OK, so Blade Runner 2049 is now out and getting rave reviews but what other influential science fiction and dystopian future movies are out there? We have links to three selections...
Unbound Worlds (www.unboundworlds.com), the Penguin Random House online destination dedicated to the literary worlds of science fiction and fantasy, has just announced A Long Time Ago, an original content series that shares new essays from 20 authors on how the Star Wars franchise has influenced their lives. A Long Time Ago celebrates Star Wars Reads month in October and features acclaimed science fiction and fantasy authors from Penguin Random House as well as other publishers. Participants include Jim Hines, Beth Cato, Blake Crouch, Gini Koch, and Peter Clines.
Each weekday in October, Unbound Worlds will present readers with essays from different authors who examine how Star Wars has shaped who they are and how they write. Essays touch on personal themes such as discovering strong female characters in Princess Leia to harnessing the magic of Star Wars to cope with depression, and much more. Readers will enjoy perspectives that span multiple generations from authors who grew up with Star Wars in the 1970s and 80s, and others who first experienced the force as millennials.
Emily Hughes, Unbound Worlds editor, says, “Star Wars means so many different things to so many people, so we decided to celebrate Star Wars Reads by inviting authors to share personal stories of how the Force has shaped their lives. We hope our readers will be as excited as we are to revisit the Star Wars universe and share their own stories.”
Highlights from A Long Time Ago include:
• Stephen Graham Jones, who draws parallels between the struggles of the rebels against the evil Empire to the plight of Native Americans, and thanks Star Wars for giving him “Indian role models and Indian heroes” during his formative years.
• Regular Grievous Angel contributor Beth Cato, who attributes Star Wars to the strong bond she shares with her family and for serving as the foundation for her writing. “Those movies literally provided me with my first words as an infant. From them, I absorbed lessons of character development, pacing, tension, and action scenes.”
• Ed McDonald, who recalls grappling with questions of morality and redemption as a college student while playing Knights of the Old Republic video game, which put him through all of the struggles experienced in the Star Wars films.
• Blake Crouch, who attributes Star Wars to leading him on the path to becoming a writer, and shares pages from an unfinished Star Wars novel that he wrote as a tween in the 1980s.
• Martha Wells, author of Star Wars: Razor’s Edge, who credits Star Wars films and books for helping her find a community of like-minded individuals through fandom, after being told that it was weird and bad for girls to like science fiction and fantasy.
The White Castle by Yuri Shwedoff, a Russian artist with a knack for combining fantasy and science fiction in paintings to show a sense of loss: the greatest civilizations all become relics. https://yurishwedoff.deviantart.com/gallery/
The image brings to mind these lines from the poet Shelley writing 200 years previously...
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Last night saw The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (pictured left) win the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel of the year – and Urban Fantasist's Charles Christian was present at the award ceremony at Foyles Bookshop in London. (Of course he was there, he was one of judges for the Award! https://www.clarkeaward.com/award-winners/the-award-juries/)
Colson is currently in China and, as Star Trek-style transporters are still in the realm of science fiction, he was unable to attend in person but he did send this acceptance speech – which is wonderful because it perfectly encapsulates why writers write science fiction and fantasy...
"Way back when I was ten years old, it was science fiction and fantasy that made me want to be a writer. If you were a writer, you could work from home, you didn't have to talk to anybody, and you could just make stuff up all day. Stuff about robots and maybe zombies and maybe even miraculous railway lines. Fantasy, like realism, is a tool for describing the world, and I'm grateful that a book like The Underground Railroad, which could not exist without the toolkit of fantastic literature, is being recognized by the Arthur C. Clarke Award." ...Colson Whitehead
Other things to note about last night's award...
* This year (2017) is the 100th anniversary of Sir Arthur's birth in (December 1917) – he died in 2008.
* This year was the 31st year the Award has been made – the first winner in 1987 was The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
* Although this year's shortlist might appear to be very diverse in terms of subject matter, as the chair of the judges Andrew M. Butler pointed out, all the novels focus on humanity and the triumph of the human spirit against adversity (even if in some instances the humanity in question is that of an artificial intelligence).
* Colson Whitehead has also won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Prize, and been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for this novel. In addition, former President Barack Obama said The Underground Railroad was the last book he read while he was still in The White House – a fact that prompted Award director Tom Hunter to comment last night it was also "the last book to be read by an American president"!
The Folio Society, who produce gorgeous special editions of books, have just released details and a video of a new edition of H.P. Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu.
The edition also includes a preface by Alan Moore who describes the “unease and abhorrence” he felt about Lovecraft’s politics and prejudices, along with his dislike of Lovecraft's prose “burdening each clause with adjectives and archaisms, far too fond of indescribability.” All very valid criticisms but Moore goes on to describe Lovecraft as “One of the twentieth century’s most radical experimental writers” ... “magnificently visionary” adding “I envy your exquisite nightmares.”
The perfect accessory for every dream home in R'lyeh!
For all fans of 1960s Cult TV shows Danger Man and The Prisoner, read this piece on Patrick McGoohan...
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