Dec 11, 2017

Lauren Beukes' "The Shining Girls" - An Epistolary Review

Excerpts of a digital correspondance between Walter Phippeny and Inci German

This review contains spoilers.


When I first started into The Shining Girls, I was ready for the book equivalent of a pop-corn movie: something dumb that you could just enjoy, passing over you without much of demand. Unlike a book like Too Like the Lightening, I could tell right away that this story wasn't going to touch on 18th century philosophers, or throw a bunch of languages at me. This was going to be murder, and thrills. And I was not disappointed. It was very much that. But it also surprised me by being smarter than I had expected. The story gripped me and I read it avidly to the end. It fluctuated back and forth between light fare, and something a little smarter. So, I was pleasantly surprised.

Nov 30, 2017

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

Yes Yoda, so are we! Luckily it's next week already.

Our current book is a science fiction-thriller: The Shining Girls by South African writer Lauren Beukes, which follows a time travelling serial killer who chooses his victims amongst young women with a certain "shining". One of his victims, Kirby, survives and starts hunting this murderer who shouldn't even exist. Exciting!

The meeting is on Friday, December 8, at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookshop as usual.

And again, as usual you don't need to register or pay entrance, just read the book and drop by, there's snacks and all!

See you there!

Nov 11, 2017

Otherland Speculative Book Club Goes Berlin SciFi Filmfest

The doodle poll is closed now and the winner is "How To Build a Time Machine" at 4 pm.

We'll meet at 3.30 pm in front of Babylon (Rosa-Luxemburg-Str. 30).  Tickets have already been purchased for the doodle participants.

See you there tomorrow!


We're going to the Berlin SciFi Filmfest this Saturday (November 18th)! Enter the doodle to vote for your preferred movie until Friday (when the poll will be closed). Let the voting begin!

And these are the options:

4 pm    How To Build A Time Machine

Canada 2016
The movie follows two men who were inspired by H.G. Wells' The Time Machine to build their own time machine.

6 pm    Occupants

USA 2015
Annie and her husband are working on a documentary which involves setting up cameras throughout their house. Complications arise when the cameras start showing the same couple in an alternate universe.

For more information on the Berlin SciFi Filmfest visit

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

Not So Maddening

The reaction to Robert W. Chambers' The King in Yellow at the OBC might be described as lukewarm at best; no one really loved it but no one really disliked it either. Maybe because of the present hype about this evil, mysterious entity (that was presumably instigated by it being mentioned in the first season of the great crime series "True Detective") the expectations were a little higher than they should be - which is fatal for any book.

The King in Yellow consists of ten short stories that focus on mainly decadent, avantgarde characters who either live in Paris or in New York and usually study art - five of the stories involve the sinister presence called the King in Yellow or the play with the same name which drives its readers mad. Although it is a very powerful concept that can in a metaphorical sense show the impact of literature on readers, Chambers just doesn't carry out this theme as effective as he maybe might have. He always merely hints at the uncanny nature of things without elaborating them, which of course can be used to achieve a vigorous impression - but not here. This being said, this book is a whooping 122 years old and in a cultural environment in which the horror genre wasn't as drained and washed-out as in our present day, it must have been received with more enthusiasm than the amount of excitement we in the Otherland book club have experienced. Still, even in our horror engulfed times the yellow king perfectly works in some respects.

Nov 6, 2017

The King in Yellow is Waiting for Yooouuu... At the Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

The days are dark and darker is our current book; The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers.

Important: We can't provide this book but it's available here:

Our discussion takes place on Friday, November 10th at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookshop.
Admission is free, no registration is required, just read the book and come!

More Than Lightning

by Inci German

I still cannot believe some of the things I have heard at the last book club discussion on Ada Palmer's Too Like The Lightning! Here are some comments that stuck with me:

"I hate this book"
"Like a a slog through the wilderness..."
"If this was a slog through the wilderness then I DIED along the way!"
"Time will show if it is a glorious failure."


