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rosspaltrow460Tragedy struck today when it was announced that mildly controversial comedian and chat show host Jonathan Ross would be hosting and presenting the Hugo Award at Loncon3. In Social Justice circles this news completely eclipsed the impending invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military and was the topic of heated debate amongst feminists and their allies, since Ross has occasionally made jokes about women. The debate has – thus far – culminated in the resignation of Farah Mendlesohn from the convention board and calls for a boycott.

Asked for comment, SF&F blogger Petulianta Clarke offered the following:

“This would have been a great opportunity for us to take a step in overcoming sexist stigma. So many people have this idea that all feminists are po-faced, humourless harridans who will raise hell over complete non-issues at the drop of a steampunk fascinator. Jonathan Ross’ selection as presenter of the award shouldn’t have been that controversial and by letting it slide or limiting ourselves to a few angry blogs we could have made real progress in not seeming like censorious tossers.”

Alas it was not to be with a twitterstorm flaring up and the impending participation of international social justice laughing stocks such as PZ Myers, Freethought Blogs and Skepchick (responsible for similar stereotype reinforcing actions in the atheist blogosphere) the opportunity has slipped through the SF&F community’s fingers and preventing the ‘progressive’ bloc looking like fuckwits now seems impossible.

Comment, of course, has been relatively small but silent eye rolling, blocking on social media and opening a new Google Search tab are all on the rise. Off the back of recent non-controversies relating to the SFWA and controversy exploiting and profiteering videos by Anita Sarkeesian it seems unlikely that self-styled social justice advocates will be able to be taken seriously for the foreseeable future, even when they have valid points.

Virtually unknown author of satirical SF, Elton Whitemale offered this comment on the affair:

“It’s shocking to me that an industry that prides itself on its creativity and which has long been associated with controversy and pushing boundaries has become so timid and so ravaged by self censorship.”

He went on:

“We can imagine dragons and faster than light starships, sweeping alien vistas, but we can’t seem to accept someone might tell jokes that are counter to our personal taste, or admit that we don’t like them without involving politics. Why can’t we be more like the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund? They’ve backed people in trouble over hentai featuring monsters, animals and underage girls. That’s commitment to free expression for chrissakes.”

“What the fuck do I know though? Being melanin deficient and having an XY chromosome disqualifies me from having an opinion, apparently. There’s fucking irony for you.”

He added, downing a glass of whisky.

Jonathan Ross is controversial for stating that he wouldn’t mind having sex with Gwyneth Paltrow in 2008 and for being led astray by notorious junkie and David Icke aficionado Russell Brand.

The whole affair looks set to rumble on pointlessly, making all manner of people look bad and stop talking to each other at least until the next controversy du jour pops up, probably by Monday.

Rumours that Harlan Ellison has had himself buried alive for the sole purpose of spinning in his grave over these events have yet to be confirmed.

Update: Ross has withdrawn from presenting the Hugo due to the outrage. An event summed up very well by Sarah Pinborough as:

“It’s pretty Daily Mail actually. “People worried about being abused, abuse man who hasn’t abused them yet”

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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.

comparison2

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I completed a set of short stories and my first novel this year. Not all of them are up for sale yet but some are and they might make good stocking-stuffers for people you know with kindles, tablets and all that mularky.

Perfect for reading on the train, at lunch or anywhere else you can grab a few spare minutes to plunge into the imagination.

https://i2.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51klgn%2BocCL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-58,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_.jpgAce Slamm: Space Bastard

Years after World War 2 was interrupted by a space invasion, rocket pilot Ace Slamm finds himself approached by three strange individuals. They want to buy a ride on his ship to Dyzan, the counter-Earth. The scientist, the feisty beauty and the sportsman are hell bent on getting to that blasted planet, but their steps are being dogged my a mysterious man in a shining metal mask.

Amazon

https://i2.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wdzMkL18L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-58,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_.jpgMimsy Burogrove: Psychedelic Detective

In swinging London, consulting for the police on strange cases, Mimsy operates out of her trendy flat. A heady concoction of mysticism, psi and LSD gives her access to the psycheverse, a spirit-dimension There are things in the psycheverse that long to gain access to the real world as well and Mimsy may well find herself a conduit for evil spirits like Mean Mr Mustard.

