A long time ago in a place far far away called Before the Lockdown (aka Manchester, January 2020), I was invited to be a guest on the award-winning Comma Press Podcast for the opening episode of series two to help introduce the central theme for this series: FUTURES.
Listen on ITunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify, or Soundcloud (embedded below).
Continue reading “PODCAST: Comma Press Podcast The History of the Future (S2:E1)”
I hadn’t heard of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist until this week and a Mary Sue post that compared the show to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – an excellent show with original songs, a complex central woman character (played by the show’s co-writer and creator Rachel Bloom), and a fascinating and nuanced approach to representing and diagnosing mental health issues (see also: You’re the Worst). Is Zoey’ EP that good? No. But it does do something pretty exciting and on brand for me – it has not one woman computer developer but two, and one of them is the presented as the boss. TWO WOMEN IN TECH AS MAIN CHARACTERS as part of a mildly diverse work force where women appear at different levels of the company hierarchy. Continue reading “Decoding the Digital Beauty : Women in Tech on TV and Film”
Originally posted: September 2017
At the end of summer 2017 I was in Brighton for the annual British Science Festival having organised an event for the History of Science Section of the British Science Festival. I sang at the science festival, because of course I did, and The Conversation featured us on their podcast. They described our contribution like this: Continue reading “PODCAST: The Anthill Podcast: Science by the seaside (British Science Festival 2017)”
Originally posted: August 2017
We need women of science on screen – in major summer blockbusters working together to discover, empower, and save the world. As Ghostbusters: Answer the Call’s male ‘evil scientist’ exclaims “do it in the right place, with enough power, and there goes the barrier!” – he’s talking about releasing supernatural creatures on New York but it works for Ghostbusters too as it pushes at the gender barrier. It puts at least a small crack in the glass ceiling by showing that these “sisters in science” are what scientists can and do look like. By normalising women of science on screen and by having them as lead characters rather than sci-candy sidekicks the film industry can show that being a scientist is an entirely achievable goal for the young woman looking to her future career. Continue reading “REVIEW: Sisters in Science – Ghostbusters Answer(s) the Call”
Originally posted: January 2017
Westworld was my favourite series of 2016. It presented a rich science fiction future that managed to be fresh and exciting despite being
a remake based upon a 1973 movie by the same title. It had and continues to have lots of opportunities for developing exciting and prescient narrative that can be explored in what I hope will be a long running series. I was mesmerised from the opening credits, which I wrote about here. Westworld played around with time and I will have to rewatch all ten episodes as I attempt to distinguish between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’, and past, present and/or future. Continue reading “Westworld: Imagined Futures and Re/imagined Pasts”
Originally posted: October 2016
Westworld finally got its UK premier last night. It seemed like an eternity between the US release and our chance to explore, and I successfully navigated the minefield of avoiding spoilers and opinions on the first episode that might interfere with my own initial response (and enjoyment). The first episode wasn’t perfect – I wanted more, but it was necessary to give over time and space for worldbuilding (both the Western theme-park and the futuristic workplace) and introducing the basic concept of the show. It’s based on the 1973 SF-Western movie Westworld written and directed by science fiction writer Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain, Disclosure), it was Crichton’s first foray in directing, and it famously stars Yul Brynner as a killer-robot called ‘The Gunslinger’. The film and now the HBO TV series is set in a near-future adult amusement park where the super-rich can pay ($40,000/day) for an immersive storyworld ‘holiday’ where they can do use the robots as they please to act out their wildest Wild West fantasies. Continue reading “Science & Future World Building in Westworld’s Credit Sequence”
Originally posted: May 2016
At the end of March 2016 I went to my first science fiction convention: EasterCon. Also known as the British National Science Fiction Convention, now in its 67th year, the convention is given a name that reflects its location or theme each year and for the Manchester EasterCon we had Mancunicon. The convention, which is primarily literary, was drastically different from my convention expectations of cosplayers and comic books. It was a serious and engaging event where, as a SF researcher, it was great to speak to a huge range of writers, fans, and commentators. Audience questions were perceptive and revealing and I found the entire experience very rewarding. Continue reading “(Don’t) Ask a Scientist!: The Good, the Bad, and the Accuracy”
Originally posted: May 2016
When I started as a postdoc on the Unsettling Scientific Stories project in 2016 I was asked to produce a ‘top ten’ list of SF texts that were favourites, inspiration, and the types of works that I hoped to look at as part of the project.
This is mine: Continue reading “SF Suggestions (2016 edition)”
Originally posted: April 2016
The cover art for the Unsettling Scientific Stories project is taken from original cover art created by Arnold Kohn for the August 1947 edition of Amazing Stories (vol.21, iss.8). I proposed it as a suitable image to represent the project as it communicates the awesome power of science. The figure is both frightened and in awe of the power he holds in his hand: the potential of science, and specifically in this cover, the potential that atomic science has in the hands of humanity. Trying to find an image to represent a project that spans more than 100 years is not an easy task. But the idea that science has been looked upon, feared, respected, and misused is one that weaves its way throughout the project. Kohn’s art for Amazing Stories communicated an idea rather than a story. Unsettling Scientific Stories is of course about stories, and some very specific stories but it is also about how ideas about science were communicated through text and image. Continue reading “Amazing Stories, Amazing Art: SF Magazine Cover Art”
Originally posted: February 2015
- Detail from the title sequence from X-Men: First Class
Recently I went to a fascinating research seminar on the history of the theory of mass extinction and the human fears of and impact on extinction given by historian of biology, Dr David Sepkoski (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin) at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (University of Manchester). It got me thinking about not only imagined extinction in fiction (I’ve researched/written about Planet of the Apes’ and its post-human/post-apocalyptic worlds), but also about how some recent science fiction shows, predominately in the Marvel (MCU) and DC storyworlds, have drawn upon human fears of extinction and being replaced (and thus super threatened) by another human race (or more specifically, a secondarily evolving hominin species). The fear isn’t of an invading species of aliens, or the rise of intelligent apes – but a threat that is much closer to home, a threat from within human DNA (what Kirby  refers to as ‘the Devil in our DNA’). Continue reading “You gotta make way for the Homo Superior: Mutation, Evolution, and Super Powers on Screen”