Let me start with stating that Too Like The Lightning! I haven't had so much fun reading a book in the last year, and here I want to discuss why I think Ada Palmer is the best thing that happened to speculative fiction in the last decade.

Be warned, reader, for there will be spoilers.

Oct 5, 2017

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

Book clubbers!

Have you devoured this tremendous work of art yet?

If no - Hurry up, our discussion is next week, October 13, 7.30 pm at the Otherland bookshop!

If yes - You may want to indulge in further material while preparing for our discussion.
For instance, take a look at these:
By Max Gladstone on religion:
By Ruthanna Emrys on identity:
And Palmer's response to both:
And more interesting stuff from Ada's blog:

(Thank you Marc for the references!)

Horror Revisited

On Chainsaws and Massacres

Remembering Tobe Hooper

by Inci German

The recently deceased Tobe Hooper will without doubt be remembered firstly as the director of the staggeringly nasty, terrifying and one of the most difficult to watch horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). In only an hour and a half he awoke the revolsion, agony, dread and deepest fears of a whole generation while bordering on hilarity and insanity through utmost exageration and bluntness, concluding in the deepest of reliefs. Didn't you too get uneasy at the gas station scene or shout in disbelief "Oh no, don't do that!" when they entered the crazy butcher family's house or cried in shock and firmly closed your eyes when Leatherface first appeared and grabbed Jerry, shutting the door - panicked and yet relieved because you didn't see what he's doing to him? And yet wasn't Leatherface's lipsticky face for special dinner occasions in the slightest sense somewhat cute? Did you laugh incredulously at that insane scene where the ancient Grandpa tried to suck Sally's blood out of her finger or tried to hit her on the head with the sledge hammer, missing repeatedly, leaving you repeatedly aghast? Hooper surely knew his craft.

There are arguably few other directors, even in the genre, who can grab you as tight as Hooper can. Above all, he contrives to confront his spectator with the major anxieties and fears of his time - something especially the horror genre can achieve in a uniquely metaphorical way. The coming oil crisis and the American fear of running out of gas, the mass murderer Ed Gein who made lampshades and seat covers from the skin of his victims (and whose legend was told to many baby boomers as children to keep them in order) and even his personal aversion against family gatherings... He takes all these elements and meshes them in an extreme way into a distinctive work. I would argue that Hooper's prime achievement was to create a true work of art that appealed and still appeals to the masses, despite initial rejection and banishment.

Sep 6, 2017

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

"One of the major works of fantasy in this century", says The Observer about Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Quartet and equally major will be our discussion at the book club this Friday!

Don't miss it; 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookshop!

Aug 2, 2017

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club Reminder and Miscellaneous

Anne Leckie and Marko Kloos... With headspinning guests, exciting talks and cheery dinners, last week was one of the Otherland's highlights of the year!
But we don't stop there, there is more to come - such as the role playing evening tomorrow evening and our upcoming book club discussion next Friday.

Ever imagined what the world would be like if everybody (or most of them) died? In Station Eleven Emily St John Mandel gives us her own post-apocalyptic vision with wandering theater groups performing Shakespeare, an airport used to preserve the last remaining artifacts of human civilization and a doomsday prophet with a much unusual source of inspiration for his religion. Copies available in abundance at the Otherland as always!
Mark your calendar: Friday August 11, 7.30 pm at the bookstore as usual.

Coming soon: More reviews of both books and movies - sorry for the irreguarities. I know the blog has turned into a kind of messsage board lately but that will change and we'll have plenty of OBC writeups and articles on here, so hang on!

Jul 18, 2017

Book Club Goes Valerian!

It's a friday evening movie date, then:

Meeting point - Entrance Cineplex Neukölln, Friday July 21st, 7.30 pm.

See you guys there!

Hello past and present book clubbers!

We want to go to the movies with you and watch "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets". Just sign up and write down when you have time (it's always the 19.45 show at the Cineplex Neukölln)!

