Issue #1: Archie

Archie-2015-001-002Title: Archie #1 (2015)

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Fiona Staples

The Buzz: Possibly one of the most famous comics not involving a cape of some sort? Archie is one of those comics I read a lot as a kid and never picked up again, mostly because of the vapid and irritating focus on Betty and Veronica fighting over Archie, endlessly, for decades. But I keep hearing things, you know? About how the Archie comic has changed for the better, about diversity and representation and adapting to the 21st century and so on. I even occasionally picked up one of the fairy tale retelling comics for my daughters because they looked cute…

But this is a hard reboot. A contemporary reframing of Archie – in the hands of two excellent comics professionals at the top of their game. I mean come on, Fiona Staples drawing Archie? I had to check it out.

All You Need To Know: It’s a reboot so you don’t need to know anything! If you’ve ever read or had preconceptions about the Archie franchise, you need to know that this version is almost certainly less annoying than any other Archie comic you may have picked up over the last 75 years.

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Not Not If You Were the Last… February Stories!

JanFeb16_Issue8_cover-340x510I’m trying to read more short stories again this year, after being semi-retired from the Not If You Were The Last Short Story on Earth project for far too long.

My plan is to find at least 5 stories worth recommending each month, however many I have to read to get to that point! That’s doable, right? As long as we don’t mention January.

“The Heart is Eaten Last” by Kameron Hurley is a Nyx novella, set in the same world as Hurley’s Bel Dame Apocrypha series. It was released this month as a backer reward for Hurley’s Patreon campaign, and I seriously just read it in one afternoon. It was that good. (If you’re not a Patreon backer I don’t know how you can get hold of this but I’m sure someone will publish it, watch this space)

I’m in love with novellas as a format right now, and “The Heart is Eaten Last” is everything I want from a good one – a solid, character-rich story. I hadn’t thought before how much Nyx, in her war-torn city of assassins, magic and beetle technology, is a noir hero before this story, but she totally is – she’s a foul-mouthed Phillip Marlowe hunting the Maltese Falcon, only… she’s not. She’s Nyx, harsh and ruthless and completely fucked up but somehow managing to hold a team together long enough to solve the mystery and save her reputation while hanging on by her fingernails. Meet her terrible judgy sister! Wince at her awful life choices and the mean things she says to people! Cheer at her badassery! Everything I liked about the character and the world in God’s War comes across beautifully here – so much crunchy gender commentary in such a tight, fast-paced adventure. I want want want to read more novellas with Nyx and her team, because I think the format is perfect for Hurley’s cynical, violent prose, and I am far more invested in the characters than I really thought possible.

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Sheep Might Fly: Fake Geek Girl Part 3 Show Notes

Flying Sheep Show NotesYou can listen to the next episode of Sheep Might Fly on iTunes (or your own favourite podcast app, I hope), and also stream, download & follow Sheep Might Fly here on the Podbean site.

Our current story is “Fake Geek Girl,” which was originally published in Review of Australian Fiction Volume 14, Issue 4. You can buy the issue containing the story (along with a fantastic piece from Stephanie Lai) directly from their website.

Meet Fake Geek Girl, the band that plays nerdy songs at the university bar every Friday night, to a mixture of magical and non-magical students: lead singer Holly writes songs based on her twin sister Hebe’s love of geek culture though she doesn’t really understand it; drummer Sage is an explosive sorcerous genius obsessing over whether Holly’s about to quit the band to go mainstream; shy Juniper only just worked up the nerve to sing her own song in public and keeps a Jane Austen themed diary chronicling the lives and loves of her friends. When the mysterious, privileged Ferd joins their share house, everything starts to unravel…

In the super short Part 3 of the story, you get the band’s Friday Night set list, annotated by! Holly! Because obviously she’s too busy to narrate a chapter of decent length.

fake geek girl listen now

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Friday Links has Fearless Optimism

lightsabersL.M. Myles, known to many Australians as Scottish Liz, has a lovely essay up at Uncanny talking about her search for an SFF grandmother, and how the author Naomi Mitchison so beautifully met her very specific requirements.

There’s been so much interesting commentary on Star Wars: the Force Awakens this month, and I particularly liked this Mary Sue article by Kate Bennion on the Feminist Message of the Dudes in The Force Awakens, talking about how the kindness and emotional narrative of Finn, Poe and even Han Solo himself make them more likeable and appealing characters to women, while poor old Kylo Ren represents contemporary toxic masculinity at its worst.

In How It Feels To Be Self-Published Me, Zetta Elliot finds her inspiration in a seminal essay by Zora Neale Hurston on coming to terms with being despised for her race, and comes to terms with her own identity as a self published author (as well as a woman of colour) who writes and publishes books for marginalised children.

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16. Anne McCaffrey & The Rowan [SF Women of the 20th Century]

rowanSo, I never read McCaffrey’s Pern novels – they remain one of the big gaps in my SFF reading, though my intention has always been to go back and rectify this. (I’ve also never read Bradley’s Darkover series, or Andre Norton’s Witch World – seriously, can’t we agree to some kind of leap year of reading so we can all catch up on the classics?)

I read out of second hand shops as much as new shelves (though I bought a *lot* of new releases throughout the 90’s, thanks largely to a generous “clothing allowance” in my teens) but somehow those books never quite passed into my hands – I did come across The Ship Who Sang later, but for the most part my McCaffrey reading was the books coming out at the peak of my SFF discovery period: and that meant the Tower and the Hive series.

The Rowan (1990), the first of this series is a take on the Chosen One trope with added telepathy and a highly technical corporate space transportation system. (oh yes, and a female protagonist) It has a powerful romance thread, though its structure is primarily a coming of age story.

