Some Fan News

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I know that quite a few of my readers are “fangirls” with an interest in all aspects of geek culture (literature, art, movies, games and so on) so it would be interesting to hear their experiences of what was traditionally perceived as a mainly male preserve, especially here in Ireland. World By Storm has a good … Continue reading

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Saltire: Ionnsaigh, The First Scottish Language Graphic Novel

The Gaelic Chieftain, Maurice Harron

A quick break away from politics with news of the release of Saltire: Ionnsaigh, the first graphic novel in the Scottish (Gaelic) language, which is due to be launched at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August. From a report by the Stornoway Gazette: “The first in a series centring round Scotland’s first comic book superhero, the dark … Continue reading

Cultus Obscuram, Once Upon A Time… Space

  Il était une fois… or “Once Upon a Time…” is an ongoing animated series produced by the multi-talented French television-maker Albert Barillé and his Procidis studio in Paris. Since the late 1970s the franchise has devoted itself to charting the broad evolution of humankind for a children’s audience with each series devoted to one … Continue reading

Atmo-Craft, Colin Wilson

During a quick discussion over on CLR in relation to Joss Whedon’s short-lived Sci-Fi series “Firefly” I was reminded of the New Zealand comics’ artist Colin Wilson and the incredibly realistic hardware illustrations he produced in the early 1980s for “Rogue Trooper”, 2000AD’s future war series. Some of the best – and most convincing – designs … Continue reading

The Forge In The Forest, Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a British artist whose distinctive, sometimes surreal style will be familiar to many readers of Fantasy and fantasy-tinged Science-fiction even if his name is not so much. Since the late 1970s his exquisite illustrations, executed most frequently in pen and ink, have graced the covers of countless publications, notably the Fighting Fantasy and … Continue reading

Cultus Obscuram – Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze

The old cliché “…so bad it’s good” springs to mind when one watches the 1975 cinematic release “Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze”. Based upon the eponymous 1930s’ pulp magazine character primarily written by Lester Dent the film was intended to be the first in a series of purposefully old-fashioned adventure movies by legendary Sci-Fi entertainment … Continue reading

Even A Fanboy Has His Limits

Is it just me or is there now a dearth of thoughtful and well-informed websites and blogs on the genre worlds of Sci-Fi and Fantasy literature? Oh yes, the banner-heavy, paragraph-light sites that focus on the latest Marvel or DC movie franchises are in plentiful supply. However most of these flash-happy affairs have as much … Continue reading

An Irish Equivalent For Geek Or Otaku?

I was recently asked if there is an Irish word that is the equivalent of the Anglo-American term Geek or its Japanese near-equivalent Otaku (おたく/オタクおたく/オタク). I couldn’t think of anything unless one went for something like a crude Gaelicisation of the originals in the form of Geic (?) or Odacú (?). Then I remembered the … Continue reading

Sladmhargadh, Karl Uhlemann

I’ve written before about my love of vintage book covers, especially those to be found in the genre fields of Science-Fiction and Fantasy (see my posts on Bruce Pennington as well as Chris Achilléos). So here is a wonderful in-your-face example from the mid-20th century Irish artist and designer Karl Uhlemann who illustrated some of Ireland’s best-known … Continue reading

A Transgender Story Is A Human Story

Until the phenomenon of fandom engulfed popular culture (thanks to Joss Whedon, JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer amongst others) many a hardcore geek like myself found ourselves under much derision for our devotion to all things “genre”. That most of us did not match the thoroughly Americanised stereotypes that were foisted upon us, from Comic … Continue reading

That Alan Moore Interview

The Ard Rí of Irish Sci-Fi and Fantasy fandom, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, has managed to secure a lengthy Q&A with the elusive and frankly legendary British comics writer Alan Moore over on his Slovobooks blog. Even more impressively it has been highlighted by Britain’s Guardian newspaper and others which has probably sent his stats meter … Continue reading

From The New Sun To Dune, Bruce Pennington

Following the positive reaction to my brief post highlighting the career of the British illustrator Bruce Pennington (notably his artwork for the 1980 book cover of Gene Wolfe’s classic science-fantasy publication “The Shadow of the Torturer”) I thought I’d feature a few more of his best regarded images. These include two more wraparound illustrations for … Continue reading

