Tor.com content by

Richard Fife

Live Action Fan Films: Voltron, Portal, and Sailor Moon

So, a while ago I wrote about Serenity: Redemption, a feature length live action fan film that continued the Firefly universe. I thought it was pretty neat, if obviously a fan tribute, but also fairly unique in being a fan film with production value. Well, time for me to start eating my words, as just in the last few months, three more live action fan films have been released upon the unsuspecting web: Voltron: The End, Portal: No Escape, and Sailor Moon: The Movie.

[Films and thoughts below the fold]

The Birth of Steam-WoT: Steampunk Perrin


So, anyone who has seen me, especially bearded, can tell I am a natural born Perrin from The Wheel of Time. Okay, maybe not natural, but I’m sure not Rand or Mat, so I’ll take what I’ve got. There has always been one major problem to me doing a Perrin Aybara costume, though. I don’t have golden eyes, nor can I tolerate anything in my eyes, thus discounting contacts. So for the last several years, as I’ve attended Dragon*Con and JordanCon, I’ve had a burning desire to dress up, but couldn’t.

[You made what look like what!?]

Dragon*Con 2011: The Fan Tracks

As I said in part one of my Dragon*Con 2011 coverage, there is a lot to do at Dragon*Con. I never saw or heard an official number of attendees, but the number 65,000 was batted around by quite a few. With that many people, you cannot survive on large panels alone, no matter how many stars and ballrooms you have. Or at least, I’m glad Dragon*Con doesn’t try. No, there is quite a bit more to do, from the Exhibitors’ and Dealers’ halls, the Art Show and Artist Alley, the costume contests, the parade, and the gaming. Then there is what is for me the other half of Dragon*Con: the fan tracks. There are thirty-five fan tracks, not counting “Main Programming,” and while it is humanly impossible for me to cover or attend all of them, I did attend quite a few.

[No, they weren]

When Geekdom meets Rock Opera: The Protomen

Tuesday night, I had the great honor of seeing two amazing bands at The Soapbox Laundro-Lounge in my native Wilmington, NC. The headliners were none other than The Protomen, a band I’m surprised hasn’t been mentioned yet on Tor.com. Opening for them was a smaller local band called The D&D Sluggers, and between the two of them, they drew such a large crowd of geeks on a Tuesday night that they packed the place. Let me say, I have never been in such a large group of people who got my steampunk Tron shirt outside of a convention. It was glorious. And that was before I got an interview with The Protomen.

[Review and Interview below the fold]

“Firebolt” – A Harry Potter Parody With Meaning

So, it has been about a week since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two left us with catharsis, regret, closure, and a vague itchy feeling between your shoulder blades you just can’t reach. What now? Well, several other bloggers have put it well, but I just wanted to add my two cents. I saw this shortly after I saw the movie, and it kind of hits home. On the same token, I’m not entirely sure I find the portrayal of Harry Potter and Geek culture amusing, but it is still a meaningful play on the already meaningful “Firework” song by Katy Perry, just with less sparkly boobs and more sparkly wands. What do you think?

Thanks to Peter Ahlstrom for linking this at me.


Richard Fife is a writer, blogger, and, sadly, a muggle-born. He has written an illustrated steampunk serial novel called The Tijervyn Chronicles that you can read for free, and you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Terminator 2 Turns Twenty

July 3, 1991. The sequel to a successful science fiction/action movie is released. It is yet another movie from writer/director James Cameron, who has been enjoying his success from earlier movies such as Aliens, The Terminator, and The Abyss. As such, there is an amount of hype. People are excited, even me, and I was only eight years old. This movie is one of the great blockbusters of summer. It is slated over Independence Day week, releasing on a Monday of all things. It had an estimated $94,000,000 budget, large even in today’s money, and far more when you look at relative worth, which in comparison would be between $150-$230 million in 2010 dollars. It is a gamble, and it not only paid off, but changed the game for science fiction movies, in some ways wonderfully, but in some ways horribly.

[The double-edged sword of CGI]

Spec Fic Parenting: “Daddy, I’m confused.”

To preface today’s thoughts on raising the geeks of the next generation, allow me a small aside back to JordanCon 2011, where I was the toastmaster. Now, JordanCon has a history of opening ceremonies that are consistently off-the-wall and zany, but I think I may have surprised everyone at the end of this year’s opening with a serious speech. (Note: this was five minutes after I had Rickroll’d the entire convention.) If you are interested, you can read the speech here, or watch the whole opening ceremonies here.

But, I digress. The reason I bring this up is because I talked about how Robert Jordan had influenced me as a writer, and in particular, how I loved that he asked questions in his stories without giving answers. And, I have to say, I’ve come to realize that this same method is important to the raising of inquisitive, spec-fic children.

[Read more]

Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash: ’92’s Eerie Cyber-Prophet

There are numerous types of dystopia, from socially-flawed super-advanced space faring civilizations to medieval re-imaginations. But, I think, one of the most frightening of dystopias is the one that is in the near future, and seems to be getting closer and closer. Snow Crash kind of fits that bill. Despite being written in 1992, there is still a lot in that book that resonates with today and makes it feel like the society Stephenson imagined could still be just around the corner.

Before I get too far in about the actual book, let me set the mood for when this was written. 1992: Bush Sr. was still the President of the United States. The economy was not doing too well, the Cold War was still pretty fresh in people’s minds, Russia was a crazy mess (crazier than it is today), and technology was advancing at a startling rate. Computers were running Windows 3.1, virtual reality was still mostly science fiction, and cell phones were carried around in suit cases, or for the bleeding edge technology, the size of large military two-way radios. Now, with all that in mind, hold onto your pants.

