and I'm left excited about where the series will go next.

That said, the books themselves aren't exactly exceptional. As poised as the set up - the plot, the pacing, the tension - is, it all fails with the b-grade characterisation and such basicity of everyone who has anything to say in the story. This is a shame and disappointing, but perhaps depth isn't the actual point here - each book plays as a moreish episode of a TV serial and I'm enjoying binging it so far.

Saturday, November 18

The Ig Nobel Awards Tour Show and BAHfest London 2023 Click for more info

The saddest part of today was realising that it had been FIVE YEARS since I last attended The Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses, and I never knew I missed it as much as I did until I sat down for both it and its double heading Ig Nobel Awards Tour.

Thankfully not much had changed, firstly with the Ig Nobels talking about weird and wonderful "real" science (including that to do with repeating words, anchovies having sex, the science of boredom, the behaviour of short referees and why we should all lick rocks).

BAHfest on the other hand was a masterclass in blag and sounding clever, which anyone who uses the internet should be able to relate to. Today we heard how to use live (as in flying) kestrels as a building material, how beauty of a population was directly correlated to naval power, how partying (hard) can be an effective treatment for infection control in a world of antibiotic resistance, how to choose (or perhaps predict?) who gets to use a lifeboat based on a genetic score, the reversing the Earth's spin as a solution to climate change and finally how hardened unwashed cereal could be used as a replacement for steel.

Five years is a long time and as such I didn't recognise any of the speakers, although Matt Parker was still in full swing as the MC. The whole thing was so easy, so quick and so hilarious I cannot imagine not attending in the future.

Wednesday, November 15

Film: The Marvels Click for more info

The best thing about The Marvels is its runtime. I mean this not as an insult but as constructive feedback - it's clear from many how exhausted they are with the MCU and perhaps the superhero genre as a whole, so it's only good when such a film is kept to a minimum runtime. At the very least it'll keep you from holding a grudge.

In fact I think it's the conciseness of the film which forces it to keep a bit of focus. Yes it's all very novel and cute but these things compensate for what is a bit of a thin plot (as well as overpowered heroes). The stakes are low in this for sure.

The three Marvels have personality, the film is fun and everything is a bit of feel good. I particularly enjoyed the throwaway references to Pakistani and Islamic culture (even though Kamala isn't really your traditional Pakistani, not really).

Overall though I enjoyed the film and do somewhat recommend it.