Two things on the agenda. First, the third "season" of the BBC science fiction show Torchwood, which I have recently completed. Second, Samuel R. Delany's novel "Stars in my Pocket like Grains of Sand," which I am two-thirds of the way through.
Act One: Torchwood
I'm a huge fan of torchwood. It's quirky, it's fun, its easy to connect with the characters, and then there's the Ianto/Jack relationship, which is handled amazingly throughout the entire story. The show isn't without its flaws, of course, but it works really well.
So about this third season. It was good. While the fan in me says "I want more stories, and episodes" and "I want more characters to survive," and "I want to see more of characters that I didn't get to see very much of," and "why do they leave so many fucking threads untied," on the whole, I thought it was very well executed.
I think the mini-series--as this was, undeniably--is likely the future of television. The story telling potential is great, there are marketing reasons why it has merit, and I think from the perspective of the scripted television world, I think there's a lot of potential for this sort of approach to television.
As for my quibbles with the story itself, I will attempt to not spoil anything, but I will say, that while the sentimentalist in me would have liked to see something different: it worked. Furthermore, I'd almost be tempted to say that "more torchwood" wouldn't really work, and I don't know that there's anyway to write a season four that would capture "what I liked" about torchwood. It isn't a pretty as the Battlestar Galatica ending this spring, but there's almost a similar finality. Discuss?
If you've not watched torchwood, it is, I think, a worthwhile expenditure of time.
Act Two: Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand
This is an amazing book. The prose is stunning, the world that Delany created is incredibly fascinating, and the story pulls it all together. Amazing. Simply Amazing.
I know what happens (or doesn't happen) in the end, which but so much of this book revolves around absorbing the ecstatic experience of the characters, that it doesn't really seem to matter. There's also, a second book that remains unfinished (though a portion was published in the 90s,) and I don't expect that to be finished, pretty much ever, though I could be surprised.
There's so much to say about the book, even with 150 pages left to go, that saying anything seems incomplete. Despite the fact that the main character is human, the world, and "his" world, is so totally alien. There's this new gendered-pronoun system that the main character (and narrator) uses, where everyone regardless of gender is "she," unless the speaker is attracted to the referant, at which point they're "he," and typically people refer to themselves as "women." It makes it hard to track things, but it really works.
The other cool thing, is that there are these two ideologies that are battling each other for domination. The conservative one, called "The Family," take a very structuralist approach to social organization. In today's world we might call them "conservative," but I think that misses the point; in contrast there's the "Sygn" who take a very radical/post-structuralist approach to social organization, which is useful both as an example, and as it provides a very non-Utopian idea of freedom.
This is amazing stuff, and in a totally different way, it's a very worthwhile book and experience. Give it a shot if you're looking for something good.