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]
posted by Rhaomi
on Aug 25, 2014 -
Things That Don't Suck
, Some Notes on The Stand
I recently reread The Stand for no particular reason other than I felt like it. I'm honestly not sure how many time[s] I've read it at this point, more than three, less than a half dozen (though I can clearly remember my first visit to that horrifyingly stripped bare world as I can remember the first reading of all the truly great King stories). It's not my favorite of King's work, but it is arguably his most richly and completely imagined. It truly is the American Lord of The Rings, with the concerns of England (Pastorialism vs. Industrialism, Germany's tendency to try and blow it up every thirty years or so) replaced by those of America (Religion, the omnipresent struggle between our liberal and libertarian ideals, our fear of and dependence on the military, racial and gender tension) and given harrowing size.
I'm happy to say that The Stand holds up well past the bounds of nostalgia and revisiting the world and these characters was as pleasurable as ever. But you can't step in the same river twice, even when you're revisiting a favorite book. Even if the river hasn't changed you have. This isn't meant as any kind of comprehensive essay on The Stand. Just a couple of things I noticed upon dipping my toes in the river this time.
[Spoiler alert: assume everything, from the link above to those below, contains SPOILERS.] [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome
on Aug 19, 2014 -
today finished a top 50 countdown of short SF/fantasy podcast fiction: 50-41
. The Parsec Awards
for SF podcasts honor many other stories annually, as well as related non-fiction, comedy, and music: 2014 nominees
; and 2006
. And since 2012, the Hugo Award nominees for Best Fancast
have been two-time winner SF Squeecast!
, plus The Coode Street Podcast
, Galactic Suburbia
, SF Signal
, The Skiffy and Fanty Show
, Tea and Jeopardy
, and The Writer and The Critic
with the popular Writing Excuses
podcast often appearing in another category. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution
on Jul 8, 2014 -
"If the phone rang and you were in another room, you had to come running: in that immediate sense, and in a way that now seems comical, your phone controlled you. And before the ‘90s, there was no caller ID, an inconvenience which ensured, for that benighted first century-plus of the instrument’s analog existence, the first premise of phone horror—that you could never know for certain whose voice, or what sound, would issue from the other end of that raised receiver
." - HiLoBrow is in the middle of a series
exploring the tropes and history of Phone Horror. Of particular note is the brief historical connection between the telephone and the world of occult crypto-science
- The Atlantic explains further.
posted by The Whelk
on Jun 25, 2014 -
"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
was the first real “slasher” film, and it changed many things—the ratings code of the Motion Picture Association of America, the national debate on violence, the Texas Film Commission, the horror genre—but it remained a curiously isolated phenomenon. The film itself, involving five young people on a twisted drive through the country, is a strange, shifting experience—early audiences were horrified; later audiences laughed; newcomers to the movie were inevitably stricken with a vaguely uneasy feeling, as though the movie might have actually been made by a maniac—but the story behind the film is even stranger." We begin with a couple of stolen barbecue chicken wings....
posted by zarq
on Jun 19, 2014 -
"Looking back on it, one of the things that's crazy is I don't think I even realized that first of all, Joe Flaherty is supposed to be a vampire but he's howling like a werewolf. [laughs] I just took that for granted, and it must've been years until I saw it and was like "Wait a minute, that's a joke!" Furthermore, Count Floyd's always wearing a turtleneck which is the least vampire thing ever."
"Splitsider kicks off its new column, Sketch Anatomy, with television writer Bill Oakley breaking down SCTV’s "Dr. Tongue’s Evil House of Pancakes"
). Oww owww oowoooooo!!!
posted by Room 641-A
on May 20, 2014 -
is a short horror film about a British commando raid that finds an ancient evil in the crypts and tunnels of occupied France. It recently won Best Short Film prize at the 2014 H P Lovecraft film festival
, and is available to watch on Vimeo—for today only—if you go here
and use the password 'mayday'.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED
on May 4, 2014 -
Late in 2013, Guillermo del Toro released a voluminous book, entitled Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions. As he explains in the video, the 256-page hardcover is a selection from his notebooks, where the director developed many of the monstrosities we’ve seen on screen. The Guardian notes that there’s something of da Vinci’s notebooks in del Toro’s records: the small, neat script, mixed in with the wonderfully detailed sketches, combine to give the impression of del Toro doing his best to record the torrent of his imagination before the thoughts disappear. In this post, we include a number of these images. Previously [more inside]
posted by infini
on Mar 5, 2014 -
is often called "the Polish Poe" or "the Polish Lovecraft," which are both useful for short-hand, but don't quite capture Grabiński's style. As suggested by China Miéville in the Guardian
, "where Poe's horror is agonised, a kind of extended shriek, Grabinski's is cerebral, investigative. His protagonists are tortured and aghast, but not because they suffer at the caprice of Lovecraftian blind idiot gods: Grabinski's universe is strange and its principles are perhaps not those we expect, but they are principles - rules - and it is in their exploration that the mystery lies.
" If you haven't heard of Grabiński, it is probably because only a few of his works
have recently been translated to English. The primary translator is Miroslaw Lipinski
, who runs a site dedicated to Grabiński
. You can read Lipinksi's translation of Strabismus
(PDF linked inside), and The Wandering Train
online. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Feb 10, 2014 -
"The cinema was made for horror movies. No other kind of film offers that same mysterious anticipation as you head into a dark auditorium. No other makes such powerful use of sound and image. The cinema is where we come to share a collective dream and horror films are the most dreamlike of all, perhaps because they engage with our nightmares.
" And so Mark Gatiss
opens his three-part series, A History of Horror
. "One of the great virtues of this series is that it is thoroughly subjective. Gatiss does not feel any particular obligation to give us an A to Z of horror, but instead lingers lovingly over his own favourites,
" taking the viewer with him from the Golden Age of Hollywood horror through the American horror movies of the 1960s and 1970s. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Jan 28, 2014 -
My family lived on the southern edge of a certain Midwestern industrial city in an old house, old enough that its basement still had a dirt floor
I was not yet old enough to openly question a parent's behavior, but certainly old enough to recognize its oddness, when my father began digging
posted by Rory Marinich
on Nov 9, 2013 -
Looking to freshen up that old October playlist? Allow me to recommend Halloween Booootie
, three free, full-length compilations (2009, 2010 and 2012) of bootlegs and mashups all perfectly themed for your next graveyard smash.
But do you want some more?
Are you looking for, dare I say, the real wicked shit?
Then please, step this way... [more inside]
posted by Faint of Butt
on Oct 22, 2013 -