Why I Will Never Give Up My Terrible Movies

Bad movies. Some of us love to hate them. Some of us just hate them. And then there are people like me. I have a fondness for a few films that practically everyone would agree are terrible. My seemingly illogical love of 1988's absurd McDonald's-funded E.T. rip-off, Mac & Me, has earned me a rotating sequence of callbacks on my podcast, The Skiffy and Fanty Show.[note]I'm only half teasing...[/note] It's a sickness to some, but for me, it's a product of experience.[note]This topic was suggested by wabbit89 on Twitter. Thanks![/note] To be fair, I almost deserve it. I will jump at the flip of a hat to defend that movie against almost any criticism, not because I believe it's high quality cinema but because there is a deeper connection to that movie for me, as there is for so many of the trashfire films that occupy my DVD rack. Read More

On Generation Ships and Pandorum (2009)

One thing that has always struck me about generation ships is the way in which they are usually treated as microcosms for the Earth (as it was, is, or might be). Like the wagon train to the west, the generation ship can help us move the social and political problems of our world into an isolated space for interrogation. That detachment, I would argue, is a part of what makes so much of science fiction so influential, and why generation ships are somewhat easy mechanisms for staging the kinds of socio-political criticism so much of science fiction is known for (in theory).[note]The topic of generation ships was suggested by Jeff Xilon on Twitter. Thanks, Jeff![/note] Read More

On Space Opera and Domesticity

Domesticity and space opera? Do they go together? Obviously, yes. But what happens when they do?[note]This topic was provided by Joyce Chng on Twitter. Thanks, Joyce![/note] Earlier this year, Tor.com hosted a massive space opera extravaganza. Liz Bourke contributed a post on the politics of domesticity in space opera, with particular attention on what she somewhat half-heartedly called "domestic space opera." One of the important points Bourke makes is that the personal and the political are not necessarily separate entities. Bourke defends this claim by looking at several examples of space operas which place heavy focus on domestic spaces and by suggesting that perhaps it is the emotional dynamics of those spaces that make up the bulk of the operatic (or melodramatic) focus present in so much of space opera. It's an interesting post, and I suggest you read it. Read More

My NASFiC / San Juan 2017 Schedule and Podcast Interviews

I'm going to Puerto Rico! I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it... [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iwBM_YB1sE[/embed] OK, enough of that... I've got good reason to be, too. I've never been to Puerto Rico, so the second I found out about it, I bought a membership and began planning. The crazy thing:  they gave me a TON to do while I'm there, including running an interview panel with one of my favorite authors:  Tobias Buckell! Before I give you my schedule, I do want to remind potential readers and attendees that I'm a podcaster. I run The Skiffy and Fanty Show, and I will be open to recording discussions and interviews at NASFiC. So, if you're an author, fan, creative type, or whatever and you'd like to be interviewed, hit me up! Alright. Here's my schedule: Read More

Five Faves: Rums (Guest Post by Noah Mueller) #MonthofJoy

I want to take a moment to talk about rum. Rum is a distilled spirit that is frequently associated with the Caribbean because a major ingredient is sugar or molasses and the Caribbean has long been known for its sugar plantations. As a result, rum became the drink of choice for many of its residents. Generally speaking, there are three types of rums: light, dark and spiced. Dark rums are dark because they have been aged or because manufacturers have added coloring. I discourage buying young rums with added color because they’re masquerading as being older than they are. If you want a young rum, buy a light rum. Spiced rums frequently are darker than light rums, but this is because of a variety of spices that have been added during the manufacturing process. My favorite type of rum is the aged variety. Like Scotch, well-aged rums have a different flavor profile than younger varieties, and good aged rum can be enjoyed neat. I’ve been told that the older a Scotch is, the better it is. I’m not a Scotch drinker, so I cannot verify this, but I can say with certainty that this is not true for rum. In my opinion, the aging process for rum follows a bell curve with the best rums being aged somewhere between 12 and 16 years. Some rum manufactures will blend rums of different ages, and this is acceptable to me as long the “average” falls somewhere in this range. Now for my top 5 favorite rums. Read More

