'I wish I could've been in Alien': An interview with Mark Hamill (1980)

Trash Compactor[He hates the word 'genre', loves Alien and makes poop jokes. This 1980 interview between Empire Strikes Back-era Mark Hamill and Starburst reaffirms why we love the guy so much. -- PK]

Star-wars-episode-v-the-empire-strikes-back-lgI asked him if being a fan of the genre meant that working on the Star Wars films was a real pleasure for him.

Yeah, it really is. I've done a lot of work on different television shows that I wouldn't allow to be beamed into my house but they were just jobs I did as an actor. But luckily for me I love to work in this — I hate the word genre — but genre.

But wasn't he getting tired of devoting so much of his career to the Star Wars movies. After all, it had started for him back in 1976. Wasn't he just a little weary of the whole thing now?

No, not at all - really! First of all I think in Empire the story is just beginning to emerge. They laid the groundwork in the first one but now we can develop the story and the characters. Star Wars was very emotional but it was a much more visually orientated experience. I mean, for instance, the exalted feeling you get when we blow up the Death Star is a very mechanical manipulation of the emotions but in Empire we have to rely on the character revelations as the emotional climax.

There was a kid at the media screening here of Empire who was just in tears at the end of it and he was saying to me. It's not true, it's not true . . . you lost! And I was saying to him that I didn't lose. It was a moral victory! It was a moral victory that Luke didn't join with Darth Vader.

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Ban Fiction: 'The Empire Cashes Back' by Mazin Saleem

Economies Of Scale

“I shan’t thank you for coming to see me. Your report stated, bragged even, that you’d chosen to use the proper channels rather than - what exactly? I didn’t know any improper channels still existed. No don’t look worried, I’d been meaning anyway to have this chat.

“You’ve questioned our spending over - forget the last quarter - the last four decades. Implied, a question of priorities. You’ve stated, with I detect some polite horror, that the first station cost 10 trillion, or ‘thereabouts’. A lot hangs on that word. The real figure was closer to 100.

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Fiction: 'Alf' by Mazin Saleem


Time travel was invented twice. First, by the woman who burst into the lab of Rosa Maravu looking like an older version of her. She gave the young physicist a hand-drawn plan, sobbed, then disappeared. Rosa worked on this plan but also became convinced of something: her own indestructibility, at least till that point in her future when she’d travel back and hand the plan to herself. Quashing her nervous nature, she took to parasailing and was struck by lightning (tow rope sizzling to the boat deck in an exclamation mark). Time travel was invented by her lab partner, Maria Seini; it appeared that the present was an ultimate point, forever unfurling. All that existed: the glacier of the past.

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A Matter of Oaths: An interview with Helen S. Wright

Power by Paul Calle (1963)A Matter of Oaths highres When A Matter of Oaths was first published in 1987, featuring an older woman as a space captain and centring on two men of colour in an intense, romantic relationship, it was a hard sell: 'I have a rejection letter from a well-known editor saying that they wouldn’t buy the book because the gay relationship was so integral to the plot, even though they weren’t a homophobe, nor were many in the SF audience (!). Apparently, I wasn’t "breaking new ground" and risked "alienating some readers."'

The book follows Rafe, a young webber with a mysterious past, who joins the crew of Bhattya, a patrol ship under the command of Rallya, an aging, grumpy, and talented woman in denial about the end of her career. As an oath breaker, Rafe is shunned by many, but aboard Bhattya, not only is he given a second chance, he also finds support in his quest for his own identity.

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If/Then: The 2017 Pornokitsch Gifting Guide

ODY-C (Matt Fraction and Christian Ward)

[Updated! Now with recommendations from Becky Chambers, Stark Holborn, Adam Kranz, Jesse Bullington, Anne and Jared]

[Updated again! More recs from Jesse!]

[And again! New recs from Kirsty Logan!]

Tis the holiday season! But giving stuff can be hard. Not because you're a bad person (you're great!), but because people are really difficult, and, odds are, they've got all the obvious stuff already.

To help you spend your hard-earned money on the people you love, we've asked our contributors, guests and online-passers-by for some gifting suggestions.

