Oh, Internet. Will you ever cease to come up with new ways for me to waste time?
So the latest thing I’ve been doing is hitting the Lucky Dip button in the Picture Gallery section of the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. It generates a random book cover from their massive archives:
So far, I’ve seen a few hundred vintage hardcovers and paperbacks, from a 1951 Lord Dunsany hardcover I never knew existed (The Last Revolution) to Samuel R. Delaney’s 1977 collection of critical essays on science fiction (The Jewel-Hinged Jaw); from John Brunner’s 1968 Lancer paperback Into the Slave Nebula to the 1954 Gnome Press edition of C. L. Moore’s Northwest of Earth. And many hundreds in between.
It’s a fascinating kaleidoscope (I can’t really call it a tour) of our genre — and a great launching point to ignite your interest. I ended up reading about UK author M. John Harrison after seeing the cover to his 1975 Panther paperback collection The Machine in Shaft Ten and Other Stories. Plus, doing about a dozen Google searches on the words “Slave Nebula.”
Of course, there’s a powerful search function as well, in case you want to leap directly to a specific book or author. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, the new online incarnation and third edition of the classic reference book edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, indexes some 54,000 individual titles, with 113,500 internal hyperlinks and over 4,000,000 words. It builds massively on the text of the (already massive) 1995 CD-ROM edition, and is produced in collaboration with British SF publisher Gollancz and the SF Gateway. And it is, as the introduction points out, still a work in progress.
Thursday, May 16th, 2013 | Posted by Sue Granquist
Yes, originally I said the exact same thing.
Give me one good reason why the world needs another retelling of Dracula.
I mean, haven’t we suffered enough? As it is, the mythology has been altered so many times to try and make something new out of it, that If Bram Stoker ever found out about Edward Cullen, he’s be spinning in his grave like a rotisserie ham.
On the other hand, it was probably only a matter of time before network television realized that there is a viewer appetite for old fashioned violence and sexy blood drinking, and why the heck should HBO have all the fun with True Blood anyway?
Which brings me to two good reasons why we may want to listen to the Dracula tale being retold one more time…
Downton Abbey and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
NBC is launching a Dracula mini-series this fall which will actually take place in 1890s London (as opposed to trying to modernize the story). In this telling, Dracula has assumed the identity of an American entrepreneur with aspirations of bringing modern science and technology to Victorian society.
This is all a ruse of course, as Dracula’s true endeavor is the pursuit of revenge against humankind after it nearly destroyed him centuries earlier. The only thing that may spoil his plans for vengeance is the comely young lass he’s recently fallen in love with – who may also be the reincarnation of his dead wife.
I consider the annual Locus Awards to be one of the major genre prizes, right behind the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve been a subscriber to Locus, the magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy field, for over 20 years, and have noticed how reliable the award is at ferreting out really important work year after year. Maybe it’s because Locus readers tend to be older, and more committed to the genre, than the average fan. Or maybe it’s just that I’m eligible to vote, and so I’m less grumpy about the results.
Whatever the reason, there’s no arguing the fact that the Locus Awards have highlighted some of the most important genre publications in the last 40 years, since they were first given out in 1971. If you’re a fantasy fan, it’s worth your time to pay attention to all the nominees.
The top five finalists in each category of the 2013 Locus Awards were announced by the Locus Science Fiction Foundation on Wednesday, May 8. The nominees are:
Yes, that is a photo of me with special effects wizard and creator of dreams, Ray Harryhausen. I met him at a signing in 2004 at the (now gone) Lazer Blazer DVD store in Los Angeles. He signed my copy of An Animated Life, which was a gift from none other than John C. Hocking.
For the last few years, the idea squirmed around unpleasantly in my mind that I might soon hear the news of Ray Harryhausen’s death. Like his long-time friend Ray Bradbury, a fellow L.A.-area geek who also ended up becoming a legend in the worlds he loved, Harryhausen was a man of great longevity. But he was in his nineties and it was impossible not to imagine the day I would wake up to the headline: “VFX Pioneer Ray Harryhausen (1920–201?).” Still, I wasn’t prepared for it when it finally happened — today. The news struck like a bolt from Olympus, and then the ground split open and the Styx beckoned.
