Montag, 26. Dezember 2016

Horror Revisited



Black Christmas (1974)

 

“If this movie doesn't make your skin crawl... It's on TOO TIGHT.”

 

by Inci German

 

Welcome back to Horror Revisited!
Holidays are almost over and you’re all mushy and still full of Yule spirit? Don’t worry, I have a movie recommendation to sort you out: a neglected gem, the first of the slasher kind – Black Christmas (1974).

Black Christmas is an unfortunately very underrated 1974 Canadian low-budget psychological horror movie directed by Bob Clark. The story is loosely based on the urban legend of “the babysitter and the man upstairs” and follows a group of sorority sisters during Christmas season, who receive creepy phone calls and are killed by a psycho-murderer who hides in their attic.

Mittwoch, 21. Dezember 2016

Classics of Science Fiction



Hyperion by Dan Simmons Pt.1

 

by İnci German



I’ve first read Dan Simmons’ Hyperion over a decade ago and rereading it for the Classics series, I was taken aback to realize that I hadn’t forgotten a thing. Awkward… but in a good way.
It’s not like I could recite it by heart, but every name, every scene, everything about this universe was there, somewhere in my head, sleeping, waiting and it came back to me as I've reread: the Hawking drive, the mysterious captain Het Masteen, the Hegira, the seasonally burning tesla trees, the starship with a Steinway, the Shrike, Brawne Lamia’s pearl-handled pistol…
It’s not the first time I’m rereading a book, but with Hyperion it was like all of these words had been chiseled somewhere in my unconsciousness and I immediately felt the comfort of something deeply familiar. Why? What is it about them that they can have such an effect? What makes a book feel so pristine, so fundamental? Or was it just me?
I’ve decided to take a closer look at what Simmons does.

First things first though, here’s a general synopsis for those who haven’t read it yet:
The end of all times is soon and seven pilgrims are chosen by the mysterious Church of Shrike to go on a pilgrimage to the Time Tombs: a sickly young priest of the Catholic Church; a broken ex-soldier; a raucous poet; an old scholar whose infant child grows younger by the day; a detective with an unfinished business; a tormented consul and a secretive starship captain who knows far more than he admits to. In order to make sense of this dubious situation they decide to tell each other their stories.

This is the frame story of the first book of the Hyperion Cantos and before going into further detail I want to warn everybody who hasn’t read Hyperion, not to continue reading this review, for it might spoil one of the best reading experiences you’ll ever have. Seriously: Read it first and come back. 
Off you go!

Samstag, 10. Dezember 2016

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

Book clubbers!

Here's our plan for the next three months:

Friday, January 13th 2017:    We Who Are About To... by Joanna Russ
(Two books!)                           Vic and Blood by Harlan Ellison

Friday, February 10th 2017: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Friday, March 10th 2017:     Songs Of A Dead Dreamer by Thomas Ligotti


As always at 07.30 pm in the Otherland Bookstore

See you there!

P.S. You can now find the dates and books for the current discussion on the sidebar!

Mittwoch, 7. Dezember 2016

Horror Revisited



The Lost Boys (1987) Pt.2 

"Death by stereo" 

 

by İnci German


Welcome back to Horror Revisited and to my review of the second half of the 1987 Joel Schumacher movie The Lost Boys, where the real action and good, gory stuff begins… and never ends, really. So let's take a look at it.

The Emersons (Lucy, Michael and Sam) move to Santa Carla, the worldwide vampire hub, and through a nasty trick on the vampires’ part, Michael becomes one of them. Warned by Edgar and Allan Frog, who are vampire hunters disguised as comic book sellers, Sam is horrified and alarmed by Michael becoming a vampire, but is determined to help him. The night it turns out that Michael is a vampire is a traumatic one for everyone involved and we’ll pick up from there:

Sonntag, 4. Dezember 2016

Clark Ashton Smith: another master of Cosmic Horror from Lovecraft’s circle

by Walter Phippeny


Everybody loves Lovecraft. In fact, that would make a great sitcom idea! The wacky antics of a misanthropic Lovecraft as he tries to make it as a pulpfiction writer in New York. I’d watch it.
Actually, everybody doesn’t love Lovecraft; as we enter an age of increased tolerance, Lovecraft’s long diatribes about racial purity and how these ideas find their way into his fiction – Shadow over Innsmouth, or The Horror at Redhook – have polarized the community. But lots of people still read Lovecraft and his creations continue to worm into pulp culture. But Lovecraft didn’t write alone; despite being a very strange human being, Lovecraft was very social and gathered a wide circle of writers around him: Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long, et al. Lovecraft encouraged his friends to reuse ideas from his works, and they all worked together to create the Cthulhu Mythos, developing a kind of shared universe for their creations. I’d like to introduce you to one of the overlooked members of the Cthulhu Mythos Circle: Clark Ashton Smith.

Freitag, 2. Dezember 2016

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

 

 

 

 A Friendly Reminder


Don't miss our book club discussion next week: Friday December 9th, at 7.30pm in Otherland as usual.

Samuel R. Delany's Tales of Nevérÿon NOW AVAILABLE AT THE OTHERLAND BOOKSTORE!

For slow readers:
In January we'll be discussing TWO books:
- Vic and Blood by Harlan Ellison
- We Who Are About To... by Joanna Russ

OBC-sets including both books soon avalaible at Otherland.

Dienstag, 29. November 2016

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club



Seveneves: a mixed bag

by Walter Phippeny



I love science-fiction, and in the last years I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to hard science-fiction and near future stuff. And I’m apparently not the only one. The Martian was a huge hit, and Corey’s The Expanse has seen enough success to become a TV series. Star Trek is great! But the amount of hand waving to make that universe work has become increasingly problematic for me. “We should be there in 8 minutes, Captain.” Really? Where could you POSSIBLY be in space that you’re 8 minutes from anything, even given faster than light travel? Star Trek is constantly breaking the laws of physics as we understand them with a line or two of technobabble. Space exploration is really neat and exciting, but a lot of the very basic problems remain unexplored in far future science fiction. So, it’s refreshing to read a story that addresses these problems head on and asks the question, “what would a solution to this look like?” When I heard about Seveneves, I was immediately drawn to it: near future, hard SF that goes into specifics.

Sonntag, 20. November 2016

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

Hey there book clubbers!

You might have realized that the little "stand" on the counter in Otherland has been empty for over a week now. That's because we have difficulties re-stocking Samuel R. Delany's Tales of Nevėrýon and we're really sorry about that. But some great people offered to lend us their own copies, so that you don't have to miss the discussion. So please ask us directly if you can borrow a copy and we'll provide you one!

Horror Revisited



The Lost Boys (1987) Pt.1

 

"Michael, how can a billion Chinese people be wrong?"

 

by İnci German


We all have some movie that marked our childhood. A movie which, every time we watch it, makes us weirdly and cozily feel at our childhood home and in our childhood skin again. To me that movie is Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys (1987). As I hinted in the introduction to our Horror Re-watch series, I’m a huge fan.

Lost Boys is a kid-friendly horror comedy about vampires. As the title reveals, the original inspiration behind the story is in fact a child protagonist: Peter Pan. Who, much like a vampire, could fly and never grew old. Many people I’ve talked to hated this movie but more people I found on the net think it’s a freaking horror classic! Even though the plot is kind of weak and it surely doesn’t set an example in diversity, this movie is full of so many little awesome details that I'm going to write this review in two parts to fit in everything I want to talk about.
Also: In October DC Vertigo has finally published the comic The Lost Boys #1, a direct sequel to the film! It’s pretty hard to get hold of the comic in Germany though, so I thought I’d content myself with writing a recap until it is available. And so here we go:

After her divorce Lucy Emerson and her two sons Michael and Sam move to Santa Carla, California, back to her eccentric father’s home. What they don’t know is that Santa Carla is full of vampires who soon enough will get to them.

Sonntag, 13. November 2016

Classics of Science Fiction


All Hail Jack Vance, My Life Would Suck Without You!

