Flavorwire “SF/F Films Everyone Should See” Meme: How many have you seen?

The fine folks at Flavorwire recently released a list of 50 SF/F films they think everyone should watch (technically, there are 63 titles on the list, since they counted series as one).  I figured it would be fun to turn it into a meme.  So here you go:


BOLD = You've seen it!

  1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  2. Pan's Labyrinth
  3. Moon
  4. The Fellowship of the Ring
  5. The Two Towers
  6. The Return of the King
  7. The Princess Bride
  8. Labyrinth
  9. Men in Black
  10. Edward Scissorhands
  11. Mad Max
  12. Princess Mononoke
  13. Spirited Away
  14. Gattaca
  15. Primer
  16. Blade Runner
  17. Fantastic Planet
  18. The Wizard of Oz
  19. The Secret of Roan Inish
  20. Dark City
  21. The Matrix
  22. Time Bandits
  23. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
  24. La Jetée
  25. Brazil
  26. Metropolis
  27. Big Fish
  28. Solaris (original)
  29. Jurassic Park
  30. Alien
  31. Aliens
  32. Orpheus
  33. Dark Star
  34. 2001:  A Space Odyssey
  35. Avatar
  36. Back to the Future
  37. Star Wars IV:  A New Hope
  38. Star Wars V:  The Empire Strikes Back
  39. Star Wars VI:  The Return of the Jedi
  40. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  41. A Clockwork Orange
  42. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  43. The Fountain
  44. Sleeper
  45. City of Lost Children
  46. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  47. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  48. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  49. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  50. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  51. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince
  52. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt.1
  53. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt.2
  54. The Day the Earth Stood Still (original)
  55. Donnie Darko
  56. Invasion of the Body Snathers (original)
  57. Ghostbusters
  58. Being John Malkovich
  59. Akira
  60. The Terminator
  61. Terminator 2
  62. Strange Days
  63. Serenity

I count 49.  That's not bad, methinks...  How did you do?

Photo: The Book Mountains Old

I am told that there are legends from long ago about the mystical Book Mountains.  They arose when the gods had let their book collecting habits get the better of them, thus resulting in massive mountains of cosmic knowledge in need of organization in the Great Library of the Sky.  It seems the mountains are returning...
And in honor of the return of the Book Mountains, I'd like to share one of the great songs of old:

"The Book Mountains Old" by the Dwarves from
The Hobbit:  Adventures of a Small Librarian (Excerpt)
Far over the book mountains old
To imaginations deep with mold
We must away ere break of day
To seek enchanted shelves of gold.

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
While fountains fell like inky bells
In language deep, where dark words sleep,
In hollow covers beneath ink wells.

For ancient kings and elvish lords
There many gloaming golden words
They shaped and wrought, and minds they caught
to hide in gems on pen-like swords.

On silver necklaces they strung
the feathered arms, on crowns they hung
the bookworm's-soul, in twisted coal
They penned histories of moon and sun...

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Dear Tolkien's Estate:  No copyright infringement intended.  I'm acting silly.  Don't sue me, please.

10 Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2013

Now that I've covered movies and television, I think it's time I hit the big stuff -- books.

Here's the ten books I'm looking forward to this year (feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments):

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lauren Beukes last year for her novel Zoo City.  And guess what?  I get to do it again for The Shining Girls!  Beukes is one of my favorite authors of the new millenium, and definitely one of my favorites of all time.  Her work is entertaining, complex, and downright beautiful.  The Shining Girls will certainly be a new milestone for South Africa's greatest genre writer!

Bonus Point:  Rumor has it that she got a six figure deal for this book.  That's freaking awesome!

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
Karen Lord has been on my radar since the release of Redemption in Indigo.  Maybe it's because I'm slightly obsessed with Caribbean literature (it's what I study, after all), or because she looks badass in her red jacket (we met briefly at ICFA).  It might also have something to do with the fact that Karen brought a whole bunch of Edna Brodber books from the Caribbean and had them sent to me through Mari Ness.  I'm biased like that...

But more likely it's because she's a damn good writer (who, like Beukes, will be on my little show too).  The Best of All Possible Worlds should be a standout this year.

Bonus Points:  Karen Lord was apparently a part-time soldier once.  That makes her slightly more badass than fellow Caribbean writer Tobias S. Buckell, who spends his days in a leather coat and man shades.