Amazon

https://i0.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51GWRKQ7oqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-58,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_.jpgThe Black Rat

The 1970s are a grim time in Britain. Power outages, the three-day-week and rife with police corruption and right wing violence. The Black Rat, a sort of ‘working class Batman’ takes to the streets to try and bring a little vigilante justice and payback for those the police have wronged.

Amazon

https://i0.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51crqHB5aZL.Image._.jpgDoc Osmium: Synchronius Maximus

Two-fisted genetic superman, Doc Osmium, finds himself inexorably drawn into a series of inexplicable and seemingly unconnected events. There’s more to it though and he and his new companion must find a way to navigate the strands of fate and probability and to overcome the odds.

Amazon

https://i1.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51NP%2BajE0NL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-59,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_.jpgTessa Coyle: The Obsolete Prometheus

After the atom wars there were few places left where there was true civilisation. Science City is one and it depends on its bleeding edge technology to survive. This super-science transcends ethics, physics and even reality and can only be constrained by The Science Police. When experiments start going wrong, electropunk heroine Tessa and her companion Robur are on the case.

Amazon

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Memoriam posts to authors and other creatives can be a bit odd. Everyone dies so it’s not exactly unexpected that all these people pass away. It seems odd to act as though someone like Harrison passing away is somehow a surprise or a tragedy when people do, indeed, get old and die – all the time.

Harrison’s an odd duck though and a writer who has been a big – if oblique – influence on me. While he’s widely known I’ve often felt that Harrison was seriously underrated as a writer and a figure in SF. When it comes to SF&F comedy, for me, he’s right up there with Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, albeit – perhaps – a little more subversive and twisted.

Harrison’s best known hero is The Stainless Steel Rat and while he’s a charming thief and a great prototype for the ‘scoundrel’ hero, and while the books are full of humour they’ve always got a lot more substance to them than first appears.

My absolute favourite Rat book is The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted which is incredibly funny and, at the same time, poignant and has some cutting political and economic commentary within in (I’d vote for Individual Mutualism if I could!). The whole Rat series is underlined with this, a crisp, clean, controlled future where the mere act of petty (or not so petty) crime is a political statement as much as anything else. You can see that reflected down the years right down to Joss Whedon’s Firefly.

A huge thing about Harrison for me, that I think is a little more individual to me, is his position as a great libertine and social mover in science fiction. Harrison’s books may seem a bit giggly and juvenile to some of us now, but he was almost as important as Ellison in shifting SF&F into a more adult and frank discussion of sex. So much so that his short story Ad Astra was chosen as an exemplar of the new, frank and explicit attitude to such in genre fiction in David Kyle’s classic Pictorial Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction.

Harrison also wrote his own book on the topic, Great Balls of Fire (a history of sex in science fiction illustration). He seemed to share my belief that we should be a lot less hung up about this sort of thing and that it should be recognised as healthy fun and great art. Druillet, Moebius, Burns he knew his way around it all from pulp bondage to Metal Hurlant and treated it all with a wry sense of fun and ‘isn’t this naughty?’

He collaborated with one of my most favourite SF artists – Jim Burns – on many occasions and I wish I still had my copy of Planet Story that they did together. A couple of Rat stories were also brilliantly illustrated by Ezequerra in the pages of 2000AD and on top of all that he even wrote a choose your own adventure book. So Harrison has been intertwined with a great many of the things I love, going right back.

I won’t say I’ll miss him, I never really knew the guy, just his work.

And we still have that.

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Water was a hard thing to come by out in the desert, unless you were rich or lucky. Angel’s Spring, as the name suggested, had more water than a lot of places but it was still a resource you had to watch. Not for the team going to the final though. That warranted a special reward.

The room was filled with steam, great hot clouds of it turning the Rink showers into an interior rainforest. It was so hot, so wet, it was hard to breathe. Wide eyed, coach Flint stood at one end of the big room full of showers, licking his lips at the sight of so much bare, wet flesh moving around.

“So you beat the Project, big damn whoop!” Flint growled in his cactus-gargling voice, somehow cutting over the hiss of the sluicing water. “Don’t get cocky, you can’t afford to slip when you go up against the Vegas Showgirls…” he trailed off, losing track of his thoughts as Swish plucked her panties off the bench in her toes and kicked them into the air, catching them with a twirl.

