Literary Wonder & Adventure Podcast: The Golden Age of Science Fiction, Part II

Saturday, September 9th, 2017 | Posted by Brian Murphy

Literary Wonder and Adventure Show The Golden Age of Science Fiction Part 2 Rich Horton

Part II of II; read a review of Part I here.

Host Robert Zoltan has returned with his second installment of a look back at the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Zoltan and (Edgar the Raven’s) guest for Part II is Rich Horton, editor of The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy (Prime Books), reprint editor for Light Speed, and columnist for Locus and Black Gate.

Horton endorses the standard narrative of the start and finish of science fiction’s “golden age,” which begins with editor John Campbell fully assuming the reigns of Astounding Stories around 1938, and ends when the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Galaxy began publishing in 1949 and 1950, respectively. These latter two magazines moved the genre in new directions, though not necessarily worse ones: Horton in fact argues that the fiction published in the silver age of the 1950s was often higher in quality, which seems to undercut the Golden Age moniker affixed to the Campellian era. But the golden age had the benefit of the “shock of the new”; it was a time when new ideas sprang from the pages of Astounding Stories with each new issue. It saw the emergence of some of science fiction’s greatest ideas and lasting tropes, if not consistently high execution or literary sophistication.

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The Poison Apple: A Cosplayer’s Best Friend, Interview with Photographer Bruce Heinsius

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens

Josephine Chang as Silk

Josephine Chang as Silk

I wanted to preface that when I first met Bruce, we were both working as Still Photographers in Hollywood, and he was on Power Rangers, which has made a comeback with a new feature film after twenty-five years or so.

BH: I worked on the television show the first season shooting everything from action on the set to special shoots for calendars, trading cards, video box covers and magazines.

You and I have been out of touch for a while, but we reconnected on Facebook, because you took photos of someone else I was already friends with, and that’s when I noticed you started taking photos of cosplayers at conventions. Why don’t you share with the readers how you got involved with that?

Back in 2006, I was supposed to be doing a movie shoot. When I showed up, the person who hired me apologized and said he forgot to tell me it was cancelled because everyone was going to a cosplay event instead. So, I tagged along and was surprised how many comic book and animé characters were there. I wasn’t really doing action photos on that first event, but I still tried to create good portraiture while photographing people in costume.

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The Opportunity for Awe: An Interview with Scott Andrews

Friday, August 25th, 2017 | Posted by Steve Case

Scott H Andrews Beneath Ceaseless Skies-smallBeneath Ceaseless Skies is a five-time Hugo and seven-time World Fantasy Award-finalist online magazine of literary adventure fantasy. In nine years, BCS has published over 475 stories and 200 audio podcasts by authors such as Saladin Ahmed, Richard Parks, Marie Brennan, Yoon Ha Lee, Aliette de Bodard, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Seth Dickinson, and more.  Find their ebooks and Best of BCS anthologies on Amazon and WeightlessBooks.com, their podcasts on Google Play and iTunes, and stories, artwork, new issues, and more at beneath-ceaseless-skies.com.

For nearly a decade now, BCS has been showcasing the work of both new and established writers in the realms of fantasy with a literary bent. My first professional sale was to BCS, and the magazine has published several of my stories since then, including my most recent, “Deathspeaker,” in the August 3rd issue. Recently I approached BCS editor Scott Andrews with some questions about “literary adventure fantasy” and its appeal to readers of sword & sorcery.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies publishes “literary adventure fantasy.” It’s pretty clear what those first two words mean separately, but can you explain the juxtaposition? What does adventure fantasy lack when it’s not literary (or gain when it is)? What does literary fantasy miss when it lacks adventure?

“Literary adventure fantasy” is my tagline for literary fantasy set in other worlds. The literary element that’s for me the most enjoyable and rewarding is a focus on character. A lot of secondary-world fantasy feels to me focused on the setting or the plot, but I like it on the characters, for example using narrative approaches like close points-of-view or conflicts that are internal in addition to external.

What adventure fantasy gains for me when it’s literary like that is the human highs and lows, the emotional exhilaration and gut-punch, that great literary fiction has. I love the line from Faulkner’s Nobel Prize speech that the only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself. That may sound like highbrow English-class stuff, but there’s an author in SF/F/H today who I’ve heard reference that Faulkner quote:  George R. R. Martin. His fantasy is the most popular in the world, and he’s constantly praised for his characters and how realistic and emotive they feel. His work absolutely has those human highs and lows, those profound comments on what it feels like to be a parent or a sibling or a hero or a failure or a survivor. That’s character-centered focus I love to read.

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Literary Wonder & Adventure Podcast: The Golden Age of Science Fiction, Part 1

Monday, August 21st, 2017 | Posted by Brian Murphy

Literary Wonder & Adventure Show Episode 6 The Golden Age of Science Fiction Part 1 A Conversation with Author Allen Steele-small

New podcast on the block Literary Wonder & Adventure Show is a welcome addition for fans of the fantasy and science fiction genres. I became a listener after stumbling upon Robert E. Howard: Master of Sword & Sorcery, featuring an interview with Black Gate contributor and author Howard Andrew Jones. Host Robert Zoltan has created a fun program that balances entertainment and informative, thoughtful interviews with interesting guests, as well as the occasional audio drama.

