The Full Lid 9th August 2019

Happy Friday everyone!

I'm Alasdair Stuart, professionally enthusiastic pop culture analyst, podcaster and 2019 Best Fan Writer Hugo finalist. Welcome to The Full Lid, my weekly pop culture enthusiasm download. Every Friday, around 5, you get all the details of the interesting, weird, fun, clever or often all of the above pieces of pop culture I've encountered in the last seven days.

If you like what you read,the archive and sign up link are here. Please share it but if you do please tell folks how to subscribe and where you got it. Also if you want to buy me a coffee, that would be great, thank you!.

Right then, contents time!


Grimoire Noir
My Event Horizon Fever Dream
Middle: Below
Breaking Stride, Breaking History: She-Ra Season 3
Mr Conroy Goes to Gotham
Signal Boosting
So How's Work?
Signing Off/Playing Out
Read More

Grimoire Noir

Bucky Orson has a problem. His younger sister Heidi has vanished. This would be worrying enough if Bucky lived in a normal town but he doesn't. Bucky lives in a town where every female resident is born with magical powers and can never leave. But those powers are fading, Heidi may be the key to restoring them and everyone wants a piece of the story. 

Vera Greentea is one of the most endlessly inventive and consistent comic creators working today. Her work here, with Yana Bogatch on art, is a high watermark even for her usual standards. This feels like a graphic novel with the emphasis on the second word, a complex and measured story that explores it's world even as it lays out the breadcrumbs for it's miniature PI leading man. Nothing is wasted, nothing is padding but as Bucky paddles around his home town we learn what a fascinating and broken place it is. The breaks, and this is where the genius comes in, aren't from malice either. This is simply a community in the middle of evolving and it's that evolution that's causing so much pain. The elegance with which Vera uses this set up to explore issues of female empowerment and culture, of adolescence and small town life and the pressures of being a smart kid in a small space is never less than impressive. Everything down to Bucky's design, a PI's outfit instead of his dad's uniform tells us what we need to know. He's angry enough to want to start some trouble and frightened enough to need some armour to hide behind. he's also, crucially, smart but has not read the script. Bucky and we find things out at the same pace and that's vital.

Bogatch's art plays a vital role in that process. It picks out grace notes from the script and makes them work in ways that never fail to surprise you. Bucky's best friend Chamomile floats, and her posture mimics a witch on a broom even though she lacks one. A vital witness in Heidi's disappearance is her partially alive cuddly toy. The flood is caused by Bucky's mom's abilties going into overdrive due to stress, leading everyone to row from house to house. The world never feels twee or false but it never feels quite ours and so much of that is down to Bogatch's aesthetic choices.

Most of all though this is just really good comics. It's a complex, winding piece of magical noir with some real surprises up its sleeve and a sense of the world carrying on quite happily once the book is closed. If they wanted to, Greentea and Bogatch could come back here time and again. I hope they do but even if not their voices and styles are so distinctive, and vital, it bodes nothing but well for their future projects. Complicated, gripping, humane, perceptive and essential stuff.

Here's my local comic shopHere's yours. Here's Comixology.

My Event Horizon Fever Dream

It takes a certain type of moxie too successfully land ‘A haunted house...that’s a SPACESHIP’ as a concept, It takes even more to attract a cast including Lawrence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Joely Richardson, Joan Allen, Jack Noseworthy (KING OF NAMES), Jason Isaacs and Sean Pertwee . Making it an actual, legitimately good movie that uses Orbital’s ‘’SATAN” as it’s final jump scare takes the sort of moxie that makes George Clooney nod appreciatively down the bar of the casino at you even as Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett are taking your contact details for their next job,

Event Horizon, written and directed by Paul Anderson, has that moxie. The Lewis and Clark is a Deep Range Search and Rescue vessel. Someone drops the ball, they get the call, off at the gallop to save some lives. But the Event Horizo, a testbed for the world’s first interstellar drive, has just reappeared after a decade away. And Doctor Weir, the ship’s designer, wants answers...

Spoiler! ALL those answers involve horrible things!

