Monthly Archives: April 2015

Reaper Man

51qK2OscKWLThe odds that you are a) reading this and b) do not know that Sir Terry Pratchett died last month or b’) why that is tragic and relevant are astronomically low. I’d have read the next Discworld book soon regardless, but I read it sooner still because of the tribute factor that seemed necessary. And then I’ve sat on it for a week or more, because… well, this is not a because that can be finished in the back half of a sentence.

I guess the first thing to be aware of is that Reaper Man is about Death. “I know, I know,” the hypothetical you who is reading this review without being aware of the intersection of facts above is thinking, “of course it is, it says so right there in the name that it’s about death.” Well, by coincidence you’re right, and that’s relevant too, but I mean to say that it’s about the personification of the force of death in the universe, who is about to be forcibly retired by whatever it is that audits the universe, for the crime of being a personification instead of an impersonal force as would be good and proper. So, he decides to take a vacation while he still has the accumulated time off to do that, and then everything stops dying, with probably less predictable results than you’d think.

It’s possible that you’ve already spotted what happened to me over this book, but us nodding knowingly at each other across the miles of fibers and routers is not really the stuff of which a good review is made, so I’ll pretend you have not and continue. You see, I’m reading this book, by an author I like and I know many of my friends love, who has recently died, and the book is about death. About not wanting to die, or about living beyond your term and trying to decide how good or bad that news is, about the impact of death on the world, about the impact of no death on the world.

So, you know what happened, right? I was disappointingly, but also inevitably, underwhelmed. How could I not have been?! Perfect storm, right? But it wasn’t just that. See, the book has three completely unrelated stories in it. There’s the Death on holiday thing I already mentioned, and a wizard who has lived on past his appointed time, and a threat to Ankh Morpork (the biggest city on Discworld) that the other wizards must band together to fight. And okay, I technically lied. All of these events are caused and/or affected by each other. But from a story viewpoint, no. They are not intertwined, they barely come together, and the city threat / wizard fight story that does the most to bring them together at all is by far the worst.

Basically, what I figure is, he had two really good story ideas (and they are, both of them, quite good!) that he figured were each too short to hold a book, but since they were related they could be tied together… and then he came up with nothing much of a much at all for how to accomplish that. But some editor incorrectly thought the joining story was funny and/or relevant, and here we are, with the worst tribute review in history.


It Follows

MV5BMTUwMDEzNDI1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzAyODU5MzE@._V1__SX1859_SY893_I’ve been looking forward to this movie for several weeks, and no lie, both because it seems like the only horror movies lately have been possession oriented and also because it doesn’t seem like any at all came out in February as is good and proper. And then lots of other people saw it before I did, and I’ve already been reading and internalizing reviews, which I hate it when that happens, but here we are nonetheless.

It Follows is a very succinct title, in that it gives you like 80% of the knowledge necessary to understand the movie. Because there’s this person-looking thing, right? Different people at different moments, but always there (and only you can see it!), walking toward you. Always. Which means you can drive away and escape, right? Yes, but you have to sleep or let your guard down sometime, and it doesn’t. It only, y’know, follows.

What’s great about this movie is the lessons in fear that we have all learned over the past thirty or forty years of film-making. Because, I think anyone reading this knows full well that Michael Myers, for example, has never run a yard in his life. But he’s still just a slasher in a mask, whereas this thing was a little bit terrifying. In the audience, without the slightest inkling of a stake, I could not stop myself from looking for every single person walking with purpose toward the camera (or the heroine), because until they identified who else could see the walker, it might have been… the follower, I guess.

So, that’s that, pretty much. If you like quiet, moody, atmospheric dread that does not hold your hand and lead you from plot point to plot point, where even the frequent nudity is more terrifying than titillating, this movie is for you. Not quite nightmare-inducing, but definitely nerve-wracking. I dug it. Also, a quick spoiler-filled social commentary paragraph in the first comment.