 

by İnci German



It has become a kind of tradition that once a year we try to publish an article in which we review, pay tribute to, praise or pray to Jack Vance in our newsletter (subscribe here). After the OBC on Friday, during yet another conversation on the greatness of Jack Vance, I shockingly realized that 2016 is almost over and we haven’t written anything about him yet! Unfortunately not enough time to write a new review that’s worthy of him, so I’ve decided to republish some of our previous reviews, including last year’s Jack Vance-Special. And as a special treat you’ll find great and funny quotes from The Tales of the Dying Earth at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!

Freitag, 4. November 2016

Donnerstag, 3. November 2016

Selling the Sublime

Jakob Schmidt on Frederik Pohl’s Gateway

Being a bookseller, I tend to forget how wonderful it can be to read a book totally unprepared. By a stroke of luck, this is what happened to me quite recently with Frederik Pohl's Gateway. Knowing very little about this book – only that it was about humanity discovering the translight network of some ancient progenitor species and that Pohl had written collaborations with Frederick Kornbluth and Arthur C. Clarke – I kind of expected something about cosmic mysteries and the next step in human evolution. Something along the line of Clarke's 2001 or Childhood's End; in short, something I didn't feel the need to read because I know such stories pretty well by now.

Mittwoch, 2. November 2016

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club



Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr. 

 

by İnci German


Reading James Tiptree Jr. for the OSF book club was an ambitious plan. Not only because we didn’t know how our discussion would work out with a collection of short stories, but also because few of us guessed what a strikingly challenging, intense and powerful reading experience it would be.

Well, discussing short stories worked out surprisingly well.
As to Tiptree Jr.’s prose, it’s safe to say that few authors manage to master the art as she does. You should be warned though, it’s not easy reading and her stories often require re-reading in order to grasp the full scope of what she does.
 
She can invent perfectly developed worlds/characters/settings even in the shortest of her stories and has the talent to use and bend language as she wishes – and her use of it is powerful, powerful, powerful!

Dienstag, 25. Oktober 2016

A Much Needed Statement

Inci Asena German on The Geek Feminist Revolution



I’ve been meaning to write about Kameron Hurley’s The Geek Feminist Revolution for quite some time now. It’s one of those books I devoured as soon as it came out and I’m pleased to see that it has been in the Otherland top-ten-list since last August.

Dienstag, 11. Oktober 2016

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club:

“All the Birds in the Sky” – a tonal cacophony


by Walter Phippeny

When I picked up Charlie Jane Anders debut novel, All the Birds in the Sky, and read the synopsis, I was drawn to the idea of clashing genres. It has always struck me that there's not a ton of difference between the Death Star and the One Ring: they are both powered by plotcraft, just running on different kinds of fuel. So, I was immediately interested in the idea of fixing the fuels and seeing what happens.

Peter V. Brett Browses the Otherland Bookshop

In March 2016, fantasy author Peter V. Brett visited us for a reading in Berlin - actually, it was already his second reading at the Otherland. We took the opportunity to follow him with a camera as he browsed our shop and gave some reading recommendations.



Montag, 10. Oktober 2016

RPG night with Jeff Richard and Jason Durall

On October 20th, 2016, we'll host a special role-playing game event at our shop. Jeff Richard and Jason Durall, both co-creators of the new edition of the classic fantasy rpg RuneQuest, will be there and offering RuneQuest gaming sessions in English.

Sonntag, 9. Oktober 2016

Classics of Science Fiction:

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

 

by İnci German


In "Classics of Science Fiction" we will present you Science Fiction's cream of the crop; books that shaped and defined the genre and that we think every fan should have read at least once. It could also serve as a little guide for beginners.
I chose to start with Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination because it's one of the greatest novels you will ever read. It's awesome. Trust me.

Donnerstag, 6. Oktober 2016

The meeting is nigh...


Aaah yes, the Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club...
It's really all we ever talk about after a couple of beers.

Are you book clubbers ready? Only one week left until our next discussion: Friday October 14th is the big day (7.30 pm at the book store as usual).
Quick, finish reading Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.!

Montag, 3. Oktober 2016

Oh the horror… THE HORROR!

