The Cultural Gutter

building a better robot builder

"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

    Anne Billson has posted a 1985 interview she did with director George Miller (the Mad Max films). Miller talks about many things including Aunty Entity’s probable past as a hero and Max as, in Mel Gibson’s words, “a closet human being.” (Thanks, Matt!)

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    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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