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The Full Lid 6th September 2019

Happy Friday everyone!

Welcome to the month! And to The Full Lid! Thanks once again to the amazing Natalie Metzger for the graphic refresh, which is now well and truly bedded in. Metz does the BEST work and I'm so happy with the banner especially. 

We've had an influx of new people this week, so welcome aboard! I'm Alasdair Stuart, professionally enthusiastic pop culture analyst, podcaster2019 Best Fan Writer Hugo finalist (5th place, baby! The climb starts here!) and BFS award nominated for this very newsletter. Here's the plan; 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 week. 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 amazing.


Contents time!
 

Contents

Magic for Liars
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
The Jones Boys: The Next Generation
Signal Boosting
Signing Off/Playing Out
Read More

Magic for Liars

Magic, when you think about it, is terrifying. The real time manipulation of  reality through human force of will, not the comforting, consensual lie of stage magic. Or at least, most stage magic (Spoilers, sweetie). Ivy Gamble doesn’t find magic terrifying, just annoying. You’re either born able to use magic or not and Ivy wasn’t. Her twin, Tabitha, was and the horror of living just to the left of the impossible has soured Ivy’s relationship with her sister for years. Until she gets a call from the headmistress of the Osthrone Academy where Tabitha is on staff. A member of the faculty has been killed and she wants Ivy to find out who did it. So, Ivy goes to Osthrone and finds herself investigating a murder, the culture at the school and, against every wish she has, her own past.

Gailey’s long form debut has every ounce of the wit, invention and gleeful subversion of their novellas while adding extra layers of nuance, theme and a truly glorious piece of textual close up magic. The first few chapters will convince you, even as I tell you this, the novel is at least partially about a good-natured parody of the Harry Potter franchise. As it goes on though, that element shifts with the mercurial speed of a card sharp, becoming whatever the book requires it to be at any given time. It’s endlessly clever and more importantly, endlessly humane. This is a look at the idea of a chosen one with the compassion and pragmatism of a world that has to survive their existence. Not so much the boy who lived as the civilians who frantically tried to escape his story intact.

More importantly it’s a phenomenally good novel about high school and the common hell we all suffer there. Gailey expertly weaves tiny, massive personal catastrophes into the supernatural tapestry of the story. This is a school just like any other, full of terrified, horny idiot children trying their best to not be thrown from the hormonal motorbike they’re all clinging to. It’s also both a deeply weird and reassuringly familiar look at school life. You’ll see people you know here as well as, perhaps, yourself. All of them flawed, all of them human and all of them capable of offhanded, terrifying power.

That power and it’s impact is what drives the novel and also cites this firmly as one of the finest pieces of both urban fantasy and crime fiction written so far this century. Gailey’s world-building is needlepoint precise, giving us just enough education to perform and them plenty of room to move. Magic is the point, the destination, the drug and weapon of choice for every one of these plots. But it’s also different in every one. Only Ivy, the last honest woman at Osthrone, can see what’s happening and she’s so cut off from her past, herself and her truth that even she struggles. All of which builds to one of the strongest endings I’ve read so far this decade where the novel’s twin engines of exhausted compassion and magical innovation collide. It’s stunningly, achingly realized and leaves you and Ivy in the last place you’d expect but the place Ivy thinks she should be. She may well be right too. Either way, Marlowe would tip his hat approvingly and pick up the tab. Ivy might even let him.

Magic for Liars is absolutely on my Hugo ballot next year and it’s out now from Tor. You should buy it.
Sighted at DragonCon over the weekend, the Sailor Scots. Outstanding work, chaps!
Years before the events of the original movie, the Skeksis and Gelfling live in peace. Until palace guards Rian (Taran Edgerton and Neil Sterenberg) and Mira (Alicia Vikander and Helena Smee) make a horrifying discover. Their Lords are using them as batteries, draining them to extend their lives. And they are hungry...

This is, by a colossal margin, the most gorgeous TV show you’ll watch this year. Every single frame is beautiful and Thra as a world is a heady, vibrant and intensely, viscerally dangerous place. Everything is alive and everything is physical and real and that gives the action a hard, brittle edge that you’re probably not expecting from a show starring puppets. That edge in turns acts as a lens to focus the characters. The Gelfling are beautiful, sweet, naive and fragile. The Skeksis resemble nothing more than eight foot tall exploded birds. All of them fascinating to look at and, as the series continues, all of them infinitely more complex than we’re first led to believe.

