Ambiguity Machines: An Examination April 29, 2015 Ambiguity Machines: An Examination Vandana Singh A test for Junior Navigators of Conceptual Machine-Space. The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn April 22, 2015 The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn Usman Malik He will inherit the Unseen. The Ways of Walls and Words April 15, 2015 The Ways of Walls and Words Sabrina Vourvoulias Can the spirit truly be imprisoned? Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die.
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Showing posts by: John Joseph Adams click to see John Joseph Adams's profile
Jan 23 2012 1:00pm

Take a Peek at Brand New John Carter Adventures

When Edgar Rice Burroughs published A Princess of Mars in 1912 (originally published as a serial in the magazine All-Story, as Under the Moons of Mars), he gave birth to the iconic character John Carter and his wondrous vision of Mars (or as the natives call it, Barsoom). With this setting and character, Burroughs created something that has enthralled generation after generation of readers. Now, a hundred years after the series first debuted in print, new generations of readers — thanks, in part, to the new Disney film—are still finding and discovering the adventures of John Carter for the first time.

[On new adventures from Barsoom]

Apr 15 2011 2:07pm

Dystopian Round Table: The Appeal of Dystopian Fiction

Brave New Worlds edited by John Joseph AdamsI cover the topic of the appeal of dystopian fiction in my post Dystopian Fiction: An Introduction, so I won’t repeat it here. But I asked the contributors to my recent anthology Brave New Worlds, to speculate on the appeal of dystopian fiction—both for writers and readers. Here’s what they had to say.

Tobias S. Buckell, Author of “Resistance”

I think dystopia allows writers to hold up a mirror to our world and say “if this goes on…” That’s one of the classic reasons for writing it: to warn about trajectories within society. But I think the reason readers can enjoy even the grimmest dystopia is that it does, even when being a piece of social criticism, embed a certain amount of escapism in it. Both the sort of “things are still okay now” sort of comparisons that we can make as readers, and sometimes a sort of “if everything fell to pieces, what sort of crazy adventures would transpire” type of narrative.

I personally enjoy the “what if” game of playing out a scenario and trying to dig a little deeper into it. If “such and such” continues, what happens next?

[Read more]

Apr 13 2011 12:33pm

Dystopian Round Table: Favorite Examples of Dystopian Fiction

Favorite dystopia fictionMy personal favorite examples of novel-length dystopian fiction are 1984 and Fahrenheit 451—obvious classics, I know, but they’re classics for a reason! My favorite examples of dystopian short fiction can be found in my recent anthology Brave New Worlds, which collects 33 of the finest examples, from classics like Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” by Harlan Ellison®, to the best newer works that are destined to be classics in the future.

I asked the contributors to Brave New Worlds to name for me their favorite examples of dystopian fiction. Here’s what they had to say.

[Read more]

Apr 11 2011 10:30am

Dystopian Fiction: An Introduction

The roots of the word dystopia—dys- and -topia—are from the Ancient Greek for “bad” and “place,” and so we use the term to describe an unfavorable society in which to live. “Dystopia” is not a synonym for “post-apocalyptic”; it also is not a synonym for a bleak, or darkly imagined future. In a dystopian story, society itself is typically the antagonist; it is society that is actively working against the protagonist’s aims and desires. This oppression frequently is enacted by a totalitarian or authoritarian government, resulting in the loss of civil liberties and untenable living conditions, caused by any number of circumstances, such as world overpopulation, laws controlling a person’s sexual or reproductive freedom, and living under constant surveillance.

[Dystopia is usually determined by one’s point of view]

Sep 21 2010 3:31pm

Return of the Living Name-that-Zombie Caption Contest Winner!

The entries of the zombie caption contest (rules here) have been chomped considered and eviscerated evaluated, and the winner is:

163.  Wyvern

“When there's no more room in Hell, find a match made in Heaven!” Alas, the zombie dating service was doomed to failure from the start...

But that wasn't the only good entry! Here are a few honorable mentions:

199. David Coulthurst

Being caught dead in it, Melissa had no choice but to wear white after Labor Day.
141.  JohnKeller

Chomp brain wishes and cadaviar, everyone! This is Deathstyles of the Ripe and Gangrenous! See you next reek!

