Archive for January, 2010
Blind windows, flat eyes
stitched tight into time
til @outshine rises unbound…
Monday September 21:
[Quote for the Monday] “Much of what we ascribe to human nature is no more than a reaction to the restraints put upon us by our civilization.”
[Source] Franz Boas (1858 – 1942) / German-born U.S. anthropologist.
Tuesday September 22:
Southern metal meets clenched-fist hardcore; like going thirteen rounds with the entire Samoan Olympic boxing team, only with more guitars.
Wednesday September 23:
They died, each species, one by one. Cats then owls; owls then ants. They died
But now look
They rise, each species, one by one. They rise.
[Bio] Penelope Friday – penelopefriday.livejournal.com .
Thursday September 24:
A one-joke romcom that flirts with brilliance but never quite settles in, maybe because Ricky Gervais’s schtick has gotten a little stale.
[#Spitballs] The Invention of Lying / Directed by Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson / http://is.gd/3DEz7.
Friday September 25:
[Quote for the Friday] “It is by losing himself in the objective, in inquiry, creation, and craft, that a man becomes something.”
[Source] Paul Goodman (1911 – 1972) / U.S. writer, teacher, and psychotherapist / The Community of Scholars.
Saturday September 26:
Sand crunches beneath their feet, and the sun warms their gray skin. They gawk at the pyramids. “Looks like someone was here first.”
[Bio] Aurelio Rico Lopez III hails from the Philippines. He is an avid fan of all things weird.
Sunday September 27:
A handsome prince and a magical quest are the basis of great humor and fun in this enjoyable English translation of a beloved French series.
[#ShineComics] THE LEGEND OF PERCEVAN, VOLUME 1 by Fauche, Léturgie, and Luguy; Fantasy Flight Games, 2009, $17.95 (hardcover).
Four story excerpts of the Shine anthology have already been put up at DayBreak Magazine:
January 1, 2010:
- The Earth of Yunhe by Eric Gregory;
- The Greenman Watches the Black Bar Go Up, Up, Up by Jacques Barcia;
January 15, 2010:
January 29, 2010:
- Sustainable Development by Paula R. Stiles;
- The Church of Accelerated Redemption by Gareth L. Powell & Aliette de Bodard;
NOTE: correct links for the still-to-be-published excerpts will be added after they’ve actually been published.
NOTE 2: More Shine excerpts coming in February, March & April.
Sprawling on the fringes of the city
in geometric order
@outshine’s insulated border
in between the bright lights and the far unlit unknown
Monday September 14:
[Quote for the Monday] “Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.”
[Source] Aldous Huxley (1894 – 1963) / British novelist and essayist / Do What you Will, “Wordsworth in the Tropics”.
Tuesday September 15:
One part metal, one part big-band swing showtunes, one part Eastern European circus sideshow. More substance than the average gimmick album.
Wednesday September 16:
black sea and sky.
ships: sailing white, leave the flood plain.
safest harbor: needing none.
clustering lights, another long dusk.
[Bio] Andy Kelly @a_m_kelly lives in a room full of books, mostly unread.
Thursday September 17:
Two astronauts wake to find their cargo, 60 thousand human beings, transformed into messed-up versions of Peter Dinklage. Now that’s scary!
[#Spitballs] Pandorum / Directed by Christian Alvart /http://www.pandorummovie.com/.
Friday September 18:
[Quote for the Friday] “Men cannot live without seeking to describe and explain the universe to themselves.”
[Source] Isaiah Berlin (1909 – 1997) / Latvian-born British philosopher and historian of ideas / Concepts and Categories.
Saturday September 19:
Definition of futility: chasing ruby-goldfish that burst out of a waterfall, sail across the greenhouse, enter another. Damn microgravity.
[Bio] Paula R. Stiles, at: http://is.gd/kLAu, has sold SF, fantasy and horror stories to Strange Horizons, Jim Baen’s, Futures and others.
Sunday September 20:
I like Van Lente’s writing, but this? Peter Parker has blackout drunk sex with his drunk roomie? Rape played for laughs? And why the racism?
[#ShineComics] AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #601-604 by Fred Van Lente (script), Barry Kitson (art); Marvel, 2009, $2.99 each.
After a hiatus that was longer than planned, here’s the sixth installment of this series:
Optimism in Israeli SF
By Lavie Tidhar
Israeli science fiction, such as it is, is founded on the most optimistic of novels — Theodore Herzl’s Altneuland, published in 1902. Altneuland (Old-New Land: full text of the English translation here), is a utopian vision of a Jewish state in Palestine, then a part of the Ottoman Empire. Herzl was the founder and leader of Zionism, the movement seeking to establish a national home for the Jews. It is interesting to note that many alternatives to Palestine were suggested at one point or another (including land in Syria, Egypt, South America, the United States and British West Africa), with Herzl negotiating opposite the British government and the Ottoman Empire, but without results.
