Mining the Genre Asteroid: Orson Welles’ The War of the Worlds

25 Jul 640px-Orson_Welles_1937

You’ve heard the story of the broadcast, I am sure. In 1938, Orson Welles put the US into a panic by doing a fake news broadcast about Martians landing in New Jersey and wreaking havoc.  That the broadcast was a trick on the populace, caused mass panic, and disrupted the entire United States one October night. But dig deeper, listen to the rhythms, the flow, the story of the radio play, and you will find a much richer text than the one imagined by your preconceptions. A story worth the attention of any and all genre fans.

Orson Welles’ The War of the Worlds radio play first aired on October 30,1938. The radio play itself was written by Howard Koch and Anne Froelick, with the production directed by Orson Welles, who stars in the play as Professor Richard Pierson, a fictional famous astronomer. Running about an hour long, the Radio Play is divided into several distinct parts: A Prologue/Introduction from Welles, a three act structure of the main story, and then a coda. Continue reading

My Superpower: Max Gladstone

24 Jul Full Fathom Five

My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Max Gladstone to talk about how the power of Oblivion relates to Full Fathom Five.


My writer superpower is Oblivion.

Obliviousness to surrounding conditions may seem more a liability than a superpower — the kind of “gift” that gets you pancaked by a city bus because you tried to read a Buzzfeed listicle and cross the road at the same time. Obliviousness leads to working through lunch and dinner because you didn’t realize it was 7pm already, to bad plays in poker and go (oh, I didn’t realize there were two kings on the board), to sleep deprivation and household mess (what dust bunnies in which corners, now?).

But it does help the writing.

See, distraction is an enemy of word count. You know how the Force connects all things, carrying impulses and emotions from one end of the galaxy to the other? Imagine being a Jedi — I mean, a fully-realized one like Obi-Wan in A New Hope or Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, so in tune with the Force that it’s a state of being, not an ability you turn on and off. Walk down a street, as a Jedi, and emotions overwhelm you. Imagine trying to get anything done in that environment! Sure, Yoda and Obi-Wan lived on barren colony worlds to hide from Imperial death squads, but it’s quite possible that a peaceful remote hermitage is just plain more comfortable for folks with low-level always-on psionics. Continue reading

210. Sarah Lotz (a.k.a. Planecrusher 1000) — The Three (An Interview)

23 Jul

Creepy children, fallen planes, and a world gone mad, oh my!  Author Sarah Lotz joins us for our World SF Tour bonanza to talk about her new book, The Three.  We talk about her fascination with plane crashes, horror and religion, writing multiple cultures, and much more!

We hope you enjoy the episode!

Note:  If you have iTunes and like this show, please give us a review on our iTunes page, or feel free to email us with your thoughts about the show!

Here’s the episode (show notes are below):

Episode 210 — Download (MP3)

The Three by Sarah Lotz

Show Notes:

You can also support this podcast by signing up for a one month free trial at Audible.  Doing so helps us, gives you a change to try out Audible’s service, and brings joy to everyone.

Our new intro music is “Time Flux” by Revolution Void (CC BY 3.0).

That’s all, folks!  Thanks for listening.  See you next week.

Torture Cinema Poll for @LonCon3 / Worldcon: You Decide; We Record in a Hotel Room

22 Jul

And it came to pass that four of the Skiffy and Fanty crew would be in attendance at the 2014 Worldcon in London.  And the sf/f gods said, “Record Torture Cinema live in a hotel room…”

And we said…YES!

To celebrate being in London (and the World SF Tour), all of the films in the following poll are of British extraction.  Vote wisely!

#24. Sherlock (Season One) — A Shoot the WISB Subcast w/ Rachael Acks and Mike Martinez

21 Jul

Teapots, super genius murderer cabbies, and MORIARTY, oh my!  Finally, we’ve done it.  We’ve watched and reviewed the first season of BBC’s Sherlock (2010-present).  Joining us are Michael J. Martinez (author of The Daedalus Incident and The Enceladus Crisis) and Rachael Acks (author of The Curious Case of Mrs. Clementine Nimowitz).

We hope you enjoy the episode!

Spoiler Alert:  the following podcast contains spoilers for the film being reviewed; if you wish to see the film without having it ruined for you, download this podcast and save it for later.

Sherlock (Season One)


Download the episode here.

Show notes (info about our contributors can be found on the about page):

Comment away!

Business Time: Direct-to-Consumer sales

20 Jul

Recently, HarperCollins announced that they’ve re-launched their site with a complete Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) store, selling physical and ebooks.

Direct-to-Consumer sales are, for many companies, a great way to deal with disintermediation, that being, a disruption of the standard distribution chain. Companies like Amazon practice disintermediation, selling direct as retailers without needing field representatives and by surpassing/superceeding physical retail.

Continue reading

Mining the Genre Asteroid: PAVANE by Keith Roberts

10 Jul pavane

In 1588, Queen Elizabeth, the Faerie Queen, was assassinated. Without her leadership, and with the rise of English Catholics in response, Spain found it easy to occupy England and bring her back to Mother Church. And with England so tamed, the throne of St. Peter took back the entirety of Europe from Protestantism, and then the world. James Cook had the flag of the Pope, not of England, when he landed in Australia. Spain controls the entirety of the New World.

The Church keeps a tight control over technology and culture, as well, shutting down obvious lines of development. Semaphone wires, coal fired trains, and a residual feudal culture dominate England and the world. Black powder guns are still state-of-the-art weapons. Such tight control has its costs, and its victims. Now, though, almost four centuries after Elizabeth’s death, in a small region of England, the dominance of the Church in matters temporal and spiritual — in England and the world — may finally begin to loosen. All of this can be found in Keith Roberts’ alternate history classic, Pavane. Continue reading


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