Here’s yet another unplanned post, mostly because there was something important I forgot to mention yesterday, but also because I started watching three different Netflix shows (or maybe call it two-and-a-half), and all three are fit for a Sci-Fi Saturday post, so here I am again.
I dither about three because one of them was wasn’t new, it was season two I started of Siempre Bruja. But I hadn’t yet seen any of Lost in Space or the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I’ve been suspicious of the former, and the latter isn’t quite my cup of tea on several counts.
But first you should know about (Your) CloudLibrary!
I first ran into it as an app that caught my eye in the Apple App Store, but you can access it as a website, and you can get apps for iOS, Mac OS, Android, Windows, Fire, and Nook.
What it does is give you online access to ebooks from your local library.
It does take a library card to log in, but if you don’t already have one, you can get one from your local library for free. Just ask — they’ll be glad to have you.
I’ll mention that the system is interesting in that books are checked out, and checkouts are apparently limited. Once you check a book out, you have a time limit of 21 days in which to read it.
I think I noticed a feature that lets you extend a check out if needed, but I don’t really know what happens at the end of your time. (The book might just go away from your Reading list.)
I don’t know if there’s a limit to how many books you can check out. (I would guess yes.)
It’s possible, just as with physical books, for a book to not be “on the shelves” so to speak. You can, also as with physical books, put a book on hold for when it becomes available. (I haven’t tried this yet, so can’t report on how it works.)
There is also a Save list you can use as a queue for books you’d like to read later. And, of course, you can browse through available books.
I downloaded the iOS app ages ago, but never used it. With the whole staying home thing, I thought I’d check it out again, and I’m glad I did. There are a number of books I’d love to read, but I’m not interested enough to actually buy them.
For instance, I’ve found some Ellery Queen — only two, unfortunately (and no Earle Stanley Gardner, damn it) — but when I finish those, I’ve got a bunch of Anne Hillerman queued up (I’m a huge fan of her dad’s Navajo Tribal Police series, and she’s continuing it) along with the Kim Stanley Robinson Mars trilogy and Douglas Adams’ The Salmon of Doubt.
So I’m pretty excited about the app and thought it well worth mentioning.
I watched season one of Siempre Bruja (Always a Witch) last year and found it quite palatable.
The stars are all attractive, the setting of Cartagena, Colombia, is both relaxing and energizing (like a tropical vacation), and there is a joy and innocence flowing through the story. And the Spanish language is so pleasing to the ear.
I can’t applaud loudly enough for a delightful show with a strong black female lead.
With foreign stories (the show is made in Colombia), it’s hard to know what cultural references one is missing or what is missed in translation of subtitles — I suspect a significant number of things just don’t cross over well. That can make the story seem to skip parts one would expect or to provide behaviors that don’t quite make sense.
I enjoyed the first season, mostly on an emotional level, but I didn’t always follow the story details. Re-watching season one for season two did slot more things into place, but I still think the rules of witchcraft are a little ad hoc in places. I can’t commend the show for its world-building.
But it’s definitely tropical drink tasty.
The story stars Carmen Eguiluz (Angely Gaviria, who is a delight), a witch being burned at the stake in 1646 Cartagena. But she vanishes from that time and appears in 2019 Cartagena, and we discover she’s been sent on a mission by the sorcerer, Aldemar. But she’ll have to watch out for another sorcerer, Lucien.
There are some twists and turns, and the season, of course, ends with a showdown between witches and wizards. (Credit good sense, and perhaps budget, for not going with a lot of flashy CGI but keeping it more human.)
The second season seems a bit tighter and more controlled to me. I haven’t finished it yet (three episodes to go), but I’ve found the story more down to earth and engaging somehow.
Overall, it’s a very attractive diversion. I give it an Ah! rating.
I’ve been debating whether or not to watch the new Lost in Space. Until last night, I was giving it a miss.
