The troll reviewers targeting women writers

Online abuse reminds us that while technology is upgraded, human qualities of jealousy and bitterness are not. It may contain some passages judged by one Amazon customer to be “brilliantly written”, but that isn’t enough to spare Monica Byrne’s The Girl in the Road a two-star kicking. The reason? Byrne has committed a political sinContinue reading “The troll reviewers targeting women writers”

How Fighting Fantasy beat traditional stories

In the three decades since Fighting Fantasy began, games have changed our concept of story forever. When I was 10 I wanted, for a brief period, to be a professional Fighting Fantasy player. I was so fascinated with the now-iconic green-jacketed gamebooks, emblazoned with the legend “Thrilling fantasy adventures in which YOU are the hero!”, that I hatchedContinue reading “How Fighting Fantasy beat traditional stories”

RE: Worldbuilding – can sci-fi help build a better world?

Science shows us how the world is built. Can science fiction help us build a better world? Follow @damiengwalter on Twitter The Blue Marble Astronaut Jack Schmitt released the shutter on the 70 millimeter Hasselblad camera at 5:39 AM on 7th December 1972. The Apollo 17 mission to the moon was 45,000 kilometers from Earth.Continue reading “RE: Worldbuilding – can sci-fi help build a better world?”

Marion Zimmer Bradley : can we separate the artist from the art?

It’s a truism that the writer you read on the page is not the writer you meet in the flesh. It’s for exactly this reason that meeting our cultural heroes is so often a profound disappointment. The transcendent singer on the stage is a bawdy lech in the bar. The poet who expresses beauty inContinue reading “Marion Zimmer Bradley : can we separate the artist from the art?”

A digital renaissance for the science fiction short story

A man wakes up from a car crash to find that he is an “electric ant”: an android programmed to believe it is human. At home he uses micro-tools to open up his own chest and discovers a tiny spool of tape inside. Punching new holes in the tape makes new objects appear in hisContinue reading “A digital renaissance for the science fiction short story”

Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux

STRANGE BODIES by Marcel Theroux – Literary body horror goes existential. “Am I just a body?” Asks the four year old daughter of Nicholas Slopen, unfortunate protagonist of Marcel Theroux’s metaphysical thriller Strange Bodies. The answer Slopen gives us the reader, “not even that”, is less than comforting. The quest to discover what it isContinue reading “Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux”

Only a creator culture can save us

We’re trying to rebuild a failed consumer culture. We need to make a new creator culture instead. Published in Culture – A Reader for Writers, editor John Mauk, Oxford University Press. I arrived in Leicester in the late ‘90s as a student, a year after losing my mother to cancer. Having little support, I workedContinue reading “Only a creator culture can save us”

Are we already living in the technological singularity?

news has been turning into science fiction for a while now. TVs that watch the watcher, growing tiny kidneys, 3D printing, the car of tomorrow, Amazon’s fleet of delivery drones – so many news stories now “sound like science fiction” that the term returns 1,290,000 search results on Google. The pace of technological innovation isContinue reading “Are we already living in the technological singularity?”

Self-publishing: is it killing the mainstream?

Brenna Aubrey self-published her debut romance novel At Any Price on the Amazon Kindle on 9 December 2013. One month later At Any Price had netted a total profit of £16,588. Aubrey’s success is far from unique – 2013 was a breakout year for “indie authors” led by the phenomenal success of Hugh Howey. ButContinue reading “Self-publishing: is it killing the mainstream?”

THE GOLEM AND THE DJINNI – a masterpiece of fantasy literature

Unforgettable images shimmer from the pages of The Golem and the Djinni. A palace of glass and gold glittering in the Syrian desert. The bustle and heartbeat of New York in 1899, populated with a cast of intriguing characters, two of them creatures of magic. Chava is a golem crafted by a rogue rabbi, herContinue reading “THE GOLEM AND THE DJINNI – a masterpiece of fantasy literature”

Forget Iron Man-child – let’s fight the white maleness of geek culture

Fantasy has become a sandbox for immature masculinity. What kinds of stories could we tell if our writers tackled the hard truths of male identity and privilege? The coming year threatens to be another period of white, male heroism in geek culture. Another summer of superpowered men in the cinema. Another year with only 4%Continue reading “Forget Iron Man-child – let’s fight the white maleness of geek culture”