The Genius of Russell T. Davies

I got to it late, but I’ve just finished watching Years and Years, a joint production between the BBC (still a great channel for drama and natural history, even if there news & current affairs coverage has nose-dived recently) and HBO. The story follows a not-so-typical family’s attempts to steer its way through the massive political, social and technological upheavals of a future Britain.

Years and Years

The landscape is huge, covering not just The United Kingdom (or what’s left of it), but future events in Europe and the United States. When you’re trying to build a world as big as this for any story, then it’s easy to get lost in the peripheral details, losing sight of your characters and indeed the story you’re trying to tell. Davies skilfully navigates this using a simple technique favoured by the best science-fiction and fantasy writers: focus on your key characters and let the world grow around them; let the changing world change them.

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Spider-man: Far From Home

Well this really was a treat. After the enjoyably grim Endgame, Marvel/Disney have given the fans a bit of much-needed light relief.

The film follows Peter Parker on a whirlwind trip around Europe, during which the teenage superhero has to come to terms with the loss of his mentor, raging hormones, and a global threat in the form of elemental monsters from an alternate dimension.

Yes, there’s a lot going on, but the writers have managed to hold it all together (just), without wandering too far from the main ‘beat the bad guys’ plot line.

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Book review: The Wandering Earth

Nope, not a repeat: I reviewed the movie a few weeks back; the film was based on the title story from the book. We have eleven stories in all, each one a sci-fi master piece exploring mind-bending ideas that span thousands of years and affect billions of lives. Along the way, science and the physics can get a bit complex, but nothing that detracts from the pace and quality of the writing, and overall, the detail brings a certain amount of realism to the stories, enough to make you think: ‘Jesus, what if this actually happens?’, but not enough to give you a migraine. The pacing varies quite a lot from story to story, but nothing speeds up or slows down unexpectedly, and it does let you take a break for a few days to recover from what you’ve just read. But what really makes the story (indeed, any story) are the characters.

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