Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday Tunes v CSFF Blog Tour: Broken Angel

I know you've all been looking forward to this, wondering whether I'm going to go with a Top Ten Angel songs (Eurythmics are number one, There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)), or the Top Ten Broken records (Broken Wings by Mister Mister).

Well, no more bets, the results are in, and here they come... the Top Ten Dystopia-related tunes:
10. Arcadia - Election Day
The lyrics read like they were translated from the Mandarin on the cheap, so they may or may not be related to a dystopia. Election Day is, however, the title of my unstarted dystopian work in progress.
9. The Police - Every Breath You Take
These lyrics definitely aren't dystopia-related, but there is something decidedly Big Brother about The Police watching every move you make.
8. Blur - The Universal
The video riffs on A Clockwork Orange, and the song tells of satellites in every home...
7. Radiohead - Karma Police
Taken from the dystopia themed album OK Computer, this sounds like a spiritual fiction variant on the Thought Police.
6. Iron Maiden - Brave New World
Named after some book, apparently.
5. Gary Numan & Tubeway Army - Down in the Park
From the album Replicas, a sort of soundtrack to a dystopian novel Numan never wrote, this is a particularly dark little number.
4. David Bowie - 1984
Late glam-era Bowie, the album Diamond Dogs included anumber of songs from an aborted glam-rock musical adaption of 1984.
3. Nine Inch Nails - Survivalism
From yet another dystopian concept album, Year Zero.
2. Eurythmics - Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
This, however, is from the actual movie soundtrack of the 1984 movie, er, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
1. Zafer & Evans - In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)
Sixties one hit wonders tell a depressing tale of the future.

Here's the mixtape, give it a listen, and then order up Broken Angel while you're in a suitably dystopian mood.

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

Sci-fi Song of the Week

Well, really I could have picked any one of those dystopia tunes, but, well, here's one more for luck. Since we already had one Radiohead track in te Top Ten, I had to leave out 2+2=5, which again takes its title from the ultimate dystopia, 1984.

Monday, August 25, 2008

CSFF Blog Tour: Broken Angel.

This week I am literally on tour, so this post is brought to you by the wonders of modern technology all the way from last week. I could have just made my excuses and skipped this one, but the subject intrigued me. (And no, obviously that doesn't mean I've read it. Maybe if I had been paying attention earlier on I would have done though.) So I won't be able to respond to any comments (which are of course welcome) or read other posts on the tour for a week or so, but hopefully I'll catch up later.

Anyway, the subject which so intrigued me is that of a Christian dystopia, which by any reasonable definition should be an oxymoron. Publishers Weekly describes Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer like this:

In this addictively readable futuristic Christian dystopia, Brouwer takes readers inside a state run by literalistic, controlling fundamentalists. There, reading is a serious crime; citizens are drugged into submission; and those who break rules are either sent to slave labor factories or stoned to death. Occasionally, a few brave souls try to escape to 'Outside.'
Which, at first reading, sounds a bit Logan's Run and a bit Farenheit 451, but I guess the police state being based on a severely distorted form of fundamentalist Christianity, and suppressing the real Truth, might give it a distinct twist, especially written from a Christian viewpoint.

As it follows on from the last couple of films I reviewed here as well as fitting in with this tour, I plan to wax lyrical on the subject of dystopia later in the week. Unless I didn't get around to it last week, in which case I'll do it later. I hope you'll come back and read what I have to say about it anyway.

As I wrote this, there was no official list of participants, so once you've visited the author's site, coolreading.com, and ordered Broken Angel from amazon, why not drop by the CSFF Blog Tour page and see who else is touring this month?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Review - A Scanner Darkly

Philip K Dick was a man who knew his dystopias - Blade Runner being possibly the definitive movie dystopia.

A Scanner Darkly is nothing like Blade Runner. For one thing the rotoscoped animation gives the film a uniquely twisted look, which allows for surreal moments befitting the subject matter; for another, it’s a far more personal dystopia, one where America has lost the war on drugs and the obligatory police state is dedicated to tracking down those behind Substance D. More importantly, Scanner is apparently more faithful to the novel than some film adaptations, as befits what was, a semi-autobiographical story. (I can’t comment directly on this myself, because it is an unwritten rule that I cannot watch a PKD adaptation if I’ve read the book, and vice versa.)

Although it starts out sounding like just another stoner movie - the comedic antics of three strung out housemates, one of whom is completely failing to have sex with his girlfriend – it soon develops into a serious look at the effects of addiction, notably on Bob Arctor, an undercover agent who got hooked on Substance D while trying to infitrate the supply chain, and his understandably paranoid flatmates.

Paranoia is followed by schizophrenia and ultimately extreme withdrawal - and then the plot starts getting really twisty.

This is definitely one to watch, although it’s been around a while, so if you haven’t already, you really should. Unless, that is, you really don’t like films with a smattering of sex and a lot of naughty words. And all the drugs, of course. Or if you don’t like films with humour, sadness, philosophy, great visuals, and commentary on the issues facing the world today.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Podcastle: Cup and Table

Regular readers may recall that I don’t get fantasy. Nonetheless, I do keep half an eye on the feed for Podcastle, just in case a story comes along that straddles the genre borders or otherwise grabs my attention.

Cup and Table by Tim Pratt was one such story. It caught my attention primarily for being a Holy Grail story, and turned out to be just such a genre-straddling stories – it has a dash of time travel, and with the addition of some spandex it could have been a superhero story – but at heart it’s the sort of urban fantasy that Joss Whedon made me a fan of all those years ago.

I liked the world, I liked the anti-heroes of the Table, and I think I liked what it said about God. But what sticks in my mind, apart from the ending, is the character of Carlsbad. Here is an entity made up of the collective evil of mankind. I’ve no idea how original that concept is in fantasy literature, and I don’t really care. It appeals to me. It appeals to me as an obvious parallel to so many things in the real world, like the porn industry, an entity whose existence depends on the collective lust of mankind. Same goes for drugs, weapons… ours is a world stalked by Carlsbad and many others like him. I guess that’s another idea to add to the story stew constantly bubbling away in my head…

Anyway: Cup and Table. If you’re prepared to accept that it’s a story entirely about bad guys, and has a bit of swearing in it, it’s definitely worth a listen. And, Tim, if you're reading, I could definitely stand to hear more from this world. ;)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sci-fi Song of the Week

I will come back soon and start posting properly, but just to prove I haven't died, I've added a little song to the mixtape to celebrate the imminent release of The Clone Wars.

There isn't a level on which this song fails to work for me:
Kinks fan - check
Star Wars fan - check
Weird sense of humour - check
Special affinity for Yoda - check and mate.

So if you can check two or more of the above (and let's face it, if you can't you're in the wrong place), I'm sure you'll enjoy Yoda by Weird Al Yankovic.

Incidentally, the Kinks song from which the tune is borrowed, Lola, gave me the name for my last Mini.

Friday, August 01, 2008


I think I've finished tinkering with my sidebar for the moment, the latest addition being a second blog roll, one for the podcasts I regularly listen to. A podcast roll. Or a podcasserole, if you like.

There's a mix of sci-fi, writing and the Bible in there - it's like a podcasty microcosm of this blog, or at least, what I originally intended this blog to look like. Ho hum.

I recommend all of them, if you have the time. If you haven't got the time, just do Escape Pod and the DAB.