Quick thoughts on Westworld

Just caught the first episode of Westworld. I suspect it’s a show I’ll be writing about more. Some first thoughts, not so much about the show, as about why I think it matters. Science fiction is the art of metaphor. It gives us ways of thinking and talking about things we can’t otherwise easily talkContinue reading “Quick thoughts on Westworld”

Doctor Strange : Nope, Buddhism won’t give you magic powers

SPOILERS AHEAD. It’s a familiar story by now. A straight white male – and it almost always is a straight white male – is living a kind of ordinary life when BAM! Events transpire that send Mr. Straight White Male on an epic adventure through which he gains Incredible Powers of magic and / orContinue reading “Doctor Strange : Nope, Buddhism won’t give you magic powers”

The shameful joys of the franchise novel…and why the force is with them

Snobby attitudes to sci-fi and fantasy can mean missing out on great stories amid popular book series – a publishing genre that is sure to grow. Make of it what you will, but it’s a plain fact of publishing life that more people will read the latest Star Wars franchise novel than all the booksContinue reading “The shameful joys of the franchise novel…and why the force is with them”

How the Alt-right invaded geek culture

The Alt-right will do anything to outrage the liberal internet, knowing that outrage helps build their growing army of overwhelming white, male, and very geeky, supporters. Star Trek gave television audiences their first interracial kiss in 1968, and Gene Roddenberry’s vision of mankind’s future continued to champion progressive ideas for many decades. Today “geek culture”Continue reading “How the Alt-right invaded geek culture”

Bureaumancy. My new favourite genre of fiction.

There’s nothing wrong with being a bureaucrat. So you’re a tiny cog in a machine made of abstract rules, paperwork, and the broken dreams of those who do not understand either. So what? You’re just misunderstood. Without you, nobody would know where to file their TPS reports. Nobody would even know what a TPS reportContinue reading “Bureaumancy. My new favourite genre of fiction.”

Big Dumb Objects. Sci-fi’s USP.

We humans love things we can’t explain. Witness the vast array of outlandish claims made about Stonehenge, from ancient calendar to alien stargate, when in all likelihood it was just a big clock or an early marketplace, a neolithic branch of Tesco. When the unknown is also alien, the mystery only grows more magnetic. ThinkContinue reading “Big Dumb Objects. Sci-fi’s USP.”

It’s not science fiction – it’s systems fiction

Seen in literary fiction as well as SF, this genre weaves together complex debates in a way that can offer a clearer view of the future – think Atwood, DeLillo and Asimov. Weirdly enough, science fiction is not the best lens through which to examine science fiction. In the 80s, critic Tom LeClair came upContinue reading “It’s not science fiction – it’s systems fiction”

I don’t just want a woman to be Bond, I want a woman to KILL Bond!

Why should we cast a woman as the next James Bond? To prove that women are dangerous and corrupt too. A woman actress as Bond isn’t a fantasy. It’s a chance to give Bond more realism. A new rumour seems to pop up every week – Idris Elba will be the next James Bond! No, AidanContinue reading “I don’t just want a woman to be Bond, I want a woman to KILL Bond!”

Geek critique: Neil Gaiman and Kameron Hurley pick apart pop culture

Two new nonfiction collections – Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats and Hurley’s The Geek Feminist Revolution – present contrasting perspectives on geek culture today. So what’s the state of it? Geeks were once like Victorian children: seen, but not heard; talked about but mocked, rarely given their own voice. But the newfound popularityContinue reading “Geek critique: Neil Gaiman and Kameron Hurley pick apart pop culture”

Dune deserves a new film adaptation

Confusing sequels, terrible prequels and poor adaptations aside, Frank Herbert’s masterpiece still stands up as the one of the truly great sci-fi novels. I first discovered Dune through David Lynch’s 1984 film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s SF masterpiece. The “Lynchian” style, that novelist David Foster Wallace would later define as “a particular kind of ironyContinue reading “Dune deserves a new film adaptation”

Dear Damo : Why isn’t my space opera novel selling?

Welcome to the first in a new series of blog posts where I answer your questions about life, love, and self publishing. All names are changed to protect the innocent. Send your questions to me on Twitter @damiengwalter using hashtag #DearDamo * Dear Damo! I’ve always wanted to be a BESTSELLING writer! So, a few weeksContinue reading “Dear Damo : Why isn’t my space opera novel selling?”

Why has the imagination been sidelined in literature?

Imagination is a powerful force for progress. So why has it been sidelined in the one place it should be most welcome – literature. In his now famous quote, Albert Einstein claimed that imagination was more important than knowledge. When Einstein wrote those words in 1929, those who knew about such things might have saidContinue reading “Why has the imagination been sidelined in literature?”