Ten years ago today saw the English launch of a quirky Japanese puzzler, a sleeper hit
that would go down as one of the most endearing, original, and gleefully weird
gaming stories of the 2000s: Katamari Damacy
Its fever-dream plot has the record-scratching, Freddie Mercury-esque King of All Cosmos
destroy the stars in a drunken fugue, and you, the diminutive Prince, must restore them with the Katamari -- a magical sticky ball that snowballs through cluttered environments
, rolling up paperclips, flowerpots, cows, buses, houses, skyscrapers, and continents into new constellations.
It also boasts one of the most infectiously joyous soundtracks of all time
-- an eccentric, richly produced
, and incredibly catchy blend of funk
, bossa nova
, experimental electronica
, bamboo flute
, hair metal
, buoyant parade music
, soaring children's choirs
, Macintalk fanfares
, and the finest theme song this side of Super Mario Bros
Called a consumerist critique
by sculptor-turned-developer Keita Takahashi
(who after one sequel
moved on to Glitch
, the supremely odd Noby Noby Boy
, and playground design
), the series has inspired much celebration
] on its way from budget bin to MoMA exhibit
. Look inside for essays, artwork, comics, lyrics, more music, hopes, dreams... my, the internet really is full of things. [more inside]
You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts
is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials
, heartbreaking eulogies
, and agonizing run-ins with fascists
) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting
science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed
2006 novel Blindsight [full text]
-- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room
, the Philosophical Zombie
, Chernoff faces
, and the myriad quirks and blind spots
that haunt the human mind.
's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew
, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism
), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section
, tomorrow will see the release of
Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website]
, the long-delayed
"sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
As fears about global warming become ever more culturally ingrained, “climate fiction” has gone from a once-fringe genre to a standard literary device.
Cli-Fi, as it’s abbreviated, is set in a near or long-term future where the fallout from global warming, be it flooding or mass extinctions, is not only apparent, but an aspect of everyday life. Spanning genres from literary fiction to thrillers, Cli-Fi acts as a barometer of our own ecological anxieties.
This project offers a compelling portrait of climate change fears beyond what scientists and pundits can provide. via
PDF of the full visualization
of the novels
The uncommonly well-moderated and researched Ask Historians subreddit answers the question: What common medieval fantasy tropes have little-to-no basis in real medieval European history
A new dystopian novel in the classic mode takes the form of a dictionary of madness. Sam Kriss reviews a recent book. [more inside]
From the music website, Cover Me
, Five Good Covers
: five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song. Why not enjoy all new versions of Cars
, Can't Help Falling In Love
, The Sound Of Silence
, Life In A Northern Town
, Modern Love
, You Shook Me All Night Long
, Age Of Consent
, Don't Fear The Reaper
, Be My Baby,
and much, much more. ( Cover Me previously
"Unlike most teen dramas, Buffy wasn’t a narrative about finding an identity; it was always about having a lot of them
." Kim O'Connor for The Toast on Buffy Summers, growing up, identity, and how saving the world every week is a better model than just getting through high school.
On the importance of Magical Girl Heroines & Weaponized Femininity:
"The Magical Girl genre is essentially a genre which explores the female Heroine’s arc, the female coming of age story, and the womanhood narrative with varying degrees of success or failure — but it gets explored. I’d be hard pressed to name a whole lot of series that allow women to play every single archetypal role in the heroic book the way say, Sailor Moon does."
In the pre-podcast days of 1999, the then Sci-Fi Channel website worked with the Seeing Ear Theater and Bablyon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski to produce a series of Twilight Zone-inspired radio stories called "City Of Dreams" along with a cast that included Steve Buscemi, Tim Curry, Kevin Conway, and John Turturro. 13 episodes were planned, but only 8 got produced, and with the decline of Real Player and the Seeing Ear Theater, the episodes were thought to be lost to the mists of internet history.
Until someone uploaded all of them to Youtube.
(each episode about 30 min, link goes to the first video for the episode)
The Damned Are Playing At Godzilla's Tonight!
