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.
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.
Continue reading “GrimDark: Loose Canon & Warhammer Race War Aaron Dembski-Bowden Guest Blog”
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 appetence for alterity…
Continue reading “An Essay into Exoticism – Notes from New Sodom”
Slaughter on 5th Avenue
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.
Continue reading “Sandman Meditations – A Game of You”
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.
Continue reading “The Secret Cuisine – Notes from New Sodom”
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.
Continue reading “Back to the Future…with a Warhammer – Aaron Dembski-Bowden Guest Blog”
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.”
The first Borges story to appear in English was “The Garden of Forking Paths”.
Continue reading “Sandman Meditations – Season of Mists”
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.
Continue reading “Gareth Edwards’ Monsters – Notes from New Sodom”
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.
Continue reading “Being a Hack: Writing a Shared-World Novel – Erin M. Evans Guest Blog”
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?
Continue reading “The Kipple Foodstuff Factory – Notes from New Sodom”
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.
Continue reading “Sandman Meditations – Dream Country”
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.
Continue reading “The Booker and the Bistro de Critique – Notes from New Sodom”
Tales in the Sand
“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.
Continue reading “Sandman Meditations – The Doll’s House”
A Proper Fuckin Robot
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.
Continue reading “Would a Robot Love You? – 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.
Continue reading “The Combat Fiction Bar & Grill by Hal Duncan – Notes from New Sodom”