A City is a Sound

I’ve honored halloween in a special way every year for the past five years with installments of my  decade-long art project, Ten Halloweens (which will run for another five years before it goes dark for good). Each year I released a freebie, usually an ebook or a musical track.

But this year I have something more ambitious to announce. The last two installments of Ten Halloweens featured tracks from upcoming albums. Well, they are upcoming no more.

I’m releasing four albums simultaneously today, and I’ll blog about each one in turn. All of them are now available on Bandcamp, and they’ll be rolled out gradually on other platforms.

Today’s topic is A City is a Sound, which is one of three albums in the Another Place series. Here’s the pitch:

A modern sound captures the retro spirit of the great American cities of the 1970s. From the bad old days of Times Square, through the rust belt, to the polyglot neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Sixteen tracks evoking the dirty, the arty, the shambolic, and the glorious.

Includes a 15-page illustrated digital booklet with enhanced period photographs. The booklet comes in two version, hi-res for use on computers, and a version optimized for portable devices.

From the liner notes:

A city is a sound, a particular oscillation,
A tone and a timbre
Shaped by the unique way that
The buildings in this town
Channel the air currents–
The gait with which these individual residents walk
Vibrating the earth just so.
A city is a waveform sculpted by the
Singular shape of its skyline,
Which tailors its harmonics,
Introduces interference, and
Anchors high, cutting tones
With deep, bass booms.

Here’s the title track.

And here are a few of the enhanced period images from the digital booklet that downloads with the album.




Next time: the album Alone in a Big Place.


Posted in Music, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Zombies and Nazis and D-Day, Oh My!

The TL/DR Synopsis Synopsis: A new horror short fiction collection, Stille! Untoten!, includes my story “Les Poupeés Gris.”

Links to: The book and the previous volume in the series.

The novel, the album, and the videos.  One bundle, free forever

The novel, the album, and the videos. One bundle, free forever

Some time ago I saw a call for submissions for a short story collection to be entitled Raus! Untoten!

The project had a sweet kind of pulp magazine appeal: Nazis and zombies together in one story.  As I noted in a previous post (“What Could Be Worse Than The Undead?“), this combination isn’t entirely novel:

That particular crossover isn’t new of course. From older movies like 1977’s Shock Waves to newer ones like 2009’s Dead Snow to games like Call of Duty: World at War – Zombies, zombies and Nazis have crossed paths before, with decidedly mixed results.

Shock Waves (left), Call of Duty World at War Zombies (center), and Dead Snow (right).

Shock Waves (left), Call of Duty World at War Zombies (center), and Dead Snow (right).

That said, it seemed to me that the publishers were looking for stuff that was a cut above. Your story could have all the trashy appeal of an old issue of Weird Tales, but in terms of quality you wanted to aim somewhere around the Paris Review.

I’m a fan of pulp magazines (as well as stuff that isn’t really pulp but that has a similar lineage and ambiance, like EC horror comics), so the proposal had a natural appeal for me.

Raus! Untoten! The first volume of the series.

Raus! Untoten! The first volume of the series.

I wrote a story called “Les Poupeés Gris,” about the interruption of the D-Day invasion by French zombies bent on killing soldiers on both sides, resulting in a serious alteration of the history from the end of the Second World War right up to the present day.

I finished writing the story on June 6, 2013, which was the 69th anniversary of the landings at Normandy. The story itself ends on June 6, 2014, a date which just passed a few months ago, the 70th anniversary of the invasion–but of course it concludes on that day in an alternate history.

In that 2014, the Allies never re-took continental Europe, France remains an administrative zone of the Third Reich, and a modernized version of the USSR  is led by a man with a bright smile, a Twitter feed, and a Dutch wife, who is still plotting the belated defeat of the Axis powers.

Normandy meets NOTLD

The Walking Deadly meet the Walking Dead: Canadian D-Day troops encounter zombies in Normandy. (Photos: image on the left by Ken Bell [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons | image on the right by George A. Romero (Screenshot from timeinc.net) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons).

In the world of the story, independent zombie traditions from Africa and Europe met in colonial Haiti when it was under French rule, forming a new, potent mix.  But the original European zombie persists. In France it’s called a poupeé gris–a grey puppet–referencing its ghoulish skin tone and the fact that, like a puppet, it’s an artificial person created and controlled by a human being.  It is these poupeés gris who stand between the 21st century Soviet Union and the defeat of its long-time German rival.

