In an otherwise unremarkable room at MIT, the published history of science fiction overflows. | Originally published in The Magazine, June 19, 2014.
By Tate Williams
Decades before Guy Consolmagno had an asteroid named after him in honor of his contributions to planetary science, he was a directionless history major at Boston College. Then he saw what MIT was keeping in a room of the student center. He knew he had to transfer.
It wasn’t MIT’s research on meteoroids and asteroids, or its contributions to NASA lunar missions, or even the early stages of what would become the Internet, though all of this was happening on the Cambridge campus around 1970. Rather, it was a bunch of novels. Thousands and thousands of science fiction novels. Read More
Originally published in Souciant Magazine on February 4, 2013. Warren Ellis’s latest novel Gun Machine is like a cop thriller set in a fever dream, twisted genre fiction that employs the conventions of a primetime police drama to investigate a series of brutal crimes, but also the bloody history of New York City itself.
The novel starts with a compelling premise — an empty apartment hiding 200 guns, each implicated in a separate unsolved murder — and then plays out the mystery with the familiar elements of a hardboiled detective story or an episode of CSI.
But while Ellis, who is best known as a renowned graphic novelist, toys with the genre’s well worn tropes with glee, the real joy in this book is not in police work itsef, but in the archaeology it makes possible. Read More
Originally published in Souciant Magazine on December 12, 2012. The back cover and spine of Punk: An Aesthetic are almost entirely white, with a clean, black typeface. Seen from a distance on a bookshelf, it could be any modern art book. But the front cover — punk cartoonist Gary Panter’s illustration of the singer for The Screamers — is another matter, a large, low-quality print of a black-and-white face fixed in what looks like a scream of rage, befitting the book’s innards.
Look inside and you’ll see a riot of images: hand-scrawled political rants, shredded clothing, swastikas, pornography, violent photomontage and hundreds of others from the 1970s punk movement. That screaming face on the front cover gives you the feeling the content inside doesn’t want to be contained. Read More
An underground comic book artist at heart, it’s clear that Adrian Tomine isn’t quite comfortable in the role of highbrow magazine illustrator. And a Sacramento-born Californian at heart, he isn’t entirely comfortable identifying as a New Yorker either. And yet, he’s achieved a great deal of notoriety and success as both. Tomine (pronounced toh-mi-neh) just finished a book tour in support of his new collection of beloved illustrations for The New Yorker from the past decade. While he’s spent the greater part of his career focused on his excellent comic Optic Nerve since he was a high school zinester, the overwhelming majority of attention his work receives is in response to his body of work as an illustrator for the esteemed (let’s face it, worshipped) The New Yorker magazine. Read More