“Don’t worry Flint, we’ve got the goods to beat ’em, see?” Farmstarter yanked open her towel and gave the grizzled old dude a faceful of jiggling titties.

Becca laughed and slipped in front of her, twitching the angel-devil tattoos on her ass as she slipped her arms around Farmer’s neck, giving her a big, deep, kiss on the lips. “Leave the poor ol’ guy alone lover!”

The poor man almost whimpered as their curvaceous lines pressed together, then he screwed his eyes shut and stepped past them, throwing back his head as he continued his harrangue.

“You got sloppy and you got lucky!” ‘Sloppy’ got another bout of giggling from Becca and Farmer. He ignored them. “They play or practice every damn day. They’ve got tricks you’ve never heard of and they’re all lookers. Not that you’re not, but it’s going to mean the crowd is behind them. You won’t have the home-field advantage.”

Hellen stepped out from under the shower head, water droplets slaloming down her dangerous rink-hardened curves. She wrapped a towel around her hair with practised ease and perched up on tiptoe, twisting around to look behind her, rubbing her hand on a patch of red rink-burn on her ass. “We know Flint. We’ll play it tight.”

He handed her another towel and she wrapped it around her body, hiding the flaming hearts tattooed on her breasts. “No show-boating Hel, you hear me? Be more careful, you could have smashed your hand with that stunt.”

Hellen raised her fist and looked at the cuts from Nicola’s teeth. She thought she’d busted a knuckle, but she’d put up with it. She’d survive.

“Won the game coach.”

“Yeah, but next time?” He frowned. “Right, I’m gonna go, uh, think and prep some game plans. Enjoy the shower girls. You earned it. Two days and we’re on the road!”

The squat little man sidled out of the showers, hunched over like he was carrying a load, grizzling to himself as Becca and Farmer blew kisses to him from lipstick-smeared faces.

Hellen looked over the team and bent down to pick up her shorts with a smile. They could win, they could really, truly, win.

***

Two days and a lot of hard celebration later. It was going to be at least a couple of days to get to Vegas and they had to make Fort Holly by tonight. That made for an early start when many of the girls were still sporting hangovers and bruises – not all of them from the match.

The sun wasn’t even up when they gathered, huddled and shuddering with the horizon lighting up with a slow, persistent glow. Touring was always a scary time, even when you were travelling by air, let alone on the roads. Rollerbrawl teams got a certain amount of leeway, but bandits could often let their greed overcome their respect and the different factions in the American wasteland would take anything they thought could give them an advantage over others.

Hellen had been laying off the celebrations, she’d been practising and tending to her painful hand. She shook it out now and the joints crackled, snapping into place. It was just about better. Good enough to take down the Showgirls, that was for certain.

Flint waved the bus on and the monstrous-looking Leyland Tiger rumbled forward, the side door flying open with a kick from the driver. It was a strange looking thing, raised up high on off-road tyres that had seen better days. Armour plating bolted and welded on along with a roll cage and extra fenders, festooned with spike. Stuck into the top was a drum like turret with a .50 browning stuck out at a crazy angle. The bus came to a rumbling halt by the team and the guy on the turret, teeth browned by tobacco, threw them a wink and a wave.

“Alright ladies, saddle up!” Flint shouted, spitting his toothpick to the dirt. He moved to the back and hustled everyone on board with shoves and smacks to the tush.

Hellen clambered up first, skates hanging around her neck, bag over her shoulder. The driver seemed nervous, a fixed grin on his face. He didn’t even glance at her chest. Who wouldn’t be intimidated by a bus full of wheeled Valkyries though? She didn’t think too much of it and pushed on past. Ah, that was it, she could feel his eyes on her from behind, he was just shy, how precious.

One by one they filed on, bags and boots, skates and pads, Bettie Page bangs and dead man’s curves, piling into their seats, lighting up smokes and chattering excitedly. Flint was on last, running a hand back through his hair he grasped hold of the pole at the front of the bus and gripped it tight, white knuckled. “Get yourselves settled girls and try to get as much rest as you can. It’s a long and bumpy road ahead and you need to be in top shape when we get there. You get me?”

