Posts Tagged ‘Toby Jones’

Short takes: ‘A Dark Matter,’ ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ and ‘Deep Star Six’

July 28, 2020
Combination image: ‘A Dark Matter,’ ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ and ‘DeepStarSix.’

By Matthew E. Milliken
July 28, 2020

Peter Straub will probably always walk in Stephen King’s shadow. They were both born in the 1940s, they are both bestselling American writers known for their tales of horror, they both launched their careers in the ’70s, and they’ve even collaborated on a pair of novels. But King is by far both more prolific and more popular, and it would take something monumental to change that.

(Straub published his most recent novel in 2010. According to this list, King has put out 10 novels from 2011 through last year. And in early 2019, I did a thorough…ish investigation of King’s popularity.)

That said, I enjoyed Straub’s latest novel, A Dark Matter. The volume is narrated by Lee Harwell, a novelist who becomes determined to find out what happened to his wife and their friends during a strange ceremony in the autumn of 1966.

The ritual was conducted by a traveling mystic named Spencer Mallon with a handful of people. There were a pair of skeevy fraternity brothers at the University of Wisconsin, Keith Hayward and Brett Millstrap; a beautiful coed, Meredith Bright; the narrator’s then-girlfriend, high school student Lee “The Eel” Truax; and his and the Eel’s three best pals, Howard “Hootie” Bligh, Donald “Dilly” Olson and Jason “Boats” Boatman.

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Charming ‘City of Ember’ finds wonder and terror in a crumbling underground city

December 10, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 9, 2017

City of Ember is a charming 2008 movie set in a crumbling postapocalyptic community.

The eponymous settlement was built underground centuries before the central action in order to shield its inhabitants from an unspecified disaster, presumably nuclear in nature. The city’s infrastructure, particularly its power generator, is on the verge of failure, but most of Ember’s residents are too complacent to recognize it.

One of the few exceptions is young Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway, an Englishman who’s worked in British TV and recently appeared in the miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes). The brilliant, determined teenager realizes that the city’s blackouts are growing in both frequency and length. His conviction that something must be done to save the community strengthens when he becomes an apprentice in the patchwork pipeworks and learns just how little comprehension engineers have of the complex systems they’re charged with maintaining.

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