Altneuland was Herzl’s futurist manifesto, a utopian novel following two protagonists, a Jewish intellectual and a Russian aristocrat, as they visit Palestine first in 1898, when it is a desolate place, and then twenty years later, when they discover a Jewish utopia had emerged during their absence. In the typical fashion of utopian novels, they then go on a guided tour of this new society.
As a novel, perhaps, Altneuland lacks literary merit. As a vision of a then non-existent future, and as a rallying cry for the establishment of a Jewish state, it has been remarkably influential, though Herzl’s vision of a peaceful Palestine did not come about…
In the novel, the port city of Haifa is the main urban centre, electricity powers homes, trains run throughout the country, and European cultural institutes — an opera house, theatres, etc. — are commonplace. The inhabitants speak German rather than Hebrew or Yiddish. And a Third Temple has been built in Jerusalem…
Herzl’s novel is itself pre-dated by an earlier utopia, and the first in Hebrew —
Elhanan Levinsky’s mostly forgotten A Journey to Israel in the Year 2040, published in Poland in 1892. Again, there are electric lights, bustling ports — and airships!
The establishment of a Jewish state in what was by then British Mandate Palestine (The British won it from the Ottomans in First World War) did not go quite as planned. Conflict with both the British, and the Arab population of Palestine, proved costly and increasingly bitter, and the eventual foundation of the State of Israel was done only after the first of many subsequent wars. And over all fell the shadow of the war in Europe and the Holocaust, forever imprinting itself into the collective Israeli psyche.
Which meant optimism in fiction, despite its hopeful beginnings, might have been in short supply.
Israeli literature has always been more concerned with the here-and-now than with the — increasingly uncertain — future. Such stories fitting into a science fiction and fantasy mould were published almost exclusively as children’s books. Perhaps the most notable of these were the three books written by Eli Sagi: The Adventures of Captain Yuno, published between 1963 and 1964. The books follow the adventures of two children, Yuno and Vena, as they stowaway on an Earth spaceship and then become involved in a series of adventures throughout the solar system, in which each planet is populated by different alien races. Earth itself is a sort of utopia, run by the United Nations — and Earth’s space programme is headed by none other than one Professor Asimov… With wonderful illustrations by the master of the Israeli children book, M. Aryeh, the books are nevertheless almost unknown today, and the nearly 50-year old copies fetch high sums — if one can find them at all. Sagi, incidentally, went on to become a successful playwright and, in the 1980s, was the creator of The Big Restaurant, a Hebrew-Arabic sitcom set in a restaurant in Jerusalem which was successful, it was said, across the whole of the Middle East.
The Adventures of Captain Yuno, alas, did not extend beyond the first three books – a fourth book was listed but never published. It is itself pre-dated by The Mystery of the Flying Saucer, by Menahem Talmi, published in 1955, in which a boy from Tel Aviv goes on a journey to Mars and other planets, and experiences the utopian societies of the aliens.
Science fiction only really became widespread in the 1970s — the Hebrew term for SF had to be negotiated first, the earlier “Mada Dimyoni”, or imaginary science, leading at last to “Mada Bidyoni”, or fictional science — and the most important event in this nascent field was the establishment, in 1978, of the first genuine Israeli SF magazine, Fantasia 2000. It was an act of pure, unadulterated optimism, by four young students who, later, would admit that had they known what they were doing they would never have done it in the first place. Nevertheless, the magazine not only came into being but continued for an unparalleled 44 issues over 6 years, translating many of the classic American stories of the genre (but also the occasional French and Russian) and offering the first ever stage for Israeli writers themselves. Though some — many — of the Hebrew stories published in the magazine were not of a very high calibre, some still delight – particularly Mordechai Sason’s “The Beggar and the Tin Man”, about a future Israel in which robots beg on the street and are pursued by the malevolent bank, who wants to destroy them — but in which the Israeli public takes up their cause instead, with both hilarious and thought-provoking results. Another writer making his debut in the pages of Fantasia 2000, Amir Gutfreund, would later become the author of the critically and commercially successful Shoa Shelanu (Our Holocaust) and other novels, and win the prestigious Sapir Prize in 2003.
