Pop update: culture consumed week of 6 February

I had pretty much decided to stop doing these posts, but I consumed a lot of really good culture this week. So, I decided to make a summary post, if just for my own personal reference.

I finished three excellent books: Homegoing, Writing the Other, and Home (Binti #2). I’ll write more about these when I do my February wrap-up post, but the links there will take you to my reviews on Goodreads if you don’t want to wait until then.

I also listened to a bunch of podcasts. Two of my favorites had episodes talking about this year’s Oscar nominated documentaries: Code Switch and Pop Culture Happy Hour.

Listening to those episodes made me want to watch I Am Not Your Negro, 13th, and (to a lesser extent because I didn’t even pay much attention to it at the time) the OJ documentary series. So far, I’ve only had a chance to watch 13th (because it’s on Netflix). Next up is probably at least a few episodes of OJ (because it’s also on Netflix).

Everyone seems to be saying that I Am Not Your Negro is the favorite for this category, but I gotta say, 13th is SO GOOD. Seriously, you need to go watch this documentary. After I watched the film, I started watching a bunch of interviews with the director. She’s pretty great. Oh, and, she’s directing the film version of A Wrinkle in Time (one of my favorite childhood novels). After seeing 13th, I’m even more excited to see what she does with A Wrinkle in Time

I also should mention that the Code Switch episode got me listening to “Road to Zion” by Damien Marley, featuring Naz. It’s catchy. I usually don’t like reggae, but I’ve had this song stuck in my head all week. I’ve listened to it more times than I can count, and I’m still not sick of it yet. Make of that what you will.

If that’s not out of character enough for me, I also read Libba Bray’s “Womanifesto” blog post this week that was making the rounds on “book Twitter.” My husband (who I passed this on to after reading it) pointed out that it’s basically a poem. I suppose he’s right. I hadn’t noticed. But, I don’t read a lot (almost any) of poetry. It’s not usually my jam, but this I enjoyed.

If I keep this up, the next thing you know I’m going to become a fan of musicals and start listening to jazz… That reminds me of another big name movie that’s getting a lot of Oscar buzz… but, nah… there’s no way you’re getting me to watch La La Land. Not gonna happen.

I should also mention, I’m caught up on season 4 of The 100 now. So far, it appears to be off to a slow start, but I’m going to stick with it for now. On the other hand, I am LOVING season 2 of The Magicians (even though a thing that I knew was going to have to happen finally happened this week and that makes me a little sad… I’d say more, but spoilers…).

Oh! I also want to mention this one post on Tor.com about political structures in fantasy novels vs. sci-fi novels that I found to be thought provoking. I hadn’t even really realized it, but the author makes a good point — most fantasy novels are about restoring monarchies, which is a little odd when you consider that sci-fi is almost never about restoring monarchies. Sci-fi is usually about toppling dictators or evil empires, and establishing republics. I mean, the author doesn’t have data to support this, but these are tropes of the respective genres, which means that these themes are prevalent enough to have become a trope.

That article has me thinking about my own writing and considering if I’ve unconsciously fallen in line with the established tropes in my novels, or if I’ve done something a little different. In at least one of my fantasy novels, I think I’ve done something a little different. In that novel, there is no monarchy to re-establish in the first place. There is a family who holds power at the start of the story, but the power dynamic at the end is different than it is at the start (no spoilers…). My sci-fi novel, however, may fit the bill for what’s expected re: toppling dictators and establishing republics…

See? I told you. Lots of really good culture consumed this week… and I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting. As always, if you have thoughts on any of this stuff, or recommendations for stuff I should check out, let me know in the comments.

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