The Cultural Gutter

unashamed geekery

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

That’s What She Said

ancjust

One of the (many) challenges of science fiction, both for readers and creators, is conceiving of things for which humans have no frame of reference. HP Lovecraft used to confront us with such intellectual challenges in rather a simple but effective method. In The Color Out of Space, the narrator is forced to grapple with […]

Beneath the Mysterian Dome

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In the latter half of the 1950s, it seemed like every alien race with a saucer was high-tailing it to Earth with dreams of conquest, colonization, and a little lovin’ with the locals. The invaders of the 1950s came in many shapes and sizes. Some were blobs. Others were giant insects. A few were house […]

Understanding the Aliens

dawn

I’ve read plenty of good “first contact” stories, and a few great ones. A personal favorite, The Mote in God’s Eye, goes some distance to portraying the tragically insurmountable gulf that might appear when two very different species encounter one another. But no one has realized that gulf better than Octavia Butler. From the very […]

A Relative Dystopia

dys-bug

Not so very long ago, I was talking with a friend about science fiction’s infatuation with two things: empire and dystopia. Space opera and military science fiction has a fetish for empire, but we’ll deal with that some other time. Dystopian science fiction, those stories of humanity’s struggle to survive in a bleak (but not […]

Keep Searching

wengweng3

Every April at the Gutter we mix things up with the editors writing something outside their usual domain. This week SF/F Editor Keith writes about movies. In the early spring of 2002, a trip out west to meet some friends resulted in a weekend that involved everything from drinking in Juarez to being hired to do […]

Yesterday’s Tomorrow: A Visit to Tativille

mo1

Against my better judgement, the lights in my apartment are connected to a wireless network controlled via an app. There are physical buttons, but they are located near the plugs, at ground level and often behind obstructions. When I leave, turning off the light requires digging my phone out of my pocket, typing in the unlock code, […]

Vaudeville on Mars

jl7

In my interpretation of The War of the Worlds, the Martians attack hapless planet Earth not because they need water or are merely imperialistic, but in retaliation for us having sent El Brendel to their planet.Armed with the knowledge of the shtick El Brendel will force upon both his Martian and human viewers, when the 1930 science […]

…In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

sharu

Lando Calrissian enters an underground cathedral, one constructed to force a feeling of awe in a person, one with polished floors meant to force a person to take small steps, precariously balanced, with no choice but to contemplate the power of gods and subservience of man. Lando reacts by taking a running start and sliding […]

A Long Time Ago…

hanfeat

At the beginning of Han Solo’s Revenge, Han and his loyal friend Chewbacca are running a drive-in movie theater out of the back of their spaceship, the Millenium Falcon. Later, Han is irritated by a musical bottle of wine while Chewie chugs beer with gusto. Later still, Chewie fashions a hang glider out of a […]

Return of the Tripods

tri

I read, not so very long ago, an article intent on wringing its hands over just how dark and bleak and apocalypse-obsessed modern young adult fiction tends to be. It’s all full of kids getting oppressed, leading uprisings, getting hunted down for sport, surviving the destruction of the earth and trying to make a new […]

Something Kinda Funky

vorv1

It is common for a television series to run a particularly spooky episode around Halloween. Even horror or supernatural themed shows put a little extra effort into things when October 31st stalks toward us. And while it may have been a wisecracking space adventure clad entirely in billowing blouses (for the men) and skintight shiny […]

Punching Cthulhu in the Face

reh

Although his prose and his politics can be problematic for some readers, the influence of weird fiction writer HP Lovecraft is substantial and reaches out from beyond the grave like one of his indescribable elder gods. Although not particularly successful financially — which is really just another way of calling him a writer — Lovecraft […]

The Gentleman Adventurer

aa-bug

I don’t remember how it was I first came across Adam Adamant Lives!, though I suspect it was the culmination of a plot put into motion the day I was born, my sole purpose for existing being so that I might one day discover a British television show about a swashbuckling Edwardian gentleman adventurer who […]

A Halting Fire

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In the season one finale of AMC’s new series Halt and Catch Fire, the builders of the Cardiff Electric portable Giant computer gather around a conference table to read an unenthusiastically positive review of their new product. It is an unwittingly apt reflection of my reaction to the show in general. What was touted, or […]

