Been reading Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver over the past few months, and am nearing the end. Not sure I’m going to make it at this point. It’s written with the kind of volume you’d expect from a serious Epic Fantasy, with the attention to detail you’d see in Fred Forsyth or Tom Clancy’s better stuff, with a deep insight into the political interactions leading to scientific development. All of which combines into a turgid quagmire. It has glacial pacing, sketchy character development/portrayal, superficial swipes at explaining science and so despite being set in one of the most tumultuous periods in history is utterly boring. It’s somewhat gratifying that someone went to the trouble of piecing together the lives of a series of great men, but despite some of their legendary idiosyncracies, Neal has made them into little more than paper cut-outs. I could go on, but it’s just more of the same, something Neal would have done well to avoid in his book.
I’ve also just finished re-watching Buffy Season 7 on DVD. When it was first on, I really enjoyed season 7 for a variety of reasons. I think that it got back to the basics in a good way, with actual monsters, a scary meta-villain, and some geniune angst. Season 5 had a meta-villain I just couldn’t care about one way or t’other, and some fairly poor one-off baddies. Season 6 recaptured the angst, but was just so depressing. Season 7 seemed to get back to the season 3&4 moments.
Re-watching it however, I noticed a few things that escaped me the first time. For example, there is a lot of repitition, where you get similar scenes appearing episode after episode. A lot of the scenes with the First, and a lot of Buffy’s speechifying. Many gags were old too. Including a whole episode, the one with the Football Jacket. I guess my final view is that at times it felt like it was trying a bit hard. I also thought that the dilution of characters reached a chronic peak. One of the appeals in early seasons, particularly season 2, was that with a small cast, there was time for every character. In season 7, the show was almost entirely Buffy & Spike. Willow didn’t have much to do, other than dither and feel angsty about her magic, and while Xander got a fair amount of screen time he didn’t actually do anything. He’s always been my favourite character, since he stood up to Buffy over Angel back in Season 2. I had real hopes that after “The Zeppo Xander” would keep getting cool, would develop into a genuine mortal hero (shades of Principle Wood, Gunn or later Wesley). In season 7 he’s definately the Scooby with the most real-world Kudos, but I still think he deserved better.