Friday 1 January 2010

2010: Those pesky 'resolutions'

2009 has slunk off quietly to crawl under the rock from whence it came, and now we're in a shiny new year.

Well, in time honoured tradition, I'm not making resolutions for the New Year. Why? Because it's intrinsic to my nature to break them. I'll resolve to lose weight while eating "just one more" mince pie, and I'll resolve to rein in my spending while compulsively surfing eBay. So in a potentially foolhardy endeavour to fool myself, I shall set myself targets. I like having goals to meet - it's a good motivator for me. So here are ten things I intend to do in 2010.

1) Spend more time with my other half. He supports my writing so he's already special.
2) Master teleportation. I realise this is unlikely but anything is possible in this day and age.
3) Finish redrafting my first novel and start getting it out to agents.
4) Learn Russian. I studied it for two years at school and as I've wanted to learn a new language for a while, it makes sense to do one I've already got some knowledge of. This also relates to Intention #1.
5) Annex at least a small portion of this planet as my very own territory. Sadly the name 'Iceland' is taken.
6) Read at least one novel every month.
7) Find and keep a new job.
8) Learn how to play chess. I refuse to be bested by a game.
9) Return to my second novel and finish a first draft.
10) Learn to play the harmonica. I've had one sitting in my drawer for five years - time to start giving it a go, methinks.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Science fiction or science fact?

The BBC's festive adaptation of John Wyndham's classic The Day of the Triffids has really gotten me thinking about the recent resurgence of science fiction into mainstream culture. I'm actually really glad that the BBC got their hands on Triffids since it will hopefully delay any godawful Hollywood version (probably starring Shia LaBoeuf) that may have been on the cards.

Wyndham's novel was published in 1951, right as science fiction was building momentum through the power of the B-movie. The BBC adaptation naturally updated the original story to place greater emphasis on the use of the triffids as a source of oil (in this case to solve the energy crisis, as opposed to replacing vegetable oil) and genetic engineering plays a greater part in the creation of the triffids as a worldwide plague.

See what they're trying to do here? The plot becomes both an entertaining narrative, and the means through which to discuss the energy crisis and the perils of genetic engineering. This is one of the reasons why I do enjoy sci-fi - it opens an intelligent platform on which to discuss contentious issues of the day. After all, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) was a thinly veiled attack on the perceived threat of Communism, while Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) posited the dangers of women wielding any power of their own. Remember that this came after the men returned home from the war, only to find that the women didn't want to go back to being housewives.

However, I do think it's possible to divide the genre into science fiction, and science fact. The stories that fall into the former are concerned with aliens, outer space, other worlds and so on, whereas the latter deals with the likes of unleashed viruses, killer plants, and so on. Science fact deals with the extended versions of those stories you might read in New Scientist - and it's this element of plausibility which tends to draw me towards these stories, as opposed to those dealing with alien races or ships in outer space. These stories peel back the top layer of 'reality', exposing what lies beneath and providing us space in which to think.

It's funny - the soaps might think that they're representing real life, but it's within the arena of science fiction that we truly see what's going on in the world around us.

What about you? Do you prefer science fiction, or science fact?

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Writing Success for 2009

2009 is certainly ending with a bit of a celebration for me! Sadly I didn't win the Misfit Salon Micro Fiction contest, but I still got published in the first issue of the Misfit Magazine! You can read my entry, The Stairs, here. I also urge you to read the other entries as they're very good.

I also just learned that I've had another story accepted, so I'll be posting the link as soon as I get it!

Sunday 27 December 2009

Icy's Top Ten Films of 2009

It's been a funny old year for cinema, and I've seen an awful lot of films. Still, a lot of them were absolute guff, so it was relatively easy to choose at least five that I'd happily put in a list of good films of 2009. I doubt I'm likely to see any more films before the end of Thursday, and even if I did, I highly doubt that they'd be any good, so I've decided to compile my list now. Unfortunately I actually managed to think of seven films, rather than five, so I had to expand it to ten. So here, in no particular order, is my top ten films of 2009. Do you agree with my choices?

Let the Right One In
Star Trek
Inglourious Basterds
Paranormal Activity
The Hurt Locker
The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus