THE MARITIME SECTION OF MY home library is, like a captain’s yacht, small but well-appointed. I’ve been a ship geek since 1987-88, when I served as a deckhand/docent on a replica of the Golden Hinde, and my taste tends toward…
QUIZ SHOW OVERHEARD ON THE TV as I entered the living room: That’s right, ‘Illuminati’ is the answer! You’ve won $100!”
DO ANT THEOLOGIANS EXHORT THEIR multitudes against the fate awaiting them under Dante’s Magnifying Glass?
THERE ARE BOOKS, AND THERE are books. This one contains “The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of All Time Chosen by the Members of the Science Fiction Writers of America,” and is standard issue to all geeks and geekettes who want…
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF any story is the point at which it’s attached to the reader.
WITH THE ADVENT OF BLOGGING, men of letters have become men of keystrokes.
IF YOU HAVE NEVER READ the original James Bond stories by Ian Fleming, you don’t know James Bond. You also don’t know sweeping prose that zips along like a rocket; lush description with a reporter’s eye for detail; fourth-wall breaking…
“WHEN DID ART BEGIN TO be about purging one’s personal demons instead of making people smile, wonder or otherwise get over themselves?”
STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT now and read this article by Patton Oswalt about how instant access to everything has brought about the Death of the Fannish Underground. Oswalt speaks to and for those whose fannish identity was built up layer by carefully wrought layer, recalling when one person could consume an entire year’s output of fantastic and science fictional media (and still have room for more). It’s all, he says, in the effort:
The Lord of the Rings used to be ours and only ours simply because of the sheer goddamn thickness of the books. Twenty years later, the entire cast and crew would be trooping onstage at the Oscars to collect their statuettes, and replicas of the One Ring would be sold as bling.
The topsoil has been scraped away, forever, in 2010. In fact, it’s been dug up, thrown into the air, and allowed to rain down and coat everyone in a thin gray-brown mist called the Internet.
More tragic historian than off-my-lawn ranter, Oswalt perfectly captures the sweaty essence of 80s fandom — and makes me wish I’d written it first. I’m not sure I agree with his conclusions, but I do feel a bit sad for kids who’ll never have the fun that we had(1). Something thrilling there is in being part of something secret that yields unexpected connections in unlooked-for places…
(1) (On the other hand, they’re probably having some sort of fun that I can’t, so it all works out.)
INTELLIGENT DISCUSSIONS ABOUT ART’S ROLE in shaping cultures and individuals have to recognize the difference between censorship (an external restraint based on fear and loathing) and self-control (an internal restraint arising from the artist’s desire to communicate).
FIRST CAME CYBERPUNK. THEN STEAMPUNK. And by 2021, … RETROPUNK. Shiny robots. Gleaming atom-powered spaceships. Martian canal races. Alien arcologies in the jungles of Venus. Male pronouns. All the glory of a big exploitable universe sans angst or post-apocalypse modernism.…
WITH THE RIGHT BOOK, YOU can wait anywhere for anything.