A couple of things I have read/watched/etc recently. The Spy and the Traitor, Ben Macintyre
Macintyre has a great line in tell-all real-life spy dramas; he's written several for WW2 and they're all very readable and fascinating, so when I saw this on the shelf in Sainsbury's I knew it wouldn't disappoint, and it hasn't. This is the story of Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB colonel turned MI6 spy, and his ridiculously dramatic and amazing life. Macintyre makes a pretty good case for him having saved the world from nuclear apocalypse. I fell quite a lot in love with him in this, and I suspect Macintyre did too. Also Thatcher did, which is almost makes me question my taste, but still, he was pretty incredible. The story of how he made a summit between Gorbachev and Thatcher a complete success because he was briefing both sides as the KGB's senior man in London and MI6's window into the KGB - if that was fiction it would be unbelievable. He literally took the Foreign Office's agenda for the meeting and fed it to Gorbachev and took Gorbachev's agenda and fed it to the Foreign Office, and Gorbachev was very surprised to find that it was easy for him to understand what Thatcher wanted and what she would do. Thatcher, meanwhile, knew that her briefings were going to Gorbachev, so she wasn't surprised. All this on its own would be pretty amazing, but then there's the story of how the KGB found him out, and how M16 activated a frankly ridiculous escape plan to rescue him and smuggle him back to England, which - well, I take my hat off to the woman known in the book as Caroline Ascot (a pseudonym). She was the wife of the MI6 chief in Russia, who foiled the KGB sniffer dogs on the Russia-Finland border by dropping some cheese and onion crisps on the ground by them, and then CHANGING HER BABY'S DIRTY NAPPY on the lid of the car's boot. Inside the boot, sedated and wrapped in space blankets, was Gordievsky. Because of course if you're smuggling the most wanted man in Russia out of the country, you take your baby with you.
As recommended by absolutely everyone, and holy shit was this amazing or what. It is hands-down the best Shakespeare film adaptation I've seen. I adored the conceit of it all, modern-Roman-AU as only the Beeb could do it, using the same sets they use for political shows and just to finish it off, a cameo from Jon Snow somehow managing to give Shakespeare the exact intonation he uses for the news. I loved all the modern war-torn state feel to it all, it's such a fresh take on Rome and it feels true. I also got strong New Labour vibes from the tribunes, which I presume was intentional, and Menenius felt like he'd somehow walked out of The West Wing into this. But Fiennes as Coriolanus knocked my socks off, his power, his rage, his warrior spirit, totally and predictably failing as a politican. And the UST with Aufidius was off the charts, in their first duel, and then in the scene where Coriolanus offers him his throat, wow. You don't need to write the slash, Shakespeare's done it for you. And I adored Voluminia too, you can see exactly how she is his mother and exactly how hard as nails she is. I loved her attacking the tribunes and then walking off arm in arm with his wife.
Also, wow, is this the most Barrayaran play ever? I want to know how they stage it on Barrayar, and also the overlap between Aral and Coriolanus is striking.
I have just started watching this, I am three episodes in, I am not sure of anyone's names or what's going on, and I love it. I saw it recced as near-future space politics and drama and complexity, and so far it's delivering. It's set in a future in which Mars is colonised and independent and seems to be Space Russia, the asteroid belt is the Space Wild West, and Earth is Earth, crowded and running out of resources and considerably more underwater than it is now, and there's a cold war between Mars and Earth with the asteroid belt as their ping-pong ball. So far we've got three sets of characters, none of whose names I can remember: there's Detective Hat who is investigating a missing person case on Ceres that his boss told him to forget about. There's the crew of the Canterbury, currently prisoners on a Martian warship and trying to work out who blew up their ship and whether or not Smart Navigator Lady is a sleeper agent for terrorists. And there's Lady Alys But Really Scary, the powerful UN politician who likes torturing people, double-crossing people, and trying to prevent wars. (I like her a lot.)
Oh, and there are still Mormons in the future and they travel out to the asteroid belt and try to get people to come to their meetings. The whole show seems to have this level of background worldbiulding detail, I especially love the way the people on Ceres use water when they're having meetings, how they ostentatiously pour each other glasses of water or help themselves to water as a character thing, it fits so nicely. So far I am utterly curious about Mars and the Martians and what they're doing, and I really want to see Mars like we've seen Earth and Ceres.
And finally, I am probably the last person on the planet to listen to the soundtrack for Hamilton
. But I have a trip to London planned later in the spring and then I realised we could go to a show and that Hamilton was playing and tickets were available, so I am going to go and see it live in the West End, and I thought I'd listen to it and find out what it was all about. And so I did, and by the time I got to rhyming 'Lancelot' with 'pants look hot' I knew that I was in for a wild ride. Mr P refuses to let me play it around him, he wants to see it completely cold without any clue at all what's going on (or any knowledge of American history) but I have had it on repeat for the past week whenever he's not around, though it's lucky some of the lyrics go by too fast for Cub to hear them properly ;-)Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/168640.html. There are comments there.