Here's the doodle-link:

The winning date(s) will be announced here on the blog no later than Thursday (July 20).
Totally excited about this!!!

Jul 17, 2017

The King of the Dead is Dead, Long Live the King!


It was only in February that we celebrated George A. Romero's 77th birthday with a Zombie-Special, and now I have to hear that he has passed away yesterday July 16, 2017.

It's so very very sad - we lost a legendary, genius, iconic master of horror!
Thank you George, for having been.

You can read stuff we previously published about him here and here. And here's a great documentary about his work, among other directors. Let's all take the time to indulge in Zombie movies today in his remembrance.

Jul 12, 2017

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

It is soon discussion time again at the Otherland Book Club!

Haldeman's The Forever War (1974) is not only the first title in the SF masterworks series AND winner of the Nebula, Hugo and Locus Awards, it is also the first military science fiction we will be talking about in our club!
So we expect everybody who is reading it or has read it in the past to join. It isn't even a long book, you can still make it if you start today.

Plus, the movie is comming out soon! Don't miss the chance to crack your smartass-smile and say "The book was better!" when it is showing! Read it!

Friday July 14th, 7.30 pm at the Bookstore, admission free, no registration needed as always! See you there.

Jun 21, 2017

Unfinished Reading: Michael Swanwick, Chasing the Phoenix

Every few weeks, it’s the same thing: There’s tons of new books I’ve been meaning to review or at least muse about online, and I just can’t get it done. Part of this is the bookseller’s curse: I keep starting to read books before finishing the current ones, and then I stop reading these other book – sometimes when I’m 50 pages in, sometimes when I’m 50 pages before the end.

May 30, 2017

Updates on the Speculative Fiction Book Club

Don't forget our book club meeting next Friday, June 9 at 7.30 pm!

After Library at Mount Char in May, we pursue the theme of sociopathic unreliable female characters with a chilling mystery classic: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.

Here's our plan for the next few months:

July 14th: Forever War by Joe Haldeman

August 11th: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

September 8: The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin
(You may want to start reading this one because it comprises the first four books of the Earthsea  cycle. It was scheduled for September so everybody has enough time to finish it).

May 29, 2017

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

The Making of Carolyn


İnci German on Scott Hawkins’ The Library at Mount Char

It is not easy to review Library without giving away too much – as is the case with every book that has a major twist. I even hesitated entitling this entry as I wanted to because I am too scared to spoil anyone’s reading experience. I can safely say though, - and folks at the book club (whether they adored or passionately hated the book) unanimously agreed upon this - this is a major page-turner, a horror-fantasy which is hard to compare to anything you’ve read before. Hawkins certainly knows how to keep you reading and he definitely polarized the OBC.

May 14, 2017

As full of spirit as the month of May…

by Inci German

How spectacularly May 2017 has begun in Berlin!
No, I’m not talking about the revolutionary May 1 rally nor the inevitable catastrophe that was the Eurovision Song Contest for Germany – These were lousy compared to the spring program of the Otherland bookstore! Two top-class double features (Caitlin Sweet/Peter Watts and Ty Franck/Peter Orullian) in one week, followed by the RPG-evening and one of the most fierce book club discussions ever and yet there’s so much to come! I’m talking Anne Leckie (July 26th), Marko Kloos (July 28th) and Roadside Picnic (at the Gatherland) here! It’s all so exciting!

May 4, 2017

Reading with Ty Franck (James Corey) and Peter Orullian

Attention Expansers and Vault of Heaveners!

On Friday May 5, at 8pm, science fiction author Ty Franck (one of the two constitutents of the virtual author James S.A. Corey, The Expanse Series) and fantasy writer/musician Peter Orullian (Vault of Heaven Series) will visit the Otherland Bookshop! So grab your copy of Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War and Trial of Intentions and whatnot, and BE THERE!

Apr 12, 2017

Reading with Caitlin Sweet and Peter Watts

Hooray we have guests!

