Book Review: Upgraded edited by Neil Clarke

1 Oct Upgraded by Neil Clarke

As a rule, I loathe anthologies in which the stories are united by a narrow subgenre. A general editorial direction is something I appreciate, but I have had several experiences in which I was lured in only to throw the book across the room after two or three stories. “Self, what the hell were you thinking? Did you really want to read twenty some-odd stories in a row about the Lovecraftian mythos/sapient aliens/marketing gimmick du jour?”

It is therefore a great testament to the quality of the stories in Upgraded, a 2014 anthology edited by Neil Clarke, that I actually finished it. Continue reading

Indy Genre: African Shorts

29 Sep STILLS FROM WANURI KAHIU'S FILM 'PUMZI'!

I get the sense that short films are often viewed as a way to develop skills and advertise those skills, or as a proof of concept for a feature-length film. I’m starting to see more and more short film available for general viewing on Youtube, Vimeo, and even Hulu as a way to reach audiences that don’t normally go to film festivals. Shorts, because they can be filmed much more quickly, also give filmmakers who have a very limited budget a chance to still tell an engaging story.

Finding genre film from Africa is a challenge in the US. Other than District 9, I don’t think much has made it over here as of yet, and I don’t honestly know how much is actually made, (tough there is plenty of film being made in various African countries, particularly Nigeria! Just do a bit of googling about Nollywood if you don’t believe me. In terms of sheer number of films produced per anum, it’s right on Bollywood’s heels and ahead of Hollywood).

Read on for a selection of African short films. On the strength of these, I hope we will see more feature length films from these countries over here soon! Continue reading

224. Multicultural Steampunk, World SF, and War Stories w/ Diana Pho and Andrew Liptak at ICFA

29 Sep

Retrofuturism, power armor, and awesome clothes, oh my!  In one of our last recordings from ICFA, Diana Pho and Andrew Liptak join us to discuss Beyond Victoriana, multicultural sf, Western influence, and the now-available anthology, War Stories edited by Andrew Liptak and Jaym Gates.

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 224 — Download (MP3)

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Show Notes:

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.

Geekomancer Under Glass – Fall 2014 TV (Part One)

28 Sep Gotham TV show poster

It’s that time of year again — New TV time!

Here’s a short run-down of some early thoughts about the Fall 2014 TV season based on a few pilots and season openers.

Gotham

Let me start by saying that I’m a big Batman fan. You might already know this. I should also say that I love the comic series, Gotham Central.

Gotham, however, is is not the TV show I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be a Gotham Central show, where GCPD cops try to keep the peace in an un-governable city cursed with larger-than-life villains and a guardian angel who is more terrifying than most of the villains he fights. But it’s not that show, and it’s not trying to be that show — it seems like it’s trying to be the story of Gotham before Batman and the story of the various villains and how they become who they are when Batman emerges. Continue reading

Mining the Genre Asteroid: War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

28 Sep warfortheoaks

Eddi McCandry is the guitarist for a band that has just broken up. Her career in rock’n’roll is going nowhere; she’s broken up with her boyfriend; and she is more than a little adrift. Luckily for Eddi, a twist of fate makes her the one selected as the talisman for the conflict between two warring factions of faerie:  Seelie and Unseelie. They need a mortal present in order to be able to actually war against each other and physically battle, and Eddi has gotten the job. Add in a Phouka keeper to shepherd her through the runup to the Faerie confrontation, Eddi’s attempts to form a new band and find herself and her musical voice, and a gigantic helping of late 1980’s Minneapolis.

And did I mention the Unseelie are trying to kill her? Continue reading

Metropolis (1927), Feminism, and Influence

25 Sep Metropolis (1927)

Since there seems to be so much noise these days about the Golden Age of SF, I decided to begin rewatching (or in some cases, watching) classic genre films in order to get a more sound foundation in my chosen genre. If I do this with novels, why not films? In this case, I’m glad that I did. One of my graphic design professors had us watch Metropolis in class. I’d vaguely remembered it as stylish — it’s a fine example of Art Deco design — and only a little coherent. At the time, I wondered why anyone would sit through the whole thing. It made no sense. The professor didn’t mention that the film had been censored. I’m not sure she was aware of how much it’d gotten cut as she didn’t mention it in the introduction. When I looked for it on Netflix, I found two versions. The first claimed to have restored footage and an 80s soundtrack. The second also had restored footage. What I failed to notice was that the first print was one hour and fifteen minutes long. The second? Two hours and fifteen minutes. I recall the version I saw in class was less than an hour. Wow.

Continue reading

The Disquieting Guest — Calvaire and the Tyrannies of Desire

24 Sep Calvaire (2004)

There is no denying that extreme horror, at its worst, fulfils pretty much every outside observer’s worst surmises about quote-unquote torture porn. But at its best, it has a merciless rigour that pushes viewers into places they may not wish to go but are important for them to confront. Fabrice Du Welz’s Calvaire (2004) is a case in point.

Calvaire is a Belgian film and not, strictly speaking, part of the New French Extreme trend in horror films (InsideHigh TensionMartyrs, etc.). But if we reconsider the term slightly as the New French-Language Extreme, then it fits in very nicely with its dark cousins (and Martyrs, a France-Canada co-production, becomes a better fit as well). While not as gory as some, its unblinking willingness to explore the heart of darkness marks it, for me, as part of that loosely defined movement.* Continue reading

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