After the Golden Age and Episodes

Last weekend I had the pleasure of reading an ARC, provided by publisher Tor, of Carrie Vaughn's upcoming novel After the Golden Age. It's an exciting adventure story with a flamboyant ending and tells the story of Celia West, daughter of not one but two superheroes. Talk about pressure! She has it.

As the story begins Celia reluctantly agrees to work on a notorious trial. The Destructor, who is periodically thwarted while trying to - you guessed it - destroy the city, is finally standing trial. What very few people realize is that Celia defected to the Destructor's team when she was a teenager and has been trying to put that dark time behind her ever since. Working on the case is going to bring back all of those terrible feelings and add to the tension between Celia and her estranged parents. She's been trying to live a quiet life, getting a degree in accounting and living in a small apartment, ever since the disaster with the Destructor, but she struggles daily with feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

Celia's parents are the head of what's known as the Olympiad. Her super strong father, who has a temper better suited to a super villain, is the leader and her mother is Spark, his companion who can conjure and control fire. Celia is equally strong-minded and putting the two of them in the same space is like putting rival tomcats on the same fence; fur flies and there's a lot of spitting and hissing. Despite the years that have passed Celia and her father are no closer than they were in the aftermath of her attempt to become the sidekick of the town's most disreputable super villain.

As the trial begins so does a string of robberies and abductions. Celia herself is kidnapped, which is not exactly something new. People have been kidnapping her on and off ever since her parents' cover was blown. The Mayor's son, a policeman, is taken and a city bus is highjacked. Meanwhile precious objects are stolen all over the city. Celia's father is convinced it's all part of an enormous scheme of the Destructor's but Celia is not so sure. She's on the trail of something that may tie everything together. She may not have inherited her parents' powers but that doesn't mean she doesn't have the guts and gumption to try and solve the case on her own.

After the Golden Age is a mystery, a coming of age story and a legal thriller all rolled into one. Anyone who has been at odds with their parents, or their children, should feel a kinship to Celia. If you somehow managed to escape your childhood or childrearing years unscathed you'll love this book if you're a comic book or superhero fan. In short, it's the fabled something for just about everyone.

The book comes out from Tor in April of this year. I'm guessing you can preorder it now.

Episodes

A new season of television is debuting as we speak; bringing new levels of awful and hopefully some shows that will help make up for the heartbreak of the cancellation of fabulous shows like Caprica and Terriers. As I wrote this I had only seen one show but it was a doozy and had me laughing from start to finish. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it because the commercials for it made it look like something I was going to hate; a comedy about a pig of a former TV star. The one ad I saw showed the actor famous for playing Joey on Friends insisting that a lesbian character be portrayed as straight and making blowjob faces behind a female character's back. Wow! Now that's the kind of charmer I definitely want to spend my free time watching.

The series begins with two British television writers winning a BAFTA for their show Lyman's Boys, which has been a massive hit for four years. They are approached by an American television producer called Merc Lapidus who LOVES the show and offers enormous amounts of cash, a home with a pool and a car if they’ll come to Los Angeles and work on an American version of the show.

The male half of the duo, Sean, is excited about the idea but Beverly is not. Eventually they reach agreement and set off for Los Angeles where they immediately start to encounter problems. They aren’t on the list and can't access their home in a gated community. Parts of the house are from a set and fall over all the time. They can’t take a bath because the bathtub is so large it never fills up. But irritations like are this are nothing compared to what's coming.

Merc swore up and down that he would make no changes when he brought Lyman's Boys to the US which makes it extra hard when Sean and Beverly discover that his affection for the show appears to be based solely on its ratings. Instead of fighting to preserve the show's integrity he insists the lead, who is the show, audition. Episodes is only half an hour long so there wasn't time for much more but its pretty obvious that this is just the beginning of the problems Sean and Beverly are going to face.

Episodes is hilarious but it also made me cringe as Beverly and Sean encounter ridiculous, unnecessary problems. I follow several television writers on twitter and the consensus is that this show is pretty realistic, especially in terms of dealing with the studio executives, which is more than a little scary.

Tamsin Greig is an absolute joy as Beverly. She should be teaching master classes in comedy. Her timing and horrified expressions are impeccable. She makes me laugh while simultaneously wanting to get her a cup of tea and go out and slay dragons for her. Stephen Mangan is also fantastic as Sean, as is John Pankow in his role as the awful network president, but it's definitely Ms. Greig who stole my heart.

You can watch the first episode of Episodes for free here: http://www.sho.com/site/order/preview.do#/Episodes_s01_e01.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Naomi who wrote in to say, "Minecraft sucks time like vampires suck blood. It's too much fun to say no." Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.