İnci on being frightened 80's style


I grew up in an apartment complex in a country where the summers are really very very hot.
The kind of hot where the asphalt streets often melt in the city and after nights in which you feel like you can’t breathe the thick air you wake up all sticky and sweaty in the mornings.
So people either bought AC’s and got on with their lives or summer houses outside the city to spend the worst months on the cool seaside. Houses facing the beach, where swarms of kids laid on the hot sand after cooling off in the sea, played beach ball, ate ice cream, flirted with their first summer loves, played pinball in the chilly evenings, stayed up late at night… When school started you could tell who had a summer house; those kids looked so enviably tanned and happy. You had no choice but to be jealous.

We didn’t have a summer house. We stayed in our apartment until the end of August when we went to visit my grandparents who lived in another country not so hot.
So I didn’t have great, fun, happy summers at the beach but I had an older sister who liked to torture me. You know, stuff that older sisters do. She used to push the elevator’s stop button and jump around to make the cabin shake until I went into a meltdown. She often told me I was adopted and encouraged me to find my real parents and so on. It was crucial for me not to do as she wanted, not to crack. I remember often feeling like I needed to prove how brave and cool I am.
There were other kids in our street who didn’t go on vacation neither. Either because their families had to work or simply didn’t have the money to travel. We used to spend every single day together in the streets, and when it got too hot to be outside we rented videotapes (because that’s what people did back then) and watched them at someone’s home. I was the youngest one in the group, so it happened that in these summers, although very much under age, I started watching an awful lot of horror movies.

Donnerstag, 29. September 2016

Oh Well, Yet Another Hell

Jakob Schmidt on R. Scott Bakker's The Great Ordeal, Third Book in the Aspect-Emperor Series

All of R. Scott Bakker's books have managed to deeply impress and annoy me at the same time. My enthusiasm for the first trilogy in his big-ass epic fantasy series remains strong, and I keep recommending it as a brilliant, philosophical and staggeringly eloquent work of literature that pulls no punches in depicting a completely disturbing vision of an already atrocious pre-modern world sliding into a kind of proto-fascism. However, the elements of the first trilogy that I disliked even on first reading – the rampant sexism that is bak(k)ed into the substance of Bakker's creation, the humor-less, one-note reliance on shocking ideas and imagery – become magnified in the follow-up series The Aspect-Emperor.

Sonntag, 25. September 2016

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club:


Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

 
by Marc Beyer and Inci German


So we had our first meeting in August 2016 and it was great!
Kudos to all the people who dropped by to make an evening full of geeky discussions and smart fun possible.

We started with the dystopian novel Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood which is the first book of the MaddAddam-Trilogy before The Year of the Flood and the concluding Maddaddam.

Montag, 19. September 2016

Welcome!



Welcome to the Otherlander’s Blog, the place that will satisfy your science fiction, fantasy and horror cravings!
In the last few years the Otherland Bookshop in Berlin, Germany has attracted quite an international crowd ... it’s time to take that into account and that’s basically what we’re doing with this blog. It is not the official website of the Otherland Bookshop (that you can find here), which is in German, but a place for us to stay connected to our English speaking community on the web.
We also want this project to be about much more than books. We want this to be about the whole genre and everything that goes with it: books, movies, comics, cartoons, mangas, even music.
Working in a science fiction, fantasy & horror bookstore, we realize how much people love SFF&H and more importantly that more and more people want to talk about what they’ve read/watched. We know how you feel, and we’re trying to make this happen by creating opportunities, in real life or online, where we can meet and get that load off your chest. You’ve seen a movie and you’re really impressed and want to shout it out? Just go ahead and be our guest, write something about it, send it to us. You’ve liked/hated an article you’ve read here? Leave a comment. You can’t stop watching that new show? Hell yes, tell us about it!
In order to keep you updated about the events in the shop, there will be some regular columns, mainly about the Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club (which meets every second Friday of the month) and readings with international authors. Apart from the best reviews of old SFF classics that have already been published in our monthly newsletter (you can subscribe here) you can also discover new titles that impressed us.
We hope you will enjoy our blog as much as we surely will. We have a feeling this will be awesome!