Five Faves: Fabulous Worlds of SF/F (Guest Post by Helen Lowe) #MonthofJoy

I believe worldbuilding is the characteristic that most distinguishes SF/F from other styles of literature. All other genres rely on the reader's understanding of the world as it is or has been. In SF/F, the writer must first build the world—a process that includes environment, geography, history, politics, culture, and religion, as well as technological and/or magic systems—for both the story to exist and the reader to engage with it. And as an avid reader of SF/F, as well as an author, there is nothing that rocks my reading and SF/F-loving world quite like a truly fantastic bit of worldbuilding. So in the spirit of #monthofjoy here are five of my favorites – although there are, of course, many, many more. Note: I should add that I am deliberately excluding both Middle Earth and Narnia, simply because they are so well-canvassed in the zeitgeist, but you may take it as read that they're definitely right up there for me. Read More

Five Faves: Disaster Films (Guest Post by Lauren Griffin)

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a sociologist and communications researcher who studies climate change, misinformation, and environmental attitudes. One of my research areas is climate fiction (“cli-fi”). More specifically, I study disaster films and how these films impact how we think about climate change. As a result, I’ve seen a lot of disaster films. I’ve given more hours of my life to this genre than is probably healthy, but even after all that I still love these movies, and not just as the subject of research. They have their own silly, adventurous appeal, and when approached with the right mind-set, they can give quite a few laughs and provide a fun distraction from the darkness in the world today. Disaster films overwhelmingly fall into two categories: big-budget blockbusters like The Day After Tomorrow and San Andreas and low-budget productions like Sharknado. Both types have their charms, but most people have heard of the major productions. This post is going to focus on some delightful examples that you might have overlooked. Read More

Five Faves: Diana Wynne Jones Novels (Guest Post by K.V. Johansen) — #MonthofJoy

What, only five? How? Which? Rapidly writing down the first that come to mind without thinking about it: Howl’s Moving Castle, Archer’s Goon, Deep Secret, Conrad’s Fate . . . Tale of Time City. Or maybe Lives of Christopher Chant. Or Hexwood . . . Or . . . It’s impossible to describe the genius of DWJ’s writing and do it justice. I tried in a non-fiction book once. Here, I’m just going to give an emotional reaction. Suffice it to say, Jones is a master of effortless characterization, her plots (ohhhh, her plots) are intricate and unpredictable, her worldbuilding infinite in its wonders, and the subtle psychological dramas that underlie it all are awe-inspiring. I don’t think there’s a single one of her fantasies that I haven’t read at least twice; most I’ve read so many times I’ve lost count. Sometimes I need this book or that like it’s an essential nutrient I’ve been starved of, and when that happens, I always find something new in it. Read More

Five Faves: Space Opera Books — #MonthofJoy

It's Five Faves time! Throughout the month of June, I'll be diverting attention away from the things I'm supposed to be doing in order to spend a little time babbling about the things that I love. This feature will do exactly what it says:  list five of my favorite things in a category. Most of the lists will be "on topic," which is to say "related to SF/F in some way," but some lists will be on my other ancillary interests, such as reptiles, books of theory, pies, and...wait...pie? Oh my god, I love pie! Anywho...today's post, as the title suggests, will list 5 of my favorite space operas. I will use the following criteria for this list:
  • Books will be taken to mean "narrative fiction at novel length" rather than the broader definition we use today. Comics and graphic novels deserve their own list anyway. That means no movies either.
  • I'm using my personal definition of space opera. I'm happy to talk about that definition at another time, but for now, I just want to share some things I love!
Here we go: Read More

Space Opera Course Update

A few months ago, I asked for input from folks interested in the online space opera course I planned to teach/run at some point during the summer. Many of you gave me some excellent feedback about the form the course should take, the readings, cost, and so on, and so I set out to try to put something together in time for summer 2017. Well, it's officially summer, and as should be obvious right now, things aren't exactly put together. And there's good reason for that. Read More