Month: June 2011

Redemption Ark

The third novel set in Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space Universe (and sequel to the original Revelation Space, with Chasm City more of a “side-quel,”) is my least favorite of the three. For about 250 of this 700 page brick, not a whole hell of a lot happens. I honestly think you could tear those pages out and nobody would have minded. And, unlike the other two books (particularly the brilliant Chasm City, which I truly think is a masterpiece) there are not mindscrambling sci-fi/fantasy concept bombs being dropped every other page. By Reynolds’ standards, Redemption Ark is relatively straightforward. Which is not to say it is not enjoyable. I love the world of the Conjoiners, the Demarchists, the Ultras, the Inhibitors and Pattern Jugglers. I love the lighthugger Nostalgia For Infinity and I love Alpha Level Sims, “Medichines” and unionized worker simians. One of Reynolds’ greatest strengths is actually knowing a thing or two about science, so his interstellar travel is full of Relativistic puzzles that, for a layman like me, take a little bit of thought and/or Google research to follow. It is worth it. I still don’t really understand redshift, but I understand it slightly better...

Read More

Nightwatching (2007), Peter Greenaway, B

I’m not going to be so gutsy as to say that I’ve understood all of Peter Greenaway’s films, but I’ve always respected them. Sometimes I even enjoyed them. Nightwatching is one of the more (for lack of a better term) difficult ones. It is very stagey, even dabbles in being dull. But before it can lose you, it does something strange. It tells the tale of Rembrandt while creating his Night Watch masterpiece, hinting that the painting is actually a coded message at a covered-up murder conspiracy. This is hardly a CSI episode, though, as much of the screentime is dedicated to Rembrandt’s love-life, lengthy dialogues with characters who may or may not be real and plenty of “tableaux.” Here’s what I love about Greenaway. He can make nearly any sequence seem really important, and only when it’s done do you step back and think, “hey, what the heck is actually going on in this...

Read More


Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.

He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.

Follow me on Twitter