The 1980s saw the demise of Fantasia 2000 and a long period of drought in Israeli SF that would be, ten years later, spectacularly revived. Of the handful of science fiction books published in the 1980s, however, special mention should be made of another utopia, and perhaps one of the most interesting — and certainly controversial — of Israeli SF novels. Luna: The Genetic Paradise was published in 1985, written by geneticist Ram Mo’av as he was dying of a terminal illness. This extraordinary novel tells the story of a dying scientist who is given the ability to view the future via a device called the Camera — specifically, the future of a utopian settlement on the moon, in which principles of eugenics determine immigration, births and much more. The novel is at the same time a searing indictment of Israeli society — at one point depicting Israeli-born children, or sabras, tormenting the nameless narrator (a Holocaust survivor), in which they are compared to the Nazis — and the story of a multicultural, utopian society on the moon based, as mentioned, on the somewhat dubious arguments of eugenics. While not necessarily a good novel — like Altneuland before it — it is a fascinating novel, though once again its influence may be negligible: as with the previous books mentioned, it is very hard today to locate a copy.
The 1990s saw the first true flowering of Israeli SF, with the advent of the Internet leading fans and writers to get in touch with each other, and subsequently leading to the formation of an Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy, the establishment of national conventions, and to the rise of a new SF magazine — and the first of its kind to be devoted almost exclusively to original Israeli SF short stories.
Chalomot Be’aspamia (the expression can be loosely translated as “pipe dreams” or “daydreams”) was began as a fan initiative but was taken over by Ron Yaniv as publisher, leading to the first magazine since Fantasia 2000 to be distributed in Israeli bookshops. It was edited by Israeli writer and translator Vered Tochterman from issue 1 to 16 (plus a special themed issue, the first original shared-world anthology to be published in Israel), and by Nir Yaniv from 17 to the current issue 20. Another optimistic gesture, the magazine published a wide range of stories and writers but is currently on hiatus, with its future uncertain — though at least one more issue, number 21, is projected to appear. It is interesting to note, incidentally, that the magazine came a full circle recently by publishing, in its issue 19, a story by an older Amir Gutfreund — the only writer thus to be published in both Fantasia 2000 and Chalomot Be’aspamia.
Bur what does the future hold for Israeli SF? While it is unreasonable to assume speculative fiction will ever have a large number of writers in Israel, the future does look hopeful. A new generation of writers is experimenting with short stories and publishing new novels, some with more impact then others. There are now conventions, web sites, forums, even writing workshops devoted to genre fiction. The future, as it is wont to do, remains to be seen.
Lavie Tidhar is the author of linked-story collection HebrewPunk (2007), novellas Cloud Permutations (2009), An Occupation of Angels (2010), and Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God (2010) and, with Nir Yaniv, of The Tel Aviv Dossier (2009). He also edited the anthology The Apex Book of World SF (2009). He’s lived on three continents and one island-nation, and currently lives in Israel. His first novel, The Bookman, is published by HarperCollins’ new Angry Robot imprint, and will be followed by two more.
@outshine goes around the word
@outshine got a mighty voice
@outshine make no sound…
Monday September 7:
[Quote for the Monday] “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while [..] the mature man [..] wants to live humbly for it.”
[Source] Wilhelm Stekel (1868 – 1940) / Austrian psychiatrist / (slightly paraphrased to fit in a tweet).
Tuesday September 8:
Standard stoner blues-rawk, like a three day bender: you’ll not remember much detail tomorrow, but you’ll feel sure you had a lot of fun.
Wednesday September 9:
Cries weak, yet eager with life. First moments afloat, echoing the blue globe. Voice rising in strength, he christens the vastness of space.
[Bio] Marie Croke’s brain resides in her little toe. As she walks it rattles around and around, occasionally spitting out something profound.
Thursday September 10:
Feminist horror comedy is neither scary nor funny, renders grrlpower as kitsch, and is ruined by excessive oh-look-I made-a-funny dialog.
[#Spitballs] Jennifer’s Body / Directed by Karyn Kasuma /http://www.jennifersbody.com/.
Friday September 11:
[Quote for the Friday] “If we must fight, why not go against the common enemy, the Turk? But wait. Is not the Turk also a man and a brother?”
[Source] Desiderius Erasmus (1466? – 1536) / Dutch humanist, scholar, and writer / Querela Pacis.
Saturday September 12:
Disaster! Can’t take Granddad anywhere. He got his toupee caught in the beach umbrella’s solar fan. That’s broken; we’re baking; he’s bald!
[Bio] Eva Chapman loves to have fun. www.is.gd.fTIP .
Sunday September 13:
Part 1 of a look at the Stan Lee/Kirby team would be plenty, but there’s much more – art, analysis, history, well worth the time to read.
[#ShineComics] THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #53, by John Morrow (Editor) and others, art by Jack Kirby; TwoMorrows Publishing, 2009, $10.95.