drunk out of his skull

March 17, 2018

Dr Who

Well, yeah, I was (a fan of Dr Who). I watched it since it started, and I didn’t actually like the first Dr Who, William Hartnell, because he used to be in The Army Game where he was a barking sergeant major, and I couldn’t help seeing him as this barking sergeant major, but in a different suit! I liked Patrick Troughton better, because he was sort of fey and he started to bring that oddness into the character. I didn’t like Jon Pertwee, because he was again a bit too posh, and I really liked Tom Baker. I sort of knew him; I met him once or twice, usually in a pub, and usually drunk out of his skull on 50 valium and a pint of scotch, and ad-libbing like fuck. And it’s wonderful to watch the shows and know that all the other actors are just completely at sea because he hasn’t given them their cue line, he’s just come up with actually a better line, usually. So that was my favourite, like many people I suppose, and I still like him as an actor. I’ve got this sort of secret ambition: I did a book called Mother London and there’s a character in it called Josef Kiss, and he’d make an absolutely perfect Josef Kiss. So the only reason I’d want them to make a movie or a radio thing or anything is just so I can get Tom Baker in to play Josef Kiss.

Michael Moorcock
Interview with Ben Graham for The Quietus 22nd November 2010

alien landscape1

I don’t think science fiction is a very good name for it (what I write), but it’s the name that we’ve got. It is different from other kinds of writing, I suppose, so it deserves a name of its own. But where I can get prickly and combative is if I’m just called a sci-fi writer. I’m not. I’m a novelist and poet. Don’t shove me into your damn pigeonhole, where I don’t fit, because I’m all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions…

…I draw on the social sciences a great deal. I get a lot of ideas from them, particularly from anthropology. When I create another planet, another world, with a society on it, I try to hint at the complexity of the society I’m creating, instead of just referring to an empire or something like that…

…For most of my career, getting that label — sci-fi — slapped on you was, critically, a kiss of death. It meant you got reviewed in a little box with some cute title about Martians – or tentacles…

…I just knew from extremely early on – it sounds ridiculous, but five or six – that writing was something I was going to do, always. But just writing, not any mode in particular. It started as poetry. I think I was nine or ten before I really wrote a story. And it was a fantasy story, because that’s mostly what I was reading. By then, my brother and I were putting our quarters together to buy, now and then, a ten-cent magazine called something like “Fantastic Tales” – pulp magazines, you know…

…the fiction I read, because I was an early beginner, tended toward the fantastic. Realism is a very sophisticated form of literature, a very grown-up one. And that may be its weakness. But fantasy seems to be eternal and omnipresent and always attractive to kids.
But when people say, Did you always want to be a writer?, I have to say no! I always was a writer. I didn’t want to be a writer and lead the writer’s life and be glamorous and go to New York. I just wanted to do my job writing, and to do it really well…

…My first publications were all poetry, and that’s partly because of my father. He realized that sending out poetry is quite a big job. It takes method and a certain amount of diligence and a good deal of time. And he said, I could help you do that, that would be fun! He got interested in the subculture of the little magazines and realized that it is a little world, with rules all its own…

Ursula K Le Guin
Interview with John Wray for Paris Review fall 2013

Spacemen in my cupboard

January 11, 2018

spacemen mag 1spaceman 1Spaceman_03spaceman 4spaceman5Spaceman mag 6spacemanspaceman double-page spread issue one

As a child I came by an almost full run of ‘Famous Monsters of Filmland’, purchased from a used book store, courtesy of a substantial amount of saved pocket money. These periodicals were edited by Forrest James Ackerman, who was also known as: 4SJ, or The Ackermonster, or Dr. Acula, or even Mr. Science Fiction. Besides being a writer, editor and agent, Forry was an actor and appeared in such classics of the silver screen as: ‘Nudist Colony of the Dead’.

Some years after my initial acquisition of this wonderful collection of magazines, I came across ‘Spacemen’, another (less successful) publication edited by Forry which was (more or less) totally Science Fiction based – and in its pages first discovered Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and that fabulous silent film Metropolis (not to mention ‘Girl on the Moon’, ‘Things to Come’ and ‘War of the Worlds’).

Forry said he’d fallen in love with Science Fiction at nine years of age after purchasing a copy of ‘Amazing Stories’. He kept that magazine for the rest of his life. Ultimately it formed a part of his 300,000 plus piece collection of SF/horror books and film memorabilia. Forry if nothing else was a true fan of the genre (see below).

My own fascination with Science Fiction began about age ten when I was given a number of used books which included Stanley G Weinbaum’s wonderful ‘A Martian Odyssey, and Others’. Reading those stories I became hooked –

An Evening with Ray Bradbury

December 28, 2017

Philip K Dick writes…

December 21, 2017

Dr Who and Dune

December 12, 2017

Dr Who, then, is sci-fi, while Frank Herbert’s Dune is not. Dune, you see, is about ecology, anthropology, sociology, etc, etc. Dr Who is just about giant worms (and things that jump out and suck your head off in the dark). If you think Dune is just about giant worms too, you are being cynical and obstructive, go to the bottom of the class.

M. John Harrison
book review column in the New Manchester Review

imagine the future…?

December 5, 2017

Reading New Scientist, I am acutely aware of how fast science and technology are changing — and in so many areas. Cybernetics, biotechnology, nanotechnology are all evolving quickly. Theoretical physics and cosmology are very much in flux, with facts that don’t fit into current theory, such as dark matter and dark energy, and hypotheses which can’t be tested, such as superstring theory. So how does a writer imagine the future, with so much changing rapidly and so much uncertain?

Eleanor Arnason
Me and Science Fiction: Dystopia, Dark Urban fantasy, Zombies and Monsters from the deep.

push it past the limits

December 2, 2017

Cyberpunk work is marked by its visionary intensity. Its writers prize the bizarre, the surreal, the formerly unthinkable. They are willing – eager, even – to take an idea and unflinchingly push it past the limits. Like J. G. Ballard – an idolized role model to many cyberpunks – they often use an unblinking, almost clinical objectivity. It is a coldly objective analysis, a technique borrowed from science, then put to literary use for classically punk shock value.

Bruce Sterling
Preface to: Mirrorshades

weird fiction

December 1, 2017

Duncan Halleck

I didn’t set out to do anything particularly new, but it is true that I am conscious of writing in a tradition that blurs the boundaries between three fantastic genres: supernatural horror, fantasy, and science fiction. I have always been of the opinion that you can’t make firm distinctions between those three.

The writing that I really like is what has been called “weird fiction.” If people ask me what I write, that is the label I give them. The weird fiction axis of people like Lovecraft, Lindsay, Clarke Ashton Smith, and William Hope Hodgson exists at the intersection and you really can’t say that it is horror not fantasy, or fantasy not science fiction, or whatever. It is about an aesthetic of the fantastic; you alienate and shock the reader. That’s what I really like.

China Miéville
Interview with Cheryl Morgan October 2001 for Strange Horizons

Today’s reading

November 22, 2017