Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Archive for July 2009

King Leopold Stickytoes

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Alan Campbell on the ten worst stories he ever tried to write:

I found a document on my computer with the title, “Never Buy Radiators from Genies.” I didn’t remember writing it, so I opened it up. Inside the document I found this one sentence: Never Buy Radiators from Genies.

Written by Martin

14 July 2009 at 10:56

Posted in sf, short stories

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Your Favourite Show Sucks

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Patrick West watches Torchwood and asks why are the British incapable of making decent television science fiction? There are two main problems with this:

a) Holding Torchwood up as an exemplar in this way is like scrapping up a plateful of sick from the pavement outside Leicester Square tube and presenting it as proof the British can’t cook.
b) No one is capable of making decent television science fiction (at least on the available evidence).

Torchwood is a programme for people who found Doctor Who – a programme for under tens – too sophisticated. As it happens, I accidently saw the fifth and final episode of Torchwood – Children Of Earth on Friday. Like 24 its main aim was to wring cheap drama out of tawdry manipulation of the audience, although here Jack Bauer having to torture a terrorist to prevent a nuclear bomb going off is replaced by Captain Jack having to shoot a puppy to save the world. Sort of. West’s point is pretty similar: Torchwood is utter toss. Where he slips up is in his comparison to US television:

But whereas the US has given us Flash Gordon, The Twilight Zone, many incarnations of Star Trek, The X-Files, Quantum Leap, Futurama and, more recently, a re-vamped Battlestar Galactica, Britain’s principal contribution to the field can be summed up in two words: Dr Who.

It is notable that none of those US shows are currently on the air but it is also debatable how many of them were actually any good. Battlestar Galactica which has garnered more column inches and mis-directed praise than any SF show in recent memory (except perhaps Dr Who) was The West Wing in space but re-written for the politically illiterate and morally confused. I gave up on after the first season and, by all accounts, goes into Total Bollocks Overdrive thereafter. Futurama is, of course, great but it is strange he includes it when he dismissed The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy as being “sci-fi parody” that “inadvertently betrayed our timidity when it came to taking this genre seriously”. Quantum Leap? Seriously? It is true that American serial dramas are usually superior to British ones but this probably has something to do with the fact Britain doesn’t actually make any serial dramas. Even in America though, no SF approaches the truly great television of the last couple of years: The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire and so. Hell, it doesn’t even approach the level of second string shows like The Shield or ER.

Written by Martin

12 July 2009 at 15:30

Posted in sf, television

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The Guardian Tackles Popular Culture With Questionable Results

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Afua Hirsch on fanfic:

It started with Star Trek fans writing stories about a Kirk/Spock love affair, and it quickly became a craze. Fantasy fiction, or “fanfic” websites now attract contributions from large numbers of obsessive fans, and new genres are emerging at a remarkable rate: “slash” fanfic focuses on gay relationships (the Lord of the Rings characters provide particularly fertile ground), with “femslash” for lesbian characters; and then there’s “real person popslash”, where the unlucky subjects are celebrities in the music business.

Joe Queenan on spinoffery:

It is not always easy to figure out what is going on in the world of novelisations. Consider Terminator Salvation: The Official Movie Novelisation by Alan Dean Foster. Terminator Salvation: The Official Movie Novelisation is not to be confused with Timothy Zahn’s Terminator Salvation: From the Ashes – The Official Movie Prequel. Nor is it to be confused with Terminator Salvation: Sand in the Gears – The Official Movie Prequel Graphic Novel. Here, a bit of supplementary material about all this supplementary material may be helpful. Novelisations are based upon movies that already exist. Official prequels are novels based on the outline of a movie that has already been greenlighted, but may not yet have been shot. Prequels may thus contain scenes that ultimately get cut out of the finished film. For example, even if Hannah Montana ran away to join the Ladies’ Taliban in the prequel to her next movie it wouldn’t necessarily mean that she would do so in the upcoming film. In fact, it’s pretty unlikely. It could simply be the mad, zany fantasy of some out-of-control prequelist.

Written by Martin

11 July 2009 at 15:14

Posted in books

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My review of both Paprika by Yasutaka Tsutsui and the anime adaptation by Satoshi Kon is now up at Strange Horizons.

Written by Martin

10 July 2009 at 21:39

Tick Tock

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My review of God Of Clocks by Alan Campbell is up now at Strange Horizons.

In my first draft I went off on one about the evils of trilogies, missed deadlines and modern publishing in general. Thankfully for you lot most of this got cut. However, I will take this opportunity to reproduce the full quote from Richard Morgan that I mention in the review:

See, I’d always talked a good fight about making each book in this trilogy a self contained novel, but it wasn’t until quite recently that I realised how deeply satisfied I was with the ending of The Steel Remains. Sure, there are loose ends, but when wasn’t that true of one of my books? But my characters all ended up where I wanted them to be, they bedded down into the consequences and outcomes of what they’d seen and done with the pleasing clunk of emotional deadbolts falling into place – so rolling them all out of bed again, splashing water on their faces and getting them to open up and let in the morning light has proved a lot more problematic than I’d expected. I started at least twice and then had to tear up what I’d written because it was some weak-assed shit. Worse still, when I did finally get onto what felt like the right track, it involved at least a couple of scenes that I really didn’t want to write. If you guys thought The Steel Remains was brutal, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Written by Martin

3 July 2009 at 08:23