That’s never truer than with the three leads. Rian is joined by Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel and Katherine Smee) and Brea (Anya Taylor-Joy and Alice Dinnean). Rian is a warrior, Deet an animal handler and part of the Grottan tribe who live underground. She’s compassionate where Rian is impulsive, strong where he’s weak and is the most interesting character by some distance. Emmanuel does an incredible job showing her unique form of passive strength and the physical acting from Smee is superlative. Likewise Alice Dinnean and Anya Taylor-Joy as Brea. A bookish princess with all the privilege that implies, she’s the brains of the group where Deet is the heart and Rian the muscle. Except Rian is also horrifically traumatized by the string of dreadful events he is forced to witness, Deet is battling sensory overload at being above ground and Brea is trying to work out her relationship with officious older sister Seladon (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Helena Smee). Each is bowed under the weight of expectation and obligation and getting out from under that weight is what defines the show. The Gelfling are a deliberately broken people and as each of them becomes bigger than their initial place in society, those breaks begin to heal. In this way, the writers’ room expertly combines personal stakes with world shaking ones and ensures each story has weight and meaning. Everything from the astoundingly sweet Podling paladin Hup (Victor Yerrid) to an apparently throwaway monster glimpsed in the first episode has importance. Everything on Thra is connected. Everyone on Thra matters.
That goes double for the Skeksis who are a vast, spiky revelation. Their design work is where the team really cut loose, skekVar in particular is  wonderful, looking like a pissed off Corvid/bear hybrid. The skeletal avian villains are shrill, absurd, terrifying and exude danger in every way. None more so than skekVar (Katherine Smee, Kevin Clash and Benedict Wong) and skekSil (Warrick Brownlow-Pike and Simon Pegg). The first is a glowering, hulking presence and the second is Iago with a beak. Pegg has never done better work than he does here, simultaneously locking into the original performance and finding depths that the extra hours allows him to explore. Arguably the best scene in the series sees skekSil and Rian share an increasingly tense coach ride together as skekSil explains exactly how the world works and the horrific choice Rian faces. Brownlow-Pike’s physicality and Pegg’s charming, inveigling, relentless delivery are chilling in the very best way for us and the worst for Rian.

On top of all of this, the show is a complex narrative that serves multiple causes and bows to none of them. It’s a horrifyingly timely environmental fable, a needed response to the performative cruelty of Game of Thrones at its worst and a story that centers compassion in a time where that is all too often ignored. It’s also just startlingly good storytelling and one of the best productions Netflix have ever financed. Regardless of whether you know the original movie, this is fantasy storytelling at a level it often reaches for but doesn't always achieve. Extraordinary in every way.

Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Season 1 is on Netflix now
No, *I'M* Crying. Also I HAVE A MIGHTY NEED. 

The Jones Boys: The Next Generation

It's a truth universally accepted that sequels will happen, and reboots will follow them. The original Indiana Jones trilogy ends beautifully, and I know a lot of folks absolutely loathe Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as a result of that and myriad other reasons. I...am not one of those people. I love how the change from fantasy to science fiction as the baseline genre meshes with Indy's age and means instead of being the guy who does the Thing, he's the guy who watches The Thing.

Regardless of your feelings about the last outing, Indiana Jones 5 is a thing that's barreling towards us. Spielberg has said some encouraging things about a possible reboot but most likely it's going to be Harrison Ford again, handing over to either a younger version of himself for flashbacks galore or presumably passing the hat and whip along to Mutt. Again, I don't have the Shia LaBeouf hate a lot of other folks do, but I do accept it feels a little off. Especially as Indy already has a functional son and heir.

No time for love, Doctor Jones!

Short Round is, along with Willie and that opening dance number, one of the few bits of Temple of Doom that REALLY works. Jonathan Ke Quan retired from acting in 2002 (And brilliantly is now a stunt coordinator i believe) and I honestly feel he never got enough credit for Shorty. The kid wears the movie's heart on his sleeve, he's tough without being tedious, innocent without being stupid and has precisely no time for Indy's bullshit nonsense. He also saves the day and I defy anyone to not get choked up at their desperate little hug when they're finally reunited. Along with Marian (And, problematic as having a SUPER right wing Welshman play him is) Sallah, he's one of the all-time great companions. He's also far and away the most competent and it would make a ton of sense, if Indy is retiring, to hand the hat and whip to him. But, like I say, Ke Quan retired from acting over a decade ago. So how do you cast an adult Short Round?
THERE IS VERY POSSIBLY TIME FOR LOVE, DOCTOR JONES.

Lewis Tan, the man whose career was given a shot in the arm by NOT being cast as Iron Fist is having an extremely good year. He was a vital part of the final season of the much-missed Into the Badlands, he was excellent as Lu in the deeply fun Wu Assassins and has just been cast, reportedly, in a lead role in the long overdue Mortal Kombat reboot.  Excuse me a moment.
 

MORTAL KOMBAAAAAAAT!


Thanks.

