Where I Was For The Last Few Weeks-11th August 2012

Travel, more travel, work, an awful lot of fun, packing for the big move to Nottingham and a family tragedy. It’s been an interesting, and hard, and busy, few weeks. Here’s where you can find the work I did in July.  Also, a quick note. This week I’m starting an Easter egg hunt on these posts. One link will be to something fun and slightly related to something I wrote this week. See if you can find it, and I’ll blog about why I chose it later in the week.

 

Starting with Blogbusters, we looked at love, war, what happens after they both wake up at noon in the same bed, and, of course, what they listen to. Sci Fi Music, Star-Crossed Lovers, a bit of the old ultra-violence and the relationship between a hero and the villain who arches him were all discussed this month.

This month also saw the launch of the superb Monkeybrain Comics, whose launch line I talked about here. I interviewed the creative teams of Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, Aesop’s Ark, Bandette, Edison Rex and The October Girl about their launches, their influences and what’s next for the books.

Keeping with interviewing, I talked to the magnificent Amanda Rutter. Amanda is the editor of Strange Chemistry, Angry Robot‘s Young Adult imprint and I talked to her about the launch, the launch titles and what attracts her to YA as a genre. I also talked to comics journalism legend Joel Meadows about his magazine Tripwire and his campaign to raise funds for a 20th anniversary hardback.

Also this month, I blogged about the Music Humble Bundle, a great fundraiser that allowed you to get a lot of top level nerd music, and help a pair of very good causes, for not very much cash.  I also broke down the finalists of the 2012 Hugo for short fiction, providing links to audio and text versions, and reviewed Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy‘s stunningly great Captain Marvel relaunch.

Oh and I also talked about the Top Ten Non-Mad Scientists in modern science fiction, which went up today. I had a lot of fun doing this piece, especially the flavor text and some of the choices. I stand by number 1 and number 9 in particular.  Always nice to revisit fictional old friends, even if the shows they’re from were endearingly awful.

 

On the right hand column of the site, I looked at the new Dracula series NBC are prepping, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the lead and what seems to be an interesting Steampunk sensibility. However, the piece I’m genuinely very proud of is the write up of Carlo Rambaldi I was asked to do. I suppose it’s an obituary of sorts, for the man who designed ET, who helped design the Xenomorph from Alien and was instrumental in shaping our view of fictional extraterrestrial life. His career was one of quiet, elegant illusions and I found out two things about him that made me smile the whole time I was writing the piece. Carlo Rambaldi was a magician and it was an honor to talk about him.

On the left hand side of the page, I reviewed three of the best new titles I’ve read in years. Lookouts, by Ben McCool and Rob Mommaerts is an expansion of the original Penny Arcade pilot strip, and is superbly realized, all ages fantasy. I also looked at Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel and the Hawkeye relaunch, written by her husband Matt Fraction and drawn by David Aja. All three, whilst wildly different, are perfectly distilled pieces of pop culture; emotionally involving, carefully crafted and completely gripping.

 

My first piece for SciFind is part of their ongoing series which takes older, less well known properties and matches them with a currently famous writer or producer. I was handed the frankly demented old Gerry Anderson series Terrahawks and asked how JJ Abrams of Alias, Lost and Star Trek would reboot it. Here’s my answer which I had ridiculous amounts of fun coming up with.

 

The Total Recall remake opened this week and I found myself in an interesting position. I have no time whatsoever for the original, and fly in the face of public opinion as a result. I talked about this on Twitter and ended up agreeing to review the remake for the lovely people at Geekcentricity. This is actually the first of three reviews I’ve done of the movie, which will appear at various other locations next week.

Some great stories on Pseudopod this month, with 290, Jay Lake‘s The American Dead, a moving and deeply unsettling portrayal of what it’s like to sacrifice everything for your dreams, narrated by Roberto Suarez, co-host of the excellent Trailerclash podcast.  Episode 291, Lizardfoot, by John Jasper Owens,  was a welcome and endearingly squicky change of pace, equal parts romantic, shaggy lizard story and horrifying. John Owens, of Sonic Society and Bell’s in the Batfry, did stunning voice work too. 292, Coming Soon To A Theatre Near You was written by the legendary David J. Schow and was another change of pace, a hard-edged piece of urban splatter noir with an oddly hopeful, poetic edge. Dave Robison, a dear friend and the magnificently voiced co-host of Writer’s Roundtable and the host of Tales to Terrify did a superb job of narrating it on his first time at Pseudopod Towers.  Finally, a last minute technical hitch meant episode 294 went up before episode 293. Demon Rum by Charles M. Saplak is a late run contender for one of my stories of the year, a beautifully realised piece of maritime horror read supremely well by the multi-talented Dominick Rayburn.

I’ve been a fan of the Drabblecast for years and Norm Sherman, their host, is a flat out podcast hero of mine. Norm is endlessly wry, arch, funny, fiercely on point and can swing a pretty mean guitar. So I was massively pleased when they asked me to read part of Trifecta XXII for their 250th episode. Their Trifecta episodes are legendary, combining three drabbles under a loose theme and this particular story, The Faithful Servant, by Joel Shulkin, is a wonderful piece of very British armageddon. I had a blast reading it.

