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Communities: Sign Up Here, by Renay (12/15/14)
In late October of 1995, I signed up for my first holiday fanwork exchange via a Sailor Moon message board I was a member of, after discovering online fandom the year before through the magic of the Internet.
Between Prose and Play: Words on Ice-Pick Lodge, by Cassandra Khaw (12/1/14)
If games development companies could be anthropomorphized, Ice-Pick Lodge would be the haunted eccentric, the self-made thespian with a taste for the ghoulish, the genius with a sunken stare and a boxful of shoddy miracles.
Movements: Towards Change, by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (11/24/14)
Change. It’s been on my mind a lot these days.
Scores, by John Clute (11/10/14)
That a vessel of story so packed with story it seems to overflow with plenitude can feel half-empty after we shut the last page may be a central clue to what David Mitchell has been doing in The Bone Clocks in order to tell sooth; or not. A clue would be good.
Me and Science Fiction: Problematic Chocolate, by Eleanor Arnason (11/3/14)
I haven't been reading enough books lately, so I joined a local fantasy book discussion group.
Communities: Color Outside the Lines, by Renay (10/13/14)
I dedicated more time in the 1990s to downloading fanart than anything else besides fan fiction.
Scores, by John Clute (10/6/14)
This is the terror within that J cannot utter aloud but which, in Jacobson's superbly controlled unpacking of the costs of not uttering that which cannot be spoken, permeates every word.
Intertitles: And Was Obliged to Go On Dancing: The Red Shoes and the Chastised Woman, by Genevieve Valentine (9/22/14)
At first glance, "The Red Shoes" is a story about dancing, and it's no surprise that the relatively rare screen adaptations of the story are almost exclusively dance pieces . . .
Movements: Translations, Mother Tongue, and Acts of Resistance (Part 2), by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (9/8/14)
For some time now, I’ve been involved with the Interstitial Arts Foundation dream translation project. The thrust of this project is to see more works from non-Anglophone nations come into translation, to work together with translators, writers, and editors, and to look into funding that would cover the high cost of translations.
Scores, by John Clute (8/11/14)
Paul as a whole is divided into three Parks. Also his book.
Communities: Open at Your Own Risk, by Renay (7/28/14)
Recently, I completed the third and last iteration of Coverage of Women on SFF Blogs project that I began in 2011.
Me and Science Fiction: Books and the Death of the Middle Class, by Eleanor Arnason (7/14/14)
I’m not planning to write about shopping malls, but [. . .] I am planning to write about the ways that books and art are affected by the fact that the middle class no longer has “the fucking money.”
Intertitles: A Million Ways to Die in the West, by Genevieve Valentine (7/7/14)
A nameless drifter has the only thing he calls his own stolen from him by a band of thieves; amid a world of lawlessness where the quickest draw makes the law, he sets out to get it back.
Movements: Translations, the Mother Tongue, and Acts of Resistance (Part 1), by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (6/30/14)
I was recently at Fantasticon, which is an annual Danish convention held in Denmark, and the conversations I had over there were mostly about language and the use of language.
Once More, With Feeling: A Belated Response, by Jaymee Goh (6/30/14)
Last year, after Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution  came out, acclaimed SF critic John Clute wrote a review that bounced from the essay that editor Ann VanderMeer graciously had me rewrite for inclusion into the anthology.
Scores, by John Clute (6/16/14)
The final pages hit some notes of epiphany, like a wave out of Hokusai, before etherealizing into calligraphics of transcendence.
Overlooked Creatures from European Mythology, by S. E. Connolly (6/9/14)
Indeed, it’s been a good few years for mythological creatures.
Communities: Moving Targets, by Renay (6/2/14)
April saw the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the sequel to 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger
Me and Science Fiction: Invisible, by Eleanor Arnason (5/19/14)
These essays are personal reflections on what it is like to not find oneself in fiction or to find oneself represented badly and dishonestly, and how uncomfortable—even painful—it is to not find oneself in art.
Movements: Brown Woman at Work, by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (5/5/14)
I am emerging from a period of fallowness.
Intertitles: The Final Frontier: The Beautiful Fatalism of Near Space, by Genevieve Valentine (4/28/14)
There are six people in space right now.
Scores, by John Clute (4/21/14)
It may be best to stay our gaze on Lagoon as though it were telling us a today to grasp.
Communities: Call and Answer—Fan Creation and Construction, by Renay (4/7/14)
I've been thinking about the differences between creating fanwork and doing fan work.
Me and Science Fiction: SF and Politics, by Eleanor Arnason (3/31/14)
What follows are excerpts from two reviews of science fiction that I read last December.
Intertitles: A Thing That Lives on Tears: Goodness and Clarice Starling, by Genevieve Valentine (3/17/14)
Once, Jack Crawford called up a trainee barely old enough to rent a car, and asked her to interview the most notorious serial killer currently living, in order to catch one that was, for the moment, slightly less notorious.
Movements: Working in Dutch Genre Space, by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (3/10/14)
I read again for the Paul Harland Prize this year.
Communities: Raise Your Voice, by Renay (3/3/14)
Awards season began a few weeks ago, followed almost immediately by the debate about author eligibility posts for specific awards.
Werewolves and Wolves – Your Dad is an Alpha, by S.E. Connolly (2/17/14)
I have a confession to make—a deep, dark, secret. I like werewolf stories.
Me and Science Fiction: SF Poetry, by Eleanor Arnason (1/27/14)
There is a long tradition of fantastic poetry, going back to medieval romances—heck, going back to The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Intertitles: Brand New Girl: Gender Performance in Earth Girls Are Easy, by Genevieve Valentine (1/20/14)
Of all the SF comedy musicals that address gender performance, Earth Girls Are Easy is the other one.
Movements: A Poetics of Struggle (Part 2), by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (1/13/14)
There is a powerful scene in Toni Morrison's Beloved where Baby Suggs invites children, men, and women to laugh, to dance, and to cry.
Communities: Sharing Stories, by Renay (1/6/14)
Before I was a writer, I was a young girl surrounded by men telling stories,
Scores, by John Clute (12/16/13)
The dominant American SF tradition has tended, by conflating change and redemption, precisely to succumb to the pathetic fallacy: hence the gated-community garden-suburb Gaias we've gotten so used to encountering in those Hard SF manuals for the privileged that we still sometimes get tricked into reading.
Me and Science Fiction: Thor: The Dark World, by Eleanor Arnason (12/2/13)
I am not a comic book fan, though I read plenty of them as a kid. But I am a fan of Marvel superhero movies.
Movements: A Poetics of Struggle (Part One), by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (11/18/13)
In a recent conversation with yet another friend, I strove to explain the frustration that lies behind the giving away of our stories to visitors to our culture.
Communities: Nontraditional Paths of Isolated Hugo Award Fans, by Renay (10/28/13)
I've known about the Hugo Award since I was a teenager.
Scores, by John Clute (10/14/13)
Stripped of the staged performance of industrial-humanities citing practice imposed on good academics like Andrew Milner, Locating Science Fiction turns out to be something of a revelation.
Intertitles: Ten Worlds About Ben Affleck's Batman, by Genevieve Valentine (10/7/13)
1. Ben Affleck's Batman is terrible.
Me and Science Fiction: Genre Fiction, by Eleanor Arnason (9/16/13)
I read Arthur Krystal’s essay on genre fiction shortly after it came out in the October 24, 2012, issue of The New Yorker. It made me angry at the time. But I ignored it for a number of months.
Communities: You Got Your Industry in my Fanwork, by Renay (9/9/13)
Of all the fandoms I've been in, SF book blogging fandom is running out of fannish fourth wall—fast.
Movements: On Escapist Literature and Being Dangerous, by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (9/2/13)
At Nine Worlds GeekFest, I sat on a panel called RaceFail 101 where in the space of 75 minutes we tried to unpack the question of whether we have progressed in light of issues that came to light after the many RaceFail discussions that we have had online.
Intertitles: In This Together: Duality in Two Apocalypses, by Genevieve Valentine (8/19/13)
Let's talk about the end of the world.
Me and Science Fiction: Imagining the Future, by Eleanor Arnason (8/5/13)
This is what I want to discuss in this essay: how fast the future changes these days and how difficult it is to keep up.
Scores, by John Clute (7/29/13)
"[Christopher Priest is] a cardsharp who has done the ten thousand hours, who has been polishing his rhadamanthan load-bearing voice for nearly fifty years until it is fit for the task of bearing us through dismemberment."
The Future is a Mirror to the Past: Classical Receptions in SF at the University of Liverpool, by Liz Bourke (7/22/13)
Swords, Sorcery, Sandals and Space was the first English-language academic conference of its kind. It invited papers on the relationship between classical antiquity and science fiction and fantasy across all media: a conference on reception studies, but a specialised one.
Communities: Beyond Traditional Horizons, by Renay (7/15/13)
Every fandom I was in before online SF fandom was bursting with women.
