#61: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) — A Shoot the WISB Subcast

21 Aug

Rampant misogyny, batipi, and failed plots, oh my! Shaun, Paul, and Alex join together to absolutely destroy the mess that is Luc Besson’s newest film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. They REALLY hated this movie, guys. From the wish-fulfillment misogyny of Valerian himself to the wasted potential of Rihanna’s character (and virtually everything else), they found a lot of things that just went horribly wrong with this CGI extravaganza.

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): Continue reading

#PollMondays: What was the best scifi film of 1999?

21 Aug

It’s that time again:  poll time!

This week, we thought we’d torture you with a poll of some of the biggest films of 1999.

Now it’s up to you. Decide once and for all which of these films was the best of the year. Your vote could decide the fate of the world!

A Book By Its Cover: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

20 Aug

Picture yourself on a boat or a lakeshore,
with pastel balloons and ominous skies;
Some monster calls you, you answer quite slowly
— the girl with the GLOWING RED EYES!

My Best Friend’s Exorcism, by Grady Hendrix, is a work of art. You can tell just by looking at the cover. There is a LOT going on here! It tells a story all by itself, but go on and read the book, too. I can’t promise you’ll be glad you did, since I don’t know you, Gentle Reader, but I’d be amazed if you’re not interested!
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The Intersection: Blackthorne and the Importance of Secondary Characters

17 Aug

There are many tools one can use for worldbuilding. A lot of them aren’t obvious to the reader—and in fact, I’d venture to say that the most effective techniques are those the reader doesn’t notice. This is how real life works. For example: events and cultural distinctions clearly affecting the world and those living in it but no one openly discusses are a big factor in everyday life.[1] Another of these hidden opportunities for worldbuilding involves secondary characters. One of the things I aspire to do is to populate my stories with any number of interesting characters capable of taking over the narrative. (Not that I let them.) Not only does it give the main characters people to interact with and thus further the plot, it’s realistic. Each of us thinks of ourselves as the main character of our story. Point of view characters in a novel are no different. However, we aren’t the only main character. Every “secondary character” we meet—doctors, neighbors, people on the street—is the main character of their own story in which we are the secondary character. That’s reality. In addition, well-developed secondary characters will sometimes alter the main character’s perspective of the world. This, too, is how the real world works. How many times have you encountered someone whose perspective on a situation altered your own? If you’re like me, quite a few. None of us operates in a vacuum. Characters in a narrative shouldn’t either. Continue reading

My Superpower: Chris Caldwell

16 Aug

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 Chris Caldwell.


I’ve always been fascinated by illusion and transformation; the concepts of changing a thing into something new, and something appearing to change but remaining the same, go hand in hand. My stories The Beekeeper’s Garden (Fiyah, Spring 2017) and Serving Fish (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, People of Color Take Over Issue 2017) explicitly deal with illusion and transformation as they apply to the experiences of marginalized people. I am a skeptic who deeply wants to believe. I know the magician is palming the coin while still hoping she has conjured it from the ether.

My superpower is seeing through illusion. Not in a grandiose way, I don’t wave my hands to reveal that the handsome youth has really been a middle aged venture capitalist all along. I’ll irritate friends at the movies by figuring out plot twists long before I’m supposed to (“They’re the ghosts!” “I think he’s making this whole thing up!” “They’re really in modern times!”). I’ve used insight as a mental health worker to help people who are frustrated and feel unheard get to the bottom of what need they have that hasn’t been met. Throwing a surprise party for me is usually an exercise in futility. It isn’t infallible by any means. There are people and conditions that completely confound my insight, and days where maybe the moon has entered the wrong sphere and every observation I make falls flat. But for the most part, it’s served me well: allowing me to discern true friend from false, and helping others navigate closer to the shaky ground known as the Truth.

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