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Fiction: "Grave-Worms" by Molly Tanzer

Graveworms_final_clay_300dpi_jpgThe grey flannel suit might have looked masculine on the rack, or on another woman, but the close cut of the cloth, and the way the expensive fabric skimmed over the lines of her straight, slender figure was intensely, wholly feminine. If you saw her from behind, you might have thought she looked frail, or saint-like with her close-cropped hair—but when she turned, the determination that shone brightly from the grey eyes almost lost behind her long black lashes was anything but fragile.

Or innocent.

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Readers of Gor - Outlaw of Gor

Outlaw of Gor

In which Silvia Moreno-Garcia of Ka-Na-Da and Molly Tanzer of Ko-Lo-Ra-Do discuss Silvia's re-read and Molly's first read of the first four of John Norman's famous (notorious?) Gor series.

Silvia: Tal, Molly Tanzer of Ko-Lo-Ra-Do. Well, when last we saw our hero Tarl Cabot (what kind of name is that? I still can’t say his damn name) he had returned to Earth. But not for long! Soon he’s back in the world of Gor, where men are manly men and women are very pretty but like not threatening, like you totally could ask that chick out and she’d give you her phone number instead the number of a local deli shop. It’s obvious something has gone terribly wrong in Gor and now Tarl is a, gasp, Outlaw of Gor!

Okay, so I think part of the problem with this book on a technical level is that the first person point of view is just super annoying. Tarl is supposed to be writing all this shit down and it’s like for fuck’s sake, I’m bored. I’m so bored. Write funner, or something. Bad narrator.  

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Readers of Gor: Tarnsman of Gor

GOR - Boris Vallejo

In which Silvia Moreno-Garcia of Ka-Na-Da and Molly Tanzer of Ko-Lo-Ra-Do discuss Silvia's re-read and Molly's first read of John Norman's famous (notorious?) Tarnsman of Gor. 

Tarnsman_of_gor_vallejo_coverSilvia: Tal, Molly Tanzer of Ko-lo-ra-doh. I guess before we get into this review of both the first Gor book and the first Gor movie, I’d like to ask how you discovered these things even existed.

Molly: Tal, Silvia Moreno-Garcia of Ka-Na-Da. May your tarn never get lice.

I actually heard about Gor from John C. Wright, that now-notorious Puppy-supporter and extreme moral panic-monger of the SFF community. In a rant about the SyFy channel’s pledge to be more inclusive by having more GLBT characters on their shows, Wright mentioned Gor derisively:

“I am hoping, of course, that future shows will also portray sadomasochism and bondage in a positive light---we are all looking forward to FLASH GORDON'S TRIP TO GOR, I hope.”

Well, given Wright’s own (possibly former? Who can say) interest in S&M, or at least spanking teenage girls, I had to google Gor - if it was so extreme as to offend him, what could it be? I remember thinking it actually seemed strange I’d never heard of the series if it was so saucy. But the back cover copy of the first one didn’t seem particularly salacious (or LGBT-friendly?), so I sort of forgot about it, because it wasn’t a rabbit hole I felt like going down that day. Years later I learned they were famous for being about sexy slave girls or something, and became intrigued.

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Pygmalia: Photo Essay

Pleasure merchantThe following photo essay is a stand-in for this month's Pygmalia blog. Yes, I know you were looking forward to another rambling musing in re: Galateas and such, but instead, you can thrill at the sight of various locations from The Pleasure Merchant, out in paperback and ebook (Kindle and Nook) this month! 

The Pleasure Merchant; or, The Modern Pygmalion is a novel near and dear to my heart, and going around London looking first-hand for the first time at many of the set pieces was curious and intriguing. I actually teared up a bit at the sight of 12 Bloomsbury Square. I know! 

I love London. It's my favorite city in the world, and tramping around all over the place seeking various addresses in real life, rather than on Google Maps, was really just such a thrill. Many thanks to my hosts Jared and Anne for hosting me as I cavorted around, being overly excited about things like... well, like putting money on an Oyster card, fumbling through change, eating curry, saying "Sorry!" to everyone, and so on and so forth. Many thanks as well to Mark and Rachel Newton for allowing me to come to the country to impose on their hospitality, as well.

So, here we go on a trip into the heart of 18th century London - as much as we can by looking at pictures of modern London! Just imagine everyone is way sicker and instead of cars and Arc'teryx jackets everyone is in carriages and wearing frock coats. 

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Friday Five: 5 Distinct Dystopias

The-king-in-yellow-coverAleriel is out now - a resurrected Victorian space travel novel, complete with a new sequel from Molly Tanzer. (Molly's had a busy week!) Molly's sequel puts a new spin on the original novel. Lach-Szyrma's titular Venusian traveller was particularly impressed by the theocratic society he finds on Mars. Molly? Less so, and "Civilisation and Its Discontents" shows this presumed utopia from a different perspective. 

So, naturally, we asked Molly for a short list of some of her other favourite dystopias, so, without further ado...

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I mean, even considering that BioShock was too scary for me to play, and 1984 and Brave New World seemed too easy, these were some tough choices. In the end, I settled on this list, which I felt were (1) a nice mix of various media, and (2) also contain utopias disguised as dystopias, and vice versa. Enjoy!

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Pygmalia: Necrophallus

Night voicesThis year I’m selecting a series of Pygmalion stories—or stories that contain echoes of the Pygmalion myth—and essaying on them. I already have a few in mind, but please feel free to suggest others in the comments or on Twitter @molly_the_tanz

A brief note before we begin: The Pleasure Merchant is up for Kindle pre-order! If you’ve enjoyed these blogs, or hey, even if you hated them but love Pygmalion stories, or know someone who does, boy howdy I’d appreciate it if you pre-ordered, or schlepped on over to Amazon on November 17th to pick up a paper copy.