I LOVE Event Horizon. It’s a big gore soaked puppy of a movie that folds my favorite horror tropes (‘Hi I’ll be your villain this evening’ and ‘I’ve translated the Latin and it says we’re FUCKED’) and throws them into my favorite setting. Plus it does so with no subtle at ALL. The Event Horizon’s interior looks like a cathedral had blackout sex with an Iron Maiden album cover. The drive itself looks like Pinhead’s stress toy. This is clearly The Bad Place. Which makes watching this likable crew of assholes be slowly but surely destroyed by it both all the more horrifying and all the more entertaining.

Now, word comes to us that Event Horizon is about to be adapted for TV by Amazon under the control of Adam Wingard. Wingard is a horror director with a grounded and unflinching eye and his The Guest is one of my all time favorite movies. Seriously, it is built like nothing on Earth and so much fun. He’s doing the work for Amazon, because eventually we all will, and that’s not good but hey at least this way it won’t get cancelled 2-3 seasons in for featuring women, gay people and non-Caucasians, right? NETFLIX?

But here’s the thing. I want, very badly, this to be one of those shows people don’t see coming. And, with the benefit of an unlimited budgets and not having the job? Here’s how I’d do it:


For two seasons.

Have two full seasons of the Lewis and Clark crew going on adventures. Space adventures. Space RESCUE adventures. Have Miller defy orders to drop them into a Martian dust storm and rescue a crew trapped on a stratellite. Have Starck be offered the big chair on the Fiennes and turn it down because she realizes she likes being on the Clark more. Follow Coop as the ship rescue technician finds himself working a job in the lunar habitat he grew up in. Show us the horrific trauma that leads to DJ becoming the mumbling, quiet, reserved and furious man he is. Have the Clark be the only ship available to rescue Smitty’s old posting, including the commanding officer thats he transferred to S&R to escape. Full Space Casualty! Maximum SkyTruck! You know it makes sense!

And it DOES. Throw a top notch cast in there (I'm seeing Aldis Hodge as Miller, Lauren Cohan as Starck, Toby Kebbell as Smitty for a start) and let them work and let the audience invest in the show's fundamentally reassuring aesthetic and hard world. The simple, brutal and Fun drudgery of working S&R in a busy solar system. Make us care abut these characters, show us how they became who they are. And then?

Send them to Hell.

Play the movie out exactly as it was on the screen. Pick them off one by one and make sure it all hurts. Have evil not only assault the sanity of Doctor Weir but the very shape of the show ITSELF. Curdle Space Casualty into Space Casualties. End the show, break the toys, drop the mic and cue the music.

Or at least that’s what I’d do.

Event Horizon is in development at amazon now and you can bet I’m looking forward to what THEY do.
Lewis Wake is the living embodiment of that speech Jeff has in the first episode of Community about how Abed is a shaman. His Ko-Fi is here. Lewis', not Jeff' obvs.
We live in the Middle. Ghosts live in the Below. Think of the Below as here, just...sadder. More mournful.

Angrier. Sometimes.

The two worlds barely touch but when they do, something needs to be done. It usually ends up being done by Taylor (David Devereux). Taylor can travel between the two worlds with relative ease and has a worrying amount of experience dealing with ghosts. Aided by Gil, a ghost (David Pellow) and very surprised fellow traveller Heather (Charlotte Ryder), he takes on every kind of haunting. Which is a shame as all he really wants to do is watch Star Trek...

The genius of Middle:Below lies in three elements. The first is the cast. Devereux's Taylor is a charming, mildly distant expert who really doesn't want to be, and makes an instantly sympathetic reluctant hero. David Pellow's Gil is an absolutely literal sidekick and expertly played both for laughs and pathos. Charlotte Ryder's Heather is a resourceful, fast learner who is much better at this than she knows and Megan Bucky Buchanan as Sans the cat is equal parts enigmatic comic relief and deadpan straight...feline.

The second is the audio design. The show is fiercely atmospheric and rarely more so than in the series finale. There, established running jokes are corrupted by the ghost of the week and the simple act of speaking becomes an act of negotiation fraught with danger. 

