Speculative Fiction 2014 is looking for suggestions. See here for details!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Speculative Fiction 2014: Announcement and Call for Submissions!

Speculative Fiction: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary is an anthology that celebrates online science fiction and fantasy non-fiction and its influence on the community. Each year, a collection of the anthology will be curated by rotating editors. Last year, Ana and Thea from The Book Smugglers created Speculative Fiction 2013.

This year, we're pleased to say that we -- me and Renay from Lady Business -- will be editors of Speculative Fiction 2014.

The first volume of Speculative Fiction, released in 2012, collected 52 pieces from authors, bloggers, and critics. The second volume, Speculative Fiction 2013, collects 53 pieces and will be released in April 2014 (details coming soon). All profits from the sales of Speculative Fiction will be donated to Room to Read. Each edition is published by Jurassic London, a small press run by Jared Shurin.

The 2013 edition contains an afterword written by us, which explains what we will be looking for as the conversation surrounding sf/f continues throughout 2014. As we edit, we will follow those stated guidelines:
  • We will continue the work of previous editors in finding symmetry between long term, ongoing debates and original discussions spurred by new developments in genre culture, both in creative content and fan response.
  • We will embrace the rich diversity of voices both from within SF fandom and beyond, with the recognition that important genre conversations are happening outside standard literary SF community culture and its platforms.
  • We will do our best to strive for parity in gender, sexuality, race, and nationality in recognition that as a fandom, SF is stronger when it includes the perspectives that may lie outside U.S. and U.K. cultural narratives. 
With our goals in mind, we're happy to announce that we're open for submissions! Send us the best reviews, commentaries, and other non-fiction works using this form.

What we're looking for in 2014:
  • We're looking for non-fiction reviews, essays, and criticism ("works") with speculative fiction at their core. This can include science fiction, fantasy, horror, and topics that fall under or align with those topics.
  • We welcome works about all forms of media, including but not limited to: books; film; television; all forms of games from tabletop to games next-gen consoles; and comics and manga.
  • The work must have a publication date between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014.
  • Anyone is eligible for inclusion: authors, fans, bloggers, critics who blog, bloggers who are authors, etc.), and all identifications are welcome, from full legal names to fannish pseudonyms.
  • Everyone is welcome to submit any link they find interesting even if they are not the author.
  • There is no limit on nominations. If you see five relevant posts, we'll take them! If you see 50, we'll take those, too.
  • We're aiming for pieces between 800 - 1500 words, but longer pieces are absolutely welcome.
  • Submitted works can be from anywhere in the world, although we do need an English translation for consideration.
  • SPECIAL NOTE: we are very interested in receiving commentary on speculative fiction from the young adult community, media fandom (mainstream film/television), academia, and nonwestern fandoms, such as anime/manga, as well as content on a wide array of platforms, including tumblr and other nontraditional writing spaces.
And there you have it.  Submit away!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I'm a Hugo Award Nominee -- Holy Moly on a Stick!

If you didn't know already, then you're probably living in a hole, don't know what a Hugo Award is, or don't care.  Or maybe you're secretly plotting to keep me forever in obscurity.  *glare*

In any case, my podcast, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, is a finalist for the 2014 Hugo Awards in the Best Fancast category.  We're up there with a bunch of other amazing podcasts, too; there's something really cool about being in a category with Galactic Suburbia, The Writer and the Critic, and The Coode Street Podcast.  Heck, even SF Signal, who is the big boy (or girl) in town, is worthy of admiration for being a powerhouse in the sf/f podcast field.  Plus, there's Verity Podcast (Doctor Who FTW!) and Emma Newman's adorable Tea & Jeopardy.  If this isn't a varied list of cool podcasts, I don't know what is!

So my name is among a sea of wonderful names.  My crew is among a sea of wonderful crews.  My podcast is among a sea of wonderful podcasts.  It's a good day.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Film Remakes and the Necessity for Critical Distance

Hollywood is hopelessly obsessed with remakes.  We all know this.  And if we don't, it's really not that difficult to figure out how obsessed Hollywood really is.  But I'll make it easy for you here:  here's a list of 57 remakes which were marked as "in development" as of July 2013.  Some of those may have been dropped, but the fact of the matter is that there were 57 remakes in various stages of development last year.

