Missy: Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated by John Dorney (Big Finish, 2019) John Dorney’s first contribution to the range is an exuberant run-around that pits Missy against the Meddling Monk (a most welcome addition, played superbly by Rufus Hound). An overabundance of repartee makes for great fun yet leaves little room for dramatic substance.
The Sounds of Stars by Alechia Dow (Inkyard, 2020); audiobook read by Joy Sunday and Christian Barillas (Harlequin, 2020) A SF invasion narrative serving unabashedly as an allegory for race relations. Though the character viewpoint is padded out by constant small repetitions, Ellie and M0Rr1S remain appealing outsiders. Their arc trends towards YA slush but is redeemed by several astute…
The Whitlams – Gaffage and Clink Tour Live @ The Fortitude Music Hall, 17 September 2021 Half the Whitlams were joined by Brisbane bassist Ian Peres for a rescheduled evening of Tim Freedman’s jazz-lyric-infused indie piano rock. All three musicians were in fine form. Highlights included You Gotta Love This City, No Aphrodisiac, and Up Against the Wall.
The Sarah Jane Adventures, Series 4 (BBC, 2010) Series Four side-lines Luke but keeps up an imaginative procession of Earth-threatening plot lines and (visually resplendent) villains. Daniel Anthony (Clyde) and Anjli Mohindra (Rani) take centre stage with sufficient aplomb to give hope for the show’s continuation beyond Elisabeth Sladen’s passing.
A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome by Professor Gregory S. Aldrete (The Great Courses, 2021) This audiobook comprises twelve lectures examining Ancient Rome’s representation in film. Aldrete proves knowledgeable and passionate about the material, though uncritical of the primary sources against which the modern interpretations are judged. We learn more about film-making and contemporary zeitgeists than Rome. …
Inside Man by K. J. Parker (Tor, 2021) Within a few pages, this sequel to Prosper’s Demon establishes its devilish scenario. What follows thereafter is an increasingly labyrinthine exploration of underlying premise—the feasibility of heavenly resistance within a divine plan that incorporates that very resistance. Ingenious though narratively self-absorbed.
Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan (Square Peg, 2018) Mangan stirs up nostalgia through her (quietly amusing) remembrances of childhood favourites, ruminating on the benefits and challenges of formative-age reading and the history of children’s literature. In doing so she calls attention to several unheralded classics for bookworms to track down.
Missy: A Spoonful of Mayhem by Roy Gill (Big Finish, 2019) A well-considered introduction to the series, stripping Missy of her ability to kill and thereby transforming her from Machiavellian villain to insouciant anti-hero. She’s even given two temporary companions who are held in thrall to her mystique (much like the Doctor’s are).
The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (Little, Brown, 2017); audiobook read by Gemma Whelan (Hachette, 2017) A magical adventure in the mode of early Harry Potter books (and rather better written), yet the narrative drive sputters on its fuel of high-octarine imagination, and while Morrigan and Jupiter have real personality, other characters—particularly the antagonists—are unmitigated extremes.
Weathering With You dir. Makoto Shinkai (2019) Feature-length anime. Writer-director Makoto Shinkai once again proves extremely adept at creating mood (in this instance a gloomy, near-dystopian Tokyo inundated by rain), and at structuring a plot to reflect teenage self-absorption and the feeling of carrying the weight of the world.