Why am I worried that Cyberpunk 2077 will suck?

It looks like the slickest open world AAA video game ever made, but have CD Projekt Red found new meaning for old cyberpunk metaphors? Damien Walter writes on culture, politics and sci-fi for The Guardian, WIRED, BBC, Independent, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. The girl in the black vinyl minidress, shit-kicker boots and neon hair braidsContinue reading “Why am I worried that Cyberpunk 2077 will suck?”

7 literary Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels you must read

Damien Walter writes on sci-fi & fantasy for The Guardian, BBC, Wired, Oxford University Press, IO9, Tor.com and elsewhere. He’s a graduate of the Clarion scifi writers workshop. Follow him on Twitter. At any given moment on the inter-webs there are probably dozens of irate Sci-Fi & Fantasy fans getting agitated about those damn literary authors comingContinue reading “7 literary Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels you must read”

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”

Ted Chiang, the science fiction genius behind Arrival

In the small world of science fiction short stories, Ted Chiang is a superstar. It’s easier to list the major SF awards he hasn’t won than those he has, and he’s equally acclaimed in the broader field of literary short fiction – all for a body of work that could probably fit within half aContinue reading “Ted Chiang, the science fiction genius behind Arrival”

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”

I read the Sad Puppies. It was not a pleasure.

For the last few years, the Hugo awards for science fiction have been campaigned against by a group of writers and fans calling themselves the Sad Puppies – mostly male, very white, and overwhelmingly conservative. Unhappy with sci-fi’s growing diversity, the Puppies have deliberately block-voted for certain titles to get them nominated for Hugos at theContinue reading “I read the Sad Puppies. It was not a pleasure.”

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”