The publishers decided to make Raus! Untoten! a multi-volume series, and “Les Poupeés Gris” was accepted for the second volume.  On Halloween 2013 volume one was released. Just a couple of days ago volume two, called Stille! Untoten!, finally became available, and “Les Poupeés Gris” is the story that opens the book.

Stille! Untoten! With Les Poupees Gris. as the lead story.

Stille! Untoten! With Les Poupees Gris. as the lead story.

To get your copy, in paperback or e-book format, click your preferred link below.  Buy one now, before I eat your brain!

Stille! Untoten! is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.co.uk.

Raus! Untoten! is also available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.co.uk.

Posted in Les Poupeés Gris | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Most Generous Book in the World

The TL/DR Synopsis Synopsis: Illustration and reviews for The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History, which includes my text on Alan Turing and Christopher Morcom.
Links to: The book, the illustrator’s site, reviews and mentions.

The novel, the album, and the videos.  One bundle, free forever

The novel, the album, and the videos. One bundle, free forever

I was recently invited to write a short piece on Alan Turing and his childhood friend and secret crush, Christopher Morcom, for a book called The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History, about the relatively unknown people who fostered, supported, loved, and nurtured historical figures (see my post “Alan Turing Hits the Red Carpet, Chris Morcom Hits the Books“).

I’ve finally had a chance to see the art that accompanies my text (or perhaps I should say “the art to which my text is an accompaniment,” since the title of the book stresses the artists rather than the writers).  It’s a beautiful image by award-winning illustrator Keith Negley.  You can find a nice piece on Negley in my favorite art rag, Juxtapoz, right here.

Alan Turing and Christopher Morcom, by Keith Negley.

Alan Turing and Christopher Morcom, by Keith Negley.

The book has also had some reviews and mentions, including an extensive one (from which I stole the title for this post) at Brain Pickings, a site I check religiously and recommend highly.

I think it’s fair to say that their review is glowing, and there’s even a brief, complimentary mention of my section:

Writer Nas Hedron tells the story of a British boy named Christopher Morcom — Turing’s teenage crush — who pulled young Alan out of his notoriously awkward shell… When Morcom died of bovine tuberculosis, his death devastated Turing beyond measure… As he struggled to understand how a mind as brilliant as Chris’s could just cease to exist with the death of the brain, he inevitably began probing the relationship between the two and the foundation of consciousness. Hedron elegantly captures the lifelong impact of the tragedy:

“This line of thinking, about intangible thoughts housed in tangible brains, would run through each of Turing’s accomplishments.”

The Brain Pickings review

The Brain Pickings review

The book has also been received well in The Guardian and on Design Milk.

And finally, the team that assembled the book has also put together a great animated video trailer, embedded below.

Pick up your copy today!

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The Ten Halloweens Project Turns Two Years Old

The TL/DR Synopsis Synopsis: The Ten Halloweens Project, a decade-long art project, is back with a second round of free stuff (plus another chance to get last year’s stuff).  Disappears at midnight, November 1, for another year.
Links to: Ten Halloweens home page with links to free downloads.

The novel, the album, and the videos.  One bundle, free forever

The novel, the album, and the videos. One bundle, free forever

Last year saw the inaugural iteration of the Ten Halloweens project, a decade-long art project running from 2013 to 2022.

Each year I post a new, free download, but different iterations of the project come in different forms.  Last year it was poetry, this year it’s a short story, next year it may be original music, a series of visual images, a video, or just about anything else that can be delivered over the internet.

Each iteration is only available from mid-October to midnight on November 1.  After that it disappears until the following year, when it’s joined by a new iteration.

And each iteration also includes an annual image, to help set the mood.  The image may be related to the main work or it may stand alone.

Click the Ten Halloweens screenshot to visit the page and get the downloads.

Click the screenshot to go to the Ten Halloweens page.

Click the screenshot to go to the Ten Halloweens page.

This year’s work is a short story in ebook form (ePUB or Kindle).  The Terminal Case describes a haunting–not in an old, gothic mansion, but in a bright, sleek, modern airport.  It may be a supernatural tale, or it may simply be a story told by an unreliable narrator whose grip on reality is slipping.

The Terminal Case, the 2014 iteration of Ten Halloweens.  Click to go there.