Ghost Spin by Chris Moriarty
Ever since Spin State, I've been waiting for Chris Moriarty to release another book for adults.  And it's finally coming!  If I'm not mistaken, Ghost Spin is set in the same world as Spin State and Spin Control, though it's been so long since I last read Spin State that I can't honestly remember where it ended.  That's a good thing because it gives me an excuse to re-read!  Ghost Spin should be one of those insane science fiction novels packed full of sensawunda and sociopolitical critique.  I can't wait.  (If I'm lucky, she'll agree to be on m my podcast!)

Bonus Point:  It's post-cyberpunk!  That means it's cyberpunk, but sexier.

Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson
I wrote half of my MA Thesis on Nalo Hopkinson, so it goes without saying that I perpetually look forward to everything she writes.  It's hard to imagine not feeling this way when I learn that Hopkinson has a new book coming.  Let's face it -- she's a fantastic writer and a wonderful person (I've met her -- and I embarrassed myself something fierce).  I expect nothing but genius from her new novel (as always).

Bonsu Point:  The plot involves a magic system which can be severed in one half of a set of conjoined twins through surgery (or so the book description indicates).  Sounds fascinating!

On the Razor's Edge by Michael Flynn
Despite some reservations about In the Lion's Mouth (see the review here), I cannot help but remain intrigued by Flynn's writing style and science fiction world.  This book continues the story from the previous three books (two of which I still have to read) and should include some of the incredible science fiction wonders that intrigued me about In the Lion's Mouth, including the fascinating character of Donovan buigh, who had his brain cut up into multiple personalities at some point in the past.  Plus, the continuation of the war with the Names should hit its all time height here, which means there'll be a lot of wicked super assassin fights!

Bonus Point:  The covers for his books are bloody gorgeous.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
Most people will read this book because of Swamplandia!, which was well liked by many readers and critics.  I want to read this book because of the first line of the description:  "A dejected teenager discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left behind in a seagull’s nest."  That's the kind of imaginative geekery I expect in my weird literature, and this one is chock full of short stories with such weird premises.  It's bound to be an exciting ride!  If only there was some way to get her on my podcast...

Bonus Point:  The New Yorker listed her as one of the 20 best writers under 40.  That's got to count for something, right?

The Childhood of Jesus by J. M. Coetzee
I suspect a few of you are familiar with Coetzee's work, as well you should be.  His writing has spanned numerous subjects, from colonial empires in Waiting for the Barbarians to animal ethics in The Lives of Animals.  This new one promises to offer a very different look at a Jesus-like story.  Knowing Coetzee, that means it will also include some slightly fantastic elements, just as much of his other work has.  This makes him one of those hidden SF/F writers that nobody in genre really thinks about.  Well, they should.  And that's why I'm eagerly anticipating The Childhood of Jesus.

Bonus Point:  Coetzee won the Man Booker twice before winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003.  And he deserved every single award.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Every since I saw the following TED talk by Adichie, I've been jonesing for a new novel from her.
Her new novel has a flare of the romantic epic to it, and it happens to be one of the few African novels I know about that I'll probably read despite having nothing to do with SF/F.  Brilliant writing deserves to be loved.

Bonus Point:  Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange Prize, perhaps the most important award for literature by women.  She was also listed as one of the best 20 writers under 40 by The New Yorker, like a certain someone on this list.

Bio-Punk:  Stories from the Far Side of Research edited by Ra Page
This collaborative work between writers and scientists looks promising.  Part of what fascinates me is that the collection will feature stories based on actual science conducted in nanotechnology, biotechnology, and so on, and those stories will sit beside explorations of scientific research.  It's not a new concept, but it does make for a collection with some sticking power.

Bonus Point:  Jane Rogers, who I had the pleasure of interviewing here, has a story in this collection.

The Curve of the Earth by Simon Morden
A continuation of the Samuil Petrovitch series, The Curve of the Earth promises a lot of cyberpunk-ish elements and dark adventure (it's set in a post-apocalyptic London full of AIs, criminals, and all sorts of almost-punkish elements).  Plus, the main character is a Russian, and the U.S. is apparently some sort of reformed hellhole not unlike its current state (tongue and cheek, folks).  Sounds like something I'd read.

Bonus Point:  Holy covergasm, Batman!

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What are you looking forward to in 2013?  Feel free to leave your list.  There are certainly some gaps in mine, and I wouldn't mind filling them with work I might have missed.

10 Movies I’m Looking Forward to in 2013

The other day, I released my "top 10" list for television shows premiering or continuing in 2013.  Now it's time for movies.  Why?  Because movies are where it's going to be hot this year.