Caitlin Sweet (The Pattern Scars, The Door in the Mountain, The Flame in the Maze) and
Peter Watts (Blindsight, Echopaxia) are paying a visit to the Otherland Bookshop for a joint reading event on May 3rd, 8 pm!!! Yes they are! And yes, admission is free as always!

Superb writing, excellent worldbuilding, the guts to bring up the ugly, the uncomfortable, the creepy - Fantasy author Caitlin Sweet has it all. I'm pretty picky when it comes to fantasy, and even I am genuinely enchanted by her writing, surely she'll win all Otherlanders over in a walk!

At our last Gatherland meeting many eyes started to shine when the name "Peter Watts" was mentioned. Yes, there's a bona-fide hard SF-fanbase eagerly waiting to hear more about the disturbingly brilliant first-contact-novel Blindsight and its equally ingenious sidequel Echopraxia.

This will be a great evening and You, dear Otherlander, should definitely be there. So mark your calendar!

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

Hey Book Clubbers!

This one's to remind you that this month we don't meet the day after tomorrow, but exceptionally next Friday, April 21st. So lock yourselves in for the long weekend, lay down on that couch, snuggle under your blanket and read the astounding SF masterpiece that is Gateway. By the way Jakob has written a review on it right here, so you may wanna check that out. And while you're at it - also start reading The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, because that's what we'll talk about in May (on the 12th to be exact).
Keep calm, read books and have a nice long weekend! See you next Friday.

Mar 29, 2017

Classics of Science Fiction

Happiness is a Hard Master

by Inci German

Talking about dystopias, it has always bothered me that Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is mentioned in the same breath with books such as 1984, We, Fahrenheit 451 or R.U.R.
First off; I don’t want to undermine these other works. On the contrary,classical dystopian fiction is the main reason I started reading speculative fiction and no matter how old-fashioned, drenched or dated some may have come to be perceived nowadays, dystopian ideas and universes continue to fascinate me in full force.
It’s just that in my opinion Huxley goes beyond depicting a mere dystopia; there’s a very witty twist in Brave New World that distinguishes it from anything else I have read to date. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, until I read Adam Roberts’ lines in his History of Science Fiction: “The greatest achievement of Brave New World is not portraying dystopia; it is portraying dystopia as utopia.” and I’ll take it from there.

When in the mid 90’s Therapy? sang “Happy people have no stories” they certainly weren’t thinking about Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. This is the story of happy people. And ironically, it is a sad one.

Set in 632 After Ford (Henry Ford’s Model T was the first car to be mass produced), Brave New World depicts a society based on “COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY”. People are genetically engineered, graded into castes and hatched instead of born. After their hatching they continue to be conditioned to be obedient, crafty consumers and sexual promiscuous citizens of the World State. They live healthy, happy lives. And if they happen to have a bad day there is always soma, the happy drug. This happiness and satisfaction is the basis for social stability. Suppression in the conventional sense is completely lacking here, since for the majority of people it is only logical that happiness is a good thing we all should aspire to. And so thought utopian writers until Huxley, who suggested “Well, maybe it’s not…” and confronted these two views.

Mar 28, 2017

Otherland Readings: Kim Stanley Robinson

Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars trilogy, 2312, Aurora and the brand-new New York 2140, will be visiting Germany, with stops in Bremerhaven and Berlin! In co-operation with his German publisher Heyne and the Klimahaus Bremerhaven, we have organised two reading and discussion events. One will take place on Tuesday, March 28th, at 6.30pm in the Klimahaus Bremerhaven, the other will be on Thursday, March 30th at 8pm in Berlin at the Wasserturm Kreuzberg.

Mar 8, 2017

The Day After Tomorrow... THAT time of the month again!
Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club
Friday, March 10th, 7.30 pm in Otherland Bookshop

Mar 4, 2017

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

Into the Woods


by Walter Phippeny

Sitting under candle light at the Eselsbrücke’s bar in Prenzlauer Berg, I cracked open Uprooted by Naomi Novik for the first time. From the blurb on the back of the paperback, I knew that I was about to enter a fantasy world and follow the adventures of a young girl, Agnieszka: a world with dark woods and mysterious wizards. And that was about it. After the first few pages, I was deeply hooked and finished the book within a few days. I couldn’t put it down.

