Tag Archives: sci-fi

Werewolf Smackdown

UC Riverside Honors Latino Science Fiction

Friend of the blog Jaymee Goh tipped us off about a special event honoring Latino Science Fiction at the University of California-Riverside on Wednesday.

Held under the auspices of the school’s Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program, “A Day of Latino Science Fiction” kicks off its program at 10 a.m. with a panel discussion featuring authors:

The program resumes at 2 p.m. with a panel featuring longtime TV director Jesús Treviño (Babylon 5, Star Trek: Voyager & Deep Space Nine) and Michael Sedano from the long-running Latino lit site La Bloga. The event is free to the public, and the flyer is under the cut.
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The Heroes We’d Like To See Most In Heroes: Reborn

By Arturo R. García

Just as we’re getting used to having a show about zombies around again, NBC went one step further and dug up a show that is a zombie.

Yes, Heroes is apparently returning from the grave, with original showrunner Tim Kring in tow, sometime next year. As sensible longtime readers might have bleached out of their brain, the series’ first iteration ended, mercifully, with a pre-Nashville Claire-Bear outing the metahuman population to the world after Team Benetrelli saved the world from a group of angry carnival workers. Which gives just a little more heft to this bit of spin from NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke:

Until we get closer to air in 2015, the show will be appropriately shrouded in secrecy, but we won’t rule out the possibility of some of the show’s original cast members popping back in.

Sure, on one level that can be interpreted as a polite way for Salke to say, “PLEEEEEEEASE HAYDEN COME BACK,” but if the show really is a continuation and not just a “reimagining,” it puts Heroes in a very interesting position.

The genre television renaissance it helped define is mostly floundering; sure, Arrow gets its fair share of good reviews, but Agents of SHIELD has struggled to gain its footing and the British cult favorite Misfits has concluded. With Smallville long gone, Supernatural nearing the end of its run, Doctor Who surviving on a spread-out schedule and the CW’s Gotham and Flash projects looking unsteady, Heroes can reasonably expect to attract fans hoping for a return to its Series One risk-taking prime.

But for Reborn to truly thrive will take not just new blood, but picking the right (affordable) old faces to bring back. And more than anything, it is going to require Kring to learn from some of his costliest mistakes in the first go-round.
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Who-mogeneous: If Doctor Who Doesn’t Diversify, Will It Last Another 50 Years?

By Guest Contributor Anoosh Jorjorian

When I was 13 years old, my best friend introduced me to Doctor Who. Growing up as a brown girl in a predominantly white neighborhood in Sacramento, people would ask me, “What are you?” When I explained that my family came from Armenia and the Philippines, I might as well have said they were, like the Doctor, from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. The show played perfectly to my fantasies of escape into wider possibilities. Yes, funny smart man with your English accent, please whisk me away in your blue box as far in space and time as I can get from 1980s Northern California.

Nearly two decades have passed since I first watched the show, but on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, to my eyes, the show looked a bit… like 1980s Northern California. “The Day of the Doctor,” the episode marking the special occasion, was simulcast globally in 94 countries, an official Guinness World Record. So why was so little of the world in it? I had expected the diversity of the audience to be reflected on the screen, but instead the episode seemed Anglo in every dimension.

I monitored #DoctorWho50th on Twitter but couldn’t find many people of color livetweeting the simulcast. The few that did seemed to have “the feels” like everyone else. No one mentioned race. With Matt Smith’s tenure in the title role ending on Wednesday, I turned to Facebook to find more Whovians: friends, friends-of-friends, and strangers, mostly Americans, mostly people of color. What did they think about the whitewashed “Day of the Doctor”?

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From Stereotype to Superhero: Gullah Sci-Fi Mysteries Reclaim Mammy, Uncle Remus

Mam-E The Avenging Uncle Remus

 

Artist Dawolu Jabari Anderson is putting a new spin on the racist caricatures of the shuffling, folksy Uncle Remus and jovial, servile Mammy. His illustrations for the fictional Gullah Sci-fi Mysteries–a melange of science fiction and steampunk–turn the reviled characters into muscled, battling freedom fighters. Mammy’s broom becomes a weapon; her washboard a shield. But while the art elevates Mammy and Uncle Remus from docility, it (perhaps necessarily) casts them at the other extreme of the stereotype spectrum–aggressive, violent and animalistic. Mammy becomes Sapphire with a headwrap. There is even an illustration in the series that depicts Mammy battling Uncle Remus, castigating him for “stir’n up trouble for these good folk,”  while he tries to go about the business of “liberat’n.” (Shades of the wrong-headed black woman, holding back black progress by fighting black men?)

