Devs

My favourite lockdown binge so far, though it’s kind of hard to describe: a cross between Killing Eve and Jesus Christ Superstar (Jesus even makes a cameo appearance). It’s funny, inventive, has one of the best deadpan cast of characters I’ve ever seen. (Nick Offerman is pure genius), and the script is a pared-down thing of joy. Devs takes place round about now-ish and is the story of a company that is working to develop the holy grail of computer systems: a quantum machine that can

Yup, a game-changer, and the shady techs behind it will kill employees, foreign spies and just about anyone else to keep it a secret.

Devs is a slow-burner: the set (especially the computer – they’re actually working inside the computer!) is a work of art. The whole piece is quiet, atmospheric with dialogue that works effortlessly around some pretty mind-blowing concepts: probability, quantum computing, multiple universes: they’ve thrown the whole Sci-Fi manual at it, and still managed to keep it compulsive viewing. As I’ve said, it’s a standout performance by Nick Offerman (remember Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation?) as the haunted CEO of the company, wracked with doubts over what he’s trying to do.

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Book review: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Somehow, describing this as the ‘long-awaited sequel’ doesn’t quite cover it. I’ve had this on preorder for MONTHS. As I’m sure you know, The Testaments is the follow up to the enormously successful, and worryingly prophetic, Handmaid’s Tale – the story of a dystopic America, where a huge swathe of the country is under the control of a totalitarian government that has removed the rights of woman to exist as individuals. (Seriously, if you’ve never heard of this book then I think you may be on the wrong blog).

The Testaments carries on a few years after the last book left off, delving deeper into the world of Gilead from the point of view of women living within it, and outside. It’s not the same literary horror story we saw in the first instalment (or indeed, the tv series), so I don’t think it carries the same shock value I remember from reading The Handmaid’s Tale, though now I get less of a sense of ‘this could happen!’ and more of a sense of ‘I think it already has.’

The writing is much lighter, with less of the literary flair we saw in June’s account of her life as a handmaid. What does come across is the hypocrisy of the entire Gilead setup, and the sense that many of the original characters (Aunt Lydia in particular) are perhaps just as much victims as the handmaids; they were just better survivors.

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Book review: Logan’s Run

Yup, I’m getting to this one really late. The movie was a sci-fi classic, the TV series … not so much. Having seen both when I was a kid, I didn’t think there was much point in reading the book, until it won the Alternative Booker Prize held by the Reading Writers Group. I’d made one of those private vows you see: to read every entry before Christmas. The first one was Perfume, and now, Logan’s Run …

The story is set in the distant future. After an uprising by the world’s youth, the old order finds itself overthrown, and in most cases, executed. Recognising that they still need to tackle the problem of overpopulation, the teenagers running the planet hit on a rather novel solution: there is enough for everyone, as long as no one lives past the age of twenty-one.

And so we meet Logan. Logan is a Sandman, and his job is to hunt down ‘runners’: that despised section of the population who don’t agree with being put to sleep before they’ve even lived, and so try to escape to a place called Sanctuary.

Logan’s very good at his job, right up until the day he hits twenty-one …

Now those of you who’ve seen the film may be thinking, ‘Twenty-one? I thought LastDay came when you hit thirty.’

Yes, that was for the movies, and there was a reason why the studios changed it.

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