Sessions from two-day City Lights symposium on Dangerous Visions & New Worlds book now available to watch

If you were unable to catch the two day on-line symposium on the recently released book co-edited by Iain McIntyre and myself, Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950-1985, organised by the iconic San Francisco bookshop City Lights in late February, fear not. All the sessions were recorded and are now available to view free on the City Lights Youtube channel at this link. This includes the interviews with new wave SF luminaries Samuel Delany and Michael Moorcock, and my session with Marge Piercy and US SF writer Terry Bisson, ‘The Forever War: Vietnam’s impact on sci-fi’. A huge thanks to the folks at PM Press, the events manager at City Lights Peter Maravelis, and all the writers who appeared as panel members or moderators over the two days.

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Pulp Friday: More late 1960s and 1970s pulp and popular fiction about the Vietnam War

Vietnam Nurse, Avon, 1966

In 2019 I wrote about why it was there were so few examples of Australian and US pulp and popular paperback fiction published in the 1960s and 1970s to engage with the Vietnam War and its consequences. That is, as anything more than a background or reason for why a character was as confused/damaged/homicidal as they were. Even fewer books still were actually set in Vietnam.

The piece in question appeared in the book I coedited, Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980, but it was excerpted in full on the American site CrimeReads. The piece is here and details the relevant books I did manage to unearth and my speculation for why, despite its relatively huge cultural impact in both Australia and the US, so little fiction was written about the Vietnam conflict during these years.

I have been on the lookout ever since for entries I might have missed in my original piece and thought Pulp Curry Readers might appreciate an update on my, admittedly, rather paltry findings. Most of the books below are American, although a number – The Wine in God’s Anger and the Half-Burnt Tree – were penned by Australian writers.… Read more

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The bleak, propulsive noir of Georges Simenon’s Romans Durs

If forced to nominate any positives at all out of the last two years of global pandemic, it is the increased time I’ve had to read. In the first year of Covid I made good on a long-standing desire to read John le Carré’s George Smiley books. A literary focus of 2021 was the work of the Belgium born writer, Georges Simenon. Simenon’s output was a staggering 400 novels, although some have claimed he wrote as many as 500. The best known of these is his acclaimed series of crime procedurals featuring the French police detective Jules Maigret, 75 of which appeared between 1931 and 1972 (Simenon died in 1989). But my interest in Simenon is in his other, somewhat more shadowy body of work, his so-called romans durs or ‘hard novels’: tightly plotted, intensely psychological, often quite slim stand-alone volumes that have so far yielded some of the best noir fiction I can remember reading.

My latest piece for the US site CrimeReads, on the bleak psychological noir of Simenon’s Romans Durs is live and can be read in full here.Read more

Dangerous Visions & New Worlds: the reviews so far & upcoming two-day City Lights SF symposium

It has been a couple of months since my latest collaboration with Iain McIntyre, Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1985, hit the shelves in the US, and a lot has been happening. So, a short update is in order.

The book, available via the publisher PM Press, as well as all other book selling platforms has been well received. It made The Washington Post’s list of best science fiction, fantasy and horror books for 2021, and was also postively reviewed – twice – on the influential science fiction site, Locus. Ian Mond wrote in one of these reviews that ‘With its gorgeous interiors and thoughtful, de­tailed essays, I know that Dangerous Visions and New Worlds will inform newbies like myself while providing those familiar with the subject matter a contemporary perspective on the New Wave’s radical antecedents and the influential foundational texts the movement produced’ (you can read Mond’s full review here).

Our book was generously reviewed in Forbes magazine, on one of my favourite sites, We Are the Mutants, and for Counterpunch. I was also a guest on the wonderful British podcast, Breakfast in the Ruins. You can listen to the discussion, which ranged from new wave science fiction, to Norman Jewison’s 1975 film Rollerball, and the wonder that is New English Library’s teensploitation novels of the 1970s, in full here.… Read more

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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

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