We've all followed a simple 'If/Then' formula - helping you find the right gift for that very specific oddball in your life. (Or, yourself. We don't judge.) We'll keep updating with more recommendations over the next few weeks, so check back for even more assistance with your last-minute panic-buying!

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From Christie to Bolaño: Adam Roberts' Five Favourite Puzzle Whodunits

Adam Roberts - The Real-Town Murders

I love puzzle whodunits. On account of my crime-novel-loving mother I grew up in a house full of them, which meant that—when I ran out of SF titles—I would pick a green-liveried penguin off the shelf and read that instead: Margery Allingham; Michael Innes; Ngaio Marsh; Edmund Crispin. And of course Agatha Christie. I read huge numbers of such books growing up. I still read them today.

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Fiction: 'Jade City' (Extract) by Fonda Lee


Even in the shade, sweat trickled down the backs and faces of the year-eight students. Ten of them stood nervously, each behind a short tower of hot bricks. “One more,” said the master, and the assistant year-threes hurried to the fire pit with tongs, carefully but quickly removing bricks from the flames and placing another on top of each of the ten smoldering stacks. One of the waiting year-eights, named Ton, muttered quietly, “Ah, what to choose, pain or failure?”

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Fiction: 'Four Feet' by Kirsty Logan

Howard Hardiman - Four FeetOnce upon a night, a girl tiptoed on slippered feet into a garage, clutching a rag and a tin of beeswax. The only sound was the steady tick of the watchman's cane as he passed, but Eliska stood motionless on the step for another moment. The garage smelled of cold air and the sweet tickle of beeswax. She checked again to make sure that her feet were properly encased in their slippers – a cold floor might cause untold damage to a girl's feet – and stepped across to her animus.

The animus was a bull with golden horns and engraved wheels, and Eliska rose before dawn every other month to polish the horns until the tips were sharp enough to pierce the clouds. She knew that she cut a pretty figure, perched high in her animus with her hands resting on the controls.

With the rag gripped in her fist, Eliska scooped a fingerful of beeswax from the tin and started to rub tiny half-moons onto the clouded haunches of her animus. Within moment she was lost in her task. The servants never polished the animus properly, and Eliska could feel it down under her lungs: the shining surface hushed by cloud-fat whorls of grime and grit. She could not bear to have her breath tightened and her eyes blurred by her imperfect animus. It was a part of her, and the servants – they with the shell-hard soles and flattened arches – could never understand that. They could polish from dinner until breakfast and still Eliska would find a smudge at the very tip of her animus's horns.

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Small Press Shakedown: Michael Curran of Tangerine Press

Tangerine Press
The UK has a fantastic small press scene. To celebrate the people behind the imprints, and help out the writers that are looking to them for publication, we've asked a number of editors to share what they're working on - and what they're looking for. This week our featured publisher is Tangerine Press.


Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?

My name is Michael Curran and I founded Tangerine Press in 2006. The original plan was to publish limited edition, handbound books of poetry and prose by authors I admired, whether they be known or unknown, dead or alive. I was quite happy doing this for 7 years – binding books in the evenings after work and at weekends – until January 26th 2013.

That date is burned into my memory because for the first time in my life I called an ambulance: for myself. Following a serious back injury and subsequently losing feeling in my left leg from the knee down, then the whole leg, I had to reconsider my future. There was plenty of time for that: I was laid up for 3 months, in and out of hospital, etc. Dropping six Tramadol every morning just to make the day bearable. Going back to The Building Game – I was a self-employed carpenter for 16 years – wasn’t an option.

So the future suddenly had to be Tangerine.

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Fiction: 'An Affinitive Romance' by John Kendrick Bangs



Mr. Augustus Richards was thirty years of age and unmarried. He could afford to marry, and he had admired many women, but none of them came up to his ideals. Miss Fotheringay, for instance, represented his notions as to what a woman should be physically, but intellectually he found her woefully below his required standard. She was tall and stately—Junoesque some people called her—but in her conversation she was decidedly flippant. She was interested in all the small things of life, but for the great ones she had no inclination. She preferred a dance with a callow youth to a chat with a man of learning. She worshipped artificial in-door life, but had no sympathy with nature. The country she abominated, and her ideas of rest consisted solely in a change of locality, which was why she went to Newport every summer, there to indulge in further routs and dances when she wearied of the routs and dances of New York.

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