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The Elephant in the Room

Right, I’ll try and keep this as brief as possible.

Last night, inspired by the latest ‘foreign pirates are killing anime’ outburst from the Japanese industry, I fell into one of my usual rants on Twitter:

“The anime industry avoiding the same elephant in the room as music industry did 10 yrs ago: consumers know worthless product when they see it.

And who wants to pay for worthless, disposable product when you can get it for free?

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Gamification – do we need to make common sense fun?

The Guardian has some interesting coverage of SXSW this last week. Contrary to popular geek belief I frequently find mainstream reaction to events and ideas just as fascinating as specialist coverage – although that may be due to my science fiction projects, which deal with the public and cultural acceptance of bleeding edge technology.

In particular, this bit on ‘gamification’ caught my eye:

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Havana Augmented nominated for a BSFA award

I was both shocked and thrilled to discover this week that my short story “Havana Augmented” has been nominated for the prestigious British Science Fiction Association Award for Short Fiction.

The story was published almost exactly a year ago in the anthology Ergosphere, which can be found at most good online book retailers – or available to download for free as a PDF, although you are encouraged to make a donation to the Haiti disaster fund. Seeing as the situation over there seems to be little better – perhaps distressingly worse – almost a year later, it is still a very worthy cause that deserves your money.

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How to save Christmas

It’s just a few days before Christmas and you think you’ve got it all under control. Food shopping is done, presents are all bought and wrapped.

Or at least so you thought. Turns out you forgot someone. A work colleague. An aunty you just found out is coming to visit. The wife. The inconsiderate bastards have turned up with a present for you, and you’ve got nothing to give them in return. Plus they’re diabetic tea-totalers, so the usual chocolate and/or booze option is out of the window. In other words: you’re screwed.

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Mighty Space Miners (1994) – A tribute to to Umanosuke Iida

I’ll be honest with you, I’m sick of writing about death.

If the recent loss of Satoshi Kon to cancer wasn’t enough, then anime was struck another blow last week with the death of Umanosuke Iida to the dreaded disease at just 49. Despite this relatively young age Iida had an impressively varied career, from working as an animator on such classics as Nausicaa through to directing Mobile Suit Gundam: 08th MS Team and perhaps his most popular show Hellsing. But for me he’ll always be remembered for directing the obscure, and sadly unfinished, 90s science fiction OVA Mighty Space Miners.

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God’s Switch – Teaser

Something different to kick off the second half of 2010, and to show what I’m going to be up to for the next few months. A teaser for my current project – and debut novel – God’s Switch, hopefully being published in 2011.

Simon gazed down across Bristol’s abandoned office blocks, silently wishing for the sound of sirens to shatter his boredom.

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Repost: The Sky Crawlers (2008): Review

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This is my original review of The Sky Crawlers, reposted to coincide with the film finally getting a release on Bluray and DVD – as well as a limited cinema run – here in the UK. Since I first reviewed it I’ve watched it countless times, and I must say with each viewing I’ve come to love it even more. In fact, it’s become one of my very favourite of Oshii’s works.

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Anime News Network: Spring 2010 Anime Preview Guide

This year I was honoured to be asked to contribute to the Anime News Network guide to this season’s new TV shows. Well, I say honoured – it’s going to be quite a bit of work, and will involves me watching a lot of shows that I’d usually avoid like the plague. But hey, that’s what being a critic is all about – no one ever said it would be fun or easy.

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Tezuka Month: A Day Magazine – Astro Boy special

An extra special treat for Tezuka Month – when I was in Thailand in January I was lucky enough to stumble across this edition of art and design mag A Day with a huge section dedicated to Astro Boy. Presumably timed to coincide with the release of the recent movie over there – nothing that special in itself, until you start to flick through it and realise that it’s clearly a publication that prides itself in it’s imagery, design and layouts.

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