The Cultural Gutter

dumpster diving of the brain

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

Stories Are Important

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This week SF/F Editor Emeritus James Schellenberg returns as a Guest Star! Stories are important, we all know this. I hasten to add: and they should be fun too, otherwise why bother reading them? Every once in a while, I run across a new author that balances “something to say” and “have fun saying it” […]

The Dragonlance Chronicles: Innovative, Ubiquitous and Terribly-Written

At Pornokitsch, Jared takes a look at The Dragonlance Chronicles’ influence on contemporary fantasy: “[C]ool or not, Dragonlance has done more than almost any other post-Tolkien property in influencing fantasy. Its narrative and conceptual tropes can be found in every nook and cranny of the genre, and much of the modern low fantasy resurgence can be traced […]

“The Trouble with Skyrim”

At his Invincible Super Blog, Chris Sims has some trouble with Elder Scrolls 5:  Skyrim and compares the game to Assassin’s Creed 3: Brotherhood and Fallout 3.  “What’s the point of giving you an overwhelming amount of content when none of it matters?”   Like this:Like Loading…

High Fantasy for Young Adults

At The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik writes about The Lord of the Rings and its influence on young adult fantasy, how Tolkien’s fusing of the epic and the familiarly domestic brought us Eragon and Twilight. “Kids go to fantasy not for escape but for organization, and a little elevation; since life is like this already, […]

Fin Fang Foom, A Retropspective

The Belated Nerd looks back at the alien dragon menace, Fin Fang Foom. Like this:Like Loading…

Hobbit Production Video 2

Hobbits on film! Well, not quite yet. Here’s Peter Jackson’s second production vidoe for The Hobbit. Like this:Like Loading…

Journey to the Centre of a Terrible Cover Idea

Good Show, Sir, offers you, the reader, only the worst and most ill-conceived science fiction and fantasy book covers. And if you have some terrible cover art in your collection, you can submit to their gallery. Like this:Like Loading…

Live Action Dragonriding

Dragonriders of Pern as a live action film? Looks like it might happen. Like this:Like Loading…

Highly Animated

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Every April at the Gutter, the editors write about something outside their usual domains.  This month, Romance Editor Chris Szego writes about animated movies.   When I was a kid, cartoons were a real treat. I didn’t watch much TV, but Bugs Bunny and friends were mandatory viewing. We watched the show as a family, […]

Bioware Says, “Get Over It.”

A straight male gamer accuses Bioware of ignoring straight male gamers by having queer romance options in Dragon Age II.  Bioware responds by talking about having options for everyone and straight male privilege. Seriously. Like this:Like Loading…

Winter is Coming

Gianluca Maconi’s gallery of characters makes a great case for a comic based on George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. (via Robot 6) Like this:Like Loading…

10 Comics I Liked in 2010

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Sometimes it’s easy to forget why I like comics and 2010 was a particularly tough year, in comics and otherwise. But here are 10 that reminded me why I do like them. There’s a lot of crime, anthropomorphic animals, gorgeous art, silly fun, people dealing with things the best they can, and plenty of Greg […]

Not Particularly Subtle

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I recently burned through all seven books in Christopher Rowley’s Bazil Broketail series. What I liked best? The broad strokes, literally (here is our hero with a sword, there goes the head of the bad guy, flying through the air) as well as metaphorically. Like this:Like Loading…

The Mysterious Specimen Cases of Alex CF

A severed dragon head, a monkey’s paw, a vampire pharaoh and an interdimensional cat are all specimens collected and mounted by artist Alex CF. Cryptids, oddities and mythical monsters presented with retro-Victorian naturalism. (thanks, Ariel!) Like this:Like Loading…

A Dance With Fans

George R. R. Martin has a few things he wants to get off his chest. Like he’s not lying about A Dance With Dragons completion dates. So deal with it. (via Super Punch) Like this:Like Loading…

Follow-Up Visit

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I love shiny new things. I’m also getting more ruthless about my time than I used to be. Those competing impulses get resolved in a simple activity that everyone does naturally: following writers who have proved themselves in the past. On that note, here are a few follow-up visits to Gutter pieces of the past. […]