[This man must be a digital Nostradamus]

Series: Dystopia Week

Fantasy Dystopia With a Texan Accent

If it is one thing I have always found odd, it is that societies in fantasies don’t typically get the “dystopian” label, despite how close they may shear to the concept. After all, all medieval-styled societies were more or less dystopian already, right? Oppressed peasants complaining about the violence inherent in the system and all that? But there is an example of a fantasy society in particular that I think exemplifies the dystopia sub-genre while kind of hiding it, and that is the Seanchan Empire from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.

So, what is it that makes Seanchan dystopian? Well, it’s complex. It is, without a doubt, a horrible society from the first time we are introduced to it as a rampaging, mysterious army that has come out of nowhere, using strange monsters for war, and enslaving any woman who can use the One Power. That they do this in very short order to one of the female leads of the story makes them all the more purely evil, right? Yeah, about that.

[Read on]

Series: Dystopia Week

Spec Fic Parenting: When Is Too Far?

So my son loves to hear stories. Good. He loves to tell stories. Awesome! He likes to role-play out what he sees. Nifty! He is so full of imagination and inspiration that it is awe inspiring. But, there’s a problem. A conundrum, if you will. Mayhap I will call it a dichotomy in this whole Speculative Fiction Parenting motif. When he’s in trouble, he is making up grand stories to try and get out of it. To be blunt, he’s lying on an epic scale.

[Read more on this annoying Catch-22…]

Spec Fic Parenting: Playing a Role

Well, I’ve talked about how I tell my kids stories, how my kids tell me stories, and how I like to introduce them to high-concept shows. I think they’re well on the path to nerddom. But I’ve realized a rather large aspect of this equation I’ve forgotten, and that is role-play.

Now, I never was much of a “role-player” in the Gary Gygax sense. Nor do I relish role-playing at “parenting classes” or “sensitivity training.” But neither of these are the origin of role-play. No, my kids taught me that one rather blatantly.

[Now they are the masters]

In Soviet Kandor, puddle jumps in you. New Spring: The Graphic Novel, a Review

As a graphic novel, Robert Jordan’s New Spring has not had an easy road to publication. Initially released in July 2005, the eight issue mini-series ran for five issues before facing significant delays and dramatically ceasing publication in 2006. Since then, the final three issues have trickled out from the involved parties, the Dabel Brothers/Red Eagle/Dynamite Entertainment. Sadly, my awareness of these problems in production kept me from reading the series in single issue form. Last year, though, the eighth and final issue of New Spring was released and now, for those like me who have not kept up with it at all and likely cannot find those 5-year-old first issues, New Spring, Graphic Novel is now available. I have read it, and yes, I have some things to say.

[Most good, but a few not so much]

Spec Fic Parenting: This, My Son, Is A Sword

I am a pretty hardcore geek for fantasy. I love science fiction, too, but my true heart has always lain with fantasy. When I was a teenager and my father took me to a gun show, my eyes were all over the swords. I was a little financially savvy at the time, so I had saved up some money, and, with my father’s permission, I bought a dagger. I had owned a pocket knife for a while but this was my first truly honest weapon. (Or at least a semblance of one; the weapon wasn’t sharp.) I was a teenager and my father was a state champion marksmen in pistol, so I had grown up with a respect for weapons. Thus, he had judged me ready.

That same dagger is actually hanging within a long arm’s reach of me as I type this, along with several others. And yes, my children have noticed them.

[What is a parent to do?]

Spec Fic Parenting: “Tell me a story”

In my estimation, it isn’t enough just to expose my children to the hidden wonder of a strong imagination. Oh no, one must exercise it. And while children by their very nature have strong imaginations, proper cultivation is the difference between a small gourd and one of those state fair super pumpkins in this hideously overdrawn analogy. So, I often ask my older son to tell me stories as well.

[And here is what I get back]

“The journey is the worthier part”: Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale

A month after the fact, I finally received my copy of Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale. I had been warned with mixed, vague reviews from friends, but I will wholeheartedly say: this story is amazing. Written by Zack Whedon from a loose outline from Joss, and with art by Chris Samnee, The Shepherd’s Tale would, in my opinion, be a perfect retroflection of the series to end on.

[Onward to mild spoilers and more thoughts]

Series: Firefly Rewatch

Spec-Fic Parenting: Dora or Avatar?

One of the great worries of being a parent is not only deciding how much television you will let your children watch, but what they can watch when. Of course, being as I am dead set on having my children be children of the 80s two decades displaced, I have an extra large volume of material to consider. But, that aside, there is even just the consideration of this generation’s material. Little Einsteins, Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants, and Avatar: The Last Airbender are all major contenders. So, what to pick?

[Time for some decision making]

Tell Us Some Tales: Serenity: Float Out

Sorry for the week’s delay on this. As those who follow my social networks (listed below, hint hint wink wink) know, I had my house broken into last week. Fortunately, nothing was stolen, but it was still a hassle and succeeded in delaying me. Which, I guess isn’t so bad, as The Shepherd’s Tale has been delayed on its way to my household, too. Hopefully, it will be in our hands soon.

Anyway, we aren’t here to talk about that. No sir. We are here to talk about Hoban Washburne in his own comic: Serenity: Float Out. (Also, there is an alternate cover available)

[We will call this blog, “this blog”]

Series: Firefly Rewatch

Joss Whedon’s Serenity Comics: Better Days, Issue Three

Good things come in threes. Today, our good thing is brought to by a not-light equestrian, some fella named Joss, and Firefly on Tor.com. In particular, we have issue three of Better Days, in which we get some interesting backstory, some vague admissions that don’t mean much, some knowing looks, and a lot of ‘splodin’. Oh, and sudden, universe-resetting poverty.

[If I were a rich man… I’d lose it all gloriously]

Series: Firefly Rewatch