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”

The Tao Te Ching: ancient wisdom for modern times

Two thousand four hundred years after it was composed, we need the Tao Te Ching‘s lessons in self-awareness more than ever. Little can be said with absolute certainty about the origins of the Tao Te Ching. Consensus suggests it was written around 400BC by one Laozi. Laozi translates simply as “old master” – a hint thatContinue reading “The Tao Te Ching: ancient wisdom for modern times”

Which dystopia are we living in?

It seems a bit rough to accuse modern Britain of being a dystopia when it’s also such an excellent source of tea, roast dinners and well-tailored clothing. But then the really disturbing thing about any dystopia is that for every Winston Smith resisting the machine, there are thousands of content consumers quite happy with BigContinue reading “Which dystopia are we living in?”

On being bossed around by Neil Gaiman

I’ve been outlandishly busy in recent weeks. So much so that I haven’t been able to post anything personal here on my blog. One of the costs of having more freelance writing than you can do is that it squeezes out the personal projects that you love. So here’s a round-up on some of whatContinue reading “On being bossed around by Neil Gaiman”

Harlan Ellison : The Interview

Originally published in The Guardian. When Damien Walter tweeted he’d ‘literally kill’ to interview the multiple award-winning author Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman replied ‘What if the person you had to kill was … Harlan Ellison?’ Here Ellison talks about running away from home, the rights and wrongs of paying to read books and how hisContinue reading “Harlan Ellison : The Interview”

Big Brother, big data and the creator culture

News of secret courts being introduced in the world’s oldest democracy should scare any rational human. The right to a public trial has survived feudalism, Henry VIII and the industrial revolution, but couldn’t stand up to the forces of global capitalism. Secret courts could be an idea from Alan Moore’s polemic on Thatcher’s Britain, VContinue reading “Big Brother, big data and the creator culture”

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick

Philip K Dick’s partially autobiographical chronicle of 70s hippie drug culture takes place under the eternal sunshine of southern California. Even the book’s nighttime is saturated with the electric glare of strip mall lighting and the glow of the television screen. And in a society that never switches off the lights, the dark has becomeContinue reading “A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick”

London Gothic

Mystery is the doorway to fantasy. Dark forests, far away galaxies, roads that wind into the distance: any space that allows our imagination to play without the interference of mundane reality can be a portal. And there are few places more expectant with mystery than cities. Every road, building and doorway is a new unknown.Continue reading “London Gothic”

China Miéville was the star turn at the Edinburgh International Book festival

There’s a fictional quality to the closeted environment of the Edinburgh International Book festival. For two weeks, Charlotte Square is fortified with a circle of portable buildings and Spiegeltents, creating a safe space for a fantasy of literary culture to flourish without undue interference from the outside world. It’s a fantasy taking place in the daydreams of aContinue reading “China Miéville was the star turn at the Edinburgh International Book festival”

Chauvinist SF misses the point of the future

There’s a logical fallacy in this club’s claims that it welcomes women members, which is rather like the rhetoric of the well-schooled military officer. Of course they want women in the army. It’s just, well, a soldier must be physically strong, naturally violent and preferably have a todger so you can pee standing up. Any woman who fulfilsContinue reading “Chauvinist SF misses the point of the future”

Mythinterpretation

One of the maxims we’re all learning to live with in the early 21st century is that the extreme ends of any argument support each other’s existence. What would rightwing internet trolls do without leftwing reactionaries? How would al-Qaida go on, without neocon hatred fuelling its fire? And, of course, what would outraged atheists doContinue reading “Mythinterpretation”

Will the book and the internet merge?

The difference between ebooks and the internet is minimal, and we should be glad the two are growing closer and closer. It’s easy to forget that the world wide web as we know it today evolved from an early attempt to put books on the internet. When Tim Berners-Lee envisaged what would become the worldContinue reading “Will the book and the internet merge?”