Tag: 50 words

50-Word Review: Space Opera

Space Opera, Catherynne M. Valente

A new Valente novel, and the second Hitchhiker riff I’ve read this year: humanity’s singing for its life in the galactic version of Eurovision. A meditation on what counts as sentience and the transcendent power of pop music. Fun and fabulous, but a little…slight for Valente.

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50-Word Review: Sisyphean

Sisyphean, Dempow Torishima, trans. Daniel Huddleston

A series of decidedly organic short stories, all set in the same far-future transhumanist world, told in prose riddled with neologisms and portmanteaux; like The Quantum Thief except ultimately more schematic and less playful. It’s all founded on grim ideas about capitalist and institutional exploitation of natural (including human) resources.

50-Word Review: Ninefox Gambit

Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee

In Ninefox Gambit, a tyrannous far-future regime maintains control of reality-bending weapons by enforcing a consensus reality through torture and murder. Captain Kel Cheris is sent to put down a nascent democracy. It’s space opera that doesn’t infodump – and that doesn’t let you forget the humanity of its casualties.

50-Word Review: Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee

Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee, Meera Syal

Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee follows four Indian women in London, tracing their friendships and their romantic entanglements over a year. It’s a novel about culture clash and the weight of parental expectation. Like life, Syal’s writing is lyrical, lush, with the sting of realism in its tail.

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

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