I have no need to explain Ray Harryhausen’s life to Black Gate’s readers. You know him. You love him as much as I do. Seeing Clash of the Titans in second grade changed my life: not only did it take a kid who loved dinosaurs and made him into someone who loved all monsters, but it opened that kid’s mind to Greek Mythology and consequently all history, so one day a History Degree would hang from his wall. Through Ray Harryhausen, I first began to love the techniques of filmmaking. Through Ray Harryhausen, I discovered film composer Bernard Herrmann and became an obsessive movie music lover. Through Ray Harryhausen, I found heroic fantasy. The whole damn thing is his fault. I told him this when I met him, and he laughed because I’m certain I was only the nine-millionth person to use that same line on him.
Instead of giving the Great Wizard a standard obituary, I want to remember him through ten sequences from his films that do the best job of showcasing what made him an artist of visual effects, a Rembrandt of film magic. These are simply my ten favorite moments, yours may differ, although there’s a few on this list that I guarantee (Medusa) that (Medusa) we’ll (Medusa) all (Medusa) agree (skeletons) on (Medusa).
Last week the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2 for you cool kids) rolled into town with its usual juggernaut of the innovative, the unusual and the spandex’d.
Though this is my fourth year covering the show for Black Gate, I must say it is by far the worst place to send someone like me who has a problem with staring; especially when doing so is likely to seriously annoy a very big person in a very small costume.
But never let it be said that I shirked my obligation to a long-suffering readership. Therefore I bribed Black Gate photographer Chris Z to once again wade into a precarious situation with me, this time with the promise he could meet all the crew of the Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean who were listed as special guests.
Plus, Chris would be a good deterrent if I did indeed seriously annoy someone; like Batman or Chewbacca.
Almost immediately I realized Chris Z was probably in as much trouble as I was.
The first indication was a sign instructing us to text a number if we saw anything “suspicious.” At which point Chris and I looked at each other and said in unison, “Define suspicious.”
When everywhere you look are adults dressed as super heroes, Star Wars characters and video game icons, determining exactly what constitutes “suspicious” is darn near impossible. Which makes you wonder what would cause someone to text the number as instructed.
Still, Chris and I did our very best to put on the mental blinders and run through a full-day lineup of interviews, meet-and-greets and 100 aisles of merchandise.
Andrew J. Offutt, who authored many fantasy novels in the 70s and 80s, and who made a significant contribution to Sword and Sorcery as an editor with his seminal Swords Against Darkness anthology series, died yesterday.
Offutt wrote numerous novels under the name John Cleve (and other pseudonyms), including five volumes in the Crusader historical adventure line, and the long-running erotic SF adventure series Spaceways. The first science fiction novel to appear under his own name was Evil is Live Spelled Backwards in 1970.
But I first encountered him in Swords Against Darkness IV in 1979, a marvelous book which contains stories by Manly Wade Wellman, Orson Scott Card, Poul Anderson, Tanith Lee, and many others. The first Swords Against Darkness appeared in 1977 from Zebra Books, with a Robert E. Howard fragment completed by Offutt, a Simon of Gitta tale from Richard L. Tierney, and fiction from Poul Anderson, Manly Wade Wellman, David Drake, Ramsey Campbell and many others. Offutt edited a total of five volumes, with the final one appearing in 1979. Together with Lin Carter’s Flashing Swords anthologies and a handful of small press magazines like Weirdbook, Swords Against Darkness kept Sword & Sorcery alive throughout the 70s and into the early 80s.
Offutt went on to some success with collaborator Richard K. Lyons, beginning with the War of the Wizards trilogy (1978-81). He also wrote the War of the Gods on Earth trilogy (1979-83), but was mostly known for his Robert E. Howard pastiche novels featuring Conan and Cormac Mac Art, including The Undying Wizard (1976), The Mists of Doom (1977), and Conan and the Sorcerer (1978). He was a noted contributor to Thieves’ World, appearing in several volumes in the ’80s and ’90s.
Offutt had a long hiatus after his last Thieves World work appear in 1993. He returned briefly to the field in the last decade, contributing a short story co-authored with Richard K. Lyon for 2009′s Rage of the Behemoth from Rogue Blades Entertainment.
Altogether Offutt wrote and edited more than 75 books. He also contributed to the field in other ways, including two terms as president of SFWA, from 1976-78. He died yesterday at the age of 78.
