Surprise, we’re all still here. So here’s the media I’ve been consuming this week:
Simon R. Green’s A Hard Day’s Knight is the 12th novel in the Nightside series. The Nightside books follow the career of John Taylor, private eye. He doesn’t solve murders or do divorce work and he wouldn’t know a clue if he fell over it. What he does is find things — and occasionally, people — in the Nightside, the dark and seedy side of London where it’s always 3 am and everything, including your soul, is for sale. Green’s Nightside series was a frontrunner in the urban fantasy genre of hard-boiled science fiction, and it’s a delight to spend time with John Taylor again. This time, Taylor has been gifted with the sword Excalibur in the unlikeliest way imaginable….it was sent to him in the mail. The whole thing smacks of destiny, and Taylor has always been good at dodging destiny. However, Excalibur has other plans — plans that will take Taylor into London Proper and back to the Nightside, running into the usual crew of nasties (past, present and future) along the way. If you are interested in the Nightside series, I strongly recommend starting with the first book Something From the Nightside. The second book is Agents of Light and Darkness. Be aware that Green is an extremely graphic writer in the blood and guts area (no sex, though) and his descriptions can veer into the grotesque and macabre. In all, this 12th book is an excellent addition to a series that never fails to challenge and amuse.
What to say about this lush BBC adaptation of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast novels? I hesitate to admit that I’ve pulled the books off the shelves at the bookstore a number of times, thumbed through them and put them back. They never seemed interesting enough to dive into Peake’s world, although this trilogy is considered one of the cornerstones of fantasy fiction. But! Here is the BBC to the rescue with a miniseries, chock full of big-name actors like Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Stephen Fry and Christopher Lee and filmed in amazing, graphic detail!
Fifteen minutes into the series, I found myself saying….this is WEIRD. Ok, interesting and intense, and rather good in it’s own way, but dear sweet mice on toast, Gormenghast is WEIRD. Rhys-Meyers is horrifyingly good as the loathsome Steerpike, who brown-noses his way into a position he doesn’t deserve in order to attain power over the royal Groan family. I have no way of knowing how faithful the movie is to the book — I’ve read comments saying that they radically altered some of the plot lines and characters so rabid fans may want to avoid. Some people have also complained that Steerpike is too like-able, which makes my head spin — I don’t think we were watching the same movie! In all, this is an excellent four-part series if you’re in the mood for something gothic and baroque, and have a high tolerance for the bizarre.