The Full Lid
21st February 2020

Bonjour chumrades! Welcome to The Full Lid. It's 5 p.m., it's Friday, you are (hopefully) heading home for the weekend and you know what? You deserve something more in your inbox. Not a needy circular or a bill, but something fun, something full. Something... Lid-esque.

Inside these very walls (boxes?) you will find spoiler-filled discussion of pop culture I've enjoyed this week. This week you'll also find a group of amazing female horror authors for Women in Horror Month and an overdue return to writing about food.

Contents ahoy!


The 70 Percenters
The State of The Union
Department of Received Esoteric Printed Goods
Signal Boost
Signing Off, Playing Out

The 70 Percenters

The second season of Netflix's Lost in Space, after a weirdly lumpy opener (how do you make 'Our spaceship is a yacht now!' boring? HOW?!) ended up being orders of magnitude better than the already impressive first season. It takes chances, tries some very new things and in John Robinson, Don West and Ben Adler, gives three very different, interesting leading men in genre TV.

This week's title by the way refers to a line Don has about halfway through the season. He jokes about 'If you want 70% of the job done, you call Don West!'. It's self-deprecating and, like all self-deprecating humor, inaccurate. Because while all three men may enter season two at 70% they don't stay there long.

Right then, John Robinson first. How's it going there, sir?

John does not have an easy time of it this season. At. All. He falls down a well, is impaled, buried, arrested, beaten up and shipwrecked and that's just three episodes of the ten. It's similar to the way the first season went for him too, Maureen doing the heavy thinking and John doing the heavy lifting. It's a fun if gender dynamic, but it's also a flat and dated one. A lot of the second season is about not just giving John more to do than bleed, but examining why he tends to end up bleeding in the first place.

The season's best episodes are 'Run' and 'Severed' which unfold pretty much around one another. In 'Run', John is called out to examine problems at a well on the planet the Resolute survivors are working from. The well, it turns out, is home to an aggressively metal eating bacteria. The well, it turns out, is made of metal. Hence the photo above. John is buried, the Chariot Judy is riding in to help out comes apart because of the bacteria and... Judy runs the 24 kilometers to the well site, keeping her dad alive and talking to him the whole time.

The episode's headlong dive into their fractious partnership is beautifully played by Taylor Russell as Judy and Toby Stephens as John. The adopted member of the family, Judy naturally gravitates toward John because of the culture she was raised in. Judy's a military brat, John is a military brat who survived long enough to have a family of his own and the pair speak the same pragmatic language with one vital difference: what kind of survivor they are.

Judy is grieving, as anyone who has lost family does. It's a constant background note in her character, from her medical training to her pathological inability not to help. She's seen what happens when you're powerless, she carries that damage and she know full well that fighting until you can't is better than fighting until you won't. 

John, by contrast, is buckling under the weight of being a family leader, a man of action, the constant systemic shock of working and living in space, and the PTSD he's clearly ignoring. The show has yet to dive into it but John hints at seeing very bad things during his active service. He also hints at having done some of them and it's this, in 'Run', that seems to make him want to give up. His family are back with the Resolute: his watch, he thinks, is ended.

It's Judy that forcefully disavows him of that notion, pointing out she lived through the family when he wasn't part of it and she won't do that again. The only other Robinson outsider confronts John with the consequences of his absence and essentially dares him to do better. Which, for a former Navy SEAL, may be the best possible thing you can do. John chooses the hard option, every time. And, as Buffy once said, the hardest thing in the world is to live in it.

While it's true his daughter saves his life by daring him to not die, it's also true this has a major effect on John. He's far more emotionally connected in the second half of the season and, frankly, has a hell of a lot more fun. Once he figures out the family needs him, he also figures out where he fits in. Not in the lead but by their side and, in the heartwrending finale, at their backs with Maureen, giving the kids time to escape. It would have been so easy for this to be more self sacrifice but it plays as anything but. Instead, freed of his perceived need for a hero's death, John begins coloring outside the lines. He orchestrates a coup, enables his kids to cause the right kind of trouble and hangs out with our next guest, who also goes through a transformation this season.
This is Don West.