Here goes:


The Award Contenders
Elysium
From the writer and director of District 9 comes this promising new science fiction wonder starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.  I have no idea what it's about, except that it involves some crazy guns and this odd viral promo and an incredibly vague description on IMDB.  But it's Neill Blomkamp, which means I'll watch it no matter what.

Bonus Point:  Matt Damon is my kryptonite.

Ender's Game
Regardless of what I think of Orson Scott Card as a person, I am thoroughly looking forward to this adaptation of one of the greatest science fiction books of all time.  With a strong cast and Gavin Hood as writer/director (the guy behind Tsotsi), I expect this one to not only be good, but great.

Bonus Point:  Asa Butterfield is set to play Ender.  Given his performance in Hugo, I can easily see good acting coming our way.



I still believe that Children of Men is one of the best science fiction movies ever made, and that Alfonso Cuaron is a superb director when not messing with Harry Potter.  I'll see Gravity for that reason alone; the fact that Clooney and Bullock are the stars is icing on the cake.  My only hope is that they take the concept seriously enough to consult actual scientists.  What would happen to a pair of astronauts stranded in space?  No idea.  Where's a scientist when I need one?

Bonus Point:  Rumor has it that Sandra Bullock's performance in Gravity is the crown jewel of her career.  I'm willing to shell out $10 to see that!


The Amusing and Exciting
Iron Man 3
The first film was about what you'd expect from a good superhero movie -- awesomeness.  The second was still pretty good, but always stuck with that "I know I'm a middle movie and will probably not live up to my promises" bin.  Now comes what I hope will be the best of all the Iron Man movies.  With Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin, what could go wrong?

Bonus Point:  Robert Downey, Jr. is still here, which means all the things we've come to love about the Iron Man will remain.

I'm not one for prequels -- not since Star Wars screwed that all up.  But Monsters Inc. is still one of my favorite Pixar movies, which means I'll go to the prequel without much fuss.  With all the original cast returning, it's hard to say no...

Bonus Point:  Billy Crystal and John Goodman will bring us more comedy gold.

The Soon-to-be-Ignored-for-No-Good-Reason
Technically, this movie is already in theaters...if you live somewhere like Hong Kong or Canada.  Bastards.  In any case, I love the premise for this film.  It promises to have a flare of the beautiful to it, with solid actors and a compelling, if not unique, spin on the alternate reality concept.  Can't wait!

Bonus Point:  Kirsten Dunst.  Some people can't stand her, but I love her.  Period.

Guilty Pleasures
Arnold returns!  And he's not taking himself too seriously either.  That's a good thing when you consider that the man has dozens of devoted impersonators and an amazingly mockable career.  Throw in Luis Guzman and Johnny Knoxville and you can expect this to be campy, explosive, and a whole lot of fun.  That's why I'm seeing it...because it's fun!

Bonus Point:  Jee-woon Kim directs, which means it will probably be pretty good.

I've always had a soft spot for the Riddick films.  I loved Pitch Black and I still think The Chronicles of Riddick is one of the most underrated science fiction films from the last decade.  And now we get one more try for franchise success, with everyone of significance from Chronicles returning to their original roles.  I have no idea how they're going to tie everything together, but Twohy has never disappointed me, so I'll see this one as soon as it hits the big screen.

Bonus Point:  Katee Sackhoff is in it.  Color me Starbucked...


John McClane meets Russia.  Russia gets its ass kicked.  What else do you need to know?  I mean, it's Die Hard.  Either you love it or you hate it.  I happened to enjoy the hell out of Live Free or Die Hard, so you better believe I'm going to see this bad boy in theaters the first chance I get!

Bonus Point:  Patrick Stewart is supposedly playing a Russian general.  I don't know if that's true, but it sounds awesome...

Film-I-Should-Know-Better-Than-To-See-But-Will-Anyway-Because-Benedict-Cumberbatch-is-in-it!
Star Trek Into Darkness
I know.  I hated the first J. J. Abrams foray into the Star Trek universe.  I still do, even though the first 20 minutes are actually pretty good.  But Benedict Cumberbatch is the villain in this one.  And I bet he'll make Eric Bana look like a wimp.  Besides, the trailer looks good and they might actually keep the plot coherent in this one...It's worth a shot, right?

Bonus Point:  We still don't know who Benedict Cumberbatch is supposed to play.  IMDB still think he's Khan, but I'm hoping he's either a brand new villain or a more sinister version of someone we've all forgotten...