A Stranger In Olondria By Sofia Samatar

I don’t get much time to read works of fiction these days which somewhat pains me since some books have been a more faithful companion through life’s myriad rises and falls than many an erstwhile friend or partner. However reading a vivid opening paragraph like this makes me want to return to my former page-turning … Continue reading

Publishing News From Scotland And Ireland

Congratulations to the author Tim Armstrong on his award from the Saltire Society, one of Scotland’s premier cultural organisations, for his Scottish language Sci-Fi novel Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach. From the Scotsman newspaper: “AN AMERICAN writer has landed one of Scotland’s flagship literary prizes – with the first ever Gaelic science fiction novel. Tim Armstrong, a former … Continue reading

Hobitit – The Hobbits

I thought I’d post this to An Sionnach Fionn since few people will have heard of it let alone seen it outside of its home country. In 1993 the television and radio network Yle, Finland’s public service broadcaster, produced a mini-series loosely based upon a theatre version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy “The Lord of the … Continue reading

Raven, Swordmistress Of Chaos, Chris Achilléos

Chris Achilléos is a Cypriot-born British artist who came to prominence in the 1970s and ‘80s with illustrations for a large number of books and magazines in the Fantasy and Sword ‘n’ Sorcery genres. Instantly recognisable for his exquisitely rendered female figures, invariably beautiful, frequently belligerent, he became widely known amongst fans through several best-selling … Continue reading

Death Dealer, Frank Frazetta

The name of Frank Frazetta will conjure up for many some of the most luscious and artistically accomplished Fantasy art to have been produced over the last 60 years. From the 1950s to the early ‘90s the American artist established his fame with a host of covers for books, magazines and comics not to mention … Continue reading

The Shadow Of The Torturer, Bruce Pennington

For lovers of science-fiction and fantasy book art from the 1970s and ’80s the name of Bruce Pennington looms large. He is indelibly associated with some of the greatest writers of the era, his baroque images gracing the covers of such diverse publications as Frank Herbert’s “Dune” or Harry Harrison’s ” Stainless Steel Rat”. However for … Continue reading

JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit And An Sionnach Fionn

The 2013 issue of Tolkien Studies, an academic journal dedicated to the works of the English Fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien, includes a few references to An Sionnach Fionn and the discussion we had with Michael Everson, the publisher of An Hobad or the Irish language version of The Hobbit. Check it out on the “Book … Continue reading

The Fatal Strain: Cultism

I’ve always been interested in clandestine military, political or religious groups, be they revolutionary movements, secret societies or arcane cults. Growing up in Ireland one is imbued in a culture where such organisations are integral to the social history of the nation, at least from the 18th century onwards (and arguably much earlier if one … Continue reading

Cultus Obscuram – Nightmare Cafe

Another entry in the Cultus Obscuram and this time it is Wes Craven’s TV show “Nightmare Café“, a short-lived supernatural drama from the early 1990s played mainly for dark laughs. At the time the two lead actors, Jack Coleman and Lindsay Frost, were minor US television celebs though the headline billing went to co-star and Craven … Continue reading

Cultus Obscuram – Knightriders

In the oft-played Geek game of “Cultus Obscuram” I’ve yet to be beaten, whether it is in the arena of movies, TV programmes, books or comics. Undoubtedly my winning hand when it comes to contesting a knowledge of cult films is the truly obscure 1981 George A. Romero effort “Knightriders” (note the plural) notable for … Continue reading

Steampunk In Ireland

Because there is far too little Steampunk in Ireland, here are some links: Steampunk Collective Ireland Steampunk Ireland The Josie Baggley Company Talking to a friend a few days ago who is a sean scoil Steampunker I found him frustrated by the way the movement in Ireland is subsumed into the cod-Victoriana of the Pax … Continue reading

Male Writers, Female Characters

Talking of online kerfuffles here is another example, albeit of rather less significance than the one discussed earlier. British sci-fi writer Rod Rees, author of the popular if sometimes derivative Demi-Monde series of novels, has penned an article for the publisher Joe Fletcher Books pondering aloud if male writers can create authentic female characters. To me … Continue reading

