December 26th, 2006


Review : DMZ

There's something about simple stories that makes us forgive them so much more. I can happily read a Harry Potter book or a Superman comic without thinking too much about whether the politics or worldbuilding is logically coherent - I want it to work internally, but I don't expect it to fit in well with Real Life, or have the kind of depth that I like more serious settings to have. They're iconic - huge sweeps of colour and fun that look great at a distance, I know that staring at them close up will reveal a lack of detail, so I don't do it.

It's not the same with serious fare though - if something resembles the real world more closely then I expect it to work like the real world. And at some point things tend to fall into an Uncanny Valley where things are too much like reality to ignore the fact that they veer off away from it in ways my brain can't deal with.  DMZ falls into this category.  It's too grim, gritty and "realistic" for me to easily forgive the fact that its world seems sophomoric to me - warring factions  tearing the US apart worked fine for me in Frank Miller's Martha Washington books because they were bright, colourful and cartoony.  DMZ fails for me because it shows a warzone that seems too subject to authorial fiat - hippies growing tofu next to alleys packed with snipers, elements thrown together to create a world that's full of tension and upsetting action, but with characters too blank to do more than give the audience the standard tourist show and tell us that war is bad, people can be violent, but if we work together then we can create a world worth living in.

Possibly it gets better - fleshes the world out, gives us more of a reason to care about the characters, makes it all a bit more 3D and worth giving a damn about.  But I can't recommend it from book one unless you're easily pleased.
legomancer wrote about it here with largely similar feelings, if you're interested in a second opinion.

TV Request

Can anyone record The Ruby in the Smoke for me tomorrow?  I'm stuck in Devon with a complete lack of video recorders and now I'm sans Tivo at home I can't even connect home to record it...