The third is the script's consistent inventiveness and exuberant use of ideas you would never expect a show this size to land. 'The Child' is one of the best haunted school stories I've ever heard, 'Lisa' is a chilling look at Taylor's past and the price he's paid to get where he is and 'Lucid' is an absolute season highlight. It's a familiar trope, and you'll figure it out quickly but it's executed with such verve and joy that it feels fresh and new. Each episode also fills you in on the Below's curious relationship with sound as well as the pasts of those who travel there. It's a show that starts in the middle (in every sense) and while it doesn't quite swim to the edge it absolutely gives you what you need to enjoy the journey as well as set up season 2. Punchy, inventive, wickedly clever and one of the shining lights of the UK audio drama scene.

Middle:Below season 1 is available now. Check it, and TinCan's other projects out here.
Photo from The Star
The incredible Toni Morrison, along with Ralph Ellison, was a major part of my education. She was an astounding writer and the NYT has put all the work she did for them online for free as a salute to one of the all time greats.

Breaking Stride, Breaking History: She-Ra Season 3

Netflix have two terrible habits; cancelling a show two seasons in (Tuca and Bertie and The OA most recently) and chopping a 13 episode production order into two six episode ones and claiming they're whole seasons. This really hurt the middle seasons of Voltron but it's something She-Ra turns not just into a feature but a driving force.

There are two arcs spread across these six episodes forming a functional serial. In the first, Adora discovers her true identity, how it connects to Mara, the original She-Ra and what it means for Etheria. This leads to the Best Friend Squad setting off to the Crimson Wastes to find the source of a garbled message and running into a wide variety of trouble along the way. Chief amongst that trouble is local thug Huntara (VOICED BY GEENA DAVIS!) and a newly at home Catra who spends the first half of the season, kicking, headbutting and basically savagely beating her groove back.

Along the way we get some surprising builds for some surprising characters. Glimmer really comes into her own this season, every bit the subtle and clever leader she's been trying to be. Adora goes in the other direction; losing almost all her certainty beyond her She-Ra identity and struggling to make her peace with everything. Best, and most surprisingly of all, an extended sub plot sees everyone's favorite AU Doctor Octopus cosplayer Entrapta bond with Hordak.


After two seasons of being the grumpy skeletal chap who shows up to remind everyone how evil the Dark Horde are, suddenly we see him as vulnerable and weirdly sweet. His origin is also a master stroke of overt science fiction that gives him pathos without excusing his terrible actions. Best of all though, their scenes together show these two characters with their very different world views are all too aware of what's going on. Entrapta is so caught up in the data that, at first, it's where her true loyalty lies. Hordak is so desperate to prove himself he's prepared to risk the fabric of reality to get home. But not I suspect Entrapta's safety. it's a great, sweet relationship and i totally ship them in a mildly dark and disturbing way.
That first trilogy is written by Shane Lynch, Laura Sreebny and Josie Campbell and does a great job of expanding the world even as it closes in on the relationships at it's heart. It also, oddly enough, basically makes Catra the second protagonist. At absolute rock bottom, murderously angry with everyone who isn't her and suddenly somewhere where she has nothing to lose, Catra has FUN. It's terrible, bloody fun and it means she completely ignores what amounts to Scorpia suggesting they elope together but still, fun it is.

It is the last time anyone has fun. Especially Catra.

'Moment of Truth', 'Remember' and 'The Portal' are written by Katherine Nolfi, Noelle Stevenson and Campbell once again and are, by a measurable distance, the show's finest hour. Each one contains vital moments that ratchet the tension, expand the world and place even more pressure on Adora's shoulders even as Catra finally buckles under the pressure on her's. Unable to accept she's at fault for anything, convinced the world is against her and happy to burn it just because she can, she's a cat holding eye contact with you as she kicks something off a shelf. But this time, what she's kicking is the world.

'Remember' is She-Ra's take on one of my favorite story modes. Actually it may be two of them, one part It's A Wonderful Life, one part 'Remember Me'. Adora's back in the Fright Zone and everything is perfect. People keep saying that to her even (And criticizing her hair). But something is wrong, everything is wrong and only Adora can stop it.