In this genre mashup, Novik successfully blends a combination of fairy tale, epic fantasy, and even touches of dark fantasy to weave a gripping narrative. Our charming main character, Agnieszka, is a young girl, coming of age and on a road of self-discovery. In a ritual that takes place every ten years, she is selected to be the serving girl of the Dragon – an enigmatic wizard who lives alone on the edge of the village in an ancient manse – and is forced to leave behind everything she has known. Very quickly, she discovers that she has abilities she never expected. Hearing that, your cliché radar might have immediately gone off. It’s true that there’s nothing new in the bullet points of this story, but it’s what Novik does with this familiar material that makes this book work.  

Mar 1, 2017

Horror Revisited

Near Dark (1987)

by Inci German

"Park your carcass!"

In memory of Bill Paxton


This is awful. I was trying to find a way to weasel out of writing my review on Freddy Krueger (that I have announced I would write next) and was considering alternatives. Not being able to decide, I mentally went back and forth between “An American Werewolf in London” and “Near Dark” for about a month. And now this… I wish it wasn’t this sad sad cause that forced me to come to a decision and Bill Paxton hadn't died. He was one of the greatests to me.

Contains spoilers

Watching or re-watching Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark (1987) is worth your time for many reasons: beautiful, poetic images, the very cool soundtrack, the wicked interplay of soundtrack and plot, amazing cinematography and a marvelous cast. Being probably the sole example of the cross-genre “vampire horror-western-road movie-family tale”, this film inspires nothing but awe in me. Now it’s not easy creating such an outstanding picture if you’re working in such an eccentric genre and with a plot that could at best be described as so-so, but Bigelow surely nails it!

Feb 24, 2017

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

Romance of the Wasteland and the Call of the Ruins

by Walter Phippeny

Born in 1976, I was a child of the 80s, and when I was growing up, the Post-Apocalyptic genre found a lot of popularity in the shadow of the Cold War. We had the Mad Max films, Zelazny’s Damnation Alley, Interplay’s video game “Wasteland” which I played on my Commodore 64, the TSR roleplaying setting “Gamma World”, not to mention the hundreds of knock-offs and cash-grabs that tried to profit from the trend. 

Patton Oswalt, in his book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland carves up the youthful Science-Fiction fandom into three types: each alienated from modern society and drawn to one of the three settings where the world has been destroyed or left behind. These types are: the Zombie who is enthralled with a scourge of undead; the Spaceship who is drawn to space opera and distant worlds; and the Wasteland. Here’s his description of the Wasteland: 

Post-nuke, post–meteor strike, or simply a million years into the future—that’s the perfect environment for the Wasteland’s imagination to gallop through. The wasteland is inhabited by people or, for variety, mutants. At least mutants are outgrowths of humans. Mutants—the main inhabitants of postapocalyptic environments—are more familiar. Variations of the human species grown amok—isn’t that how some teenage outcasts already feel? Mutants bring comfort. You don’t have to figure out alien biology or exotic, inhuman cultures or religions. At the most, mutants will have weird mental powers or practice cannibalism. The heroes are unmutated humans, wandering across deserts (always, weirdly, wearing leather or tattered overcoats—suburban teens are accustomed to air-conditioning, so it’s not until they’re older that they learn the importance of fabrics that breathe) and carrying what they need. Wastelands are great at stocking belt pouches, backpacks, and pockets. At any time, Wastelands suspect they’re going to need to grab whatever’s at hand and head for the horizon.

