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end of summer

Everything is Transitory but the Family Remains: Yasujirō Ozu’s The End of Summer

Throughout his career, Yasujirō Ozu experimented with ensemble narrative. While it forms the core of his most famous film, one of the greatest films ever made, Tokyo Story, he first employed the style years earlier in Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family. There is something particularly special about Ozu’s ensemble films in the way in which the lives of the characters within the film are entwined for better or for worse. The slow pacing and the rarity of real confrontation give the films what David Bordwell calls “calm”, the lives of the characters are a sort of quiet sadness that makes the tragedy more affecting.

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theodora goss

The Rose in Twelve Petals and Other Stories by Theodora Goss – Review

Theodora Goss only began publishing her short fiction and poetry in 2002 but already her work has appeared in some of the genre’s most respected publications (including “Realms of Fantasy”, “Strange Horizons”, “Polyphony” and “Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet”). No less than 6 of her published stories, out of only 11 to date, have appeared in “best of” collections (along with a good deal of her poetry) and in 2004 Small Beer Press collected four of these, together with some unpublished material, into a perfectly formed collection – “The Rose in Twelve Petals and Other Stories” – as part of their occasional chapbook series. Those in the know have confidently proclaimed her One-To-Watch and linked her name with that of rising star Kelly Link (who, as you all well know, co-founded Small Beer). Such high praise warrants investigation, and thus…

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game of thrones

Game of Thrones Japanese Style

Ahhh… Game of Thrones in Japanese on marble in the house. Almost better than the Robb Report right here. Perfect credit at the Iron Bank.

I’m thinking it may be time to do a reread of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire soon since we in this hell period in waiting for the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones nor has Martin delivered Winds of Winter outside of some sample chapters.

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i spit on your grave

7 Toughest Comebacks in Crime Film

Crime heroes and villains got it rough. They’re usually up to the gills in trouble and their genre, unlike horror, doesn’t smile on its bad-asses soaking up too many bullets.

A fortunate – or unfortunate, if you’re a “the grave’s half empty” kind of person – few manage some superhuman comebacks. Whether by the power of a psychotic episode, sheer grit or timely medical attention, these crime film characters practically pull off an Easter miracle.

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adam Rex

Adam Rex Fat Vampire Interview

Adam Rex is an amazingly talented children’s illustrator, as well as being an author of both children’s and YA novels.  I had the pleasure of meeting him in person last month at BEA, and I made sure to line him up for an interview later before we parted ways.  His new novel, Fat Vampire, is due out next month, and it ‘s not your typical vampire novel.  Nor is it your typical coming of age novel.

Here I’ve got Adam talking about his inspiration for the story, his influences as a writer, his view of what it would be like to live forever (hint:  it’s not all sunshine and roses), and much more.  Sink your teeth in and enjoy!

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star wars

Vos & Asajj Golden in STAR WARS Dark Disciple Review

I want to get the basics out of the way first. If you don’t like or want spoilers don’t read on. I will tell you the point of a person reading a book and then sitting down to write up about what they didn’t just read when there is one. Seems like a waste of time to me, so go read the book and watch Thrawn return to new canon like any good Star Wars fan this week and come back here.

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Ashes of Time Redux: Wong Kar-wai as a Poet of Memory

In 2046, Wong Kar-wai’s eighth film, Tony Leung Chiu-wai plays a journalist and writer (the same character he plays in In the Mood for Love), that begins to write science-fiction as an additional income when journalist work dries up. The story that he writes, also called 2046, set in the distant future about people who travel to 2046 (whether it is a time or a place is never explained) in order to live in the memories of their lost loves, a place from where no one has ever returned. Scenes from 2046 punctuate the narrative as a parallel as Leung comes to realise that he is writing about himself.

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guy gavriel kay

Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay Review

I have a set of bright memories associated with various of Guy Gavriel Kay’s novels: Sitting, aged 13, grief-stricken and sobbing in a cold bath having finished “The Darkest Road”, the final weft in his Fionavar Tapestry; drooping in my early morning lectures five years later having welcomed in the dawn with the last page of his “Lions of Al-Rassan”; throwing myself down into my pillows and grinning, grinning, grinning at the promise of a second book in the Sarantine Mosaic duology. This last is hardly tinted with the same nostalgia, what with it only happening yesterday evening but you take my meaning.