Paraphernalia: Last and First Fans, by Mark Plummer (7/1/13)
I’ve been fishing around for some kind of personal fan anniversary that falls about now.
Movements: Looking Critically, by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (6/24/13)
I think of how upheavals and eruptions must happen in order for us to reach that place where all of us have space to speak our words and share our stories.
Intertitles: Superhuman Masculinity and the Musketeer Mythos in The Fast and the Furious, by Genevieve Valentine (6/10/13)
These movies operate under the extremely handwavey rules of what Hollywood sometimes fever-dreams comics to be like, meaning that continuity and physics are flexible, but dammit, honor never is.
Me and Science Fiction: Fan Fiction, by Eleanor Arnason (5/27/13)
My fannish creds are pretty solid, though I haven't written fan fic for more than forty years.
Scores, by John Clute (5/20/13)
It is not easy—it should really no longer be feasible—to write a tale set in the twentieth century that is not a tale about the twentieth century.
Movements: So what do you think of my story where I made use of another person’s culture?, by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (5/6/13)
I’ve recently spent a lot of time listening to conversations and engaging in discussions about, among other things, non-western SF and how SF is so white.
Loving the Alien: David Bowie's History of Science Fiction Film, by Genevieve Valentine (4/22/13)
In David Bowie's most recent music video for "The Stars Are Out Tonight," directed by Floria Sigismondi, he and Tilda Swinton play outwardly content suburban marrieds whose darker sides emerge in the fantastical faces of their rock-star mirror-selves, undergoing a mutation from the conventional to the alien, and confronting the transformative trap (and trappings) of fame.
REG and Alter Leave The Couch, by Mark Plummer (4/15/13)
Richard E. Geis died on 4 February in Portland, Oregon. He was 85.
Scores, by John Clute (3/18/13)
These books are like mother killdeer who, in order to defend their young, drag fake broken wings across the sightlines of the tale to keep us from eating the frail hatchling.
Me and Science Fiction: Hope for the Future, by Eleanor Arnason (3/11/13)
But there are limits to dark fiction.  We need to face reality, but we also need to imagine ways to change reality.
Movements: Woman's Work and Woman of Color at Work, by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (3/4/13)
The first time I was asked to write a bio for publication, I felt it was important to say that I was a Filipina writer. At that time, I could not put words to the reason behind that decision.
Paraphernalia: Where the Ether Vibrates, by Mark Plummer (2/11/13)
A general sense of solidarity obliges me to note that the recently resurrected online incarnation of Amazing Stories features a similarly resurrected fan column, “The Clubhouse.”
Intertitles: Hell Here: Catwoman and the Superhero Origin Tragedy, by Genevieve Valentine (2/4/13)
The origin story is a pretty tough gig.
Me and Science Fiction: Writing What You Don�t Know, by Eleanor Arnason (1/21/13)
Science fiction is (in part) about escaping from the here and now, but when it's good, it's based on reality and experience.
Movements: Retrieving Our Hidden Histories, by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (1/14/13)
It is a struggle encountered by all of us who live in the diaspora, by those of us who have known what it means to be colonized, and by all of us who understand that there are not enough words in the English language to express the pain and the sorrow of loss.
Scores, by John Clute (1/7/13)
The best Steampunk tales (for this reader) are those which expose the gears of the world, just as though our masters had not betrayed us, and then break the gears, because of course the gears of the world, on exposure, prove to have been broken or (which is the same thing for humans) made invisible.
Paraphernalia: Anniversary Drinks [2], by Mark Plummer (12/17/12)
1937 was quite a year for the nascent British science fiction community.
Intertitles: Cloud Atlas, by Genevieve Valentine (12/10/12)
Making a film about Greatness is awfully tricky work.
Me and Science Fiction, by Eleanor Arnason (11/19/12)
Since this is my first essay for Strange Horizons, I thought I�d begin with a history of my relationship to science fiction.
Movements: Identity and the Indigenous Spirit, by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (11/12/12)
In the last line of the poem No, I am not Yours, Barbara Jane Reyes (a Filipino-American poet) writes, �No, I am not anything that is anything I am not.�
Paraphernalia: The Time Traveller, by Mark Plummer (11/5/12)
APAs, Amateur Press Associations, are not a fan creation, with early examples in both the USA and the UK dating back to the late nineteenth century.
Intertitles: The Persistence of Memory: Cinematic Time Travel in the Surreal, by Genevieve Valentine (10/29/12)
The thing is, a time travel movie is pretty much always surreal.
Scores, by John Clute (10/22/12)
The perplex is the twentieth century: trying to describe the past as though it were real, to anatomize the frog that was galvanized into Frankenstein without succumbing to the Whig fallacy that Gary Shteyngart was an inevitable improvement upon Hugo Gernsback
Paraphernalia: Do the Chicken Dance, by Mark Plummer (9/10/12)
I�m sure my estimable editors haven�t done this to me deliberately, so I will not be too despondent that my deadline for delivery of this fan column is 27 August, the day I fly to Chicago for this year�s World Science Fiction Convention. Inevitably its publication date is sometime after the convention has concluded.
Intertitles: Girl Wonder: Lawn Dogs, Hard Candy, and the Age of Innocence, by Genevieve Valentine (8/13/12)
Intelligent beyond her years, more sympathetic to adults than her peers, and positioned at the center of an otherwise-adult world, comes the enduring cinematic image of the girl wonder: the young woman on the verge of adolescence who seems to have extraordinary, even supernatural, qualities simply by virtue of what she is.
Scores, by John Clute (7/30/12)
It has been a long week for zoologicals.
Paraphernalia: Exceptional, by Mark Plummer (7/23/12)
Some years ago, Chris Garcia experienced a moment.
A Boy and His Ghosts: From the Red Telephone to Red Dawn: Imagining the Apocalypse, by Jeremy L. C. Jones (7/9/12)
The apocalypse is one phone call, one siren, one descending vapor trail or mushroom cloud away. I am terrified by that simple fact. I am also fascinated by it.
Dice and D-Pads: Funding Fun, by Robyn Fleming (6/18/12)
Now and then, when I'm complaining about a game being sexist or racist or something, someone will suggest that if I'm that interested in getting better games out there, I should make my own. This always kind of makes me giggle.
Intertitles: Putting Out Fires with Gasoline: The Sexuality of Cat People, by Genevieve Valentine (6/11/12)
Every so often, Hollywood's ceaseless remake grinder accidentally turns out an incarnation which is both a hilariously dated product of its time and a film actually in conversation with its predecessor.
Paraphernalia: Into and Out of Time's Abyss, by Mark Plummer (6/4/12)
The Selhurst Triangle lacks the mystical and paranormal associations of its better known Bermudan relative.
A Boy and His Ghosts: The House on Delaware Street, by Jeremy L. C. Jones (5/28/12)
In March, my 8-year-old daughter, Molly, asked me if I believed in ghosts.
Scores, by John Clute (5/21/12)
The heart of a Sheckley story is how it ends.
Lexias: Lexia, by Matthew Cheney (5/14/12)
This is my final Lexias column, the last in a series that began some fifty columns ago with my first, "Walls," on February 7, 2005.
Dice and D-Pads: Playing with Emotion, by Robyn Fleming (5/7/12)
People sometimes ask me if I think games can be art, to which I usually respond—with persuasive eloquence—by saying, "Well, yeah. Duh."
Intertitles: "Do Not Wither/Look at Me": Feminist Identity as Supernatural in Orlando and I am Dina, by Genevieve Valentine (4/30/12)
One of the handiest things about speculative fiction is its ability to provide shorthand for an exploration of the human condition.
Lexias: The Fact of a Fiction of a Fact, by Matthew Cheney (4/2/12)
If you've encountered any mention of The Lifespan of a Fact by John D'Agata and Jim Fingal, you've probably heard that it's about one guy (D'Agata) who wrote an essay about a teenager who killed himself in Las Vegas, and another guy (Fingal) who was hired to fact-check that essay and discovered that a lot of it was made up.
Scores, by John Clute (3/26/12)
The coat of many colours stained out of uplifted genres that automates a novel like�Angelmaker seems to mask, in Harkaway's case, some Horror of True Sight.
Paraphernalia: Disclosing the Ancient Mysteries, by Mark Plummer (3/19/12)
Fanzines, blogs and podcasts are all different things. They may have certain points of commonality but they're not the same, something that's supported by the way that we have different words for them.
Dice and D-Pads: Phones With Friends, by Robyn Fleming (3/5/12)
I got a new smartphone recently, and I'm not going to lie to you—the first thing I did after importing all my contacts was install Fruit Ninja.
Diffractions: Sleepwalking Toward Calamity: The 2011 Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa, by Vandana Singh (2/27/12)
In the winter of 2011, from November 28 to December 11, the countries of the world met to save it from peril.
Intertitles: Tinker Tailor Soldier Sci-Fi: Espionage and the Speculative, by Genevieve Valentine (2/13/12)
A man walks through a hub room where outside information is being gathered and translated by crew members who shuttle it through the circulatory system; he steps into the padded orange room at the center of it all, where he sits down at a black glass table and reports to an inscrutable Control that the enemy is on the move.