. Rolling Thunder
.The Friends Of Jackie Clay
. The Tolling Of The Hour
. Night Calls
. Samuel Becket, Your Ride Is Here
. The Alpha And Omega Of David Wells
. MSCD 00121J [more inside]
"I think a major change in zombie behavior in this was if something were to bite you, well, you're still fresh, you're still able to move quickly. But now you don't think about yourself. You only think about where's my next bite, where's my next takedown. And you will run as fast as you can because you're still healthy, and you'll lead with your teeth to take the next human down..." says
Scott Farrar, visual effects supervisor of World War Z
, on the fast moving
zombies in the movie. [more inside]
Every Noise At Once.
A map of musical genres, built by Glenn McDonald of The War Against Silence and the Echo Nest. Click on a genre name to hear a sound sample, or pop it open to see a map of bands within that genre.
For the release of the Hobbit, Lindsay Ellis
of the Nostalgia Chick (previously
) has decided to look back at all the LOTR films in order to analyze how they changed genre film-making, expected movie length, extended cuts, the problems of adaptation, and why Eowyn and Merry are made for each other. (Fellowship Of The Ring
, Two Towers
, Return Of The King Part 1
, Part 2
) Still need more? Then why not watch Kerry Shawcross and Chris Demarais of Rooster Teeth (previously
) try to walk the 120+ mile journey across New Zealand from the filming location of Hobbiton in Matamata to the filming location of Mount Doom, Mount Ngauruhoe in A Simple Walk Into Mordor.
"The screenplay keeps so many balls in the air that everything feels lively and inventive and fun, even when the plot isn’t being forwarded, or especially when the plot isn’t being forwarded. "
, director, actor and screenwriter, is known for his exhaustive
analysis of screenplays (previously
) turns his eye to the modern Superhero Genre with a complete break down of Marvel's The Avengers Part 1
Romance novel covers are a frequent subject of ridicule. But they have also featured highly talented illustrators like Alan Ayers
, Pino Daeni
, Elaine Gignilliat
, Phil Heffernan
, and Albert Slark
. [more inside]
ChiZine Publications (CZP)
is an independent Toronto-based book publisher that is single-handedly changing the face of genre fiction in Canada. Though CZP was founded just four years ago and put out just twelve books per year, they are responsible for four of the six nominees for the the 2012 Best Novel Prix Aurora
(Canada's highest honour in genre fiction). CZP grew out of the self-styled "dark fiction" 'zine The Chiaroscuro
which has been publishing free genre fiction online since 1997. Their most recent release is David Nickle's tale of cold war psionic operatives gone rogue, Rasputin's Bastards
One of the side effects of being a 5-day, live show was that the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows
featured regular technical and acting flubs. Many
, many flubs [more inside]
A famously reclusive writer, John Swartzwelder
is responsible for many of The Simpson's iconic episodes. He stopped writing for the show in '04 and began to self-publish a series of increasingly absurd Sci-Fi Detective novels.
The Fantasy Novelist's Exam:
"Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis created the worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia, it seems like every windbag off the street thinks he can write great, original fantasy, too. The problem is that most of this "great, original fantasy" is actually poor, derivative fantasy. Frankly, we're sick of it, so we've compiled a list of rip-off tip-offs in the form of an exam. We think anybody considering writing a fantasy novel should be required to take this exam first. Answering "yes" to any one question results in failure and means that the prospective novel should be abandoned at once."
The Labyrinth of Genre
A browseable and searchable map of music genres, with short samples.
Margaret Atwood defines science fiction
"Is [the term science fiction] a corral with real fences that separate what is clearly 'science ﬁction' from what is not, or is it merely a shelving aid, there to help workers in bookstores place the book in a semi-accurate or at least lucrative way? If you put skin-tight black or silver clothing on a book cover along with some jetlike ﬂames and/or colourful planets, does that make the work 'science ﬁction'? What about dragons and manticores, or backgrounds that contain volcanoes or atomic clouds, or plants with tentacles, or landscapes reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch? Does there have to be any actual science in such a book, or is the skin-tight clothing enough? These seemed to me to be open questions."
British Fantasy Award winner returns prize; Sam Stone hands back award after criticism of judging process. [The Guardian]
"Controversy has riven the 40-year-old British Fantasy Awards, with the winner of the best novel prize handing her award back just three days after it was bestowed.
But the organisation and presentation of the awards has been drawing criticism since then, culminating in Sam Stone, the winner of the best novel award – named after American writer and editor August Derleth – announcing yesterday that she is giving it back.