Feb 23, 2017

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

No One gets out of Here Alive

by Walter Phippeny

Joanna Russ’s We Who Are About To... doesn’t fit into the category of light Science-Fiction narratives at all; instead of things blowing up, this work is heady and experimental. It’s a short, but fiery, piece about groups in a state of nature, the role of the dissenter in a majority, how quickly patriarchy reasserts itself as things revert to primal, a woman’s right to her own body, different religious concept, and more. It’s a thought experiment, really; and, as such, it ages well, being first published in 1976. It’s not about this technology, or that alien race, but rather about the characters put into Russ’s laboratory of the mind. Watching the thought experiment play out amongst the cast of characters gives us a certain view of human nature that is down right chilling, and provokes us into asking a lot of uncomfortable questions about ourselves and our species.

Feb 12, 2017

Slow, Low Fantasy

A belated review of Cecelia Holland's Dragon Heart

Second in my "books I've been meaning to review for several years but never got around to it" is this low fantasy novel, which I read back then for three reasons: 1, Kim Stanley Robinson has blurbeb it quite favourably, 2. it's a stand-alone with less than 300 pages, and 3., there's a massive sea-dragon radiating power on the cover.

Dragon Heart is about a castle by the sea that has been ruled by one royal line for times immemorial. Well, calling them a royal line might be slightly exaggerated, sine they don't seem to rule much more than three or four villages, one of them by the shore right at the foot of the castle. However, after the king has lost a decisive battle against the big empire ruling pretty much everything around him, Marioza, the queen of Castle Ocean, is forced into marrying the Emperor's brother and thereby wrap her small, backwards realm into the much more civilised empire. Of course, she and her family are not willing to give up that easily ...

Feb 10, 2017

Weird Worlds

On Zachary Jernigan's Jeroun

I've been meaning to write something about this book - an omnibus edition of Zachary Jernigan's two novels set on the world of Jeroun - for quite some time. I read both novels shortly after they came out, and I feel that they represent pretty much everything that I want from fantasy and often sorely miss; they have a breathtakingly original setting, characters that aren't reduced to their special skills, quips and some overarching mission, and they are tightly narrated and yet stilistically remarkable. While, in terms of genre, they could be called science fantasy, I think that would be doing them a disservice. The world they are set in is so organic that it feels wrong to describe this book as some kind of genre hybrid. It may sound redundant, but Jeroun really just is what it is; it has poisonous seas and alien, eye-less dragons; it has half-gods that have been poured from a jar; it has ghosts of the dead and decadent sorcerers who use alchemy to travel to space.

Feb 5, 2017

Creeping Out With Creepshow!

“The most fun you'll ever have being scared”

by Inci German

Romero is first and foremost known as the godfather of zombies. Even though I very much appreciate his Trilogy of the Dead and enjoy watching them every now and then, my favorite work of his is and always will be another one: Creepshow (1982).

This horror-comedy-anthology consists of five stories, of which two are based on short stories by Stephen King, who also wrote the whole movie and whose literary signature is hard to miss: revenge horror, the use of suspended metaphors, complicated/three dimensional characters... One of the interesting things about this movie though, is that it's almost at once recognizable as a work by King, but also, due to the imagery and to the way living dead are used, as a Romero movie. It's a perfect collaboration of two masters of their arts, really. And talking about masters of the art, it would be unfair not to mention the work of the great special effect and make-up artist Tom Savini here, who has worked with Romero on numerous projects such as Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985).

Feb 4, 2017

Infectious Embrace

What George Romero's original Zombie Trilogy means to me

Honoring George A. Romero's 77th Birtday, from the 4th of February on, we will publish some articles on the legendary writer/director.

I certainly didn’t get there first; but not last, either.
Until my mid-twenties, I firmly believed that zombie movies were too scary for me. I got a little confused when schoolmates started telling me that Dawn of the Dead (1978) was actually not a scary movie but a boring movie with lots of talking and little horror or action, but I still decided that the gory scenes would probably give me bad dreams. And what was the point anyway in watching boring movies that still gave you bad dreams?

Horror Revisited

Today is the 77th birthday of George A. Romero!

One of the founders of modern horror cinema and best directors of our age, he showed us horror doesn't have to be a mindless scare, that it can be exigent, smart, political and still fun!