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There you go.  What would you add to the list?

10 TV Shows I’m Looking Forward to in 2013

There are so many things to watch this year, but I don't have a billion hours to stream every single TV show being made right now.  I've got to be picky.  Very picky.

The following are my top picks for the year.  Do with it what you will...

Here goes:
Sherlock (Season Three)(BBC)
Need I explain why I cannot wait for the third season of Sherlock?  Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are simply amazing as Sherlock and Watson, so much so that I cannot imagine anyone else in the role.  Plus, I am chopping at the bit to find out what happens next!

Bonus Point:  A clever, modern take on the classic character is always fun.

Game of Thrones (Season Three)(HBO)
I've reviewed enough Game of Thrones to make it clear that I would probably sell a kidney to afford cable for the remainder of the show.  The first two seasons were amazingly good, with knockout performances from a wide range of cast members.  Fantasy television has never been this good.  Ever.

Bonus Point:  Finding serious, well-written, compelling fantasy TV is impossible...until now.

Defiance (Syfy)
Original programming on Syfy.  By that I mean original programming that isn't B-movie drivel that makes Christmas TV Movie season look like a joyride...  I'm intrigued by the premise, if only because I have some vain hope that it will be much better than Fallen Skies, which may be the most predictable TV show next to Walking Dead...

Bonus Point:  Syfy is taking the show seriously enough to work with Trion Worlds to create an MMO to run alongside.  Pretty cool.

Color me psychotic, but I love dark crime thrillers.  The Following feels something like Millenium, but with a stronger, more connected storyline.  The idea is intriguing.  Plus, James Purefoy plays the villain, which should work just fine!

Bonus Point:  Kevin Bacon.  I've loved the man since Tremors.

Anyone who knows me also knows that I call them communists every chance I get.  Why?  Because I find it amusing to resort to political hackery for the sake of comedy.  Thus, The Americans has a plot similar enough to my hobby to make it interesting enough to try.  Considering that there is so much garbage on TV right now, I could really use a good old fashioned non-genre drama with a little political spunk to it!

Bonus Point:  Keri Russel = heaven.

Doctor Who (Season Seven Part Two)(BBC)
Doctor Who has fallen in the ranks for me.  I really love the show, and Matt Smith is a decent Doctor, but the stories are getting a little tired for me.  If I see one more Dalek, I'm going to throw something, if only because every major series surprise always includes the Daleks.  That's not entertaining anymore.

But I'll keep watching and hoping that things will improve.  I'm hoping for some amazing story connections, some brilliant plotting, and some old time Doctor fun!  We'll see...

Bonus Point:  It's science fiction and still better than 90% of the stuff on TV that has the audacity to call itself science fiction...

I'm quite fascinated with BBC productions at the moment (if this list isn't enough of an indication).  Some of the best writing is found there, and I suspect Ripper Street will be no exception.  The show follows the aftermath of the Ripper murders, which tells me that it will be less about the Ripper himself than about how a police force regains its respectability after failing to bring the Ripper to justice.  Intriguing, methinks.

Bonus Point:  Jerome Flynn.  You know, the guy who plays Bronn in Game of Thrones?  I know, right?

Hemlock Grove (Netflix)
The first Netflix beast on this list.  And I really hope it turns out well.  Netflix has the perfect platform for original television; if Hemlock Grove and Arrested Development do well, then say hello to a new generation of online-only entertainment.

But to Hemlock Grove:  it's a kind of urban fantasy crime thriller staring Famke Janssen and Bill Skarsgard. What else do you need to know?

Bonus Point:  Aaron Douglas of Battlestar Galactica fame plays the Sheriff.  Woo!

Orphan Black (BBC America)
BBC America has big shoes to fill with this one.  Its UK mother has already produced some amazing shows, so I'm hoping that Orphan Black is the American branch's response to great cable SF/F.  And it's about clones, which is always fun for us academic types.

Bonus Point:  It's coming soon!

Arrested Development (Season Four)(Netflix)
I do not need to say a damn thing.  It's Arrested Development, and it's coming back to us through Netflix.  Thank you, Netflix!  Thank you so so so much!

Bonus Point:  It's Arrested Development...completed.  What more do you want?

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And that does it.  Which TV shows are you looking forward to in 2013?  The comments are yours!

