Spurious Theories Feed

KJ Parker's Two of Swords x The Easy Way Out

Two of SwordsFrom K.J. Parker's Two of Swords (Episode 9):

"You want to know a secret? Writing what you call good music is easy, piece of cake. You're writing for intelligent, educated people who are prepared to meet you halfway. It's the army songs and the romantic ballads that made me sweat blood."

"I don't believe you."

"Because they're simple and accessible? You don't know anything about writing music. Simple and accessible is the hardest thing there is. It's like designing a clock mechanism with only two moving parts. It's working with both hands tied behind your back. You're limited to a simple melodic line, which has to conform to strict form. You've got the voice and one instrument and that's it, no orchestra, no counterpoint, nothing.... And that's why I earn good money. Because I can give people what they want. Not just the smart ones. Everybody."

"All right," she said grudgingly. "If money is all that matters -"

"It's the only reliable way of keeping score," he said. "A thousand cultured folk will tell you they love your symphony, but can you believe them? But if a hundred thousand poor people decide they can afford two stuivers to hear you sing, that probably means you're actually getting something right."


Continue reading "KJ Parker's Two of Swords x The Easy Way Out" »

"I'm Through with Science Fiction" by Henry Hasse

I'm through

The editor of this magazine [Ray Bradbury], under the impression that I am still one of that queer tribe known as science-fiction fans, has asked me to write an article. I am no longer a science-fiction fan. I'm through! However, I have decided to do the article and explain with my chin leading just why I am through.

Continue reading ""I'm Through with Science Fiction" by Henry Hasse" »

The Nine-Tiered Table of Reality Crossovers

Amazing Spiderman 36

In each episode of the One Comic podcast, one of us will take a turn at doing a '3 and 1' - a list of the 3 best and 1 worst comics on a particular (generally thematically relevant) topic. In the latest episode, we poked and prodded at the controversial "Shoot" issue of Hellblazer. I was on tap for the 3 and 1, and wound up going slightly off-piste with the format.

Continue reading "The Nine-Tiered Table of Reality Crossovers" »

DGLA: And the winner is...


...and the moment we've all been waiting for. Let's pick the winner of my vote! After 12 blog posts, 10 book reviews and 6,000 pages of reading, I can now announce who won approximately 1/7,000th of a Gemmell Award!

Ok, granted, the voting closed on 17 July, but since the official winner won't be announced until Saturday, I have two days where my 1/7,000th can feel particularly meaningful. Plus, I've got a lot of rambling to do.

Let's get to it.

Continue reading "DGLA: And the winner is..." »

Erin Lindsey on "Sex and Explosions Part Deux: Now with More Sex!"


About six months ago, I did a guest post over at SF Signal called “Sex and Explosions”, in which I observed that according to the Hollywood model, the essential ingredients of a blockbuster/bestseller are – spoiler! – sex and explosions. A great action romance, I argued, links a suspenseful plot and an engaging love story in a positive feedback loop: each influences the other, so that the romance shapes the action and vice versa. Ideally, these knock-on effects raise the stakes and increase the momentum of the story.

Catchy title notwithstanding, that post was really about romance and action, rather than sex and explosions per se. Needless to say, not all sex is romance, and explosions are but one way (albeit a particularly awesome way) of demonstrating action. Sex rears its… er, head… in many different guises, serving various masters. Explosions, meanwhile, are merely one subset of violence, and this too can be used to achieve a variety of aims. (Or at least, they should serve a purpose; all too often, sex and violence are simply tossed in as a matter of obligation.)

Continue reading "Erin Lindsey on "Sex and Explosions Part Deux: Now with More Sex!"" »

"What if digital came first?"

SLNSW_12850_Womens_formal_gownsThis is a rather stream-of-thought abuse of the 'spurious theories' tag, but I wanted to lump a lot of ideas together in one place.

The main cause of this? A great talk at Digital Shoreditch from Chris Bishop, who asked a simple, but heady, question. What if digital came first?

