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Spring Science Fiction Recommendations

science-fiction films novels writingBefore Spring comes for real and I have to Go Outside and step away from the remote, I curled up for a long overdue sci-fi love-in. Just me, my kindle and Netflix, oh, and an assortment of aliens, robots and time-travellers.

Read on for book and film reccys (that everyone else watched ages ago).

First up, Lauren Beuke‘s short story collection Slipping. This was hit after hit of what I like best about her writing: sly, sharp digs at who we are, who we want to be, and the tricks we fall for, all with a gritty, near-future cyberpunk backdrop.

If you already like her writing, you’ll like this – if you haven’t read her yet, start here or see my review of Zoo City. I’ve seen this collection hailed as satire but it read more like fortune-telling to me – the future is written, and Instagram is going to kill us all.

Ex-Machina Alex garland robotThen, my brother added me to his Netflix account (because our mum made him – thanks Mum!), and I streamed Ex Machina immediately.

I’d wanted to see this since the Alex Garland interview on the Geeks Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

I love Alex Garland’s novels, but I hadn’t heard him speak before. Swoon! Who here isn’t a sucker for a deep-voiced guy talking knowledgeably about John Wyndham? Not me! So I needed to know if I’d enjoy his films as much as his books (read The Tesseract if you need a book you can’t put down til its finished).

Ex Machina was dreamily shot, cleverly written and has a satisfyingly un-saccharine ending. Most everyone I’ve mentioned it to has already seen it & gushed about how good it was, so I’d file it under Clever Arty Sci Fi Your Clever Arty Friends Will Like (But Saw Without You).  Also, Geoff Barrow from Portishead contributes to the soundtrack.

lucy-luc-besson Netflix’s hypnopowers then made me watch Lucy. It’s a fun Luc Besson caper that I refuse to link to the trailer for because it spoilers most of the film.

I’d give it 8.5/10* for satisfying my particular RhianFilm tastes: cheesy gangsters, sci-fi time babble, gunfights, car crashes & a solid Vincent Cassel-alike. [*.5 deducted for tenuous monkey link]

looper bruce willis time travelI finished up with Looper, which I’m glad I’ve finally seen but is my least favourite of the three.

It had its highlights: I find that Bruce Willis improves most things, and the future-noir world-building is detailed and believable. I’m not convinced by the time travel rules, though.

long way small angry planet becky chambersNow, this was all great but you might have spotted there are NO SPACE SHIPS in these films. And you can’t have a sci-fi jag with no spaceships. Which led me nicely onto a novel I’ve meant to read for ages – A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers.

I started reading this in bed one morning & was somehow halfway through by lunchtime, in that magic way reading=timetravel sometimes. The good thing about not starting this series for so long is that the sequel is already out, hurrah!

If you (like me) now want to write your own sci fi stories, I’ve done the legwork and found us a course on Cat Rambo’s site, taught with Ann Leckie. Yup, Hugo, Nebula & Arthur C Clarke award winning Ann Leckie. It’s called ‘Space Opera and Beyond‘, and it’s only $29, and I am 100% enrolling once I’ve finished editing this novel & am allowed to play on other projects.

If you also (like me) now need to read more sci-fi, here’s a good article that’s swelled my TBR pile: 9 Modern Women Science Fiction Writers You Need To Be Celebrating.

Send me any of your own sci-fi recommendations and I’ll be your bestest friend (I accept email, Twitter, Facebook or futuristic robot morse code)

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Which Hunger Games character are you? Part II – the girls (Slacker Heroes post)

First published at Slacker Heroes.

I’m even more excited about the Hunger Games film now than I was last month. Since my invite to the premiere seems to have gotten lost in the post, I keep replaying the trailers and crying instead. It’s not that I’m sad, it’s just that the book makes me so goddamn emotional, and the same thing’s happening when I watch the preview clips.