The premise of The Rowan and its sequels is that rare, high-powered telepaths and telekinetics form the spine of a complex system allowing for interstellar teleportation, and widespread interplanetary colonisation without breaking the light barrier. It remains one of my favourite space station novels of all time (I love space station novels far more than spaceship novels, that’s probably something I should have figured out about myself before now), with a great mix of characterisation and social detail combined with the big technical ideas.

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Sheep Might Fly – Fake Geek Girl Part 2 Show Notes

Flying Sheep Show NotesYou can listen to the next episode of Sheep Might Fly on iTunes (or your own favourite podcast app, I hope), or stream, download & follow Sheep Might Fly here on the Podbean site.

Our current story is “Fake Geek Girl,” which was originally published in Review of Australian Fiction Volume 14, Issue 4. You can buy the issue containing the story (along with a fantastic piece from Stephanie Lai) directly from their website.

Meet Fake Geek Girl, the band that plays nerdy songs at the university bar every Friday night, to a mixture of magical and non-magical students: lead singer Holly writes songs based on her twin sister Hebe’s love of geek culture though she doesn’t really understand it; drummer Sage is an explosive sorcerous genius obsessing over whether Holly’s about to quit the band to go mainstream; shy Juniper only just worked up the nerve to sing her own song in public and keeps a Jane Austen themed diary chronicling the lives and loves of her friends. When the mysterious, privileged Ferd joins their share house, everything starts to unravel…

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This Month on the Blog: January 2016

uhura_mirror_mirror_2It’s been a hectic month, school holidays means I spend my time chasing around after my daughters and their social lives, so it’s amazing I get anything done at all! As well as organising sleepovers and playdates, three family birthday events (including a tween camping sleepover), and supervising Ms11 as she entered a 48 hour filmmaking challenge, not to mention launching a new podcast, this is what happened on the blog in January:

Two new entries in the SF Women of the 20th Century series:
14. Andre Norton & the High Hallack Library
15. Nichelle Nicholls & Lt. Uhura.

Issue #1 comics reviews:
Hellcat
Adventures of Supergirl

The first of my Great Ladies Patreon-sponsored series of essays:
Marie Curie, Radioactive Lady Scientist, requested by Aifin.

But the biggest blog event was of course the launch of my new Sheep Might Fly podcast: Part 1 of Fake Geek Girl. Come back tomorrow for Part 2! The podcast will be uploading Mondays from now on.

Galactic Suburbia is on its summer break, but we still found time to put together a New Year’s special episode (with guests!) and a Star Wars: The Force Awakens Spoilerific.

We’re also in the final hours of Fablecroft’s In Your Face anthology crowdfunding/pre-order campaign: check out me writing about my story, Letters to Cleopatra.

Issue #1: The Adventures of Supergirl

supergirlTitle: The Adventures of Supergirl #1

Writer: Sterling Gates

Artist: Bengal (cover by Cat Staggs)

The Buzz: This digital-first comic is based on the CBS Supergirl series, which provides a whole bunch of in built buzz of its own. More to the point, it’s the cute, fun all-ages Supergirl comic that DC should never NOT have been publishing – given the recognisability factor of Supergirl as a character (my daughter fell in love with her based on an image on a drinking glass), this is the perfect gateway title for young girls to get into comics as a source of adventure stories. Check out this article about how much this comic has been needed.

All You Need To Know: If you’ve watched the pilot of the show (or the extended trailer of same) you pretty much have what you need, and if not this 1st issue is pretty good about covering the basics. Story elements specific to the CBS version of Supergirl include her adopted sister Alex Danvers who works for a covert ops aliens-are-of-interest squad who support and study Supergirl, run by Hank Henshaw. Presumably we’re also going to see the Calista Flockhart interpretation of Cat Grant and ditto for the rest of the office staff, but they’re not in this first issue.

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15. Nichelle Nichols and Lt. Uhura. [SF Women of the 20th Century]

uhura3Last year, 83-year old actress, singer and voice actor Nichelle Nichols made headlines when she joined the NASA space observatory flight, on a mission to observe space through the SOFIA telescope on a modified Boeing 747 plane.

This was a culmination of a long history between Nichols and NASA. After playing the iconic Lt Uhura in the 1960’s TV show Star Trek (one of the first prominent roles on TV played by an African American woman), Nichols went on to serve as an astronaut recruiter, inspiring women and minorities to train for space. She recently won the Ed Dwight Jr Award for her work in this area.

Guion Bluford, the first African American in space, was one of Nichols’ recruits. He flew four space missions, starting in 1983. Other astronauts recruited by Nichols include Dr Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut in space, and Charles Bolden, one of America’s most accomplished astronauts who now serves as the Administrator of NASA.

(This is the sort of thing worth talking about when people complain that representation in pop culture isn’t as important as real life.)

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Sheep Might Fly – Fake Geek Girl Part 1

Flying Sheep Show NotesNew podcast! It’s not up on iTunes yet, but for now you can stream, download & follow Sheep Might Fly over on the Podbean site.

Our first story is “Fake Geek Girl,” which was originally published in Review of Australian Fiction Volume 14, Issue 4. You can buy the issue containing the story directly from their website.

Meet Fake Geek Girl, the band that plays nerdy songs at the university bar every Friday night, to a mixture of magical and non-magical students: lead singer Holly writes songs based on her twin sister Hebe’s love of geek culture though she doesn’t really understand it; drummer Sage is an explosive sorcerous genius obsessing over whether Holly’s about to quit the band to go mainstream; shy Juniper only just worked up the nerve to sing her own song in public and keeps a Jane Austen themed diary chronicling the lives and loves of her friends. When the mysterious, privileged Ferd joins their share house, everything starts to unravel…

Continue reading →