Scores, by John Clute (1/30/12)
The pure modernist extremism of Kafka is to show us a world without bling.
Paraphernalia: FIADSBLTPPUTPWYP, by Mark Plummer (1/23/12)
I don�t count myself as part of the dinner party wing of fandom, the people who seem to see SF conventions primarily as an assembly point for a series of epic meal excursions.
Dice and D-Pads: Jumping to Beginnings, by Robyn Fleming (1/9/12)
My husband and I had a pretty funny conversation with my mother this past New Year's Eve.
Lexias: Kipple, by Matthew Cheney (1/2/12)
In a recent essay in The New York Times, Jonathan Ames wrote about kipple. I was thrilled. Not just because it�s nice to see other people writing about the messes of their lives, but also because kipple has been a favorite term of mine ever since I encountered it in Philip K. Dick�s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Intertitles: Frame Story: Drive, Shame, and the Aesthetics of Identity, by Genevieve Valentine (12/19/11)
In a gold-toned, anonymous hotel room, a man stands with his back to the camera, looking out at the empty night-roads of LA.
Diffractions: Science, Emotions, and Culture (Part 3), by Vandana Singh (12/12/11)
Richard Feynman, in his Lectures on Physics, commenting on the poetic notion that the universe is in a glass of wine, exclaims thus:
Paraphernalia: Anniversary Drinks, by Mark Plummer (11/21/11)
Science fiction fandom is still a few years short of the first of its centenaries but there are plenty of three-quarter century anniversaries coming up, often with attendant disputes or alternatives allowing a maximum spread of celebrations.
Scores, by John Clute (11/14/11)
But if it is a stricture to suggest that apophasis-ridden SF texts are time-wasters (I do mean to suggest that), then Wilson and Gregory are exempt.
Dice and D-Pads: Serious Casual Business, by Robyn Fleming (11/7/11)
I bought a new game in September which I've been playing pretty much nonstop.
Lexias: Reading Systems, by Matthew Cheney (10/31/11)
As with so many other things, my devotion to Gustave Flaubert�s A Sentimental Education can be blamed on Samuel R. Delany.
Intertitles: There's No Happy Ending with Me: The Fall, by Genevieve Valentine (10/24/11)
The thing about The Fall is, it's hopeless.
Diffractions: On Science, Emotions and Culture (Part 2), by Vandana Singh (10/10/11)
I wondered why, in current Western SF and in science, emotions were apparently considered suspect (except for some specific ones like awe or wonder) and were associated with women.
Paraphernalia: Beyond the Enchanted Convention to the Enchanted Peter R. Weston Memorial Defibrillator Station, by Mark Plummer (9/26/11)
The online membership list for this year�s Worldcon, Renovation, lists 143 people with British addresses. Of those, 79 had full attending memberships while 64 were �supporters.�
Dice and D-Pads: Default Is Another Word for Fail, by Robyn Fleming (9/12/11)
What I mean by inclusiveness is whether or not a wide variety of players—not just the stereotypical audience of young, white, heterosexual males—will be able to see themselves represented at least a little bit as they play.
Lexias: World on a Wire, by Matthew Cheney (9/5/11)
Welcome to the future—which is also Paris in the winter of 1973.
Intertitles: Adaptation (and Other Conversations), by Genevieve Valentine (8/29/11)
The art of movie adaptation is a tricky one; though Hollywood has scoured literature for material since moving pictures were invented, it's awfully easy for the process to go unspeakably awry.
Diffractions: On Science, Emotions, and Culture (Part 1), by Vandana Singh (8/22/11)
[A] woman who had been a biology major confided in me that when she felt bad about killing baby mice for a biology research project, her professor (a woman, also) said something like: "How can you become a scientist if you are going to get so emotional?"
Scores, by John Clute (8/15/11)
It does now seem absolutely clear that any story of the fantastic set upon this planet in the twenty-first century either deals with where we live, or sucks vacuum. So when I saw the words "Urban Fantasy" in the titles of the two compilations under review, a slim hope dawned.
Paraphernalia: Rockets in Reno, by Mark Plummer (8/1/11)
The Worldcons are home to The Hugo Awards, an annual process whereby—the cynics would have you believe—science fiction fandom as represented by members of the current and previous Worldcons collectively produces shortlists that fail to identify the best genre achievements of the previous calendar year. Everybody then expends an enormous amount of wordage discussing these lists, before Worldcon members proceed to give the awards themselves to the wrong works. Less cynically, they're one of the most well-known and easily the longest-established awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy.
Dice and D-Pads: Cover Me, by Robyn Fleming (7/18/11)
The day after Christmas in 1994, my father upgraded our family computer with a new CD-ROM drive. This wasn't because one of us had received the hardware as a gift—in fact, Dad had to brave the post-holiday morass at the local electronics store to buy the thing. The drive was for my benefit, because I'd been given a copy of King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride. The advanced graphics in the brand-new Sierra release were too robust for our old drive, and I was so disappointed at being unable to play that my parents decided it was probably time to beef up the computer anyway. (I suspect that Dad might have had a bit of personal interest in that decision, but I'm certainly not going to hold it against him.)
Lexias: Old, Weird, by Matthew Cheney (7/11/11)
One of my favorite descriptions of just about anything is Greil Marcus's description of Bob Dylan's bootleg "basement tapes" as harking back to "the old, weird America" of the songs collected on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music records. Marcus, in fact, titled his book about the basement tapes The Old, Weird America. Within the science fiction community, there's been lots of discussion of The New Weird over the last decade, but listening to Smith's Anthology provides a more profoundly weird experience than any I've ever had with fiction.
Intertitles: In Praise of the Glorious Mess, by Genevieve Valentine (7/4/11)
For all the nonlinear narrative that has stymied reviews of The Tree of Life, you can't really say that one goes into it unprepared for oddity. When a film gets booed at Cannes, and then goes on to win the Palme d'Or, you know something is up.
Living with the Other: Animals, the City, and the Future, by Vandana Singh (6/27/11)
I have been a city girl all my life—despite a constant desire for a more exciting life, such as living in a tree or a cave, I never even got a chance to live in the country. I spent most of my formative years in the metropolis of New Delhi, with summer trips to the large, sprawling town of Patna to see my grandparents. Yet even in the country's capital, a city of millions, my life was filled with daily encounters with non-humans.
Scores, by John Clute (6/20/11)
A few weeks ago I left London and entered the future again.
Heroes of Tomorrow: Adventures in Unreality, by Karen Healey (6/13/11)
We've all encountered people who won't read—or scorn those who do read—science fiction and fantasy because they are insufficiently "true" and "real." Teenagers, especially, are taught that they'll grow out of fantastic fiction as they leave that silly fake stuff behind. It's the kind of thing that makes me roll my eyes, and then want to interrogate the notions of reality and truth as applied to young adult fiction. So, what the hey, let's give that a go.
Paraphernalia: Dinner With My Friends, by Mark Plummer (6/6/11)
I was reading a science fiction magazine the other day. It was the June 1976 issue of Amazing Science Fiction, the "big all new all star 50th anniversary issue!" featuring stories by Isaac Asimov, Lester Del Rey, Harlan Ellison, Fritz Leiber, and others. But in deference to these gentlemen—and I note that the nine pieces of fiction are all written by men aside from one story co-written by Lil and Kris Neville—I'd actually pulled this particular issue down from the shelves for an installment of "The Club House."
The Emshwillerians, by Karen Joy Fowler (5/30/11)
Recently I've begun to notice elements, techniques, and viewpoints from Carol's writing in more places than my own stories. For decades, Carol has primarily been published as a science fiction writer. My impression is that, while always admired and often beloved, her work was seen as essentially idiosyncratic. Whatever it was she was doing, she was doing it alone, and off in her own brilliant little corner of the field. She is the sort of writer to whom the word "quirky" is applied. "A writer's writer." "A cult favorite."
Dice and D-Pads: Fannish Enthusiasm, by Robyn Fleming (5/23/11)
I've been a little hesitant to read all my feeds, expecting a Portal 2-related explosion. And there's been one. But, interestingly, none of what has been scrolling across my feeds is actually about the game. I know people are playing it; I can infer from the lack of disappointed commentary that they're enjoying it (my friends tend to be a little more vocal about the things they dislike than anything else during a first playthrough of a new game). But what my friends are actually posting about isn't the game itself, but rather fanworks inspired by the Portal franchise.
Lexias: Joanna Russ, by Matthew Cheney (5/16/11)
Joanna Russ died a week ago as I write this. Or, to be more accurate: Joanna Russ died a week ago as I struggle to write this. I thought I might collect some of her sentences and frame them with my own as a memorial, but once I started rereading her works, I got stuck. It'll be easy, I told myself. Just find some good passages and proclaim their wonders and note what we've lost in losing Russ and— And easier thought than done.
