Publication date is looming like a big loom and you can now get an exclusive first peak at When the Sparrow Falls HERE!
Hello peeps, if you happen to be on the internet at April 28th I’ll be taking over the Tor Books Instagram Account with fellow sci-fi author, the Nebula Award winning Max Gladstone (uh, the “fellow” part is us both being science fiction authors, not having Nebulas). Join us on Debuts After Dark where we’ll be talking about writing and science fiction and…I dunno…smooth jazz.
The link is here and I would love to see as many of you lovely folks there as can make it.
“Join Neil Sharpson, author of When the Sparrow Falls, and Max Gladstone, author of Empress of Forever, as they take over the Tor Books Instagram account LIVE for Debuts After Dark! Who knows what shenanigans they’ll get up to…”
I know I haven’t been posting a lot this year.
I hear your concerns and they are valid.
Here’s what’s been happening. As you almost certainly know (because I have not been subtle), my first book is coming out at the end of June. What you may not know is that my second novel was actually originally due to be submitted to the publisher THIS month. Now, they very kindly agreed to give me an extension what with the once-in-a-generation global pandemic. Here in Ireland creches and schools have only recently re-opened so I’m only catching up on writing now.
Basically, I’m racing a June deadline with a good chunk of the book still be written. Coupled with that, I’ll be doing a lot of guest posts and interviews and whatnot to promote When the Sparrow Falls. So for the time being, the monthly update schedule will have to remain. (Man, remember when I used to post reviews weekly? Seriously, that happened, I went back and checked).
Once the second book has been handed in and Sparrow has taken flight, I’ll be diving headfirst back into the blog. Because dammit, I really want to. I miss talking with you guys, I miss writing about animation, I miss the whole Mouse scene, daddio.
We will be doing Raya. We will be doing Wandavision. We will be doing Disney series galore. We will be doing X-Men and Bolts versus Bats and all the promised reviews. I’m also planning on doing posts that aren’t reviews necessarily; like the Rabbit Rhapsody/Cat Concerto controversy, why The Book Job is the best latter season Simpsons episode and why the “You lose, good day sir!” scene in Willy Wonka is perfection. I miss doing stuff like that. Like I miss doing lots of stuff lately.
But you know what? This week I told the job that I’ve been working in for thirteen years that I was going on a four year career break to finally pursue my dream of becoming a full time writer.
Infection numbers are going down, vaccination numbers are going up.
And for the first time in a long time, the future is starting to look real bright.
Hopefully, you’ll be seeing a lot more of me around here before too long.
Thanks for being so understanding.
Oh, and next month I’ll be doing a little event called: FUCK IT I’M DOING ALL THE ANIMÉ
I have a load of random episodes from different animé series to review so fuck it, let’s put that Crunchy Roll account to good use.
Okay, so back when…
No wait, y’know what, we need to go back in time if I’m going to tell this story right.
Further than that.
Perfect. Okay so.
It’s my third year in college and I’ve started going out with this dynamite gal who will, unbeknownst to her, one day be known as “Spouse of Mouse” to a bunch of randos on the internet. Now we’re at that awkward early stage of the relationship where we’re starting to realise that we can’t just keep kissing constantly and we should probably figure out if we have any actual…y’know…common interests.
So I pull my calloused lips off her and says to her, I says “what are you into?”
And she says “Oh…y’know. Comics. Movies. Animé. That kinda stuff.”
Now, believe it or not, but at this early point in the Earth’s history where the molten surface was still hardening, I had not yet seen that much animé. I mean, Pokémon and Speed Racer, sure, but none of the really big name shows or movies. So I go into a video rental shop, avoiding debris from the recently formed Moon that rained down on the hellish surface of the Earth like so much fiery marble, and I go into the animé section and I see a DVD for a movie called Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth. I had heard the name before, but I knew nothing about it and figured “hey, if it’s so famous that even a total noob like me has heard of it, it must be a great entry point to this exciting world of animé! This will be a great way to bond with my new girlfriend who I hope to one day marry and make a supporting character in a weirdly detailed animation review blog/ongoing comedy series!”
So we sit down to watch this movie together, and around ten minutes in she turns around, takes my arm in a vicelike grip and stares straight into my eyes with a gimlet gaze.
“I’m sorry” she said. “I don’t like animé. I just wanted you to think I was cool. Can we please watch something else?!“
And we turned off the movie and watched Family Guy instead. Because, Christ help us, we were young and in love and knew no better.
So that was my first introduction to Evangelion and honestly, I could scarcely have picked a worse one. I know now that Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth is one half clip show with the first 26 episodes of the TV series edited into a single 70 minute cut almost perfect in its incomprehensibility for a newcomer, and the other half the first twenty minutes of what would become The End of Evangelion that was due to be released several months later.
