The Cultural Gutter

taking the dumb out of fandom

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

Stories Are Important

after the golden age

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?”  

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.

Hobbit Production Video 2

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

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.

Live Action Dragonriding

Dragonriders of Pern as a live action film? Looks like it might happen.

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.

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)

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.

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!)

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)

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.

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!)

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

    We have been bereft since GWAR lost Oderus Ungerus. But lift up your heads and rejoice, fans of GWAR, there is a new member. She is Vulvatron! (via @saladinahmed)

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    Throne of the Crescent Moon author Saladin Ahmed has posted “a micro-mini Crescent Moon Kingdoms world guide that had previously only been available as part of a UK-exclusive ebook” for people to use in their roleplaying games. But even if you aren’t a gamemaster, it’s pretty sweet.

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    At We Are Respectable Negroes, Chauncey Devega interviews friend of the Gutter Mark D. White about the virtues of Captain America. “In this, the ninth episode, of the second season of WARN’s podcast series, we talk about what comic books and superheroes can tell us about philosophy and politics, work through what makes someone ‘heroic,’ the ways that the general public often misunderstands and misreads the Captain America character, as well as how American exceptionalism, race, and identity relate to superhero and other types of comic books and graphic novels.”

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    Alexander Chee writes about difficulty some have in evaluating comics or even in taking them seriously. “As a frequent juror on prizes, colonies and fellowships, I am, it could be said, so tired of this, that in fact, I will fight you for Roz Chast’s right to be on this list. I will fight you for the right for Bechdel to get that MacArthur. In a ring, covered in grease, MMA style. That is how sick of it I am.”

    And Dylan Meconis has some suggestions on how to improve writing about comics. “This leaves all the critics who are just beginning their journey into comics reading, or who have yet to be entirely won over to the medium but want to keep an open mind (perhaps due to peer pressure: I remember a literati cocktail party where somebody near me anxiously muttered ‘I guess we’re all supposed to read graphic novels now.’) These brave souls are willing to give it a try, but they tend to make a lot of mistakes when they first start out.” (Thanks, Gareth!)

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    At Black Girl Nerds, Jamie Broadnax writes a powerful piece about racism, cosplaying, police violence and the homicide of Darrien Hunt. “The first thing we need to do is NOT let this story scare us nor intimidate us into believing that we should be fearful of cosplaying.  We should still encourage others who may not yet have participated in cosplay to know that there are several communities for people of color to have safe spaces where they can be embrace and be their nerdy selves. If there is little to no news about this incident on other mainstream geek sites that feature cosplayers, then framing this around race is pertinent and they should be called out on their silence.  Even IF this is not an incident where Darrien Hunt was actively cosplaying, the tone has already been set and anyone who is a part of the cosplay community should address this matter.  Many Black cosplayers are concerned about this, and still wonder if they would be viewed as ‘suspicious’ walking down the street.”

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    Nerds of Color announces that their own David Walker will be writing Dynamite’s Shaft comic. Denys Cowan shares the cover for Shaft #1 drawn by Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz. Sanford Greene shares some his cover work here and here. Black Comix posts Ulises Farinas’ cover.  Comics Wow has more and previews covers. (Via Black Comix and World of Hurt)

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