Author Archive for Derelict Space Sheep

After the Goat Man

After the Goat Man by Betsy Byars (The Bodley Head, 1974) A remarkable middle grade novel. By delving deep into the protagonists’ wistful ruminations—especially poor overweight Harold’s—Byars not only guides her characters to a precocious philosophical maturity (cf. Peanuts) but also holds the reader’s attention despite there being almost no plot.    

The Stranger, Series 1

The Stranger, Series 1 by G. K. Saunders; dir. Gil Brealey (ABC, 1964) Early Australian SF. A cagey alien befriends three schoolchildren while seeking refugee status for his people. The Stranger is played seriously and contrives across six episodes (particularly through its incidental music) to maintain a sense of ambiguity vis-à-vis the extra-terrestrials’ true intentions.    

Scythe

Scythe by Neal Shusterman (Simon & Schuster, 2016); audiobook read by Greg Tremblay (Bolinda, 2019) Shusterman’s world-building weaves unobtrusively through the story. The central premise—a future where longevity gives rise to professional death-takers—is intriguing, and while plot developments are necessarily fraught, they also at times prove genuinely unexpected. Tremblay’s audiobook reading adds to the characterisation.    

Eight will Fall

Eight will Fall by Sarah Harian (Henry Holt, 2019) A straightforward fantasy quest narrative with lashings of visceral horror. Important characters appear out of nowhere while seemingly important characters disappear abruptly. This and a vaguely desensitised writing style keep the reader off-kilter. Harian’s approach almost doesn’t work at all, yet does.    

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger dir. Gore Verbinski (2013) Harshly judged by critics, The Lone Ranger is nonetheless a thoroughly entertaining film; lengthy, yes, but in harmony with the vastness of its landscapes. The western and (Tonto-inspired) comedy plotlines run parallel for a time before coming together in a rip-roaring finale.    

The Complete Peanuts: 1993 to 1994

The Complete Peanuts: 1993 to 1994 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics Books, 2014) Spurred perhaps by Rerun’s belated coming of age, Schulz bestows upon the Peanuts gang some nice little touches of character growth (Charlie Brown’s more active pursuit of the Little Red-Haired Girl, for instance). Unfortunately, his once-consummate penmanship is starting to look shaky.