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The Causal Angel – Hannu Rajaniemi

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It begins with The Thief and the Last Battle, a misdirection from the opening chapter which lays the groundwork for what is to come. After two books of uphill setup in The Quantum Thief and The Fractal Prince, this is the coast downhill, gathering momentum and trying to maintain balance as layers of crystalline plot suddenly become an avalanche of tumbling event as Hannu Rajaniemi’s trilogy of Jean le Flambeur novels comes to an explosive conclusion.

 

Doctor Who - Deep Breath

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Half a century is an incredibly long time in television terms. When many shows fail to even have their pilot episode broadcast or struggle to be granted a second season despite critical acclaim and core audience devotion when the background noise of makeovers, game shows and reality television suck up viewers averse to the intellectual investment that quality entertainment demands, that Doctor Who returns for its eighth full season since it’s return in 2005 almost fifty one years after the broadcast of An Unearthly Child in November 1963 is astonishing.

 

Half a King – Joe Abercrombie

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The wind is harsh in Thorlby, capital of Gettland on the western shore of the Shattered Sea, and the news carried on the wings of the messenger birds is most often bad. Younger son of King Uthrik, Yarvi has never sought power nor the glory of battle: born with a deformed hand, his family have never forgiven him his infirmity which is why he was trained to enter the Ministry where his only friend is his ancient teacher Mother Gundring.

 

The Girl With All The Gifts – M R Carey

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It begins in a classroom, what should be a benign place of safety yet is anything but, the students marshalled by armed soldiers. Strapped to her chair, Melanie adores Miss Justineau beyond all the other teachers and loves to read Greek mythology, associating herself with Pandora, “the girl with all the gifts,” a blessing and a curse as Melanie’s curiosity drives her to look beyond what is presented and ask why none of the children live with their parents like the families in their storybooks, why she cannot even remember her parents.

 

The Congress

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Robin Wright had it all; a movie queen at twenty four through her role as Buttercup in The Princess Bride, now her long suffering agent Al (Harvey Keitel) must be cruel to be kind, listing all the times she has squandered her chances by walking out of roles, a series of bad choices through the last two decades even before her son Aaron (Kodi Smit-McPhee), suffering from a degeneration of vision and hearing, became her excuse, but it is something Robin needs to hear.

 

Laika: A Space Dogyssey

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It is the nature of scientific endeavour that in order to achieve, sacrifices must be made; every theory must eventually be tested, and even when all safety precautions have been taken, there is always the unpredictable, the unseen failure. It is a testament to the dedication of all those who have been involved in the spaceflight programme, the theoreticians, the designers, the engineers, that there have been so few human lives lost; the crews of Soyuz 1, Soyuz 11, the Challenger and the Columbia, their names remembered and celebrated, yet the space programme might never have progressed so far to allow these men and woman to leave our planet had it not been for the knowing decision to send another to her lonely death in orbit on November 3rd 1957 aboard Sputnik 2.

 

The Devil Without

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“Dare you see the devil in you?” asks the flyer for “master mentalist and mystery performer” Ian Harvey Stone’s Edinburgh Fringe show, promising a “Faustian mix of storytelling, magic, horror and interactive theatre.” The grand setting, the India Buildings of Victoria Street, its multi-storeyed stone façade dating to the eighteenth century, topped with a magnificent dome around which balconies look down on the floor below, and on a dark night, the wind and rain howling outside, what better way to escape the elements than to face the darkness of the supernatural?

 

Lucy

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Luc Besson, a director known in equal measures for his genius and notoriety, has been around for a long time. His influence on the last twenty five years of cinema can be felt mainly in the action genre, but even films not associated with him have had his Gallic touch applied. With only a cursory glance at the filmography of the accomplished writer, producer and director, films such as Nikita (remade first with Bridget Fonda as The Assassin and then twice for television), Léon aka The Professional and The Fifth Element spring to mind as examples of his great films with strong female protagonists who mostly leave the lead men floundering behind them, so Lucy, starring current leading lady of the action genre Scarlett Johansson is bound to bring us another classic character. Malheureusement, non.

 

Deliver Us From Evil

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Recently announced to direct the big screen adaptation of Marvel’s Doctor Strange, the career of Scott Derrickson can most kindly be described as erratic. There was little positive to be said about his feature debut, the literally straight-to-video-Hell sequel Hellraiser: Inferno, though his courtroom drama horror mashup The Exorcism of Emily Rose could not fail to be more successful, financially and creatively. With no hand in the script for the misconceived and bungled remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still he cannot be held fully for it’s abject failure, and his subsequent return to horror with Sinister had strong performances and a welcome twisted streak.

 

The Purge: Anarchy

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Opening with an echo of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, a caption informs that by the year 2023 unemployment in the United States is below 5% thanks to the reforms of the New Founding Fathers and their introduction of the Annual Purge during which all crime is legal including murder, allowing the supposedly otherwise productive and well balanced population to channel their aggression, anger and resentment in a single night of chaos; as the clock ticks down to 7pm on March 21st, the time approaches for the fifth Purge.

 

The Curing Room

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Presented by the appropriately named Stripped Down Productions, the fate of seven Soviet soldiers captured by enemy forces in southern Poland in the spring of 1944 is recreated in this play directed by Joao de Sousa as they are thrown into an underground chamber beneath a ruined monastery, locked in the former meat curing room and abandoned without food, water or clothing.

 

Pioneer

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The stage is bathed in soft light and ethereal choral music; one side is dominated by a diorama of the surface of Mars with a habitation, the other a sparse futuristic office space. He is pensive as he examines the proposed landing site; she is calm as she oversees operations. The two sides of the endeavour of exploration are represented, the determined resolve and the detached rationality, but though both operate through the technology they have devised, they are human and thus inherently flawed.

 
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