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multireal

MultiReal by David Louis Edelman Review

The labels “science fiction” and “speculative fiction” have long been entwined, with speculative fiction variously considered synonymous with science fiction or an umbrella that contains science fiction. And indeed most science fiction is speculative, either in the form of selective futurism, extrapolating and highlighting present trends, or as thought experiments on present questions of human nature (or both). What is increasingly interesting then about David Louis Edelman’s Jump 225 trilogy, of which MultiReal is the second volume, is how it is becoming less a work that addresses the present indirectly, through such speculation, and more a work that seeks to directly capture the zeitgeist, the feeling and the texture of the present. It does so not by in-depth mimicry of the present, but by using science fiction to construct a credible model of the present.

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Badass Moments in Sci-Fi History

I probably don’t need to tell the readers here that science-fiction is probably one of the most badass genres of fiction to ever explode out of someone’s brain.  I mean, any genre in which genetically modified cyborgs, hyperdrive-capable spaceships, chest-bursting aliens, disintegration death rays, handheld nuclear bombs, mutant apocalypses, and skimpy gold bikinis are the norm is OK in my book, and anybody who doesn’t think that stuff kicks more ass than an alcoholic donkey-herder really needs to get their priorities straight.

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scott lynch

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch Review – The Thorn of Camorr Returns

We find the remnants of our band stalking the pits of the Sinspire, patiently and calculatingly ascending lady luck’s ladder in Lynch’s Monte Carlo, the city-state Tal Verrar, marked on any map as the destination for the apex of high society and high stakes. The absurdity of the back in-saddle starting point exhibits the author’s greatest strength, his decisions on how to pace a novel.

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alias

The 5 Worst TV Crime Show Finales

You’d think it would be easy to wrap up a crime TV series. Punish the bad guys, save the day and solve the mystery. The audience can turn off the set with their belief in an ordered universe confirmed. Easy as it may seem, plenty of crime shows flip out and faceplant when it’s time for their finale.

Some try to get too clever or artistic. Some fling the story outside the genre in a geeky attempt to surprise their viewers. Most just don’t know what the Hell they’re doing.

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kelly link

Stranger Things – A Kelly Link Interview

Not quite two years ago I was reading The Guardian and came across a list of Top 10 Weird Fiction, offered by China Mieville. The list featured writers and works of known quality — dare I say superiority — that included the likes of M. John Harrison, Mervyn Peake, Philip K. Dick, Charlotte Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Stefan Grabinski, H.G. Wells, Max Ernst, the prodigious Jane Gaskell, and ended with an author previously unknown to me residing in the 10 spot. Being rather impressionable, I ran — not walked — to get my copy of Kelly Link’s collection Stranger Things Happen, an investment of which that was not marred even when it became available free for download, instead it was a rare moment of unselfishness, a gratitude that others would be able to share in the fantastic trips offered by Link, in what was, and explicitly still is,one of the most noteworthy collections in recent years.

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scanner darkly

The Order of the Blue Flower by Hal Duncan – Notes from New Sodom

The Rapture of Unreason

“I grew up around Christians who believed in a seven day creation, preached the reality of Hell and Judgement, and railed against the lie that was evolution. They were also, for the most part, racists and homophobes… And the only difference between them and me was that I had a father who shoved a science fiction paperback into my pre-teen hands and ordered me to read it. After all, it’s pretty hard to be prejudiced against blacks and gays when you’re a-okay with Klingons and the Green Men of Mars.”
— Lou Anders, Bowing to the Future

So the 21st of May came and went without a whiff of the Rapture, nary a hint of Moby Douche, the Great White Fail, breaching the firmament above. No star called Wormwood fallen from the sky, turning a third of the waters to tasty absinthe. No angels treading the wine gums of the wrath of the Lord. Not a peep of New Jerusalem on the early warning radar. Instead here we are, still in New Sodom, with Benny the Rat still in the Vatican, Fred Phelps still on the streets, and Harold Camping still on the radio, still selling his schtick. The Rapture’s postponed apparently, till the 21st October. Cool. That’s going to be one fuck of 40th birthday party for me that day then.