Apparently, now that Marvel Comics has hit on a fabulously successful formula for its film properties, future movies are being released according to an ambitious Plan. The Plan ties together all the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in a way that should be very familiar to anyone who has ever read Marvel comics.
The first picture in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now considered to be 2008′s Iron Man (presumably ignoring all Marvel films that came before, like all three Spider-Man and X-Men pictures, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Elektra, Fantastic Four, Wolverine, The Punisher, Blade, X-Men: First Class, etc.) Iron Man was the beginning of Phase One, a sequence which included The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers.
Phase Two kicks off next month with Iron Man 3, followed by Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and culminating in The Avengers 2, scheduled to arrive in May of 2015. Like Phase One, the films in this second set will share sub-plots and secondary characters, and dovetail into the plot for Avengers 2, details of which are a closely guarded secret (but will almost certainly involve Thanos and the Cosmic Cube — excuse me, The Tesseract.)
Whatevs. Today all we care about is that the first teaser trailer for Thor: The Dark World has been released, and it contains a satisfying quantity of ‘splosions and cosmic violence. The trailer also confirms the return of all the major stars from the first film, including Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins — and Tom Hiddleston as Loki (yay!).
Thor: The Dark World is directed by Alan Taylor, and is scheduled for release on November 8th. You can see the complete teaser trailer for yourself below. And if you figure out what that giant floating hood ornament is, let us know.
Back when I used to subscribe to Granta magazine, I enjoyed their semi-annual lists of Best Young Writers. This year’s list came out recently, and this morning I came across an article in The Guardian pointing out that no equivalent list for genre fiction exists, and asking, “If it did, who might be on it?”
The author, Damien Walter, endeavors to answer his own question, supplying an intriguing list of 20 SF and Fantasy authors under 40:
Joe Abercrombie is the self-proclaimed Lord of “grimdark” epic fantasy, whose writing displays a wit and style beyond the battle sequences and torture scenes that dominate the gritty world of grimdark. NK Jemsin brings an immense storytelling talent to the tradition of epic fantasy, with a series of beautiful stories that have garnered Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy award nominations. The Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed is notable for its middle-eastern fantasy setting, but the work’s real strengths are its deep sense of irony and dark humour. And of course British author China Miéville has re-worked the fantasy genre into many and varied weird forms from Perdido Street Station to Embassytown, though he is technically ineligible, as he turned 40 last year.
Catherynne Valente’s novels and stories range widely across the fantastic, but it is her dark urban fantasies such as Palimpsest that best showcase her baroque prose style. Tom Pollock’s debut The City’s Son marked the appearance of a powerful new imagination in SF, and hopes are high for the upcoming sequel. As they are for the debut novel of Elizabeth May, with The Falconer among the most anticipated fantasy novels of 2013.
This list fills me with hope for our genre, and simultaneously makes me feel very old at 48.
Paul Goat Allen at Barnes&Noble.com has compiled a list of the Top 20 Paranormal Fantasy Novels of the last ten years.
What is “paranormal fantasy” exactly, as opposed to, say, “fantasy?” Paul seems to be using it to encompass contemporary fiction with supernatural elements, including horror, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance — but apparently not science fiction, or secondary world fantasy. Here’s Paul’s loose attempt at a definition:
We are in the midst of a glorious Golden Age of paranormal fantasy — the last ten years, specifically, in genre fiction have been nothing short of landscape-changing. The days of rigidly defined categories (romance, fantasy, horror, etc.) are long gone. Today, genre-blending novels reign supreme: narratives with virtually limitless potential that freely utilize elements of fantasy, romance, mystery, horror, and science fiction…
The list below includes 20 novels that are not only extraordinarily good, but have also dramatically influenced — and continue to influence — the course of the genre.
A bold claim, but I think he’s not far off. As the years go by, fantasy has seeped inexorably into the mainstream — witness the success of Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Twilight, etc — and writers of all genres seem to be dipping into the fantasy pool with fewer reservations. The result is a public that accepts zombie westerns and modern-day vampire mysteries without batting an eye.
Regardless of how much you want to read into Paul’s list, you’ll find plenty of good reading on it, including books by Cherie Priest, Seanan McGuire, Patricia Briggs, Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Kat Richardson, Marcus Pelegrimas, Stacia Kane, Jim Butcher, and Richard Kadrey.