The Changing Face of the American Apocalypse: Modern Warfare and Bad Company

Jonathan McCalmont @ 31-03-2010

Blasphemous Geometries by Jonathan McCalmont

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“Welcome to the Desert of The Real” announces Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus as he introduces The Matrix’s (1999) Neo to images of the charred remains of what was once human civilisation. A civilisation that has since been digitised and placed online while the real world crumbles beneath an ash grey sky. Morpheus’ drily ironic line would later be re-invented by the Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek in an essay prompted by the September 11th attack upon the World Trade Center. Žižek’s point is a simple one : The 9/11 attacks destroyed not only some buildings, but also America’s conception of what the real world was really like. Since the end of the Cold War, the West had fallen into a cocoon of smugness created by the comforting belief that, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, all opposition to liberal democracy had simply dried up and blown away; that, as the Berlin Wall came down, Humanity found itself united in the same set of desires for elected governments, human rights and consumer goods – desires for the kind of things that the American people had. It was, as Francis Fukuyama put it, The End of History. Continue reading “The Changing Face of the American Apocalypse: Modern Warfare and Bad Company”


We are all sheep: Avatar, Bayonetta and the hypnosis of low-brow culture

Jonathan McCalmont @ 03-02-2010

Blasphemous Geometries by Jonathan McCalmont

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I say this without having actually seen it, but James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) is an interesting film. This is because its success has had the same effect upon film critics and cultural commentators as pissing on an electric fence… people are sore, jittery and annoyed at pretty much everyone, themselves included. Continue reading “We are all sheep: Avatar, Bayonetta and the hypnosis of low-brow culture”


BOOK REVIEW: Booklife, by Jeff VanderMeer

Paul Raven @ 31-12-2009

Booklife by Jeff VanderMeerBooklife by Jeff VanderMeer

Tachyon Publications, November 2009; 330pp; US$14.95 RRP – ISBN13: 9781892391902

There are dozens – possibly even hundreds – of books out there that purport to tell you how to be a writer. Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Booklife, by Jeff VanderMeer”


Sucking rats: Tarkus by Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Adam Roberts @ 04-11-2009

The Adam Roberts Project

Ladies, gentlemen, permit me to present to you the stone cold weirdest SF music ever recorded: ELP’s 1971 magnum opus Tarkus. Interestingly, Tarkus backwards is Suk Rat, which must be more than a coincidence, because that’s precisely what the song “Tarkus” does. It sucks a rat. It sucks a rat’s balls. It sucks a futuristic cyborg rat’s balls. Continue reading “Sucking rats: Tarkus by Emerson, Lake and Palmer”


Book review: Michael Basnett – Sparklers

Adam Roberts @ 07-10-2009

The Adam Roberts Project

Michael Basnett, Sparklers (ILT Books, 2003)

[pp.757. $24.95. ISBN: 723483445127]

Readers may remember Canadian writer Basnett from his Substars trilogy (Density, the second volume of which, was nominated for the De Granville Prize). Sparklers is a fat stand-alone volume in the same mode, which is to say it is a fast-paced galactic space opera with an ingenious central premise and occasional moments of poetry. Basnett is quickly becoming a writer worth noticing. Continue reading “Book review: Michael Basnett – Sparklers”


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