“Marvellous Gallants of the Rivers and Lakes (1923) focused on Xiang’s lifelong obsession with ‘rarity’ in fiction, which here manifested itself as a concentration on the pseudoscience of martial-arts super-powers. Ridiculed by leftist authors such as Lu Xun for its quixotic and regressive reliance on magical solutions, it nevertheless became immensely popular. Its 65th chapter formed the basis for The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple (1928) a watershed work in the history of martial arts film, in which magical forces were represented with early special effects, spawning seventeen sequels.”
“Russia has invaded Finland, the USA has recused itself, and only plucky France dares to send a naval squadron to the Baltic…This entire backstory, however, which would surely form the A-plot in any Hollywood action movie, is largely ignored. So, too, is any resolution of two other prospective plots – that jihadists have control of a military submarine, and that said submarine may have been sold to them in a CIA sting operation that went wrong.”
Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write a monster-sized introduction to the history of Ukrainian SF, with a surprisingly large number of emigre writers, writing in Ukrainian, but in other countries, including a feminist utopia published in Toronto, and an atomic technothriller written in Paris.
In an alternate history where Catherine was never so Great, a young Napoleon “Bonapartov” joins the Tsar’s army to help fight the Turks and the British. Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write up the author German Romanov.
Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write up the author Georgiy Savitsky, whose works include a hero of the Soviet Union returning as a cyborg to help Russia conquer the Moon, and a whole bunch of curiously predictive novels about the likelihood of a big war in Ukraine.
“The relatively simple changewar plot of The Adam Project thinly disguises a much deeper and more heartfelt investigation of family ties, grief and generational friction, to which the genre elements play second fiddle.”
“This is the story of a girl / Who cried a river and drowned the whole world.” Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write up the delightfully absurdist Everything Everywhere All At Once, which repeatedly quotes the Nine Days song “Absolutely (About A Girl)”, but also comes loaded with references steeped in the Chinese language.
“The film subtly celebrates its liminal place between cultures, specifically those of Anglo movie-goers and bilingual Asian-Americans, each a wainscot society of the other. Its alternative title, displayed onscreen in untranslated Chinese, is Ma de duochong yuzhou, literally “The Multiverses of Mother”, but also a Mandarin pun meaning “F*cking Multiverses.”
“Whereas The Muppets was garlanded with awards, including an Oscar for Best Song, The Happytime Murders was only recognized by the Houston Film Critics Society as ‘Best Worst Film’, while at the Golden Raspberries it was nominated for, among others, Worst Director, Worst Picture, and Worst Screenplay. Considering that much of the film’s raison d’être was to disrupt the imagery and memes of viewers’ childhoods… such brickbats seem somewhat over-compensatory and possibly vengeful. The Golden Raspberry dished out to Melissa McCarthy as Worst Actress seems particularly unjust, since whatever one may think of the sullying of puppet icons, her deadpan and dedicated performance throughout is a lynchpin that anchors the ludicrous and revolting images onscreen.”
“Echoing the rhetoric and “cancel culture” of the 2010s, with such disruptions to the status quo as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, Amstell offers a conceptual breakthrough: that it is not veganism that is odd, trendy or cranky, but ‘carnism’ – a shared delusion of humanity that meat-eating was acceptable, with no consideration of the ethical implications.”
“Consistently, Uehashi’s works display a respect for native traditions and pre-modern beliefs, not as rivals to science and medicine, but as systems that similarly seek to make sense of the world, sometimes inefficiently, sometimes with a greater degree of success for incorporating spiritual (or in some fantasy settings, magical) elements outside the purview of modern understanding.”