Albert Robida, Fantastic Futurist

The artist Albert Robida is one of my favourite writer-illustrators from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, not least for his fantastical vision of a future Europe represented in a trilogy of “scientific romances” called Le Vingtième Siècle (1883), La Guerre au vingtième siècle (1887) and Le Vingtième siècle – La vie électrique (1890). … Continue reading

Jack Vance, 1916−2013

Thanks to WorldbyStorm for highlighting the passing of that elder statesman of American Sci-Fi and Fantasy literature, Jack Vance. While his politics sometimes left a little bit to be desired one could never say the same about his imagination or his writing. From a report in the Guardian: “Tributes from the great and the good … Continue reading

Two Upcoming Events, Tolkien And The Irish Invincibles

Quick post to promote two upcoming events I’ve been asked to highlight. The first is a conference organised by Dr Shane Kenna titled “The Irish National Invincibles and Their Times: Perspectives on Late Victorian Irish Nationalism 130th Anniversary of the Execution of the Invincibles in Kilmainham Gaol Dublin“. It will be held in the historic Wynns Hotel, Abbey Street, … Continue reading

Robert E. Howard – The Whole Wide World

While going through the old bookmarks on my browser the other day I came across the Cimmerian, a wonderful if now defunct group-blog that was dedicated to Fantasy, Horror and Adventure fiction, with a focus on the works of the Irish-American writer Robert E. Howard in particular. Some of the most intelligent and thoughtful pieces on … Continue reading

Terry Pratchett – New Interview

The British fantasy writer and humorous Terry Pratchett is one of those author’s whose publications I want to like, indeed ought to like, but somehow don’t. I read the first three of his satirical Discworld novels back in the 1990s and while I really, really (really) wanted to join with my friends in their fannish … Continue reading

Swords? Check. Boobs? Check. Giant Gun-Toting Alien Lizards? Check!

I love book covers, as some of you may know (pop over here to see why). I especially love what some pseudo-intellectuals pigeon-hole as “genre” fiction. That’s Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Horror to you and me (though a lot of other stuff is lumped in there too). The wonderful website, “Good Show, Sir”, collects some of the best … Continue reading

Grant Morrison – From Batman To Wonder Woman

The New Statesman carries a long interview by Laura Sneddon with Grant Morrison, the well-regarded Scottish comics’ writer closely associated with the reboots of such classic American superhero titles as Batman, Superman and the Fantastic Four, as well as his own creations (not least 2000AD’s early anti-hero Zenith). I’ve never really been a fan of … Continue reading

Christopher Tolkien On The Legacy Of His Father, J.R.R. Tolkien

Christopher Tolkien, the son of J.R.R., is the person who has undoubtedly done the most to explain the background and history of his father’s writing to the general public, and in particular to his many fans and admirers. Le Monde recently carried a lengthy interview with Tolkien from his south of France home, noteworthy not least for how rarely he grants access to his … Continue reading

Suddenly You Are Confronted By An Axe-Wielding Orc!

Fighting Fantasy! There is a name to instil some serious nostalgia in a geek of a certain age. Sci-Fi and Fantasy critic Damien Walter looks at the still flourishing (if lower profile) FF scene over on the Guardian. Anyone remember the incredible artwork displayed on the the covers of the Fighting Fantasy books? Or how about the illustrations found in the pages … Continue reading

Mary Tamm – The Perfect Companion

Unfortunately I believe I have got to that certain age when the authors and musicians and actors and actresses of one’s formative years seem to pass from life with alarming regularity. Sometimes one views it with a raised eyebrow and a pinch of surprise or sadness. Sometimes though it instils a real sense of loss, … Continue reading

Ray Bradbury 1920 – 2012

A quick post to note the passing of legendary American science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury. From the Guardian: “Ray Bradbury, who has died aged 91, was the 20th-century American short-story writer par excellence. Although he was also known for a few novels – principally the science-fiction book-burning dystopia Fahrenheit 451 (1953) and the dark fantasy Something Wicked This Way … Continue reading

  • blog awards ireland Nominated: Best Politics Blog 2013, Best Personal Blog 2013, Best Blog Post 2013
  • blog awards ireland

    Nominated: Best News/Current Affairs/Political Blog 2014, Best Mobile Blog 2014, Best Blog Post 2014