Congratulations to Wyvern for penning the winning entry. The Zombie Prize Pack to End All Zombie Prize Packs includes more than $500 of hardcore zombie goodness, including copies of my anthologies The Living Dead and The Living Dead 2, along with a bunch of other books, DVDs, and assorted other zombie miscellany!

Congrats again to Wyvern, and thanks too to all who participated!

Sep 17 2010 9:53am

Zombie Round Table: Favorite Examples of Zombie Fiction

When Night Shade Books and I put the first The Living Dead anthology together a couple years ago, we had the sense that zombies would be big, but I don’t think any of us realized just how big they would become.

When the book actually came out in September of 2008, it seemed like the timing was perfect, that we would be hitting right at the crest of the zombie’s popularity. But now it looks like they’ve only become more popular in the intervening period, spreading throughout an unsuspecting population like zombiism itself.

In the last couple years there have been a slew of new zombie entertainments released, across all media. There have been new movies (Quarantine, REC2, Deadgirl, Diary of the Dead, Survival of the Dead, Dead Snow, Zombie Strippers, Zombieland); video games (Plants vs. Zombies, Dead Rising 2, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2); and a veritable horde of books (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and its sequel, books from several of the contributors to this anthology, and even a Star Wars zombie novel called Death Troopers). Plus, a film adaptation is in the works for Max Brooks’s World War Z, and Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead is being made into a television series.

And all of that’s just off the top of my head—if I wanted to make an extensive list, I’m sure it could be ten times longer. If you were inclined to have zombies in all of your entertainment, I expect you’d have very little trouble finding things to watch, play, or read, all of them chock-full of zombie mayhem.

So with that in mind, where to start? Well, you should pick up The Living Dead and The Living Dead 2—obviously!—but after that, you should start by consuming the Unholy Trilogy—George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead. Once you’ve seen those, what then? Well, I listed some recent zombie entertainments above, but my list is hardly comprehensive, and is limited to the last few years. So again I’ve turned to my Living Dead 2 contributors for help and asked them: What are your favorite examples of zombie fiction?

[More recommendations than you can shake a boomstick at on the other side of the jump!]

Sep 15 2010 12:35pm

Zombie Round Table: What is the Appeal of Zombie Fiction?

It’s Zombie Week here at, and since decided to spend this week focused on zombies, one would assume that a whole lot of you really, really like them. I do too, of course—but why is that? Why is it we like zombies so much? What is it about them that writers (and readers/viewers) find so fascinating?

As you might imagine, as the editor of two zombie anthologies—The Living Dead and The Living Dead 2—I’ve spent a good deal of time pondering that question. I offer up some theories and discuss the question a bit in each anthology’s introduction (both of which you can read online).

But I was not content with my own musings, and wanted to pick the brains of other zombie experts as well, so I asked the contributors to The Living Dead 2 to answer the question: What is the appeal of zombie fiction?

[The answer lies on the other side of the jump!]

Sep 14 2010 9:30am

Presenting “Good People” by David Wellington

John Joseph Adams here, editor of the new zombie anthology The Living Dead 2. It is with great pleasure that I present this selection from the book, “Good People” by David Wellington, to the readers of

David Wellington is the author of the zombie novels Monster Island, Monster Nation, and Monster Planet, and the vampire novels 13 Bullets, 99 Coffins, Vampire Zero, and 23 Hours. A werewolf novel, Frostbite, came out last October. Another zombie novel, Plague Zone, was serialized on his website,, but is not yet in print. Wellington’s short fiction has appeared in the zombie anthologies The Undead, The Undead 2: Skin and Bones, and The New Dead, and in my vampire anthology By Blood We Live. He recently made his comic book writing debut with Marvel Zombies Return.

[More about “Good People”]

Sep 13 2010 1:00pm

Return of the Living Name-that-Zombie Caption Contest

To kick off Zombie Week here at, we’re celebrating all things zombieriffic with the inevitable Return of the Living Name-that-Zombie Caption Contest!

