Science Fiction Feed

Review Round-up: Scruples, Sidekick, Outlaw Marshal

Sidekick latestAdeline Radloff's Sidekick (2010) is about, well, a sidekick. Katie Holmes (no, not that one - a joke that's just barely on acceptable side of annoying) is a teen adoptee, living with her foster mom and and Finn. Finn is Bruce Wayne. Mom is Alfred. Katie is Robin.

There's a little more complexity to it (there's a more Alfred-y Alfred, but he died somewhere in the past, for example), but that's the book in a nutshell. Finn, unlike Batman, has actual superpowers as well - he can fuss around with time, although there are various limitations and side effects that are introduced as the book goes on. Katie is remarkable because, besides Finn, she's the only person that isn't frozen solid when Finn does his time-travel mojo. Which means she can help Finn move stuff around, save lives, fight evil, remember to eat a sandwich, and, you know, be a sidekick.

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Announcing... Aleriel, A Voyage to Other Worlds by W.S. Lach-Szryma and Molly Tanzer

AlerielOur erratic and extremely particular publishing wing, Jurassic London, has a new (or very old) title on the horizon: Aleriel, A Voyage to Other Worlds.

First published in 1883, Aleriel is one of the early classics of science fiction. The titular hero explores the Solar System - from his homeworld of Venus to the 'inchoate horrors of Saturn', with lengthy stops to visit a Utopian society on Mars and, of course, Earth. Notable for the way the novel incorporated the latest scientific, political and religious thinking, Aleriel is also the first work of fiction to use the words 'Martian' or 'Venusian' to describe the residents of these planets.

This new edition of Aleriel contains the author's original prefaces and end-notes to the first and second editions, and comes with a lengthy introduction from the Richard Dunn (Head of Science and Technology, Royal Museums Greenwich) and Marek Kukula (Public Astronomer, Royal Observatory Greenwich), discussing the role our celestial neighbours - especially Mars - have played in inspiring contemporary fiction. 

As a further bonus, Vermilion and The Pleasure Merchant's (and Pornokitsch's) Molly Tanzer has written a brand new sequel to Aleriel, "Civilisation and Its Discontented", which investigates the repercussions of Aleriel's visit to Mars.

The cover is by Jonathan Edwards, whose distinctive style can be found in the Guardian, Q and NME, as well as adorning album covers by, amongst others, The Black Eyed Peas.

Aleriel is out 24 November. Ebooks can be ordered now via Amazon and And the paperback is available here.


Review Round-up: Flamesong, Sledgehammer and The Gameshouse

Gameshouse - PK

Three recent reads - a vintage fantasy, a terrific new trilogy and a particularly heavy-handed crime thriller.

Claire North's Gameshouse trilogy (2015), with apologies, as I did my frothing fanboy thing on Twitter, but, these are simply brilliant. The trilogy is comprised of three novelettes (novellas? long shorts? maxistories? minibooks?), each with a different narrator, setting and - wonderfully - tense. All three feature players in the enigmatic Gameshouse - a location/organisation for those that gamble, and gamble to win. The outer room is for the games we all know and love. The inner room is for the real players, the ones that manipulate lives and nations. 

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Stark Reviews: Westworld (1973)


Stark says: Boy have we got a vacation for you! Where nothing can possibly go worng!

Let’s see now, we’ve done cowboys and dinosaurs, cowboys and Joan Crawford, cowboys and foxes…. What’s missing? Oh yeah, COWBOYS vs ROBOTS, otherwise known as Westworld.

Now, because Hollywood can’t leave any damn thing alone ever,* Westworld is being currently being re-booted into a TV series, starring Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood. I’ll keep my pistol in my holster until I’ve actually seen it, but in the meantime, let’s cast a beady eye over the original.

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Chicken Soup For The Soulless


You know those self-help books that people get, well let's just say 'enthusiastic' about? The ones that feel about one step removed from the foundational element of a cult? Like that one founded by a former pulp novelist, for example? Maybe that's what they really are. And maybe there's something even more disturbing going on that it might be better for us all not to know about.

Clearly Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt think this stuff should all be out in the open, and have created Clean Room to document it. So it's only polite that we give it the One Comic treatment and share their findings with the world. Which leads nicely into discussing some old Vertigo series in this show's 3&1.

Radio Drama: "Subject 428A" (1964)

Subject 428A"Subject 428A"

Original air date: October 2, 1964, from the series Theatre Five.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Thoughts Before Listening

I’m thinking this will be about a prisoner or a patient or an experiment or a prisoner patient experiment. Also thinking that it would be really neat if this was about zombie unicorns. It probably isn’t. It might be though.

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The Hunger Games - Greatest Modern Movie Epic?

Lorde - "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (Catching Fire)

Finally saw Mockingjay, Part 1 last weekend. All three movies seem to be a slightly different style, but they all revolve around a really interesting anti-authoritarian, anti-media theme. What's interesting isn't just how the theme is handled (intelligently and provocatively), but how it has evolved over the three films, without losing the basic action/adventure/coming-of-age premise that makes the whole thing so fun. It is also, in a way that many of its peers is not, strikingly contemporary.

It'll be interesting to see how it dates, but given the world doesn't seem to be de-paranoia-ing, de-militarising or de-media-saturating any time soon, I suspect this might be something made for the long haul.

Anyway, after a day or so of pondering, here's my challenge - is there a better modern movie epic?

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Friday Five: 5 Noteworthy Pocket Books Star Trek Novels


There have been a lot of Star Trek novels over the years, from a number of publishers, dealing with every iteration of the franchise (yes, even the animated series) as well as many that fit no existing bracket.

Among the various pieces of thinly-disguised fanfic, the (surprisingly few) direct sequels to TV episodes, the attempts to do hard sci-fi that don’t quite work, and the inevitable attempts at inter-genre crossovers, there are some that I would call ‘noteworthy’ for one reason or another. Note that this is not always synonymous with ‘good’. Picking five from all of the possible options (even had I read them all) would probably be impossible, so I’m going to restrict myself to the Original Series novel range published by Pocket Books from 1979 to around 1990, at which point I stopped reading them as religiously as I had previously. 

Listed in no particular order:

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