The talk - available online here - is largely from a consumer, retail, digital mindset. Bishop points out that a lot of ecommerce attention has been wasted trying to create physical experiences online, rather than embracing digital's strengths. And, similarly, the reverse is true: stores are now trying to imitate websites. His conclusion is that, eventually, the two channels will find their complementary ways, and physical stores will become an asset again. (Harsh, but not entirely fair.)

Anyway, this got me thinking. In publishing, we have two physical-first avenues: the books and the stores. And they're both taking a beating. So what if... digital came first?

Continue reading ""What if digital came first?"" »

Mad Max is unexceptional, and that's for the best


Mad Max: Fury Road is one of this spring's cinematic surprises. Although the opening weekend was trumped by Pitch Perfect 2, the combination of glowing reviews and word of mouth momentum seem to be adding up to, if not a hit movie, at least a future cult classic.*

Anticipation was always high for this long-awaited sequel, following a trailer that made the film seem like a gleeful throwback to the nonsensical, ultraviolent fun of the cult hit Road Warrior. (We don't talk about Thunderdome). An action film for fans of the action film. If you like noisy explosions, what's not to love?

And then, upon release, all hell broke loose. From an unexpected quarter too - Men's Rights Activists began a noisy (and bizarrely self-defeating) series of protests because the film was deemed 'feminist propaganda'. Which, of course, only drove more people to see the movie - not only out of curiosity, but also to spite the MRAs. And, as a result, the film's received high ratings and support from unexpected quarters and galvanised a very enthusiastic fan base - Fury Road is currently the most talked-about film on Tumblr.

Continue reading "Mad Max is unexceptional, and that's for the best" »

Justin Landon on "The Hugo Awards: An Entity at War With Itself"


Congratulations to the 2015 Hugo Awards Nominees. For all of you this is a life long dream that has culminated in your recognition by your peers. For some it must be terribly difficult. You have been recognized not because of the quality of your work alone, but because of an axe someone else wanted to grind against an institution.

Mind you, this isn’t to say you don’t deserve it. You might. But, it would be silly to ignore the fact that you got there because an incredibly vocal minority chose to make your nomination an ideological line in the sand. Unfortunately, this has created some measure of hysteria within science fiction and fantasy fandom, who have been pretending for years that the Hugo Nominations weren’t already horribly easy to manipulate. 

Continue reading "Justin Landon on "The Hugo Awards: An Entity at War With Itself" " »

"Fuck You, Legolas" by Daniel Polansky

Those AboveI have a terrible secret. Chthonic and furtive, one I have kept hidden lo these long last years, one which I have not dared to whisper even alone and on a moonless night. One which I have only through thousands of hours of sessions with mental health professionals have I finally become capable of admitting to the world.

My name is Daniel Polansky, and I hate elves.

Hate them. Can't stand them. Dislike them all around—be they wild, high, frost, dark, fire or sky, if they've go pointy ears and a shitty attitude, I don't like them. Never liked them, in fact. Back when I was prone to walking around with sheets of paper elaborately detailing the characteristics of imaginary heroes, said heroes were never elves. They were half-Orc Paladins, they were undead cowboys, on one occasion they were a sort of humanoid dragon with guns for hands, but they were never, ever elves.

The kid at the bar next to you who sniffs unattractively when he discovers the chicken is not free range is an elf. An elf stole my high-school girlfriend just before prom, wearing a bomber jacket and shades even though it was evening. Elves always have perfect hair, even if they've just been killing something with a knife, which they inevitably do in some dance-like fashion which bares no resemblance to violence as it actually takes place. Elves think they're so fucking special, living for a thousand years, and communing with nature, and feeling superior. At best, they're all cheap superheroics, faster and stronger and tougher than everyone else. At worst they're bastions of the most exhausting sort of pseudo-philosophical gibberish, environmental studies majors with long bows, and behind every oration about the importance of preserving the forest is visible the smug, smirking, self-satisfied face of the author. (See also: Avatar)

Continue reading ""Fuck You, Legolas" by Daniel Polansky" »