Give him a minute.

The new version of Don is a mechanic and smuggler, the thematic result of a Dave Lister and Han Solo one night stand. Definitely fun, but maybe not the sort of person you want to give power tools to. But as the show has progressed, Don's evolution has become one of its major elements. Don was a criminal. Don owes people money and favors. Don has no intention or capability of repaying either and the season's third act features him carrying a literal Jacob Marley chain of consequence around with him.

Admittedly its a section of wall and the welding gear he used to remove it but the metaphor is clear. Don is working off his past sins, and when they're finally stripped away he's earned the right to become the hotshot (and still endearingly rubbish) pilot he was always intended to be. There is, as long term readers know, nothing but love for Space Pilot Tribbiani in this dojo, but nonetheless this version of Don is a far more interesting and emotionally connected update.

'Severed' is his finest hour, as Don willingly gives up everything he's been hiding to save Penny, Penny's maybe-kinda boyfriend, Doctor Smith and an innocent swept up in the same events. He's only able to save them because of his past, a neat piece of plotting that The Rise of Skywalker's 'OH BY THE WAY POE WAS A DRUG SMUGGLER AND DID WE MENTION NOT GAY' plotting could only dream of. It directly connects to the season closer, where Don has become the surrogate older brother to the entire family, Maureen and John's right hand man and at last, more than the sum of his parts. Maybe even 70% more...
This is Ben Adler. You can tell he's morally conflicted can't you?

JJ Field's mildly-pained portrayal is perfect for a man tortured by his need to see his family, his fascination for the work he's doing, his awareness of its ethical bankruptcy, and of being acutely aware how much is on the line. Adler knows what's at the heart of the Resolute, he knows what they stole and he's as relieved as he is horrified when the owners come calling.

Ben rapidly stands out as an interesting character on the show because he's the least comfortable. He's an authority figure and a parent like Maureen and John. He's an idealistic scientific genus like Will. He's manipulative like Smith. Ben is like the emergency reserve Robinson, not quite anything until he's called to be. In fact, the show cleverly mirrors the concept of the Robots and how they imprint on people with Adler. He's the exact middle ground between John and Hastings, the man behind the Resolute project's theft of alien tech: morally protean enough to get the job done but sufficiently hung up to be bothered by the costs. 

That in turn leads Adler to arguably the most interesting story arc of the season. Realizing that the bond Will has with the Robot is not the captor/captive relationship he has with his own Robot, Scarecrow, Ben makes two impossibly brave choices. The first is to abandon the actions he's convinced will take him back to his family. The second is to leave his life altogether. The show leaves it deliberately ambiguous if Ben survives but I'd be honestly surprised if he didn't. His final line 'Let's do this differently next time' certainly speaks to the belief he'll get the chance, as does Penny's comment about how the Robots are affected by humans later in the season. I hope he's right. Personal growth deserves acknowledgement.

And, you know, not death by lightning, obvs.

All three of these men are flawed. All three of these men are changed by their experiences and all three of them, as a result, are profoundly likable. We want our heroes to be paragons but in the end, we really just hope they can tell a hawk from a handsaw. These three can, and, flawed as they are, they're still growing. Pushing the throttle forward, getting closer and closer to 100%.
Women in Horror Month Spotlight: Authors

Gemma Amor is a writer, scriptwriter, podcaster and whirling tornado of prolific creativity. Her scripts for No Sleep Podcast are consistently some of the best episodes they run, her co-created podcast Calling Darkness is an amazing horror comedies and her books are all shot through with the same focused, gleeful invention. Please check out her work.

The State of the Union

Hi, my name is Alasdair and I am conflicted.

Marvel announced the debut of a new, all-UK team yesterday. The Union will spin out of the upcoming Empyre crossover and feature representatives from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The art is by Andrea Di Vito, the design work is by RB Silva and the book is written by Paul Grist. All three are good but Grist is essentially UK comics royalty. His staggeringly good minimalist cop series Kane is a high water mark of graphic storytelling in the west and all his projects demonstrate the same fluid, confident storytelling style. Grist is legitimately one of the all-time greats and has talked about wanting to write this book for decades.