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valiant comics

Rai, X-O Manowar, Harbinger – Revisting Classic VALIANT Comics

In a recent post about Toyo Harada I talked about the order of VALIANT character appearances in the original VALIANT universe from the early 1990s. I thought about it some and decided to piece together three reviews I did of first three original (post-Magnus and Solar) VALIANT properties in their initial arcs as titles.These cover the two hardcovers that the current VALIANT owner released of the classic material, Harbinger: The Beginning and X-O Manowar: Birth, along with the classic first TPB of Rai from the ‘90s. I wrote thsi awhile back so if there are any continuity eras in our current world, it’s because my Infinity Gauntlet is in the shop.

If you like new VALIANT you can check out my lengthy thoughts on Divinity, Ninjak, and Bloodshot as well.

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EKATERINA SEDIA

Paper Cities | an Ekaterina Sedia Interview

Ekaterina Sedia’s second novel, The Secret History of Moscow, has made her a new author to watch. It has garnered critical praise, from no less than Neil Gaiman and is selling quite well.

The novel is set in Post-Communist Russia, where everyone is suffering under the growing pains of capitalism gone amuck. Thugs and gangs share the stage with those used to the old communist way of doing things, poverty and uncertainty abounds, and yet there is an excitement in the air.

Caine Black Knife Review – Stover Settling Scores

In previous novels Matthew Stover has shown us a star ascending, in his prime and during a fall. A god killer, creator, and husband of one — he is the unlikely pawn that is the habitual line stepper and reaches points to crown himself, but instead of turning around he jumps off. Through this, one would think we know the make-up of Caine, the complex extremity of his simplicity, and that perhaps all his stories left to be told are in the future and beyond.

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Jacqueline Carey

Sundering Return to Terre d’Ange – Jacqueline Carey Interview

Later this year on August 1st today’s guest is releasing the concluding installment in a duology titled The Sundering. Following up Banewreaker, Godslayer will cap off an epic tragedy story that is a testament to her versatility. Prior to this, her Kushiel’s Legacy series, a thus far three book sequence, that includes, Kushiel’s Dart, Kushiel’s Chosen, and Kushiel’s Avatar, introduced readers to the setting of Terre d’Ange, where through the adventures of Phedre, Jacqueline Carey would become a fantasy fixture, while penning some of the most progressive genre work during the time.

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seven

6 Most Twisted Pranks in Crime Film

A perfect crime always has a bit of a prank to it. When you’re breaking the law, you’re duping society, after all. You play a joke on old Lady Justice. The punchline just happens to be a few steamer trunks of bearer bonds or a well-buried corpse.

But some crimes take the yukks to the next level. These law-shattering shenanigans score big on style points, surprise or sheer humor. And when it’s done for the sake of cinema, twisted pranks can leave their kink marks in our memory for years to come.

Here are 6 Twisted Pranks in Crime Film that never fail to split our sides or sicken our stomachs.

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erin evans

Being a Hack: Writing a Shared-World Novel- Erin M. Evans Guest Blog

At the end of most science fiction and fantasy sections is a shelf that is plastered in logos: Halo, Warhammer 40000, Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Warcraft. Shared world fiction. It’s a section that admittedly, I didn’t stray into until my mid-twenties. It seemed daunting, as if one had to be admitted via a complicated test. I certainly never thought I’d see my name on the shelf—that world was an alien one where I didn’t belong. Yet here I am. And while shared world fiction—fiction that uses a pre-created setting—has a lot in common with nonshared world fiction, there are also a lot of ways in which it’s pretty unique.

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The Abominable Charles Christopher

Karl Kerschl is another comic artist who has dipped his toe into the big pond, he’s worked for DC on a multitude of titles, but his real magnum opus is coming in his longform webcomic. He works with the TransmissionX Comics studio where he often collaborates with fellow webcomic master Cameron Stewart, who I featured in an article about his seminal web-work, Sin Titulo, previously. Kerschl’s masterpiece is called The Abominable Charles Christopher, a tale about a strange beast known as Charles Christopher who might be a yeti type of creature, or perhaps just a confused bear, but what I am certain of is that he’s exceptionally well written and completely lovable.