Dear Christmas: My Favorite SF/F Re-Reads

There's still time to get to the shops and buy that special gift for your estranged husband or twice-removed cousin.  Okay, let's face it.  You're not buying gifts for them.  If you've popped onto this page, it's for one of three reasons:

  1. You read this blog.
  2. You told me to write on this topic.
  3. You've got a weird scifi and fantasy geek child or friend and you have no idea what to get them.
If you're in the #3 category, then prepare yourself for this completely uneven list of books I enjoyed enough to read more than once!  Here goes:
Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
I'm biased, because Hopkinson (and Buckell) was one of the authors I focused on in my Master's Thesis.  It's also a novel I've reviewed for SF Mistressworks and one I've taught at the college level.  It's an enormously rich book, too.  Caribbean folklore + science fiction + twin worlds = simply stunning.

Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose by Tobias S. Buckell
All three are amazing.  Like Hopkinson, Buckell mixes in Caribbean references and characters, but drags them out into the wide world of Space Opera throughout the series (Crystal Rain is almost a Civil War-style steampunk novel, while Ragamuffin and Sly Mongoose are exciting Space Operas -- the latter includes zombies and floating habitats in the atmosphere of a Venus-like planet).  I love reading them over and over (plus, The Apocalypse Ocean, book four, is also damned good).

1984 by George Orwell
This is one of the few books I will read over and over and over again.  I used to read it once a year, but I haven't done that for a while.  But if you've ever read the book, you'll understand why:  it's one of those books that benefits from re-reading because you'll discover new stuff all the time.  And I mean that.  There are so many little details in this book.  Orwell was a genius!

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Folks will notice a trend on this post.  That trend goes something like this:  how many books written by people from other countries (originally or currently) can I stick on a single list?  Well, get over it.  Most of what I read these days are books by folks from elsewhere, in part because that's what I study.  Go figure.

Lauren Beukes is our resident South African writer.  And she's a good one!  Zoo City remains one of my favorite books of all time.  It mixes animal familiars with amateur sleuthing and social commentary, which is A+ in my book.

The Palm-wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola
It's weird to Westerners and controversial to many African scholars.  No matter which side of the world you come from, though, I think this is one of those unique, fascinating pieces of literature.  Every time I read it, I'm amazed by the oddness, the rapid pace, the almost spoken-word style of storytelling, and the folklore.  I recommend it to anyone who loves weird stuff.

City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
This remains, for me, one of the top three greatest New Weird books ever written (assuming, of course, that New Weird actually exists -- I'm not convinced anymore, but it's a catchy word that I find useful).  There's no way to describe this book without ruining some of its most compelling parts, so I'll just say this:  it has an appendices full of letters, documents, and other wonderful bits, all of which enhance the story.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
I suspect most of you are familiar with this one.  Good.  You should be.  It's one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written (top ten for me).  If you haven't read it, then all you need to know is this:  a thorough examination of social change and war in a far future, military space opera setting.  It's amazing.  That is all...

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
Another great New Weird novel.  Mieville is, I think, one of the most innovative writers in SF/F right now (alongside Jeff VanderMeer).  Perdido Street Station is no exception.  The way he constructs creatures, cultures, cityscapes, and so on is admirable.  I suggest everyone start with PSS, but even works like Embassytown or The City & the City contain some interesting concepts and ideas.  He's one of the new greats (hopefully he'll keep producing new and innovative work for years to come).

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut is another of those strange writers.  I'm still unsure if Slaughterhouse-Five is actually science fiction or some kind of PTSD novel.  It's probably both at the same time.  Either way, it's an amazing book.  There are compelling uses of "time travel," social commentary, weird digs at science fiction, and much more. If you've never read it, you should.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower nearly made me cry.  That's not small feat, if I'm honest.  Usually, I only cry while reading books in which I already have emotional investments.  Butler's work, however, is incredible.  Sower follows a young woman with a rare form of synaethesia that allows her to feel what others feel.  That might be cool in times of plenty, but this novel is set in a post-apocalyptic United States where pretty much everything has gone to complete crap and humanity is clinging desperately to its little pieces of civilization.  It's a brilliant read.

The House of the Stag by Kage Baker
I love this book more than I love breathing.  Well, sort of.  I really love breathing too...

The House of the Stag combines fairytales, epic fantasy, and awesome in one little package.  When I first read it years ago, I fell in love with it.  The way Baker plays with fairtale narratives to create something fresh and new (along with her unique way of using theater-related stuff in the narrative) is, well, fresh and new.  What more do you want me to say?