In order to pay our tribute to him, we make this a George Romero-Weekend and will be posting stuff about his work!

Happy birthday, Godfather of the Undead!

Feb 3, 2017

Classics of Science Fiction

This Brief Music that is Good SF


İnci German on Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon

If I had a typewriter, my wastebasket would be full of crumpled paper trying to review this book. How to describe the unparalleled, the ultimate science fiction?

Let's start with hard facts: Last and First Men: A story of the Near and Far Future was written in 1930 by the British philosopher Olaf Stapledon. Starting with an alternative present, Stapledon moves on to describe the history of eighteen different, fictional human races; civilizations rising and falling, species being born and modified as a result of genetic engineering or of planetary conditions and finally ending in the creation of a supermind.

Jan 24, 2017

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

Only two and a half weeks to go!

Everybody in Otherland is reading the 2016 Nebula and Locus awards winner Uprooted by Naomi Novik.
Next meeting: Friday, February 10th, 07.30 pm at the Otherland Bookshop.

Jan 22, 2017

Horror Revisited

Night Shadow (1989)

by Inci German

Welcome back to Horror Revisited!
What's better than watching old horror movies on cold, dark days like these? Reading about them, of course! Let's get on with it, then:
Werewolf meets kung fu! Can it get any better?
Yes, it can.
To tell the truth, most things are better than this movie. Now I’m not the type to kick’em when they’re down and I’m all about supporting independent movie makers but this one is junk even for a B movie, one of the lowest specimens of its kind: a horror movie that’s not remotely scary or repulsive, distinctive 80’s tackiness, some of the worst acting performances these eyes have witnessed, a croaking plot, a concept that rises hopes and then dashes them quite expectedly. It has everything a bad movie needs.

Jan 18, 2017

Laird Barron's Swift to Chase, Part 1 of 3

The Golden Age of Slashing

I tend to ration new collections by my favourite horror author Laird Barron; for one thing, I'm not always in the mood for horror, and more importantly: When the mood strikes me, It's the greatest thing to have somethin new by Barron at hand. Therefore, and because the author chose to split his collection into three segments, my review of his new collection Swift to Chase comes in three parts, each about one of them.
The first segment is entitled "The Golden Age of Slashing", and the four stories that comprise it are connected by the character of Jessica Mace, which, after reading the first to stories of the collection, I characterized in my head as a hard-bitten sword&sorcery heroine in a modern horror/thriller world.

Jan 8, 2017

Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club

Samuel R. Delany's Tales of Nevèrÿon 

Deconstructing Fantasy


by İnci German

Were I to describe Samuel R. Delany’s Tales of Nevèrÿon in two words, they would probably be “dawdling movement”: meanings shifting; myths, expectations and prototypes reversing, turning upside down and inside out; hierarchies being turned around and pulled apart; even the authors of story, preface and appendix switching places and identities; everything becoming a shadow of something else… Like a child who doesn’t like the overly neat Lego-structure his parents have presented him, Delany removes, pushes, warps, twists, turns and relocates one Lego brick at a time to create his own structure. Mighty dragons? Brave warrior men? Eve seducing Adam? Civilization as we know it? Forget all about it - Delany changes everything and the attentive reader will soon find themselves pondering upon concepts like power, gender, culture, language, relationships and even economics. This is not your average sword and sorcery-book!

Jan 7, 2017

The Fortunate Accident of the most recent Planet of the Apes Reboot

In the last few year's I've had a hard time becoming excited about upcoming sf movies (most recently looking at you, Alien: Covenant). I've even found myself cynical about Interstellar (mainly because of my strong dislike of Nolan's Batman movies) and Arrival (because hell, how could that movie be remotely as good as the short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang it is based upon), and I missed out on both of them in the cinema.
However, the new Planet of the Apes series that began in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes (RotPotA for short) is the one movie series that really keeps me engaged and looking forward to the next installment; the third movie, War for the Planet of the Apes, will be out in August 2017.