Sandman Meditations – Preludes & Nocturnes

Sleep of the Just

Prolegomenon – You should not expect expertise. There are other sources of that, encyclopedias and annotations, websites and Wikipedia entries, oracles and seers. I’m here for an experiment: to see what happens when someone who has only basic experience with comics and graphic novels encounters one of the classics of the field.

preludes and nocturnes

Wake up, Sir. We’re here.

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Thanos – Badass of the Week

You address omnipotence. Tread carefully.”

A special edition of Badass of the Week by Ben Thompson


Going out the week of San Diego Comic-Con and telling a bunch of superhero aficionados that Thanos is badass is kind of like walking into a Star Trek convention and announcing that Vulcans have pointy ears. No shit, Professor X, why don’t you tell us something we didn’t already infer telepathically just by looking at a comic book panel depicting a giant, beady-eyed muscle-bound behemoth backhanding Captain America to the turn with one hand while simultaneously head-butting a structural tear in the fabric of the universe with his wrinkly purple forehead?

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The Lost Airbender – Notes from New Sodom

Racebending and Lifestyle Theft

“If you go exploring in another culture only as a way of improving yourself and your work, that’s blatantly appropriative. Rose Fox, “A Whiff of Colonialism,” Publishers Weekly


Another day, another shitstorm in the SF Café. A couple of months back, some of you might recall, it was one Young Turk turned Old Guard with an ill-fated article on international SF, a Caesar of dubious pontification that met a Senate of aggravated responses. Others said all that has to be said about the article at the time, and it’s sorta blown over now, so I’m not going to add my dagger; but in a couple of the responses (or responses to responses,) as the entrails slipped to the ground, fingers were pointed and the dread words whispered: cultural appropriation. As in the quote above, the link was made.

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The Spelunkers of Speculative Fiction – Notes from New Sodom

The Scalpel and the Cigarette

“In fact, one good working definition of science fiction may be the literature which, growing with science and technology, evaluates it and relates it meaningfully to the rest of human existence.”
H. Bruce Franklin


When you watch enough of the daily dogfights down in the SF Café, you can get a bit jaded with it all. It’s science fiction versus Science Fiction versus Sci-Fi versus science fiction versus Fantasy versus fantasy — and all of these labels simply tags on one collar of a single Hydra-headed hound, our rabid Cerberus unbound, trying to rip its own throat(s) open. And all too often it’s the same fight underneath it all; clear away the rhetoric (e.g. “magic” and “science”) and what you find is Romanticism and Rationalism going at it yet again, the ideal of the sublime versus the ideal of the logical.

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The Kerspindle Kerfuffle – Notes from New Sodom


The Autonomous Archipelago of Åthorland

It was Friday night in the city of Writing when the shit hit the fan. I didn’t make it down to the SF Café myself till Saturday afternoon or so, having been off at a gig that Friday night; so when I finally stumbled in, somewhat worse for wear, to grab my daily brunch of coffee and a cigarette over the Twitter Gazette, the kerfuffle was already in full swing.  It’s war! people were saying. War! The neighbouring states of Amazonia and Macmilland have gone to war! Even the poor citizens of Åthorland have been dragged into it, much to their chagrin! Chagrined? They were downright pissed, those Åthorlanders. Since there’s a rather sizeable contingent of them who hang out at the SF Café, it was hard not to notice their impassioned speeches from their counter stool pulpits, the conversations going on in the booths.

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Outlining for Non-Outliners: An Outline – Erin M. Evans Guest Blog

Seek out any forum for writers and inevitably, eventually, someone will show up with a question to which there is no good answer: Should I write an outline for my novel before I start? Now, writers are a mostly civil bunch, and in this case they are no different. But you will notice that everyone who answers this question seems to say, “I can imagine not outlining” or  “I can’t imagine outlining.”

erin m evans

Switching positions on this deeply ingrained identification can be tricky. Like rewiring your toaster to be a space heater, it feels like there’s a chance everything will go horribly awry and you’ll never be able to do either option again.

