Monday 29 October 2012

Doctor Who: The Essential Companion – reviewed by Stephen Theaker

Doctor Who: The Essential Companion (BBC/AudioGo, 2×CD, 160 mins), written by Steve Tribe and narrated by Alex Price, stitches together snatches of dialogue from the fifth full season of new Who, from The Eleventh Hour through to The Big Bang. It introduces us to the eleventh Doctor and his companions, Amelia (later Amy) Pond and Rory Williams, and then introduces them (or the Doctor and Amy at least, Rory often being dead, left at home, or erased from the space/time continuum) to countries built on space whales, daleks serving cups of tea, crashed spaceships full of weeping angels, alien vampires in Venice, the dream lord, silurians, Vincent Van Gogh, football and the Pandorica: all the things that made season five so wonderful.

Friday 26 October 2012

Prometheus – reviewed by Jacob Edwards

Ridley, Riddled, Didley, Diddled. In Greek mythology Prometheus was a trickster god who betrayed his own kind and allowed the Olympians to gain ascendancy over the Titans. He championed mankind (as then it was, prior to Pandora), not only saving them from destruction at the tempestuous, lightning-wielding hands of Zeus but also giving them (or giving them back) the secret of fire and—to pull further on the thunder god’s beard—duping Zeus in perpetuity out of the meat of all sacrifices offered to him. In punishment for his duplicity Prometheus was chained to a rock and had his liver torn out daily by an eagle, forever and ever until even Franz Kafka lost interest and declared this ongoing repetition to be thoroughly pointless.

Monday 22 October 2012

Worldsoul, by Liz Williams – reviewed by Stephen Theaker

Worldsoul is a city somewhat adjacent to our world, and the subject of a fine novel by Liz Williams (Prime, tpb, 312pp). A year ago the Skein left Worldsoul, leaving its inhabitants to fend for themselves, but so far, despite the burning flower attacks from unknown enemies, they haven’t found a way to work together. The factions are too busy battling each other to deal with the problems the city faces. Mercy works in the Great Library of Worldsoul, strapping on weapons before going into the stacks to fight anything that escapes the books. She’s worried about one of her mothers, who sails the Liminality in hopes of finding the Skein, but won’t let it interfere with her work. Jonathan Deed is the Abbot General of the court, performing magic with the aid of grimoires, demons and gods, who wants control of the city. Shadow is an alchemist, more involved than she would like with Suleiman the Shah, and then even more involved with an ifrit. Mareritt is an ice queen, perhaps the original ice queen, who rides through legends in a sleigh that carries the severed heads of kings. Ancient myths, the nightmares of our oldest ancestors, are escaping from the stories that held them, and though “the mind is the best weapon of all”, ancient celtic swords, powerful magic and ninja skills will come in handy too.

Friday 19 October 2012

The Dark Knight Rises – reviewed by Jacob Edwards

And whereand whereand where is the Batman? The Dark Knight Rises, directed by Christopher Nolan, released July 16, 2012.

Gotham City is at peace and Batman hasn’t been seen in the eight years following the tumultuous events of The Dark Knight. With the vilification of his alter-ego and the financial losses suffered by Wayne Enterprises in pursuing then abandoning a clean energy project with unforeseen destructive potential, Bruce Wayne has sunk into a reclusive abstinence from society, mourning the life he could have lived with Rachel Dawes had she not been killed by the Joker. When Commissioner Gordon and rookie police officer John Blake uncover a villainous new threat lurking in Gotham’s sewers, and cat burglar Selina Kyle then allows Wayne’s fingerprints to be used to disastrous ill-effect, Batman must emerge to save his city from the fanatical machinations of Bane—a cogent, Herculean villain who trained under Wayne’s former mentor, Ra’s al Ghul. The menace is palpable but the Batman has aged and Wayne Enterprises is vulnerable. As Bane’s ruthlessly conceived schemes play out, both Gotham and her maligned protector will fall to new depths of despair and helplessness.