War and words

war2

 

 

This week’s post was vaguely inspired by last weekend’s commemoration of ANZAC Day. We’ve served up a variety of links about writing, warfare, and writers in wartime.

George R. R. Martin talks engagingly about writing tips, including how to write medieval warfare well.

-A more general piece with tips about writing large battle scenes, particularly in fantasy settings.

-An exhaustively researched resource, which provides fascinating insight into First World War experiences of some of the best-known science fiction and fantasy writers.

A BBC feature article discussing the influence of the First World War on The Lord of the Rings.

-A short alternate history of what might have happened if the ANZAC’s had won the battles at Gallipoli.

The stunningly animated short from Russian CG enthusiast Dima, which imagines the remains of a post-apocalyptic world-war.

 

Station Eleven crows a victory

post apocLast week saw the announcement of the winner of the Tournament of Books: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. In honour of this title, here are a collection of links about Mandel’s book, which has caused waves in the ever-widening pool of post-apocalyptic literature over the last year or so.

Bustle interviews Emily St. John Mandel, who explains how Shakespeare crosses over into post-apocalyptic sci-fi

i09 asks Mandel and four other authors why their stories are set beyond the point of mass annihilation

Mandel explains her vision of the protracted moment of apocalypse to the BBC

The New York Times review of Station Eleven (slight spoilers)

-A fascination article by The New Yorker about the evolving relationship between genre and literary fiction, with reference to Station Eleven

-An upcoming unique (albeit unrelated) project by a pair of Australian editors to publish an “anthology of apocalypse survival fiction featuring characters with disability and chronic illness”. Sounds interesting!

Titan: Soupy, frozen, exotic

A speculative view from Titan's surface
A speculative view from Titan’s surface

This week saw the 360th anniversary of Christiaan Huygens’ discovery of Saturn’s moon Titan. Titan is the second-largest moon in the solar system and the only known natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere. As a result, Titan has long captured the imaginations of writers, film-makers, readers, and of course scientists.

Is water really necessary for life to form? Cosmos Magazine writes on the possibility of life evolving in Titan’s hydrocarbon seas

Space.com shines light on the conflicting reports of Titan’s mysterious, soupy atmosphere

Titan’s methane-rich nature comes up in io9’s discussion of the logistics of terraforming

-Along with Titan’s hydrocarbon lakes, the geography is also dominated by giant sand dunes that have an enigmatic origin

-In this video, NASA asks: why are there no waves on Titan’s lakes and seas?

-The History Channel explores what a day on Titan’s surface would be like

Lockdown

Photograph of a crumbling prison
Photograph by Marcin Haszczu

Today is the anniversary of the closing of Alcatraz, one of the most infamous prisons of all time. So we’ve put together a short post about prisons, freedom, and their representation in sci-fi and fantasy.

io9 covers 10 of the greatest prison breaks in sci-fi and fantasy

An impressive review of 14 of the ‘freakiest’ prisons

Bitch Magazine explores the concepts of retribution, punishment and freedom in the context of sci-fi prisons

-Robert Heinlein’s penal sci-fi classic ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress‘ will be adapted to film by X-Men director Brian Singer

Wired writes on the new sci-fi prison comic series ‘Bitch Planet’

Finally, the amazingly gory and hilarious Adult Swim show ‘Superjail’

Michael Pryor on why everyone should GET HARD

by Michael Pryor

Hard SF can be a hard sell. Of all the multifarious and diverse aspects of Science Fiction, Hard Science Fiction is the one most likely to get non-readers recoiling in horror. It’s the SF sub-genre most parodied, most vilified and most misunderstood.

Which is a shame because, as with most things, the best of it is superb. Hard SF discusses, foregrounds and takes seriously an aspect of modern life that is shamefully neglected in literary fiction: science and technology. If these feature in literary fiction today, it’s superficially or with, at best, a jaundiced eye. Continue reading

Gibson and the cyberpunks

A man in a leather coat with intrusive augmentations

May 2015 Update: A fascinating (and in-depth) article from the New York Review of Books about Gibson’s works and life

This week saw the anniversary of William Gibson’s birth. Gibson is one of the canonical writers of early cyberpunk fiction, and his book Neuromancer was the first to win all three of the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick awards. Today’s post hits up some of the interviews that shed light on Gibson, as well as a few nicks and nacks.

