Sunday Cinema: Panic in Year Zero!

Ray Milland directed and stars in Panic in Year Zero!, a 1962 post-apocalyptic SciFi film in which a family survives a thermonuclear war. Like you do. The film also features Jean Hagen, Frankie Avalon (!) and Joan Freeman.

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It’s hard to imagine the Doctor Who franchise being in dire straits, but that’s kinda what happened back in 1985 when the production was suspended for a year and it looked as if the show faced cancellation. But — for better or worse — the fans were having none of that!

In March of that year, a charity single was produced, written by the series’ unofficial continuity advisor Ian Levine and freelancer Fiachra Trench. That charity single — a sort of “Doctor’s Band-Aid” for the show — was “Doctor in Distress” but instead of featuring a “Who’s Who” of celebrities, it featured a “…Who?” list of celebrities. (The single was actually released under the artist name “Who Cares?”. Indeed…) To be fair, it did include four regulars from the TV series: Colin Baker (the Sixth Doctor), Nicola Bryant (companion Peri Brown), Nicholas Courtney (recurring character Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart) and Anthony Ainley (the Master). The most famous other names recognizable (at least to me) are band members from The Moody Blues and Ultravox. Oh, and now-famous composer Hans Zimmer supplied the music for this high-energy nightmare that tries to summarize the entirety of the Doctor’s history.

Here’s the video of the outcome. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

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Short Film: “Nebula”

In Nebula, a girl befriends a magical creature…

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SF/F/H Link Post for 2014-11-22

Interviews & Profiles

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Here’s the cover and synopsis for the upcoming Warhammer 40K novel Master of Sanctity by Gav Thorpe.

Looks tasty!

Here’s the synopsis:
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REVIEW SUMMARY: Huberath asks us to become more conscious of the narratives we create and think more broadly about our place in the universe.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: When Gavein Throzz moves to Davabel, he soon finds himself linked to a growing epidemic of deaths. And when he and other characters start reading a mysterious book called Nest of Worlds, Gavein realizes that his existence and perception of that existence may be terribly flawed.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: This novel puts your brain on a fast-moving treadmill and asks fascinating questions about the nature of human existence.
CONS: More narrative time could have been given to the several nested worlds to flesh out some of Huberath’s philosophical questions.
BOTTOM LINE: Nest of Worlds is a wonderful introduction to the world of contemporary Polish science fiction, and a powerful, probing story that prompts thoughtfulness and self-awareness.

As part of my effort to read more scifi in translation, I jumped at the chance to check out Nest of Worlds, Huberath’s first novel to appear in English. A major force in Polish science fiction, Huberath is also a professor of biophysics and biological physics at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. And he brings everything to this metafictional tale of life, death, and reading.
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This week, Ursula K. Le Guin accepted the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards ceremony.

Congrats to Ms. Le Guin!

Hear her excellent, thought-provoking speech below…
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Over at Kirkus Reviews: The Radical Joanna Russ

Joanna Russ wasn’t an author I came across when I first came across science fiction: she was someone who I slowly became aware of more recently, when I started working at this on a more professional and critical level. Part of this came from friends who were interested and researching her, and over the last couple of years, I’ve gained an appreciation for the few works that I have read.

What I find most interesting is her relationship with the genre: many of the arguments she put forward back in the 1960s/70s/80s still hold true today, and if anything, they’re even more relevant. For me, Russ makes a lot of sense, and her arguments not only apply towards better representations of men and women in science fiction, but make an excellent argument for simple innovation in writing science fiction. I can see why she was frustrated, and why she was angry.

Go read The Radical Joanna Russ over on Kirkus Reviews.

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Here’s an analysis of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey…from the perspective of an alien.

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SF/F/H Link Post for 2014-11-21

Interviews & Profiles

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Long Hidden is a speculative fiction anthology about marginalized groups of people in history, edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older and published by Crossed Genres Publications in early 2014.

The introduction of the anthology begins with this:

Before Long Hidden was a book, it was a conversation. Really, it was many conversations, over the course of many different lives; these fed into one conversation in particular, a back-and-forth on Twitter in December 2012 about representations of African diasporic voices in historical speculative fiction, and the ways that history “written by the victors” demonizes and erases already marginalized stories. That discussion became an idea that became the book you’re about to read.

We grew up reading stories about people who weren’t much like us. Speculative fiction promised to take us to places where anything was possible, but the spaceship captains and valiant questers were always white, always straight, always cisgender, and almost always men. We tried to force ourselves into those boxes, but we never fit. When we looked for faces and thoughts like our own, we found orcs and deviants and villains. And we began to wonder why some people’s stories were told over and over, while ours were almost never even alluded to.