The biggest attack on the awards was delivered by editor and anthologist Stephen Jones, who on Tuesday posted a lengthy blog
decrying the organisation of the BFAs and making several allegations against awards co-ordinator and British Fantasy Society chairman David Howe."
Machete Maidens Unleashed!
is a documentary about Filipino exploitation films of the 70s and 80s. It features interviews with Roger Corman, Joe Dante, John Landis, Sid Haig, Eddie Romero and is directed by Mark Hartley, who also directed the Ozploitation documentary Not Quite Hollywood.
The film was started by Andrew Leavold
and grew out of his as-yet-unfinished 'Search For Weng Weng', about the midget James Bond of the Philippines who starred in For Your Height Only
and Impossible Kid
(and inspired the Weng Weng Rap).
You can follow Andrew's adventures through the world of Filipino filmmaking on his blog, Bamboo Gods and Bionic Boys.
Several Filipino genre films are available online, including TNT Jackson
Meet Doctor Doom
"Forty years ago, with his band Pentagram, Bobby Liebling invented a style of fiendishly heavy metal that hardly anyone heard. He spent the ensuing decades in a haze of hard drugs and big trouble. (5 arrests, 35 detoxes, more than 200 hospital visits.) Now, with the genre he spawned on the rise and a young wife and baby boy in tow, Liebling is feeling the first rumblings of success. Here's where things start to get weird." [more inside]
Disaster movies are as old
as cinema itself. But their golden age began in 1970 with Airport
- which, despite being an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture, is now remembered chiefly for the parody
it inspired. Earthquake
- exhibited in Sensurround
- set a record for the number of stunt
performers used. But the Master of Disaster was Lost in Space
producer Irwin Allen
. His The Poseidon Adventure
grossed the equivalent of $450 million
in today's money. And The Towering Inferno
- the filming
of which destroyed all but 8 of its 57 sets - is still unsurpassed
There is no question that HIV is an ugly virus in terms of human health. Each year, it infects some 2.7 million additional people and leads to some two million deaths from AIDS. But a new album manages to locate some sonic beauty deep in its genome. Sounds of HIV (Azica Records) by composer Alexandra Pajak explores the patterns of the virus's nucleotides as well as the amino acids transcribed by HIV, playing through these biologic signatures in 17 tracks. [more inside]
Are you an aspiring writer of genre fiction? Would you like to workshop your stuff before submitting it to magazines and publishers, but you don't happen to have a group of local friends that you can workshop with? Critters.org
is an online, highly automated fiction workshop. You submit your manuscript, it waits in a queue until its time comes up, and then it gets sent out to all the active subscribers, some of whom will hopefully send you some helpful feedback! Make sure to critique at least one story every week, though, or you lose your privileges to post your own stories to the queue. [more inside]
Pure by Jacob Bricca. A meditation on genre, a commentary on visual cliches, and a celebration of the visceral pleasures of cinema. Music by The Jesus Lizard. Please play full screen at top volume!
TV serials, says Richard Beck, self-consciously set out from the very beginning to get us to take them seriously. From Hill Street Blues
to The West Wing
to The Sopranos
and The Wire
, how the television series convinced us that it was art
— and now, why Lost
's achievement of success via casual genre mixing and narrative derangement might signal that there's no future creative ground left within the old limits of serial drama.
"What we’ve called it has never been stable—it’s been known alternately as “punk” for its early attitude, “underground” for where it happened, “alternative” when the mainstream held it up as an antidote to its own poison—each of these picked up then sloughed off when the semantic baggage grew too unwieldy. Most recently, “indie”—long thrown around as a signifier of how it got done (i.e. independently)—has become the nom du jour." Is indie dead?
If there's one genre you have to read before you die it's the travel book
Standard guidebook: "Should you be caught up in a frenzied riot during your time in Jakarta, make your way immediately to your country's embassy. Once inside, relax with one of the native beverages, and think about what a great story you'll have to tell Andy and Rhona on your return."
Hip guidebook:"Should you be caught up in a frenzied riot during your time in Jakarta, consider yourself fortunate to witness the valid cultural expression of a wonderfully passionate race. Feel free to hurl a Molotov cocktail at the riot squad." (via Jorn>