Weekly Roundup

Bit of a light one, this week.

Books

This week I was reading The Somnambulist, by Jonathan Barnes. Set in Victorian (well, I’m not sure if it qualifies when it’s after Victoria’s death) London, this starts out as a detective story but ends up in places much stranger and more interesting. It follows the magician and investigator Edward Moon and his enigmatic assistant, the mute giant called only The Somnambulist, as they attempt to solve a mystery surrounding a man’s death – and a possible threat to the city itself.

It’s quite a fun novel, with all kinds of weird characters and events. You’ve got a secret government agency made up of civil servants all badly disguised as Chinamen; an evil organisation where everyone is named Love; a man who lives backwards; assassins, psychics, bearded women… and then there are the Prefects.

The novel all comes together into a beautifully messy climax; Barnes handles stitching together the various points of view at the end quite well considering his unusual choice of narrator. (I do wonder how the narrator knew what the Somnambulist was thinking.) There’s also a sense of a larger world, of things going on before and after this novel in the lives of the characters and the city.

I enjoyed it.

Television

This week I started to watch The X-Files. I’ve seen the odd episode here and there, but now I’m planning to see the entire series and movies. My first impressions are:
– There are an awful lot of episodes (the majority so far) that involve Mulder and Scully being brought onto a case that is not known to be connected to an X-File, only for it to later turn out that something weird is going on. Few episodes I’ve watched have actually involved an X-File at all. I realise this is probably because investigating historical and closed cases won’t be as interesting as showing them involved in a fresh crime, but it sticks out.
– There were occasions where the lack of mobile phones back in 1993 has stuck out. (Mulder has used a cellphone, but only once so far.) I’m too used to Criminal Minds, where all the characters are constantly calling each other to check in or share information. It makes it all the more jarring when Mulder and Scully walk into the lair of a known murderer without letting a single person know where they are.

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