Category Archives: Science fiction and fantasy

My cultural highlights of 2021

In past years, I have always tried to conclude the writing year with wrap up of my top fiction/non-fiction reads. But this year I want to do something a little different and look more broadly at the culture that has sustained me in what has been another difficult and stressful 12 months, dominated, as it has for so many of us, by the Covid pandemic.

Film

As was the case in 2020, Covid meant that I spent far more time than I would’ve liked at home. So, most of the movies I watched had to be on the small screen. One of the standouts for me was a 1953 Argentinian retelling of Fritz Lang’s 1931 classic, M, called El Vampiro Negro or The Black Vampire. Helmed by one of Argentina’s most famous mid-century directors, Roman Vinoly Barreto, the story focuses the panic that engulfs Buenos Aires as children are stalked and murdered by a paedophile. Barreto particularly focuses on a nightclub singer and mother, played by Argentina’s equivalent of Marilyn Monroe, Olga Zubarry, who is the sole eyewitness to the child killer and who fears her daughter may be the next victim. Proof positive that classic noir was not just a North American phenomena, El Vampiro Negro is a powerful film, stunningly restored by the US Film Noir Foundation.… Read more

Melbourne launch of Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950-1985

My new book, Dangerous Visions & New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1985 is starting to get out in the world. As part of that process, my co-editor Iain McIntyre and myself will be holding an actual in-person, face to face launch of the book for Melbourne folks on Tuesday, December 14 at Buck Mulligan’s Bar and Bookshop, 217 High Street, Northcote. The event kicks off at 7pm. 

I know it is always a crazy time of year as we get close to Christmas, maybe this year more than ever, but I would love it if you could join us. As well as drinks at bar prices, there will be giveaways and readings from SF works mentioned in our book. 

All the reviews so far for the book have been extremely positive. In its review, the respect SF magazine Locus called it ‘an excellent primer that differentiates itself from other treatises through its many-voiced perspectives and its gorgeous accompanying artwork.’ One of my favourite sites, Science Fiction and other Suspect Ruminations described it as ‘a must buy for any SF fan of the [New Wave] era’. The book has also made the Washington Post’s list of best science fiction books of 2021.

In addition to picking up a copy of Dangerous Visions & New Worlds, well before it hits shops in Australia, you’ll also be able to pick up cheap copies of our other PM Press books, Girl Gangs, Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture, 1950-1980 & Sticking it to the Man: Revolution & Counterculture in Pulp & Popular Fiction, 1950-1980. … Read more

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950-1985 Kickstarter


I have written on this site before about the upcoming book I have coedited, Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950-1985, due for release in the US in October. For the next month of so leading up to this, the publisher, PM Press are running a pre-sale campaign for Dangerous Visions and New Worlds via Kickstarter. Other than allowing people to be the first to get their hands on the book this features various offers, including some great book packs and bonuses, even sci-fi pulp themed underpants! Due to US Postal Services rates being so high the Australians among you may want to wait until our Melbourne launch (date and venue TBC) or place an order via your local bookshop. More details when I have them.

You can check out the Kickstarter campaign and the various offers as part of it at the link here.Read more

Pre-orders open for Dangerous Visions & New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1985

A heads up that my latest book, co-edited with my friend Iain McIntyre, Dangerous Visions & New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1980, is now available for order through PM Press site here. You can also order it through the various Amazon sites and through numerous other channels. Interestingly, the book is classified by Amazon US as pornography, as well as science fiction studies. I assume this is down to the fact it contains essays on sex in science fiction and gay science fiction, amongst other things. I’ve always harboured ambitions to be a smut peddler and this is the closest I may get.

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds details how science fiction interacted with and was inspired by the cultural and political changes associated with the era from the late 1950s through the early 1970s, a period that has sometimes been referred to as ‘the long sixties’. The book starts with progressive authors who rose to prominence in the conservative 1950s, challenging the so-called Golden Age of science fiction and its linear narratives of technological breakthroughs and space-conquering male heroes. It then moves to the 1960s, when writers shattered existing writing conventions and incorporated contemporary themes such as modern mass media culture, corporate control, growing state surveillance, the Vietnam War, and rising currents of counterculture, ecological awareness, feminism, sexual liberation, and Black Power.… Read more

Reading John Frankenheimer’s Seconds

Early in this excellent monograph on John Frankenheimer’s criminally underseen 1966 film, Seconds, by Jez Conolly and Emma Westwood, the authors ask the reader at what point they first viewed the movie and what they made of it. For me it was a random VHS store pickup on a slow Saturday night sometime in the late 1990s. I can remember being as confused as I was impressed by the sheer bizarreness of Seconds. I was particularly perplexed by the presence of Rock Hudson. What was this major American actor, best known for the series of romantic comedies he did with Doris Day, doing in a downbeat, existentially bleak fusion of science fiction, thriller and noir?Watching the film more recently, with the benefit of considerably more knowledge of film history and Hudson’s career, I was blown away by the brilliance of Seconds.  

Conolly and Westwood begin with the proposition that the film very much deserves a second life, a notion that is also central to its plot. Seconds concerns a bored, ennui riven middle class wage slave, who through an almost Faustian pact with a mysterious entity known only as the Company, is given a new body and face, and second chance at life. Escaping from everyday domestic responsibilities, particularly the possibilities for self-discovery and erotic adventure that this promised, would become a key topic of American film and literature from the mid-part of the 1960s onwards.… Read more