A ragged cheer went up from the girls and a choking rumble started up from the engine of the bus. It lurched and pulled out onto the dusty road, picking up speed as it went. Flint nearly fell, swinging from the poll, bombarded with empty cigarette packets and flung stones. Always having to play dad to a gang of sapphic warriors, sometimes Hellen pitied him, but the old fool seemed to enjoy it.

The sun rose over the horizon, inch by agonising inch, red, then yellow, then white. The bus was an oven as the sun climbed in the sky higher and higher. Everyone was sweating but the spirits of the girls were still high. Flint was enduring the constant taunting and tossed detritus with stoic calm, even when Wheely bounced a too-tough piece of jerky off his head with such spectacular aplomb that the whole bus burst into spontaneous applause.

Becca and Farmer were spending the whole trip necking it seemed. Hellen smiled and shook her head, if they kept up the heavy petting they’d have no damn energy left for the competition. That was a concern, but so was the potential distraction to the driver who kept checking his mirror, distracted from peering through the armoured slit in the windshield.

“What the hell?” Donna slammed her hands against the window and half stood out of her seat. “The goddamn gunner just jumped off?”

“What?” Came from at least three directions at once and in that same moment there was a loud ‘clunk’ and the driver’s door opened. They watched in disbelief as he hurled himself from the bus, flying off into the dusty drifts at the side of the road.

The bus lurched left and right without a driver, swinging wildly over the road. Flint dove forward and grasped tight hold of the wheel but it was too late. The speeding bus ploughed into the dune drifts and bit into the ground, sliding and twisting onto its side, throwing everyone into a pile on the right hand side of the bus. Sparks flew up as it slid along the road and ground to a noisy halt, smoking and steaming.

Hellen was dizzy, the interior lights were off and lancing sunlight came through the gaps in the armour, haphazard in beams like heat-rays with dancing motes of dust drifting in their glow in the sudden silence.

“Ladies! Grab your gear and get out, now!” Hellen shouted, clambering out of her seat and smashing her motorcycle boots against the rear door, hammering hard until she felt it start to give. “Becca, go check on Flint!”

Hellen kept smashing at the door, with her feet and Angelicar clambered up next to her, giving it some extra beef to shift it. Finally, it started to give way. Damn thing should have been able to open, this must have been a trap.

Becca wailed from the other end of the bus as the girls scrambled for the exits. “He’s dead Hel! He’s dead! He’s caught under the wheel, I can’t get him out!”

Hellen ducked down again for a quick look, Becca’s cheeks were streaked with tear-tracked war paint and she was tugging uselessly at Flint’s crumpled body. The Coach had fought for them to the last. They probably owed him their lives already.

Leave him Bec, get back here and get out!”

Angelicar roared and shoved, thrusting the door open and scrambling out onto the side of the bus. Hellen hauled herself up with her arms, as though she were vaulting, swinging her legs through like a gymnast and dropping down to the asphalt in a crouch.

There was a squeal of tyres ahead and her head darted up. A pair of cars, armoured and brutal, swinging to a halt ahead of them.

Trouble.

No. More than trouble. The soft-top on the Caddy wrenched back and a man in a fedora stood tall, hoisting a bazooka up onto his shoulder.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu…”

The world rolled with a deafening slap and blossomed into fire.

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Man’s World

we fite cuz there aint no wimmin in the ghet.

all broz.

broz dunt get nuffink.

wimmin get everyfink.

own schools away from broz.

teach em everyfing.

dunt even try to teach broz.

every vid brake all bout periods an empowerment and shit.

all the broz is vilent, stupid, bad.

sex is bad.

fites r bad.

all the shows is bout wimmin.

what can broz do?

got no ends.

got no wordz.

gangs fitin over the few wimmin an the few ends.

cant even drink.

only fing to do for ends is join the pigs or the grunts.

both gets shots to make em safe.

makes em flabby.

gives em bitch tits.

makes their cock stop workin.

fuck that.

so broz stay poor.

broz fite.

broz die.

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Drivethrufiction

Lulu

Smashwords

Twelve digits, the best genetics science can buy, a PHD from the University of Life and a roaring muscle car. Almost everything a Science Hero could need to put the world to rights and to explore its mysteries but, perhaps, something remains that he could put to good use. A partner and – perhaps – a little humility.

Doc Osmium is the short, neo-pulp tale of a two-fisted scientist unravelling a chain of uncanny coincidence that leads him back to… well, you’ll just have to read to find out.

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