So, as you might have gathered, Long Hidden is an anthology meant to tell the stories of marginalized people in history (in speculative fashion). The setting varies, as well as the particular marginalized group, though the time period seemed to be most often between the 1600s and the 1800s. I’ll highlight a few of my favorites here.
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John Joseph Adams has posted the cover and table of contents for his upcoming military fantasy anthology Operation Arcana:

Here’s the book description:

High fantasy, contemporary and urban fantasy, and fantasy action and adventure all set in a military vein by top authors including Jonathan Maberry, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Moon, Tanya Huff, Glen Cook, Simon R. Green, Seanan McGuire, and Linda Nagata.

From Tolkien’s Battle of Helm’s Deep to George R.R. Martin’s Blackwater to Elizabeth Moon’s Civil War of Fintha, it is in the battles of epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, and contemporary fantasy where heroism comes alive, magic is unleashed, and legends are made and unmade. Here are stories on the military side of both high fantasy, contemporary fantasy, and urban fantasy. These tales feature beautifully crafted worlds of a past and present filled with magic and mayhem—all served up by a range of top authors.

Here’s the table of contents…
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REVIEW SUMMARY: A brilliant short story collection, which deserves a spot right next to your volume of fairy tales and I’m not talking about the child-friendly variety here.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Interconnected stories of dangerous books, witches and wise women, fey folk from a different realm and girls trained to be assassins, professional poisoners and healers. This collection introduces the sisterhood of Little Sisters of St Florian and is set in the world of Slatter’s Sourdough and Other Stories, acting as an origin story for the events in the previous collection.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Exquisite prose; a shared world where the stories bleed into each other to establish a vibrant and sprawling mythology; complex portrayal of women as protagonists and antagonists; the breathtaking pen-and-ink illustrations by artist Kathleen Jennings.
CONS: The collection ended. Honestly, I could read at least three more volumes with tales in this world.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s among the strongest short story collections on the market and it will fill your heart with darkest wonders.

With The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings Angela Slatter proves why she’s one of the most important voices in fantasy. Fairy tales have seen a strong resurgence in recent years, but only Slatter understands them well enough to distill the essence that made them influential and prevalent and create her own mythos. She succeeds in her task and her short stories rival Grimm’s fairy tales in their darkness, danger and viciousness.

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James Luceno on The Functional Nerds Podcast

James Luceno, author of Tarkin, joins John Anealio and Patrick Hester this week on The Functional Nerds Podcast.

Listen below, or at The Functional Nerds, or subscribe to The Functional Nerds Podcast through iTunes.

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Short Film: “I.R.I.S.” – When AI Attacks

I.R.I.S. is a short film about a near-future artificial intelligence that decides it doesn’t wanna play nice anymore…

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SF/F/H Link Post for 2014-11-20

Interviews & Profiles

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Nick Sharps had the opportunity to chat with Ubisoft Scriptwriter Oliver Sudden about the new living-world game Far Cry 4.

Join them, won’t you?


Nick Sharps: Hello Oliver, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your position at Ubisoft Montreal.

Oliver Sudden: Well, I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario and I first came to Montreal to do a degree in Filmmaking at Concordia University.

I moved away and then moved back and after applying two or three times to Ubisoft Montreal, I was hired on as a scriptwriting intern and hope to become a full-time scriptwriter soon.

NS: It is my understanding that you worked on the action-adventure first-person shooter video game Far Cry 4. As a long time fan of the Far Cry franchise I have to say, this must have been an exciting opportunity. Can you tell us a little about your contribution to the game and what it’s like to work with a team of writers?
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Joshua Palmatier’s THRONE OF AMENKOR Trilogy

I’m taking another short trip into the past for this installment of The Completist, only about ten years have passed since the publication of the first book in this series (2005), and five years since I read the trilogy. I turn my focus on Joshua Palmatier’s “Throne of Amenkor” trilogy of books; a series about a haunted throne and the street urchin/thief who becomes tied to the throne. At the time Joshua’s debut published, he might have been overshadowed a bit by two other authors debuting at the same time – Patrick Rothfuss (a DAW stable mate) and Scott Lynch (who tells Lies about a thief named Locke). Joshua’s books are fun, engaging, and where they have an edge over Lynch and Rothfuss’s series is the fact that the series is complete.
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Is science catching up with science fiction? It may seem so when you consider a lot of the recent advancements made in science.

At the Kirkus Reviews blog this week, I talk about how We Are Moving Towards Our Science Fictional Future.

Head on over an take a look!

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Tobias Buckell has just announced a crowdfunding effort for his next fiction collection, Xenowealth. This is a collection of stories in the same universe as his refreshing and fun novels Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, Sly Mongoose, and The Apocalypse Ocean…and featuring the baddest of badasses, Pepper. If you liked those stories, you’ll love the stories in this collection, which will include:

  • “The Fish Merchant”
  • “Manumission”
  • “Resistance”
  • “A Cold Heart”
  • “Necahual”
  • “The Loa”
  • “Placa del Fuego”
  • “The Rydr Express”

If you’ve ever wanted all the Pepper stories bound into one volume — this is your chance. There are lots of cool stretch goals, too, so be sure to go check out Tobias’ project on Kickstarter!

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