 

Want to talk to me about the article? Come see me on Twitter at @alasdairstuart or email me.

Where’s Al?-The Bigger on the Inside Edition Part 1

It’s been a busy few weeks, so busy, in fact that ‘Where’s Al?’ needs to be broken up into two entries. First off, let’s take a look at what’s been going on at Hub, Pseudopod and Escape Pod recently..

Podcasting
Orrin Grey’s ‘The Worm That Gnaws’ followed Mark Felps’ ‘Raising Eddie’ at Pseudopod. It’s a great piece, a period story about the very real and very supernatural dangers of grave robbing.

Blake Vaughn’s ‘The Leviathan’ was up next and is one of my favourite Pseudopod stories in a while. It’s a piece about what it’s like to brush up against something unknowable on both the intimate and the supernatural scale and reminded me more than a little of Ray Bradbury’s classic ‘The Foghorn’.

Things got meta the week after that with the debut of the first ever Escape Artists metacast. It’s interesting listening, with Ben our CEO, Steve, our founder, Rachel the co-editor of Podcastle and myself all contributing with details of where the company stands, what processes go into making an episode and how we feel about doing the work.

The week after that, Felicity Bloomfield’s haunting ‘Wave Goodbye’, a story that balances first world guilt with third world horror to terrifying effect.

Regulars’ was up next, with Frank Oreto deftly using the social contract between barkeep and customer to focus the deep, personal horror of the piece.

Jim Bihyeh’s ‘Reservation Monsters’ followed it, exploring Navajo culture with tremendous subtlety and atmosphere.

Most recently ‘Got Milk?’ by John Alfred Taylor explored what happens when you don’t notice reality start to curdle until it’s much, much too late. I narrated this one as well as introduced it and it’s a blast, simultaneously very funny and utterly revolting

I also spent a month in the woooorlld of tomorrow! Or Escape Pod as we like to call it, where I guest hosted four episodes. The first ‘Cathargo Delenda Est’ by Genevieve Valentine is a story about what happens when something is about to happen, that moment before the singularity, before everything changes.

Skinhorse goes to Mars’ by Jay Lake was up next, a highly entertaining combination of demented pulp invention and grounded, almost Firefly-like universe building.

The Monkey Will Never Get Rid Of Its Black Hands’ by Rachel Swirsky followed it, which I also narrated. This, to my mind, is one of the best stories we’ve ever run, a fascinating, troubling combination of alternate history, seething fury and vast human tragedy.

Finally, ‘Sinner, Baker, Fablist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast’ by Eugie Foster is yet another in a run of massively inventive, intelligent stories from Eugie. This and Rachel’s piece are two real highlights in what’s been a very strong year for all three podcasts.

Hub

Issue 95 kicked off with ‘Last Flight’ by Malin Larsson as well as a look at the Vampire in fiction by our new columnist Janet Neilson and reviews of Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes 19-21 by Richard Whittaker.

Issue 96 featured ‘Obsession’ by Jo Thomas as our story and featured my look at Ivan Reitman’s flawed but fun Evolution in our Big Screen Future feature. It’s not a perfect movie, but I’d contend any film which allows David Duchovny, Seann William Scott and Orlando Jones to sing ‘Play That Funky Music, White Boy’ has got to have something going for it. The issue is rounded out by a review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode 22 by Richard Whittaker.

Issue 97 featured ‘The Locked Room’ by Gaie Sebold and Martin Owton. The reviews section was given over to a Blockbuster round up covering Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Terminator: Salvation, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Orphan. The issue was rounded out by Gary McMahon’s excellent Bleeding Words column, looking at the difficulties of transitioning from the small press to the big leagues.

Most recently, issue 98 featured an exclusive; ‘The Clockwork Hunter’ is a short story by Andy Remic set in the same universe as Kell’s Legend, his new novel from Angry Robot. It’s a fantastically nasty, very odd fantasy world delivered with Andy’s usual flair and this story is a perfect chance to see if it’s your thing.

The reviews cover Sarah Pinborough’s superb The Language of Dying, Neil Blommkamp’s fascinating District 9 and a combined review of Inglourious Basterds and Shorts. I’m a big fan of movie reviews at the best of times, you may have noticed, but the Inglourious Basterds review is something genuinely very special. I don’t agree with some of the points raised in it but I’ve yet to see another review approach the film as an exploration of film itself in quite so much depth.

The other stand out review this issue is a double header, as both Janet and I take a look at Personal Effects: Dark Art. A fascinating, transmedia novel that comes with a packet of documents that inform the story and sits in the centre of a cloud of websites that allow the reader to interrogate the story, it’s the print debut of podcasting giant JC Hutchins. Check out the reviews to see what we thought of it.
The issue is rounded out by another Big Screen Future, this time looking at James Cameron’s The Abyss. To my mind it’s not only Cameron’s best film but also the one that his new movie, Avatar, appears closest to in terms of approach. Whether Avatar will be instantly successful, in the way The Abyss wasn’t, is going to be fascinating to see.

So that’s what’s been going on with the podcasts and Hub recently. Check back tomorrow for a break down of what else has been going on.