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The 100

WTFThanks to everyone who voted, shouted and otherwise supported our selection for the 100

We were honoured to be finalists, and are completely shocked to have made the list itself: we're now part of the Guardian & The Hospital Club's roster of 'influential, innovative and interesting' people in the creative industries. Other listees include the great people from NoBrow Press, whitefox, The Literary Platform, Benedict Cumberbatch (!?), Idris Elba (!?!?!) and David Bowie (!!?!£?%?!£%?21).

Presumably the next step is that we all get to hang out together in someone's basement, maybe play a little Dungeons & Dragons.

Needless to say, between this and the British Fantasy Award, we're feeling a little overwhelmed as of late. We have the best friends and readers and workmates and families and Twitter-buddies in the world. Thank you all very much.

A little help: non-genre books by genre authors?

On a scheme, and trying to think of non-genre books by famous genre authors.

  • Define "famous" as you will, as long as the author is better known for their genre than than non-genre work
  • Define "genre" as you will, I'm primarily thinking fantasy, science fiction, horror and crime, but western and romance would also apply
  • Non-genre = none of the above. (e.g. Elmore Leonard's westerns don't help, nor do Leigh Brackett's mysteries or Stephen Donaldson's crime or SF books)
  • By books, I mostly mean fiction (novels), but shorter work would also be ok... I'd rather not get into non-fiction (e.g. Lauren Beukes' Maverick or China Miéville's Between Equal Rights wouldn't really work)

A few examples:

  • Robert Chambers' commercial stuff (anything besides The King in Yellow, basically)
  • David Eddings' High Hunt and The Losers [these are exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for]
  • Mary Stewart's romantic thrillers? (Possibly)
  • John D. MacDonald's rather insipid domestic fiction, e.g. Contrary Pleasure
  • Robert E. Howard's boxing stories
  • Patrick Ness' The Crash of Hennington
  • Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine (Possibly)
  • Philip Pullman's The White Mercedes
  • Dorothy Sayers' plays - the religious ones and "Love All"
  • Stephen King's The Colorado Kid (shudder)

I'm sure there are some Le Guin, Donaldson and Lovecraft short stories that are eluding me, plus some obvious ones from Tolkien and Lewis.

Can you think of any? Doesn't matter if the author is contemporary or classic...

Joey Hi-Fi's Weirdness Rodeo

Welcome to the Weirdness Rodeo - your weekly dose of wonder and strangeness, courtesy of Joey Hi-Fi. 
You can follow Joey on Twitter at @JoeyHiFi and admire his work here.

Iron Man, Toad and SuperBatman - ASSEMBLE! Trailer for Bollywood's superhero film 'Krrish 3'.

Mike Allred & Chris Roberson's comic book 'iZombie' is being adapted for television. (AV Club)

Hit-and-run driver attempts to flee the scene after hitting cab - but hits 5 more cars during panicked escape. (Geekologie)

'8 Video Game Hoaxes, Debunked'. Includes 'Sheng Long' - Street Fighter II's Kaiser Soze. (Mental Floss)

Sociologist explains why goths stay goth long after 'punks grow out of it and ravers stop raving'. Interesting. (Guardian)

"They drew first blood..." Someone is making a Rambo video game. (Badass Digest)

Continue reading "Joey Hi-Fi's Weirdness Rodeo" »

He Said - She Said: Geek Professions!

On Tuesday we whipped up a short list of the things that we just don't get - genre (and non-genre) trends and fandoms and things and other nouns that mystify us with their appeal. 

It was disturbingly popular.

Today, the shoe is on the other foot. Here are a few things that we love - often with a disturbing passion - but we just can't explain why. As before, please join in - this is a safe place, and no one will judge you (much) for your fondness for Lovecraftian haiku.

Rogue1. Avengers Alliance. The Facebook game. God help me, I can't stop playing it. Anne can't stop playing it. We can't stop talking about it. I think we'd rather farm Command Points than eat. The release of Moon Knight was a capital-S-Significant Event in my life (shame he kind of sucks). I don't know what's happened to us. (Jared)

2. James Bond. Don't even get me started. The politics are regressive; the gender politics are beyond horrifying. The racism, the classism, the sexism. The over-reliance on risible wordplay and stupid gadgets. The 'Bond girls.' Motherfucking Skyfall. Every essential element of the James Bond brand pisses me off. And yet, (Skyfall aside - which, really don't get me started), I love me some James fucking Bond. (Anne)

3. The Emperor's New Groove. Yay! I'm a llama again! No touchy. I dunno. Someone's throwing things. Bring it on. Let me guess... you have a great personality. (Jared)

4. Period Dramas. Any good gender essentialist would find my tastes distressingly masculine. I like explosions and swearing and sex and rage and bad jokes and beer and big dumb stuff. But I also like understated romantic tension of the whale-boned variety. Two comely types staring longingly at each other across the corpse of a loved one/a twenty-seven-course meal/blood-stained battlements, over no fewer than eighteen lovingly-produced episodes set during the second Gladstone premiership/WWII/Black Death, only to have everything end in dementia/unhappy marriages to the wrong people/death? Bring it. (Anne)

5. John D. MacDonald. Ok, in fairness, I'm not the only one - there's this guy, for example. And occasionally I get emails from people who are fellow fans (very, very occasionally). His books, all billion of them, range from the truly dire to the merely issue-laden, but, damn - that dude could write a story. (Jared)

Continue reading "He Said - She Said: Geek Professions!" »

(YA) Review Round-up: Hacker, Paper Towns and Prep

Another three-headed mess of reviews, as I do my best to catch up with the pile. This time, three contemporary YA classics: Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep, Malorie Blackman's Hacker and John Green's Paper Towns.

