Deliberately Lost SF Classics

Pulp-O-Mizer_Cover_Llama Riders 3

Can they actually be classics if they were deliberately lost? I don’t know, but inspired by Jane Gutter of the Cultural Gutter with all her movie-watching shenanigans, I decided they needed to exist. The hard part was stopping once I started…

Thanks to the Short Humour site for being willing to host my nonsense. Thanks to the Pulp-O-Mizer for the cover mock up.

A snippet to whet your appetite:

LLAMA RIDERS OF THE SEVENTH MOON (1953)

Despite a cast that included several purebred llamas and enthusiastic jockeys, the film failed to take off—perhaps for the same reasons. Rumour had it that producer Alana Perez refused to work the llamas for the grueling shifts that director Jimenez Arlberg demanded, citing the concerns of the Quechua handler of the beasts who claimed they were never used as mounts at all. Indeed throughout the production it is possible to see llamas doing their best to dislodge riders with bucking, rolling and lying down on top of them. By the end of the shoot, the disgusted breeder took off with his llamas and it became necessary to shoot several key scenes with large dogs. It is to the credit of editor Roberta Santiago that in most of the scenes the change is hardly obvious. However, with the majority of the budget spent on acquiring the llamas, the sets were rushed and poorly constructed. In fact during the infamous crater scene, it is possible to glimpse the surprised crew revealed as one panel of the set falls away. Arlberg’s attempts to connect the script to a Ray Bradbury story for publicity purposes backfired when the angry writer sent him a fake vicuña scarf in retort.

Read the rest here.

PMM: Church of Bowie

PMM

It’s been quite surreal. From the time I woke up Monday morning and saw the news on Twitter, I’ve been surrounded by Bowie. Of course all my life I have been; I suppose that’s what hit so many folks hard. How can there not be Bowie? I’ve read a lot of heartfelt tributes, musical assessments and odd titbits. I was goggled by the Lazarus video, as were most people. I love that he saw Death coming, as someone said on Twitter (not sure I can find it, so many many tweets), and thought hmmm, I can use this.

But I’m not a confessional writer; I am always oblique. I can’t seem to help it. Metaphor is more truthful to me. So I wrote this piece that Jason was kind enough to publish at Pulp Metal Magazine, The State of the Church of Bowie in 2525. Futuristic, playful, referential but never reverential, I hope. I chuckled to think of a multicontinentination that stretched from the ‘coast of Colorado’ all the way to China in a sort of post-apocalyptic world, uniting East and West with the Atlantic at its heart (but never North and South of course). A religion that had weathered a Reformation or reconciliation of its own, yet threatened anew by apocalyptic sub-cults? Who’d believe that?

Who indeed.

If you think it’s a stretch to imagine a church of this nature, you should see all the people I see around me who have found strength in those messages from Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and the Goblin King, all the way up to the stark Black Star. Bowie may only have been a flawed and all-too-real human, but he managed to reach myriad hearts and minds by embodying that one thing we all have in common: that very often, we all feel completely alone.

Drop by Pulp Metal Magazine, read The State of the Church of Bowie in 2525. And then check out all the great stuff there.

Vonnegut Talk

I had a great time at my talk on Saturday. There was a big crowd who proved very enthusiastic. I was rather glad that Vonnegut’s nephew Kurt and his son didn’t introduce themselves until after the talk or I would have felt rather self-conscious talking about their family members. Kurt said that his father Bernard had been recording video for the forthcoming documentary. I was one of the Kickstarter contributors, so I am eagerly looking forward to it. I remembered to take a picture of the sign for the talk but I realise I took the wrong side so my name isn’t even there.

The Mabee Farm site is quite interesting. There’s even an old cemetery and of course, right now there’s the It Came from Schenectady exhibit of SF/F from the capital region, including some Albacon members.

Accidents in a Very Busy Place: Kurt Vonnegut in Schenectady
presented by K.A. Laity
Saturday 4/11/15 at 2:00 PM at Mabee Farm Historic Site

Kurt Vonnegut, the renowned and beloved author, spend an important part of his life in Schenectady. The region influenced his work, and Schenectady appears as the setting for many of his stories. K.A. Laity will discuss Vonnegut’s time in Schenectady– as a PR man for GE, and as a volunteer fire fighter– and the region’s legacy in his work.

I’m making the talk available because it’s not really something intended for publication, but I know people who weren’t able to be there are interested. It’s a bit of a DIY situation because I don’t have time to combine the two pieces: so here’s the text and here are the slides. It’s far more entertaining with the slides.

sci fi poster smallIt Came from Schenectady: Science Fiction in the Capital Region
(at Mabee Farm Historic Site through September 2015)

What if you had a superpower? What if you could travel through time? What if machines overtook Schenectady? “What if” questions inspire writers, artists, and filmmakers to create new worlds and imagine alternate realities. Featuring an Apollo EMU spacesuit (and a replica you can try on!), experimental equipment and machinery from GE, original science fiction cover art, hand-made costumes, an interactive studio set, film footage, and more, It Came from Schenectady: Science Fiction in the Capital Region invites you to discover the “what ifs” that inspired the creations of local science fiction innovators, including Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Nelson, and Glendora. Join us on a journey through time and space as we explore the legacy of science fiction in Schenectady County!

Con-Eire FREE!

