Not The Fox News: The Superfan Delusion

(‘Son, you need to stay indoors! Burn some books! Don’t worry about the symbolism just do it! There’s a Bad Science Front sweeping towards you!’)

You know that scientist who always turns up in B-Movies? The one who figures everything out, and goes in front of The Board (Of…Science, presumably) to beg them to do something and they don’t?  And then THE AWFUL happens and they’re all ‘Oh save us!’ and the scientist, or Ripley as she does this too, is all ‘…FINE.’

Hi, I’m Doctor Stuart and I’ve worked out two of the things that are killing genre fiction.

Continue reading “Not The Fox News: The Superfan Delusion”

Not The Fox News, January 2014: Memeoriam Day

(With special thanks to Saxon Bullock for looking at early drafts and helping me untangle the rat king of stuff I wanted to say.)


Let’s talk about what’s going to happen when I rule the world. Being a global dictator isn’t easy and, these days, it’s all about the PR. So, in addition to the social media push and viral ads that will shortly spring up, I intend to mark my coronation with the creation of a new national holiday; Memeoriam Day

Memeoriam Day will be the day that we say goodbye to all the tired old running jokes that have barnacled the hull of the good ship Pop Culture across the last decade. Festivities begin at the start of the year as the jokes start their long trip across the world. As the months pass, retrospectives will be aired, the talking heads who always get wheeled out will be allowed a day pass from their secure reserve somewhere on the Norfolk Broads to pass comment and, quietly, the countdown website will mark time.

Then, the final stage will begin. A huge, open air party will begin as the jokes, carried by members of the public or, perhaps, their original writers, will process to the Tower Of London. There, they will be interred in a vault far beneath the ground where tearful monks will recite them one last time. On the final, whispered ‘lol’, the monks will withdraw and the vault door will shut. It will not open again before the next ceremony. No one has the key to it, not even me and the plans were destroyed once it was constructed.

Finally, Jules Holland will lead the planet in a rousing chorus of ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ because for some reason that one’s bullet proof. Once it’s concluded, we’ll all go on with our lives, stumbling out onto the freshly mowed grass of pop culture to explore it anew. The jokes interred will be remembered but never spoken of again, at least, not in public. Of course there will be speakeasies, places where the old jokes flow freely. They will exist because every society needs a pressure valve and, more importantly, because I allow them to exist.


For Now.


So, what will be the first batch of jokes into the Vault, and why? Hypothetically? Because clearly I’m not planning on executing this plan this year…



-JJ Abrams and lens flare, because even he’s admitted it was a touch out of hand.

-All Michael Bay movies are awful, because they’re just not. Oh, certainly, some are and Revenge of the Fallen is legitimately one of the worst films I have ever seen. But this is also the director behind the original Bad Boys, The Rock, Con Air and Pain and Gain. There’s more to him than incomprehensible action scenes and a deep profound love for military hardware.

Shut up.

There is.

Some of the time.

Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey as arbiters of bad writing. This one is a straight up public service because the only thing you’re proving every time you make this point is that you haven’t paid enough attention to modern popular fiction. There is much, much worse out there. Waiting. Testing the fences. Looking for weaknesses. It remembers…

-Jar Jar. Please, baby, for all of us. Let it go.

-Joss Whedon shows are always brilliant and always fail. Because they aren’t and they don’t. Worse, believing either perpetuates the underdog myth that continues to surround the writer and director of one of the most successful films of all time and the disproportionate and massively tedious backlash against his most recent projects.

-Waiting to the end of the credits just in case Nick Fury shows up to recruit the character into the Avengers. I’ve done this one myself. I love this one. But it’s time. It’s just (sniff) it’s time…(whimpers)

-Summer Glau kills shows. Because Summer Glau is not the show-killer. Summer Glau is not the little death that brings total obliteration. We will face Summer Glau’s body of work. We will permit it to pass over and through our minds. Perhaps even in Arrow. And when Summer Glau has gone past we will turn the inner eye to see her path. Where Summer Glau has gone there will be something. Her work on The Sarah Conner Chronicles in particular will remain.

-‘Hate-Watching’. The entire concept. Seriously. What the Hell is wrong with you?


Should this be successful, a second scheme would be introduced the following decade. A global holiday entitled ‘Never Going To Happen Day’, it would be a sad day of remembrance dedicated to laying to rest those cherished fan dreams that will forever remain so. Doctor Who fans will observe this as ‘Sally Sparrow Day’.


Finally, every day really will be the first day of spring. I’ve seen the blueprints for the satellites. This is going to RULE.


Anyway, those robot armies won’t build themselves! See you next month, citizens!

(Not the) Fox News: Batfleck

Hi, I’m Alasdair. As Adele said, I’m the author of The Pseudopod Tapes and I’ve been writing about genre fiction for sites like SFX and Bleeding Cool for years now. I do this because I love it, both the process of writing and the feeling of connecting with a story and being able to pull it apart and see what makes it tick. My approach is slightly unusual in that I’m not actually looking to score points like so many other bloggers out there.

I actually like things.

Scary, huh?

