Come with me into the hidden abode of literary production. Here, behind the comings of age amidst tragedy, the journeys of self-discovery traveled through existential crises, and the excavations of rotting family ties, lies a darker secret: the coal heart of the modern novel.
For Amitav Ghosh, himself the author of many novels including The Hungry Tide and Sea of Poppies, the idea that fossil fuels are at the heart of the modern novel is no metaphor, but rather historical fact. The assumptions of literary narration, he reminds us, are based on a second background assumption — “the orderly expectations of bourgeois life.” Read More
When I was a kid, I read a spoof in a nickelodeon about what it was like to watch a World War Two film with a German Shepherd. The punchline was that the dog always rooted for the wrong side. Viewing Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 sci-fi novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, I couldn’t help but to think of all the viewers who were sharing a sofa with friends, family, and lovers, who, openly or not, may view Gilead, the theocratic, dystopic, man-scape setting for the story, with a palate falling well short of the distaste intended by the filmmakers. Read More
China Mieville’s novels are genre fiction at their best. They can be largely grouped into two broad categories: Twisted takes on British and European urban life (The City & The City, King Rat, Kraken) and kaleidoscopic, imaginative, and often Marxist fantasy and sci-fi adventures (The Bas-Lag trilogy, Embassytown). This changes rather drastically with This Census-Taker, Mieville's latest, which combines trace elements of magical realism and fantasy with the minimalism of authors like Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy. This odd mashup works to produce a narrative that is engrossing, thought-provoking, and perhaps excessively ambiguous. Read More
Star Wars stands out as perhaps the most popular franchise in the history of science fiction and fantasy. George Lucas' original trilogy did what even Stanley Kubrick's 2001 failed to accomplish: it made Hollywood executives look to speculative fiction as a genre worthy of investment and promotion.
One can easily date the origin of Hollywood's current reliance on the genre for the profitability of the industry itself to the original film. With the rebirth of the franchise at the hands of director J.J. Abrams the cycle has come full circle. Abrams’ The Force Awakens is a direct homage to the original film, boasting an almost identical narrative structure keeping with the saga's “rhyming” tendency. Read More
Black Future Month is here.
Black Future Month is the name film curator Floyd Webb and I selected as the title for our February Afrofuturism film series each Thursday at the SMG Chatham Theater in Chicago. Situated in the Chatham neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago, Floyd and I, as creators of Afrofuturism849, aimed to introduce curious audiences to the range of sci fi works and documentaries highlighting ideas, stories and people within the sci fi, speculative fiction, and science worlds. We showcased the Cameroonian film Les Saignantes about women in a corrupt mystical and futuristic Cameroon. We showed “White Scripts, Black Supermen” on the early black comic heroes and brought out Turtel Onli, father of the Black Age in Comics, comic creator Jiba Molei Anderson and Institute of Comic Studies cofounder Stanford Carpenter to discuss the project. Amir George, co-curator of the Black Radical Imagination, a series of experimental shorts introduced his works and several physicists and astronomers were on hand to discuss our science documentaries. While displaying my book Rayla 2212, a story that follows a war strategist on a former earth colony 200 years into the future who time/astral travels, one attendee remarked that she had no idea that black sci-fi and comics existed. Read More