Here I am on “Engage”, CBS’s official Star Trek podcast, hosted by Jordan Hoffman.
“March 05, 2018
Episode 87: Kirk Drift!
What if I told you that James T. Kirk Is not really the macho, womanizing captain that he is often remembered as? This week on Engage, we welcome writer Erin Horáková, author of “Freshly Remember’d: Kirk Drift” which explains just how our collective conscious settled on this exaggerated depiction of our beloved captain. You can check out the article in full at strangehorizons.com.”
One night at after-work drinks, a developer on my girlfriend’s team announced without any irony that “Paddington 2 is sick.” “It’s like, really political,” he continued approvingly, his East London accent coming on especially strong a few beers in. Indeed, Paddington 2 is both sick and thoroughly political from start to finish. If the first film was “fuck UKIP, the children’s movie,” Paddington 2 maintains an unimpeachable level of craft, reinforces this stance and pushes itself to think and to say yet a little more.
Read full article here.
In December of 2017, The Wind Blows in Chang Lin, the sequel to Nirvana in Fire, or Lángyá Bǎng, began airing in China. Though it is probable that many readers of this site were completely unaware of the event, it was without exaggeration one of the most anticipated releases in the world. The original Nirvana in Fire had, after all, been an incredible success both as an online serial novel and as a 2015 television series, “surpassing ten million views by its second day, and receiving a total number of daily internet views on iQiyi of over 3.3 billion by the end of the series. Nirvana in Fire was considered a social media phenomenon, generating 3.55 billion posts on Sina Weibo that praised its characters and story-line. As of December 2016, it has a total view of 13 billion views as reported by VLinkage.” 
Of course, a Chinese series may have 13 billion “legitimate” views, incredibly well-received Korean and Japanese syndications, and popular fan translations into various languages and yet raise not one whisper in Anglophone media discourse. There the boosterising think pieces sit, chewing the exhausted fat of a mediocre direct-to-Netflix serial with a title not even the pieces’ writers will clearly remember in two years’ time, exalting prestige television that uses its indisputably high production values to tell maybe three discrete, distended soap operatic stories which center middle-class white male subjectivity in played-out Modernist crisis say 80% of the time. We are given to understand that good television began existing a decade ago, exclusively in the US and maybe a little bit in the UK, with special mention of that Nordic crime thing you like, and that the world is even now bounded in the nutshell of the coastal borders of the US. The fact that this is nakedly market-driven, ahistorical nonsense—and frankly racist—is not particularly important to such analyses.
I am reviewing the original Nirvana in Fire now because, quite soon, the fansubs of the sequel will percolate out. They will be very imperfect, but they are all you will get, because there will be no official translations.  In order to engage with The Wind Blows in Chang Lin you will probably want to know something about the original Nirvana in Fire, which alas has the same translation issue. And the original is so revelatory that for all this you had better give it a go or I will come to your house and kill you in real life, I swear to god.
Read full article here.
The Brighton Fringe is smaller than the Edinburgh Fringe, and judging by what I’ve seen of them, Brighton’s offerings don’t have quite the production values some (though decidedly not all) Edinburgh shows manage. But if Scotland leaves the UK and becomes an EU member in its own right, the English people who flock north to perform and spectate in August like confused and misdirected migrating birds may have to learn to love Brighton. God only knows what the theatrical work visa situation will look like for small companies then.
This may seem small potatoes compared to the prospect of such an upheaval, but the Edinburgh Fringe is a huge economic event (£4 million in ticket sales in 2016, not counting the 600+ Free Fringe shows which rely on donations [source] or the £142 million the Fringe generated for Edinburgh in 2010 [source]). It’s also a major part of the UK’s theatre lifecycle, the whole shape of which may change if the EdFringe becomes even more expensive and inconvenient to participate in than it already is. While the EdFringe is great for Scotland’s economy, at present it’s often a loss-leading operation for performers: a risky, sometimes disastrous venture that, if they’re lucky, enables them to establish reputations and set up gigs for the rest of the year off the back of it.
Read full review here.
Eurogames, or German-style board games that emphasise strategy, are growing increasingly popular. Gaming cafés, or extensive game libraries that charge cover for several hours’ play and offer food as a convenience/sideline, now crop up regularly in urban centres. London is scheduled to get its third (The Ludoquist, in Croydon, joining Hackney’s Draughts and Richmond’s The Library Pot) later this autumn. As the Anglophone market expands, so too does the range of offerings. The board gaming community, which shares a big ol’ Venn diagram overlap with the SFF community, loves a recent release, and right now T.I.M.E. Stories is one of the hottest games going. It was nominated for a 2016 Spiel des Jahres (the Oscar of gaming, essentially) in the connoisseur/expert category. It combines the core replayability of a Eurogame with a series of stories in which you and between one and three friends are sent traveling through time to stop a disaster. You could re-experience these missions, but as T.I.M.E. Stories is a “puzzle” game; to an extent each story is single-use, somewhat like a pulp mystery novel. It may take you several “runs,” either consecutive or on different days, to complete a given story-mission. If you stop mid-run or mid-mission, T.I.M.E. Stories’ elegantly designed box, which has a place for everything, will allow you to “record” your stopping-point and all relevant details via a series of labeled recesses. T.I.M.E. Stories is also a legacy game, which means that your accomplishments follow you from session to session (to a degree).
Read full review here.
The nice fellows of the All Good Things podcast invited me on for two episodes (87 and 88) to talk about Kirk Drift, Star Trek generally and related topics.
Hear the shit shot here:
Episode 87 / Part 1
Episode 88 / Part 2
This is the first instalment of my new Strange Horizons column. “Kirk Drift” is a long-read essay on Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk, popular memory, gender politics, radical nostalgia and the unicorn dog.
Good parties diverge widely; all bad parties are bad in the same way. I am trapped at a dull dinner following a dull talk: part of a series of dinners and talks that grad students organise, unpaid (though at considerable expense to themselves—experience! exposure!), to provide free content for the dull grad program I will soon leave. The Thai food is good. The man sitting across from me and a little down the way, a bellicose bore of vague continental origin, is execrable. He is somehow attached to a mild woman who is actually supposed to be here: a shy, seemingly blameless new grad student who perpetually smiles apologetically on his behalf, in an attempt to excuse whatever he’s just said. One immediately understands that she spends half her life with that worry in her eyes, that Joker-set to her mouth, and that general air of begging your pardon for offences she hadn’t even had the pleasure of committing. There is always such a woman at bad parties. She has always either found herself entrapped by a clone of this man, or soon will.
We reach the point of no return when the omnijerk (really I suspect there’s just one vast eldritch horror sitting in another dimension that extrudes its thousand tentacles into our own, and that each one of This Guy is merely an insignificant manifestation of the beast: they couldn’t all be so boring in precisely the same way by chance, surely) decides to voice some Dinner Party Opinions on original-series Star Trek. God knows why. It’s not five seconds before he’s on ‘Kirk and the green women’. He’s mocking the retrosexist trope, but smiling a little weirdly while doing it. His own insufficiently private enjoyment is peeking out, like a semi-erection on his face. A sort of Mad Men effect: saying, “isn’t it awful” and going for the low-hanging critical fruit while simultaneously rolling around in that aesthetic and idea of masculinity. Camp, but no homo!
Read the full essay here.