Reflections on fantasy, SF, writing, music, technology, life…

Sherlock meets Doctor Who

Having thoroughly enjoyed the start of the new Sherlock series on New year’s Day, I was intrigued by the article in the Guardian about how Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, writers for both Sherlock and Doctor Who, need to beware of catering too much for the obsessive fan base and not for the broader audience.

I certainly enjoyed the in-jokes about the fans of Sherlock, although for me it did border on going just a bit too far.

The delight of the article though was the link to the fan mash-up video of Sherlock meeting the Doctor. Very neatly done and worth watching if you like these series.

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David Langford’s “Ansible” – an essential SF news resource

I have always had a soft spot for David Langford’s “Ansible”, which I receive by email and read avidly at the start of each month. It combines SF news, some market information and convention details with a bundle of useful links and plenty of good humour.

While produced in and focused on the UK SF scene, it also holds its own internationally. If you have not checked it out, look at the Ansible web site or take a look at the latest issue (February 2013) number 307

It was through reading the awards section of an Ansible in 2006, I found out the Britsh Fantasy Society had given a “founders award” to the the four of us who set up the BFS back in 1971. A very pleasant surprise for me, sitting as I was in rural France. It led also to my reestablishing contact with the BFS.

That reminds me, I still owe Dave a beer for that!

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Fantasy – a genre with a sense of community

Last night (Friday 2 March) I went to my first British Fantasy Society Open Night in London. Apart from attending Fantasycon2011 in Brighton this was my first SF/fantasy social activity for a long time though I had been an active fan in the (far distant) past. What really struck me once again was the friendliness and and accessibility, not only of fantasy fans but of the professionals working in the genre. Over the course of the evening, I was fortunate enough to be able to chat with several writers, publishers, editors and an agent as well as enthusiastic genre readers.

I think this accessibility is unique to the fantasy genre (in its broadest definition from SF through to horror) and goes back many decades. I guess it is because most of us start as fans – and stay fans of the genre. There is a real sense of community as well as of enthusiasm.

The BFS has had more than its share of ups and downs but it is a community more than a formal society and this was noticeable in the way the community pulled together to save it after the awards fiasco last October. Last night the BFS was showing its strengths.

One of the conversations – with Jo Fletcher and Peter Colborn – was about this, in part stimulated by the fact that I was “returning to the fold” – having been one of the four founder members of the BFS back in 1971 but away for years. We talked about what was different and what had remained the same. For me, the enthusiasm for the genre was as strong as ever, but what is very different is not only the number of fans involved in the fantasy genre (and buying the books!) but also the involvement of professionals with the BFS and with conventions. We could not identify any other genres that came close to this friendly interaction: crime and romance are perhaps the closest but nowhere near this level of personal interaction.

Other signs of a good community included an excellent charity auction in aid of a children’s hospice and, a particularly nice note, Steve Jones going round and, noticing I was a first time attender, coming over to talk and make sure I was involved and enjoying myself.

All in all, a great evening (and good beer!)

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Firefly, free speech and SOPA

I am a huge fan of Firefly and Serenity. Recently I heard about the attempt to censor a US university professor who put a humorous quote from the show on his door (and which the thought police had totally misunderstood…) but have only just heard how it ended.

The YouTube video below, featuring Nathan Fillion and Neil Gaiman, tells the tale of how common sense only prevailed after fans of Firefly got involved.

Firefly campus censorship video

Another interesting thought… if Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) are passed in US could someone based in Europe share this with friends outside the USA?

Given Firefly was a Fox series, check out the hypocrisy of Rupert Murdoch, that stout defender of the rule of law, whose News Organisation is committed to saving us from all those who would break it. Murdoch on SOPA

Oh? Did someone mention phone-hacking?

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