Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Remembrance, Discovery, and digging myself out

Did I mention that my resolution this year is to keep next November through March completely open? I know, that's a strange resolution, but it finally occurred to me after my family and I were so sick from late November through mid-February and still had all of these commitments to keep up with that we might have recovered more quickly without them. It's a developing project, stay tuned for more.

One of the things that took a LONG time to recover was my reading time. Thus, even though I raved about the first book in Cixin Liu's trilogy Remembrance of Earth's Past back in November, it was only yesterday that I finally finished the final book, Death's End. I wish I could have finished it sooner, because it was incredible.

Maybe some things shouldn't end

I was honestly not a sci-fi fan before this, but now I am. I've read most of what Liu has out, and now I don't know what to do with myself. I'm not the only one who thinks this is one of the most incredible series ever written, as evidenced by the awards the books have won. Absolutely thorough; every train of thought and scientific possibility was followed to its logical conclusion, all grounded by the fundamental concept of the Dark Forest theory.

As impressive as the unrelenting logic was, I think it's important to remember that the series is ultimately about modern people. The contact with what turns out to be a hostile alien race is brought about by a young woman devastated by her father's public murder during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and a wealthy man who is disgusted by the damage his father's company has wrought on the environment. For both of them, something has to change, and if they can't change it themselves, they'll invite another party that can. When, a few centuries later, people debate what it will mean to have human beings travel untethered to Earth and human values, one wonders what Liu's original main characters will think. Survival is the ultimate question, but the survival of what?

Clearly, I haven't quite left the strange but perfect world Liu created yet.

The only downside to this series is that I can't watch the new Star Trek: Discovery series. I suspected that it wasn't going to be my cup of tea (it doesn't bother anybody that the tech used on the shows that are supposed to be set before The Original Series is so much more sophisticated?) but I find myself shaking my head at the majority of these episodes thinking, no, I think they need to develop that a little bit more. Like the last series, Enterprise, I think there are a bunch of really good actors (Sonequa Martin-Green is amazing, and of course Michelle Yeoh is excellent) trying to do their best with less than perfect material. (And is this supposed to be the wacky re-do universe JJ Abrams created for the movies, or are we back on the original timeline?) Whatever; I'm just trying to avoid it now so I don't ruin it for my more nostalgic husband.

And maybe some other things don't need to be constantly revived
If I'm being entirely honest, I also haven't been happy with the last few Kdramas I've watched, and I didn't love the last Korean movie I saw either. Both Black and Beating Again started out well, but they fell apart at the end. Black, a show about a Grim Reaper trying to track down his errant partner, was really, really good up until the final episode, but then it seems as if the writers realized they were out of time and had to fix EVERYTHING, whether or not it was going to make sense that people figured it out when they did. Beating Again's premise (that a heart recipient was going to take on an improved personality because of the good nature of his donor) was maybe equally weird, but the ending was too pat, literally fifteen minutes after teasing us that it was going to end less than happily. I wanted more, but I can't exactly put my finger on what.

Isn't it amazing how good looking Grim Reapers and their groupies are in Korea?
Surprisingly, cold-blooded corporate cut-throats and heart transplant recipients are also really good-looking too

Drug King was better, but the pacing was off. Anyone who's ever heard of meth knew that the dealer was going to end up in a Howard Hughes-esque hole of his own making by the end, but I still hoped for a more complete ending. It also seemed like they were trying to draw an analogy between Park Chung Hee's quasi-mercantilist dictatorship and selling crank (under the brand name "Made in Korea"), but they didn't make it tight enough for me to, well, care. Bae Doona, so great in Stranger, was totally wasted here.

A poor man from a poor country takes advantage of an opportunity to sell drugs to a richer country. And now you can write the rest of this script.
Thank goodness I have the latest Commissario Brunetti mystery waiting for me at the library. There is a light at the end of the tunnel :-)