I usually avoid movie adaptations, invariably preferring the novel, but something’s got me excited about this one and I think the fast-paced, life-or-death story will really work.  The stakes are high on every page of The Hunger Games, and Suzanne Collins made an art out of twisting the knife a little more with each sequel.

I never knew what was coming next, and I usually couldn’t even tell you what I wanted to happen – Katniss’s choices are heartwrenching, and I liked too many of the characters to choose who should get what they want. One thing’s certain – not everyone will get as far as Happily Ever After, and the film is going to be gripping throughout. Fingers crossed, anyway.

So, after last time’s ‘Which Hunger Games Boy are you?‘ quiz, are you ready for the girls’ turn? While the quiz is tongue in cheek, in truth,  the writing of every one of the female characters in this trilogy massively impressed me. Every one of them is strong in their own way, and that doesn’t meant they are all kick-ass or clever or morally admirable. Whether I’m cheering for the tributes or wincing at the ignorant vanity of the Capitol women, I always believed in that person’s character, motivation, history and right to be the way they are. Bravo.

1) What’s your hair like?

A) Shocking pink (today), artfully arranged with the utmost care. Appearances are extremely important.
B) Kept away from my face in a braid, the way my mother does it if ever I let her get close to me.
C) Thick, dark and girlish.

2. How’s your timekeeping?

A) I can’t bear to be late, and I expect the same high standards from everyone else.
B) I’m often late, after getting held up in the woods or trapped in trees. Who cares, anyway? We’ll all be dead soon.
C) Sometimes I get left behind because I’m so little and quiet, but I move so fast that I can always catch up.

3. It’s payday – let me take you out for a meal. What kind of dinner companion will you be?

A) I have superb table manners and I love to eat the finest delicacies of the Capitol. A little binge-purge behaviour means I can keep eating all night!
B) ‘My mother says I always eat like I’ll never see food again. And I said “I won’t unless I bring it home”. That shut her up.’
C) What, you mean I get a whole meal to myself? I’ve never had this much food before.

4. Guys describe you as

A) Maniacally terrifying.
B) Attractive but hard to reach.
C) Their musical kid sister.

Mostly As

You are Effie Trinket, relentlessly upbeat hostess of the reaping, there to applaud when the tributes are selected and then to escort them to the Capitol. You hope to improve the presentability of your charges, but are most often appalled by the behaviour of District 12′s ill-mannered tributes and their alcoholic mentor. You seem to wear a lot of wigs.

Mostly Bs

You are Katniss Everdeen, District 12′s female tribute. Your determination to survive has kept your family alive since the loss of your father, but can it help you survive the 74th Hunger Games? Your love life is about to get as much attention as your archery skills, much to your annoyance.

Mostly Cs

You are Rue, the tiny but speedy tribute from District 11. You are a valuable ally and loyal friend, and your enemies do wrong to underestimate you. You know a great deal about plants and nature, and you love music most of all.

 

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Happy New Year, again

China festival of lights, dragon

photo by Rene Mensen

There’s already something about 2012. Something good. Admittedly, last year was so full of nasty as to make most years look good beside it, but, still. I’m excited. And as a Dragon girl I get to be doubly turned on by today’s Chinese New Year – here’s to firey lanterns and red money envelopes, good luck and prosperity. Bring it on.

I left some things behind in 2011 – always the girl with a thousand extra-curricular activities, I’ve pared things down to make more time for writing. It’s sad, of course – I’ve got a magpie mind and I love being into everything, always a new thing to try out and play with, but of all my pet projects it’s the writing ones that mean the most to me, the ones I want to finish and grow this year. Maybe when I’m a bad-ass novelist living off handsome royalties (ha!) I’ll have more time to play, but right now it’s the words that will get my free time.

This month I’ve already got more written than I ever usually do, and I’ve even  had time to read some killer novels, so I know I’ve made the right decision. Watch this space for links to my reviews for Slacker Heroes, The British Fantasy Society and my blogs for Mslexia, but please chase me offline if I’m tweeting too much to finish my novel.

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