Here’s the cast:
The short green-haired ninja-looking individual is The Choir, the Welsh representative. Behind her with the pink hair is Kelpie, the Scot. Leading the charge is Britannia, the British rep and the big lad on the right of the image is Snakes, the Irish representative.

Yes. Moving swiftly on.

The chap wearing the Union Jack between Snakes and Britannia is actually called Union Jack. We’ll talk about him in a bit.

I have to be completely honest, I was not up for this before finding out it was a Grist project. Britannia leading her team into battle boob-window first did not spark joy. The fact that the entire team appear to be white, even more so. This is, honestly, a very dark time in this country. We have a government who is unabashedly racist, largely invisible during catastrophic flooding, attempting to dismantle the BBC and the NHS and this week alone briefly hired an individual who has championed eugenics as a legitimate societal tool.


I’ve lived within the UK for almost my entire life: 20+ years in England, and another 20-odd on an adjacent rock. (Yes, they're different.) I have never seen the UK more divided, exhausted and frankly fucking furious at entirely the wrong people. There was a chance, perhaps an obligation even, to show POC characters in heroic roles here that seems to have been squandered.

Coupled with the recent Excalibur relaunch quietly ignoring Faiza Hussain, this seems to say more about Marvel’s editorial choices than countless diversity pledges. An opportunity to cast the go-to targets for lazy bigots in heroic roles has been missed and, however the rest of it turns out the book is going to be poorer for that.

And yet. I'm still going for it. Because of Grist and Union Jack

Grist’s work is profoundly compassionate and not even a little naive. He’s exceptionally good at writing flawed people who want to be better and even better at writing the kind of quiet, complex character narratives that UK-based genre fiction demands. If anyone can do this, Grist can and I suspect he’s going to do it using Union Jack.

Jack’s been a Marvel character as long as I’ve been alive. Seriously, his first appearance was in Invaders 7, a book published the year I was born. The Jack we see here, Joseph Chapman, is a Mancunian art student who takes up the mantle to save the previous wearer’s life. He’s designed to be the working class version of Captain Britain with, at least at first, no abilities beyond his own physical fitness. Seminal, overlooked (AND NOW BACK IN PRINT! EXCITED NOISES!!!!!), UK classic Knights of Pendragon cast both of them as avatars of the Round Table which gave Joe some pretty serious powers but that only proved temporary.

And yes, it has got to be deliberate that the Tory superhero (YOU KNOW Captain Britain votes Tory) gets superpowers while the Mancunian one has a stick and, sometimes, a gun. Jack gets nothing easy and nothing for free and I think that’s why the team is going to work. Because he’s there. He played a central role in Knights of Pendragon precisely because of his refusal to back down. Jack knows he’s just a guy, he knows he’s usually outnumbered and outgunned. Jack goes in anyway, because who else is going to do it? His power is that he doesn’t have any. His superpower is willpower. He's Rocky Balboa by way of Mike Garry.

Jack as a representative of the working class transcends the very national boundaries the other team members are defined by. He’s everywhere and in being everywhere, I think will prove to be the glue that holds the others together. My sincere hope is in doing so, he also helps provide a fictional example of how we can put ourselves back together. We need it. We need this book to work. I really hope it does.

The Union starts in May
Knights of Pendragon’s first six issues are currently back in print
Captain Britain and MI:13, which features an absolute ton of top notch Union Jack content, is available now.

New reader? Find The Full Lid archive here.
Follow this link to Boldly Go to my ko-fi.

Women in Horror Month Spotlight: Authors

Sandra Odell is a horror writer. A fantasy writer. A YA writer. A science fiction writer. Sandra is one of the most versatile, and amazing, people I know and her work runs the gamut from gentle comedy to sticky, unblinking horror. She's a frequent flyer on our podcasts so grab a listen here.


*needle scratch/freeze frame*

Yep, that's my pizza. You're probably wondering how it got there. To tell you that? We need a scene change.
MUCH better.