The Terminal Case, the 2014 iteration of Ten Halloweens. Click to go there.

And, as will happen each year, when the new iteration arrives the old one(s) reappear during the same window of time.  So if you missed out on The Haunt in the Meadow last year, you can catch up now.

The Haunt in the Meadow, the 2013 iteration of Ten Halloweens. Click to go there.

The Haunt in the Meadow, the 2013 iteration of Ten Halloweens. Click to go there.

And mark your calendar for next year.  Who knows what you’ll find at Ten Halloweens in 2015?

The image below is the annual image from last year, “The Desert Dreamed the Sun Chased the Sea Away,”  which comes from my series The Desert Contains Everything.

“The Desert Dreamed the Sun Chased the Sea Away,” by Nas Hedron, from the series The Desert Contains Everything (click to enlarge).

“The Desert Dreamed the Sun Chased the Sea Away,” by Nas Hedron, from the series The Desert Contains Everything (click to enlarge).

Posted in Ten Halloweens, The Haunt in the Meadow (2013), The Terminal Case | Leave a comment

Alan Turing Hits the Red Carpet, Chris Morcom Hits the Books


The TL/DR Synopsis Synopsis: The Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game wings big at the Toronto International Film Festival and a new book features “the secret sidekicks of history,” including an entry I was invited to write on Chris Morcom, Turing’s great friend and secret crush.
Links to: The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History on Amazon.com.
Embedded video: Trailer for The Imitation Game.


The novel, the album, and the videos.  One bundle, free forever

The novel, the album, and the videos. One bundle, free forever


It’s rare that I look out on yet another perfect, sunny day in Brazil and wish that I was in my other hometown, Toronto.

I sometimes get nostalgic for something specific: a friend, or a favorite restaurant. And occasionally I yearn for an entire neighbourhood (it’s almost always Chinatown).  But very rarely do I miss the city as a whole enough to wish I was there.

But every September it happens at least once, because September is when the sparkly pixie dust of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) drifts in on a cool autumn breeze and coats every intersection, every streetlight, and every skungy eatery in a magical candy coating.

For years, a close connection to certain TIFF staff allowed me to avoid the ticket lotteries and other rigamarole and see every damned film I wanted, which was glorious.  I watched Toshiaki Toyoda’s awesome Blue Spring unfold long before it became a cult classic. I watched Claire Denis’ disturbing Trouble Every Day, followed by an even more disturbing Q&A in which Vincent Gallo propositioned the female audience members en masse.  I watched the beautiful, brutal City of God before I had any personal connection to Brazil, reveled in the Korean monster movie The Host, and lost myself in Seung-wook Moon’s low -budget dystopian fantasy Nabi (The Butterfly), which I’ve never been able to find again.

A few TIFF memories (L to R): Blue Spring, Trouble Every Day, City of God, The Host, and The Butterfly.

A few TIFF memories (L to R): Blue Spring, Trouble Every Day, City of God, The Host, and The Butterfly (click to enlarge).

I’d have loved to be at this year’s festival,but this time it’s not just for the usual reasons. This year Alan Turing–the ground-breaking British mathematician, computer pioneer, and war hero, who was prosecuted for and convicted of homosexuality and died, a probable suicide, at the age of forty-one–won top honors.  The Turing biopic, The Imitation Game (trailer below), starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, took home the coveted Grolsch People’s Choice Award, setting some serious Oscar buzz in motion.

I’ve been flying Turing’s flag for more than a decade now, beginning at a time in the late 1990s when he was still obscure, long before the UK government apologized for its treatment of him, before he was officially pardoned for his conviction, before his hundredth anniversary became the occasion for international celebrations in 2012, and before The Pet Shop Boys memorialized him.

I gave an artificial intelligence his face in my novel Luck and Death at the Edge of the World, blogged about him on The Turing Centenary, and his various fictional incarnations (mine is hardly the only one) will be the subject of my upcoming non-fiction book, Conjuring Turing: The Fictional Afterlife of Alan Turing.


The TIFF win underscores the fact that although the Turing centenary is now long past, Alan Turing’s star is still rising.  And as it climbs, others are occasionally dragged into the limelight along with him.

Benedict Cumberbatch takes a selfie with fans at TIF 2014.

Benedict Cumberbatch takes a selfie with fans at TIF 2014 (photo here).

Which brings me to some other news.