Stevenson writes offhandedly creepy like no one on Earth and this is a massively disturbing episode that ramps and ramps and ramps. I love how it builds on Catra and Adora's relationship and then destroys it, Catra making the choice she's accused everyone else of making and locking in her spot as Openweight Tragic Anti-Hero Champion Of The World. There's something massive and Shakespearean about their final scenes together here. And the discordant, warped 'Hey, Adora' that's the payoff is completely chilling.

'The Portal' builds on this sense of unease and turns into an epic disaster movie. We get a do over of sorts of the first episode, only this time when Adora is captured in Bright Moon, King Micah (Hi Daniel Dae-Kim!) is on the throne...

What follows is a rapid escalation in stakes once again, and a very personal apocalypse for Glimmer and her mother. That in turn leads to things falling apart, the center collapsing and at the last possible second, Adora discovering that while she's She-Ra, she isn't the only heroine on Etheria. The final five minutes here are intensely kind, vastly sad and completely heroic. No one fights. No one screams. The power of the entire season, of the entire show so far, comes down to one woman, in the right place at the right time, doing what only she can do. It's an incredible sequence, one that saves the world but also leaves a permanent mark on it and its characters that will make season 4 even better. After all, while the crisis is over, everyone remembers what they did. Including Catra...

She-Ra Season 3 makes the world bigger than it's heroine and grows her as a result. It gives welcome new dimensions to Catra, Scorpia, Entrapta,Shadow Weaver, Hordak (HORDAK!) and Adora and sets up a much larger fourth season. In fairness, it does this at the expense of Bow, Seahawk, Mermista(Still the best by the way), Perfuma and Frosta and that makes the show a little less light on it's feet. But the season lacks lighter moments for a reason and the payoff is worth it. Confident, endlessly impressive, morally complex and gripping this is a high watermark for Netflix animation and the best season of one of their best shows to date.

All three seasons of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power are on Netflix now. They are a light in the darkness of 201WHATTHEFUCKNOW? Go watch them all.

Also there are Swift Wind Adventures. You want ALL of them.

Mr Conroy Goes To Gotham

After voicing Bruce Wayne for decades in countless animated movies and the best cartoon (Except perhaps Avatar, Korra and Centurions YES I WENT THERE) ever made, Kevin Conroy is finally going to get to play Bruce Wayne in person. The Crisis on infinite Earths crossover, hitting in a couple of months, is not playing around (There's rumors of Tom Welling's Superman making a return and Brandon Routh has already been confirmed as putting the cape back on) and I'm really excited to see where they go with it. Also I honestly found myself quite moved by this. Conroy IS Batman to a couple of generations of fans and this feels like a much deserved, and long over due reward.

Also just press play on this. And every other episode.
Funkiest JS Bach EVER!  Toccata Mambo - Rainer Hersch
The Rainer Hersch orchestra shows Bach could SHAKE that thing

Signal Boosting

And of course, here's my Ko-Fi.

So How's Work?

I'm about to go to one of the most prestigious science fiction conventions in the world, where I'm a finalist for one of the most well-regarded awards in the field, surrounded by people whose work I massively admire and am humbled to be in the company of.

I just sent The Icarus Thread to beta readers. That's a book, from my head, out to beta readers. That's a thing that just happened.

This was a pretty good work week:)

Signing Off/Playing Out

So that's the pre-WorldCon show, folks! This time next week it'll be all systems go in Dublin. But don't worry, an issue of The Full Lid is primed and ready for you next week too.

You know what else is primed and ready? Why the Escape Artists Podcast Network ! Go grab a story and listen. We've got over 2000 and they're all great.

Also check out the Team KennerStuart instagram. We've been catsitting for the last week so there'll be some pictures of our guests (Including an epic blep) on there plus other fun stuff.

Did you enjoy this week? Me too! If you want to say thanks, and can afford it, please drop some money in my Ko-Fi. Thank you:)

Playing us out this week is Little Big with Skibidi. Like The Matrix no one can be told about this song, you should just experience it for yourself. Big thanks to the magnificent Andrew Reid for being an incredible human AND writer AND finding this. Buy his book, gaze upon his instagram. And listen to this because this? Somehow?
is a Full Lid
is a Full Lid.
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Agathon Towers · Cheapside Road · Reading, Berkshire RG1 7AG · United Kingdom

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