Intertitles: "A Strange and Savage Beauty": Carlos Saura's Flamenco Trilogy, by Genevieve Valentine (5/9/11)
Dance—an art form whose energy, grace, and wordless emotion could have been designed expressly for film—has often served as a cinematic gateway drug to the surreal and supernatural.
Diffractions: Rewilding the World, by Vandana Singh (5/2/11)
There's something about planting a tree. I'm no gardener, having only recently graduated to the point where I am not killing off my house plants, but on every occasion that I've planted a tree I have remembered for long afterward the feeling of bringing something into being that was greater than myself. But I never imagined that any human being could plant an entire rainforest.
Scores, by John Clute (4/25/11)
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blew sand in my face.
Heroes of Tomorrow: A Diana Wynne Jones Retrospective, by Karen Healey (4/18/11)
Diana Wynne Jones, who died last month, was brave. I don't know if she was brave in person, although tributes from friends, including Neil Gaiman and Emma Bull, indicate that she probably was. But she was certainly a brave writer.
Race, Again, Still, by Nisi Shawl (4/4/11)
Sometimes race is the official topic of a given conversation, and sometimes it isn't. For many of us, though, race is always on our minds, in our hearts, at the tips of our tongues. It can't not be.
Dice and D-Pads: Tangled Up in Tie-Ins, by Robyn Fleming (3/28/11)
The game-to-published-fiction stream doesn't flow just one way.
Lexias: A Century of Leiber, by Matthew Cheney (3/21/11)
On December 24, 2010, Fritz Leiber turned 100. Having died in 1992, he wasn't around to blow out the candles, but here and there cognoscenti raised a toast to his memory.
Intertitles: Winter's Bone: A Mythic Marrow, by Genevieve Valentine (3/14/11)
The film uses fairy-tale archetypes to define its stakes and provide markers for its hero's journey.
Diffractions: Soil, Water, and Pure Air, by Vandana Singh (3/7/11)
So there I was, at the age of seventeen, climbing a cliff in the Himalayas in the middle of the night.
Scores, by John Clute (2/28/11)
I think I smell homework.
Let the Sci-Fi Flag Fly, by Karen Healey (2/21/11)
In adult fiction, speculative fiction of surpassing intelligence, craft and appeal is often overlooked by critics and award committees alike. But that doesn't necessarily hold true of young adult genre work.
Scores, by John Clute (1/17/11)
It's too bad equipoise sounds so much like a noun.
Ten Years of Sexing the Body, by Matthew Cheney (1/10/11)
My tendency to be my own Devil's Advocate came out with a vengeance recently as I tried, and failed, to write a tenth anniversary appreciation of a book I love: Sexing the Body by Anne Fausto-Sterling.
Teenagers with Bite, Part 2, by Karen Healey (12/13/10)
I hereby present a brief selection of my favourite recent YA vampire novels.
Teenagers with Bite, by Karen Healey (12/6/10)
I recently discovered, very late to the party, The Vampire Diaries TV series.
Scores, by John Clute (11/8/10)
1940 is not to be alternated with.
Endings and Beginnings, by Susan Marie Groppi (11/1/10)
The Failure of Masculinity, by Matthew Cheney (10/11/10)
I had something else ready for this column, but then I read a story in the New York Times with this opening paragraph: "It started with a Twitter message on Sept. 19: 'Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.'"
Scores, by John Clute (9/20/10)
It is dreadful to be here at last, here at the zero moment of history that lasts forever, now that Satan has finally touched down after aeons of fall, it is hell.
Real Action, by Matthew Cheney (8/16/10)
Seeing Christopher Nolan's movie Inception got me reflecting on his previous summer blockbuster, The Dark Knight, a film I vehemently disliked when I first saw it in the theatre . . .
Scores, by John Clute (8/9/10)
Rajaniemi's brilliant first novel is more device than story.
Scores, by John Clute (6/28/10)
The secret of Robert A. Heinlein and Cory Doctorow is that they think SF is true.
Narrative Realities: A Symphony in Four Books, by Matthew Cheney (6/21/10)
Reading multiple books at once inevitably causes words, phrases, entire paragraphs to pose and juxtapose and interpose and superimpose, to dance and breed, until the reader's mind is either a cacophony of a symphony, and the closed covers of books resting on a table or the floor cannot silence all the notes they've got to share.
When Lost Went Gently into that Good Night, by James Schellenberg (6/14/10)
One of the weirdest mainstream shows ever gets a (fitting?) conclusion.
Where We Come From; Who We Become, by Karen Healey (5/24/10)
Families! They're sort of like credit cards: I can't live with them, and I can't write young adult fiction without them.
Scores, by John Clute (5/17/10)
The first thing that comes to mind on reading Ajvaz is story. But maybe that is what this reviewer always says.
Change of Habit, Change of Taste, by James Schellenberg (5/10/10)
I feel like I now have more second-hand knowledge of books than first-hand. I'm not particularly comfortable with that.
Patriarchy Studies, by Matthew Cheney (4/26/10)
Guns and feminism have been a common element of my life for a long time. I owe my openness to feminism to Isaac Asimov, who wrote in one of his books (or in an editorial for Asimov's, maybe) that he was a proud supporter of the feminist cause and was even willing to call himself a feminist. When I was twelve years old, that was good enough for me, and it kept me from associating the word "feminism" with anything negative—I worshipped Isaac Asimov, and if he said the word was a good one, I believed him.
Scores, by John Clute (4/5/10)
If the Library of America hoped that Straub would be able to prestidigitate a canon out of the noise of Postwar, they were clearly wrong. They will have to be content with a superb anthology whose contents do not hold up.
Imaginative Tales in Real-World Locations, by James Schellenberg (3/22/10)
For me, Robinson is a writer who gives the clearest sense of the places in his books, but there are many other genre writers who can help transport us either to places we know very well or are new to us. I'll try to point to a few broad categories of books that can show us real-world locations in a convincing way.
Writing From A Strange Land: The Imaginative Displacement of Margaret Mahy, by Karen Healey (3/15/10)
I come from fantasyland. To outsiders, it might be Middle-Earth, or Narnia, and (the Hollywood rumours say) Azeroth; exotic imagined locales. But it gets annoying to be enthusiastically complimented on the beauty of your country by the phrase, "It looks just like the movies!" No. The movie landscapes look like home.
Scores, by John Clute (2/22/10)
Peter Straub is a very well-known figure, with strong tastes, and the task he has undertaken in this very conspicuous and very sizeable (though not perhaps quite sufficiently vast) enterprise is a delicate one.
Revisiting Hitchcock, by Matthew Cheney (2/15/10)
Sometime last year, I decided to watch some Alfred Hitchcock movies I hadn't seen in a while, and also to fill in a few gaps in my viewing.
The Villain with the Heart of Flamboyant Evil, by James Schellenberg (2/1/10)
A look at the non-subtle antagonist in James Cameron's movies
Scores, by John Clute (1/18/10)
Every telling exposes (or tries to hide) a teller responsible for the tale.
All The Big Kids are Doing It, by Karen Healey (1/11/10)
In the grand and lazy tradition of end-of-year columnists everywhere, here are my personal favourite SFF young adult books of the decade. (Not, I hasten to add, a "best of" list. This is almost bound to reveal more about my reading prejudices than it is the relative quality of books on and off the list.)
Revisiting the Fantastic Classics: Green Chapels, Beheadings, and the Search for Meaning: Travels with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Part 4, by Susannah Mandel (1/4/10)
This week, in the fourth and final fitt, we'll find out how the story ends. After staying a week in Lord Bertilak's castle, it's finally time for Gawain to ride out to the ominous Green Chapel, where, on New Year's Day, he must finally keep the covenant he made with the enigmatic Green Knight last Christmas . . . and where, if Lady Bertilak's magic girdle doesn't turn out to be the protective talisman she claimed, Gawain stands to lose his head to the giant's green-gleaming axe.
On the Eating of Corpses, by Matthew Cheney (12/14/09)
A friend of mine and his sister came over to visit one night. His sister was in her early twenties and enthusiastic about various political causes. Many things she had become aware of disgusted and horrified her about American society, business, and government. She was a vegetarian and had decided on this lifestyle for moral reasons rather than reasons of health.
Travel the Solar System (and Earth) with Kim Stanley Robinson, by James Schellenberg (11/30/09)
I think the one thread that follows through all of his books is a sense of place, of visiting somewhere with Robinson as a friendly guide. This is a notion that ties a light fantasy/travelogue like Escape from Kathmandu (set in Nepal) to Robinson's famous Mars trilogy, essentially giving Robinson remarkable freedom to pursue current interests and still give fans the same kind of experience from book to book.
Becoming New: Young Adult SFF and the Adolescent Body, by Karen Healey (11/23/09)
Hey, remember the process of becoming a young adult, when everything changed?
Desert Island Movies, by James Schellenberg (10/12/09)
The world of science fiction cinema is a rich and varied one. Fantasy . . . . not so much.