HackerFor chronological purposes, let's start with Malorie Blackman's Hacker (1993). Vicky is a bright kid - especially with computers. She's also a shy one, and is happier writing code and talking about serious geeky stuff with her dad than she is trying to fit in at school. Her brother, Gib, doesn't make things easier: as loud-mouthed and confident as Vicky is withdrawn. Vicky blames herself: she's adopted, so, to her, it is obvious that people would prefer Gib. She's just the extra, right?

Vicky's love of computers gets her in trouble during her math test. Instead of working the answers normally, she programs her calculator to do them for her. It doesn't even occur to her that this might be cheating, but when she's pulled into the office after the exam, she's accused of a far worse crime. It seems that someone actually hacked the school computer and stole answers ahead of time. Vicky inadvertently confesses to the wrong crime: her foolish workaround is confused with the outright theft. Oops.

Still, when Vicky gets home that night, she realises that there are worse problems: her father is now accused of hacking as well - stealing millions from the bank where he works. He's the most honest man she knows, and Vicky's determined to prove him innocent. Unfortunately, she'll need a little help from Gib.

Hacker is, on one hand, wonderfully dated. The dial-up modems, the programming and, in my favourite scene, the deliciously clunky printer (Gib actually has to sit on it to keep it from making noise as it rattles around the room). Tonally, there's something of the After-School Special about it as well: kids, over their heads, solving "contemporary" problems in a way that brings them all together and teaches them the nature of love and family. As a mystery, Hacker isn't all that mysterious, but nor is it meant to be.

Continue reading "(YA) Review Round-up: Hacker, Paper Towns and Prep" »

He Said - She Said: Geek Confessions!

Tuesdays are good for ranting. We've decided to tackle a few thorny topics - and we apologise for advance if this is your last visit to the blog. We believe passionately in everyone's right to enjoy the stuff that they enjoy (hell, that's the core of being a geek), but some of it? We just don't get.

Here are a few things that we just don't get. What about you? Share your geek confessions in the comments. We promise not to judge. [Jared's note: unless someone disrespects The Secret History... oh wait.]

Battlestar-Galactica1. Battlestar Galactica. Now don't get me wrong, I love the board game. But I forced myself through the prequel movie and first season of the show and just didn't love it. And I've never had the smallest urge to start Season 2. Unlike my other tv show confession, I find that my regard for BSG is low in part because I find the writing heavy-handed and the acting often very shaky. (Anne)

2. Doctor Who. It is a little daunting to watch the internet explode with every new preview-teaser-trailer-leak-article-rumor but I think you need to be more British than I am to enjoy this show. Possibly more British than a vault full of scones. Waiting patiently in a queue. Outside Buckingham Palace. Wearing football scarves. Made of tweed. I did enjoy the Russell T. Davies era - the companions were fun, the Doctors were perkier and, even if the plots all resolved with Tinkerbell Jesus, I understood: this was a children's show. Now? No idea what I'm watching. Or why. (So I don't.) (Jared)

3. Donna Tartt's The Secret HistoryI enjoyed reading it, and I enjoyed rereading it, and I've recommended it to others. But I don't love it beyond the telling. I realize we're at the peak of our once-every-decade Donna Tartt mania right now, thanks to the recent publication of The Goldfinch, which I will eventually read and probably also enjoy. But, you know. I just don't think TSH is zomg the best book ever. (Anne)

4. Firefly. I know. It was taken from us by the bastards/gatekeepers/Man/forces-that-don't-appreciate-Whedon's-transcendent-genius. But also, no one was watching it. Don't get me wrong, I like the show, but it got the perfect concluding episode in "Out of Gas" (...then six episodes afterwards that were kind of ok). Against all odds of economics or sense, Firefly even got a movie: one explicitly constructed to wrap up all the meta-plot elements (River, Reavers, etc.) that no one actually liked in the first place. Show: resolved. Characters: resolved. Life: goes on. (Jared)

Continue reading "He Said - She Said: Geek Confessions!" »

Review Round-up: Madams! Savages! Wolves!

Catching up with some recent reading (of not-so-recent books): Mary Stewart's Madam, Will You Talk?, Joseph Chadwick's Savage Breed and Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

Mary StewartMadam, Will You Talk? (1955) is Mary Stewart's first published novel, and, from the few others I've read, sets the tone for many of the others: an attractive young woman, an exotic location, some thrills and the inevitable love interest. In this instance, we have the wonderfully-named Charity Selbourne, Avignon, car chases and an is-he-isn't-he-a-murderer, Richard Byron.