The Literary Wonder & Adventure Show is not a simple interview format with the standard bumper music typical of most podcasts, but a spin on Doctor Who with a time and space travelling stone tower. It has an air of nostalgia as if one were listening to an old-time radio broadcast, and incorporates some extensive production including sound effects and Zoltan’s dramatized voice work. If at first you find the experience slightly unexpected and jarring (as I did) I recommend giving at least one full episode a shot, as you quickly get used to the playful format and the amusing intrusions of Edgar the Raven, as skillfully voiced by Zoltan (who somehow manages to carry on a conversation with himself)!

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Call for Backers! Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastic Stories in a Sustainable World Campaign on Kickstarter, in Conjunction with a Video Interview with Sarena Ulibarri, Editor-in-Chief of World Weaver Press

Monday, August 14th, 2017 | Posted by Emily Mah

The Kickstarter campaign for Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastic Stories in a Sustainable World is now live!

What is this, you ask? Well, let me explain the history. Solarpunk is an emerging subgenre that focuses on sustainable energy, and many believe the rest of the world has a head start on the solarpunk movement. This anthology, being funded by the Kickstarter, was originally published in Brazil, in Portuguese, and is known internationally as one of the earliest examples of solarpunk. World Weaver Press wants to bring it to the northern hemisphere and the English language.

I sat down with Sarena Ulibarri, the editor in chief of World Weaver Press, for an interview that explores who she is, what World Weaver Press publishes, and a brief history of solarpunk and this anthology.

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The Poison Apple: An Interview with Author Jennifer Brozek

Saturday, August 5th, 2017 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens

Jennifer Brozek, photo by M. Dutta

Jennifer Brozek is a 2x Bram Stoker Award Nominee, most recently for Last Days of Salton Academy.

Your specialty seems to be YA.

Yes, it has turned into that, but that wasn’t always the case. In the past, I did a lot of tie-in fiction for Shadowrun (cyberpunk with magic) and Battletech, which was Young Adult, but Shadowrun was not. I’ve had the most acclaim for my YA work, and every YA novel I’ve written has been nominated or has actually won an award.

This seems to be a success formula for you.

I’ve discovered that and tend to write for age twelve to seventeen. Many adults like my work, too, and I think a lot of it is because I never talk down to teenagers. If they don’t understand something, they have Google. They can look up something they don’t understand.

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Hobo Fights: A Chat with Image Comics’ Rock Candy Mountain Creator Kyle Starks

Saturday, August 5th, 2017 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Rock Candy Mountain Volume One-small

Image Comics is soon releasing the first trade paperback of Kyle Starks’ Rock Candy Mountain, collecting issues 1-4. The original solicitation runs as follows:

Eisner-nominated comic creator Kyle Starks would like to invite you to enter the magical world of hobos. The world’s toughest hobo is searching through post-WW2 America for the mythological Rock Candy Mountain, and he’s going to have to fight his way to get there. Lots of hobo fights. So many hobo fights. A new action-comedy series full of high action, epic stakes, magic, friendship, trains, punching, kicking, joking, a ton of hobo nonsense, and the Literal Devil. Yeah. The Literal Devil.

Who could turn down a description like that? I had a chance to catch up with Kyle for an e-mail interview about this fiesta of fisticuffs and the hobo code of honor.

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The Man of Legends by Kenneth Johnson: Q&A with the Author, Part 2

Saturday, July 8th, 2017 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

Incredible-Hulk-Jacket-Kenneth-Johnson-Q-and-AKenneth Johnson’s new book, The Man of Legends is now available at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook.

Last week I posted the first part of my interview with Kenneth Johnson, author of the recently released novel The Man of Legends, focusing on the new book and its inspirations. But Kenneth Johnson’s long career as a writer, producer, and director of television and movies deserves its own section. Shows like The Incredible Hulk, Alien Nation, The Bionic Woman, and V: The Original Series are gems among 1970s and ‘80s science-fiction television and continue to have an enormous influence today. I expected to hear some interesting stories about making those programs when I interviewed him, especially considering how timely some of them continue to be (seriously, go give V: The Original Miniseries as look again and you’ll be stunned at how much its themes stand out), but I didn’t expect to hear a story about Richard Nixon as well!

Q&A with Kenneth Johnson, Part 2

You mentioned you were one of the youngest producers on the lot when you were working at Universal. You were in your early thirties when you produced The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, and The Incredible Hulk.

Yeah, and I had had half a career before that. I came out of the Drama Department at what is now Carnegie Mellon University, then Carnegie Tech, which had a sort of renowned Department of Drama. I was a graduate in directing; there was no film or TV or anything like that. It was strictly “theater!” you know. Everybody there, except me, sort of looked down on TV and film. Everybody except me and a couple other guys: Jamie Cromwell, a wonderful and well-known actor out here who played the farmer in Babe and so many other things since then; and my dear friend Steven Bochco, who was a classmate and came to California a little bit ahead of me and helped me get my foot in the door at Universal.

