Category Archives: Media & Podcasts

Momentum in StarShipSofa

My short story Momentum is featured in the Hugo award winning audio magazine StarShipSofa this week. This story was originally published in Electric Velocipede #13 and has been reprinted twice since. It’s great to hear it in audio, and the narration by Victoria Kelly is really good. Thanks to Tony and StarShipSofa for producing this, alongside so many other great writers.

Momentum
When great uncle Peter came to live with our family in the house by the sea I asked my mother why it was he never spoke. My mother explained that great uncle Peter had always been silent, that when he was born he came out without even a scream. Great uncle Peter could have only been young when the family; his mother and father and his sister Ranyevskya – my great grandmother, came over the sea from the old country. And in the smoky streets of London they learnt the tongue of their new home to speak in the world, and kept the language of the old country for home. But great uncle Peter spoke not a word of either. And years passed and then decades and my grandmother was born and my mother and then me and as far as anyone knew great uncle Peter said never a word.

Listen to Momentum in StarShipSofa.

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Is Madmen Science Fiction?

Now work with me here. I know its a leap, but I’m starting to think that the hit television show Madmen is a work of science fiction.

I’ve been geeking out over Madmen season two for the last fortnight. And when I say geeking out, I mean obsessing. Having watched season one three times (friends kept wanting to see it, so I had to rewatch it with them) I decided it was time to move on to the second season. Partly its the soap opera aspect of the show, once you get me hooked on the life stories of a good ensemble of characters, I’m likely to keep coming back for more and more. But Madmen goes a long, long way beyond the simplistic writing of most soap operas, and even exceeds the spate of recent excellent TV series including The Sopranos and The Wire. In an era when the TV series has become our strongest storytelling vehicle, Madmen is telling the best stories of all.

It’s on the thematic level that Madmen really triumphs. Through the lens of the advertising industry, Madmen is able to look at individual facets of our modern, ever more materialist society. Each character in the show is in someway complicit in the construction of the amoral society that they are also a victim of. From the lead male Don Draper who harnesses the pain of losing love to sell products even while his own family is slipping from his grasp, to junior copywriter Betty Olsen who understands every sin she is committing even whilst she is committing them. As a beat poet charcater says to draper in season one, the characters in Madmen ‘are making the lie’, and then they have to live in it.

And its because of its critique of materialist culture that Madmen is creeping over some line in my thinking to qualify as science fiction. Not in the rockets and rayguns way of course. No, Madmen is a much more interesting kind of SF than that. Imagine if Philip K Dick had been given free reign to write a television show, with the provision that it had to be entirely realist and mainstream. And imagine that J G Ballard and Harlan Ellison were asked in to consult. They might have come up with something not dissimilar from Madmen. There is a thread of paranoia and hyper-realism threaded through the show, as though the materialist reality the characters are inhabiting is actually some artificial projection a la The Truman Show or a PKD novel like Ubik. In season 2 the show introduces an overt discussion of god and morality, which culminates in the heavy symbolism of catholicism and the tarot playing out to the backdrop of the Cuban missile crisis, as though some greater power is trying to commune with the characters. Its tempting to think of madmen as the most subversive kind of science fiction, one that works by treating reality itself as the biggest fiction we have ever created.

I’m saving Madmen season 3 for a rainy day, so now what the hell do I watch?

Damo and the Sofanauts

I’ve been a massive podcast fan since I bought my first iPod. I’ve always been a sci-fi fan, but podcasts like Escape Pod, I Should Be Writing and The Dragon Page introduced me to a whole new world of SF. I’ve been listening to Starship Sofa since the early days, so today I was really proud to take part in the first of a new show from the Starship Sofa team, The Sofanauts.

Anyone who has listened to The Week In Tech will be familiar with the format of The Sofanauts, which aims to be The Week in Sci-Fi. A gang of SF fans, bloggers and writers meet every week to talk about SF in all it’s glory!

I’ve just finished recording the first episode and REALLY enjoyed it. I joined host Tony C Smith, Escape Pod editor Jeremiah Tolbert and Matthew Sanborn Smith.

Go listen!

Hollywood must read the Turkey City Lexicon

***WARNING – SPOILER ALERT***

I’m about to give away the ending of Knowing, the new Nicholas Cage vehicle from director Alex Proyas (who over a decade ago brought us the much superior Dark City). So, if you don’t want to know the entirely predictable end of a film that could have been so much more, look away now. Continue reading Hollywood must read the Turkey City Lexicon

Watchmen rocks!

So…I’ve seen it. My considered conclusion…f@$king brilliant!!

My favourite film reviewer, the good Dr himself, Mark Kermode, absolutely panned it in his review on Friday. I think he must be getting a bit long in the tooth because he completely missed the point. Yes its stupid and flippant when it shouldn’t be. Yes the acting is quite appalling in places. But fundamentally this is a faithful adaptation of Alan Moore’s writing and Dave Gibbon’s vision and the outcome is as totally nasty, insane, grusome, violent, inspiring, shocking and hilarious as the comic.

I was a cynical as anyone going in, given that Zack Snyder’s attempt at making a film out of 300 had been gut wrenchingly awful. But then so was the orginal graphic novel (Frank Miller…single most overated comic writer / artsit of all time) and with Watchmen, Snyder demonstrates he is a fanboy director who is only as capable as his source material.

I think its a shame Alan Moore took his name off the film. Whilst it lacks much of the complexity and subtlety of the film, it does honour to it. I hope he changes his mind and watches Watchmen!

Best line:

“But…I thought you liked life now?”

“Yes. I think I will make some.”

Hooray!! I’ve waited years to hear Dr Manhattan speak, and tonight he finally did.