Science Fiction Feed

The Operative: Joss Whedon’s most political villain?

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Warning: This month’s post spoils the shit out of 2005’s Serenity, the feature film culmination of Joss Whedon’s gone-too-soon TV space western, Firefly. So if you haven’t seen it, (a) what is the matter with you and (b) stop reading immediately.

It was Dolores Umbridge that got me thinking about the Operative. I know – because they have so much in common, right? One is a cowardly shrew of a witch with no discernible fighting ability, while the other is a mild-mannered, stone-cold killing machine. And yet they do have a lot in common, if you scratch just beneath the surface. They’re both government employees acting on behalf of something bigger and largely invisible. And they both belong to that rarest – and arguably most dangerous – species of villain, the True Believer.

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Small Press Shakedown: Dave de Burgh of Tickety Boo Press

Tickety Boo

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 Tickety Boo Press.

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

Tickety Boo Press was started at the end of January, 2014 by Gary Compton, who remains our driving force and managing director. We're a small, independent publisher, and we publish Science Fiction (through our Space Dock imprint), Fantasy (through our Phantasia imprint), edgy, crazy, not-your-usual SpecFic thrillers (through our Critical Mass imprint), and Horror (through our Spectral Press imprint). We follow the traditional model of publishing, submissions, etc.

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Finding Balance in Opposites in Asterios Polyp

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We live in a world today which seems, or is made to seem, more divided than ever. Asterios Polyp is a book about division, but it turns that which divides us into positives, finding balance in opposition and progress in compromise. David Mazzucchelli, best known as the artist for the seminal Batman: Year One, is sole creator on this book and, while he doesn’t deal in geopolitical division or the problems of race or wealth that plague the world currently, the lessons that can be learnt from the deeply human philosophy in Asterios Polyp are ones that we all need to be reminded of.

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The Last Dangerous Visions

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The Last Dangerous Visions might be the most famous science fiction book to never exist. 'TLDV' was the long-mooted and nearly-almost-published sequel to Dangerous Visions (1967) and Again, Dangerous Visions (1972) - two vastly important and influential publication in modern speculative fiction.

This ambitious anthology, seemingly intended to be the final word in contemporary SF, was delayed for numerous reasons, documented elsewhere by both Ellison and many others. The anticipation, the delays, and the numerous authors it affected made for, to put it mildly, a great deal of drama. 

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Small Press Shakedown: Gary Budden of Influx Press

Imaginary Cities

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 Influx Press.

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

I’m Gary Budden, one of the founders of independent publisher Influx Press. I set it up in 2011 with Kit Caless (now of Wetherspoon’s Carpets fame…) with the aim of producing one anthology and things snowballed a bit from there.

We originally started out with the idea of producing what we called ‘site specific’ writing, i.e. writing with a strong sense of place. That’s broadened out a little now to whatever great fiction and creative non-fiction takes our fancy – which is one of the benefits of running your own press, of course.

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The Action-Packed Secret Origin Story of Judge Dredd

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The most intriguing part of Judge Dredd’s origin isn’t the fictional character’s designer birth by DNA cloning, nor that he was based in part on a disciplinarian monk, nor even that when the strip first appeared in the second issue of 2000AD, the original creators had already quit. It’s that Dredd's embryonic form is found in an unpublished issue of different comic – one that was scandalously violent, allegedly dangerous, and deliciously subversive.

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A Closed and Common Orbit, Moonraker's Bride and The Season

Moonrakers BrideHappy almost Valentine's Day!

To celebrate, three very different romances: a contemporary space opera (kinda), a globe-trotting adventure (kinda), and a Regency romance (kinda). Love is in the air, and it is not so easily classified. 

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Madeline Brent's Moonraker's Bride (1973) is another of the award-winning novelist's semi-Gothic, globe-trotting, quasi-Victorian escapades. I'm slightly obsessed with Brent's books ever since discovering that 'she' is the pen name for Peter O'Donnell, who also wrote the action series Modesty Blaise. The obsession has now paid off with a handful of really delightful books, of which Moonraker's is one. 

Lucy Waring, our heroine, is born overseas, an orphan in a remote Himalayan village. This means she's got practical skills (including yak-herding!) and an adventurous spirit... but is completely on the back foot in British society. The combination means she can be shy, but courageous, and supremely competent... yet also in constant need of rescuing. This is the delicate balance that Brent creates in all 'her' books, and it might be at its most delicate in Moonraker's. Further familiar twists include the circumstantial-marriage-that-could-be-real-love, family secrets, and a lot of ponderously-delivered pop psychology.

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Small Press Shakedown: George Sandison of Unsung Stories

9781907389412The 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 guest is George Sandison from Unsung Stories.

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

The elevator pitch is ‘literary and ambitious genre fiction’. We also look for debuts, so for us it’s about giving new authors a home where they don’t have to compromise. There’s a tendency in the industry for emerging writers having to prove themselves before they attempt more outré works – we don’t agree!

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