Revisiting the Fantastic Classics: Of Boar Hunts, Seductions, and Medieval Underwear: Travels with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Part 3, by Susannah Mandel (10/5/09)
This is the third of four columns on magic in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," everybody's favorite raunchy, sexy, blood-soaked Middle English poem. The previous two columns discussed monsters, pentacles, and what it takes to shake up a Knight of the Round Table. This one gets into castles, hunting, chivalry, gender relations, and seduction—medieval style!
A Story About Plot, by Matthew Cheney (9/28/09)
Grisham posed his idea of plot-driven fiction as a distinction from "literature", but he might be surprised to learn that his idea has precedents among the highest of brows: in what is generally considered the first work of literary criticism, The Poetics, Aristotle argued that plot (mythos) is superior to every other element of tragedy, which he considered the highest form of literary art. To Aristotle, action is most important, and the writer's arrangement of incidents leads to the most vital effects of tragedy.
Where the Popular Kids are Sitting, by Karen Healey (9/14/09)
"Is there a link," someone asked, "between science fiction and young adult works?" "Science fiction's what they used to call the YA section before there was a YA section," Westerfeld said, and effortlessly articulated the feeling I'd had for years.
Desert Island Top 12, by James Schellenberg (8/24/09)
Not long ago, a friend forwarded a rather nostalgia-inducing link to me: the Top 100 Sci-Fi Books list. . . . In the spirit of controversy-baiting list-makers everywhere, I present a list of books that I point to as examples of how to do something right.
Marvelous Toys: Cell Phones, Twitter, and Relationship-by-Text, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (7/20/09)
The big news this week is that I'm getting a new phone. I'm excited, of course, because really I think about this first as a fancy new toy, one that will allow me to play games on the go—not just Tetris, but the more nebulous social "games" for which sites like Facebook and Twitter have opened the door. I am going to be texting like a Japanese 13-year-old with a two-hour round-trip commute, people.
When Lost Went SF, by James Schellenberg (6/29/09)
The show stumbled, found its way, then went way hardcore on the science fiction. A wrap-up for season 5 and some speculation for the upcoming (and final) season.
Bookshelf Worlds, by Matthew Cheney (6/15/09)
I am a bookshelf voyeur; any time I go into a room with books, I spy and pry. A new room—whether a waiting room, an office, a basement used for storage—always contains excitement for me if it has books, because, until I have thoroughly pored over them, there is the potential for surprise, and the potential is often as electrifying as the reality.
The Best of 2008, by Iain Jackson (5/18/09)
2008 proved to be an interesting year. Fewer zombies, thank the deity of your choosing—or at least, I read fewer of them, so they didn't make it onto this list.
Beyond Bows and Eyelashes: Avatar Alternatives to Gender Rigidity, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (5/11/09)
Ridiculous as it may seem, while I have had a copy of Mario Kart since I got my Wii this past October, it's really only in the last couple of months that I've become aware of just how much unlockable content the game contains.
When Lost Got Lost, by James Schellenberg (5/4/09)
I never watched Lost in its first four seasons. In fact, since September 2004, when the popular show debuted, I did my best to avoid reading about it, since the show seemed to be one of those based around a "mystery" of some kind. I knew that it was about a plane crash on a remote island, but that was about it. I didn't have much motivation to watch it myself, but if I ever did watch it, I wanted the full experience.
Blasted Horrors, by Matthew Cheney (4/27/09)
For a few years, I did not want to admit an attraction to horror stories. It's an odd thing to have done, since if any type of stories has consistently attracted me as a reader, they are horror stories, but nonetheless, when I started coming to terms with the fact that yes, my life as a reader had been and was going to continue to be the life of someone profoundly affected by and attracted to genre fiction, I didn't want to admit that the effect and the attraction included horror fiction.
Revisiting the Canon with Susannah! Wolves, Winter, and the Wild Men of the Woods: Travels with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Part 2, by Susannah Mandel (4/20/09)
Gawain made a pledge to the knight, formally, in the presence of everyone in Arthur's hall: in exchange for striking the Knight with his ax, he accepted the Knight's terms, which were to come find the Knight in one year's time and bare his own neck to the ax. Whether Gawain thought he would ever actually have to fulfill his half of the bargain is irrelevant; since the Knight, improbably, survived their first encounter, Gawain is now honor-bound to perform what he has promised to do.
Stargazing Through the Ages: The Telescope Turns 400, by Marshall Perrin (4/13/09)
Some four hundred years ago, the news spread through Europe like wildfire: a strange device had been invented which made distant objects appear miraculously close. Sailors, scholars, soldiers and noblemen all eagerly sought out this high-tech wonder. The gossip reached a middle-aged math professor at the University of Padua, who immediately began trying to reverse-engineer the gadget.
Bouncing High into the Stupidsphere (Part Two), by Iain Jackson (4/6/09)
Last time, I covered some recent entries in network television and comics that managed to get just about everything important wrong. Shows and stories that managed to elevate the stupid to a plot point that the show couldn't live without; eliminate the people acting brainlessly, and the story either collapses or comes to a dead end, because actually behaving reasonably undercuts the narrative engine. This time, I cover one last show that's gotten just about everything wrong this season [. . .]
The Thrifty Gamer, or Guildmates are More Valuable than Gold, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (3/30/09)
I've recently gotten back into City of Heroes with a vengeance, after about a 6-month hiatus caused mainly by the novelty of my Wii. They had another Double Experience Weekend a couple of weeks ago, and it served its intended purpose quite well, motivating me to jump back in and ultimately quashing some vague ruminations I'd been having on the possibility of canceling my account.
Phil and Jack, by Matthew Cheney (3/23/09)
Eras of Le Guin, by James Schellenberg (3/16/09)
Finale and Follow-Up, by James Schellenberg (1/5/09)
Avatar: The Last Airbender wrapped up its third and final season earlier this year. Haven't seen it? You're missing the smartest fantasy on TV.
Bouncing High into the Stupidsphere (Part One), by Iain Jackson (11/24/08)
And a lot of these stories tread the line between interesting execution of interesting concept and "No, really, perhaps you should take this concept back to the drawing board and think about it for a little while longer. Or find better writers. Something. Really."
Wii Fitness: Rocking the Hula Hoops (And the Weight Issues), by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (11/10/08)
The release of the Wii Fit convinced me that I would actually use the Wii once I bought it, and having a ground floor apartment made it a morally defensible purchase.
Summer Movies 2008, by James Schellenberg (11/3/08)
It's like I don't enjoy blockbusters any more — I feel lonely in my dislike of The Dark Knight, for example — but I keep going every summer. Why might that be?
Revisiting the Canon With Susannah! Of Wonders and Mervayls: Travels with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, by Susannah Mandel (10/20/08)
The description of the feasts goes on for a while. There is pretty much everything you could want from a medieval shindig here: a whole fortnight of feasting, complete with jousts, drums and caroling, trumpets, banners, and beautifully dressed lords and ladies engaging in flirting and love play.
Welcome to the Real World, by Iain Jackson (10/6/08)
Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. That's the saying, right? So why is it that so many supervillains never quite seem to get around to doing time at all? And why is it that even when they do time, it winds up being strikingly short.
Virtual Difference, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (9/29/08)
As a researcher who firmly believes that there are more similarities than differences between social interaction online and social interaction face-to-face, and whose own research in fact hinges on the assumption that classical social theory will be born out in virtual interaction, it's nice to see some confirmation.
Adventure, Zombies, Tragic Love, and Chess, by James Schellenberg (9/22/08)
The only thing I've said definitively so far is that I hate trying to make these kinds of definitions. So allow me to jump straight into the works at hand and see what I can make of this mess.
Learning to Write, by Matthew Cheney (9/15/08)
There is something off about them, something twanging in my ears, the tone of an arrogant man trying to pass himself off as humble or simple. Perhaps I am in the wrong mood.
Xenobiology At the Extremes: And You Think Your Neighbors Are Weird?, by Marshall Perrin (8/25/08)
Over the past decade or so, spurred in part by the biological revolution and in part by our increasing confidence that earth-mass planets are potentially common, astrobiology has started to come of age.
Welcome to the Real World, by Iain Jackson (8/18/08)
Of course, the advantage of having both invented and mobile geography is that you can demolish it without aggravating people quite so much. I mean, readers might get just the teensiest bit upset at a superhero fight that knocks the capital off the Chrysler Building, for example — or they might think it's the coolest thing ever!
Glitz, Flash, and Fun, by James Schellenberg (8/11/08)
A look at some of the recent videogame titles for the PC that are focused on creating spectacle. Some even have a decent storyline to go along with the eye candy.
Ordinary Zhang, by Matthew Cheney (8/4/08)
A couple years ago, I picked up another copy of China Mountain Zhang at a used bookstore, but I didn't dare read it. Much of the science fiction I had loved as a teen had turned out, when read as an adult, to feel simplistic, clunky, shallow. I preferred my memories.
