The Cultural Gutter

the cult in your pop culture

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

“Not A Manifesto”

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At Antipope, Charles Stross shares why he’s moving from writing science fiction to urban fantasy: “Over the past few years I’ve found myself reading less and less far-future SF and more and more urban fantasy. If you view it through the lens of the future we’re living in rather than the future we expected in […]

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” […]

Twilight’s Anti-Fandom

Emma Vossen examines Twilight hate and anti-fans, writing: “People have become eager anti-fans of the series, creating an active subculture that manifests in hateful dialogue and value judgements on a seemingly arbitrary slice of a very large pop culture pie.” Like this:Like Loading…

If You Leave, How Will I Strangle You?

Computers and I are not the best of friends.  We’re more like work colleagues who really don’t care for one another.  We may act all professional, but secretly we’re each making sarcastic comments about the other’s hair, clothing, and annoying personal habits. Okay, maybe that’s just me. Like this:Like Loading…

“Flip a Switch, a Fairy Dies”

Pornokitsch writer (and Kitschies judge) Jared Shurin writes about fairies as fuel and the vast potential of Steampunk as a resource for discussing industrialization. Like this:Like Loading…

Murder in the (Fantastical) Big City

Let’s smash some genres together! Today it’s urban fantasy meets the murder mystery, and, at first glance, it’s a meeting of true minds. Like this:Like Loading…

Bulking Up

Adam Roberts (perhaps still scarred by his encounter with The Wheel of Time) takes a look at the relatively brisk 400 pages of Rivers of London and reflects on the appeal of a certain type of bulked-up reading experience, with a detour to talk about Sir Walter Scott: “The trick to understanding the prodigious success […]

Fandom is Magic

In the year 2001 I discovered a magical world. Not Harry Potter (that was a few years later) and not the Internet (although it was responsible), but a world that captured my attention and hasn’t let go ten years later. It has to do with fanfiction; unpaid fiction that is written by fans of a […]

In Praise of Joanne Rowling’s Hermione Granger Series

“It’s the end of an era. The entertainment which has stretched across books, movies, and countless marketing tie-ins, which has captivated children and adults for well over a decade and which has, for better or worse, managed to become the defining myth for an entire generation, is winding to its close. I speak, of course, […]

Ruled by the Subconscious

A confession: I’m having trouble making my way through Stephen King’s Under the Dome. I must also confess I’m a bit puzzled by this. I’m definitely a fan of King’s work. And from what I’ve read so far, this book sticks pretty closely to high points of his career. What gives? Like this:Like Loading…

Whine. And Cheese.

Shakespeare claims it’s April, psychologists say it’s December.  But I think July is the cruellest month.  It’s hot; it’s grossly humid; I never manage to swing a proper holiday.  This year I have the added irritant of lacking air-conditioning both at home and at work.  Argh. Like this:Like Loading…

Could They Beat Up China Mieville?

Have you ever looked at someone and wondered, “Could they beat up China Miéville?” Now you have your answers, in story form. Like this:Like Loading…

A Short Story by China Mieville

An exclusive China Mieville short story, “Covehithe,” is available for your reading pleasure–and your feelings of dread–at The Guardian. Like this:Like Loading…

Talking More Twilight

Gabe Lezra hits a nerve when he writes about the white man’s burden in Twilight and New Moon and wonders why there’s no Team Bella and the comments at The Wesleyan Argus are all kerfuffled. Like this:Like Loading…

The Nature of the Hero, Rowling-Style

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A few months ago, I decided to take the plunge: I would burn through the Harry Potter series, now complete, all in one go. It’s been… interesting. I’ve discovered all kinds of things I had not realized before, including the fact that Harry is – to put it diplomatically – not a particularly effective hero. […]

Overstuffed vs. Undernourished

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How’s this for controversial: Harry Potter book 5, clocking in at a massive 900 pages, about 3 or 4 times longer than the first book, is too long and overstuffed, while the movie adaptation, clocking in at just over two hours, is way too short and leaves out all the good stuff. Wait a minute, […]

Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?

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Just how many times  do I have to kill this guy? It’s a question I’ve certainly asked myself while playing various games, along with Why aren’t you dead yet? and How many damn heads does it have anyway? Everybody’s version of tedium is different, but endlessly dodging around waiting for some gargantuan horror to blink […]

Fred Saberhagen, RIP

City on Fire and Days of Atonement author Walter Jon Williams has a eulogy up at his blog for Fred Saberhagen, who died a little over a week ago. Williams writes about Saberhagen’s unacknowledged influence on fantasy, science fiction and horror. And he tells a couple of nice stories too. Like this:Like Loading…

In the City

Dignity and survival in a crumbling, barricaded Toronto.

Toronto’s downtown has been abandoned by government and police. The rich have fled to the suburbs, and put up a barrier to keep all those nasty poor people from leaving the middle of the city. Nalo Hopkinson’s first book, Brown Girl in the Ring, takes this simple and believable premise and shows us what life […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    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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    Neill Cameron has re-imagined the characters of Parks & Recreation as members of Starfleet. (Via @neillcameron)

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