Tag: 50 words

50-Word Review: The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower, dir. Nikolaj Arcel

Nikolaj Arcel’s adaptation of Stephen King’s epic Dark Tower series is delightful for fans, but also objectively not very good. Casting Idris Elba as the white-coded Roland is a genuinely interesting choice, but unlike the series the film’s derivative and poorly characterised, and cuts all of King’s complex female characters.

Word count: 50

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50-Word Review: The Dispossessed

The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin

The Dispossessed is all world-building. It’s about an anarchist society on a near-desert planet – think Utopia but without the kyriarchy. It’s as much a thought experiment as (e.g.) Asimov’s short stories are, but Le Guin’s writing and her characterisation are lovelier than his. The last line is perfect.

50-Word Review: Master and Commander

Master and Commander, Patrick O’Brian

Set during the Napoleonic Wars, Master and Commander follows hot-headed Captain Aubrey as he hunts enemy ships. A meticulously-researched comedy of manners, the novel’s interested in the social structures of the time. Published in 1969, it’s essentially conservative, centring a white man, but does feature a gay man and POCs.

Word count: 50

50-Word Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin

Epic fantasy featuring a WOC protagonist caught up in the court intrigues of colonialist overlords. There’s also a polyamorous incestuous pantheon and a matriarchy: this is epic fantasy reimagined, and I liked it! Jemisin looks at oppressive structures of power and how few choices everyone has under them.

50-Word Review: High-Rise

I’ll be doing these all through November, because NaNoWriMo.

High-Rise, J.G. Ballard

High-Rise is about a super-high-rise tower, designed as a self-sufficient vertical city, whose inhabitants all go a bit Lord of the Flies. A seminal text for thinking about the social effects of architecture and city planning, but content notes for gender essentialism, sexual violence, animal cruelty and general gore.

Word count: 49

50-Word Review: Cat Stories

“The city of cats and the city of men exist one inside the other, but they are not the same city.”

Italo Calvino

Cat Stories, ed. Diana Secker Tesdell (Everyman Pocket Classics)

Surprisingly well-balanced collection of, well, stories about cats. Each one is different: there are sad stories, cheerful stories, horror stories, experimental stories, fairy tales, fables, existential mutterings, pastiche and parody. Every kind of story, so long as it is cat. Such fun. Favourite story: Alice Adams’ “The Islands”.

Word count: 48

50-Word Review: Every Man in His Humour

Thou hast done, or assisted to, nothing, in my judgement, but what deserves to be pardoned for the wit o’the offence.”

Ben Jonson

Every Man in His Humour,  Ben Jonson

An early seventeenth-century city play about a guy called Brainworm who goes round making fun of the pretenders and fools of his age. Probably screamingly funny onstage, but I have to admit I don’t actually remember all the details: it’s a little dry, and the seventeenth-century prose can be obscure.

Word count: 50