And they did this because…because…
Honestly, maybe spite? Like, just another thing to fuck with people trying to make sense of what often seems like a deliberately opaque franchise? Pity anybody trying to make sense of Evangelion, and that’s before they even have to tackle the plot.
There’s the original 26 episode animé series which ended with a finalé so despised that Gainax received death threats.
There’s Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth which is basically the world’s most inscrutable “previously on Buffy” and which also has two alternate versions: Evangelion: Death(True) and Evangelion: Death(True)2 (and Tigger too!)
And then you have The End of Evangelion, which I will be tackling in this very post, which aims to be the true ending of the TV series.
Then there’s the Rebuild series, an entirely new ongoing four movie cycle re-telling the events of the original show and The End of Evangelion which aims to give ANOTHER ending to this rigmarole (sure, why not?).
Oh and there’s the manga (different continuity), the ANIMA light novel series (ditto) the PS2 game, the parody series, the audio dramas, the commemorative plates and on and on it goes. This thing is a beast.
But okay, here goes, I will now attempt to describe what the hell Neon Genesis Evangelion actually is.
Yes my friends, we may not have freedom, apple pie and eagles, but there is one thing that those perfidious Yankees can no longer lord over us!
When the Sparrow Falls is now available for request on UK Netgalley!
Give it a request! Give it a read! Give it a review! Only if it’s a good one!
Nah, nah, just kidding. Be honest. You know. If you want to CRUSH my fragile spirit.
Hahhahaha! Just kidding!
But seriously, I live for your approval
Oh god this was a huge mistake.
I suppose I should just make this confession upfront; I’m not a Kaijiu fan. Never have been.
Not writing off an entire genre, obviously but it appears to me to be a genre chiefly relying on empty spectacle as a consequence of focusing on a main character incapable of speech, higher level reasoning or emotional growth.
That said, I have been watching the Kong versus Godzilla trailer on repeat and the sight of the two titular monsters duking it out on top of an aircraft carrier is the fucking coolest thing I have ever seen.
So…Godzilla. My experience with this character is as follows:
What can I say? Classic of world cinema.
I have a lot of fond memories of this one for purely personal reasons. Yeah, it’s dumb as all hell but it’s not as terrible as people say.
Honestly, I’d fallen asleep before Watanabe said “Let them fight” though I’m told that makes it all worth it. Must have been a hell of a delivery, I wouldn’t know.
Aaaaand that’s it. So yeah, three Godzilla movies and only one of them was Japanese.
Oh wait, I tell a lie, I religiously watched the Saturday morning Godzilla cartoon in the nineties.
Man, Adelaide Productions, whatever happened to them? They also did the Men in Black cartoon which was another movie tie-in animation that was so much better than it had to be...
Hideaki Anno is a celebrated Japanese animator and filmmaker who has worked on dozens of films over a long celebrated career and none of that means jack shit because he created Neon Genesis Evangelion and he will never not be the “the guy who created Neon Genesis Evangelion“. Dude could cure cancer and it would still be the second line of his obituary after “the creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion died today”. That show, which ran from 1995 to 1996 started out as a pretty typical (if far more stylish than usual) “teens in mechs battling monsters” show before transitioning into an emotionally fraught exploration of adolescent psychology, mental health and abuse served with a heavy dose of surrealist imagery and Christian symbolism.
Godzilla’s home studio, Toho, had put the franchise on hiatus with 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars, but after the positive reception of Ken Watanabe saying “Let Them Fight”, Toho decided to bring back Godzilla to kickstart a new continuity for the character.
Now understand, if you’re a fan of the Godzilla series what I’m about to say isn’t meant as a criticism, more an observation. There are two basic types of Godzilla movie: Godzilla versus Humans and Godzilla versus Other Monsters. It’s a pretty limited schema, but credit where credit’s due, the creators of this series have managed to ring a fair bit of variety out of these two scenarios, particularly in terms of Godzilla’s character, which is doubly impressive when you remember we’re talking about a large non-verbal animal. Godzilla is something of a renaissance lizard, a Kaijiu for all seasons. In the original he was a very deliberate representation of Japan’s lingering trauma over the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as a response to the more recent deaths of the crew of Daigo Fukuryū Maru as a result of US nuclear testing in the Pacific. He’s also served as a metaphor for Japanese war guilt, a gentle Friend to All Children, a reluctant guardian of humanity, a vindictive destroyer and even just a big dumb lizard. After 30 films, you’d be forgiven for thinking there wasn’t really much else to do with the big lug. That’s probably why Anno got the nod to direct Shin Godzilla, given his success in putting a new spin on the seemingly tired giant mech genre.
How did it go? Shin Godzilla was a massive, and I do mean MASSIVE success in its home country, opening at number one and out-grossing the 2014 American Godzilla by almost a quarter and tripling the box office take of Godzilla: Final Wars, the previous Japanese installment. It also won Picture of the Year at the Japan Academy Awards, which is kinda like a new James Bond movie winning Best Picture.
