The Cultural Gutter

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

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 […]

Death to Life Day

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A lot of people my age have vague memories of a Star Wars holiday special back from some time in the 1970s, but beyond that their memories go blurry. Maybe they recall it had something or other to do with wookies, but specifics are difficult to drag up from the recesses of the mind — […]

The Dandy Doctor

autons2

You may have missed the news, but this is the 50th anniversary of a cheap, scrappy British science fiction series called Doctor Who. Like a fair number of folk my age, I first stumbled across Doctor Who one Saturday afternoon on PBS, back when PBS was able to air things like Doctor Who, The Avengers, […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At New York Magazine, David Wallace-Wells writes about bees, colony collapse disorder and beekeeper Dave Hackenberg. “It’s been a long decade for bees. We’ve been panicking about them nonstop since 2006, when beekeeper Dave Hackenberg inspected 2,400 hives wintering in Florida and found 400 of them abandoned — totally empty. American beekeepers had experienced dramatic die-offs before, as recently as the previous winter in California and in regular bouts with a deadly bug called the varroa mite since the 1980s. But those die-offs would at least produce bodies pathologists could study. Here, the bees had just disappeared. In the U.K., they called it Mary Celeste syndrome, after the merchant ship discovered off the Azores in 1872 with not a single passenger aboard. The bees hadn’t even scrawled CROATOAN in honey on the door on their way out of the hive.”

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    Andrew Nette has a pair of interesting pieces on pulp you might be interested in. First, he writes about “the New Pulp” and a bit about Fifty Shades of Gray in “Fifty Shades of Pulp.” Then he writes about pulp and literacy and furthering social advancement in “Pulp and Circumstance.”  “Most people view pulp as either exploitative lowbrow culture or highly collectable retro artefact. Yet pulp has a secret history which Rabinowitz’s book uncovers. Her central thesis is that cheap, mass-produced pulp novels not only provided entertainment and cheap titillating thrills, but also brought modernism to the American people, democratising reading and, in the process, furthering culture and social enlightenment.”

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    The Projection Booth interviews actor Ed Asner.

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    Transcript from BAFTA’s tribute to director Johnnie To, “Johnnie To: A Life In Pictures.” It’s a great interview with To about his films and process. “Like when I made The Mission I didn’t have a script. It was 1999 and I didn’t have any money so we went to Taiwan and they gave us very little money to hurry up and make a film, so without any script we just started making it. And after 19 days we made the film.” (Thanks to the Heroic Sisterhood!)

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    A gallery of sweet geeky art from Native American artist, Jeffrey Veregge. “My origins are not supernatural, nor have they been enhanced by radioactive spiders. I am simply a Native American artist and writer whose creative mantra in best summed up with a word from my tribe’s own language as: ‘taʔčaʔx̣ʷéʔtəŋ,’ which means ‘get into trouble.'”

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    John Reppion continues his series on English magic and Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell. Next up, “Away With The Fairies.”

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