Tag Archives: books

Wilderness Years: From Rapunzel to Travolta and General Zod

A blind prince wanders through a Biblical-looking stony desert. The strange coda to Rapunzel is often forgotten, but it’s what I remember most about reading the Ladybird storybook as a child. And it’s where I chose to start today’s Something Understood … Continue reading

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People at work: Richard III and The 60s Town Planner

This piece was about Leicester’s repentence for planning atrocities against its medieval past. Thought it worth reposting as the High Court ruled in favour of a “dignified” burial in the city. Full details and judgement here.  Maybe you used to … Continue reading

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Plotting the arc of darkness with Joss Whedon

Here’s a link to my interview with Joss Whedon for Radio 3’s Night Waves on June 12th. We covered his writing for Roseanne, Shakespearean superheroes, his love of musicals — especially Brigadoon —  the way studios treat writers, (take Firefly … Continue reading

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Billy Liar, Bradford and the birth of the dollybird

“A lazy, irresponsible young clerk in provincial Northern England lives in his own fantasy world and makes emotionally immature decisions as he alienates friends and family.” Everyone loves Billy Liar. Apart from whoever wrote imdb’s current bizarrely censorious plot summary … Continue reading

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Malala, Muslim women and “misery” memoirs

I was reading memoirs and novels by the authors taking part in Thursday’s Asia House panel discussion about women, freedom and the Islamic world, when the multimillion pound book deal of Malala Yousafzai was announced. What does the apparent popularity … Continue reading

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Mocha in the Family Latte: Race on American screens

“He should not be here, ” said the fish in the pot. ” he should not be here when your mother is not.” – The Cat In the Hat Dr Seuss (1957) It is a conundrum worthy of the massive … Continue reading

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How The Middle East Became Another Planet

From Flash Gordon’s Ming the Merciless with his harem and his war rocket Ajax, to Frank Herbert’s prophecy-obsessed desert tribes in Dune battling over a valuable resource, the Middle East has always been another planet to western science fiction creators. … Continue reading

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No Mr Bond, I expect you to cry.

This column (updated since it appeared in The Big Issue last week) explores whether old James Bond films can still be enjoyed in a more feminist, more racially equal society. And then Danny Boyle put him at the heart of … Continue reading

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Call Me Sir: Ben Kingsley, Anne Rice and novel erotica

A tech journalist once told me that if watching tv on your mobile phone was such a great idea, loads of people would have been walking around with a primitive giant tv on their brick sized phones long ago. By … Continue reading

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Aliens, abortion and baby machines: HG Wells & John Wyndham

Woman’s Hour ran a fascinating interview today with novelist Kishwar Desai, about India’s burgeoning  surrogate baby industry. Her exploration of this massive business (an estimated 20,000 babies produced  each year) seems to differ from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale only … Continue reading

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