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Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

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Curated from @JeffNoon on Twitter.

  • A while back I wrote a sort of manifesto for science fiction. I’ve just updated it. I’ll present it here. 26 ideas and images…
  • Science Fiction infects and transforms. It questions, supports and replicates, firing off clichés and wonders at equal rates.
  • Science Fiction moves at the pace of life, accelerated or slow-motion. It walks the borderlines of mainstream culture, enamoured of edges.
  • Science Fiction is an emergent system. It exists both in the reality of the present day and the equally valid reality of tomorrow’s dreams.
  • Science Fiction conducts experiments upon Form and Content, inventing new techniques, new processes, new kinds of narrative expression.
  • Science Fiction evolves through small variations and wild mutations. It is designed to examine, distrust, perfect and dismantle itself.
  • Science Fiction enflames, enrivers, begulfs, undertugs, sidetwists and interslips. It befogs, englows, transplodes and intraflows.
  • Science Fiction is modified by its users over time. It revels in having loose screws and wires. It can so easily catch fire.
    Science Fiction is unashamed to fly on sentimental wings over lands populated by werebeasts, elves, vampires, androids, aliens and unicorns.
  • Science Fiction is trying to understand itself. It never will. It’s not that kind of genre. It’s diseased. The disease is its power source.
  • Science Fiction is the undercurrent, a visceral urge towards life. It worships weirdness and tradition, and will fuse the two to make anew.
  • Science Fiction is a magical sword forged in that ultimate of all fantasy realms: the human mind.
    Well-mannered literature is scared of pulp, of popular art. And of the avant-garde. And by this act it severs a deep vein of the life blood.
  • Science Fiction revels in elements from both pulp and avant-garde, and frequently mixes the two to create avant-pulp dreams and realities.
  • How fruitful this world is, when pulp fuses with the avant-garde. What strange, conjoined creatures are born. How the twin suns shine.
  • Science Fiction is a four-dimensional object (at the very least). It has more edges and borderlines than all other genres put together.
  • Science Fiction will create new ways of reaching the public. Words will flow from root to stem to flower to seed to air to earth to root…
  • Science Fiction does not have an operator’s manual. The operators are the manual.
  • Science Fiction is a journey of words through time. It says Down with perfection! Welcome to corrupted signals, glitches and fused wires.
  • To read, write or add new engine parts to Science Fiction is to partake in a grand, bizarre, dangerous, clumsy, vital, unique experiment.
  • Science Fiction embraces clichés. It can read through the clichés, explore clichés, dismantle clichés. It knows that wonders lie ahead.
  • Science Fiction moves along well-travelled paths, and yet, at the dusty end of the road, it desires to go further, out into the wastelands.
  • Science Fiction seeks out realms where no signposts or maps point the way. It crosses borders illegally under cover of night, in disguise.
  • Science Fiction celebrates hybrid creatures: monsters of the Id, machines of flesh, women who turn into fish, and floating men of fire.
  • At the liquid edge, Science Fiction leaves mainstream, middlebrow culture far behind. It travels beyond, into fog, into darkness.
  • Let us go now. Open all channels, connect to everything. Here we are gathered, lost in the flow of words. There is a strange light ahead…

Its an inspiring manifesto, but to me it embodies the ideals of the New Wave. Modern science-fiction is relatively insipid, timid, safe, inoffensive. Yet convinces itself it is radical.

Maybe we can change that.

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A compilation of my existing pulp stories in one volume, with the added bonus of an extra story ‘One Man McCann’ – a war story of British pluck and heroism against the evils of Nazi wonder weapons, all on the eve of D-Day!

