Now this is a deep cut. I credit the eccentric programmers at HBO back in the 80s for introducing me to this exciting feature, which borrows liberally from the Star Wars mythos to tell the tale of an escaped slave who finds a magic sword and frees his people. STARCHASER also features a lot of undeniably Christian imagery, as well as some offensively stereotypical middle-eastern villains.
I’ve always been a Disney geek, but the Canadian animation company Nelvana made five of my all-time favorite cartoons. Four of them came on a mysterious four-pack that my sister and I used to religiously rent from our local video store. The four half-hour features include A Cosmic Christmas, The Devil and Daniel Mouse, Romie-0 and Julie-8 and Please Don’t Eat the Planet. All four cartoons are charming as hell, and they’ve aged surprisingly well over the years.
It might seem unusual to list Richard Adams as an influence, seeing as how I’ve only read one of his books – but what a book.
For the uninitiated, Watership Down is The Aeneid in the animal kingdom. When the incursion of an industrial development forces a tribe of rabbits from their home, they must set out to find a new one. Along the way, they have a series of breathtaking adventures across the English countryside, all of it against the backdrop of Adams’ brilliant world-building.
Yes, world-building. Even though it takes place on modern-day earth, Watership Down stands as one of the best pieces of speculative fiction I’ve ever read. Adams invents an entire culture, vocabulary, social-structure and – most wonderfully – a mythology for his rabbits.
I’m an unusual guy who was an unusual kid. And I like it that way.
Those of you who have read any of my novels or novellas are well aware of my fascination with mutants, monsters, wizards and cyborgs, as well as other phantasmagoric and post-apocalyptic imagery.
My love of animation – specifically, dark, strange and kooky animation – has provided endless sources of inspiration for this arena of expression over the years. Here are some of my favorite weird cartoons from my childhood. (And yes – I expect that some of you may argue that I was too young to see any or all of these movies when I did. Maybe so, but if I hadn’t seen these at such an impressionable age, I wouldn’t have grown into the person I am today.)
I’ve read seven novels by Barry Unsworth, and with each book, I feel like I’ve met a different novelist.
After reading the first few hundred pages of Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, my friend Jordan Byrne asked me what I thought of it. Despite the novel’s incredible scope and dazzling prose, I only said these four words in response:
“It’s filled with joy.”
There are specific elements of Stephenson’s writing that I aspire to emulate in my own, but more than anything else, I try to write with the same joy that he does. Let me explain:
In 1998, I had the pleasure to see one of American theater’s great dramas, Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, staged at one of the grand old theater houses of London’s West End, the Old Vic, where Kevin Spacey was then headlining in the role of doomed interventioner (and erstwhile salesman) Theodore “Hickey” Hickman. I’ve reread the play a couple times over the years, including this past week. This most recent reading uncovered some of the plays more deeply held pleasures—well, deeply held from me, that is—and I’d like to talk about ‘em. Maybe during this discussion, I’ll discover why I keep returning to O’Neill’s depressing world of drunks, addicts, layabouts, and ne’er-do-wells.
In competing narrative voices (mostly first with a dash of third), author Mayer ably explores the turbulent headspace of Quinn, a teenager with a condition known as congenital analgesia—he can’t feel pain.
Imagine Marvel’s Doctor Strange, with all of its trippy imagery, cool psychic battles, and supernatural-bordering-on-super-science worldbuilding. Now imagine that story written by a master novelist with protean-powerful command of first person, and you’d have David Mitchell’s Slade House.
Needless to say, SPOILERS LIE AHEAD!
A comprehensive look at David Lynch and Mark Frost’s seminal TV series that breaks the show down into smaller, more easily digestible servings of garmonbozia.
We’ve been watching Twin Peaks the wrong way all these years. Let me explain:
Until the release of Showtime’s 18-episode revival, we’d been engaging with Lynch and Frost’s series as two wildly uneven seasons—the first a perfect nine hours of suspense, surrealism, and shocking reveals, followed by a front-loaded and sprawling second season where the wheels come off. After the release of The Return, we were forced to cram another sprawling season of television onto the end of the previous two. This time, instead of the maddeningly uneven second season, we were given 18 short films. It looked like a season of television, but it didn’t feel like one. Most important—and frustratingly—those 18 short films, as wondrous as they occasionally were, didn’t feel like a continuation of what came before.
But what if they were a perfect continuation of what came before, and what if we hadn’t been watching three seasons all these years — but six?