Right, Marguerite and I have a financial system in place: whenever a big project gets paid or a windfall arrives, 90% goes to Responsible Adult stuff and the other 10% is for FUN. Fun in this instance also means delicious, as we went and made Pizzas at Bread Ahead for Valentine's Day.

Bread Ahead is a bakery with offices at Borough Market, one of the main food markets in London. It's a very, very special place for me. It's one of those spots that hums with creativity and potential, always crammed to the gills, always with something new to see, or smell, or eat. I'm an enthusiastically amateur cook and always will be, but what I know about food, and making it, has been focused and sharpened by every visit I've ever made to Borough Market. Plus one of the stalls there sells grilled cheese sandwiches so amazing one actually defeated the two of us once.

Editor's note: It was Kappacasein's. Also don't miss the spelt almond croissant from Olivier's.

The course was held at one of their on-site classrooms and was taken by Siberian baking wizard and GBBO contestant Julia Chernogorova. Over the course of three hours we made pizza dough, left it to prove, learned how to make breadsticks then came back to our dough and turned it into pizza and doughballs. Here's how the pizza and doughballs went.
Stage 0: Such Poolishness

A Poolish is a wet starter, the sort of thing you make sourdough with but not actually sourdough. You need:
  • 50ml water
  • 2g fresh yeast
  • 50g strong bread flour
Add the water, then the flour to the yeast, whisk until combined and leave for 12-24 hours in a nice warm spot. This part they did for us.

Things I did not previously know:
  • There are different kinds of starter
  • You can add starter to something and it doesn't instantly become sourdough.

Stage 1: Whisky Business
  • Take 270g of strong white bread flour and add 5g of sea salt and 4g of fresh yeast to it. 
  • Give it, what Joshua Weissman would call, some whisky business
  • Add 160ml of cold water.
  • Add your Poolish
  • Mix until combined
Beat the dough like it owes you money. Seriously just stretch and pull and pummel the bejeesus out of it for at least ten minutes. This will not only help you deal with a bad day but will create lots of nice chewy gluten strands in the dough that will give it some serious texture and chewiness especially when combined with the Poolish. It will stick. You will need a bench scraper. Your arms will get tired. Keep going.

Cut the dough in half and stick one half under an upturned bowl to think about what it's done.
Editor's note: I made these!

Stage 2: Know When To Roll 'Em, Know When To Fold 'Em

Doughballs, beloved of Pizza Express customers everywhere and, it turns out, SUPER easy to make! And yes, this section head is ENTIRELY an excuse to link to this clip.

The only extra ingredient you need is garlic herb butter. Whether you actually need it or not? Who knows, depends how you feel about garlic herb butter. Although personally I figure a thumbnail or so of mozzarella in the middle of these would hit the spot. Go, as they say, with your heart.

Take the half of the dough not currently in Solitary and divide it into 7. If you're feeling fancy, weigh them out at around 35 grams. Don't lose sleep over this though, you'll find balls of up to 10g difference will end up about the same size.

Roll each one between your hands to form a ball.

Press the ball into a circle.

Drop a bit of garlic herb butter in the middle. 

Twist and fold and seal them back up. Then, drop them on the table, put your hand over the top in the shape of a claw and roll it. The dough, under your hand, will go spherical nice and quickly.

Put to one side to prove for an hour so. Once their existence has been undeniably confirmed, cook them at 220 degrees C for about 20 minutes.

These are EXTRAORDINARY with a poached egg for breakfast.

Stage 3: Roll Around In The Pizza (Yes, this)

By this stage, your pizza dough will be good to go.

Polenta the living hell out of whatever you're going to be cooking the pizza on. We got fancy pizza paddles, but if you've got a baking sheet, do that. And seriously, do not be coy, throw like a handful of polenta all up in there. 

Take your dough out, flatten it into a disc and roll it over the knuckles of one hand, then the other.

This will feel weird and wrong. Do not panic. Dough, especially this dough, is pretty forgiving. If you need to ball it back up and fold it back out, do. This chap's got you covered.

Once you've got a disc about 9 to 10 inches across, drop it on your polenta-ified work surface.