This thing was huge in Japan, appropriately enough. In the West, though, the reaction has been a bit more mixed. Not bad, by any means, but there’s definitely a sense that this movie is not remotely interested in catering to Western sensibilities as to what this kind of movie should be. And that’s fair, this is most assuredly not your typical Godzilla movie, which is probably why the Western DVD release thought it necessary to put one of the most underwhelming review pulls I have ever seen on the cover:
Woke up today to learn that there was a review of When the Sparrow Falls on Publisher’s Weekly!
“Sharpson’s provocative debut, adapted from his play The Caspian Sea, takes readers to the early 23rd-century Caspian Republic, an authoritarian nation-state reminiscent of Cold War–era Eastern Europe, where the remnants of pure humanity hold out against an artificial intelligence-controlled world. When a popular Caspian journalist dies and is discovered to have been an AI in disguise, his estranged AI wife, Lily, is dispatched from the outside world to identify the body. Nikolai South, a long-serving, unambitious State Security agent for the Republic is assigned as Lily’s liaison, only to be rocked by her uncanny resemblance to his own late wife. During their time together, South must determine if Lily is involved in a plan to smuggle digitally converted human consciousnesses out of the Republic—and along the way, he becomes caught between warring intelligence agencies and learns dark truths about the Republic’s origins. Sharpson skillfully evokes an atmosphere of paranoia, duplicity, and secrecy, while using the conflict between humans and AIs to probe themes of self-awareness, identity, and memory. As Sharpson pushes the narrative beyond South’s present and into an increasingly messy future, he showcases the untenable nature of the Caspian Republic and its corrupt framework. The result is a thoughtful sci-fi thriller that skillfully blends a retro spy aesthetic with future technology.”
Alan Moore. I honestly doubt whether there is a single writer for whom the gap is wider between the strength of their work and the quality of the adaptations based on that work. If I read you off Moore’s bibliography it forms a perfectly acceptable list of greatest comics of all time:
Watchmen, From Hell, The Killing Joke, League of Extraordinary Gentleman.
I read you the list of the corresponding adaptations (for movies at least):
Watchmen, From Hell, The Killing Joke, LXG
and you start looking for the fire extinguisher to put out this garbage fire. There is a reason why Alan Moore refuses to even be credited on works based on his comics and it’s not because he is now just a beard suspended in mid-air by a floating energy field of old man cussedness. He has been done dirty by Hollywood like few writers before him. But, amid all the terrible adaptations there is of course one exception. Or is there?
Or maybe not. Sorry, I’m vascillating. Here’s what I find fascinating about V for Vendetta. It is, was, and probably will remain an incredibly divisive film and that is so much rarer than it used to be. In the pre-internet days, film criticism was the domain of a relative handful of newspaper and TV film critics. The masses would vote with their wallets, but their actual opinion on any given movie was largely silent. No one was taking big polls of thousands or millions of ordinary movie-goers to gauge their opinions on a given film. That was left to the critics who would often disagree wildly with each other on the merits of any one work.
Nowadays, of course, everyone is a film critic. Everyone writes about film, whether it’s on Twitter or Rotten Tomatoes or Facebook or or any of the million and one new social media platforms that are just sprouting up everywhere like little markers on my path to the grave.
You would think that this would mean an even greater diversity of opinions on every single film but on the contrary, the opposite tends to happen. Consensus usually builds around a film very rapidly. Either it’s universally acclaimed, universally pilloried or (if it’s anything remotely political) it gets stripped for parts in the never-ending culture war with two camps forming who will defend it to the death regardless of its merits or flaws as long as it triggers the libs/smashes the whitecispatriarchy.
This, you will probably not be surprised to learn, is not a conducive enviroment for insightful, nuanced film critique. So what I really appreciate about V for Vendetta is that it’s a rare film in that it does actually provoke a very diverse range of responses from people. Opinions on it run the full gamut from Travesty to “Capital G” Great Film.
I’m pretty sure most people would agree that it is the best Alan Moore cinematic adaptation, but after that consensus ends. I’m going to keep my opinion on the film to myself until the end (largely because at the time of writing I’m still trying to figure out that very thing). But regardless of its quality it is an absolutely fascinating film to discuss and I’m looking forward to it tremendously.
Hey you! Do you live in North America? Are you functionally literate?
Then we have much to discuss…
My debut novel is now available for review at Net Galley and you can request an Advance Review Copy HERE. Why not request one and give it a review? Give me one good reason. Exactly, you can’t.
Former President Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump.
President Donald Trump (former)
Donald Trump, former president.
The ex-president, DJ Trump.
Donald Trump, 45th of 46 US Presidents, thus far.
The last guy.
The previous occupant.
Donald Trump, who was president, and is no more.
And is no more.