All I Want For Christmas Is A Few Good Books

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In the spirit of the season, here are ten, in alphabetical order by author. Like this:Like Loading…

It’s the End of the World as we Know It

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Remember Y2K? All those pre-New Year’s warnings about what might happen to the world’s computer systems?  People were pretty calm about it, but many thought, hey, better safe than sorry, and stocked up on toilet paper and non-perishables. But as it happened, the giant looming what if turned out to be nothing, and the world […]

Electric Dragon 80,000 Volts

Electric Dragon 80,000 Volts: Filled with Electricity! Filled with Emotion!  Conversing with dragons and creatures, is a man!  Dragon Eye Morrison!” (Thanks, Colin!) Like this:Like Loading…

100 Unicorns in the Garden

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Strange things happen to the Armitages on Mondays. Sometimes there’s a unicorn in the garden, sometimes there are 100. Harriet and Mark, sister and brother, are used to the ghosts, the dragons, the Furies, and so on. Life in their small village, and wacky relatives who come to visit? Much harder to take. Joan Aiken […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Comics Alliance suggests seven Star Wars comics to read before Disney makes them disappear. (Including a comic by one of Comics Editor Carol’s favorite creative teams–Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman). “Starting in 2015, Disney’s handing the publishing of any and all new Star Wars comics over to Marvel Comics, with an all new, optimized-for-corporate-synergy canon that will spread across all their media platforms. Anything that’s not a movie (especially one of the Original Trilogy movies), or a Clone Wars cartoon, will be unceremoniously Order 66-ed out of existence, giving future filmmakers a clean-ish slate to make movies (and money) on. But what about all those Dark Horse comics? That’s where we come in with 7 Dark Horse Star Wars comics you should track down before they disappear.”

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    At the New York Observer, Ashley Steves writes about Craig Ferguson’s The Late, Late Show. “No one could ever prepare you for watching an episode of Ferguson’s Late Late Show. A friend could not sit you down and explain it (“Well, it’s really meta and deconstructive and there’s a horse”). There was really no good way to recommend it. It was something you discovered and became a part of. You had to stumble upon it on your own, perhaps restless or bored or simply curious while flipping through channels when your eye quickly caught some of the madness. And that’s the best part. It was an unexpected gift. At its worst, it could still send you to bed grinning and comforted. At its best, it was art. It was silly and fun and truly not like any other late night show.”

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    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims interviews Ed Brubaker about his work on Batman, Gotham Central and Catwoman. “When I look back at [Catwoman], I’m so proud of the first 25 issues of that book, when I felt like everything was firing on all cylinders. I probably should’ve left when Cameron Stewart left instead of sticking around. That’s one of those things I look back at and think “Ah, I had a perfect run up until then!” (Incidentally, Comics Editor Carol’s first piece for the Gutter was about Brubaker’s first 25 issues of Catwoman).

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    At Sequential Art, Greg Carpenter writes a lovely piece about Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. “After only two installments, Schulz had solidified the rules for his comic strip.  Random acts of cruelty would punctuate this irrational world, and Schulz’s trapped little adults would be forced to act out simulations of human behavior, using hollow gestures to try to create meaning in a universe where no other meaning was evident.  If Shakespeare’s Macbeth had been a cartoonist, the results of his daily grind, “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” might have looked somewhat similar—each character a “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage” until he or she was heard from no more.”

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    The Smithsonian Magazine has a gallery of US spy satellite launches. “Just as NASA creates specially designed patches for each mission into space, [National Reconnaissance Office] follows that tradition for its spy satellite launches. But while NASA patches tend to feature space ships and American flags, NRO prefers wizards, Vikings, teddy bears and the all-seeing eye. With these outlandish designs, a civilian would be justified in wondering if NRO is trolling.”

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    At The Guardian, Keith Stuart and Steve Boxer look at the history of PlayStation.“Having been part of the late 80s rave and underground-clubbing scene, I recognised how it was influencing the youth market. In the early 90s, club culture started to become more mass market, but the impetus was still coming from the underground, from key individuals and tribes. What it showed me was that you had to identify and build relationships with those opinion-formers – the DJs, the music industry, the fashion industry, the underground media.” (via @timmaughan)

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