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Science Fiction & Fantasy







June 2015 ISSUE

The Day-Glo Dystopia of Poly Styrene: Punk Prophet and Science Fiction Priestess

Her cheeks round and her teeth gleaming with braces, Poly Styrene sits in front of a television set, staring raptly at the flickering screen. At the age of twenty-one, she easily looks five years younger. If they didn’t already know, no one guess that this is one of the most exciting young rock stars in [...]

May 2015 ISSUE

Destination: Mars

In recent years, Mars has been back in the news. The wildly successful and dramatic landing of the MINI Cooper-sized rover Curiosity in 2012 has brought a renewed interest in the red planet. In his 2015 State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama reaffirmed NASA’s goal to put an astronaut on Mars at [...]

April 2015 ISSUE

Small Markets, Big Wonders

How many copies make a bestseller? What does an author need to do in order to have a novel accepted by a publishing house? How does a SF magazine work? We often contemplate these questions but perhaps rarely realize how vastly the answers can differ between national markets.
Last summer, I met Neil Clarke at Worldcon [...]

March 2015 ISSUE

Dark Angels: Insects in the Films of Guillermo del Toro

It’s no secret that Guillermo del Toro loves bugs. Insects and insect imagery play a major role in just about every movie in his filmography, from the fly-in-amber ghosts of The Devil’s Backbone to the Reapers of Blade 2 and the vampires of The Strain, with their hive-like social structures and insectile proboscises. Even Hellboy [...]

February 2015 ISSUE

What in the World Do They Want, Anyway? The Myth of the Friendly Alien

It was one of those typical open line nights on Art Bell’s late night radio show, the talk drifting easily between the serious, the bizarre and the ludicrous. Somehow—perhaps the recent release of both Independence Day and Mars Attacks! started it—it settled into a discussion of how the movies have portrayed aliens. Why did so [...]

January 2015 ISSUE

Song for a City-Universe: Lucius Shepard's Abandoned Vermillion

It takes a long time to read an issue of Vermillion. Relatively speaking, anyway; each of the twelve issues of the brilliant, overlooked science-fantasy comic book series—written by the late SFF master Lucius Shepard and published in 1996 and ’97—is composed of as many pages as your average comic. Within that basic framework, though, Shepard [...]

December 2014 ISSUE

China Dreams: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction

China has a vibrant science fiction culture whose sheer size can sometimes surprise Western readers unfamiliar with it. For example, China’s largest science fiction magazine, Science Fiction World, has a current monthly circulation figure of around 160,000 (this is down from a peak of around 300,000, but copies are often read by multiple people as [...]

November 2014 ISSUE

“We’re All Dreaming,” Arctor Said: Drugs in Science Fiction, from the 1960s to the Present

Open any of the best-known science fiction books from about 1965 to 1975 and the odds are that you’ll find some reference to drugs. This isn’t surprising. The 1960s, after all, were rife with upheavals. Escalating involvement in the Vietnam War, the threat of nuclear apocalypse with the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of [...]

October 2014 ISSUE

I Sing the Lady Electric

Science fiction has been a thread running through black music in America at least since jazz pianist Sun Ra’s vision of a trip to Saturn as a college student in the late 1930s. Sun Ra might be considered the archetype that later musicians have followed. The twin themes of oppressive social alienation and ecstatic personal [...]

September 2014 ISSUE

Flash Gordon, Cardboard Space Stations, and Zero Gravity Sex: Why Science Fiction Isn't Always to Blame

It was early July of 1960 and Flash Gordon was in trouble.
A deadly virus had Flash, Dale and Doctor Zarkov trapped on a space station as it killed one crewmember after another. However, on July 12, Zarkov and the team of doctors discovered the answer:
For most people watching the victims’ rapid recovery, it was the [...]