Remember that time you went to a thing but you didn't really do the thing, you just hung out with your friends and had a very nice time? Then thought, "well, that was a silly thing to do, we could've done our own thing, and it would've been just as nice". Well, someone has invented JUST THAT THING. And it is called the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club. And if that introduction makes no sense at all, just sit back and relax, as founders Jennifer Williams and Den Patrick are about to explain it all...
Pornokitsch: Ok, what is this thing?
Den: SRFC is a group of likeminded souls with one thing in common, they love Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror and anything 'genre'. It's a free night with two readings and a Q&A by authors at the Royal Festival Hall on London's Southbank.
Jen: It's also a chance for fans of genre stuff to meet up once a month and share gossip, I mean, an appreciation for everything science-fiction, fantasy and horror. There's a lot of chatting and general mooching, with a slightly more organised section in the middle where Den cajoles a pair of writers to read from their books and answer some questions. Then we get back to the chatting and mooching about.
PK: What's this 'relaxed' thing about? Does it mean I can attend in a snood?
Jen: Absolutely. Snoods, onesies, mankinis, other items of clothing with unlikely names - we're up for all of it. The point of SRFC is that it is super-relaxed, so you should feel like you can be yourself. Turn up, have a drink, hang out with like-minded SFF people, meet some new friends - regardless of your fondness for neckwear that can't decide whether its a hat or a scarf. Culottes! You can wear those too if you like.
Den: Initially 'relaxed' just meant that it was a meet up without the need for treasurers, chairpersons, committees and so on. We took public votes on the format early on. We also encourage everyone to introduce themselves so everyone feels included. And there is booze and socializing afterwards.
Four ways to have your say in genre things. Please read carefully, if you've gone or are going to a convention, you may be qualified without even knowing it!
Voting for the BSFA Awards is here. It is open to any member of the organisation or anyone going to EasterCon. All online votes must be received by the 25th. If you're at EasterCon, you can vote until noon on the 31st, but wouldn't you rather get it done ahead of time?
If you're going to World Fantasy in Brighton this October, you can vote in the World Fantasy Awards. The ballot for this is here. Voting closes 31 May 2013, so prepare yourself for a flood of "I'm eligible!" tweets later this spring.
Few figures are as revered in our household as William Buckland , D.D., F.R.S., Dean of Westminster, President of the Geological Society and first President of the British Association (1784 - 1856).
He was a wonderfully eccentric genius - trained his horse to smell out mineral deposits, attempted to devour one of every species (seriously!), ate the heart of a king and mentored Britain's greatest generation of scientific minds.
Nowadays, Buckland is remembered primarily for his bonkers behaviour and secondarily for his scientific contributions.* But in all aspects of his life, the dude was stone cold awesome. (That's Victorian slang.)
The home of William Buckland, as described by Thomas I. Sopwith, who visited it in the 1830's:
"Dr. Buckland's house is one of those venerable fabrics
which form the principal quadrangle of Christ Church.
As soon as the old-fashioned door is opened, abundant
evidence is presented that the residence is that of a zealous
disciple of Geology. A wide and spacious staircase has
its floor and even part of its steps covered with ammonites,
fossil trees and bones, and various other geological fragments,
and in the several apartments piles upon piles of books
and papers are spread upon tables, chairs, sofas, book-
stands, and no small portion on the floor itself"
Science Fiction makes a lot of promises, and while the genre has spawned some impressive innovations like mobile phones (remember Captain Kirk’s flip-phone style “communicator”?) and space travel (Jules Verne, Georges Lumiere), we’re still impatiently waiting for some of sci-fi’s boldest innovations:
Flying Cars. "Blade Runner" wowed us with these roadless motors, "The Fifth Element" teased us with flying yellow cabs, and the new ‘Total Recall’ reboot keeps the flame alive, but alas, our four wheels are still stuck to the ground while our dreams of leaving the M25 far below are just that, dreams.
Transporter Beams. It’s not just airports that are a hassle, but the whole flying experience has become a bit of a chore. What we need is point-to-point transporter beams, Scotty. What we’ve got is scratch-card selling discount airlines.