Some time ago I was asked by the editors of an upcoming book to write a brief article about Christopher Morcom, Alan Turing’s close friend, mathematical muse, and secret teenage crush.

The book is called The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History, and the title more or less speaks for itself.  A selection of unsung heroes who inspired, supported, or carried water for more famous counterparts are finally getting their due.

From Nabokov’s wife to Warhol’s mother, and from Al Capone’s mentor to Lenin’s brother, this book takes stock of the indispensable but often overlooked contributions of relatives, friends, secretaries, lovers, and business partners to the careers of the great and glorious.

After a long period of incubation, which was inevitable in a project with this many authors, its publication is now almost upon us.  On October 14, 2014 it will become available, with a launch (head’s up New Yorkers!) on October 24 at The Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn.

It’s a great looking volume, as you can see from the photos below.

The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History

The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History

www3 clear

www5 clear


The book follows the success of The Where, the Why, and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science and features a foreword by Kurt Andersen, host of the awesome Studio 360, which I never miss (in podcast form).

Many thanks to the Who, What, and When team at Also Online–Julia Rothman, Jenny Volvovski, and Matt Lamothe–for inviting me to be part of the project.  To everyone else: the holiday season isn’t that far away, and this book would make an awesome gift for anyone who enjoys knowing the story behind the story.

And now, to close, a last bit of TIFF.  Here’s an extensive TIFF interview with Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley about The Imitation Game (in which Knightly’s first words to the interviewer are a good-humored fuck you).


Posted in Cinema, Conjuring Turing: The Fictional Afterlife of Alan Turing, Facts in Fiction/Alan Turing, Luck + Death at the Edge of the World, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Bundle, Free Forever: Auto-Pirating My Work

The TL/DR Synopsis Synopsis: Announcing a new, free edition of novel Luck and Death at the Edge of the World, with the full novel but without the bonus material.
Links to: free download of the book and related soundtrack, videos, and audiobook (direct download or by torrent).
Embedded videos and music: Song “Jung Jing Road” (Backbeat Candy, U.K.), song “The Hungry Ghosts” (Jason Brock, U.S.A.), and video “Gat’s Nightmare” (Nas Hedron).
Downloads: Luck and Death at the Edge of the World, the Official Pirate Edition (ePUB and Kindle), Luck and Death: the Soundtrack for the Movie in Your Head, Luck and Death videos, free bonus e-book.


Nas LD Pirate Banner

The novel, the album, and the videos.  One bundle, free forever


Pirating My Own Book

The issue of piracy can be a divisive one for authors.

Many feel understandably threatened by the idea of illegal copies of their books floating around online for free, and not a little betrayed when pirate editions appear to have been uploaded by their own fans.  They naturally worry that pirated versions will undercut commercial sales, threatening their livelihood.

Others view free copies an effective form of promotion and believe that their availability actually increases sales.  Some, like Cory Doctorow and Peter Watts, actually make copies of their own books available free on their own web sites (Craphound.com and Rifters.com, respectively).

Cory Doctorow (left) and Peter Watts (right), with book titles they offer for free.

Cory Doctorow (left) and Peter Watts (right), with book titles they offer for free.

Luck and Death, which now has both a commercial edition and a new Official Pirate Edition, straddles these two extremes.

Or maybe it’s better to say that it goes to a greater extreme in both directions.

Luck and Death at the End of the World, in the commercial edition (left) and the Official Pirate Edition (right)

Luck and Death at the End of the World, in the commercial edition (left) and the Official Pirate Edition (right)


The Official Pirate Edition: Not Just a Free Book

On the free side, Luck and Death comes bundles with extras that most authors don’t provide with free copies of their books.  Most notably, there’s a full soundtrack album with fourteen tracks by artists in eight countries, including indie musicians, a film composer, a classical composer, and the author, packaged with two choices of cover art.

It also comes with three video shorts, each focused on a different aspect of the novel and each set to a different track (or portion of a track) from the album.  Lastly, there’s an audiobook of Chapter One called Brace + Erase that includes a professional score by TTG Music Lab.

To be fair, Peter does have a pretty awesome free multimedia presentation on vampire domestication that ties in to one of his novels, and Cory does podcasts on various topics that sometimes intersect with ideas in his fiction, but I don’t know of any other free book that comes with quite so extensive a package tailored specifically to it.

