The Cultural Gutter

beyond good and bad, there is awesome

"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

    Watch Nigerian writer and director Nosa Igbinedion’s Oya: The Coming Of The Orishas here.

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    At Bitch Media, Sara Century wonders why Michonne isn’t in charge and considers which medium is better for the ladies of The Walking Dead: comics or tv. “As I was thinking about the numerous questionable writing choices made with these could-be-so-great female characters, I got to wondering, which medium is better for the ladies of The Walking Dead: the TV show or the comic? In other words, which one is less sexist?

    I wrote up a short list of the main female characters that appear both on the show and in the comic to decipher the differences in how these women are written. These descriptions contain spoilers through season five of the TV show, because it’s impossible to write about The Walking Dead without talking about how people die all the time.”

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    Vixen Varsity shares Olufemi Lee-Johnson’s tribute to Milestone Media and Dwayne McDuffie. “For the first time in my life, I was around comic writers of color telling stories that mirror or surpassed the storylines of America’s favorite heroes. Icon dealt with being the ultimate immigrant and not understanding current black culture. Rocket (Raquel Irvin) was his guide, but also aspired to be more than just a woman in the projects. Static (Virgil Hawkins) was just a normal teenager dealing with fitting into school and then was put into this extraordinary circumstance of being a hero. Hardware (Curtis Metcalf) wanted respect from his mentor, but later learned about the bigger picture when it came to being a hero and the characters from Blood Syndicate…they were just trying to make it day by day and maintain their respect as a gang.”

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    At Soundcheck, John Schaefer talks with Jim Jarmusch about “making music for someone else’s films, and a penchant for walking the tightrope between narrative and abstract art in his own movies. And if you thought his C.V. was looking a little thin, Jarmusch is also working on an upcoming opera about the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, with Robert Wilson and composer Phil Kline.” (Thanks, Kate!)

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    Alex Deuben interviews artist Nate Powell about the second volume of The March and working with Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. “We are taught — and we tend to perpetuate this myth — that the Civil Rights Movement was nine words long: ‘Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream.’ I think what you’re saying really backs up that notion. In terms of John Lewis’ personal journey, ‘Book Two’ is certainly a deepening of discovery and involvement. Not just a worldview broadening, but becoming much more personally aware of the counter-escalation to any progress that the Movement made.”

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    At Vox, Alex Abad-Santos interviews Kelly Sue DeConnick about feminism, raising girls and her new comic, Bitch Planet. “DeConnick says Bitch Planet, which debuted late last year, is her take on the exploitation films she loved as a kid. The sci-fi prison saga is confident, slick, and hilarious on multiple levels. But it also vibrates with frustration over the sexism still alive today and the impatience in wanting to eliminate it.”

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