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The Man of Legends by Kenneth Johnson: Q&A with the Author, Part 1

Saturday, July 1st, 2017 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

Man-of-Legends-Cover-Kenneth-Johnson-Q-and-AThe Man of Legends is now available at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook.

The title of the novel The Man of Legends refers to its central character and one of its numerous narrators: an enigmatic figure with a history stretching back to the ancient world. But the title can also apply to the book’s author, Kenneth Johnson. Although not as much a household word as Gene Roddenberry or Rod Serling, Johnson has left an indelible mark on a generation who grew up watching the shows he produced, developed, wrote, and directed: The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk, V: The Original Miniseries, Alien Nation

Basically, for people of my generation, Kenneth Johnson was our secret Gene Roddenberry, our hidden-in-plain-sight Rod Serling.

The Man of Legends feels like a declaration that Johnson’s legacy is no longer secret or hiding. Although he’s published novels before (most recently V: The Second Generation, a 2008 continuation of the 1983 miniseries), The Man of Legends is an original story that reads as a collation of the humanism in Johnson’s television and movie work. If a story about a cursed man forced to wander the world, helping people along the way even if it backfires on him, instantly calls up Bill Bixby as David Banner in The Incredible Hulk television show, it’s no coincidence. Johnson even tucks in a few direct references to the TV series. (“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”)

But The Man of Legends isn’t a retread. It’s a summation and expansion. This is unmistakably the work of the author who brought emotional power to David Banner’s lonely quest to be the best person he could while coping with an unconquerable rage and a relentless pursuer. But it’s also unmistakably the work of the author who crafted an anti-fascist epic about a panorama of people struggling against an abusive power (who also happened to be zoophagous alien reptiles). If you recall Kenneth’s Johnson’s brand of humanism and science-fiction excitement from his television work, The Man of Legends may be the best new novel you read in 2017.

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The Eighth Samurai: An Interview with Author T.C. Rypel

Saturday, June 24th, 2017 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

T.C. Rypel-small

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, many authors were churning out their own versions of big, iron-muscled barbarian heroes like Conan of Cimmeria. There were exceptions, of course, like Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, and Jack Vance, to name three authors I’ve always favored. But then along came T.C. Rypel, who hit the ground running with something different, something uniquely his own . . . his character of Sabatake Gonji-no-Sadowara, the half Scandinavian and half Japanese samurai. Gonji was truly a breath of fresh air in the genre of Sword and Sorcery, although I think Rypel’s novel are much more epic and actually closer to Heroic Fantasy in scope and theme. His setting wasn’t some imaginary world filled with ancient gods, powerful warlocks and fanciful kingdoms, but was instead deeply rooted in and around Romania and the Carpathian Mountains of 16th century. Perhaps a parallel world, but close enough to the Europe of that era to lend it a flavor of historical reality. Besides the non-barbaric character of Gonji, who was introspective, poetic, and humble, as well as a total bad ass with a sly sense of humor, what also set Rypel’s novels apart from so many others was the fact that he worked gunpowder and firearms into his stories, right along with the sorcery and creatures and other elements of the fantastic. And like Robert E Howard’s Solomon Kane before him, Rypel made it all work, too.

from my Amazon review of T.C. Rypel’s Dark Ventures.

I knew of Ted and Gonji back in the 1980s, when I first read his Deathwind Trilogy, when it was originally published by Zebra Books. Then I broke away from reading fantasy for a while and never knew that he followed that up with two more volumes. Sometime in the 1990s a mutual friend “introduced” us, and we shared a few letters, discussing writing and music and movies. Then I revisited the Deathwind Trilogy, and finally read volumes four and five. When we connected via the internet, emails, and later Facebook, Ted and I got to know each other very well. He enjoyed my tales of Dorgo the Dowser and played a key role in helping me shape the six novellas in the first Mad Shadows volume, and helped again with Mad Shadows II — which is why I dedicated the book to him. No one writes like Ted; he is a walking dictionary and Thesaurus, for one, and he knows how to tell a story. He is also a great editor, having a gift for character insight, plotting, and drama that have been of great help to me. And whenever anyone praises my battle scenes, I tell them, “I owe it all to Ted.” He taught me how to write those scenes from the “inside of a character’s head.” That’s the only way I can put it. If you’ve read any of his books, you know how well he handles character, drama, humor, and dialogue, as well as writing some of the most exciting battle scenes set down on paper. Although we have never met in person, he is a good friend, mentor, and sensei. And now, with the Wildside Press reissues of his original five novels of Gonji, and with the recent release of a sixth volume, I thought it was time to sit down and have a little “talk with him.” It’s high time that Ted is recognized and read by a whole new and younger audience of Heroic Fantasy aficionados.

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