Friday Roundup: The Peripheral, Glitter Princes, Outlander, Duran Duran, and hate-watching Fantastic Four

As I mentioned last week in my essay about my Pacific Northwest jaunt, I recently read William Gibson’s The Peripheral, which is a downright amazing book. It’s dense and nigh-impenetrable, even by Gibson’s formidable standards, but it’s well worth sticking with to the end. I’m reluctant to say too much about it, because part of the satisfaction of reading it comes from puzzling out the plot. As is his wont, Gibson drops readers in the middle of a very complex future society (in this case—and see, I’m already giving spoilers—he drops them into two future societies: one in the very near future, the other about seventy years beyond that) and lets them fend for themselves. It’s a book that rewards rereading. It’s also deeply depressing and mood-altering (in Gibson’s all-too-plausible future, 80% of humanity has been slowly killed off over the course of a few decades, mostly due to the effects of climate change). I’ve been fighting off a feeling of inevitable looming dread and despair ever since finishing it. Gibson’s Pattern Recognition still stands as my all-time favorite book, but The Peripheral is way up there with Neuromancer and Count Zero on my shortlist.

Xavier Dolan’s Tom at the Farm opens in limited release in US theaters today; it also should now be available from various on-demand video services. As is clear by my in-depth review, I really loved that film; if you get a chance to see it, I’d recommend grabbing it.

I’m still hard at work on Glitter Princes, trying to come up with, like, plots and stuff. New character sketches: First up, we’ve got Sebastian, Rob, Marcel, and Smitty. I’ve decided Smitty should have kind of a post-apocalyptic roller-derby look going on. And Marcel will wear a shirt as infrequently as possible:

And then we’ve got Sebastian and Etienne. Etienne, babe, I feel you; I, too, am fueled mostly by champagne:

While we’re on the subject of cartoon versions of Duran Duran (…what?), you may be interested in my fresh new Duranalysis of the “Careless Memories” anime.  Just as a quick aside, I exchanged messages yesterday with Gary Oldknow, the video’s visual designer, who tipped me off to this fascinating tidbit: Nick’s awesome female bodyguards in the video were designed by artist/designer Ai Hasegawa, who earned some press back in 2012 for her work on a synthetic-biology project, in which she proposed that women could act as surrogates for the fetuses of endangered animals, such as sharks and dolphins, which could then be eaten post-delivery. And yes, there is video at the link of Hasegawa giving birth to a dolphin.

I saw Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation over the weekend and, a bit unexpectedly, loved it. It’s solid, solid, solid, and the female lead, Rebecca Ferguson, is amazing. I have not seen, nor do I plan to see, the much-reviled Fantastic Four reboot, but I’ve been riveted by all the bad press it’s been getting. Here’s a fast rundown of all the best (i.e. snarkiest) pieces on both the film itself and the behind-the-scenes chaos that led to the resulting box-office disaster:

Because we’re perpetually one step behind the curve, my sister and I have only recently started watching Starz’s Outlander series. We’re only to the midpoint of Season One (which is all that’s been released on DVD and streaming video thus far; seriously, who releases only half of a season on DVD? Where’s the logic in that?), but we’re enjoying it immensely. I don’t entirely trust showrunner Ronald D. Moore after Battlestar Galactica went so badly off the rails in that final stretch, but he’s striking a nice tone thus far, and the main cast—Caitriona Balfe as Nurse Stalwart, Sam Heughan as Sexy McAbs, and, especially, Tobias Menzies as the evil Captain Rapesalot—is uniformly excellent. Fine stuff.

Nick Rhodes did a Q&A on Duran Duran’s Twitter feed yesterday. The results were, as expected, both entertaining and faintly surreal. A few choice responses:

This week’s video: the 1987 Love & Rockets song “No New Tale To Tell.” Great hair, guys.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone.


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