Empires, spaceships, and corruption, oh my! Author Ann Leckie joins us to discuss her much-discussed novel, Ancillary Justice. We talk about gender paradigms (in her work and elsewhere), research, colonial empires, science fiction as a genre, and much more!
We hope you enjoy the episode!
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Episode 179 — Download (MP3)
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That’s all, folks! Thanks for listening. See you next week.
This week, I’m going to take another look at Fall TV pilots in the geekiverse, from Tesla Steampunk Tony Stark to the latest Buddy Cops With Androids.
The latest in a years-long trend of re-imaginings and re-boots, the Jonathan Rhys-Meyers-fronted Dracula takes the story forward to the early 20th century, where Vlad Tepes (a.k.a. Dracula) is resurrected from an intricate grave and heads to London to plot against the Ordo Draco, the group that destroyed his life and killed the love of his eternal life, Ilona. Continue reading
“Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come”
A portion of that line from Revelations is a code phrase that Colonel Mark Bragg, U.S. Air Force has with his little brother Randolph (Randy Bragg). The scene is 1950’s Florida, the small river town of Fort Repose. A sleepy isolated burg, Mark has sent his wife and children to stay with Randy along with the message.
Geopolitical tensions have been rising, from spy satellites to conflict in the Middle East. Events are rapidly moving toward a head. The Missile Gap and technological superiority on the part of the Warsaw Pact means that for the moment, the Soviet Union has an advantage over the United States. This imbalance is a temporary advantage, perhaps one large enough to use.
The code phrase’s meaning, then? Nuclear War is nigh.
Today was the last day of teaching for my survey course in American Literature. As with all my literature courses, I included quite a few works of SF/F on the reading list, from “classic” SF like Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War to contemporary weirdness like Flight by Sherman Alexie. This year, I realized there were a few unintentional trends in the works I’d selected. First, almost every text I had my students read directly or indirectly addressed sex. I’m not going to talk about that today, except to say that my students and I were quite amused that our small representation of American Literature seemed to suggest that all American Literature will talk about sex at some point. That’s probably not true, but it’s amusing nonetheless.
The more interesting unintentional theme is that of trauma and its representation through weirdness / magical realism / anti-realism. This became apparent only recently, when we finished reading Flight by Sherman Alexie, a definitively non-realist novel about a time traveling / body-switching Native American foster kid who must discover himself through a myriad of other people’s experiences. As the last novel for the course, it resonated quite well with several of the other recent texts, something I hadn’t expected at the time. The angst and blunt honesty of the main character, Zits, on Continue reading
A few weeks back, Shaun quipped to me that horror is “fantasy with scary bits.” Even further back, a discussion went around on Twitter as to whether horror and epic or high fantasy could coexist. A few remarks this week (which I will get to in due course) had me thinking about this issue again.
As I’ve argued previously, horror is too polymorphous to be considered a genre — any attempt to define it as such winds up with exclusions and inclusions so remarkable as to invalidate the definition. For example: an insistence that there must be an element of the supernatural excludes the likes of Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and so on. On the other hand, horror’s symbiotic/parasitic nature allows it Continue reading
So, I appeared at an event at the San Marcos Library on Sunday where I’d been asked to give a talk about research. During the question and answer section, someone asked me why I would go to all the trouble of setting a fantasy in the real world? “Why do that when you can just make stuff up? That’s easier, after all. It’s a short cut!”
Yeah. Um. Not so much. First, writing isn’t easy, nor is making up stuff. Worldbuilding is hard work – very difficult, detailed work. If you’re not thinking about the worldbuilding aspects of your story that much, then what you’re doing is probably derivative, and that’s not good. It’s far easier to work with environments with which the reader is already familiar than it is to make up a foreign world and make it plausible. There are certain cues Continue reading