GrimDark: Loose Canon & Warhammer Race War Aaron Dembski-Bowden Guest Blog

To: Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Subject: Space Marine Power Armour

Dear Mr. Dembski-Bowden,

In your novel ‘I Remember When I Totally Puked That Time’, you said that power armour functions by X going into Y. But in Dan Abnett’s novel ‘Writhing in Unholy Chutney’, he said power armour functions by A going into B.

Both of these presentations also fail to match the example published fifteen years ago, in the sourcebook ‘Maximum Blood Justice Machine’, where it CLEARLY states that power armour not only functions by Z going into another Z, but that no suits of armour even have an X, Y, A or B.

Please justify all of this, so I can feel self-righteous about it on the internet.

Sincerely,

Some Guy

I

Canon

Last time, we made nicey-nicey with all the “My name is Aaron” stuff, and the accompanying how-do-you-dos. That’s great, right? We’re all friends now. Go team.

 

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An Essay into Exoticism – Notes from New Sodom

The Appetence for Alterity

Exoticism is — rightly — something of a dirty word. It is the commodification of the Other, appropriating the thoughts or clothing or music or food or religion of an unfamiliar culture for the charm of the unfamiliar. The example that always comes to mind for me is Lamont Cranston — The Shadow — who learned the power to cloud men’s minds “while traveling in East Asia.”
— Daniel Abraham, A Defence of Exoticism

It’s the other day in the SF Café. I’m sipping a coffee, checking emails, browsing blogs, when I notice, over at his booth, writer Daniel Abraham musing on exoticism. As he takes pains to note, as we can see in the quote above, the stigma of colonialism attaching to that term is not to be dismissed. Still, he admits, he can’t wholly dismiss the appetence for alterity either. It’s less a defence he offers, I’d say, than it’s a consideration of an ambiguous stance that allows for value in the romance with the Other. He’s not denying the toxic outcomes, but suggesting that these aren’t the aim of our attraction, that there’s an impulse here that isn’t pathological for all its ultimate effects.

the shadow

The appetence for alterity…

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Sandman Meditations – A Game of You

Slaughter on 5th Avenue

a game of you

A Game of You is the first Sandman story of which I had any prior knowledge before plunging into it. That’s because the introduction to the book is written by Samuel R. Delany and was included along with two other essays about Neil Gaiman in Delany’s 1999 collection Shorter Views: Queer Thoughts and the Politics of the Paraliterary.

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The Secret Cuisine – Notes from New Sodom

Miso Soup at Midnight

It’s night in the city of Writing. A librarian sits in the SF Café, looking out on the ghetto of Genre. The whole place has become a little chi-chi over the years, beatnik artists moving in above the brothels and the crack dens. Might almost forget it’s the ghetto, if that avant garde street theatre troupe out on Mass Market Square didn’t blend in with the hookers and hustlers, make it all look like just one big sensual experience for sale. And whenever she swings by the Bistro de Critique, friends shudder at where she hangs: that dive? The librarian takes this in her stride. There’s no point whining about your area being badmouthed when your next door neighbour runs a crack house and, well, you do like a bit of a puff on the old hash pipe now and then.

indiana jones

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Back to the Future…with a Warhammer – Aaron Dembski-Bowden Guest Blog

The Appeal of Getting Your Ass Kicked

Back when I was a kid, in that era of willing vulnerability when we’re all sponging up ideas and inspiration to form our adult tastes, I saw something in the sci-fi genre that really stood out. In hindsight, I’m sort of proud of myself for noticing it, but maybe I’m giving my youthful self a little too much credit.

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Sandman Meditations – Season of Mists

Season of Mists: Prologue

One of the most famous stories by the great 20th century Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges is, it seems to me, echoed via allusion in the first two panels of the prologue to Season of Mists. “Walk any path in Destiny’s garden, and you will be forced to choose, not once but many times. The paths fork and divide.”

season of mists

The first Borges story to appear in English was “The Garden of Forking Paths”.

