Jack Ketchum on Film, Part 2


Continuing my series on Jack Ketchum film adaptations: this timcome I’m looking at the novel The Girl Next Door, the film version, and the origins of both in the Sylvia Likens murder case.


Dash a Dero with the Amazing Stories Kickstarter


I’ve been running a retrospective on Amazing Storiesearliest issues for a while now, so I’m happy to report that the pioneering SF mag is on track for some new issues thanks to this Kickstarter campaign. Perks for backers include signed copies of various books, plus the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped to get Amazing back into the marketplace of SF magazines.

After all, someone’s got to keep the detrimental robots at bay…

Space Opera Archeology: John W. Campbell and The Mightiest Machine

“You interfering half-witted physicist, I’ve got to find that catalyst poison.”

— Carlisle, The Mightiest Machine

Mightiest_machineOkay, I’ve looked at Edmond Hamilton, E. E. SmithPhilip Francis NowlanRay Cummings and a selection of short stories. Now, here’s the next big name in the world(s) of pre-50s space opera: John W. Campbell. Spefically, I’m going to be looking at The Mightiest Machine,  which was Campbell’s first novel to be published in book form; it was collected in 1947 after being serialised in Astounding Stories in 1934 and 1935.

The main characters are Aarn Munro, Russ Spencer and Don Carlisle. Aarn Munro is a brilliant physicist who grew up on Jupiter, and as a result of that planet’s strong gravity, developed a five-foot waistline and oddly-shaped limbs. Russ Spencer is the heir of Spencer Rocket Co, a family-run business; his grandfather built the first rocket to reach the moon in 1983, and his father built the first Mars-bound rocket in 2036 . Don Carlisle, a chemist, rounds off the group.

Continue reading “Space Opera Archeology: John W. Campbell and The Mightiest Machine

The Era of the Bizarro Cartmans


When I was doing my A-levels, I remember one day where there was a classroom discussion about film stars. One of my classmates proudly proclaimed “I like Mel Gibson, because he’s manly – he hates Jews and gay people.” Another classmate argued with him, but in a jokey, it’s-just-him-being-him kind of way. This was a generation that’d grown up on South Park, and thought little of having a real-life Cartman in the room.

South Park started out as an act of rebellion against 1990s political correctness culture, and yet here I was in an environment where that rebellion was the norm. I can remember pondering at the time whether the pendulum would swing in another direction – whether there’d be a rebellion against the rebellion, and what shape it might take. I got my answer with the rise of Tumblr culture.

Continue reading “The Era of the Bizarro Cartmans”

How I Spent February 2018

DorisFeb18Freezing myself numb, to be honest.

As I type, my home is surrounded by a lovely blanket of snow. Buses across the city have been cut, scuppering my planned trip to see Black Panther. So, aside from a quick trudge through my now rather Christmas card-like neighbourhood, I’ve been at home writing stuff and tidying up a bit.

But February’s been pretty productive for me, on the whole. I’ve been chipping away at a tidy set of writing projects, and my research has involved reading Jack Ketchum novels, ordering scripts for Universal horror films, digging up 1920s science fiction stories, and chasing after niche suppliers for obscure animated short films. A month well spent, I’d say.

Articles published elsewhere this month:

If you enjoyed any of the above pieces and would like to help me along my writin’ way, then a small donation to my Patreon would be very much appreciated!

Article topics for March and beyond:


Space Opera Archeology: A Few Short Stories

“Ross, it’s horrible. They’re from beyond our universe. Vegetablelike things…”

– Justin Nichols, “Invaders from the Outer Suns”

SpaceoperapackIf you want to see an overview of how space operas evolved over the decades, then the Space Opera Megapack is a cheap and tasty option. It’s where I came across Tarrano the Conqueror for the last post in this series, and right now I’d like to take a look at some of the shorter stories from the 0s and 40s that the anthology has to offer…

I noticed a few familiar names in the book, including Edmond Hamilton. I’d already covered his Interstellar Patrol series, but his story “The Sargasso of Space” (Astounding Stories, 1931) moves away from the weird aliens and colliding suns faced by the Patrol tales in favour of something a bit more down-and-dirty.

Continue reading “Space Opera Archeology: A Few Short Stories”