science fiction Archive

ARRIVAL and the False Dichotomy of Free Will vs Determinism

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
ARRIVAL has been hailed for carving a space for the “literary science fiction movie,” and rightly so. Director Denis Villeneuve achieved the nearly impossible feat of making a compelling, relatively crowd-pleasing movie about linguistics, complete with a new alien language composed of 100 logograms, while also weaving in themes of

Night Radio, Collect: Listening to Ray Bradbury

Author: | Categories: Authors No comments
In the dark, being told stories carries weight. There’s a power there, for some stories, that doesn’t seem to exist during the day. When I was a child, my family would take daytrips in the car and when we drove home it would be night. My mom would turn

Aliens in Science Fiction: What’s “Out There” Has Always Reflected What’s “In Here”

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
While science fiction has long been obsessed with robots, the genre has an even longer relationship with aliens, who are often far scarier: where they came from, how they think, and what they want are questions to which there is no comforting answer, if there’s an answer at all.

The Internet in Literature: Sven Birkerts, Jennifer Egan, Chuck Klosterman, Jarett Kobek, & Patrick Madden

Author: | Categories: Writing No comments
Kurt Vonnegut, in A Man Without a Country (as quoted by Chuck Klosterman), writes, “I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.” Yet books set before the ubiquity of the internet often grace bestseller lists and win

Big Picture, Small Picture: Context for Ursula K. Le Guin’s THE LATHE OF HEAVEN

Author: | Categories: Authors, Reading, Series No comments
This blog series, Big Picture, Small Picture, provides a contextual collage for a chosen piece of literature. The information here is culled from newspapers, newsreels, periodicals, and other primary sources from the date of the text’s original publication. “If we shadows have offended, Know but this and all is

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Men and Women Like Him” by Amber Sparks

Author: | Categories: Reading, Series No comments
In “Men and Women Like Him” (Guernica), Amber Sparks explores dark tourism from the perspective of a time traveling tour guide who must ensure that historical tragedies don’t change—even when those tragedies become personal.Sparks drops us right into scene in the first couple paragraphs, letting the action and scenario

Reading Across the Great Genre Spectrum: A Cheat Sheet for Transliterary Consumption

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing No comments
When I teach creative writing at the college level, one of the tasks I always assign early on in the semester is to have my students pick out a short work outside (preferably diametrically opposed to) the student’s preferred genre, read it, and offer a brief informal presentation of

Five Speculative Tales Still Relevant Today (And What They Can Teach Us)

1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Seven-Word Summary: Women enslaved by tyrannical dicks with dicks. Excerpt: “Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it really isn’t about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death.

Get Real! Or Maybe Don’t Get Real? A Conversation with Lincoln Michel (Part 2)

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing No comments
Recently, on social media, Gigantic magazine editor Lincoln Michel questioned the label of “realism.” I write “realism,” and I’m branching into other genres, so I introduced myself and asked a few more questions. Our conversation, conducted over e-mail, spanned several days, topics, and now two blog entries for Ploughshares. Lincoln Michel’s fiction

Don’t Go See World War Z!

Author: | Categories: Book Reviews 3 Comments
Hollywood’s latest apocalyptic zombie romp, World War Z, could have been great. If it followed the lead that the book set out, it could have portrayed a nuanced view of life ten years after the world was overrun by zombies. When the book was turned into a movie, however,