How do you play? It’s easy. All you have to do is come up with your best caption (50 words or less) for the zombie photo above, and post it as a comment in reply to this post. Our panel of judges will evaluate all of the entries, and our favorite one will be chosen as the winner.

[Contest and prize details within]

May 24 2010 6:00am

Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy #021: African SF & Fantasy! Nollywood! Entomology! (Guest: Nnedi Okorafor)

Nnedi Okorafor, author of Zahrah the Windseeker and The Shadow Speaker, joins us to talk about Africa as it’s represented in science fiction and fantasy. Dave and John discuss portrayals of Africa in fiction and film.


[SHOW NOTES, I presume?]

May 21 2010 12:23pm

Avatar: The Last Airbender Re-Watch: “The Siege of the North (Part 2)” (episode 120)

In this episode...

After Zuko steals Aang’s body while he’s in the spirit world, Sokka and Katara rush off with Appa to try to catch them. Aang, in the spirit world, talks with Roku and learns that he must find out the location of the moon spirit from a fierce creature named Koh the Face Stealer. After an intense encounter, Aang learns from Koh that the one of the yin-yang fish is the physical embodiment of the moon spirit. Katara and Sokka catch up with Zuko and defeat him and liberate Aang, then together the gang rushes off to protect the moon spirit from Zhao. When they fail to stop him from killing the moon spirit, the moon disappears from the night sky. Zuko faces off with Zhao (who tried to have him killed); Aang enters the Avatar State and summons up a gigantic water spirit and kicks a lot of Fire Nation butt. Princess Yue, who was touched by the moon as a child, must sacrifice her life to return the moon to the world. The water spirit takes care of Zhao.

[A spoilery discussion of this episode begins after the cut.]

May 18 2010 3:52pm

Avatar: The Last Airbender Re-Watch: “The Siege of the North (Part 1)” (episode 119)

In this episode...

Zhao’s navy begins its siege on the Northern Water Tribe. Aang destroys several ships, but there are too many for him to fight them all. Meanwhile, Zuko sneaks inside the city to capture the Avatar for himself. Sokka is assigned the task of protecting Princess Yue. Aang decides to enter the spirit world and ask the moon and ocean spirits for guidance on how to stop the Fire Nation. But after Aang’s spirit leaves his body, Zuko fights Katara and runs off with Aang’s body.

[A spoilery discussion of this episode begins after the cut.]

May 17 2010 6:00am

GGG#020: Climate Change! Geoengineering! Terraforming! (Guest: Eli Kintisch)

Eli Kintisch, author of Hack the Planet, joins us to discuss some of the ambitious and risky geoengineering schemes that are being proposed to address climate change. Dave and John talk terraforming.


[Scientists have developed these SHOW NOTES as our last, best hope for saving the planet.]

May 14 2010 11:21am

Avatar: The Last Airbender Re-Watch: “The Waterbending Master” (episode 118)

In this episode...

Aang and the gang find the Northern Water Tribe at last. Aang meets a waterbending master who refuses to teach Katara because she’s a girl. Sokka gets a crush. Zhao commandeers Zuko’s crew and hires the pirates from “The Waterbending Scroll” (episode 109) to kill him. Zhao believes they succeed, but Zuko somehow escapes. Sokka’s heart is broken when he learns his crush is betrothed. Katara fights the waterbending master to prove she’s good enough to learn from him. Iroh infiltrates Zhao’s ranks and reinforces the lie that Zuko is dead. Aang and Katara learn a lot of waterbending. Zhao’s fleet sails north to confront Aang and the Northern Water Tribe.

[A spoilery discussion of this episode begins after the cut.]

May 10 2010 12:58pm

Avatar: The Last Airbender Re-Watch: “The Northern Air Temple” (episode 117)

In this episode...