Other stories include:

Cichol’s Children: Genealogy can take one to strange places indeed as is about to be discovered. A ‘mythos’ tale in homage to HP Lovecraft.
Stain: As with hard boiled eggs, hard boiled detectives can go off as well. Stane is a washed up detective who no longer cares, the perfect patsy for a case that nobody wants.
Shanks: An English gentleman walks the dusty trails of the old west, but do not mistake a gentleman for a sissy and don’t think grit is enough to deal with an Englishman when his dander’s up.
The Black Rat: The 1970s, a time a plaid, three day weeks, power outages and only three television channels. Dark times that call for a dark vigilante who sets his sights on police corruption and violence.
The Dastard: Howard’s Conan started out as a thief, The Dastard starts as one and remains as one. A viciously selfish antihero, cast out of paradise and making do in the barbaric world far from his home. One big score might buy him the luxury he seeks.
Wild: The jungles of Africa, the Amazon and Australia still hold mysteries to be discovered, amongst them a strange woman, white as snow, deadly as a panther and a holder of ancient African secrets.
Rink Rash: After the world comes to an end, a sport remains. Rollerbrawl.
Mimsy Burogrove: Expand your consciousness and solve mysteries with the world’s only psychedelic detective.
Doc Osmium: Two-fisted man of science, Doc Osmium teaches physics with pugilism.
Tessa Coyle: In a future world, a fever dream from the 1940s, the Science Police act as a board of ethical oversight – with extreme prejudice.
Ace Slamm: The world of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, but through a distorted lens. After interplanetary war Ace tries to find a way to drink himself to death in peace, but the old war keeps coming back to haunt him.You can get the ebook at:

Drivethrufiction

Smashwords

Lulu

You can also snag a PoD hardcopy HERE.

 

 

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Gaiman’s latest is a bit of a puzzler. It was intended to be a short story originally and then ended up being a novel but, in the process of becoming a novel it has ended up feeling a bit stretched and threadbare.  It might have worked better, in my humble opinion, as something of more moderate size but I imagine it’s harder to sell smaller books – even for Mr G.

The story follows the misadventures of a young boy (in what seems to be the 1960s) in rural England. He’s drawn into things beyond his understanding, a victim of circumstance and curiosity and the strangeness that follows it.

For those of us brought up in rural England (in the 70s and before) – and on a diet of weird Children’s television that the BBC sought to fuck us all up with – the book is rather nostalgic. Filled with little familiarities. Neil’s a little older than me though and not all of it quite jibes, though there’s a bit of a feeling that it’s a Famous Five book that’s been given an heroic dose of mescalin.

It’s weird, strange, unusual – even for Neil – otherworldly and trippy but somehow also unsatisfying. There’s an adventure, but it’s a memory and the protagonist is largely a helpless pawn in the affairs of other, incomprehensible things. There’s touches of Lovecraft as well as Blyton, hints of science, allusions to the confusing world of quantum mechanics, a subtle reference to the triple-goddess. It’s a lot of things.

The naive, child’s viewpoint cushions the blow a little – because to a child a great many things are incomprehensible but it can’t save the feeling, by the end of the book, that everything in it might as well not have happened.

I’m glad I read it, but it’s a bit personal feeling and a bit self-indulgent.

Also something nasty happens to a cat early on, and I love cats.

So apologies to Mr Gaiman, but I didn’t like this one that much.

Style: 4
Substance: 2
Overall: 3

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I think my next project, once my brain sorts itself out, will be a collection of short genre-erotica. The idea’s been teasing at me and I intend to do the same sort of format that I did for the pulp stories. That is, approximately 6k stories with approximately 1.5k word ‘episodes’ in four parts forming the story as a whole. I don’t know if I’ll post the pre-edited versions here as I did before, but I might.

The current plan, subject to change, would be:

  1. The Other Woman – An espionage story about a female agent of particular talent and deadly ability.
  2. Tiger Bone – An adventure story about tourists running afoul of tiger poachers.
  3. The Lady in the Castle – A fantasy story about a spoiled brat of a maid waiting in her tower for her prince to come.
  4. Cold Hands – A horror story or ‘paranormal romance’ in which a woman takes a vampire for her lover but things don’t turn out sparkles and rainbows.
  5. No Refuge – A ‘grande guignol’ mystery in which an adulterous lover is betrayed by his unconscious mind.
  6. Heart of Glass – A detective story in which our detective tries to track down a gang of jewel thieves known for using sex as a weapon.
  7. Have a Heart – A science fiction story about a jealous robot.
  8. Conqueror of the Clouds – A steampunk story of an amazing airship and its unconventional captain.
  9. Iron in the Fire – A western story about an ambitious saloon girl dealing with her competition.
  10. Debt before Dishonour – A fantasy story in which a sell-sword finds himself on the slave blocks of Khem.
  11. The Ambassador – A science fiction story about the obsequiousness of humanity in serving a more advanced race.
  12. The Suitor – A horror story about a very persistent suitor.

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3252536920_2f173fe3d5In far-flung and mysterious Salay, perfumed maidens – hands stained with spice – can read the future from the markings on a tabby-cat’s fur, but only with supreme indifference.

In frigid Nordenhelm where fire is a god, they read their augers in the vomit of drunkards. That they drink mead is the only thing that makes the task tolerable to their shamen.

In Ilmac, in the wind-blown, obsidian towers of the High Skeptomancers they scoff at signs and omens, but they can discern what is likely to happen with their numbers and their reason.

In Syllabur the Cult of Silk claims to see the paths of fate in the trickle of semen on a virgin’s breast – but we suspect the old men lie.

The Hermit of Stoone, if pressed, will present his own secret to knowing the future. It is simply this:
To wait for it to happen, patiently.

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Ring! Ring! Ring!

Who the hell uses a phone box any more? Other than flexible homeless people looking for shelter, foreigners with shitty cell phone plans and closing-time drunks in need of an emergency urinal?

Well, it turns out that even if phone boxes are neglected by much of the ‘normal’ world they’re still fetish objects for a whole host of urban myth and magic.

Red Phone Box is a story cycle contributed to by a bundle of great new and old talent and curated and edited by Tim & Salome. Salome does the editing on my stories, Tim will be known to many of you as a Master of Puzzles and one of the guys involved with Nightfall Games.

This project means I’m going to be published alongside Warren Ellis – something I never thought would happen – and it has also formed a loose community of creative people to form around it. It’s less a book than a family in many ways and it has cemented my love for the way social media can create something wonderful by pulling together writers and artists who are normally fairly… well, hermetic.

Anyway, I think you should back it. It deserves to be out there, read and enjoyed and with support there’ll be a sequel.

It’s a fever dream, pressed between the covers of a book like a preserved and delicate flower.

It’s cheaper than drugs.

Back it.

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xlargeI’m sure you’ve seen that picture, above, doing the rounds. Many people seem to think it makes some clever point about gender, SF & Fantasy art and so on. I don’t particularly think that it does. The aim is, apparently, to show the silliness of the first cover by changing the genders around to create some kind of ‘aha’ moment in the viewer but in that task I can’t see that it succeeds. The humour here is not the ‘aha, look how ridiculously women are treated in art’ but rather the ‘haha’ of the pantomime dame or the incompetent transvestite. Its not funny because its a transposition its funny because its a bunch of unfit men in feminine poses. Tellingly, the woman in the supposedly ‘masculine’ pose doesn’t look silly, which rather demonstrates how one-sided this all can be.

The cover on the left is clearly a call-back to James Bond, steeped in reference and film and literary history. An actual reversal has been done in James Bond and wasn’t ridiculous. That was a genuine like for like substitution and, tellingly, it’s a) not funny and b) beloved by many women.

Any point that might be trying to be made is lost because of the stupidity and, yet again, all you end up with is a circle-jerk of the already convinced talking about how clever and meaningful it is. There are discussions to be had on this topic, but cheap and nonsensical stunts like this (and the other cover poses) that fail to take into account gender dimorphism, athleticism, reference etc and fail to do a like-for-like change don’t add anything to it other than being a jumping-off point for discussion.

If I had the skills to do it it might be interesting to do a genuine like-for-like substitution of the same cover, (Tom Daley might make a good swimwear substitute rather than out-of-shape writers) but alas I don’t.

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