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On Blood, Bad Boys and Bottoms – Notes from New Sodom


I’ve got a theory, one that’s been brewing for a while really, ever since I first read Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire and Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls. It’s one that’s been partly informed by my… exposure to the Twilight phenomenon, to the general prevalence of the vampire trope these days. And after coming across one of those internet kerfuffles over a recent article in Esquire by Stephen Marche that made a rough stab at advancing a similar idea (and largely got shot down in flames) I thought it might be a good time to get my teeth into it, so to speak.

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To the Water Fountains – Notes from New Sodom

I can’t tell you what age I was when I first read Samuel R. Delany’s “Aye, And Gomorrah,” in a tattered second-hand copy of his collection, Driftglass. I have only the most random snippets of memories associated with my teen reading — a vague awareness that the first SF book I read was I, ROBOT, that I caught the bug with more Asimov, became a hardened fan with Heinlein and PKD, and an avid collector with the series of Gollancz Classics released in the 1980s.

samuel delany

I’m pretty sure that it was picking up Babel-17 and Nova as part of that series that turned me on to Delany.

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Down in the Ghetto at the SF Café – Notes From New Sodom

“Don’t tell anybody, but science fiction no longer exists.”
Matthew Cheney, The Old Equations, Strange Horizons

Welcome to the SF Café, in the ghetto of Genre, in the city of Writing, in the Republic of Art.  We call it the SF Café because only the letters S and F survive, but you can still see the full name today, The Science Fiction Café and Bar, traced in the grime, outlined in the negative shadow of those clean spaces left where the letters have fallen away.


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What the Devil Taught Me – Richard Kadrey Guest Blog

If science fiction is the metaphorical engine that lets all kinds of clever kids with RSS feeds of New Scientist and BoingBoing write about our glorious nano-pr0ned future as a way to really write about the present, what the hell does that make fantasy?

sandman slim

When I starting writing fiction, if you’d told me that I’d end up writing fantasy and liking it, I would have laughed, punched you in the balls and stolen your lunch money. Partly because I wanted your money, but partly because it was common knowledge that only little girls, mental defectives and Plushie unicorn fuckers got anywhere near fantasy. I was a space age boy who grew up sure and certain that he’d be an astronaut or, at least, the first guy to shoot porn on Mars, probably with the leggy descendants of Valentina Tereshkova.

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Alternate Londons – Guest Blog By Ian R. MacLeod

ian r macleod

This isn’t the best of times to be in England. People may take its continuing failures in sport with either blank resignation or even blanker disinterest, but there’s a indefinable sense that the nation is lagging behind neighbours it once used to dominate and, let’s face it, brutalise. Drawn up to bat in England’s favour recently on Radio 4’s Today programme was none other than Norman Tebbit, which rather emphasised the problem.
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The Latest Teacup Tempest – Notes From New Sodom

Elitism, escapism, world-building, blah blah blah. I’ve had my head down in terms of forums and blog-brouhahs. There’s a lot of, um, passion being thrown about, which is a good thing — it’s nice to know people give a fuck — but to be honest, I think a lot of the argument involves people talking at cross-purposes, people defending something that they think others are attacking, attacking something that they think others are defending, people saying that they’re not attacking / defending something in the way that other people think they are, but actually attacking / defending something else entirely, something which is worth attacking / defending… as opposed to what other people “seem to be” defending / attacking and so on, and on, and on, and on, and ever on, like the last one million pages of climbing up a fucking mountain at the end of Tolkien’s Lordy-Lordy-Massuh-Ah’s-Ah-Gonna-Carry-You-Massuh-Frodo of the Rings.

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The Scourge of Sci-Fi – Notes From New Sodom

Ordure and Bullshit

In the uptown district of Literature and the midtown district of Mainstream, so the story goes, the high-brow and the mid-brow all turn their noses up when they glance downtown, in the direction of Genre. Fairy tales for children, they sneer. On the door of the Bistro de Critique there was for a good many years a sign that read, “No Genre allowed.” The nearest they ever got to a genre label is General Fiction — a term with an empty definition if ever there was one, catch-all for a host of idioms and idiosyncracies. No, genre fiction just isn’t de rigeur there, so the story goes. So, fuck em, we say. Fuck the mundanes of Mainstream, the elitists of Literature. We’re Genre and proud of it.

science fiction

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