Two of the fourteen tracks on Luck and Death: the Soundtrack for the Movie in Your Head.  Press the play button to hear a track.

Jung Jing Road (Backbeat Candy, U.K.) 3:17

The Hungry Ghosts (Jason Brock, U.S.A.) 3:27

One of the Luck and Death videos.

Another difference is that rather than just offering the Official Pirate Edition bundle as a direct download on my own site (or in this case a specially constructed home page), I’ve also posted it on some of the the main torrent sites.

It now lives, side by side with pirated episodes of Game of Thrones and illicit copies of 50 Shades of Grey, on The Pirate Bay, KickAss Torrents, and the recently revived Demonoid, where it’s seeded directly by Hipper Tiger Books.

Beyond that, the full text of the novel is available on both Wattpad and Scribd, with links to the rest of the bundle.

The Luck and Death OPE bundle on KickAss Torrents

The Luck and Death OPE bundle on KickAss Torrents


Finally, any reader who isn’t gorged on free stuff by this point can go to The Official Pirate Edition home page and sign up for one of my email announcement lists, in which case they’ll get a free bonus ebook sent by email.

The Commercial Edition: Above and Beyond the Freebies

On the commercial side, the edition of Luck and Death that you buy on Amazon or Kobo is, in effect, a deluxe edition, and includes bonus material that isn’t in the Pirate Edition, so there’s still a good reason for discerning readers to buy it.

The Facts in the Fiction is an extensive six-part section digging into the factual background of various elements in the story, specifically:

  • The historical antecedents to the estate at Cloud City, including Neverland, Graceland, and the grandaddy of them all, Pickfair
  • The real world of weaponized robotic dogs
  • The actual correlates to the emerging infectious diseases that lead to quarantines in parts of the book’s version of Los Angeles
  • The state of science in relation to the uploading of human minds to artificial bodies
  • The real Alan Turing, upon whom an AI in the novel bases its appearance, and
  • The secular, non-mystical version of the dharma, which the protagonist, Gat Burroughs, practices

This section is illustrated with photographs and diagrams, and it contains links to relevant web pages, scholarly publications in PDF format, and videos.

Three pages from The Facts in the Fiction, showing illustrations (left and right) and links to video, scholarly PDFs, and a podcast.

Sample pages from different parts of The Facts in the Fiction, showing illustrations (left and right) and links (center) to videos, scholarly PDFs, and a podcast.  Click to enlarge.


This is an experiment.

I like creating freebies to go with my books, and I’ve been doing it for some time, but now the question is: can a free version of the book itself, along with the music and videos and so forth, coexist with, and possibly even help sell, a deluxe commercial edition?  I guess we’ll find out.

In the meantime, you might want to pick up a copy of the Official Pirate Edition bundle if you don’t have one yet and see what you think.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Aliens Invade Nigeria and Find Dr. Who, Swedish Leader’s SF Novel, Free Downloads + More

The TL/DR Synopsis Synopsis: new column, “Around the World,” looks at world SF (full text).
Links to: International Speculative Fiction magazine, multiple news items about international SF.
Embedded videos and music: R.U.R. Genesis (full video), The Day They Came, Episode 1 (full video), “Rani’s Theme” (full song), “Overnight to Amsterdam” (full song).
Downloads: International Speculative Fiction #5 (full issue, free), The Virgin Birth of Sharks: the Soundtrack for the Movie in Your Head (full album, free).


The New Fallen World Book by Nas Hedron

The New Fallen World Book by Nas Hedron


The new issue of International Speculative Fiction (which is, as always, available entirely free in PDF, ePUB, and Kindle formats) will be available for download starting tomorrow, January 19, 2014, on the ISF web site.

It features:

  • Fiction by Hugo Award nominee and Paul Harland Prize winner Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Netherlands), Francesco Verso (Italy), and Manuel Alves (Portugal)
  • “At Home in the Wasteland: The Art of Sergi Brosa,” which is a profile by Saul Bottcher of this issue’s awesome cover artist (click the cover art below to see it much larger)
  • A review by Sean Wright of The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2005-2010 , and
  • A non-fiction article by Hunter Liguore, “Social Science Fiction.”

It also includes a new column by the non-fiction editor–that’s me–called “Around the World,” which is a chatty summary of news and links relating to international SF from the far-flung corners of the web.

Each new installment of “Around the World” will appear in ISF and here on this page.  You’ll find the inaugural column below, so dig in.