The Paris Review provides an excellent precis of Gibson’s literary life along with an in-depth interview

An audio interview between the BBC World Service and Gibson (49 minutes)

-Bruce Bethke, whose eponymous story gave name to the subculture, writes on the etymology of ‘cyberpunk’

The Guardian speaks with Gibson in the wake of the release of his latest book The Peripheral

-In contrast, an interview with Gibson back from 1985, which includes a prescient prediction about Michael Jackson

6 cyberpunk books to introduce you to the cyberpunk literary genre

The trajectory of cyberpunk is traced by the Guardian

-A video from the Chicago Humanities Festival, where Gibson speaks on the decline of ‘Cyberspace’

-For a laugh, here’s Lorem Gibson – a website that provides filler text, ala Lorem Ipsum, based on Gibson’s work

Aurealis wants YOU!

Aurealis, Australia’s most successful Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine, is looking for an Editor-in-Chief to oversee the direction and management of the Aurealis digital platforms – including the Aurealis.com.au Blog and social media accounts.

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A desire to make a mark on the Fantasy and Science Fiction landscape
  • Experience writing for online publication – whether that’s blogs or digital magazines
  • An understanding of social media best practices and execution
  • The ability to manage a small group of contributors
  • Impeccable time-management skills
  • An interest in genre stories and storytelling

If you feel as though you meet the above criteria, and are interested in joining Australia’s foremost F+SF magazine, send an email to Dan at the below address with your relevant experience and your reasons for wanting to take over Aurealis Digital’s top gig.

We look forward to hearing from you.

CONTACT NAME – Dan Allan
CONTACT EMAIL – dan.aurealis@gmail.com
WEBSITE – https://www.aurealis.com.au
FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/AurealisFSF
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/AurealisMag, https://twitter.com/AurealisBlog

In memoriam: Terry Pratchett

Discworld reader's guide
A reader’s guide to the discworld novels

Beloved fantasy humorist author Terry Pratchett passed away on the 12th. This post is a collection of tributes to his works and life.

An in-depth examination of what makes the discworld books great.

Pratchett’s thoughts on dementia.

Crime novelist Val McDermid eulogises Pratchett in The Guardian.

The New York Times interviews Pratchett in late 2014.

Neil Gaiman writes on anger, injustice and Pratchett.

And finally, the last three twitter posts from Pratchett’s account:

“AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER”

“Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night”

“The End.”

 

 

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Aurealis #78 is here!

Aurealis_78Aurealis-#78-cover-purple-sky-dragon_1Now in its 25th year, Aurealis keeps up its tradition of bringing you the finest in Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Issue #78 has the bracing neo-noir ‘Enfolded’, from J Michael Melican and the punchy ‘Discarded Pieces’ from David Coleman.

Terry Wood brings us visions of the future in the first part of his History of the Flying Car, and, as always, Aurealis brings you the best in reviews.

Download your copy HERE.

Apollo 9 anniversary, blasting off

apollo 9

Today marks the anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 9 mission, which was one of the manned precursors to the first successful moonwalk only 4 months later. In memory of the mission, here are a handful of posts that refer to Apollo 9 documents and books, and the Apollo series of missions in general.

The hidden importance of the Apollo 9 mission, and its fallout

Five of the best insider accounts of the Apollo moon landings

i09 discusses two new recently released books. The books describe the Apollo missions in detail, along with the reality of NASA’s financial situation at the time

A video of Earthrise as witnessed by members of Apollo 8. The video is reconstituted from audio and photographs as well as computer animation.

National Geographic’s original series of photographs of the Apollo program 

-Although it has been around for a couple of years, Chris Hadfield’s rendition of Space Oddity is something I’m always happy to come back to (even if it doesn’t relate directly to Apollo!).