Went to the Moon for Spring Break but the Moon Turned Out to Completely Suck

That’s a paraphrase of the opening line of M.T. Andersen’s Feed, a young adult novel about an eerily familiar future in which everyone is connected to a neural feed, which transmits information, messages, and lots of advertising directly into your brain 24-7.   The story mainly follows a group of teenagers as they hang out, date, and consume.  The novel is one of the best I’ve read in recent memory, and has pretty much everything you want in a science fiction novel: great characters, an interesting and well-thought-out future, a brilliant voice, a good dose of humor, and some thought-provoking ideas about the world we live in. Possibly the most powerful thing about the novel is what’s mostly unspoken in the background: things have gotten pretty bad in this future, and meanwhile these American teenagers are just obliviously hanging out at the mall.  The fact that most of them have developed unexplicable lesions bothers them at first, until lesions become the latest fashion trend, of course.

It’s hard to say much more, other than that this book meg rocks.  Put it at the top of your reading list and you won’t be disappointed.

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The New Doctor

I caught the debut of Matt Smith (the new Doctor on Doctor Who) on On Demand yesterday.  (I love On Demand, BTW.  I do wonder, though, why every On Demand program I’ve used has an outright user-hostile interface, but I imagine within a few years some entrepeneurial lass or lad will correct that and do quite well for themselves.  In the meantime I puzzle over mysteries such as why some Doctor Who episodes show up under “Primetime on Demand” and others under “BBC America On Demand.”)

But I digress.  The eleventh Doctor.  I think I’m quite fond of him.  More importantly, I’m quite fond of Doctor Who under Steven Moffat’s leadership.  After only one episode, I already feel more confidence in the writing.  It has that slightly hokey feel that Doctor Who should have, but manages to never cross into severe eye-rolling territory, as Russell T. Davies was known to do now and again.  The regeneration was well-done, and there was a lovely dash of Moffat horror thrown in throughout.  It also seems like Moffat is going to play around more with the time-travelling complexities, which strikes me as a fun way to explore the character.  “Oh, I said 5 minutes and it turned out to be 12 years?  Oops!” Vintage Doctor.

As for young Mr. Smith, I enjoyed his performance quite a lot, which is impressive considering my recently developed but still emotionally significant secret crush on David Tennant.  Smith is drawing a bit on Tennant but he’s doing his own thing, too.  He has just the right mix of cockiness, world-weary wisdom, adventurousness, and just-barely-beneath-the-surface timelord-y angst.  And I believed he was the Doctor pretty much from his first moment on screen, which, as Moffat said, is ultimately the only test that counts.  There were a few moments now and then where his youth came through in a way that felt like it was due more to Smith’s own youthful uncertainty than to the Doctor’s timeless exuberance, but they really were only a few moments, and I’m sure Smith is only going to get better as he grows into the role.   Also, love the outfit.  Bowties and suspenders are definitely due for a comeback.

And Amy Pond seems promising as a new companion.  Proactive and sharp and a bit different from the ones we’ve seen before.  Looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season has in store for us…