International Speculative Fiction #5

International Speculative Fiction #5

Around the World #1, (from ISF #5)

Around the World is a round-up of news, reviews, and other links from around the Internet that relate to ISF’s mandate: increasing the profile of speculative fiction that focuses on the international, or that comes from regions not normally associated with the speculative fiction mainstream.  It also includes news regarding authors who have published in ISF.

Awesome Campaign for a Grant to Increase Diversity in SF

Ellen B. Wright and Faye Bi are both speculative fiction fans, they both work in book publishing, and they’re both runners.  Last year the two joined forces for an awesome cause that’s close to the heart of the ISF community: a marathon to raise funds for a brand new writing grant (to be administered by the Speculative Literature Foundation) that will go toward supporting diversity in science fiction and fantasy.

As the pair noted on their fundraising page (screenshot below), science fiction and fantasy fans are a diverse group, but our beloved SF books, television, and movies don’t always reflect that diversity:

“…those of us who don’t fit into one particular box (and some who do) have noticed something. There’s one story that’s told in the genre over and over again. You’ve probably seen it. It’s about a straight white man, or often a bunch of straight white men, creating things with science, wielding magic, saving the world, blowing stuff up. If there are women or people of color involved, we’re probably love interests or sidekicks. We probably only talk to, or about, the white male lead. We probably die first, or to provide motivation for the protagonist.”

None of this is news to the staff and readers of ISF—after all, recognizing and enjoying diversity in speculative fiction is what this publication is all about.  But it’s nice to see someone taking concrete steps to do something about it.

Ellen and Faye teamed up with the SLF, which already administers the Older Writers Grant and the Gulliver Travel Research Grant, to create the Diverse Worlds Grant, which will:

“… help writers from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the genre to start and continue publishing. As good science fiction and fantasy worlds should, this grant will welcome all kinds of diversity: gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, ability level, religion, etc.”

The two women ran the 2013 NYC Marathon to raise funds for the new grant.  Their efforts were a huge success, and the campaign exceeded its $2,500.00 goal, raising a total of $3,356.00, or 134% of their target amount.

On behalf of ISF, congratulations to Ellen and Faye, and congratulations to the speculative fiction community, which will be deepened and enriched by their efforts.

Diversity Grant Fundraiser Screenshot

Diversity Grant Fundraiser Screenshot

Rebooting the Original Robots: Classic Czech SF Revisited

The word “robot” came into the English language via a Czech play called R.U.R., written by  Karel Čapek in 1920.  R.U.R. also marked the first appearance of a theme that would be revisited more than once afterward, notably in the Terminator films: a robot uprising.

Now, R.U.R. is having a renaissance of sorts, having been adapted into the short film R.U.R. Genesis.  The original play was set in the 1950s or 1960s—then far in the future.  The film is set in the same time period, in an alternate version of 1969, but from the vantage point of 2013 the 1960s have become retro-futuristic.

The team at Helicon Arts Cooperative, who previously made the feature Yesterday Was A Lie (2008), hope to turn R.U.R. Genesis into a feature as well.  The cast includes Chase Masterson, whom SF fans may know from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

You can watch the R.U.R. Genesis online here and a behind-the-scenes featurette here (or embedded below).  The film’s home page is here.

You can read the original R.U.R., translated into English by David Wyllie, here.  You can also see a production of it on YouTube: Act I, Act II, Act III.

SF News from Nigeria

Item One:  Nigeria has a thriving film industry, often referred to as Nollywood.  When Ficson Films—a new Nigerian company providing film production, event coverage, documentaries, and commercials—wanted to announce their presence recently, they did it in an imaginative way: they released a short science fiction video on YouTube.

The Day They Came, Episode 1 (embedded below) doesn’t have a very expansive plot, but maybe it’ll be fleshed out in later episodes.  A man comes out of a house to have a cigarette and clear his head.  Everything is normal—a rooster crows somewhere nearby.  Then he hears something and looks toward the horizon, which is when the aliens arrive and all hell breaks loose.

It’s a fun little short and, given the number of times it’s been posted and reposted on Facebook and elsewhere, it appears to be doing what it’s supposed to do: get attention.