Anyhoo, Tan's an intensely gifted martial artist and actor who can play to his physicality and intelligence with equal ease. He's a leading man in waiting, Wu Assassins showed he can nail the 'more of a hero than he thinks he is' approach that is at the core of the Indy movies and he's absolutely at home with his own stunt work. It makes so much sense. The one issue is Tan is British-Singaporean where Ke Quan is American-Vientnamese of Han Chinese descent. Making a re-casting like that work requires honest and compassionate engagement. It is doable though, witness the shift from George Takei to John Cho in the rebooted Star Trek movies.

Even if you do pass the torch to an adult Short Round, there's still the Mutt issue. I actually really liked the idea of the role and I thought LaBeouf did fine although he's clearly infinitely more comfortable with the sort of experimentation that movies like Peanut Butter Falcon and Honey Boy offer him. Asking him back wouldn't, I suspect, work for anyone, least of all him. But Mutt is Indy and Marian's kid. You have to address him if you want the franchise to move forward. The way to do that?
This guy. This is Noah Centineo, currently part of Netflix's rep company where he's been the male lead in the brilliant To All The Boys I've Loved Before, as well as Sierra Burgess is a Loser, The Perfect Date and the upcoming sequel to To All The Boys. He's also just been cast as He-Man and is appearing in this year's  'DEAR LORD HOW DOES THIS LOOK THIS FUN?!' Charlie's Angels reboot-quel. It's a thing. Run with it.

Centineo is a phenomenally gifted comedian whose physical presence (And he is not a small dude) is inherently reassuring. He's also an instinctively generous performer who is as happy working in the background of someone else's scene as he is being front and center. Like Christian Kane, the greatest Wolverine we'll never get, he's a surprisingly generous leading man and one who has a fantastic range. You want asshole? Noah. You want amiable beefcake? Noah. You want a smart, tough, kind of sick of being in his hero archaeologist parents' shadows Mutt Jones?

Noah.


So here's what you do. Cast them both and unite them in the search for their folks. Throw them onto that red line and send it hurtling across every map you can find as they work out their family issues while searching for their family. Have them rescue Indy and Marian and let their parents retire disreputably (And who wouldn't want to see Indy get to be as badly behaved as his dad in Last Crusade?!) and then? Do the thing. Hand over the hat, the whip, the jacket. To each of them. You KNOW he has spares. Bring the career of one of cinema's greatest action heroes to a close as he hands off to not one, but both his sons. Because it's time for Doctor Jones to retire. But the Jones Boys, I like to think, are just getting started.

Signal Boosting

A haunted muscle car, a circus crime family, a dancing bear, bearded women, methed out carnies, crab twins, and a young woman teamed up with the ghost of her dead father on a mission of vengeance: just some of the utter insanity that awaits you in the hot new comic Death Trap, now launched on Kickstarter!

Ollie and her dad's ghost are out for revenge as they rumble and skid through four issues of action and absurdity in her father's old 1968 Mercury Cougar. With their suspicions all but confirmed his murder was ordered by Beau Davenport, the owner of a rival traveling carnival, Ollie gathers help from the only family she has left: The Strongin Circus crime family she grew up in. Violence, high-octane action, and a healthy dose of bananas-level wackiness await you in the pages of the most exciting new comic this side of the old 42 nd street exploitationmovie theaters.

 
I'm so in.

Death Trap is written by friend of the Lid Matt Miner with Christopher Peterson on art, colorist Josh Jensen and ace letterer Matt Krotzer. An ode to the 'carsploitation' classics it's a four part series that's kickstarting now. Anything Matt writes is worth your time and this looks so much fun. Check it out.

And of course, here's my Ko-Fi.

Signing Off/Playing Out

THE WEEKEND! IT'S CALLING FROM TOMORROW!

I've been watching a lot of the new Twilght Zone that...may have had an effect.

Anyhoo! Congratulations, it's Friday, some time after 5 and here we are. Great job getting here and enjoy the weekend. While you're doing that, why not check out the cornucopia of amazing free fiction offered by the Escape Artists Podcast Network? I like it so much, I did LITERALLY buy the company.

Also check out the Team KennerStuart instagram. It's been a little quiet after the more annoying elements of WorldCon but we're getting back on our photo game now.
 
(MAKES NOTE: Post more on Instagram)

See! BACK ON OUR GAME.

I work without a safety net, or pay, here. I know times are tight but if you can afford it please consider dropping something in the tip jar. Thank you:)

Remember, when the oxygen mask drops, put yours on first. Save early, save often. Drink more water. Do mighty deeds. You know, the usual. 

Playing us out this week! Hobbs! Shaw! Cypress Hill! Idris Elba! RAPPING! IN! CHARACTER! Yes this is your dad's hip hop. 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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