David Lynch's 1982 Dune wasn't well-received at the time, but over the years has become a cult classic—perhaps even a good film. With a few nods to the lavish sets and striking set-pieces, Emily Asher-Perrin takes a weirding module to the latter claim: David Lynch’s Dune is What You Get When You Build a Science Fictional World With No Interest in Science Fiction.
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Any attempt at cohesion on a more granular level, which is where worldbuilding is most essential in science fiction, is shrugged off in favor of another inexplicable style choice that brings a bit of form and zero function. With the exceptions of military collars and crests, there is nothing that communicates how these things and people connect—some have tried to christen it “noir-baroque” which is a cute thought, but it’s hard to believe that any detailed reasons for the aesthetics were considered beyond “this looks cool.”
Dune wants to be phantasmagorical and it wants to be offensive to your senses, and those things can work in cinema, as Lynch’s career communicates incredibly well. But this film does not carry off that off-kilter creepiness as anything more than a parlor trick. It fails to be authentic because these cues are not entrenched in the universe projected on screen. They are there to shock the viewer, to disgust them, but they don’t mean anything. The Guild member floating in its chamber of gas is strange and otherworldly and grotesque, but communicates nothing besides that. It is not integrated into its setting, its surroundings.
Mitch Wagner writes, "LiveJournal is a venerable online community that predates Facebook and even blogging. It got acquired by a Russian company a few years ago, but some of its American and British users hung on, including sf and fantasy writers and fans. Lately, I know one of my friends was scrambling to leave, but I'd been too busy to look into why." Read the rest
I've got an editorial in this month's Wired magazine about the relationship between the science fiction stories we read and our real-world responses to disasters: Disasters Don’t Have to End in Dystopias; it's occasioned by the upcoming publication of my "optimistic disaster novel" Walkaway (pre-order signed copies: US/UK; read excerpts: Chapter 1, Chapter 2; US/Canada tour schedule). Read the rest
There's 22 days until the publication of Walkaway, my first novel for adults since 2009's Makers (there's still time to pre-order signed copies: USA, UK); to whet appetites, my US publisher Tor Books is releasing excerpts from the book; last month, it was chapter 1, "Communisty Party"; today, they've released chapter 2, "You All Meet in a Tavern." Read the rest
There's still time to pre-order your signed first-edition hardcover of Walkaway, my novel which comes out on April 25 (US/UK), and while you're waiting for that to ship, here's chapter one of the novel, "Communist Party" (this is read by Wil Wheaton on the audiobook, where he is joined by such readers as Amanda Palmer and Amber Benson!). Read the rest
Every year, Bruce Sterling closes the SXSW Interactive Festival with a wide-ranging, hour-long speech about the state of the nation: the format is 20 minutes' worth of riffing on current affairs, and then 40 minutes of main thesis, scorchingly delivered, with insights, rage, inspiration and calls to action. Read the rest
NSFW: Tomorrow Calling (1993) is a short film adaptation for television of William Gibson's 1981 short story "The Gernsback Continuum," from the seminal cyberpunk anthology Mirrorshades (1986), edited by Bruce Sterling, and Gibson's own Burning Chrome (1986) collection. Directed by Tim Leandro, Tomorrow Calling was first shown on Channel 4 in the UK.
Christopher Brown is a gonzo cyberpunk writer who delves into the real-world story of Saddam Hussein's Frank Frazetta collection, but by day he's a high-powered lawyer who's worked in government and the private sector (it's the intersection of these two Browns that penned his outstanding, forthcoming debut novel, Tropic of Kansas, which you should pre-order right now). Read the rest