Thursday, December 25, 2008

Short story presents

Here are a few recently unwrapped short stories found shining under the Internet:

Unwrapped any other good stories online lately? Say where.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Good times for apocalypse and dystopia

There's been a lot of apocalypse going around. It could be because the end of the world beats worrying about prom as Cecelia Goodnow suggests in "Profits of doom: Teen readers eat up post-apocalyptic tales" in the Seattle PI. Or, maybe we're channeling post-cold war angst about climate change begins Benjamin Kunkel, author of Indecision (2005) and editor of the literary journal n+1, in "Dystopia and the End of Politics" for Dissent Magazine.

Goodnow comes up with eight examples of apocalypse including: The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld and Y: The Last Man (Vol. 1-10) by Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra.

In his inventory of recent apocalyptic and dystopian fictions and discussion of what they say about the current socio-political climate as well as the state of science fiction and literature, Kunkel includes movies (28 Days Later, Children of Men and I Am Legend) and novels: Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (2003), Michel Houellebecq’s Possibility of an Island (2004), Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005), David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (2005), Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006), Jim Crace's The Pesthouse (2007), and Matthew Sharpe’s Jamestown (2007).

So, did they miss your favorite apocalypse? Is it one of these? Also, which do you prefer, apocalypse or dystopia? Fiction at the end-of-the-world or set in a society gone fantastically wrong?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Review: Ho! Ho! Bah! Santa Claus Conquers

Santa Claus Kidnapped by Martians — Martians Kidnap Santa Claus, however you want to spin it, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) is one bad-tastic film. About 35 undaunted souls turned up for the screening of a film billed as "one of the worst ever made" at the Science Fiction Museum. No one dressed up as Santa or an alien (or even Santalien, the obvious choice). Still, SFM gave away a membership and some swag including blow up alien dolls. The hardcore trivia questions helped up the audience's geek factor. Knowing that the majority of Santa v. Martians was filmed on Long Island, and that the U.S Air Force footage was also used in Dr. Strangelove (1964) may have unforeseen benefits. The holiday show was part of SFM's Exposed: Inside Film series, which usually provides insights into cult classics by bringing actors, directors, and screenwriters in to talk about their films. But not this night! Instead, five members of Jet City Improv guest starred, MST3K-ing the film (with synthesizer). This is definitely the way to see this film.

And you can!
Twisted Flicks redubs the film in its entirety 8 p.m., Fri., Dec. 26 and Sat., Dec. 27 at The Historic University Theater, 5510 University Way NE, Seattle.

At SFM, however, the improv team abandoned the audience to the original film after 15 minutes — and started it over. Let's pretend that the sound remained off. Highlights of bad-tasticness include the polar bear, Torg the robot (an anagram for Gort the robot from *The Day the Earth Stood Still ((Knew that trivia'd come in handy!)) and the stun gun. OMG, the stun gunned elves! Also, what's the word for actors jerking around to simulate spaceship movement in defiance of physics ala Star Trek? There were some primo examples of that. All in all, this was a creepy film. Shoulda had that Martian Milk at the Revolution Bar & Grill before the show. Always have the specialty drink. There's a reason for 'em.

"Thank you Santa Claus for bringing happiness to the children of Mars!" Thank you SFM for the free show. It was weird, as advertised. The hearty audience stayed to applaud the end.

The Day the Earth Stood Still remake is showing on IMAX at the Pacific Science Center.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Double Feature: Nanothrillers

Try this double feature, science plus fiction: First, read artificial intelligence guru Ray Kurzweil's non-fiction epic of futurist predictions, The Singularity is Near (2005). Get excited about the possibility of living forever and looking good via advancements in nanotechnology. Then, as an antidote to the 80s ballad, Forever Young, now gunked up in your brain, start Jeff Carlson's Plague Year (2007). Get a glimpse at what could happen if the gray goo runs amok. In this cannibalistic-apocalypse, either the nanobots will devour us from the inside, or we'll end up eating each other at high altitudes. Take your pick. In a recent issue of Kurzweil's newsletter, he points out that a surge of interest in nanotech (and use in skin care products) is creating nanophobia, which could lead to more regulation in the field. Still, Kurzweil doesn't deny the plausibility of out of control nano scenarios like Carlson's, just says we should take precautions. Bring on the "blue goo," the nano police. Meanwhile, Carlson released the follow up Plague War (2008) heading for a nano disaster trilogy. So, where do you fall? Nanofervor or nanofear? Speculation makes for nanofun.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Exposed: Inside Film– Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

EMP|SFM Presents: Tuesday, December 16 – Exposed: Inside Film– Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Enjoy the weirdest Christmas movie ever made: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. This FREE evening of creepy aliens, kidnapped Earth children, celebrity Santa Claus and Christmas cheer also features an awesome intro by Jet City Improv.

Jet City Improv's popular re-dubbing show, Twisted Flicks, will make an appearance as Seattle's best improv comedians redub the opening credits and beginning scenes. Twisted Flicks features all new dialogue, sound effects and a musical soundtrack performed live as you watch the movie roll on the big screen. Plus, come dressed as an alien or Santa Claus (or both at once!) and be entered in a drawing for a free EMP|SFM membership.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, first released in 1964, is lovingly considered one of the worst films ever made. The story involves several Martians who decide to steal Santa Claus for themselves.

Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: EMP|SFM, 325 5th Avenue North
Tickets: Free and open to the public; reservations are recommended. Reserved seats unclaimed 10 minutes prior to the event are subject to be released to the wait list. Films and conversations are candid; some material may not be suitable for all ages.
Information: Call 206-770-2702 or 1-877-EMP-SFM1
Web site:

Friday, December 5, 2008

RIP - Forest J Ackerman posted this article on the passing of Forest J. Ackerman (Forry)

Goodbye sweet sci-fi: Forrest J Ackerman dies of heart failure.

In my younger days I was a big fan of "Famous Monsters of Filmland" and I am saddened to read of his passing. I'll try and post more links to articles in the next day or two. ~ Jim

Update - 12-07-08:
Here are two more obituaries.

From the NY Times:

And from the LA Times

( Thanks to Michael Citrak )