Aang and the gang travel to the Northern Air Temple, where they find a group of people living—not airbenders or monks, but a group of refugees, lead by a brilliant inventor (“the Mechanist”) who has retrofitted the temple with steampunkesque technology. Aang befriends the inventor’s son, only to discover that the Mechanist was collaborating with the Fire Nation by making weapons for them (albeit against his will). When a Fire Nation officer comes looking for the technology promised them, Aang confronts him; forced to leave empty-handed, the officer promises that the Fire Nation will be destroy the temple. Aang and the gang come up with a plan to defend the temple, and with the glider technology pioneered by the refuges, together they turn back the Fire Nation raid. 

[A spoilery discussion of this episode begins after the cut.]

May 8 2010 4:25am

GGG#019: Immortality! Automata! Consciousness Transference! (Guest: Robin Wasserman)

Robin Wasserman, author of the young adult science fiction novel Skinned, joins us to discuss hacking Harvard, working in publishing, human identity, and writing about the future. Dave and John try to figure out how to upload their minds. 


[When Dave uploaded his brain to the internet last week, leaving his frail and sickly mortal remains behind, he selflessly exported these SHOW NOTES. Just for you guys.]

May 6 2010 11:52am

Avatar: The Last Airbender Re-Watch: “The Deserter” (episode 116)

In this episode... 

Aang and the gang visit a Fire Nation town in the midst of a festival in the hopes of surreptitiously observing some firebending. That doesn’t go as planned, and Aang is made as the Avatar and so is forced to run. A young man sees Aang’s distress and leads him away from danger and takes him to Jeong Jeong, the eponymous “deserter”—a powerful firebender who left the Fire Nation army years ago. At first Jeong Jeong refuses to teach Aang, but relents. Aang’s impatience to learn firebending results in him accidentally burning Katara, causing Aang to swear off firebending forever. As a result of being burned, Katara learns how to use waterbending to heal wounds. Admiral Zhao catches up to Aang, leading to a showdown. Aang defeats him, employing the lessons of Jeong Jeong, then gathers the gang on Appa and flees, headed for the North Pole. 

[A spoilery discussion of this episode begins after the cut.]

May 4 2010 1:21pm

Avatar: The Last Airbender Re-Watch: “Bato of the Water Tribe” (episode 115)

In this episode... 

When the Aang Gang finds an abandoned Water Tribe ship, Sokka and Katara are reunited with Bato, a Water Tribe soldier and comrade of their father. He takes the Gang back to the abbey where he is staying. Aang feels left out of the reunion and leaves Sokka and Katara to reminisce with Bato, leaving Aang to receive word of where Sokka and Katara’s father is. He chooses to withhold this information. When he later tells Sokka and Katara about the message, they abandon him, feeling betrayed. Meanwhile, Zuko hires a bounty hunter to track the scent of Katara’s necklace, leading them to the Aang Gang. Following a fight with Zuko and the bounty hunter at the abbey, Sokka and Katara decide to stay with Aang on his journey to the North Pole.


[A spoilery discussion of this episode begins after the cut.]

May 3 2010 6:00am

GGG#018: Organ Repossession! Con Men! Dystopian Satire! (Guest: Eric Garcia)

Eric Garcia—screenwriter/author of Repo Men and author of Anonymous Rex and Matchstick Men—joins us to discuss con men, dark comedy, and dinosaurs living among us. Dave and John talk violent satirical ’80s science fiction movies.


[SHOW NOTES? I'd buy THAT for a dollar!]

Apr 29 2010 1:12pm

Avatar: The Last Airbender Re-Watch: “The Fortuneteller” (episode 114)

In this episode...

When the gang arrives at a village practically governed by the predictions of one Aunt Wu, Sokka refuses to be taken in. Katara, meanwhile, becomes addicted to the seer’s many predictions, particularly those regarding the young waterbender’s love life. Aang attempts to make Aunt Wu’s predictions justify his budding affections for Katara. Meanwhile, a volcano is about to erupt, destroying the village. Katara and Aang use waterbending to shape clouds as a way to warn the villagers. The village is evacuated, and a big trench is dug to reroute the lava flow. Aang uses some serious airbending to divert the lava, which makes Katara realize that Aunt Wu may have been referring to Aang when she said that Katara would marry “a powerful bender.”


[A spoilery discussion of this episode begins after the cut.]