Tag Archives: John H. Stevens

MIND MELD: Our Favorite Convention Panels

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

This week, we asked our panlists about their favorite Convention Panels:

Q: What was the best convention panel you ever attended? What was the best convention panel you were ever on? If you could set up your ideal convention panel, what would be the topic and who would be on it?

This is what they said…

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MIND MELD: Recent SF/F That Deserves More Attention

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the new SF/F that’s produced each year. To help broaden everyone’s horizons, we asked our panelists this question:

Q: What SF/F that you have read/seen/heard/played in 2013 do you think is deserving of more attention?

Here’s what they said…

Jessica Strider
Jessica Strider has worked at a major chain bookstore in Toronto for 10 years. Her in store SF/F newsletter, the Sci-Fi Fan Letter, eventually evolved into a blog where most Tuesdays she posts book reviews and on Fridays she alternates between author interviews, themed reading lists, New Author Spotlights and more. Other days she posts interesting SFF related stuff.

I’ve decided to keep my answers to only things that came out this year, which makes for a fairly small list as all of the movies I’ve seen and a few of the books (notably Will McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty and Ofir Touche Gafla’s The World of the End) have received a decent amount of attention. So here’s the stuff from 2013 that I’ve read/seen so far that I think could use more recognition.
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Water from a Deeper Well: Thoughts Toward a More Imaginative Fantastika

 

“I went to the river but the river was dry
I fell to my knees and I looked to the sky
I looked to the sky and the spring rain fell
I saw the water from a deeper well ” – Emmylou Harris, “Deeper Well

I was all set to wrap up my discussion of monarchy in secondary-world fantasy (for now anyway), when I read a blog post by Jeff Vandermeer regarding assumptions the current publishing milieu puts on our imaginations. It’s a great post and I urge folks to read it, and chew on it for a bit. What I took away from it was that we need to kick the truckload of advice and self-interested shibboleths we get from all quarters to the curb and remember that we are writers and readers, not producers or consumers of widgets or data packets. Writing is not a product except in the eyes of those who cannot, to use Jeff’s phrase, “dream well.” Writing is a performance, a service, an art, an effort at communication and understanding. What is most troubling about this burgeoning ideology of the Brave New Publishing World is that it very often ignores or diminishes the writing as process and offering to the reader.

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Simplicity, Drama, and Domination: On Monarchy in Secondary-World Fiction

I am still chewing on the tasty gristle of last week’s Mind Meld on monarchism in fantasy fiction. I can’t get the subject out of my mind, to the point where I have started to assemble a bibliography for a longer analysis of monarchies in epic fantasy. I think that the respondents made some good points, but the post as a whole affirmed for me how tightly a certain idea of monarchy tends to throttle our fantasies. One aspect of the responses that confirmed this for me was the poverty of alternatives that people could recall from the literature, but another was the falling-back on certain ideas about the foundations of fantasy that indicated a very limited vision for writing and reading the fiction.

The interlocking elements of simplicity, drama, and domination seem to best characterize the basic use of monarchy in fantasy (mostly of the epic/heroic/high varieties), and while most of the respondents applied this directly to the use of monarchy, I think this more broadly reflective of much of the literature. It’s not just that monarchies are used because they contain these elements, it is that authors like to use these elements to structure and propel their stories. Monarchy as usually applied in these stories complements these qualities, and simultaneously appeals to many popular ideas of the romance and power of kingship. The invocation of fantasy as a genre based in fairy tales reflects this too, with discernible, often uncomplicated characters, melodramatic situations, and demarcated, rigidly hierarchized power relations.

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MIND MELD: The Most Interesting Books in Our ‘To Be Read’ Pile

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

This week’s short and sweet question:

Q: What book(s) in your ‘to read’ pile are you most interested in reading? Why?

Here’s what our panelists said…

Patrick Hester
Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and Hugo-nominated Podcast producer/host who lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed. His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards, and the SF Signal podcast is nominated for a 2012 Hugo Award. He writes for atfmb.com, SF Signal, KirkusReviews and Functional Nerds.


This one is easy. Doctor Who: Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams (novelized by Gareth Roberts). There is an old saying; you never forget your first Doctor. For me, that Doctor was Tom Baker, good ol’ Number Four. Once described by Number Two (or Three, I forget) as ‘curly hair and teeth’, the Fourth Doctor was the first for me. I watched episodes of Doctor Who on the local PBS station. Despite bad special effects that turned most of my friends off immediately, I quickly became hooked on this TimeLord from the planet Galifrey who traveled in a blue box with a robot dog who called him ‘Master’ and sported a multi-colored collar matching the Doctor’s own ridiculously long scarf. (I still want one of those scarves…)

It wasn’t until I moved deeper into fandom, attending conventions where people were selling Japanese Anime (I’d never seen the likes of before!), VHS copies of shows from over seas (like Doctor Who, UFO, The Avengers), and bootleg copies of STUFF (I SWEAR I DIDN’T INHALE!), that I became aware of certain things regarding the good Doctor. (this was before the Interwebz.) Things like: many episodes were lost to time when the BBC ‘cleaned house’ destroying video tapes and film libraries. And, there was a ‘lost episode’ from the Tom Baker years. Written by Douglas The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Adams himself, no less.

The story went that they began filming Shada, meant to be the final serial of the 1979-80 season, when a strike hit the BBC. That strike killed production and they never finished filming. There was an attempt to revisit the script and complete the filming, but it never came to fruition. Why? No idea. The producer, John Nathan-Turner, did manage to release a version of it on VHS a decade later, but never as part of the televised series.

Side Note: for the anniversary special The Five Doctors, Tom Baker declined to participate, so footage of the Fourth Doctor and Romana II from the Shada episode, were used (you might remember the Doctor and Romana boarding a gondola and becoming ‘stuck’ out of time).

Side Note 2: In the Key to Time DVD’s (I think), there’s a bonus feature – an episode of Blue Peter (BBC children’s show) shot on the sets of Doctor Who. They were forced to shoot the show there due to yet another strike affecting the BBC. Given the set they were using, they had a very Doctor Who-centric episode.

A few years back, another version of the story was done, this time an animated Flash serial with Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor in the lead (yes, the guy from the Fox version/movie). I watched the 1st episode. Meh.

But now, Ace has released a novelization putting Shada squarely back into the Fourth’s Doctor’s Continuity. 400 pages of Classic Who goodness…
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MIND MELD Makeup: Our Favorite SF/F Consumed During 2011

Due to a brain freeze on my part technical issues, I managed to leave a few respondents off of this week’s Mind Meld. As a refresher, here is this week’s question:

What are your favorite SF/F books/movies/TV shows/comics/etc. that you consumed in 2011?
Paul Weimer
Paul Weimer has been reading SF and Fantasy for over 30 years and exploring the world of roleplaying games for over 25 years. Almost as long as he has been reading and watching movies, he has enjoyed telling people what he has thought of

them. In addition to his reading and gaming interests, he can be found at his own blog, Blog Jvstin Style, the Functional Nerds, Twitter, Livejournal and many other places on the Internet. And one day he will write his own “trunk novel”.

Although I don’t seem to have consumed any more than usual, I consumed more first-run genre goodness year this time around than in many years past.

In terms of movies, this was of course the movie year of superheroes, and a lot of other genre movies in general. I watched many of them, found many wanting, but also found some movies I would add to my movie collection. I particularly liked Duncan Jones’ Source Code in the spring, and in the superhero category, it’s a close run race between X-Men: First Class and Captain America. Thor wasn’t bad, either. And I shouldn’t forget to mention Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which was far better than it had any right to be.

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