There's nothing inherently wrong with remakes, of course.  After all, many remakes tackles films that are now 30+ years old, which means the primary viewing audience -- let's say 15 to 40 -- probably hasn't seen them anyway.  Some remakes are attempts to update concepts which haven't aged well, or which really are pretty darn cool and would benefit from newer film technologies and bigger budgets (technically, this year's Robocop fits into this category, but that film is terrible).  It makes sense, too, why Hollywood studios would choose to remake a film:  it's safer to reboot something that was already a success -- or which has a following or concept that would work well in today's market -- since the discussion surrounding the remake will naturally include buzz about the previous version; obviously, this can sometimes backfire, as in the case of Total Recall or Robocop (or perhaps it's more often than not), as it's difficult to find remakes which are absolutely better than their predecessors.  There's almost always something "missing."

I tend to think of remakes in two ways:

Fundraiser Updatery: 18 Days and Counting...

There are 18 days left in my Worldcon fundraiser for The Skiffy and Fanty Show.  And I'm $1552 short.  That's a lot to make up in less than a month, but it's still doable.  $87 a day will do it!  But that means I really need everyone's help on this.  A *lot* of help.

And on that subject, I want to thank all the folks who have helped out thus far:
  • Fred Kiesche
  • Scott Pohlenz
  • Matthew Sheahan
  • Louise Lowenspets (there are two dots on the last "o," but I can't figure out how to put it in there on my tablet -- sorry :( )
  • Andrew Liptak
  • Stina Leicht
  • Maureen Kincaid Speller
  • John Pitts
  • Linda Nagata
  • Mike Martinez
  • Fabio Fernandes
  • Rachael Acks
  • David Annandale
  • Sue Armitage
  • Joe Monti
  • Catherine Hill
  • Amy Fredericks
Note:  I have only listed donations that were made public.  I would also like to thank all the folks who didn't want to be named.  You are equally as awesome for every little bit you've given me for this.

Note 2:  I also want to say an enormous thank you to Myke Cole, who offered to share his hotel room at Worldcon with me free of charge.  It's people like Myke and the folks above (and the unlisted folks) who make this community so wonderful:  giving up money or things or whatever to help someone out.  And that's not just for me.  This community has helped all kinds of people.  It's a great thing.

As of right now, I'm holding off on scheduling interviews and the like, but if it starts to look that the fundraiser will get close to the goal, I'll get all of that started.  My hope is to host walk-by sessions and interview as many international authors, editors, and so on I possibly can.  Likewise, it's possible I'll be on programming this year, which is pretty darn awesome!

In any case, this month, we're recording a Torture Cinema review of Highlander II at the end of the month with special guest Mike Martinez (who donated and was selected to pick the movie for the 3rd Milestone).  Other perks are already available and listed on the page.

And that's all the updates I've got at the moment.  If you can spare some cash, please help out.  Even $5 helps.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

Link of the Week: "Confirmation bias, epic fantasy, and you" by N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin takes a stab at the now tiring debate over whether epic fantasy in faux-European settings can include women and people of color without rewriting (imaginary) history.  It's an interesting topic, as always, and, as always, Jemisin is brilliant in her response.

Here's the comment I left:

Friday, April 04, 2014

Kim Stanley Robinson and Exposition (or, No More James Patterson, Please)

Just this past weekend, I saw Kim Stanley Robinson give a talk about narrative and time at the Marxist Reading Group Conference at the University of Florida.  During this talk, Robinson suggested, as I'm sure he has elsewhere, that science fiction has been the victim of casual writing instruction, which has mistakenly convinced us that exposition is terrible writing.  He argued that exposition is, in fact, the bedrock of sf, as it provides much of the formal variance necessary for the genre to thrive, particularly given the genre's history.  In a sense, what Robinson argues is that the formal uniqueness of sf lies in its ability to represent what does not exist, and so exposition, by dint of representing the unreal, is a necessary tool for any writer of the genre.  His argument likewise reduces the "show, don't tell" rule to a curse of narrative zombification -- what he calls a zombie meme.