Thursday, June 9, 2016

Review and/or Fangirling: Stephen King’s End of Watch (and also some more about Obits)

A great writer can make you emotional about people that don’t exist, and keep you focused on a tale made out of pure hogwash.

End of Watch is the end of the Hodges trilogy, a story about a cop that refuses to retire and a equally driven killer. It has science fiction parts, which make me sigh – Mr. King took some careful notes from some scientifically informed individual regarding computer attacks, and then throws in copious helpings of mind control nonsense (see previous rant). I would’ve liked it better if the evil genius had kept evilizing in his evil ways through pure computer hackery than mind stuff.

And yet, think of all the fun all the actors in the movie version will have, pretending to be mind controlled. Think of the joy in their little ascetic actory hearts, considering they all wake up at 4am to go to work (but only if they’re lucky) while subsisting on a diet of vegan protein bars and pure sunlight. We can’t deny them this meager pleasure, it would be mean.

The police procedural aspects, meanwhile, are much tighter, as are the characters – lots and lots of characters, including some extremely memorable walkons, and several that made me cry. A very important phone number is introduced. King, as always, gives us lots of diversity (including neuro-) without the slightest hint of political correctness.

Hodges battles a medical condition throughout, reminding me of King’s fragile mortality, which very nearly came to a halt in a horrible vehicle accident before he’d even finished writing The Dark Tower. I am grateful to all those fine medical professionals for patching him up to the point where he can write engrossing page-turners like this.

Speaking of engrossing page-turners, I mentioned Obits briefly while talking about the Hugos, without really saying much about it other than some fangirling. Obits is about the people who bring us clickbait journalism, and it’s got some sharp and acidic venom to it. We definitely live in trying times as far as freedom of speech goes, yet at the same time we have more opportunity to talk to each other than ever before, even as our physical wealth grows increasingly disparate. You may count me as firmly on the side that favors people being able to speak and be heard. I’m also firmly in favor of giving a time out from the conversation to people who can’t keep their aggression/manipulation/drama in check, to be judged by dispassionate robots.

Obits is, literally, about ethics in journalism – the catch phrase of a movement that I’ll just call the “G-Word,” about which I refuse to write because it makes me very sad when mommy and daddy fight dirty over the fact they’re each about 80% wrong. I’ve got investments on either side of that battle and would really prefer it to dissolve into kumbaya, except with experience points if you kum more baya than the other players, and a multiplayer online battle arena addon with smart AIs that convert all the smacktalk into florid Shakespearean koans.  I would pwn in that game. Until they invent it, I’ll defer my political discussions to people that are good at it and enjoy that sort of thing, such as Stephen King. He was saying some wise things about politics in Rolling Stone today, which I mostly agree with.  

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