Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Recent reviews...

...for Shambling Towards Hiroshima:

STAR - In this witty and touching paean to the glory days of horror movies, elderly former B-movie actor Syms Thorley looks back from 1984 to recall his involvement in the infamous Knickerbocker Project. Near the end of WWII, facing a shortage of plutonium, the U.S. government scrapped the atomic bomb and instead built giant monsters to ravage Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Alongside a group of genuine Hollywood bigwigs—including Willis O'Brien, James Whale and Brenda Weisberg—Thorley helps craft a realistic movie of the havoc-wreaking Gorgantis, hoping to terrify Japanese leaders into surrendering. The sheer insanity of the premise only makes the eventual payoff even more powerful, and though Morrow (The Last Witchfinder) occasionally indulges in slapstick, he never loses sight of the need to make his characters fascinating and real.
-Publishers Weekly, starred review

From Morrow (The Philosopher's Apprentice, 2008, etc.), a sharp-edged, delightfully batty novella that denounces the atomic bombing of Japan during World War II. In the summer of 1945, as Japan prepares to defend itself to the death, an unexpected delay halts the Manhattan Project. Fortunately, the U.S. Navy steps in with its top-secret Knickerbocker Project: gigantic, fire-breathing, mutant iguanas poised to wade ashore and devastate the Japanese homeland. But before the Navy iguanas are unleashed, what's needed is a demonstration to convince the Japanese to surrender and spare themselves, and the rest of the world, the horror. Step forward Hollywood B-movie star Syms Thorley, fresh from his triumphs as the Frankenstein's monster-like Corpuscula and Kha-Ton-Ra, the living mummy. The Navy will pay Thorley to rubber-suit up as the merciless Gorgantis and convincingly devastate, in front of a Japanese delegation, a miniature Japanese metropolis. If Thorley can play the most terrifyingly persuasive role of his career, the suitably cowed delegates will induce the Japanese high command to surrender. If he fails, the real lizards will lurch out of the ocean, roaring, stamping and spouting flame. Preposterous but somehow almost plausible, skillfully mingling real and imaginary characters with genuinely hilarious moments.

Friday, January 23, 2009

SF in SF - Kung Fu Panda and Wall-E

SF in SF
Presented by Tachyon Publications

Free Film Night! Free popcorn!
Saturday January 24

KUNG FU PANDA - 92 mins.
WALL-E - 98 min

The Variety Preview Room
The Hobart Building, 582 Market St. @ Montgomery, SF
Entrance is between Citibank & Quiznos
Lounge/cash bar opens at 5:30PM
Movies begin at 6:00PM

Kids welcome - special treat!!
There will be a short intermission between films
Bring your camera! Kung-Fu Panda will be there to take pictures with you!!

Seating is limited, so first come, first seated.
Cash bar proceeds benefit Variety Childrens Charity

We REALLY encourage you to take BART into the City, or use MUNI to get here - we are less than 1/2 block away from the Montgomery St. station. Trust us - you don't want to be looking for parking and be late for the events! Check out http://tripplanner.transit.511.org to plan your trip!

Phone (night of event) 415-572-1015
Questions? Email sfinsfevents@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Poet Mike Allen remembers Thomas M. Disch

Mythic Delirium's Mike Allen recently wrote a very moving poem dedicated to the late Thomas M. Disch, titled "Ascending". You can read it in its entirety at Strange Horizons.

Be sure to also check out Mike's review of Disch's posthumous collection of short fiction The Wall of America, published this past Sunday in the Roanoke Times. I love this description of Disch's work, excerpted from the review: "...darkly satirical stories that evoke laughs as they twist the knife..."

Check out more of Mike's work here and pick up The Wall of America if you've not gotten it yet.

Friday, January 16, 2009

SF in SF - Aimee Bender and Sean Stewart on Saturday 1/17

Presented by Tachyon Publications

A FREE monthly SF/F author reading series
SF IN SF - Science Fiction. San Francisco. A Perfect Fit.

Join us for the start of our third season at the Preview Room!


