Earlier this week Blue Origin (that's the spaceflight business started by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos) launched its New Shepard rocket for the seventh time from its West Texas launch site. The mission – known Mission 7 (M7) – featured the next-generation booster and the first flight of Crew Capsule 2.0, which has extra large windows for maximum visibility. The pilot was Mannequin Skywalker (geddit?) and the capsule reached an apogee of 322,405 feet / 98.27 kilometres / 61 miles in its 11 minute flight. The video (taken from onboard cameras) is just over 11 minutes in length.
"I'm not entirely convinced scientists have their latest developments under control. You know genetic engineering, nuclear weaponry and computers. Whatever trouble we fall into you can be sure of one thing: it'll be of our own making..." Terry Nation quoted in the Radio Times in 1977. We can all feel grateful it is so different now and scientists are definitely not developing technologies that may grow out of control!
The late Terry Nation was a Welsh television writer and novelist, working on many of the most popular British TV series of the 1960s and 1970s. He made a significant contribution to Doctor Who from its outset, creating the villainous Daleks, and was also the creator of two series for the BBC: Survivors and the cult Blake's 7.
And "yes" we all wore those strange scarf/cravat things in the early 1970s.
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"!
Weird Tales Radio Show
The latest Weird Tales Radio Show (episode 12) is now available as a podcast. This is our our Grey Lady haunting, Brown Monk lamenting, Skipping and Pancake Bell ringing, Seven Things you didn’t know about St Valentine’s Day, Arthur C Clarke Remembering, Tales of Brave Ulysses Ancient Origins editor interviewing edition.
Follow this link to access all episodes of the Weird Tales Radio Show podcasts. Click player button below to hear latest show.
New on the Grievous Angel
After the Revolution - new haiga by Pat Tompkins
This is Urban Fantasist
Curated by former barrister and Reuters correspondent turned writer, award-winning tech journalist, best-selling non-fiction author, sometime werewolf hunter, and internet radio host Charles Christian – Urban Fantasist is here to inform and entertain you with news and comment on weird tales, geek stuff, tech, urban myths, and folklore.
Also includes the Grievous Angel webzine for free-to-read, sci-fi and fantasy poetry and flash fiction.
And the Weird Tales Radio Show podcast archive. Click on any of the buttons below to access the shows.
Plus links to Charles Christian's books including fiction, nonfiction, and all the latest reviews.
"Charles Christian defiantly makes my world a brighter, funnier place."
"The legendary Charles Christian at his eclectic best... his insight and humour alone make this a must-read blog."
"Charles Christian is my inner spirit animal, thank you for making me laugh."
"the funny, wonderful and slightly cantankerous Charles Christian"
"His tech journalism is always witty. He has a talent for pricking the overblown claims of suppliers."
"Charles Christian does awesome!"
The Urban Fantasist website is now averaging over 4500 page views daily and 120,000 page views a month plus over 5500 unique visitors each week.
Over 185 weeks in Amazon's writing reference books bestsellers Top 20.
Can I copy content from this site?
Yes... providing you properly credit it. Here's the technical bit: Urban Fantasist content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License which means it may be shared, remixed or used commercially as long as Urban Fantasist or Grievous Angel is cited as the source. If you have any questions, please email or use our contact form.
Green Tea Pot
Please drop a few PayPal coins into our Tip Jar to help us meet some of our running costs. Chocolate, green tea, flasks of wine, books of verse, the usual.
Copyright © Charles Christian
& WordsandVision Limited 2018
Grievous Angel ISSN 2059-6057
This site is fuelled entirely by green tea, sarcasm and dark chocolate.
Contact Address: Oak Lodge, Darrow Green Road, Denton, Harleston, Norfolk IP20 0AY, United Kingdom