Journey into the ‘Dark’

Read. Watch. Listen. introduces you to the personal side of our faculty, staff and alumni. Participants are asked to answer three simple questions about their reading, viewing and listening habits – what one book or newspaper/magazine article is grabbing your attention; what one movie or television show has caught your eye; and what album/song, podcast or radio show are you lending an ear to.

English and Writing Studies professor Chris Keep is the Program Director of Film Studies and Editor of Victorian Review.

Today, he takes a turn on Read. Watch. Listen.

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 Read.

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz (2017). The most arresting new voice in science fiction in a decade, Annalee Newitz uses her debut novel to explore the meaning of freedom in an age in which everything can be owned.

Autonomous follows two parallel story lines:

The first is of Jack Chen, a pharmaceutical hacker who reverse engineers a new drug to fund her efforts to help the poor. When the drug proves lethal, she has to go on the run, hoping to expose the pharma giant responsible before she is eliminated.

The other story line concerns the military assassin sent to find Jack and his partner, Paladin, a robot who wants to explore its emergent sense of identity. Their relationship, intimate, sexual, complex, is the highlight of the novel, but its fast-paced narrative and endlessly surprising characters will keep you glued to the page – watch for a particularly memorable scene in a Tim Horton’s in Regina.

Watch.

Dark (Netflix, 2017). Often compared to Stranger Things, this German series is also concerned with a group of young people who find themselves caught up in a supernatural mystery with lots of eighties references. But where Stranger Things is a sugar-rush of nostalgia, Dark is a brooding, twisting, and demanding investigation into the nature of trauma and history. It is also one of the best and most logically consistent explorations of time travel and the ways in which the future always, in its own uncanny way, influences the past. The Netflix version is dubbed into English, which I find unfortunate, but this is still compelling viewing.

Listen.

Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks by Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno. (Originally released in 1983. Reissued and expanded, UMC, 2019.)

This past summer marked the 50th anniversary of humankind first setting foot on a world other than our own. The occasion was marked by a number of superior documentaries, but I always find myself coming back to Al Reinert’s 1989 masterpiece, For All Mankind, a film assembled from archival footage of the Apollo program, and featuring a glorious soundtrack by Brian Eno and his collaborators at the Grant Avenue Studios in Hamilton, Ont.

Being a vacuum, there is no sound in space, but it is the genius of this soundtrack to find ways of evoking its stillness, its emptiness, its profound otherness. Check out An Ending (Ascent).

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If you have a suggestion for someone you would like to see in Read. Watch. Listen., or would like to participate yourself, drop a line to inside.western@uwo.ca.