Item Two: Nigeria is also the location for a small SF miracle—the discovery of nine “lost” episodes of Doctor Who just in time for the Doctor’s 50th anniversary (BBC page, Wikipedia page).  The trove includes four episodes of the six-part story The Web of Fear, in which the Doctor battles robot Yetis who are spreading a poisonous fungus on the London Underground.


Swedish Prime Minister’s Science Fiction Novel Becomes a Hit Play

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt wrote a dystopian novel called Det Sovande Folket (“The Sleeping People” or “The Sleeping Nation”) twenty years ago.  It was all but forgotten, and isn’t in print any more, although a pirated version is available on internet torrent sites. But now that Reinfeldt is running the country it’s become a hot property and it’s been turned into a play that has sold out every performance.  Reinfeldt has refused to comment.

Written when he was 28, the novel is set this year, in 2013, making this a perfect time to resurrect it.  It portrays a Sweden that is feeling the effects of twenty years of Social Democratic government, where the populace is divided into the Fools, who do all the work and who finance the welfare state, and the Sleeping Brains, who lazily watch television all day long while living on benefits.  Sounds positively Ayn-Rand-ian!


Hit Film Gravity Crosses Borders

Caution: spoilers ahead.
There’s some debate as to whether or not the new film Gravity (home page, Wikipedia, YouTube trailer embedded below), which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and which set an all-time record for an October film opening, should be classified as science fiction.  There’s nothing fundamentally speculative about it—everything in it could happen today, with current technology and in the current social context—so maybe it’s better considered simply as a space-based thriller.

Whatever the merits of the arguments on each side, it certainly features a setting associated with science fiction (indeed, that was science fiction until fairly recently), has been well received by SF fans, and is considered SF by many people, so I’ll let that classification stand for the purposes of this column.

Being a major Hollywood release, Gravity isn’t the usual fare covered in ISF, but it has several international aspects, both in story and execution.  The film was co-written, co-produced, and directed by Alphonso Cuarón, the Mexican director of Spanish-language films like Y Tu Mama También and English language features like Children of Men.

And then there’s the Chinese connection.  The massive Chinese film audience is being courted by innumerable film projects these days, often through co-productions with Chinese companies or through the casting of Chinese actors.

But as the International Business Times notes, Gravity appears to be have its sights set on China using story elements alone.  Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) first takes refuge in a state-of-the-art Chinese space station, then hitches a ride home in a Chinese capsule—giving uncommon cinematic recognition to the growing Chinese space program.  It couldn’t come at a better time: just this month China’s space program celebrated its first decade of manned flight, later this month it’s scheduled to send an unmanned rover to the Moon, and it has longer-term plans to return man to the Moon for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972.

And it appears possible that the Chinese story elements succeeded in pleasing Chinese authorities, because the film has just been approved for distribution in China.

The ISF Alumni Department: The Entire Roster from ISF#2

ISF #2 featured fiction by three authors, Ken Liu, Lavie Tidhar, and me, Nas Hedron, and each of these alumni has news this issue.

Ken Liu has actually appeared in two issues of ISF (#2 and #4).  Given that this is only issue #5, that makes him practically a member of the family.  Recently Ken had a brief profile on the Malaysian news site The Star Online.  It recaps his historic sweep of the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and World Fantasy Award in 2012, the first work of fiction to take all three awards in a year.  Ken was in nearby Singapore as part of the Read! Singapore program.  Until now he has focused on short fiction, but told the Star that he’s now at work on his first novel, which he hopes to finish by the end of the year.  I’m sure I’m not the only one at ISF looking forward to it.

Lavie Tidhar, meanwhile, has been interviewed at length for the current issue of Clarkesworld, in “Deep Into the Dark: A Conversation with Lavie Tidhar.”

Finally, I’ve just released a free soundtrack album to accompany my 2012 magic realist novelette The Virgin Birth of Sharks.  The story is about a Desi street kid in Toronto who learns that she was, inexplicably, conceived while her mother was in prison and had no contact at all with men.  The book has a home page here.  The album includes music ranging from blues to tango to ambient, and features artists from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, Ukraine, and the United States, and is available as a free download here.

Two tracks are embedded below via SoundCloud.  The first is by musician and  ArtisTech Media founder Jason Brock and the second is by me.  I’ll let them play us out.

If you know of an item you think should be included in the next installment of Around the World, please send it to us at ISFAroundTheWorld@gmail.com.

The Virgin Birth of Sharks Album

The Virgin Birth of Sharks album– free to download.

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