Transrealism: the first major literary movement of the 21st century

A Scanner Darkly is one of Philip K Dick’s most famous but also most divisive novels. Written in 1973 but not published until 1977, it marks the boundary between PKD’s mid-career novels that were clearly works of science fiction, including The Man in the High Castle and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and hisContinue reading “Transrealism: the first major literary movement of the 21st century”

No, the Handmaid’s Tale is NOT science fiction

Sci-fi sells us fantasies. Margaret Atwood’s classic novel is all about the danger of fantasy. Why should they be pigeon holed together? Damien writes on scifi, culture and politics for The Guardian, Independent, Wired, BBC and Aeon magazine, and also right here. Follow on Twitter @damiengwalter Women understand, I think much better than men, howContinue reading “No, the Handmaid’s Tale is NOT science fiction”

Game of Thrones was not a fantasy show (and that made some fantasy fans angry)

Damien Walter writes on scifi & fantasy for The Guardian, BBC, Wired, Oxford University Press, IO9, Tor.com and elsewhere. He’s a graduate of the Clarion scifi writers workshop, and teaches the Rhetoric of Story. There’s a kind of fantasy novel that fantasy fans tend to like. It features either a young orphan / bastard boy destinedContinue reading “Game of Thrones was not a fantasy show (and that made some fantasy fans angry)”

The top 5 Iain M Banks novels

Over three decades after they were first published, the Culture novels of Iain M Banks are more popular than ever. Our first image of Iain M Banks’s Culture universe is a man drowning in sewage: a stark precedent for what was to come. And 30 years after its first publication, Consider Phlebas remains a novelContinue reading “The top 5 Iain M Banks novels”

Science Fiction vs SciFi vs SF: what is the true definition?

If there’s one thing science fiction fans love, it’s an argument. And if there’s one argument they love more than all others, it’s the attempt to define what science fiction actually is, and what is or isn’t included in that definition. Join the discussion SciFi & Fantasy on Facebook. In perhaps the all time mostContinue reading “Science Fiction vs SciFi vs SF: what is the true definition?”

Write better sci-fi stories with this simple idea

When high-falutin people talk about sci-fi you’ll often hear them use words like novum and the like. Critic and academic Darko Suvin came up with novum to describe the…thing…at the heart of every sci-fi story that makes it sci-fi. Androids hiding as humans! A world populated by talking apes! A portal that leads to everyContinue reading “Write better sci-fi stories with this simple idea”

There’s a great gamer novel to be written. Ready Player One isn’t it

  There have been many great American novels. The Grapes of Wrath. The Great Gatsby. Underworld. The idea, at this point in literary history, has become a kind of self referential in joke. The great American novel is what young, over-intense MFA students yearn to write. But it’s still useful as an indicator of whatContinue reading “There’s a great gamer novel to be written. Ready Player One isn’t it”

How does M John Harrison enter a story?

M John Harrison is one of the all time greats, a “science fiction writer’s science fiction writer”, a creator of weird tales in the horror tradition, and a powerful weaver of fantasy. The Viriconium stories defined political fantasy in the 80’s, as the Light trilogy redefined literary SF in the 00s. As editor of NewContinue reading “How does M John Harrison enter a story?”

Is there any such thing as Geek Culture?

There is no end, it seems, to the impotent outrage of geek dudes who feel hard done by because scifi films no longer exclusively feature geeky white dude protagonists. Here’s the latest dumb s*&t from those guys: Any dork hating on Ready Player One stems from jealousy since Ernest Cline seems to be living theContinue reading “Is there any such thing as Geek Culture?”

Five questions the new Blade Runner must answer

Any Blade Runner fan who doesn’t have mixed feelings about the Blade Runner 2049 sequel probably isn’t much of a fan. Hollywood sequels have a bad track record of course. And while the presence of Harrison Ford might encourage some to hope for a sequel as mighty as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many ofContinue reading “Five questions the new Blade Runner must answer”

Tolkien’s myths are a political fantasy

In a world built on myth, we can’t ignore the reactionary politics at the heart of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. What is the Rhetoric of Story? It’s a double-edged magical sword, being a fan of JRR Tolkien. On one hand we’ve had the joy of watching Lord of the Rings go from cult success to, arguably,Continue reading “Tolkien’s myths are a political fantasy”

The trouble with intersectional political alliances as illustrated in Star Wars

Intersectionality is a powerful idea conveyed in an overcomplicated word. But Star Wars is a great way to understand it better. One thing I love about scifi? It provides all the best metaphors to help folks understand the fierce complexities of contemporary politics. Mid-way through the snap UK general election a lot of Harry-Potter-as-political-metaphor memesContinue reading “The trouble with intersectional political alliances as illustrated in Star Wars”