Time Machine. First popularised by H.G. Wells in his 1895 book, "The Time Machine", this handy invention has had over a hundred years to get invented. We all know this would be handy, whether for going back in time to kill Hitler or simply to keep from locking yourself out of the flat, or perhaps travelling forward to tourist the future. But this stalwart of sci-fi seems destined to be confined to the fiction… unless of course we can hop the DeLorean and fetch it from the future.
Knitter extraordinaire and Inky Tentacle judge Lauren O'Farrell unveiled her BT ArtBox, Muncher - titled "Dial M for Monster" - today in Trafalgar Square. Muncher is one of 84 Gilbert Scott phoneboxes that will be scattered around London for the next few weeks and then auctioned off for charity. Twenty of the boxes are being previewed in central London today, so naturally I betook myself to visit them.
Four of the ArtBoxes on display this morning really stood out, and Muncher was definitely one of them. Indeed, Muncher was the one everyone was hugging. Also awesome: Mandii Pope's wonderful, hand-painted Big Ben; Greyworld's amazing clockwork Flower Box; and HoWoCo's spectacular, cooing Stop the Pigeon.
Muncher, Lauren told me, took about a month to knit. Be sure to get up close to really appreciate (and hug) him - he has adorable tiny feet, perching pigeons, and a super-secret button Invader! He'll be on display at the roundabout by Trafalgar Square until 16th July.
Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892) showed up on fuckyeahhistorycrushes today, which is awesome. There are a few things I want to add, though.
A caveat: this is a fast and loose summary of an extensive research project I've been working on for years and should not be taken as a source of information.
Since this came about as my response to a post on Tumblr devoted to "crushes on historical figures," let's start superficially! Owen was legitimately good-looking as a young man. He’s in his fifties in the portrait on the right, but check out this portrait. Here he’s in his early forties and has just shot to fame with his research on the nautilus. (He’s portrayed holding the shell and standing next to a preserved specimen in a jar.) Look how delighted he is! This portrait is in London's National Portrait Gallery, and I strongly encourage everyone to visit it.
Owen stood six feet tall and was very thin. He was also known to be quite vain; in portraits, photographs and even cartoons he’s often portrayed in expensive and flamboyant fabrics and colors. As Owen aged, his height (six feet was very tall in the nineteenth century!), his prominent eyes and his slender build made him look less shaggable than, well - evil. By the end of his life he looked like no one so much as Professor Moriarty. (With a side-trip through Severus Snape-ville.) And, unfortunately, he'd developed a pretty evil reputation by then, too.
Secondly - and this is where it gets interesting - Owen was the most famous British naturalist of his day. He was also cantankerous, ambitious, and enormously controversial; debate dogged his entire professional career, from questions about his integrity to his self-styling as a professor (although he gave public lectures and wore academic robes, he was not a traditional academic) to his frequent and heated quarrels with his contemporaries - particularly his famous conflicts with Darwin and Huxley.
The competition is to write a short story surrounding any character or sets of characters from Children of a Factory Nation, Ms. Reyne's new album. The story can be based on either her lyrics or the facts about their real life counterparts.
The winner will be published in the album's accompanying magazine. He/she will also receive a load of ebooks from Anarchy press, some merch from Ms. Reyne and... drumroll... a cash prize.
The judges are a (mostly) prestigious crew, including Andy Remic, John Jarrold, David Bradley, Lee Harris, James Lovegrove, Gary McMahon, Ellen Datlow and...er... Jared Shurin (thus the "mostly").
The Princess Bride. This isn't a "does it hold up" kind of post, because, frankly, I'm so prejudiced in this film's favor that I couldn't possibly watch it with even the barest pretense of impartiality. I wholly and unreservedly love The Princess Bride, the end. So instead we're going to talk a bit about why The Princess Bride is important. And awesome, of course. And continually worthwhile. And why it wholly deserves its spot at the eleventy-billion-percent awesome end of our Monsters & Mullets Comprehensive Awesomeness Spectrum.
I'm sure every generation prides itself on having the privilege of growing up with the best, most quotable movies. But, seriously - did any decade have it better than we did in the '80s? No only did we have Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Heathers, The Wrath of Khan, Ferris Bueller, Airplane! and Aliens, we had The Princess Bride. Is there any single movie that's more quotable? More quoted?