Anyway, with that out of the way… it’s my birthday, and it’s also close to Halloween, so it’s time for some horror content. Read on with caution, as this month’s entry is pretty brutal. I mean, it’s literally titled…

“Corpse Dagger (Necrophallus)”, by Makino Osamu, translated from the Japanese by Chun Jin, 2005, in Night Voices, Night Journeys, ed. Asamatsu Ken and Robert M. Price.

With a title like that, how could Osamu’s Lovecraftian tale of pain and desire not be an instant classic?

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Pygmalia: Pygmalion

This year I’m selecting twelve Pygmalion stories—or stories that contain echoes of the Pygmalion myth—and essaying on them. I already have a few in mind, but please feel free to suggest others in the comments or on Twitter @molly_the_tanz 

PygmalionIt’s Low Hanging Fruit month here at Pygmalia, hot on the heels of me totally flaking out of a July column, but don’t judge me too hard… I’d never seen Pymalion, and quite frankly I didn’t know it existed until April, as I was idly browsing the “English” section of my local video store. After noting the Criterion case, I rented it immediately. Um, by which I mean, I noted it starred Second Hottest Actor Of All Time Award-Winner Leslie Howard* as Professor Henry Higgins, I rented it immediately. What? I’m only human.

Pygmalion (1938)

I grew up on musicals, and as I first saw My Fair Lady during the pre-Internet age, I think I can be forgiven for not going down the Google-hole to discover that the dialogue and the staging were taken from the 1938, Bernard Shaw-scripted black and white film, Pygmalion. To be fair, I did run out and buy myself a copy of the play at a used bookstore, the same one I still have, and read it several times—but as to finding out about the Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller version, that took me until this year.

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Films of High Adventure: The 13th Warrior (1999)

The Film: The 13th Warrior (1999)

13th

Dedicated to the Memory of Omar Sharif.

Responsibility Roundup: Directed by John “Die Hard is actually my adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream” McTiernan. Based on the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton, who supposedly came on as director to reshoot some scenes after McTiernan’s initial cut bummed out test audiences. Scripted by William Wisher Jr. (Terminator 2, Judge Dredd) and Warren Lewis (remember Ridley Scott’s Yakuza movie Black Rain? With Michael Douglas? Don’t worry, nobody else does, either). Original soundtrack by Graeme Revell (The Crow, The Craft, the Riddick movies) and Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance, before Michael Crichton insisted on trashing the entire thing and having it rescored by his Congo buddy Jerry Goldsmith (always a good sign, amirite?).

Hackting by Antonio Banderas (lots of stuff), Maria Bonnevie (lots of Swedish stuff), Suzanne Bertish (The Hunger, Eleni on Rome), Diane Venora (Heat, Wolfen), and a whole Crossfit box’s worth of beefcake, including Vladimir Kulich (that Vikings show, the voice of Ulfric Stormcloak in Skyrim), Dennis Storhøi (Two Lives), Clive Russell (Ripper Street, Brynden Tully on Game of Thrones), Richard Bremmer (Control), Tony Curran (LXG). Also a very embarrassed Omar Sharif (RIP) (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Top Secret), who hated the movie so much he took a leave of absence from acting afterward.

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Pygmalia: Robocop (1987 & 2014)

Robocop

It’s a two-movie column this month at Pygmalia! In a fit of madness I watched the 2014 Robocop remake and realized it could sort of be considered a Pygmalion story, which led me to re-watch the original Robocop, which is much better… even if it’s less of a Pygmalion story. Let’s see if I can straighten out my thoughts into something coherent below…

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Films of High Adventure: Dune

DUNEHappy 50th Anniversary, Dune! To celebrate (?), we've put together a special edition of Films of High Adventure. Why's it so special? Well, we have Jason Heller, Hugo-award winning editor, author of Taft 2012, and writer for the A.V. Club and NPR here with us! As Jason is a consummate Dune (the novel) fan-cum-expert, we thought it would be fun (for us, at least) to ask him to watch Dune with us, and see if it stands the Films of High Adventure test of time. Heh.

There are roughly 9000000 versions of Dune out there, and we actually tried to watch the 3 hour version of Dune for this... but from what we saw it was mostly a camera panning over watercolors of planets. So we ditched it and went for the director's cut (I think?), which is the pretty dang long, but not the longest version. It's the one we all watched/remembered, so it was more authentic that way.

The Film: Dune (1984)

Responsibility Roundup: While it may seem unfair to hold Frank Herbert accountable for the film, credit where due—he did write the novel. Given all the liberties taken with the text, it seems most accurate to view Herbert as the Great Maker, and writer-director David Lynch and executive producer Dino De Laurentiis as two rival barons fighting to the death over the intoxicating essence produced by their sandworm cash cow. It’s not surprising that the film came to be defined by their conflict, since Lynch is of course best known for his heady, esoteric creations like Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks, whereas De Laurentiis is synonymous with meaty, straight-forward fare like Barbarella, Conan the Destroyer, and dozens of other Films of High Adventure candidates. Photography by Hammer and Amicus alum Freddie Francis (Torture Garden), production design by Anthony Masters (2001: A Space Odyssey), costume design by Bob Ringwood (Burton’s Batman), and soundtrack by Toto and Brian Eno.

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