This week, I began working at Cardiff Metropolitan University as an Associate Tutor in English Literature. It’s a short-term post that will span the Spring semester, and it feels good to be teaching again. I’m working with texts by Ursula K. Le Guin, J. R. R. Tolkien, H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, Alan Garner, and Umberto Eco, among others.

Having left a career in academic research back in June, I wondered whether I would return to teaching in higher education—it was always the part of the job that I loved the most. So, as you can imagine, I’m delighted with my new role.

British writer shares what motivates him to create fiction, and how he came to write and publish his debut novel, The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas
Daniel James
Daniel James

When did you first decide to become a writer?

I honestly can’t recall a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. It was less of a conscious decision and more of a realisation about my own nature. I think the only real question was what kind of writer I wanted to be. When I was young, I loved books, cinema and comic books equally and I dreamed of writing stories for each of those mediums. I used to draw and paint a lot as a child and the idea of writing and illustrating my own graphic novels always appealed to me. Similarly, the visual storytelling inherent to cinema, as well as using light and sound to bring different worlds and atmospheres to life and create an end to end sensory experience for people to get lost inside, seemed to map to the way my brain worked.

When I’m writing, I’m often visualising the story unfolding and simply describing what I see in words or hearing the characters inner thoughts and dialogue and transcribing it. This was certainly the case in my debut novel. It was almost as if the story already existed somewhere, out there in the darkness, and was being transmitted into my brain. It’s more than just words and images however. It could be an atmosphere that I sense, like a feeling from a waking dream, that I want to recreate and share in a story. (more…)

An inventory of imaginative potential

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Scott Esposito has recently published The Missing Books, a catalogue of written works that do not exist. LitHub, who has posted extracts from the work, describe its entries for ‘books that have not yet been published (but might one day be), books within books, and books whose authors did not manage to ever complete’. Among the nearly 100 texts listed are Jorge Luis BorgesBook of Sand, a work that promises totality and completeness but which never came to be; there is a non-existent universal dictionary of every word in every language; and H. P. Lovecraft‘s Necronomicon, a book of magic to be written and expanded by future authors. In each case, Esposito is alluding to books that seem to hover tantalizingly between presence and absence. (more…)

More at BR9732.

Channel 4 announces a new science-fiction series based on the work of the American writer

“Channel 4 announced this morning that Bryan Cranston has signed on to star in a ‘hugely ambitious’ 10 part anthology series for the UK network based on the short stories of acclaimed sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick, who’s provided the film and television worlds with a fare share of their most affecting sci-fi visions.”

More at Flavorwire.

From an interview with It’s Nice That

Tell us who you are and what you do?

My name is Richard and I design book covers. Or a slightly longer explanation would be; I’m a cover designer for the publisher Penguin Books, where I work with artists, designers, editors and authors to produce books – which hopefully someone, somewhere will pickup and read. (more…)

Cassandra Khaw (ArsTechnica) on the virtual reality realisation of a Dickian world
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Californium screenshot
Reality is mutable, vulnerable to interpretation and interference. It’s an idea that permeates through Philip K. Dick’s writing, one of the most influential forces in pop culture. Even if you don’t recognise his work by name, chances are you’ve experienced its impact. Minority Report, Blade Runner, A Scanner Darkly, Total Recall—these are all films that owe life to the acclaimed science fiction author. Similarly, an armament of video games draw substance from the man’s fiction, whether it’s Deus Ex or the upcoming Californium.

(more…)

The Paris Review shares ‘The Eyes Have It’ online.

In his critical introduction to the Gothic, Fred Botting explores how Ridley Scott’s films engage with its major themes and motifs…
Sigourney Weaver and Ridley Scott on the set of Alien (1979)
Sigourney Weaver and Ridley Scott on the set of Alien (1979)

In Alien (1979) other Gothic associations are brought to the fore. The wrecked alien spaceship and the bleak planet suggest the gloom, ruin and awful desolation of Gothic architecture and landscape. The coded message the spaceship transmits is not a distress signal, but a warning which goes unheeded by the human cargo ship that attends the call. Unaware of the dangers that their employers, another sinister and powerful corporation, have put them in, the crew are unwitting victims of their attempt to secure the power and profit of possessing such an efficient and utterly inhuman killing machine. The horror of the alien lies not only in its lethal power: its parasitical mode of procreation, using human bodies as hosts, means that it is a threat that emerges from within. (more…)