Check out the rest of Anderson’s provocative work. What do you think?

H/T Afropunk

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Bolaji Badejo

By Andrea Plaid

Who?!” you may be asking.

A somewhat fair question, though, like last week’s Crush Kevin Clash, you may know him by the creation he brought to on-screen life:

Bolaji Badejo. Photo: Eve Arnold

 Yes, that was a Black man in the original Alien suit. (And a cute one, too!)

Badejo got into the suit by pure happenstance, like latest-white-starlet-found-at-an-eatery chance. In his case, a casting team member from the original film approached the Nigerian graphic-arts student at a London bar and put him in touch with Alien director Ridley Scott. The reason why Scott thought Badejo could work the costume (and won the role over Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca): Badejo stood at 7 feet 2 inches and had a “slender” “erect” frame which, being so long-limbed, could “give the illusion that a human couldn’t possibly be in the costume.”  Stuntmen also got into it for certain scenes. (For more on how Badejo worked the suit. check this out.)

After this–his only acting role, and this flick came out in 1979–Badajo disappeared from the movie life. What happened to him, according to the ‘net…well, some people (as of 2010) state that he passed away, yet his Facebook page has him alive and living in the States. (I sent a friend request on Facebook. We’ll see.) Nothing has yet confirmed about him.

Looking back on the experience, Badejo said in an 1979 interveiw that, in light of Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, and other Hollywood stars who gained their fame from playing monsters, he regretted that no one knew it was him in suit, however, he commented, “The fact that I played the part of the Alien, for me, that’s good enough.”

Whenever I watched the Alien movie–and for all of Sigourney Weaver’s woman-with-a-gun girl-power rocking the flick (though the second film basically made it a weirdly racialized Mommy War, with Weaver protecting the orphaned white child as her real reason for getting all gun-happy with the dark-skinned creature–I found my empathies with the Aliens. On the real, Weaver’s crew rolls up on their territory (and if I recall the movies correctly, this is on purpose) and are protecting and trying to feed their offspring. However, whatever the intentions of the crew for being in the Aliens’ side of the universe, the flicks portray their survival as worthy (“don’t let them eat us top-of-the-food-chain types”) and the Aliens’ survival is seen as unworthy, if not outright deserving annihilation. (“That’s what you get for using us top-of-the-food-chain types as your food!”) The fact that the Alien is played by a Black man adds a certain frisson and texture to the original film for me, considering it’s these flicks where fears about colonization, race (and racism!), community, and resources often play out.

Wherever he may be, Badejo is not forgotten. And that’s good enough for me.

Interview: Fabio Fernandes on We See A Different Frontier Project [Culturelicious]

By Guest Contributor Jaymee Goh, cross-posted from Silver Goggles

Courtesy The Future Fire

Earlier this month, I posted about The Future Fire’s PeerBackers project, We See A Different Frontier, an anthology that seeks to address a large hole in SFF: the voices of people from formerly colonized regions. So I caught up with Fabio Fernandes to talk about this project.

Fernandes, as you may or may not know, is a Brazilian SFF writer who makes a living as a professor of Creative Writing and translator at a university in São Paulo. I follow him on Twitter, and he blogs at The Cogsmith.

JG: How did the anthology idea come about?

FF: I had been thinking of editing an anthology of Latin American stories for a while now. By the end of 2009, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer invited me to be assistant editor for Latin America in their awesome Best American Fantasy collection. Unfortunately, the BAF ended in 2010, just before the volume four, which would have been my debut. In 2011, however, I started thinking that I could at the very least try to edit an anthology of Brazilian science fiction in English to make it available to the English-speaking public. I managed to get a few stories, but most of the authors couldn’t translate them neither rewriter them in English, and I was too busy to do it all by myself. Then I saw an ad in the Outer Alliance list published by Djibril al-Ayad, creator and editor of The Future Fire, asking for guest editors for two special issues. I saw that as an opportunity–but this time not only for Brazil or Latin America. I thought I could shout out louder. So I drafted a project about colonialism and sent it his way. He liked it and here we are now.