Saturday January 17
Lounge/cash bar opens at 6:00PM
7:00 PM readings
The Variety Preview Room
The Hobart Building, 582 Market St. @ Montgomery, SF
Entrance is between Citibank & Quiznos
Phone (night of event) 415-572-1015
Questions? Email us

AIMEE BENDER - an American novelist and short story writer, known for her surreal plots and characters. Bender received her undergraduate degree from UC San Diego, and her MFA from UC Irvine. She currently teaches creative writing at USC and heads a class in surrealist writing at the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. She has named Oscar Wilde, Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Anne Sexton as influences on her writing. Her first book was The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, a short story collection published in 1998, which was chosen as a NYT Notable Book of 1998 and spent 7 weeks on the L.A. Times bestseller list. Her novel An Invisible Sign of My Own was published in 2000, and was named as an L.A. Times pick of the year. In 2005 she published another short story collection, Willful Creatures, which was nominated by The Believer magazine as one of the best books of the year. Her works have been published in Granta, GQ, Harper's, Tin House, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, and several anthologies. She has also been heard on This American Life and Selected Shorts. Bender has received two Pushcart Prizes, and was nominated for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award in 2005. We are more than honoured to present this stellar author here at SF in SF.

SEAN STEWART is not a reality TV star...he is a U.S.-Canadian science fiction and fantasy author. Originally from Texas, he moved to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 1968, and now resides in Davis. He received an Honors degree in English from University of Alberta in 1987, following which he spent many years writing novels. Among them are Mockingbird, Resurrection Man, The Perfect Circle, Cloud's End, and Galveston (winner of the World Fantasy Award and the Sunburst Award for best novel in 2000). He gradually moved from writing novels to interactive fiction, first as lead writer on the Web based Alternate Reality Game ([1]) The Beast. Sean served as a consultant on several computer games, and was on the management team of the 4orty2wo Entertainment experiential marketing and entertainment company, where he was lead writer for Haunted Apiary aka ilovebees and Last Call Poker.

His newest novel Cathy's Book, and its sequel, Cathy's Key, seem to represent the melding of his two careers, as it crosses the alternate reality game format with a teen novel. In 2007, he and several 4orty2wo co-founders left that company to start Fourth Wall Studios. One of our favourite writers, we are delighted that he made time to come be part of SF in SF and get us hooked on ARGs.

Each author will read a selection from their work, followed by Q&A from the audience moderated by author Terry Bisson
Authors will schmooze & sign books after in the lounge
Books available for sale (courtesy of Borderlands Books)
Seating is limited, so first come, first seated.
Bar proceeds benefit Variety Childrens Charity

We REALLY encourage you to take BART into the City, or use MUNI to get here - we are less than 1/2 block away from the Montgomery St. station. Trust us - you don't want to be looking for parking and be late for the events! Check out http://tripplanner.transit.511.org to plan your trip!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Shambling Towards Hiroshima, Kaiju on the Loose!

Rick Kleffel at The Agony Column website and podcast recently had some fine words to say about soon-to-be-available Shambling Towards Hiroshima:

"Morrow makes huge leaps of imagination and buoys them with a precise, controlled prose that is kooky and clean. In order to sustain images of Navy frogmen feeding giant lizards, he keeps an emotional connection between the character and reader, and manages scenes both powerful and silly..."
Read More

"Powerful and silly" doesn't just describe some of the scenes in Morrow's new book, it's also an apt description of the giant monster films that inspired the book. Known as Kaiju to connoisseurs, the monstrous stars of these films come in all shapes and sizes, from humanoid dinosaurs like Morrow's Gorgantis (not to mention that other famous - and litigious - monster franchise, you know who) to insects and even stranger things, all of them simultaneously powerful and silly. It's an apt description. After all, how else would you describe a giant tadpole made of smog that is capable of destroying an entire city?

This paradoxical juxtaposition of humor and horror has endeared these city-stomping, helicopter-chomping creatures to millions of people around the world who follow their exploits through modestly budgeted films and other media regularly released through a handful of mostly Asian studios. It's been over six decades since the first giant monster film, and our Kaiju friends - and their fans - show no sign of slowing down. Just check out some of the websites, like Kaijuphile.com.

Launched by author Clint Werner and his buddy Brandon Waggle, www.Kaijuphile.com is arguably ground zero for American Kaiju fandom. Featuring news, reviews, video clips, a dedicated forum and more, KaijuPhile is an impressive monument to all things Kaiju.

Then there's the smaller but no less impressive www.KaijuHQ.com, run by longtime fan Jordan Twining. Visitors can take his Kaiju Quiz, read about Twining's trip to see the premiere of Godzilla: Final Wars and check out amazing handmade costumes in his photo section.

Not content to just watch the films and browse the net? Maybe you should check out Kaiju Big Battel at www.Kaiju.com. Kaiju Big Battel offers "live monster fighting" with costumed combatants duking it out in a boxing ring full of cardboard skyscrapers. They're frequently on tour, so if you're lucky they might bring their "powerful and silly" (powerfully silly?) show to your town. In the meantime, be sure to look for James Morrow's Shambling Towards Hiroshima rampaging through a bookstore near you this February.

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