If something’s good, I’ll tell you. If something’s bad I’ll tell you and I’ll tell you why and that brings us neatly to Ben Affleck and the internet in meltdown.

A couple of weeks back, Warners announced that Ben Affleck would be playing Bruce Wayne in Man of Steel 2: Man Steelier. This was met with roughly the same response as senior Warners executives personally going to 1 in every 2 geek with a twitter account’s house, peeing on their lawn and giving them the finger whilst setting light to their car.

It has not gone well.

It has gone so badly, in fact, that one group of rocket scientists have started a petition to have him replaced. Because, firstly, film making is clearly a democracy and secondly hunger, poverty, terrorism and equal rights for all have clearly been achieved so now petitions can be used for stupid, petty bullshit.


There are two things I find genuinely fascinating about the Batfleckpocalypse. The first is how perfectly it fits with another piece of recent news and the second is how, when they’re combined, they show you exactly where fandom’s memory sits and how damaging that is.

Firstly, that other piece of news. Agents of SHIELD, the Marvel movieverse TV show is going to be shown on Channel 4 in the UK. This wasn’t greeted quite as badly (Think the head of Channel 4 sending every 3rd person with a twitter account a DM that just said ‘arse’) but it was still met with something a lot less than joy.

The reason is simple; Channel 4 have a long, proud tradition of having no idea what to do with genre fiction import drama. These are the people who showed Angel at tea time and wondered why people complained about up to ten minutes being cut. These are the people who bought the rights to Stargate SG-1 then not only cut what is arguably the cuddliest genre TV show of the last two decades, but buried it in their hangover programming on Sundays.

These are the people, along with the BBC it should be pointed out, who had The Simpsons and had no idea what to do with it.

The Simpsons.

So Channel 4 getting Agents of SHIELD didn’t go over too well, with me as much as anyone else. However, when I dug down a little bit more, the story wasn’t quite as clear cut. Friends pointed out Channel 4 had treated Lost very well. More recently, homegrown shows like Utopia and Misfits have been not just well treated but have found an audience.  Even more recently, fantastic French spookfest The Returned was treated like an actual grown up drama by them and it had (sort of) zombies in it and everything!

My deliberate facetiousness aside, the point stands. Channel 4 no longer view genre fiction with fear, merely slight suspicion and yet so many people responded to this news with a full on eye-roll.

Now take a look at Affleck and the reasons many people are citing why he’ll be awful. The movies Gigli and Daredevil and the fact he once dated Jennifer Lopez.

All of which happened around 10 years ago.

Which is also roughly the same time that Channel 4 were faceplanting again and again with Stargate SG1 and Angel.

It’s also around the same time that a lot of the generation of geeks who have twitter accounts now, were coming of age.

In the immortal words of Bill Hicks, I am the weaver…

What this seems to say about fandom culture is both very good and kind of awful. The good element of it is that fandom falls in love purely and completely and will defend its corner for decades. Look at Doctor Who, and the fact that close to two decades after it was first cancelled, there are still people convinced that the BBC are looking for an excuse to murder their massive commercial success and cash cow.  Or to put it another way, Agents of SHIELD is all but certain to be a colossal success. It may actually be an idiot proof piece of TV in scheduling terms and yet everyone, including me, is still waiting for the sort of decisions made a decade ago to be made here because we remember the failures more than the successes.

As SHIELD, so Bafleck. People are looking at his work ten years ago and seeing that actor projected forwards. It’s ridiculous when you see it written down isn’t it? If you know anyone who is exactly the same in terms of personality, skill level or body shape as they were ten years ago? Check by the side of their bed for a large seed pod and be prepared to run from people looking like this.

In the intervening ten years Affleck hasn’t just turned in good performances he’s become an Oscar winner so well regarded Warners offered him the big chair on the JLA movie despite him never having done a big scale Summer movie. He’s an immensely smart director, a damn good scriptwriter and yes, I’ll say it, a great actor. He’s not just a good choice, he’s the sort of choice that should evince sighs of relief not lynch mobs. As someone put it on Twitter earlier today:

Oscar winner cast as Batman. Fandom riots.


I know it’s tough to be positive sometimes. The cultural story of the geek is one of perennial oppression, of being the outcast or the weirdo and it’s very difficult to move past that. But if you can, if you can approach something on its own merits rather than the merits of what’s gone before, the world is a much more entertaining place. You’ll be happier too.


So, I’m staking my claim. I welcome our new, colossal chinned Bostonian Batman and I look forward to Channel 4 treating Agents of SHIELD right. I may be disappointed on both counts, but I’m not going in looking for it. If you’re sensible, neither should you.


Alasdair Stuart hosts Pseudopod, the weekly horror fiction podcast and co-hosts Escape Pod, the weekly science fiction podcast. He writes for lots of people. He’ll write for you if the job’s fun and you pay. Seriously, ask him, he’s right here. His book, The Pseudopod Tapes, is available through Fox Spirit now and he has stories in Tales of Eve and several of the Fox Pockets too. When not here you can find him at or on twitter at @AlasdairStuart.