Revisiting the Canon with Susannah! Wyrms, Wyrd, and Tolkien: Beowulf, Part 3, by Susannah Mandel (7/28/08)
Bleeding and cowed, Grendel runs back to the marches to die. Is that the end of the story? Well, of course not. The poem would be a rollicking good tale even if that were the end, but it wouldn't be an epic.
Believing in the Unbelievable: A brief history of black holes, by Marshall Perrin (6/23/08)
Black holes are the Tyrannosaurus Rex of astronomy: mysterious and dangerous, the end result of millions of years of evolution, perfect predators which hold our fascinated attention all out of proportion to their actual rarity.
Ender's Decline, by James Schellenberg (6/9/08)
There's just something about this particular tale: a young child growing up in difficult circumstances, taken away from family and sent into intense military training, and then facing ever more difficult obstacles in the pursuit of saving humanity.
boo., by Iain Jackson (6/2/08)
So why is it that horror on film or in books or audio works, and horror in comics just kind of ... lays there?
The Antidote to Dystopia, by Matthew Cheney (5/26/08)
Two stories of technology and society, one true and one speculative. For Alice Ramsay, technology became a liberation; for Forster's Vashti, technology created a prison.
Questioning the Gaming Culture, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (5/19/08)
Women, who are less likely to have grown up gaming and in general more likely to be sensitive to sexism, are understandably often put off by the sexist tropes of the medium, and frustrated by veteran gamers blowing off any critique of the latest incarnation of those tropes.
Revisiting the Canon with Susannah! Formal Boasts, Magic Armor, and Watchers in the Water: Beowulf, Part 2, by Susannah Mandel (5/12/08)
If your world-view was shaped by Tolkien, then it probably seems very natural to you that magic swords and talismans exist in the world. In Tolkien's world, and the worlds of his contemporaries and his imitators, such objects had usually been made by dwarves or elves, a Very Long Time ago; or by someone who used to be a dwarf or elf or angel before he turned bad � you know the drill.
Ender's Peak, by James Schellenberg (4/28/08)
So it was with some trepidation that I started a project to listen to all eight audiobooks in the Ender's Game series.
Zombie Kings Sing Songs of BRAAAAAAAINS!, by Iain Jackson (4/21/08)
I have a theory. Now, it's coming completely out of the air, and no doubt displaying a fine ignorance of history, religion, psychology, sociology, and several other -ologies, but bear with me.
The Hero, Pulped, by Matthew Cheney (4/14/08)
One huge girder catapulted twenty blocks, pierced the roof of a subway tunnel and jackknifed the leading car of an eight-car train. Passengers were pulped. There had been sixty persons in that first car. There was nothing that could be called human in the wreckage.
About the Wii Hype, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (4/7/08)
"What the hell," I thought. "It looks better than Guitar Hero. And what kind of video game columnist has never played a Wii?"
The Cyborgs Are Coming!, by Marshall Perrin (3/31/08)
OK, I'll admit that cyborgs are perhaps not exactly traditional harbingers of spring, but for that matter, when was the last time you saw an actual rabbit delivering eggs?
Revisiting the Canon with Susannah! Blood, Gore, and Syncretic Metaphysics: Beowulf, Part 1, by Susannah Mandel (3/24/08)
By the time you get to this point in the book, a few things have become glaringly clear to you. One is that every game of D&D you have ever played owes a gigantic debt to Beowulf. Another is that the only people who might possibly find this book boring are obviously people who don't like Tolkien, or video games, or fun.
Final Issue, by James Schellenberg (3/17/08)
The series covers the next five years of life on our planet: survival, sex, cloning, road trips, an Amazon cult, pirates, androids, monkeys, and much more. Will human civilization die out in one generation?
Indie Boy Strikes? Again!, by Iain Jackson (3/10/08)
Perfection makes for boring fiction. It's much more interesting to put a shiny high-tech outside in contrast to the rotten, damaged insides of the real society in question.
An Ocean Going Back to the Skies, by Matthew Cheney (3/3/08)
The fright causes some of the screaming, but it would be better if fewer people stuck stakes into their little bits of land and instead joined in the joy of a new cartography.
Holodecks, Robot Girlfriends, and the Virtual Vision Quest, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (2/25/08)
Games, of course, are always constructed. They have rules. So does the universe; we call them physics, but in general the rules of games are better understood, and perhaps thus more satisfying.
Still Seeking Signals: SETI Today, by Marshall Perrin (2/18/08)
So how about finding some new civilizations? Are there any out there? Have our decades of listening made any progress - or are we perhaps truly alone after all?
My Year of McCaffrey, by James Schellenberg (2/4/08)
The melodrama and constant friction between characters was also a source of near-hapless fascination, while I loved having volume after volume to read, following the florid storylines and science fiction developments with great avidity.
2007 In Review, Or, Fun Stuff What I Have Read Last Year, by Iain Jackson (1/28/08)
Do I remember the book in question? Fondly, or as though it were a four-color root canal? Edifying or not, did I like reading it?
Of Muses and Ghosts, by Matthew Cheney (1/21/08)
The last conversation I had with my father was about a movie.
Games on Facebook: Playing "With" Your Friends, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (1/14/08)
That guy from my department, on the other hand, apparently forged right ahead and sank to inhuman depths of cannibalism
Lucy in the Sky With Nanodiamonds, by Marshall Perrin (1/7/08)
Tiny nanodiamonds inside meteorites appear to be true "star bits," born in the edges of dying stars long, long before our solar system ever formed.
Revisiting the Canon with Susannah: Fairies, Aliens, and Nature Magic, by Susannah Mandel (11/26/07)
My favorite Shakespeare comedy is As You Like It, because I have a weakness for the "transvestite comedies," in which girls dress up as boys and go out to seek their fortunes. Unfortunately, with the exception of a minor goddess descending to deliver a few rhymed couplets and celebrate a marriage, As You Like It features no actual magic. A Midsummer Night's Dream, though, is full of magic.
Giving Up, by James Schellenberg (11/19/07)
If you found the perfect work of art, wouldn't you want to find the sequel or season 2 and enjoy the heck out of it? And what if that follow-up was not up to the same level of quality ... would you give up?
Indie Boy Strikes!, by Iain Jackson (11/12/07)
More than superhero comics: a look at a few favorite indie titles.
The Discerning Reader of Fantastic Literature's Guide to Literary Journals, by Matthew Cheney (11/5/07)
I'm astounded at the quality and creativity in so many different magazines that don't get marketed to what seems to me a natural audience—readers who like their fiction to be at least a little bit odd, a little bit out of the ordinary.
Am I Not a Nerd? (If You Prick Me, Do I Not Leak?), by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (10/29/07)
What do I do for fun? I ride my bike! And play video games. But note that I ride my bike! I am not one of those lazy gamers!
Conspiracies, Discoveries, and (Lack of) Coverups: A Cold War Science Tale, by Marshall Perrin (10/22/07)
Oh boy, I thought to myself, a Roswell true believer. Here we go again.
Reading All Night, by James Schellenberg (10/8/07)
At the time, I never questioned why I might be reading so many books. Books were awesome! That was about the sum of it.
Fixing Superman, by Iain Jackson (10/1/07)
In fact, I'm not really talking about the Big Blue Boy Scout at all, really; I'm talking about superhero comics generally.
Lost Dolls and Lost Dreams, by Matthew Cheney (9/24/07)
Herr Doktor Kafka offers Lizaveta the comfort of a story, saying that Belinda met a little boy who asked her to travel around the world with him, and so she has gone off to do so, but has promised to send postcards chronicling her adventures.
Electric Sonnets: Celebrating the Old-School Point-and-Click, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (9/17/07)
It's not just that I want to replay the games of my childhood, although the improved graphics and the addition of voices to storylines that I could almost recite do give me a little thrill—replaying my childhood in technicolor.
Revisiting the Canon with Susannah: Armored Ghosts Walk at Midnight!!!, by Susannah Mandel (9/10/07)
But I never felt comfortable acknowledging to the rest of my class that my greatest thrill had come, while reading a passage a passage from Beowulf about how a great dragon ravaged the land, I suddenly said (and I think I actually said it aloud) "Oh my God! It's Smaug!"
Settings for Space Opera, Part III: Strange Neighbors, by Marshall Perrin (9/3/07)
Every neighborhood has a few oddballs, right?
Summer Movies 2007, by James Schellenberg (8/27/07)
Big budget spectacles? Yes. Movies worth watching again? Maybe. James surveys the science fiction and fantasy movies of summer 2007.
Anyone for Blasphemy?, by Iain Jackson (8/20/07)
If Superman stands there and proudly declares his devotion to one particular faith, a lot of readers might not be all that thrilled, and might stop reading—though if he proclaimed a belief in the Kryptonian gods, it probably wouldn't matter as much, since they're entirely fictional.
Pol Pot's Fantasized Daughter, by Matthew Cheney (8/13/07)
When I first encountered "Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter (Fantasy)", I read a few pages and stopped. The idea of a story about Pol Pot written in what felt like the diction of a fairy tale was too much for me.
