Friday, August 29, 2008

Where Do You Go for Good Science Fiction and Speculative Poetry?

Where do you usually go when you are on the hunt for a new work of science fiction or speculative poetry? For me, I like to shop at the Genre Mall online. They have a very wide selection of fiction, poetry, and magazines to choose from. I've bought a fair number of titles from the Genre Mall, and have never failed to be impressed with the work. A large number of small publishing houses choose to distribute their work from the Genre Mall, so it houses a very nice selection of work that may not be available elsewhere. And, when you buy there, you are supporting the real grassroots movement of the genre.

I've also come across a very interesting site recently called Anthology Builder. I like how you can tailor make and anthology there, and have it put together in a way to suit your own needs and desires. I've already written a more extensive explanation about it at my main blog, so if you have some short stories you'd like to put up for sale, or if you are looking for good stories to read, you might pop in over there to have a look at how it works.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One Summer, a Thousand Days

I enjoy reading speculative fiction a lot, but I probably enjoy speculative poetry even more. It is a narrower field, in terms of readership, but there is a surprising large amount of very good speculative poetry available through various magazines and chapbooks.

I especially enjoy coming across speculative poetry that is written by poets who are otherwise considered "mainstream" writers. Al Purdy has written a fair bit of speculative poetry, as has Edwin Morgan. In Charles Albano's haiku collection One Summer, a Thousand Days (reviewed here), there is a whole section dedicated to scifaiku. The list could go on and on, because there are plenty of good poets who write poetry that some might consider "just" genre poetry.

If you'd like to have a look at more speculative poetry, or if are perhaps looking for market to publish your own work, you can visit the Science Fiction Poetry Association. And one of my favorite publishing house that is dedicated to speculative fiction is Sam's Dot Publishing. There are lots of magazines and chapbooks there.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Which Version Do You Prefer?

I recently finished reading The Crystal Cave. It was not that long ago that I read The Mists of Avalon, and I found the two stories very similar. I know, I know.... it is the same basic story, so of course they are similar. But that's not what I meant. I was referring to the telling of the story. I would have expected a bit more difference than I found, to be honest. For instance, The Once and Future King is quite different from either of these two (and happens to be the one I prefer of the 3).

Even though the Merlins who appear in Cave and Avalon are quite different, and Avalon is told from a much more firmly defined female perspective, I still somehow found the two books to be a little too much alike for my tastes. (And, to be honest, neither particularly suited my taste anyway.)

What about you? Do you have a favorite of these three modern versions of Arthur's story? Or perhaps another that you like better than any of these?

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Modern Mythologies

A little video I made to go along with some lecture notes. (And no, I am not a video artist, so don't expect much.)

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Delayed Release for Half-Blood Prince

Have you heard about the delayed release of the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? It's been pushed from November 2008 to July 2009. Yuck! Like this blogger, I just can't see how that is a very good idea for us, the viewers.

I like the Harry Potter movies as year-end releases. Here in Singapore, a release at the end of the year means it is during school holidays. In the mid-summer (for the US), it is right in the heart of the school year, with exam season just around the corner. That definitely will hurt ticket sales here. I know that Singapore is a small dot on the world map, and I certainly don't expect anyone to fit their release schedule to please Singaporeans. But still, it's not like we aren't following the British school calendar here. And remind me, now.... where is the author of the Harry Potter books from?

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Carl Sagan's Contact

I just finished reading Carl Sagan's Contact. I had seen the movie long ago, and forgotten much of the story. I found the ideas to be quite engaging, but thought the writing not very good. I know, it is probably not smart to say that about such a famous book, but seriously... Sagan's ideas are what sells, not his prose.

I liked the interweaving in the text of ideas about science and theology. Indeed, at one point one character says that all science is necessarily engaged with theology. I am not sure that I can entirely agree with this statement, but I can see how it would seem to be the case from the perspective of a person whose life is dedicated to science.

I loved most the plausibility of the scientific developments. Even though the conclusions that followed it (basically, a vision of world cooperation leading to a hope for a utopian type of world peace) were a little far-fetched for me, I still found the science of it all very engaging. And that's not entirely surprising — Sagan was a better scientist than sociologist, I guess. But, in all fairness, the book doesn't exactly promise the achievement of world peace, and in the end it does a nice job of exploring the various oppositions that would arise to such a vision. What I found a little too idealistic was the notion that the Machine would get built at all. That level of cooperation, despite the tense political setting of the novel, is just a bit much to swallow.

But all in all, it is a good read, and worth getting into the ideas presented.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Dark Knight

I'm not exactly very up with the times these days. I just got around to seeing The Dark Knight late last night. It was a better movie than I expected, and not quite as violent as I was afraid it would be. That "not quite as violent" rating from me is a direct result of my seeing it in a "heartlands" cinema, where it was fairly heavily censored. I could see the spots where cuts were made, and only in a few did it leave me feeling a little lost. With the level of violence it did still have in it, I can't say I was disappointed to see the censored version.

OK, to the easy points first. Heath Ledger is good when he is bad. It is a real pity that there will be no second performance.

I liked the movie as a whole, though I thought it a bit too long. The story at some points is too convoluted to be something one can follow easily, and at other points too predictable.

I do like the dark edge to the film, even though you can't help but feel sad over some parts.

I am not quite sure what to make of the idea that lying to the public is a true act of heroism. That smacks of thinking too much like what got us into a war we now seem to regret. (Not exactly the first time we've done that.) It is a good reflection back on what is happening, isn't it? Create a clean-faced image that people will idealize, and then keep his flaws out of the public eye. Then make sure to make him stand for what it is you want him to stand for... and let someone else be the scapegoat. Interesting.

The political messages of the film are there to be wrangled over and picked apart. That makes it fodder for discussion, one way or another.

Overall, it is a good film, though I do have complaints here and there. It is a complex movie, and gives the viewer something to think about. That can't be all bad.

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