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Archive for August 10th, 2009

Akira, Blake’s 7, Priest Sex And Fools’ Experiments

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The latest mailing from the BSFA has arrived. It includes a special pamphlet edited by me called SF Writers On SF Films: From Akira To Zardoz. It does exactly what it says on the tin. As I said, Matrix has relaunched (although the whole site seems to be down at the minute) so hopefully we will be able to make some of the contributions from indivudal authors available online at some point in the future.

Elsewhere in the mailing there are a couple of odd articles in Focus. Well, the one on Blake’s 7 isn’t so much odd as misplaced since its obvious home is in Matrix. The other one – Christopher Priest on writing sex scenes – is very rum indeed. I’ve only flicked through Vector but it seems to contain the usually goodness. It also includes my review of Fools’ Experiments by Edward M Lerner which opens:

Perhaps this is just an unfair prejudice of mine but as far as I’m concerned any book that uses sound effects is likely to be a bad book. In this case, at least, the cracks and thwocks and blats do indeed herald a writer with very little facility for the English language.

Look forward to some more thoughts on sound effects and possibly didactic italics when I read Richard Morgan’s The Steel Remains.

Written by Martin

10 August 2009 at 16:39

Posted in books, sf

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SF Writers On SF Films: From Akira To Zardoz

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I know, I know, it is a bit of a cheesy and obvious title but it does capture both the essential nature of this project and the eclectic results it has produced.

A couple of years ago, PS Publishing put out a book edited by Mark Morris called Cinema Macabre. The idea was simple but brilliant: get a bunch of horror writers to write about horror films. In fact, this was such a good idea that I have ripped it off for this booklet by simply substituting SF for horror.

When I started approaching writers, I knew that I didn’t necessarily want this to end up as a best of list, rather I wanted a bunch of films people loved. Ian Watson opens his piece by saying “Dark City is the only film which has caused me to build a garden feature”. That is exactly what I was after. This means that in this pamphlet you will find people writing about such diverse films as Lilo & Stitch, Robocop 2 and yes, Zardoz.

This isn’t just an exercise in contrarianism though. Adam Roberts and Paul McAuley – writing about Blade Runner and 2001, respectively – show that some films are loved precisely because they are the real deal. Sometimes the canon is there for a reason.

There was only room for sixteen contributions to this supplement but it is still interesting to see what the gaps are. Star Wars and The Matrix are referenced but not chosen. Perhaps surprisingly no one picked Alien but we have two views of Aliens, both with testicles (Neal Asher) and without (Jaine Fenn).

Hopefully the passion for science fiction cinema on display here will rub off on the reader. Certainly I don’t see how Gwyneth Jones’s gleeful exegesis for The Fifth Element could fail to fire your enthusiasm. And Philip Palmer has even persuaded me to watch Robocop 2 again, which is something I never thought I would say.

Written by Martin

10 August 2009 at 14:52

Posted in criticism, films, sf

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Rock The House, Y’all

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I went to see Playing The Building at the Roundhouse on Friday. A simple concept: take one organ, wire it up to a building, play the building. It is sort of like the world’s biggest prepared piano, although alas it is electronic rather than mechanical.

It is an absolutely brilliant concept and the Roundhouse is the perfect venue for it. However, it is also one of those great concepts where just knowing the concept is enough. Still if you are local it is worth experience just for the way the building is transformed visually as well as sonically, particularly given their unorthodox but intriguing booze, barbecue and art installation offer.

(Bryne was there because it was the opening night. He is not one of my own personal touchstones but it was clear that there was a lot of naked adoration for him in the room.)

Written by Martin

10 August 2009 at 10:23

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