One For Sorrow by Christopher Barzak
Barzak is a beautiful writer.  One For Sorrow is probably his greatest work to date (though his recent short story collection is damned good too).  Part YA, part LGBT narrative, part ghost story, One For Sorrow is a stunning work of art.

Spaceman Blues by Brian Francis Slattery
Remember the Orpheus myth?  Well, Spaceman Blues is like that, only chock full of hilarious science fiction references and tropes -- men in black, UFOs, strange underground floating cities, and so much more.  And Slattery's prose is stellar.  If only he could write more books... Oh, right, Lost Everything came out this year, and I interviewed him here.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Yeah.  You knew there were going to be some PKD books on here, right?  There have to be.  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is still my favorite PKD novel, in part because it has all the right SF elements:  social commentary (doubletime!), a future Earth, Mars, androids, and a lot of weird cultural stuff.  Not that these are unusual things for PKD -- look at the next selection...

Ubik by Philip K. Dick
What do you get when you take Philip K. Dick, the soul, and corporate espionage?  Ubik.  This is probably his strangest "popular" novel, featuring a ragtag bunch who discover that their supposedly dead boss is influencing the world around them...from beyond the grave.  Don't let the idea fool you.  This is science fiction at its strangest and, well, best.

Eon by Greg Bear
I first read this when I picked up a discounted copy at a department store.  Then I read it again.  If the introductory sections of the narrative itself weren't enough, then the ending certainly did me in.  It's sort of one of those mind-boggling moments where everything you think you know...isn't true.  I love moments like that in SF!

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And there you go.  Now to throw the question to all of you:

What are your favorite SF/F re-reads?

Larry’s Silly Survey of Silly

Over at OF Blog of the Fallen, Larry has put up a bunch of seemingly random and bizarre questions for folks to answer.  The following are my equally silly responses:


1.  Do you believe that global warming could be ameliorated if there were more pirates in the world?
Unfortunately, no.  Because pirates have a tendency to burn things -- such as boats and makeshift cigarettes and small coastal towns ripe for the picking -- they contribute at least 50 times the amount of atmospheric pollutants as all volcanoes combined.  In truth, to stop global warming, we would have to systematically hunt down and imprison all pirates.  I'm told the Federated League of Ninjas is waiting for the call...

2.  What is the last book you read and would you recommend it to a hobo who likes to speak in alliterations?
Libidinal Economy by Jean-Francois Lyotard.  And, no, I would not recommend it to an
alliterating hobo, as to do so would constitute a violation of the Violence Against Hobos Act of 1996.

3.  Which cartoon group, the Smurfs or the Care Bears, would most likely be condemned by "family" groups today?
The Smurfs, obviously.  They look and act suspiciously like immigrants, and they're always pestering Gargamel, who is nothing less than an honest businessman.

4.  Should there be more catfights among SF Fandom and/or authors?
Yes.  In fact, I think SF needs to announce a state of emergency and immediately start an internal war to cull the unworthy from its masses.  There are too many people in this community who shouldn't be here; we should do what we can to get rid of them, just like the Smurfs.

5.  When I finally decide to post a photo of myself here, should I go with a beret or just merely a scarf wrapped around my neck in a diffident manner?
Oh, Larry, you should always go for a beret.  It is appropriately pretentious and, as the Internet has taught me, it makes it easy for people to dismiss you as nothing more than a Condescending Liberal Grad Student (even though you are nothing of the sort).  Or you could go for a scarf if you just want people to think you drink coffee...

6.  Does book porn make you think inappropriate literary thoughts?
Yes.  I'm currently on trial for indecent acts with a book or book-like object.  This is the result of excessive amounts of images of book covers and people's book collections, which are available all over the net...  Make sure to check your local laws to avoid landing you in prison for overlying enjoying book porn.

7.  If you have a Twitter account, how many literate squirrels do you follow on there?
That I'm allowed to tell you about?  One.  But there are many others who wish to remain anonymous.  They work for the Ministry of Knowledge in the central government of Squirreltopia.  To tell you their names would jeopardize their missions...

8.  Which genre of books should I review more often:  pirates, westerns, ninjas, squirrels, Shatner?
Shatner ninjas.  Duh!

9.  If you could get me to ask any question to any author, what would be the most inappropriate question that would come to mind and to which author would you want that question addressed?
To China Mieville:  "Have you ever considered writing Hentai?"

10.  What was the best book that you ever read and ended up kicking across a room?
I don't kick books.  I molest them and occasionally sniff their pages, but I believe it a sin to physically harm books.  You can psychologically damage them, though.

