a season of crises
It's been a summer of crises, emotional and physical. They've only gathered speed in September, with a cat who nearly died of pancreatitis, a partially disassembled bathroom, a pair of friends whose marriage broke up one of whom has only communicated by letter since (the Missing Persons Case Marriage Breakup), and a parent whose hip replacement means that I really ought to be on hand for any heavy lifting several hours a day.
(Troubles. They come not as single spies, do they?)
And some of you may be aware that my wife and I are expecting our first child in approximately three weeks. And I come to this joyous and terrifying time pre-exhausted.
In this newsletter:
- films I have watched including Greyhound and Fury
- "The Red Mother" by Elizabeth Bear at Tor.com
"The Red Mother"
If you haven't read this brilliant Viking-inspired story at Tor.com, you're missing out. Auga Hacksilver is a sorcerer seeking his brother on the flanks of a volcano. He has two very sweet ponies, a not-entirely-complimentary reputation that precedes him, and an impossible task (or two) to complete. Bear is excellent at atmosphere, character, and the unexpectedly, dramatically fantastic. I swear, I'd read an entire novel series about the (mis)adventures of Auga.
films I have watched
I signed up to AppleTV for the sole purpose of watching Greyhound, the Tom Hanks film based on C.S. Forester's WWII naval novel The Good Shepherd. This is an intense, tightly-paced, driven film: a character study of US naval commander Ernest Kreuse, whose first command -- the destroyer callsign "Greyhound" -- is in charge of a convoy headed across the North Atlantic. In the dangerous days between air cover, the point of greatest danger, the convoy is harried by German U-boats. Kreuse is a sensitive, religious man, haunted as much by his successes in sinking U-boats as by his failures to protect his convoy. As watch follows watch and hour follows hour, his desperation and his determination mount in a battle of wits and endurance.
I watched the films Fury (2014) and Close (2021) on Netflix in the last week. Fury is a compelling but depressing war-is-hell drama set in the close confines of a single tank in the invasion of Germany in WWII. Worth watching but not exactly uplifting material. Close is a female-centred bodyguard movie -- a young heiress, a female close protection specialist, a stepmother, and a plot that involves lots of murder and kidnap attempts. Where a lot of action movies starring men -- particularly men of two different generations -- involve daddy issues, this is a film full of mother issues. I found it very entertaining and satisfying, even if it's not doing anything particularly new.
I finished reading a handful of books, which I'll probably talk about on Patreon -- Thebes: the Forgotten City of Ancient Greece by Paul Cartledge, What It Is Like To Go To War by Karl Marlantes, and Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plotky -- even if I haven't really been able to read fiction lately. (See above, so many crises.)
Here's hoping there a fewer crises to come.