The cover this issue is a widescreen shot of the baboons at the Tower of LondonContinue reading →
Critical Mass is an Adelaide-based SF discussion group that continues to meet after many, many years of existence. For a long time it was based around a volunteer speaker each month, and some of the best talks I’ve had the opportunity to listen to come from those guest speakers. I will always remember John Foyster’s awe-inspiring demolition of one page from Dan Simmons’ Hyperion, Zoran’s introduction to the Thomas Carnacki books, and Julliette’s discussion of Mary Sue in fan fiction.
The thirteenth Doctor, season 11, where to start?
The crushing disappointment that leads to almost suspicion concerning the motives of the BBC? The sheer nastiness of the head-rearing of the more unpleasant fans? The viewing figures that are widely varied depending on who is reporting them?
The taking over of official reporting by a personality who obviously finds classic Who so mind numbingly slow, that with breathtaking insouciance announces that she watches it at 1 1/2 speed, seemingly ignorant to the fact that this feels like a slap in the face to a lot of us, making this fan, at least, feel like a sad old geek for the first time ever?
There’s really too much to choose from, and too little excitement generated to really feel like it’s worth bothering. Ennui reigns.
At least I can start, and hopefully finish, with some positives, or at least some clarity.
Aelita, Queen of Mars (1924) is billed as being the first Russian science fiction film. It was directed by Yakov Protazanov. A silent film, it was screened in Melbourne recently, thanks to the Australian National Film and Sound Archive, with a new musical score presented live by The Spheres, who are an experimental AV ensemble who explore the conflux of sound art, post rock and silent cinematics. Apparently early screenings in Russia were accompanied by Shostakovich playing his own score on piano. I would have preferred the whole 1920s deal as, on this occasion, I didn’t find the music of the Spheres helpful or memorable.
A few years ago, a colleague and I had the cunning plan of supporting a new crowdfunded project every two weeks. We’d get cool stuff, it wouldn’t cost too much, and we could support creators – in particular, in my case, those involved in SF projects. I don’t know if she ended up continuing with the project, but looking back on my own activities it seems that I’ve managed to keep the desired average right where we’d planned, so that’s something.
Part Three of Roman’s report on the trip to the Finnish Worldcon, wherein he visits the Winter Palace and catches up with various fannish types back in London. [Note: click on small images to view full sized]
It was Tuesday morning of the 15th
of August that I checked out of my Helsinki hotel and walked the four blocks to Central Station, arriving at 11am, in time to change some currency, grab some breakfast, and board the 11:40 Allegro train to St Petersburg.
I had a slight scare when the con newsletter noted that the train workers were out on strike from Monday night to Tuesday night; luckily, the strike didn’t include international services. I was only staying two nights in St Petersburg, as I had to gamble on getting a Russian visa in time for the trip [Various Melbourne fans had suggested it best to take the ferry, because the operator included a visa for the 72 hour stay; but I wasn’t interested in a tour where everything was scheduled. My visa came through five days before I left Australia.].
When I had noticed there were four trains a day from Helsinki, all high speed light-weight rail, I couldn’t resist catching the train to Peters.
Ewart Shaw reviews Mortal Engines
“…Othello: And O you mortal engines whose rude throats
Th’immortal Jove’s dread clamors counterfeit..”
— Othello, III.ii.352
Mortal Engines based on the book by Philip Reeve, produced by Peter Jackson, evidently flopped badly at the box office. A film with an excellent pedigree may end up losing squillions. I loved it. I want the DVD when it comes out. I want to watch it often.
Apparently the title of this Russian film comes closer to ‘Non Love’ than ‘Loveless’. There is absolutely not one speck of love. The beginning is arrestingly bleak: slow shots of a snow-covered river bank with piercingly clashing splinters of music. When will we see some life? I wondered.
Jennifer recalls Sydney in the 1960s
A Melbourne-dweller, I visited Sydney – a family holiday – in 1960. My mother had worked there during the war and she enjoyed showing us around. We went to Coogee Beach on a tram and ate lunch at a Repin’s Coffee Lounge. So, I remember the Sydney of 1959, depicted fondly by Bruce Beresford in his recently released film, Ladies in Black.
Lisa is 16 years-old, much the same age as I was on that 1960s holiday, and, having just finished school, she has a Christmas job at Goode’s department store, which is very similar to David Jones.
Who could resist a film about roving cities devouring each other in a dystopian future? Almost two decades after Philip Reeve published the first of his quartet, it’s arrived on the big screen courtesy Peter Jackson and the creative crew in New Zealand.
It’s pretty much non-stop action, with glorious opening scenes of London chasing and devouring a smaller city.
One of the delights of SF is that it often raises interesting philosophical questions; as Adam discovered, this is even true of the short story form…
In the Trolley Problem it is proposed that you are standing by a lever next to tram tracks. The lever controls a switch through which you can change the path of the tram (if this was set in Adelaide it would be less of a dilemma, as here it is impossible for a tram to turn right). You see a tram coming towards you and realise that if it continues to follow the current path five people will be killed. You can save them, but only by pulling the lever and sending the tram down the alternative track. However, there’s another person on that route as well, so if you act to save the five people by pulling the lever, you will in turn kill a person who would not otherwise have died. Should you pull the lever?