11.  What is more erotic, the sound of pages turning or the smell of an old book's binding?
The latter.  But I'm weird.  As previously mentioned, I sniff books.  I sniff books a lot...

That is all.

Top 5 SF/F Shows I Wish Weren’t Cancelled

Too many TV shows have come and gone.  Some of them never should have been killed.  These are the five I wish hadn't been cancelled.

In no particular order:
Firefly (2002-2003)
Need I explain why?  Browncoats are everywhere.  They are one.  They are vocal.  They are legion.  And if they all had $10,000,000,000,000, they'd bring back Firefly in a heartbeat.  For 10,000 seasons.  They'd probably clone Nathan Fillion and the rest of the cast just to keep it all going.  You know I speak the truth.

But in all seriousness, who didn't love Firefly?  To be fair, I didn't get to watch the show on TV.  I came to it through the DVDs after hearing all the hype.  And now I regret not having added myself to the ratings.  It's such an endearing show with a wonderful cast of characters.  With a lot of potential!  But it's gone, and now we have to dream about what might have been...

I know fans of the books didn't care for this show, but I never had that experience.  There was nothing to ruin for me when Syfy put this show on the air.  And you know what?  When you throw out the adaptation aspect, it's really not a terrible show.  Sure, some of the episodes are a little crummy, and there's a clear tug-of-war between making all the episodes connected to a larger story and keeping the anthology format.  But the best episodes are really good, and the cast is, for the most part, well chosen (I personally liked Paul Blackthorne as Dresden and Terrence Mann as Bob).

Given a second season, it might have grown into something akin to Castle, but with weird critters and what not.  One day...

Earth 2 (1994-1995)
Let's get one thing straight:  this is not a perfect show by any stretch of the imagination.  There's a hell of a lot of weirdness going on from the first episode to the last, and some of the characters and acting are a little on the silly side.  But the concept is fantastic.  Maybe a reboot would be a good idea.  Maybe not.  It was good...

After all, it has Tim Curry as a villain (win), a ragtag group of survivors living on a world with weird people (sounds like Outcasts, no?), and a decent soundtrack and visual design.  Considering all the things that usually go wrong in SF TV, this show had a lot of potential.  And then they killed it...

Alien Nation (1988-1989)
You remember this show, right?  Aliens get dropped off on Earth and are integrated into the Los Angeles populace.  Discrimination ensues.  District 9 will ring some bells.  Yet Alien Nation was a very American affair.  Where District 9 was an allegory for the refugee situation in Africa, Alien Nation was about the Civil Rights Movement, anti-immigration, and all the stuff tied into that at home.  And it was brilliant, in part because it didn't just take a bunch of people, put some alien makeup on them, and stick them in hairy situations.  No.  Alien Nation asked us to consider how discrimination leads to criminalization, how relationships with humans (platonic and romantic) would work, and the politics of a world hell bent on protecting human interests.

Plus, my grandma loved it, and if she likes it, it's good.  Trust me.

Outcasts (2010)
This show should sound familiar.  That's because I mentioned it above and because it really does share a lineage with
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What would you add to the list and why?

Top 7 Science Fiction and Fantasy Musicals

I love musicals.  And I'm sure some of you love them too.  If you need a pick-me-up, sometimes a musical is just the right thing.

These are what I consider to be the best SF/F musicals, selected by a jury of 5,000 Americans kept in an underground bunker for six weeks (part of the previous sentence is untrue -- also, the following are not in any particular order):
Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog
Neil Patrick Harris + Nathan Fillion + Felicia Day + Simon Helberg = one of the best musicals ever made.

Need I say more?

Urinetown
I saw a community college rendition of Urinetown a few years ago with my grandma and fell in love with it.  The humor is spot on and I find the socio-political theme interesting (tempted to teach this musical one day, actually).  I've included the show the cast put on at the Tony Awards, but you should also look up "Act 1 Finale," which is one of my favorite tunes.

Wicked
Perhaps one of the best fantasy musicals out there, Wicked is, in my opinion, a tour de force.  Based on the book of the same name by Gregory MaGuire, it tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.  A wonderful story rendered into an absolutely gorgeous musical.

Spamalot
You remember Monty Python and the Holy Grail, right?  Well, this is the musical version, more or less.  Originally starring Tim Curry, Spamalot gave us all the laughs and silly adventure that made the movie so great.  Plus, the songs are fantastic.  Sara Ramirez is amazing!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
This is my childhood.  Watching Dick Van Dyke flying around in a car while singing entertained me for hours.  It's an adorable movie!