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Suzhou River:

Dredging Suzhou River: Artifice and Art

At the very beginning of Lou Ye’s Suzhou River (Sūzhōu Hé) the unnamed and unseen narrator and protagonist whom works as a freelance cameraman tells the viewer that he is fine filming anything just so long as the client doesn’t complain. His camera, he says, shows things the way that they are. This statement recalls that famous one of Bruno Forestier in Godard’s Le Petit Soldat (his second feature film and first to star his muse and future wife, Anna Karina), “La photographie, c’est la vérité, et le cinéma, c’est vingt-quatre fois la vérité par seconde” – “Photography is truth, and cinema is truth 24 times per second”.

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james bond

From Russia With Love | The James Bond Zapiska

Ah, the Cold War.  Growing up as I did in the Eighties, there was no greater Bad Guy in film or print as evil or subversive or insidious as the Russians.  They were the eternal enemy, lurking across the ocean at the business end of a fleet of ICBMs.  It was a time of uncertainty, of mistrust, of a vague feeling that global nuclear catastrophe could happen at any time.  Not just that you might die, or your brother in the service might die, but that everyone might die.  That the culmination of human endeavors to this point might just end after the hasty push of a big red button.

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avalon

Authenticity in Mamoru Oshii’s Avalon

Before we begin, I would like to say a few brief words on the nature of this column. I believe it is impossible to talk about films without discussing what are considered spoilers, and to quote Jonathan Rosenbaum, “Is this form of worry a fit activity for grown-ups?” Therefore if you have an aversion to spoilers, I recommend that you do not read this column, consider this your only disclaimer.

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robin hobb

Robin Hobb Interview – From Farseer to Soldier Son

My guest today is a name that has been a fixture in epic fantasy for more then a decade now, and an award nominated author even before that under the name Megan Lindholm. She is responsible for fan favorite series like the Farseer, Live Ship Traders, and Tawny Man trilogies. This year she leaves the successful and familiar setting of the 6 Duchies and with her latest release, Shaman’s Crossing, introduces us to the Kingdom of Gernia, an all new canvas to kick off the The Soldier Son trilogy.

Today Robin Hobb, where she touches on Shaman’s Crossing, Peter Jackson, why first is better than third, and her love for spoilers.

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meiko kaji

Songs of Hate: Meiko Kaji and Female Prisoner Scorpion (Part One)

She sold over a million albums, her films inspired much of Kill Bill, and when she didn’t want to do what she was asked of by executives, she said uh-uh and split for greener pastures. Her name is Meiko Kaji. Possessed with a confidence and an intensity that saw her type-cast as one of Japan’s toughest bad girls, Meiko’s beauty and fierce you’re-a-fucking-dead-man stare, framed by tresses of long jet-black hair (frequently shot in weirdly-angled extreme close-up), has made her a global cult film icon.

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charles stross

Dungeons to Singularity – Charles Stross Interview

This week my guest is Charles Stross, who is having one hell of a good year. The versatile author is nominated for this year’s Hugo for Best Novel for his novel Singularity Sky, not to mention has 2 novellas nominated for the Best Novella of the year. He is also nominated by Locus this year for Best Science Fiction Novel for Iron Sunrise, and for Best Fantasy Novel honors with the first installment of his Merchant Princes series, Family Trade. The second part of the Merchant Princes, The Hidden Family, was just released, and I want to thank Stross for spending some time with me amidst a very busy writing schedule.

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seven touches of music

Seven Touches of Music by Zoran Zivkovic Review

“Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.”
— Sir Arthur Eddington (1882-1944)

It is a strange universe, one where the scientific respectability of general relativity contrasts with the maverick speculative theories of quantum mechanics; one where the literary respectability of the mainstream novel contrasts with the anything-goes nature of speculative fiction. What is science and what is magic? Quantum theory shows that an action taken now, in the present, can produce changes in the past; a particle only actually comes into defined existence when it is observed by a conscious observer; and such observation can change that which is observed for any subsequent observers. It’s all enough to not merely blur, but erase the previously held division of science being impersonal and repeatable while ceding to magic the realm of the personal, the numinous. While other branches of fiction, even the most literary, cling to rational fables of cause and effect — rely on unknown or misunderstood causes for their pathos — a growing group of writers are turning speculative fiction into guidebooks for imagining our so very strange universe.

The Ghost and the Golem | Notes from New Sodom

A Rejection of Definition

“What SF writers write is SF.”
Orson Scott Card

So Science Fiction is dead; but the death of Science Fiction is not the end of the story. Rather it’s the beginning of it. Torn apart in the struggles of its factions, deserted by the blood and breath of its most explorative writers, the carcass of that old Genre still sits in the SF Café, a leg here, an arm there, novitiates of this cult or that gnawing on its bones, sucking on what’s left of the marrow. It’s a grisly scene, but if these devotees only looked around them they’d see the ghost that dwells in every corner of the diner. Everywhere in the SF Café you can still see the stains, still hear the echoes of that ghost — the closed definition reopened to a strange and subtle essence that defies all definitions — science fiction. And for all that its blood was spilled out, the dying breath of Science Fiction was guttered into a golem. The spelunkers of speculative fiction mining phosphorescent filth from the bowels of the city of Writing, the Sci-Fi freaks scraping kibble and kack that from the bins of decades-old shit sandwiches out back, we have built this thing to take its place.

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bloodshot

Bloodshot Reborn Review – Lemire’s VALIANT Inherent Vice

Really was anticipating Bloodshot Reborn #1 from VALIANT since reading all of the high drama that occurred in The VALIANT #4, which was amazing. I think Matt Kindt successfully relaunched Ninjak recently and I was excited to see how the other half of The VALIANT writing team, one Jeff Lemire, would do with Bloodshot, who probably walked away from the occurrences of the mini more changed then any other character. I recently read Lemire’s Descender and in the middle of a write-up on that, and it’s icy.

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cold fish

It’s Not The Quantity, It’s The Quality: Sion Sono’s COLD FISH

Back in my days teaching English in Japan, I raised the topic of murders and why they were so frequently extreme in Japan. One student actually said in reply, “It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality.” Kind of grimly funny, and a nice attempt at busting out some natural speech, but the thing is, I totally got what he meant. I always believed that the severed heads stuck on school fence posts and the dismembered parts littered around cities, not to mention the extreme pornography, were a result of social repression that, in certain people, boiled up and manifested itself in horribly sick, violent and often public ways. It’s not exactly a long bow to draw, is it? There’s a reason Ian Buruma’s fascinating book on Japanese culture (and valuable aid to this project), Behind the Mask is called that. It’s not just a clever title.

Back Matter Matters – A Study In Commitment

It is a story in words and pictures; that’s comic, kids. That’s what the companies sell, that’s what we buy. But I always want more, and I don’t think I’m asking for too much. There are some comics out there that offer you just a little more bang for your buck and I know I not only appreciate the effort made by creators to include back matter in their comics but I also try my best to pick those titles up each month rather than trade wait. I love back matter, it elevates every comic I buy, and there are so many different ways to go about adding that extra layer to your product.

Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane – Review

It becomes immediately apparent from the opening pages of Darkness, Take My Hand that Dennis Lehane has upped the ante since A Drink Before the War. Darkness, Take My Hand stands in stark contrast to A Drink Before the War as a new level of sophistication permeates the story. The prologue allows Lehane to demonstrate for the first time his desire to toy with our expectations for these characters. It could be said of A Drink Before the War that it ended on a high note that fostered certain hopes for the characters specifically the two leads Patrick and Angie. Lehane is happy to destroy those closely held notions that were carefully constructed right from the start and the experience is all the more richer for it. If the characters were given three dimensions in A Drink Before the War then Darkness Take My Hand breaths life into them. We learn a lot from Patrick in those first few pages, none of which is predictable and all of it shocking. The device used is that of the present looking back, so we don’t know what happened yet. We set our imaginations free and try to conceive of the horrors that brought such results and Darkness Take My Hand details all of it.