Con-Eire_covIn honour of Shamrokon and LonCon3, my short play Con-Eire from today through Monday will be completely FREE! It’s appropriate for this season as it’s a love letter to the hard-working folks behind the scenes putting the madness all together:

It’s three days before the start of Con-Eire, the best Irish-themed science fiction and fantasy con in the tri-state area, when a phone call sets the entire Convention Committee into panic mode. Is Big Name Writer going to pull out at the last minute? What does Very Famous Artist have to do with that decision? And what do the fairies have to say about all this? Follow the hilarious mishaps as the committee members work desperately to salvage months of planning and hard work, all of which are about to be undone by a well-known prima donna.

This half-hour radio play for voices features a cast of six and little in the way of props and sound effects, making it suitable for impromptu or amateur performances.

Don’t just listen to me: it has a bunch of great reviews, too. Here’s a snippet of a five star review from someone I don’t even know:

Before I was 4 pages in, I was laughing out loud, and before I was done, I thinking, “I know some of these people…don’t I?” Great fun! Read it!

LonCon and ShamroKon Schedules

LONCON 3 The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention 14-18 August 2014

LONCON

Tove Jansson’s Moomins: Their Legacy and Influence

Thursday 12:00 – 13:30, Capital Suite 13 (ExCeL)

It’s 100 years since the birth of Finnish author/artist Tove Jansson, the award-winning creator of the beloved Moomins. Moomins appeared in novels, illustrated books, comic book strips and today are celebrated with their own theme park called Muumimaailma (Moomin World).

Why did Jansson’s Moomins capture the attention and affection of the panellists, and how do Moomins continue to fire the imagination of new generations despite being nearly seventy years old?

What is the legacy of the Moomins, and how do they continue to influence European comic books today?

K. A. Laity (M), Lynda Rucker, Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson, Mary Talbot, Karrie Fransman

You can watch the BBC documentary ‘Moominland Tales: The Life Of Tove Jansson’ here: http://youtu.be/tSZKzLHI5wg. There will be a showing of this documentary at the convention in the Capital Suite 17, at Thursday at 17:00.

Medieval Influences and Representation in SF/F

Thursday 15:00 – 16:30, Capital Suite 6 (ExCeL)

Three academics each give a 15 minute presentation. These are followed by a 30 minute discussion jointly held with the audience.

Constance G. J. Wagner, “FRODO AND FARAMIR: Mirrors of Chivalry”
K. A. Laity, “The ‘Old Weird’: Recognising the Medieval Roots of the ‘New Weird’”
Julie Hofmann, “The Year of the Fruit Bat, the Middle Ages, and the Long 19th Century”
Shyamalika Heffernan (M)

Fantasy and Medievalism

Friday 13:30 – 15:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

High fantasy is almost invariably set in invented worlds inspired by medieval Europe. Can we put this down to the legacy of Tolkien and to genre works being in close conversation with each other? Or is there something about the place that medieval Europe occupies in our imagination that makes it a perfect companion for tales of epic striving and larger-than-life Good versus Evil? Either way, does this help or hinder the genre?

K. A. Laity (M), Gillian Polack, Robin Hobb, Marieke Nijkamp, Lynda Rucker

The Weird on Screen

Friday 16:30 – 18:00, Capital Suite 13 (ExCeL)

In their introduction to their anthology “The Weird”, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer describe the form as “unapologetically transgressive, imaginative, and strange.” Where can we find the weird on screen? What differences are there between the written weird and the weird on screen?

K. A. Laity (M), Dominick Grace, Robyn Talbot, Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson, Jaq Greenspon

Vox Populi: the new voice of comic book criticism?

Sunday 10:00 – 11:00, Capital Suite 3 (ExCeL)

Anyone with a blog or social media presence can send their opinion directly to comic book creators. How is this affecting comic book criticism?

Is this the death of the old stuffy regime of taste-makers, or the rise of a new type of creative pressure? How is the closer connection between creator and audience affecting the work?

And what happens when the collective force of a fanbase focuses upon ‘punishing’ critical voices?

K. A. Laity (M), KT Davies, Emmeline Pui Ling Dobson, Marcus Gipps, Didi Chanoch

What does Ireland have to offer?

Sunday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)

Ireland is distinctly different as a nation and its people posses a unique identity. How does this work through the creative fiction of modern times? Has the mighty weight of Irish Mythology that have permeated fantasy had an impact on modern writers in Ireland? Where is the new fiction coming from, and what issues of interest are explored?

Liz Bourke (M), Susan Connolly, K. A. Laity, Ruth Frances Long, Bob Neilson

Full programme here. If yo know Debi, you know she’ll be everywhere and she’ll cajole me into going to more things than I would on my own. I hope to see a lot of friends, but there will be thousands of people there O.O so I’m glad some folks like Maura McHugh will also be heading to Dublin —

SHAMROKON 22-24 Aug 2014

European Focus: Missing Medieval Women

Friday 15:00 – 16:00, B. Lansdowne (Double Tree by Hilton Dublin Burlington Road)

Women farriers, Viking Shieldmaidens, Court Poet Christine de Pizan… there were lots of women who weren’t damsels in distress or burnt at the stake. So why don’t we see them in high fantasy?

Liz Bourke (M), Susan Bartholomew, K. A. Laity, Gillian Polack

As you can see, I won’t be too busy in Dublin, so I will likely be catching up with friends (I hope including my publisher Kem from Tirgearr) and reacquainting myself with some of the finer pubs around the city. On Sunday morning (24th) I will be NY bound as classes begin on the 25th. So much for giving myself more leeway…

Full programme here.

2014-08-06 14.40.39

And I’ll be missing Dundee