The Rocky Horror Picture Show
It's a classic.  Also:  Tim Curry again.  Love everything that man is in...

Nothing left to be said except this:  let's do the time warp again!  You know the moves...

Little Shop of Horrors
Giant man-eating plant monster?  Rick Moranis?  Stunning puppets and fun semi-50s musical soundtrack?  Check, check, and check!  I love this musical for so many reasons, but most of all because it's so damned twisted and weird.  And whoever made that green mother was brilliant.  You wouldn't expect them to pull something off of such quality back then, but they did it.


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What about your favorites?  What would you add to this list?

Top 5 Science Fiction Mothers (in Film)

In celebration of Mother's Day, I offer to you all my favorite science fiction mothers. There are a few lists of mothers in science fiction, but this will be one of the only lists that narrows things down specifically to heroines who are also mothers (of which there are very few) and who can be found in fim.

I gave myself a few rules for the selection process:
  1. Heroine will be defined as a woman who achieves (or attempts to achieve) physical or intellectual goals either as an equal member in a group, a leader, or on her own.
  2. A mother will be defined as a woman who either gives birth to and participates in the raising of children OR a woman who adopts (de facto or literally) a child and participates in their raising.
  3. They must actually be heroines while being mothers.  It doesn't count if she was a heroine in her younger days, and then stopped being one when she got pregnant and had kids.  It also doesn't count if she wallows in despair because she lost manly man, gives birth, and then decides to die (I'm looking at you, Padme Amidala).
Here's my list:

#5 -- Sarah Jane Smith (Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures)
Saves the world a bunch of times?  Check.  Has a genius kid who's slightly obnoxious, but still lovable?  Check.  Has a wicked super computer?  Check.  Is completely and utterly capable of being a badass while handling the responsibilities of being a parent?  Check.

One of my favorite Sarah Jane moments:  reminding Davros in "Journey's End" with little more than the tone of her voice that she was there in the beginning, on Skaro -- sort of like rubbing salt in an open wound.  There's a reason Sarah Jane Smith remains a favorite among Whovians.  It's because she's awesome.

#4 -- Dr. Beverly Crusher (Star Trek:  The Next Generation)
An accomplished doctor on a powerful exploration ship full of menfolk with enormous egos?  Yup.  But she holds her own, telling her Captain what's what from time to time and resolving all manner of medical anomalies brought aboard by her intrepid crew.  And she has to handle all of that while being the mother of a genius son, Wesley.  Imagine trying to do best by your son while in an official "military" post.  Now imagine trying to handle being separated from your son in an increasingly hostile galaxy.  Yet Crusher handles all of that with extraordinary strength.

#3 -- Sharon "Athena" Agathon (Battlestar Galactica)
Not many mothers have to survive the disgusting levels of violence thrown at Sharon Agathon.  Being a cylon, she's hated by what's left of the human race, because her people nearly wiped humanity out.  She's hated so much that she's kept in a prison for most of her life -- where she is beaten and almost raped -- and has her half-human/half-cylon baby stolen away from her (supposedly "dead") by people who think Hera (the baby) will destroy the ragtag fleet of leftover human ships.  But she perseveres, fighting with all her might to save her daughter and her family.  She's a lot like...

#2 -- Sarah Connor (The Terminator Series)
What list of SF moms would leave out Sarah Connor?  With two enormous weights on her shoulders -- the looming threat of the sentient robot apocalypse and the responsibility of raising the savior of mankind -- she's  the kind of mother we all can respect.  Sure, she's not perfect -- after all, she's sort of mental and homicidal -- but so is everyone else.  Without her strength and determination, John Connor wouldn't exist and humanity would be screwed.

#1 -- Ellen Ripley (The Aliens Series)
She may not be a "traditional" mom, but she does essentially become a surrogate in Aliens and then a much more creepy mother in Alien Resurrection.  But we'll focus on Aliens, where Newt Gingrich's future cousin, who is also named after an amphibian, is taken under the wing by one of the greatest would-be-mothers in the science fiction universe.  And what happens when the greatest female heroine in science fiction becomes a surrogate mother?  This:


I rest my case.

Who would you add to this list and why?

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Runner up:  My mom.  She may not be a space ninja or whatever, but she does live in an alternate reality in her head.  Plus, she's my mom and had to deal with me through my teen years.  Somehow she survived.  Kudos to her.  And happy Mother's Day.