Tag Archives: Fantasy

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.

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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

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

209. South African SF Roundtable w/ Alex Latimer, Lauren Beukes, and Sarah Lotz

23 Jun

Terrifying malls, time traveling serial killers, and renegade spaceships, oh my!  Authors Alex Latimer, Lauren Beukes, and Sarah Lotz join Julia and Shaun for an in-depth discussion about South African SF, from the influences of Apartheid on contemporary SA literature to the film industry to fandom and publishing.  You won’t want to miss this one!

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 209 — Download (MP3)

Show Notes:

  • Our Guests
    • Alex Latimer (Author of numerous picture books and The Space Race, which involves apartheid, nuclear weapons, and a race to the moon)
    • Sarah Lotz (Author of The Three, which is about plane crashes and creepy kids. Also writes under other names)
    • Lauren Beukes (Author of several books including The Shining Girls, which is about time traveling serial killers, and the forthcoming Broken Monsters)
  • Additional Notes:
  • Where to buy SA books:
  • Author recommendations:
    • Diane Awerbuck — Home Remedies (recommended by Alex)
    • Louis Greenberg — Dark Windows set in future South Africa
    • Something Wicked magazine
    • Bloody Parchment anthology and Bloody Harvest anthology
    • Jungle Gym magazine
    • Andrew Solomon — Tokolosh Song
    • Edyth Bulbring
    • Henrietta Rose-Innes
    • Alex Smith
    • SA Partridge
    • Nerine Dorman
    • Liam Kruger
    • Miranda Sherry Black Dog Summer (like The Lovely Bones, but set in South Africa)
    • Sam Wilson

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.

208. Usman Malik (a.k.a. Mr. Marvel) — An Interview at ICFA

19 Jun

Urdu literature, the wild world of translation, and Pakistani speculative fiction, oh my!  Author Usman Malik joins us at ICFA to talk about his literary influences, Urdu literature, spirituality and religion, and a whole lot of other amazing stuff.

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 208 — Download (MP3)

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.

Film Review: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010) — A (World) SFF Film Odyssey

12 Jun The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)

Readers may be familiar with director Luc Besson’s previous work, which includes the excellent films like The Fifth Element (1997), Leon the Professional (1994; featuring a quite young Natalie Portman), or the lesser-known, but personal favorite, Unleashed (2005; featuring Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, and the late Bob Hoskins).  These are wildly different films, but they are a testament to Besson’s versatility as a writer and director.  The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (Les aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec; 2010), seems, then, to be a departure from what has come before, in no small part because this is a film which is coded for a younger audience by its humor and delivery.  In that respect, it is a fun, if not somewhat uneven adventure comedy. Continue reading

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