The Revolution Will Neither Be Televised Nor Built Into the Infrastructure of Virtual Worlds, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (8/6/07)
So yeah, City of Heroes (and a lot of other games) could get a certain amount of mileage out of "Gay Gamers: We're not as bad as WoW" without doing very much at all.
Settings for Space Opera, Part II: A Perplexing Plethora of Planets, by Marshall Perrin (7/30/07)
The discovery of planets around other stars is now a routine occurrence.
On SF and the Mainstream, or, Rapidly Changing Scenery, by Susannah Mandel (7/23/07)
Crawling out from under my rock this year, I was eager to take a look at the current state of marketing to see if anything had changed.
Lost Moments, by James Schellenberg (7/16/07)
Sure, a fragmented experience might be annoying, but gaps might also be healthy—can all those Dr. Who episodes really be that good?
All Those Books, by Matthew Cheney (6/25/07)
I could somehow find a few hundred boxes, put the books in them, load the boxes into a big truck, and drive the truck to my new home, where I would then pile the books up to the ceiling in each little room.
Games vs. Toys, or the Value of the Hello Kitty Aesthetic, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (6/11/07)
As someone who happily discarded her toaster prior to her latest cross-country move with the prospect of replacing it with the Hello Kitty version, and whose last bathroom had Hello Kitty wall borders, you can imagine how quickly I jumped on it.
Dispatches from Planet France: Ch�teaux, Part II - The Architecture of Ghosts, by Susannah Mandel (6/4/07)
Sometimes, looking down an empty stairwell or wiping chalk dust off a board as the light settled through the pointed windows, it seemed to me that I was sharing my space with some kind of heavy presence, compounded out of history, time, ideas, ghosts.
Indie Videogames: Artform in the Making?, by James Schellenberg (5/28/07)
Ambitious people are busy attempting to make videogames into an artform. Will indie videogames bring this about? And does the term "indie" even make sense?
How to Write a Paragraph, by Matthew Cheney (5/7/07)
Vonnegut approached paragraphs the way good poets approach line and stanza breaks, and in that sense he was the Robert Creeley of prose, someone whose writing at its best seems perfect in its rhythm and shape
Return of the Son of Tetris, or Good Games Never Die, They Just Get Shiny New 3D Backgrounds and a Soundtrack by Freezepop1, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (4/30/07)
From the Formative Years, by James Schellenberg (4/16/07)
It's been enlightening and surprising, in almost equal measures, to revisit the books that formed my reading habits in my childhood.
Dispatches from Planet France: Châteaux, Part I, by Susannah Mandel (4/9/07)
There's a romantic glow about them—they tend to look like exquisite fairy-tale castles from the outside, and on the inside they are full of rooms and corridors and entire huge wings, high ceilings and places that you could lose your way in.
Settings for Space Opera, Part I: Welcome to the Neighborhood, by Marshall Perrin (4/2/07)
Whether you're looking to start an interstellar colony, found a galactic empire, or merely find a great location for your next tale of adventure in outer space, it pays to know what the neighborhood is like.
And the Mome Raths Outgrabe, by Matthew Cheney (3/26/07)
Thus, we know that women were not invisible to Bradbury when he wrote the introduction, only wives who wrote stories with their husbands.
My Avatar, My Not-Self: Narrative Worlds Within Video Games, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (3/12/07)
She embodies many of what you might call my personal aesthetic bullet-proof kinks: she is bright, she is pink, she is relatively small, and she has seriously aggressive hair.
Board Game Renaissance, by James Schellenberg (2/26/07)
If you thought the future was virtual reality, there's a strong subculture that's going in the opposite direction: board games.
Cloudy With a Chance of Star Formation, by Marshall Perrin (2/19/07)
The densest parts of the interstellar medium remain far emptier than the best vacuums yet created in Earthly laboratories, and the gigantic scales over which the interstellar medium extends boggle the mind.
The (Anti)Social "Casual" Gamer, or the Game Is Not the Thing, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (1/29/07)
It seems to me that the main way in which games differ is this: are they played alone, or with others either physically or virtually co-present?
Dispatches from Planet France: A Cheese Map of France, Part III, by Susannah Mandel (1/22/07)
No matter how many times I look at it, it keeps reversing my expectations. It does not show bordering countries, it does not show river networks, and, strangest to my mind, it does not even show cities. Paris is not on the cheese map. I am not sure I have ever before seen a map of France that did not show Paris. Have you?
Some Breakthroughs Please!, by James Schellenberg (1/15/07)
All that said, I guess I'm like those nerds who read the cautionary tale of Neuromancer and decided that the dystopia described by that book was a good idea.
Lurking in the Dark, by Marshall Perrin (1/8/07)
If we must anthropomorphize our neighborhood icy bodies (and I'm not recommending that we do), far better to celebrate lucky Pluto, a family man (with three bouncing baby moons, two newly discovered in the last year), and a home in a very popular part of town.
Flight of the Useful Books, by Matthew Cheney (1/1/07)
Some people who know me might assume the sorts of books I would find engrossing for a plane ride would be things like the complete works of Proust, or at least Faulkner.
Dispatches from Planet France: A Cheese Map of France, Part II, by Susannah Mandel (12/4/06)
It was not until that evening, when I took the Gouda out of the refrigerator to prepare the evening meal, that I noticed that the butcher paper wrapped around it was printed with an image, green on white. I opened it out and studied it. It was a map of France.
Reading Fantasy Again, by James Schellenberg (11/27/06)
Back when I was a kid, I read mostly fantasy. Then either I got jaded or the genre ran out of interesting things to say. Now it seems like fantasy is back!
Building a Better Beanstalk, by Marshall Perrin (11/13/06)
Imagine being able to fly a hundred times more space missions for the same budget we have today, or being able to easily build orbiting structures that dwarf the International Space Station.
The Absence of Animals, by Matthew Cheney (11/6/06)
While watching an episode of the new Battlestar Galactica, a television show I've recently become addicted to, my mind wandered to an idle thought: Where, I wondered, are the animals?
Dispatches from Planet France: A Cheese Map, Part I, by Susannah Mandel (10/30/06)
The Carrefour occupies the entire western end of the mall, with groceries sold on the ground floor and household goods upstairs, and huge inclined moving walkways that carry shoppers between the floors with their carts. To cover ground more efficiently, store assistants zip around on Rollerblades.
Real Girls Don't: The invisible minority of female video game players, by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman (10/23/06)
The cultural message is sometimes wrapped in hand-wringing and good intentions, but the underlying assumption beneath "Why don't girls play video games?" is still "Girls don't play video games."
Everyone's Dilemma, by James Schellenberg (10/9/06)
What should we have for dinner? That's the question that opens Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma... and the answer has become surprisingly complicated.
The Crimson Desert, by Marshall Perrin (10/2/06)
The first footprints on Mars will come no earlier than 2025, or more likely 2035. By that time, though, will there be many Martian mysteries left?
The Length of the Sentence, by Matthew Cheney (9/25/06)
I am a lover of long sentences, of sentences that wind their way through various clauses and complements...
Bureaucrats in Space, by James Schellenberg (8/28/06)
The future and a present filled with dark magic meet in the theme of the bureaucrat, courtesy of Swanwick and Stross.
Loving Words, by Matthew Cheney (8/14/06)
Some you love for superficial reasons, for their shape and color, for the texture of their pages and the scent of their history.
Dispatches from Planet France: The Ontology of a Rock Star, by Susannah Mandel (7/24/06)
Except that Johnny Hallyday is a rock star in France, and, somehow, that turns out to make all the difference.
Cartoons: Nostalgia and Nowadays, by James Schellenberg (7/17/06)
If you want an instant blast of nostalgia, just think back to cartoons from childhood. And: any good cartoons out there now?
Great Ideas, by Matthew Cheney (6/19/06)
"How," someone will ask me, "can such a large topic be contained in such a small book?" Thankfully, I can read the quote on the cover to my interlocutor.
No Superheroes Allowed, by James Schellenberg (5/29/06)
Is there really such a thing as a comic book or graphic novel that a) has no superheroes and b) is science fiction? There's more than you might think.
Dispatches from Planet France: Me and the Giants (Part 2 of 2), by Susannah Mandel (5/15/06)
For this reason I spent two and a half hours on a train, with a change at Brussels, for the pleasure of watching Goliath and his wife Madame Goliath parade through rainy Belgian streets under a looming sky.
A Conversation With a Puppeteer, by Matthew Cheney (5/8/06)
As we sat drinking our coffee in the warm night, I inquired as to how long D. had been with the puppet company and if it was his ambition to become a master puppeteer.
Scare Tactics: Effectively Freaky Moments in Sci-Fi, by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic (4/24/06)
Then there was that one night when the individual pieces of the metal frame to my canopy bed (stored in the very roomy, person-sized space under my bed) clanged together and sent me screeching down the hall in my Strawberry Shortcake nightgown.