I was a huge fan of the original TV show when it aired, and Judy Robinson is one of my first big screen crushes. (While we’re on the topic of witches, Samantha Stevens from Bewitched was another.)
So I watched two episodes, and I’m not sure I’ll be watching more. (Maybe. They managed to sink some plot hooks that now I’m vaguely curious about, damnit.)
The problem I had is the extremely high level of pure bullshit that constantly took me out of the story. A constant cliche-ridden stream of “Yeah, but…” The show is high on visual spectacle, but low on narrative substance.
Let me put it this way: Until Will met the robot, I was convinced I was watching a VR test the Robinsons were undergoing in preparation for their trip. There’s even a flashback line about Will coming out of the tank. The level of bullshit was so high, I wasn’t buying any of it as a real story. I was certain it was some kind of “it was all a dream” fake out.
I fully expected major characters to die and then wake up in their VR chambers for the debriefing, because it was all so absurdly ridiculous: Spaceships crashing, problems with the ice, magnesium fire (!!), the forest fire, an alien robot (that can’t get out of a tree), the projectile story, and the lyin’ eyes of Doctor Smith. Holy Cow, talk about piling on.
And the parents are kind of cliche. The absent dad, the mom cheating and reminding me of college scandals. The almost divorced couple forced to be together and who will, no doubt, find themselves again.
It’s one trope after another, cliche after cliche, plot convenience after plot convenience. (Lots of convenient radio comms.) The robot has handy heat coils when necessary. Bets on whether it ever uses them again?
Underlying the visuals is an over-amped music track desperately trying to convince me how serious and stirring all this is. (The music got to be so annoying I’m tempted to watch with sound off.)
One thing that really caught my eye: No one puts life craft on the inside of the main craft. The fleeing of the Resolute illustrated exactly why. That design is insane.
And entirely characteristic of the style-over-substance (or logic) approach modern storytelling — especially modern visual SF — gorges on and which I disdain. The robot is another good example of “looks great, but WTF” storytelling.
I could go on. Suffice to say I’ll have to be pretty bored to return for more episodes. Overall I have to give the show a Meh! rating (very nearly a Nah! rating). I was seriously underwhelmed (and frequently hooting in derision).
I think part of the problem is, for being so filled with bullshit, the show takes itself way too seriously. If it acknowledged how silly it’s being (this is Irwin Allen, for crying out loud), it would be a lot easier to swallow. And do something about that damn music track.
When it comes to Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I have the same problem I had with Buffy the Vampire Slayer: a show that centers on a 15-year-old-girl activates some of my skin crawl vibes. I’m not always sure these shows are entirely on the up and up.
It isn’t the show so much as the fans that I wonder about. And I will say that Kiernan Shipka (Sabrina) doesn’t have that sexual tang that Sarah Michelle Gellar (and Alyson Hannigan) did. I gave up on Buffy in season two; it just made my skin crawl too much. That show got too overtly sexual for my taste.
The original Sabrina TV show (with Melissa Joan Hart) was a family sitcom, no sexuality at all. The Netflix reboot manages to delve into the (non-sitcom!) horror side nicely, but has (at least in the first episode) de-emphasized the sexuality.
Horror isn’t really my cup of tea, but I found the first episode of the show engaging enough that I’ll return for at least a few more. I’ll give it a tentative low Ah! rating for now.
I will say that co-stars Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto look so much like Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick that for a moment I wasn’t entirely sure they hadn’t brought them back (through a time machine, obviously).
I also got a kick of out seeing Michelle Gomez. I really enjoyed her as The Master in Doctor Who. Excellent villain! (I really can’t stand the current The Master, and I’ve just about concluded the Chris Chibnall era is a fail for me.)
Too bad Parker Posey (Dr. Smith) isn’t playing a witch. This post could have been about three witches, and covens often do follow the rule of three.
Instead there is one show I recommend, one I don’t, and one I’m not sure about yet, but which seems okay so far.
Stay bewitched, my friends!