Although a "romantic thriller", the scenery is both the most romantic and the most thrilling part, with the south of France beautifully evoked. There are crumbling ruins, glorious landscapes, even the cultural quirks and proclivities (every meal, coffee, wink of an innkeeper is rendered in affectionate detail). There's no crisis so critical that Charity can't stop and have a delicious omelet at a quirky roadside inn. In fact, if Madam has a moral, is it to always stop and have an omelet - or an aperitif. Rushing around leads to confusion and musses the hair. To be fair, there are worse lessons.

Madam isn't quite as twisty and turny as I would've liked; the 'reveal' is a bit obvious and the actual "whodunnit-and-why" is, rather clunkily, pondered out at length by the protagonists. That said, as well as the gorgeous setting, Charity's an impressive protagonist, especially for 1955. Although her taste in men is a little dubious, she's never outclassed nor outgunned, and, rather surprisingly (again, 1955!), doesn't shy from action. Madam also has one of the best car chases I've read, with Charity doing her best Bond impression on the back roads of France. Madam, Will You Talk? is "charming" - not a word I'd generally use to describe a thriller, but in this case, it feels right.

Joseph Chadwick's Savage Breed (1959) is a dense little Western that combines the tropes of the genre with a surprising conclusion. Given the recent conversation about tropes in fantasy (see Sam Sykes' thoughtful blog post on the topic), this came as a convenient reminder that the growing pains of one genre can just as easily be found in another. Fantasy and Westerns make a good pair: two overtly macho, American-dominated genres that are often categorised solely as escapist entertainment (and, indeed, both genres often play 'down' to that level). But Westerns, I would argue, are a more mature genre - not in sales figures (despite the critical success of Westerns, they're still on the decline), but in the way the tropes have evolved. From epic to 'grimdark' to a synthesis of the two; archaic to contemporary to back again... pretty much everything fantasy has gone through in the past few decades, Westerns went through a half-century before. 

Continue reading "Review Round-up: Madams! Savages! Wolves!" »

Joey Hi-Fi's Weirdness Rodeo

Welcome to the Weirdness Rodeo - your weekly dose of wonder and strangeness, courtesy of Joey Hi-Fi. 
You can follow Joey on Twitter at @JoeyHiFi and admire his work here.

Motivational video of the day: mouse vs cracker.

"He-Man has more power than Jesus": Pastor and Author explain why 1980's toys are satanic. (io9)

Fantagraphics announces Kickstarter to help fund its 2014 releases. If you love comics - it's well worth supporting. (Kickstarter)

Holy. Shit. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire IMAX poster is gorgeous. (Badass Digest)

The Manicorn movie of your nightmares. (YouTube)

"Chinese Cinema Turns Thor 2 into a Steamy Bromance". (Kotaku)

Wow. Blockbuster has shut its doors in the USA. Soon video stores will be a fond memory. (Flavorwire)

The new Ms. Marvel is a Muslim Pakistani-American teenager. The 1st Muslim character to get a solo series at Marvel. (Comics Alliance)

There's an animated Addams Family movie in development. (AV Club)

Archer's Pam Poovey and Doctor Krieger teach conflict resolution in corporate ISIS video. (Uproxx)

The Bizarre Street Art of Daan Botlek: Clever and haunting. (This is Colossal)

Continue reading "Joey Hi-Fi's Weirdness Rodeo" »


We've been quiet about this until after World Fantasy and book launches and stuff, but I'm delighted to say that we'll be looking after the ALL OF THE BOOKS program for Nine Worlds next year. 

The team will be Jenni Hill (who did such an amazing job last year), Anne and me. As Jenni & Anne both have (big, important) editing jobs to do, I'll going to be the person on point. (I don't say this to make us sound like Spider Jerusalem & Filthy Assistants - just that I'll be doing the admin and email, so blame me for the stuff that goes wrong.)

Anne and I have pondered at length about "dream cons" and that sort of thing, generally concluding that we'd be better off avoiding them with the regulation 10 foot pole (plus lantern, grapnel and everything else in the adventurer's kit). But... we loved Nine Worlds last year - it is fun, lively, energetic, progressive, multi-dimensional, enthusiastic and fresh. We genuinely couldn't be more excited about being involved and only hope that we can maintain the high standards that Jenni set last year. We'll be organising the traditional panels and reading (including the return of the New Voices Slam Sessions), and also workshops, debates, swaps, speed-publishing and other interactive and bonkers whatnot. 

Please don't start emailing us with panel suggestions, ideas, availability or meal requests just yet. There will be a form set up shortly for all that sort of stuff. 

But if you're, say, an overseas visitor coming over for WorldCon and contemplating an extra week in lovely London, it never hurts to plan ahead for 8-10 August 2014. Or, if you're looking to launch a new book next summer, say, between 8-10 August 2014, and want a captive audience of enthusiastic readers... Just keep that in mind, eh? 

Tickets are on sale already. For 8-10 August 2014. Hint, hint.

If you do have burning questions (which we probably can't answer yet), please use this email: