Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

  • Music:
Various folk have commented that one of the things that was changed in V for Vendetta was the system of massive universal surveillance that V subverts to his own ends. (And I will write a review, but when I have finished brooding and reread the original and possibly been to the movie a second time. Because I think it is important, whether or not it is good.)

And that was a smart choice by les Wachowskis, because the UK, as I write, is just that heavily surveilled by police cameras and security cameras and cameras in your local corner shop. And oddly, it neither prevents crime nor has produced a police state. Professional crims know how to avoid being recognizable, or attack people in blind spots - I saw a TV show where a murderer got through a very heavily surveilled building by dancing through calculated moments of blind spot - and the major change is that police have something to use in detection.

I don't like being watched all the time, but it impinges less than we imagined, most of the time. And you can't make a big dystopian theme out of something that is everyday experience without diverting all your attention to it...

So that, at least, was the right choice.

Another thing that I did sort of miss was the fact that the film had inevitably to make a decision on V's gender that the comic never quite as squarely does. There is at least a possibility that V is the supposedly dead Valerie, in the original - V pauses before the Salt Harvest poster at least once in a significant way. And they could not have Weaving do gender ambiguity on top of everything else he has to manage with no face. Not that he couldn't, because, Priscilla!, but because too much to keep track of.

And one thing which I almost certain of is that the bit at the end when all the crowd in masks take them off and are revealed as all the vox pop people from earlier scenes and all the people we have seen murdered and dead derives neither from the original nor from the scene at the end of the comic Graham Higgins and I did for Aargh! where the crowd shouting 'Stop the Clause' includes everyone we have seen earlier in the comic and also various famous dead queer artists.
Except, of course, Aargh! was edited by Alan, and the Wachowskis probably know it, being big geeks.

This is too flattering a thought to be allowed me.


I am truely appalled that an Afghan sharia prosecutor is asking the death penalty for a man accused of covert conversion to Christianity from Islam. I will expect pleas for his life and freedom from moderate Muslims all over the world, because the (Koranic?) demand for death for apostasy is just not tolerable in any circumstances.

No Islamic court is going to listen to Christians, let alone humanists on this one, so it is the job of Muslims.

There is a concept in Christian thought which I commend to them, which is that of giving scandal. Certain things should not be done, because they end up being more trouble than otherwise.

Oh, and apparently he converted sixteen years ago, and has been dobbed in by his family, when one of them found a bible.


I am trying to make sense of the interview with Rowan Williams in today's Guardian.,,1735679,00.html
Alan Rusbridger interprets his remarks as meaning that, if the Anglican Communion splits over the gay clergy issue, Williams will try and stay with the African and US and UK evangelical homophobes rather than go with the US liberals.

I suspect he is right, but not because Williams believes what they believe, more because he wants to retain moderating influence, and knows that he can trust the US liberals not to do crazy things like declare crusades.

I also think that this is the wrong decision for Williams to take, but it is not an irresponsible one, because he knows, and says elsewhere in the interview, how dangerous the African bishops are becoming in their lack of charity and belligerence towards even moderate Islam.


'Polder', the Clutes festschrift is out, and yesterday night fjm gave me my contributor's copy and very pretty it is true. I will post my piece here after Eastercon and the book's official launch.

In the meantime, Farah and I and many others met up at the launch of Geoff Ryman's utterly splendid new book, which I reviewed in Time Out. When a friend's book is as good as this, I don't think it even slightly corrupt to praise it.

THE KING'S LAST SONG by Geoff Ryman (Harper Collins 488 pp £11.99)

reviewed by Roz Kaveney

In Geoff Ryman's novels, everyone is important; 'The King's Last Song' tells us about Jayavarman, the Khmer king who gave up the pursuit of sainthood to unify his country, but it is also the tale of William and Map, two guides to the wreckage of modern Cambodia. It is a novel about forgiveness and finding a point to your life to which the quest of Map to atone for what he did in the Pol Pot years is as central as the search of Jayavarman's crippled son to find a role in a world in which he is regarded as cursed by the gods.

And finding a role, finding salvation, is always to some degree in the hands of chance. Luc, the French archaeologist in charge of the recently rediscovered memoirs of Jayavarman, finds his fulfilment translating them as a way to stay alive in the hands of Khmer Rouge holdouts. His captor Pich comes, without ever softening, to respect Luc's very different dedication. Map, by contrast, has done, almost by accident, things that neither he nor those around him can forgive; it was his fate to live in terrible times. William and Jayavarman are both entirely good men, which is not to say that either of them find virtue easy; the king indeed has to set one kind of goodness aside for the greater good.

Ryman has to do things in this novel that his extraordinary technique has never previously needed to stretch to - and he turns out to be equal to the challenge of mediaeval battle scenes as he has been, in previous books, to phantasmagoric magic, the London Underground, interstellar travel and sex with Picasso. He is at his best, though, as always, with friendship and with love and that odd area that they share; Ryman has always had a talent for making us see, not least into the human heart. In some of this novel's best scenes, Jayavarman's intellectual mystic wife and the slave concubine he knew as a child and who helped him when he was a prisoner, find ways of living alongside each other, of being gracious in sharing. This is a book about the making of souls, which turns out to have much to do with the writing and rewriting of boooks; both are acts of nervy creativity.
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