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Gareth Edwards’ Monsters – Notes from New Sodom

In the Interests of Precision

This is not a review. If you want to know whether I think director Gareth Edwards’s debut feature Monsters is worth seeing, I do. Go see it. But this isn’t about how good I think it is, and why; it’s about what the film’s doing, how this strange fiction (the specific example and the form in general) works. Whether it works well or not, for you or me — I don’t give a shit. More than anything, I want to use it here to explore the sort of dynamics at play in strange fiction, because the movie addresses one aspect of that dynamics directly, proclaiming this in its very title. The film is about the device of the monstrum that drives many narratives, not least those we project onto reality.

monsters

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Being a Hack: Writing a Shared-World Novel – Erin M. Evans Guest Blog

At the end of most science fiction and fantasy sections is a shelf that is plastered in logos: Halo, Warhammer 40000, Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Warcraft. Shared world fiction. It’s a section that admittedly, I didn’t stray into until my mid-twenties. It seemed daunting, as if one had to be admitted via a complicated test. I certainly never thought I’d see my name on the shelf—that world was an alien one where I didn’t belong. Yet here I am. And while shared world fiction—fiction that uses a pre-created setting—has a lot in common with nonshared world fiction, there are also a lot of ways in which it’s pretty unique.

forgotten realms

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The Kipple Foodstuff Factory – Notes from New Sodom

The Leopardskin Print of Thrift Shop Drag

So here I am, after a dozen or so columns, sitting in the SF Café, drinking my black coffee and saying, f’r sure, no Science Fiction novel has ever won the Booker. Yeah? And? So? What? Has any Crime novel ever won the Booker? Has any Romance? Has any Western? Let’s simplify it: Has any work of extruded formulaic pabulum in any Genre you care to name ever won the Booker? Has any work in any Genre born of the fricking pulps, in any commercial marketing category specifically designed to target a niche with a promise of extruded formulaic pabulum ever won the Booker?

kafka

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Sandman Meditations – Dream Country

Calliope

sandman dream country

I could have been really cheeky and declared that I couldn’t come up with an idea for this column.

That, after all, is the situation of Richard (aka Ric) Madoc in “Calliope” — he’s a writer who has published one novel, The Cabaret of Doctor Caligari (a title that would be, I must admit, just about enough to make me buy the book without knowing anything else about it), but who has run into total writer’s block.  From an elderly writer, Erasmus Fry, Madoc gets a muse.  Literally.  He gets Homer’s muse, Calliope, the muse of heroic poetry.  Fry has held her captive for decades, and trades her to Madoc for a bezoar.

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The Booker and the Bistro de Critique – Notes from New Sodom

Those Rocket Age Rhapsodies, Those Information Era Operas

“No SF novel ever won the Booker.”
Somebody, Somewhere, Somewhen

If’ you hang out long enough down in the ghetto of Genre, in the SF Café, eventually you’ll hear this axiom, or an axiom like it, muttered with a certain tone of harumph, a petulance in proportion to the wounded pride. Maybe you’ll say it yourself, sullen in your sense of injustice, disregard; I know I have.

man booker award

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Sandman Meditations – The Doll’s House

Tales in the Sand

the dolls house

“Tales in the Sand” is the prologue to the second set of Sandman stories, The Doll’s House, and it’s utterly different from anything in Preludes & Nocturnes right from the first panels.  The title page is almost abstract in its imagery: the pastel yellow and red of a desert fills a background of triangles and trapezoids; two small figures carrying spears and wearing traditional garb walk in the middle ground; the foreground is dominated and bisected by a black spear.

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Would a Robot Love You? – Notes from New Sodom

A Proper Fuckin Robot

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

I’m not sure I’m the most logical person to invite to speak at an arts festival in Tallinn on the theme of “Would you love a robot?” But the invite came in, and I’m game for anything, so what the fuck, I figured; I’m sure I can think of something to say. And never one to let my opinionation dissipate into the ether, I thought I might as well share it with you all too.

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The Combat Fiction Bar & Grill by Hal Duncan – Notes from New Sodom

From Astounding Stories to The Wars My Destination

The SF Café is a curious place. Take a wrong turn when you step inside the door, and you can find yourself not where you expected at all. Or rather, not when you expected to be.

catch 22

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