Sisyphus is a Korean science fiction drama exclusively available on Netflix. It follows a successful tech entrepreneur called Han Tae-Sul and Gang Seo-Hae, a woman who travels back from the future to save him from assassination, and by extension, save South Korea from a nuclear attack.
How and why this is all supposed to work is a little hazy for most of the series, because the protagonists themselves, while convinced that their actions have the potential to save millions, do not entirely understand the mechanism by which this is going to happen. This is because they’re trying to change a future that they have only limited knowledge about.
The Mask of Mirrors is a rich and thickly-embroidered story of intrigue, conspiracy and magic woven throughout a Venetian city where religion and magic are as much a part of the city as the cobblestones themselves.
Into this society divided by class, privilege and heritage, drops Ren. A girl seeking to mend the unmendable ties of a broken family. But that’s not true at all, and it’s only the surface frosting of subterfuge on a layer-cake so deep at times you feel you may have lost sight of what the truth ever was.
We follow Ren and become familiar with her goals, and the game she plays to achieve them. As soon as those objectives have some sort of clarity, the focus is gradually but relentlessly drawn to the multifaceted objectives of every other group in the city, from the crimelords to the cultural extremists, the noble houses to the smugglers to the city guards (called the Vigil), and most interestingly of all, to the characters who straddle several camps, cultures or families, and seek always to retain their precarious balance.
I wrote back in January that I felt Ursula Le Guin’s passing was a great loss for both the art of writing and for SFF in particular. I was driven at the time by my memories of reading A Wizard of Earthsea, one of the first fantasy books I ever held in my hands. You know, back when paper was a thing.
Since I wrote that, I’ve thought back occasionally to the story itself, only to realise that I don’t remember it all that well.
Passing through an airport last week I came across a collection of the first four Earthsea books and it felt a little too much like divine providence to ignore. I ploughed through A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan over the next couple of flights, and rediscovered the work.