The Twilight Zone

I real­ly want to like the new The Twi­light Zone. But I think the prob­lem with an anthol­o­gy series is that you’re always start­ing from square one. Every episode requires an all-new round of expo­si­tion, and expo­si­tion is hard to do well.

I real­ly don’t like the “as you know, Sal­ly” style of expos­i­to­ry dia­logue, where char­ac­ters say things to each oth­er that they both already know, for the ben­e­fit of the audi­ence. It sticks out like the cliché sore thumb for me.

And there’s a lot of it in this first sea­son of The Twi­light Zone.

Maybe it’ll get bet­ter, but so far I’m on the sixth episode, and it’s not been liv­ing up to my hopes.

(On the plus side, the act­ing has been top-notch, across all the episodes. Even the child actors have most­ly impressed me.)

Update

Well, episode 6“Six Degrees of Free­dom” — was def­i­nite­ly a brighter spot, at least for me. It had some issues, sure — tech­ni­cal quib­bles on the lev­el of CBC’s SF attempt Ascen­sion, q.v., but at least they tried hard­er. (For instance, they gave a rea­son, how­ev­er ludi­crous, that the Mars ship would have arti­fi­cial grav­i­ty.) The sto­ry, though, man­age to cap­ture me and hold me till its end, even with a bit of clunky “as you know, Kather­ine” bits of info­dump.

Seems I can for­give a bit of clunky writ­ing if the over­all sto­ry is good enough.

Encyclopedia Brown

When I was a kid, I read a lot. I worked my way through the Hardy Boys mys­ter­ies, and even read a Nan­cy Drew book or two before I decid­ed those were more in line with my sister’s sen­si­bil­i­ties.

One day I dis­cov­ered Ency­clo­pe­dia Brown in the local pub­lic library, in a book of ten short mys­ter­ies whose end­ings were hid­den at the back of the book, like a puz­zle book. I was hooked. I read all the EB books the library had, and—if I recall correctly—I also dis­cov­ered that inter­li­brary loan would bring me new tales.

As I aged, I dis­cov­ered that names like “Franklin W. Dixon” and “Car­olyn Keene”, authors of the Hardy Boys and the Nan­cy Drew mys­ter­ies, respec­tive­ly, were “house names”, false iden­ti­ties adopt­ed by writ­ers who would write one or two or ten nov­els in the series, then move on. I long assumed that Don­ald J. Sobol, the name on the spine of the Ency­clo­pe­dia Brown col­lec­tions, was also a house name.

I was wrong. Don­ald J. Sobol was a real per­son, a sin­gle, sin­gu­lar author, and this is his sto­ry.

Volleyball

We went and watched my nephew’s team play some vol­ley­ball this week­end. Did you know that kick­ing the ball is allowed nowa­days?

Also, in unre­lat­ed news, appar­ent­ly I’m old now.

(Aside: I just searched unsplash.com for “vol­ley­ball”, look­ing for a suit­able head­er image, and I was frankly sur­prised at how many motor­cy­cles and surf­boards it turned up.)

RIP, Gene Wolfe

Gene Wolfe

Tor is report­ing the sad news that Gene Wolfe has died.

The sci­ence fic­tion and fan­ta­sy com­mu­ni­ty has lost a beloved icon. We are extreme­ly sad to report that author and SFWA Grand Mas­ter Gene Wolfe passed away on April 14th at age 87.

I came to Mr. Wolfe’s writ­ing late in life. My dad had a copy of Urth of the New Sun but, as a teenag­er, I could nev­er get into it (not real­iz­ing, then, that it was essen­tial­ly book 5 of a 4-vol­ume series). I decid­ed he was too high­brow, too high­fa­lutin for my tastes.

Over the years, though, writ­ers I very much enjoyed, writ­ers whose opin­ions I respect­ed, con­tin­ued to tout the virtues of Wolfe. Neil Gaiman wrote on how to read Wolfe. Michael Swan­wick was effu­sive with his praise. Wolfe, they insist­ed, is the writer’s writer.

So I checked the Wiz­ard Knight duol­o­gy out of my local library, and I found myself hooked. I chanced upon a copy of The Fifth Head of Cer­berus at a local used book­store, and was entranced. Lat­er, I read The Book of the New Sun and its coda, Urth of the New Sun. This past sum­mer I read, and loved, Pirate Free­dom.

Gene Wolfe’s prose deserves to be read, and more, it begs to be re-read. Time, I think, for a re-read.

It is always a temp­ta­tion to say that such feel­ings are inde­scrib­able, though they sel­dom are.

Gene Wolfe, The Sword of the Lic­tor

Rest in peace.

Pho­to cour­tesy of Mark’s Post­cards from Beloit, via a Cre­ative Com­mons Attri­bu­tion-Non­Com­mer­cial-NoDerivs license.