Science fiction sold out. Let’s take it back.

Corporations love to take cool things and turn them to trash to make money. In the early 80s black artists took DJ music loops, rapped radical political lyrics over them, and invented hip-hop. Corporations took hip-hop and degraded it into “gangsta rap”, perpetuating stereotypes of black male violence to sell hip-hop to the masses. CorporationsContinue reading “Science fiction sold out. Let’s take it back.”

How Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey rewrote science fiction

“Stanley wanted to create a myth. And I think he succeeded. He wanted to make the proverbial “good science fiction movie”, implying there hadn’t been any good ones before then. I didn’t agree.”                             Arthur C Clarke 2001 : A Space Odyssey is widely considered the greatest science fiction story ever told. It’s creator, auteur movieContinue reading “How Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey rewrote science fiction”

Genre fiction is the worst thing that ever happened to science fiction

When did the science fiction community start using “genre” as a proper noun? “It’s a common thing in Genre.” As though “Genre” is a city you can visit. Or a distinct community unified by being “Genre”. It’s one of those linguistic ticks that arise on the internet. But for science fiction it’s also symbolic ofContinue reading “Genre fiction is the worst thing that ever happened to science fiction”

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?”

Neuromancer…still the best science fiction novel ever written

When life takes an unexpected left turn I do four things – tidy my room, go running, take 72 hours away from anything stressful…and read a good book. This time around I landed on Neuromancer by William Gibson. I first read this book when I was 14, I suspect I read it at least sevenContinue reading “Neuromancer…still the best science fiction novel ever written”

How Philip K Dick’s 1960’s masterpiece nailed politics in the 2020’s

Is Europe welcoming desperate refugees, or being invaded by economic migrants? Is Donald Trump a serious President, or a clownish attention seeker? The Man In The High Castle reveals the most basic truths about our era of competing narratives. * In 1947 the forces of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan swept to victory over Europe andContinue reading “How Philip K Dick’s 1960’s masterpiece nailed politics in the 2020’s”

The remarkable Neal Stephenson interview

Neal Stephenson – legendary author of speculative fiction –  on Elon Musk and geek culture, the  NSA revelations of Edward Snowden, how negative cultural narratives are killing big science  – and the upbringing that made him the writer he is. IN LATE 2013 I had the opportunity to interview the author Neal Stephenson. Some Remarks,Continue reading “The remarkable Neal Stephenson interview”

7 literary Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels you must read

Sci-fi & Fantasy are best known as genre fiction. But truth be told, they have their roots in works of literature. For fans, and especially creators, of today’s modern mythology, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the literary novels that made SF&F what it is. The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse isContinue reading “7 literary Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels you must read”

The 8 Tribes of SciFi

Calling sci-fi a genre in 2016 is about as accurate as calling the United States one nation. In principle it’s true, but in practice things don’t work that way. While crime, romance and thrillers all remain as coherent genres of fiction, it’s been decades since sci-fi could be comfortably understood by any shared generic criteria.Continue reading “The 8 Tribes of SciFi”

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)”