Manorism by Yomi Ṣode

Yup, poetry …

I don’t read a lot of it, and the little I do read, I understand about thirty per cent of it.

So, I opened an early Christmas present, discarded the note that said, “Yeah, I know, poetry. Just bloody read it, will you?”

And I read it …

And thought, Ah, okay … poetry.

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The Thousand Earths by Stephen Baxter

This is one slots in the bookshelf under Speculative Fiction with Ridiculously Big Numbers (subsection: Epic). And a book with numbers as big as this can’t really be told as a straight novel, so Baxter has written two stories for the price of one.

The first story features John Hackett, an emotionally-troubled astronaut tasked with exploring the Andromeda Galaxy. For him, it’ll be a short hop: about thirty years or so, which he’ll spend asleep, travelling in a spaceship the size of Jupiter. But due to time dilation, by the time he returns to Earth, millions of years will have passed.

The second thread was a little more intriguing: Mela is a young woman growing up on an Earth-like planet that is slowly dissolving. As the land disappears, the one hundred million inhabitants are forced to travel northward to wait for the end of everything.

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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

If I’m being honest I wasn’t one hundred per cent behind this movie being made.

Chadwick Boseman was such a massive presence in the first outing, and the Avengers movies, then I thought replaciing him wouldn’t work for the sequel.

And when I found out that the original Black Panther character wasn’t going to appear at all … Mmm.

Hopefully, I’m not giving too much away by saying that in Wakanda Forever, the most secretive, most advanced nation on Earth finds itself without T’Challa; the latest in an ages-old dynasty of rulers who’ve carried the mantle of Black Panther.

This leaves Queen Ramonda (played by Angela Bassett) and her daughter Shuri (Letitia Wright) to hold the nation together in the face of threats from the outside world (who think Wakanda is weakened without its King) and a new threat from the ocean depths …

It was a brave decision to remove the original Panther, rather than replace him with another character; and now I’ve seen the movie, I think it was the right course to take. Not only does it provide a deeper look at the nation of Wakanda seem through the eyes of non-superhumans, it also puts a cast of black women firmly at the centre of the whole script – and that’s something very rare in an action movie.

The special effects are there; the excitingly improbable fight sequences – yup, there too. The plot works, just about, though I thought there were one or two iffy moments that had me scratching my head.

And jokes; yes, there are jokes, though it’s certainly not the level of tongue-in-cheekness that we’re used to seeing from the Marvel Studios, but then that shouldn’t really be a surprise: as well as being an action movie, it’s also a tribute to a cast member who’s presence was greatly missed. Along the way, we had a few sequences from Boseman as the Panther King.

So yes, it’s a great movie, not the best in stable, but still plenty to enjoy, with enough jaw-dropping, edge-of-your-seat moments. And along the way, you’ll probably find yourself thinking, “Yes, he was taken far too soon.”

A fine tribute to a great actor.

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