Just in time for Hallowe’en, my grimdark flash-fiction reimagining of “The Wizard of Oz”, The Great and the Terrible, is now up at Fudoki Magazine! Click the link to enjoy; it’s free, but it’s worth dropping them a tip if you like the story.
Heading for the centre of the universe, the LEXX flies into a giant space web and before you can say “isn’t this identical to the previous episode?” it literally is. At least two-thirds of this story is footage from the previous episode, telling the same story over again but with the single twist that we now know that Stan is in fact under the control of the parasite/spider organism; the original material covers how Xev and Kai find this out and get rid of it. I’m not sure if this is terribly clever and postmodern, or just the team admitting that they really do have more season than story (and at that, it’s arguably a more interesting way of dealing with that problem than DS9’s endless run of two-characters-stranded-somewhere filler episodes) but at least next week is “Brigadoon”, which should be fun.
I’m going to be talking about my book in a virtual session for National Taiwan University! Tune in at 9:30 BST on 19 October to join.
I’ve got a new FitzJames and Moyo mystery story out at Abyss&Apex this month: “Things Can Only Get Better“, where Detective Wilhelmine FitzJames of the London Met’s Automotive Division, and Noah Moyo, freelance car psychologist, come to the aid of a surgical bot turned smart taxi, and crack an artificial-intelligence gambling ring! Click the link to read for free; if you like FitzJames and Moyo, you can read the award-nominated “Jolene” on this blog, and/or check out other stories about AI in trouble in “Automotive Dreams“.
The crew of the LEXX realise that the Mantrid clones are eating up all the matter in the universe, so they head for its centre in an attempt to escape to the Dark Zone, and before you can say “this is another of those stories where they mash up multiple episodes of Blake’s 7, isn’t it?” the ship has encountered a giant space web, and a sort of fungus/spider hybrid has taken control of the minds of the LEXX and Stan (though apparently its attempt to do the same to Kai broke it). The story is nicely creepy, particularly the bits where the crew gradually come to realise how serious their situation is, and the Mantrid clone plot line is an obvious but not too in-your-face climate change metaphor. I did spend most of the episode wondering what’s happened to Lyekka, though, since no one as much as mentions her and you’d think she’d get involved.
790 reveals that Xev has an expiration date, being technically a product, and before you can say “is this going to be a satire on free-market capitalism?” it winds up being a parody of The Wizard of Oz instead, as the titular Wozzard sends Stan (the Cowardly Lion) and Kai (the Scarecrow, I guess) off to defeat the Evil Green Lady as the price of his help restoring Xev (spoiler alert: he’s lying, he can’t do it).
There’s some unfortunate fat-shaming as well as implications that feminists are either insincere or deluded, but the parody’s entertainingly on point and the designer of the digital sets is having a field day.
As well as an anthropologist, a writer and a teacher, I also like to make miniatures. In that capacity, I’m a guest blogger on the Glasgow In 2024 Worldcon Bid page today, teaching you how to make a tiny armadilo! Click the link to create your own.
Also, Alan Stevens and I have a new fun listicle up on the Kaldor City Doctor Who reviews page, taking apart the 1970s story “The Mind of Evil”… if you like the snarky TV reviews on here, you might want to check them out.
Stanley is having nightmares about Gigguratha, so seeks out the Narcolounger, a device which can allow the user to control their dreams, and before you can say “does that sound even remotely like a good idea, given the people involved?” he’s trapped in a nightmare about Gigguratha from which he can’t wake up, and it’s up to Xev and Kai to get him out of it. A pretty good exploration of Stan’s repressed guilt over the things he’s done to survive, and it’s great to see Gigguratha getting to act as a sort of fearsome conscience, though the dream landscapes are actually less surreal than the cyberpunk junkyard-planet on which they find the Narcolounger. The titular “patches”, though, are an indication that the Mantrid drones are literally eating the universe, and a reminder that we’re going to have to get back to that plot within the next five or six episodes.
I’m off to British FantasyCon! I’m on two panels, Representing Sexuality (Saturday 1:30 PM) and “No, Seriously, We Have Always Fought: Developing Historical Awareness in SFF” (Saturday 6 PM).
To explain the latter, it’s to discuss strategies for making people aware of older SFF works that deal with what people think of as “modern” themes, without dismissing the experiences of newer SFF readers or falling into the trap of prescribing a “canon” of literature.
Otherwise, I’ll be helping out with the Eastercon 2024/Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon Bid table intermittently throughout the event, so if you want to say hi, come round!
Somehow the scheduling got taken off my LEXX posts! Apologies for the hiatus. Resuming:
Stanley collapses from a mystery illness, the rest of the crew send out an SOS, and before you can say “Isn’t that Louis del Grande, well known from such cult favourites as Scanners and Seeing Things?” the SOS has been answered by a dysfunctional family who turn out to be custodians of the planet where all the undead husks of His Divine Shadow hang out. Before long Kai’s gone crazy, the dysfunctional family are trying to take over the LEXX, and Lyekka’s got loose and is eating anything with a brain. As you can probably already tell, this episode reads like it’s been cobbled together from previous episodes (crew member illness, dysfunctional family with designs on the LEXX, revenants of His Divine Shadow, Kai going crazy, Lyekka as a deus ex machina, or ex plant or something), and is kind of unsatisfying as a result. There’s sex again, but this time it’s lesbian for a change (Lyekka just wants to satisfy your desires, and, well, turns out there’s a reason Louis del Grande’s wife doesn’t like him).ETA: The set for the episode also looks suspiciously like the monastery exteriors from “Nook”.