JG: What is your vision for it?

FF: I thought of the particular place humanity is in right now. We are still at war in many places around the world, but something is a-changing: the socialist Second World has pretty much ended almost 25 years ago, and the First World and the Third World are, if not changing places, are definitely suffering major alterations in their structure. I think it’s past time we discuss that in our fiction, and what fiction suits best the discussion of the zeitgeist–the spirit of times, our times and the times to come–than science fiction? A few authors are doing it now (Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross, Neal Stephenson, Alastair Reynolds, and Ian McDonald come to mind–but guess what? All male Anglos. I want to make clear I have absolutely nothing against them or their works–I love them all, and I find them true trailblazers. I just wanted to see more people from different countries, speaking different languages, from different ethnicities, genders, writing about the same issues. Or similar issues from their own POVs.

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The Walking Dead And The Real Diversity Problem On (Some) Ambitious Dramas

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, cross-posted from Televisual

It’s an old and uninteresting complaint: black characters on TV–and horror movies–get killed or written off too early. Clearly, that is what’s been happening on The Walking Dead with T-Dog. (UPDATE: The arrival of a new character signals a possible shift in season three.).

I’m going to try to push the debate further, past “isn’t it a shame characters of color get short shrift.” The truth is the T-Dog Problem signals broader problems with The Walking Dead and some other prominent dramas. It’s a symptom of an ailment the writers might actually care to remedy, beyond appeasing black viewers.

First, the basics. Earlier this season T-Dog told Dale he was concerned about being black and a weak link in the group. This was an insightful moment from the writers, foregrounding the idea that being different after the apocalypse might be a problem–after all, in times of stress, people stick to their own–and an interesting meta-commentary on the fragility of being a black character on TV. T-Dog was a great candidate for a quick kill. Then T-Dog disappeared. I literally forgot all about him until last week, when he had one line that was almost comically interrupted. This week T-Dog was similarly marginalized, leading Vulture‘s recapper to state: “By this point, the casual dismissal of one of two minority characters…on this show is feeling extremely suspect. The only thing saving it from being full-on offensive is that the same treatment is being given to Hershel’s entire white family.”

The problem isn’t only about a tired debate over representation.

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Web Shows Trek Past Sci-Fi’s Color Line

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, cross-posted from Televisual

From Blacula to Sleep Dealer, filmmakers of color have always been interested in science fiction and fantasy. But these days in Hollywood, sci-fi/fantasy films demand big budgets, and it seems like only Will Smith and Denzel Washington are powerful enough to greenlight a genre film starring an actor of color. The rare project that pushes boundaries can often go unnoticed: stellar alien invasion flick Attack the Block won over critics but couldn’t find an audience here in the States (please see it!).

Of course, on the web, things are different. While most web series are comedies and soaps, a number of creators are bucking conventional wisdom and creating stories for the black, latino and Asian sci-fi fans.

Last month, Al Thompson’s Odessa won big at the New York Television Festival — a development deal with SyFy — and released a well-financed drama, Osiris. Odessa follows the story of a father and daughter with super powers running from the bad guys whose experiments created their abilities; Osiris follows a man who is immortal.

While those two series are among the more sophisticated series to hit the web, I’ve been noticing a string of shows over the past two years looking to break the sci-fi color line. As costs for simple special effects go down, independents can afford to simulate space ships, alien worlds and laser beams. And creators are using low-cost production to diversify the space in numerous ways, adding female leads and blending genres (horror, comedy, thriller, surrealism).

There’s an artistic tradition here. From Samuel Delany to Octavia Butler, sci-fi has long attracted society’s outsiders, who use the imaginative potential of fantasy to create utopian or dystopian worlds and interrogate contemporary culture and politics.

And the audiences are there, enough so that most high profile sci-fi TV shows and films take pains to include at least one character of color. Star Trek (TV and movies) is the classic example, and continues today with shows from Alphas and Falling Skies to Battlestar Galactica and now even Game of Thrones (look out for season two!).

Below I’ve listed what shows I could find in alphabetical order. Please let me know if I’m missing an important or great series out there!

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