The Complete Miyazaki, Part 3, by James Schellenberg (4/17/06)
I started this series last year, but I ran into an unexpected roadblock for this third installment.
Dispatches from Planet France: Me and the Giants (Part 1 of 2), by Susannah Mandel (4/3/06)
You've come to live in a universe where giants in the wall are so familiar that nobody takes notice anymore.
Do Matchmakers Dream of Estrogen Sheep?, by Matthew Cheney (3/27/06)
Depending on my mood I think the description of a person dominated by testosterone fits me pretty well, too, although I know I only think that because, being made of estrogen, I'm flexible and imaginative.
The Measure of a Woman: Discussing the Chicks of Star Trek: The Next Generation, by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic (3/13/06)
She's whiny, wimpy, sniffly, and, to top it all off, she's Wesley's mother. Is that not damning enough for you?
Sequels, Remakes, Adaptations, by James Schellenberg (3/6/06)
One strategy in the face of overwhelming choice is to pick the familiar. So how do the different types of familiar stack up? With a bonus taxonomy.
Dispatches from Planet France: My Personal North, by Susannah Mandel (2/20/06)
Last year, I kept overhearing my students in making jokes involving the number 62. I spent a long time puzzling over the possible meaning of this (pot joke? teen film? some French interpretation of a Kama Sutra position?) before it was explained to me that it was actually a post code.
My Window Is Your Mirror, My Mirror Is Your Wall, My Wall Is Your Window, by Matthew Cheney (2/13/06)
I am at this particular moment working from the assumption that you understand the majority of what I am writing here. I am, then, assuming that most of these sentences are accessible. To do that, I have to make some assumptions about my audience.
Cooking Without a Replicator, by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic (1/30/06)
I think I was hoping for something along the lines of a necessary addition of roasted chicory, raw meat drippings, or even refined mud to make it truly Klingon.
Small Press Roundup, by James Schellenberg (1/23/06)
Looking for some of the best short stories and new material in the field? Try these small presses.
Listening, by Christina Socorro Yovovich (1/16/06)
You haven't seen awkward until you've seen me washing dishes with a bookstand teetering on the edge of the sink, or folding laundry with a paperback held open by my toes.
Dispatches from Planet France: Curiosities and Wonders, by Susannah Mandel (1/9/06)
And, not least, there was that morbid, embarrassed adolescent curiosity: What do the French really think of Americans? Do they like us? Do they think we're cool? Immature? Were they even following what went on with that freedom fries debacle? How do we look, from all the way over there?
The Art of Entertainment, by Matthew Cheney (1/2/06)
I've worked as a writer, director, and actor in plays for most of my life, and so three things can make me suffer while watching a show: the writing, directing, and acting.
Untwitched: Games for the Rest of Us, by James Schellenberg (12/5/05)
Are there any videogames for smart grown-ups? Anything for people without twitchy trigger fingers?
In Borderlands Between the Clans, by Matthew Cheney (11/21/05)
The worlds of popular fiction and literary fiction often look with jealousy and annoyance at each other.
Table for Two at Sisko's: Eating Deep Space Nine, by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic (11/14/05)
I'm sorry, but if an embryonic Clint Howard is going to kit himself out in sparkly go-go boots and pants and start reclining on silky pillows, when he offers me a drink, it sure as HELL better be chock-full of mind-erasing alcohol!
Science Fiction and Sex Ed, by Christina Socorro Yovovich (11/7/05)
Smuggling the book out of my bag. Passing it, with a couple of dog-eared pages, to a friend. Seeing her read, then pass it along to someone else.
Star Wars Video Games: Better Than the Movies?, by James Schellenberg (10/31/05)
The movie is never better than the book; further down the foodchain, the video game is never better than the movie. Right? But consider the case of Star Wars.
Fantastic Reality, by Matthew Cheney (10/17/05)
A genre that must make room for Kafka and Beckett and Dostoevsky is perhaps no longer a genre but merely a definition of writing successfully.
Beaming Into a Television Near You: The Fall 2005 Sci-Fi Lineup, by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic (10/10/05)
There seems to be a steaming molten mass of monster and science fiction shows this fall. For a long time, it was really confusing. I mean, they all sounded very much alike.
Failing to Teach The Hobbit, by Christina Socorro Yovovich (10/3/05)
Instead, what I'm remembering are lessons I botched, and units which failed before they started, because I didn't have the slightest idea what I was trying to teach.
Why I Hate Zombies, by James Schellenberg (9/26/05)
Well, for one, they're the living dead. And secondly, they show up in way too many computer games.
Equations and Inequalities, by Debbie Notkin (9/19/05)
Even in its more twisted versions, the cold equation always results in the death of one person or group to save the lives or honor of another person or group
Provocateurs of Sense, by Matthew Cheney (9/12/05)
But the wonder of Seligman's book is that he is able to think about the two writers together, to discover their commonalities without ignoring their differences, to celebrate their achievements without blinding himself to their faults.
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread, and ... UFOs?, by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic (9/5/05)
Honestly, I didn't think Sci-Fi imagery was becoming such a "thing" with wine makers until I was browsing through a San Diego Trader Joe's and stumbled upon a bottle of Red Flyer table wine from Soledad, California.
When Civilizations Collapse, by James Schellenberg (8/22/05)
Could it happen to us? And are there any good story ideas on the topic?
On Spoiling the Plot, by Debbie Notkin (8/15/05)
I can understand wanting to see Romeo and Juliet for the first time without already knowing that Romeo stabs himself because he believes that Juliet is dead, when in fact she has taken a medicine that allows her to feign death so they can run away together.
Truth In Labelling, by Matthew Cheney (8/8/05)
Is this pursuit of truth the result of anxiety over our inability to live inside another person's mind?
Toys, TV, and Trek: A Space Seedling's Journey, by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic (8/1/05)
My collection of Barbie dolls, Barbie cars, Barbie clothes and Barbie shoes was rivaled only by my collection of Star Wars action figures, Star Wars spaceships, Star Wars posters, Star Wars records, and the Star Wars Ewok Village from Endor.
Roswell, New Mexico, by Christina Socorro Yovovich (7/25/05)
I caught up on my three hours of messages, then sent a note to my online writing group: "In Roswell. Being abducted by aliens. Please help!"
Vanity, DIY, the Multicorp, and You, by James Schellenberg (7/18/05)
Avoiding publishing scams. And, it was loads of hard work: two do-it-yourself publishing success stories.
What's Going On Out There?, by Debbie Notkin (7/11/05)
One thing in the air this year has been building for some time: an awareness of just how many groups, organizations, and initiatives out in the (somewhat) wider world are of interest to the WisCon, feminist, progressive science fiction community
The Collector, by Matthew Cheney (7/4/05)
The cards depicted bizarre creatures such as Mushy Marsha and Wormy Shermy.
First Contact, by Christina Socorro Yovovich (6/20/05)
I have the luxury of the whole summer off this year. My days are not filling up with other human beings.
The Complete Miyazaki, Part 2, by James Schellenberg (6/13/05)
Miyazaki's middle period has one world-renowned masterpiece, My Neighbor Totoro, and two other fine films.
Make It New!, by Matthew Cheney (6/6/05)
It would be a shame for 2005 to be known as the Year of No Movements.
Literary Musicians: Scott Mackay and Louise Marley, by James Schellenberg (5/16/05)
Inspiration strikes in a wealth of ways, and there are just as many methods of applying that inspiration.
The Publishing Industry—from the Reader's Perspective, by Debbie Notkin (5/9/05)
To the extent that a publisher can be said to have anyone's interests at heart other than its own...
Just Tell Me How It Ends, by Matthew Cheney (5/2/05)
It's a sobering thought that thoughout history, violence has only been considered immoral by fanatics and crackpots.
Under the Influence?, by James Schellenberg (4/18/05)
Do you listen to music while writing? Ever gotten story inspiration from a piece of music? A survey.
The Stories That Predict Us, by Matthew Cheney (4/4/05)
I just knew that the story was illustrated with a picture of a soldier and, at eleven years old, I liked soldiers.
The Complete Miyazaki, Part 1, by James Schellenberg (3/21/05)
Just a few years ago, you either had to know Japanese or track down an animation festival showing his films in various dubbed versions. Now all of master animator Hayao Miyazaki's movies are available on DVD in North America.
Varied Ways of Looking at a Manuscript, by Debbie Notkin (3/14/05)
If you think about it, editing is actually a more solitary craft than writing: writers' groups are common, but have you ever heard of an editors' group?
The Old Equations, by Matthew Cheney (3/7/05)
Don't tell anybody, but science fiction no longer exists.
Call and Response, by Debbie Notkin (2/14/05)
While stability and predictable process are important to other awards, fluidity, flexibility, and unpredictability are the hallmarks of the Tiptree Award.
Walls, by Matthew Cheney (2/7/05)
There are, it seems to me, two worlds of fiction. There is the world within the walls of a specific type of fiction, and there is the world outside the walls.