Einstein and the Bearded Lady

einbug

The Czech science fiction comedy I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen (Zabil jsem Einsteina, panove) starts off with a fairly shocking scene, even by the standards of today: two bearded men locked in the throes of a passionate kiss. It’s a fake-out, we soon learn, a way to introduce both the central premise of the plot — […]

You Can’t Make a Masterpiece Without Madness

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There are a number of books and films I’ve classified as “having seen,” because I have. But, upon reflection about these titles, I realize I remember nothing about them, usually because I experienced them decades ago and as a young lad. Neuromancer by William Gibson was a big one. It hit me a few years […]

Where Is All You Angels?

duran-duran-wild-boys-burroughs

The summer of 1993 is one I will never forget and can barely remember. It is a sultry, humid swamp haze of hundred degree days spent with no air conditioning in a run-down neighborhood draped in Spanish moss and populated almost entirely by burn-outs, freaks, and students ages 19-25 living in ramshackle, rotting houses and […]

The Worst Dressed Man in the Room

gins2

Diving into the fashion of Mad Men may seem a tired topic at this point, as the show rumbles into its final season. We’ve seen analysis of the clothing from stylistic, historical, and philosophical angles, and it would seem there’d be little left to say. Even the “Don is not a style icon; he’s a […]

Back to the World

forwar

I once read an interview with a man who was involved in some of the bloodiest fighting during the Vietnam war. This particular battle he fought, watching friends and compatriots killed while he and they tried to kill in return, and then a day or two after it was over, so was his tour of […]

Cyberpunk for a Cyberpunk World

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From time to time, old folks like myself ask themselves, “whatever became of cyberpunk?” It was a strange…subgenre? Literary style? Lifestyle? Some awkward combination of all those things that grew from a collection of writers who, working independently of one another and often with wildly different approaches, tapped into a zeitgeist that could have only […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The New Yorker has a profile of author Gene Wolfe. “His narrators may be prophets, or liars, or merely crazy, but somewhere in their stories they help to reveal what Wolfe most wants his readers to know: that compassion can withstand the most brutal of futures and exist on the most distant planets, and it has been part of us since ages long past.”

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    Remezcla has a gallery of Lourdes Grobet’s portraits of luchadores with their families and a bit of an interview with her. (Yes, the luchadores are in their masks and often wearing suits or casual wear, which is the best thing). (Thanks, Matt!) “Father and warrior, the masked wrestler is the perfect metaphor for the duality that Grobet’s photography wants to depict. Her work is resonant because she doesn’t try to demolish the myths that envelop lucha libre – she simply nurtures and expands them in an offbeat way.”

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    At Autostraddle, Heather Hogan has “a Recap of Jem and the Holograms’ Truly Outrageous Lesbianism.” (Thanks, Sara Century!) “If you are a woman over the age of 30, I have some information that is going to send you cartwheeling back to 1987 to high five your young self and shout “We knew it! We knew it!” right in your own tiny gay face: Stormer and Kimber from Jem are truly, outrageously, canonically queer….This is good news. Great news. But it’s not really news news. Of course Stormer and Kimber are gay. They’ve been in love since 1987!”

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    “Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been binge-watching one of the most innovative series on television. Like many of the gems of the current TV renaissance, it features extended narratives with complex plots, intricate backstories, and layered characters. Its approach to storytelling is remarkably adventurous, shattering television, and even cinematic conventions.

     I’m speaking, of course, of General Hospital.” Noah Berlatsky writes about the influence of soap operas on “prestige television” at Quartz. (And make sure to click through to Akash Nikolas’ “Yes, Mad Men is a Soap Opera and that Shouldn’t be an Insult”).
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    Here’s the first Gutterthon 2015 Geektastic Song–“Fortune Cookie” by Chica Non Grata. Chica Non Grata kindly offered to write 3 songs based on topics offered by 3 lucky backers. So listen up and get down. “A song about pop-up ads and how creepy they are and how they seem to be reading your mind and maybe there is actually an artificial intelligence who is stalking you.”

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    Friend of the Gutter, Nitrate Diva writes about 13 women who helped shape cinema. “Hollywood is, in many ways, a more male-dominated environment today than it was 90 or so years ago. Scary, huh?

    In order to perpetuate a culture where more women make movies now, we need to recognize the women who made movies in the medium’s formative years. Let’s take our editing shears and snip the ‘boys only’ myth right out. It belongs on the cutting room floor.”

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