Things I did not previously know:
  • You get Polenta! AND YOU GET POLENTA!
  • The under bowl proving method works very well.
Stage 4: The FUN Part

Two pizzas! Both alike in yeastyness in Fair Borough where we lay our - sorry, wrong meeting.

So! This is pizza sauce, half a ball of mozzarella torn into thumbnails, a little basil and some garlic butter. This is also not only one of the best pizzas I've ever had but the neatest one I've ever made (I'm on the left). I've never, ever got a crust that cwispy (thank you Joshua) before and I'm so happy not only with it but with the awesome hack we were taught.

The awesome hack we were taught: pizza stones are super useful ways to heat a pizza from the bottom and top. They're also a little expensive and difficult to handle on account of being, well, a stone. What Bread Ahead do is flip the oven trays over, dust them with polenta and then cook stuff on then. Exact same principle, half the faff. Brilliant.

This was immense fun and it's something we're hoping to do again later this year. If you've never tried a class like this before and you can manage it, do it. It takes you out of your head, it teaches you new things and trust me the homework is delicious.
Women in Horror Month Spotlight: Authors

Cassandra Khaw's work is as endlessly impressive as it is both versatile and wry. A writer whose work takes in everything from video game narrative design to romantic comedy she's an intensely perceptive analyst of the human (and inhuman) condition and the only horror writer I know who can make you hungry and disgust you in the same sentence. I'd especially recommend Hammers on Bone (follow the link for my review).

Department of Received Esoteric Printed Goods

Hot damn, my identity patch! Thanks Dread Singles!
And The Nicodemus Job / Also Doctor Dinosaur Wrote A Book Kickstarter Marguerite backed last year because she knows how much I love Atomic Robo stuff! Yaaaaay! Thanks hon!

Editor's note: I claimed most of the stickers. Mammal crystals!
Women in Horror Month Spotlight: Authors

Chloë Yates' work sparks with determination, invention, wit and horror. Every story is crammed full of her glorious use of language, brilliant ideas, wicked sense of humor and insight. You can start anywhere, but to my mind Go Forth In The Dance Of The Merrymakers is a personal favorite Find her stories here and her narration work here. You can find Eve of War, which features us both and a bunch of other amazing folks, here.

Signal Boost

  • With a tagline like 'every story is a ghost story' you know The Palimpsest Podcast has my attention. They've just kicked off their third season, so check that out.
  • Flying in the Face of Fate is a brand new, full cast LGBT audio drama with a brilliant twist on traditional fantasy.
  • Humble Hauntings is a brand new ghost story podcast that's well worth your time.
  • Michael J. Hollows' relentless talent is matched only by what a great value follow he is on Twitter.
  • Ryan Boyd is an extraordinarily brilliant podcaster and editor. They will make your book better in return for cash. Go pay them cash. Or at the very least listen to Rank and Vile, their wonderful horror movie podcast.
  • Jason Arnopp is a fiercely inventive horror author, former editor of Kerrang! and a man who has saved my life in interview numerous times thanks to his book on how to interview people. He has a service where  he will give you a detailed breakdown of your first three chapters and if they're pitch-ready. Full details of that, and his other services, here.

Signing Off / Playing Out

Long, weird week. But a good one. Oxygen masks on and strap in for the weekend, folks. Ours consists of a Kitschies judge meeting for me and a long-awaited dinner out with podcasting friends. Likely followed by building a Lego space station...

As ever, the Team KennerStuart Instagram is active, and you can always find me on the Twitters also.

This work is produced for free. If you like what you read please consider dropping something in the tip jar. Thank you :).

Playing us out this week is Mike Garry along with Joe Duddell and Andrew Weatherall. Weatherall, a rocket scientist of a DJ, passed away this week. This remix of Garry's funny, proud, intensely moving ode to Factory Records owner, cultural champion and benevolent Mancunian super-villain Tony Wilson wraps Garry's words and Wilson's history around a witty parade of musical nods to Manchester's musical gods. It's sweeter than the aching original version, but no less impressive. Know what else it is?
a Full Lid.
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Agathon Towers · Cheapside Road · Reading, Berkshire RG1 7AG · United Kingdom

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