miércoles, 28 de enero de 2009


El estallido vampírico de 2008 no se apaga y todo indica que el 2009 estará plagado de nuevas novelas (obviamente más cerca o más lejos de la tetralogía juvenil-romántica de Stephenie Meyer) y películas de todo tipo.
En este contexto, quiero rescatar una de esas cintas que con los años se vuelven de culto: “Life Force”. Una película a cargo de un equipo de lujo, basada en la novela “The Space Vampires” (1976), escrita por Colin Wilson.
Esta adaptación cinematográfica era bastante fiel al libro. Una especie de súper transbordador espacial bautizado “Churchill” viaja a explorar el cometa Halley, donde encuentran una antigua nave espacial alienígena oculta en su cola, llena de criaturas parecidas a gárgolas, pero fosilizadas. Y tres humanoides aparentemente en animación suspendida, que al llegar a la Tierra comienzan a alimentarse de la energía vital (las almas) de las personas. El detalle está en que sus víctimas quedan reducidas a zombies que entonces salen a buscar otros a quienes drenarles la vida, cada dos horas.

No es aventurado decir que “Life Force” se adelantó quince años a Danny Boyle y su magistral “28 Days Later” (2000), al mostrar un Londres arrasado por zombies. Y que además quedó bastante bien.
El final es débil, hay que decirlo, pero no porque le falte clímax, sino porque hay muchas cosas que no se explican bien. En fin, es cine de terror espacial y entretiene de comienzo a fin.
“Life Force” fue dirigida por Tobe Hooper, quien dentro de sus trabajos tiene nada menos que “Poltergeist” (1982), “The Texas Chain Saw Massacr” partes 1 y 2, “Invaders from Mars” (1986) y la siempre notable “Salem’s Lot” (1979), entre otras.
El guión corrió por cuenta de Dan O'Bannon (responsable de “Dark Star, “Alien”, “Alien v/s Predator” 1 y 2, y una modesta participación en el corto “Batman: Dead End”) y Don Jakoby (“Blue Thunder”, “The Philadelphia Experiment” y “Vampires” de John Carpenter”).
Además, la banda sonora fue compuesta por Henry Mancini.
El reparto, que no era para enloquecer, incluía un relativamente conocido Patrick Stewart y a la debutante Mathilda May, que salía desnuda casi toda la película (obvio, los vampiros espaciales no necesitan ropa). Sospecho que por eso la calificaron para mayores de 18 años, en esos años. Hoy la darían por televisión a las tres de la tarde.

martes, 27 de enero de 2009


Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club (1996)
An angry, impassioned fantasy of how to take down corporate America, and an ingenious modern version of the myth of the double. Palahniuk's unnamed narrator, in revolt against the nesting instincts of modern consumerism, goes looking for the intensity of primal male experiences, and finds the maverick prankster Tyler Durden. It's with Durden's "Project Mayhem" and his army of "space monkeys" that Palahniuk's visionary side takes flight; that there are white-collar "fight clubs" to this day is testament to his book's impact. Andrew Pulver

Thomas Love Peacock: Nightmare Abbey (1818)
A series of amiable conversations are strung together on a flimsy but suitably romantic plot in the most literary of Peacock's Right: Audrey Niffenegger. Below left: Scene from David Fincher's film Fight Club "novels of ideas", as he gently lampoons the fashionable gloom of his friends Shelley, Coleridge and Byron, and all manner of associated "romantic transcendentalists and transcendental romancers". Thwarted in love, the hero Scythrop reads The Sorrows of Werther and considers suicide, but settles for the comforts of madeira instead. Joanna Hines

Mervyn Peake: Titus Groan (1946)
Sinister and sensual, overwrought and overwritten, Titus Groan is a guilty pleasure - a dank, dripping Gothic cathedral of a novel. Titus himself is a minor character - literally: he's only a year old by the end. He inherits Gormenghast castle and its extraordinary household: emaciated Flay, with his whip-crack joints; the morbidly obese cook, Swelter; feverish, moody young Fuchsia; cackling Dr Prunesquallor, and many others. They are so exaggerated, and Peake's imagery so super-saturated, that this may seem like a children's book, or a joke. But at its heart is a chilling glimpse of the nature of evil. Carrie O'Grady

John Cowper Powys: A Glastonbury Romance (1932)
With this gargantuan novel, Powys set out to take a location he knew well from his boyhood and make it the real hero of the story. It tells the story of Glastonbury through a year of turmoil, setting mystic mayor John Geard against industrialist Philip Crow. Geard wants to turn the town into a centre for Grail worship, while Crow wants to exploit and develop the local tin mines. Complex and rich, this is a landmark fantasy novel. Keith Brooke

Christopher Priest: The Prestige (1995)
This is the story of the bitter feud between Victorian master-magicians Angier and Borden, who attempt mutual sabotage in the quest to learn the secret of each other's ultimate stage act: both, by different means, can transport themselves through space. The novel is as much a study of their obsession as a brilliant examination of magic and rationalism. The winner of the World Fantasy Award, it's been described as urban fantasy with a science fictional explanation. Eric Brown

François Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-34)
A Benedictine monk who gave it up to study medicine, Rabelais wrote this satirical tale of the giant Pantagruel and his even more monstrous and grotesque father Gargantua on the cusp between eras. In his portrayal of Gargantua, a belching, farting scholar given to urinating over the masses below his ivory tower, he satirises medieval learning as well as the emerging Renaissance thirst for knowledge. "Give me a drink! A drink! A drink!" he roars. Remind you of anything more contemporary? Nicola Barr

Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
Orphaned Emily St Aubert is imprisoned by her evil guardian, Count Montoni, in the castle of Udolpho, deep in the Apennines. So often is this novel cited as inspiration for de Sade and Poe, so well known is Jane Austen's parody in Northanger Abbey, that it is good to be reminded that the reclusive Radcliffe created a brilliant and much-loved Gothic tale, full of terror, foreboding, emerging sexuality and complex destructive psychology. NB

Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space (2000)
Fermi's paradox asks: "If they're out there, why aren't they here?" Reynolds supplies answers that are plausible, entertaining, clever and occasionally just plain weird. This was the novel that brought the one-time astrophysicist to the attention of the SF mainstream. A huge space opera, with enough hard science and aliens to keep everyone happy, it sets up the framework for most of Reynolds's later books. Spectacular. Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Kim Stanley Robinson: The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)
One of the best "what if" setups in alternate history. Robinson asks: what if the Black Death destroyed 14th-century European culture and the Mongols reached the Atlantic shores? What follows is a history of our world with Islam and Buddhism as the dominant religions and the major scientific discoveries and art movements we take for granted happening elsewhere. Necessarily schematic in places, but a stunning achievement all the same. JCG

JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997)
Every now and then, a book comes along that is so influential you have to read it to be part of the modern world. Rowling's Harry Potter series may have its faults - it's a magpie's nest of bits and bobs borrowed from more innovative writers - but it occupies that space. It's the fantasy sequence that made readers of a generation of children; it's the cliffhanger that united adults and children, creating a new crossover market with an unprecedented reach. It is also a truly global phenomenon, and a nice little earner for the tribe of British character actors who have had the good fortune to be cast in the films. Claire Armitstead

El listado completo de esta tercera y última parte lo pueden encontrar aquí.

lunes, 26 de enero de 2009


El inglés Neil Gaiman ganó hoy el premio más importante de la literatura infanto-juvenil que se otorga en Estados Unidos, nada menos que con “The Graveyard Book”, una historia inspirada en el clásico “El Libro de la Selva”, de Rudyard Kipling. Con la diferencia de que en la obra de Gaiman el huérfano no es criado por animales, sino por un hombre lobo, una bruja y un vampiro. Y la selva es reemplazada por un cementerio.

Sin duda, una interesante perspectiva de qué se supone que es infantil y qué es juvenil y definitivamente qué se puede catalogar como adulto. Algo está pasando y los límites se vuelven cada vez más difusos. O los niños y jóvenes están ampliando dramáticamente su espectro de intereses. Pobre Caperucita, va camino a la jubilación.
Más información en L.A. Times.


Bajo el sello de La Factoría de Ideas, acaba de salir un libro tan entretenido como original, que reúne a dos figuras que la lógica indica que jamás pudieron conocerse: el asombroso ilusionista Harry Houdini y Sherlock Holmes, el mayor detective de la ficción victoriana. El responsable de "Houdini y Sherlock Holmes" es el mago estadounidense Daniel Stashower. Y la historia está plagada de referencias a la obra de Conan Doyle, pero también de Poe.
La reseña completa que escribí para EMOL la pueden encontrar aquí.


Sin duda es de los ejemplares que todo seguidor de Spiderman o de los comics en general debiera tener. Una pieza de colección que mostrar a los nietos. Y que en este momento ya va en su tercera edición en Estados Unidos.


Joe Haldeman: The Forever War (1974)
When Haldeman returned from Vietnam, with a Purple Heart for the wounds he had suffered, he wrote a story about a pointless conflict that seems as if it will never end. It was set in space, and the enemies were aliens, but 18 publishers decided it was too close to home before St Martin's Press took a gamble. The book that "nobody wants to read" went on to win many prizes. It's not perfect - it's hard to take seriously a future in which hetereosexuality is a perversion - but the anti-war message is as powerful as ever. Phil Daoust

John Harrison: Light (2002)
Known for his intricate short stories and critically acclaimed mountaineering novel Climbers, Harrison cut his teeth on SF. In typical fashion, he writes space opera better than many who write only in the genre. For all its star travel and alien artefacts, scuzzy 25th-century spaceports and drop-out space pilots, Light is actually about twisting three plotlines as near as possible to snapping point. This is as close as SF gets to literary fiction, and literary fiction gets to SF. Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Robert A Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
Amateur stonemason, waterbed designer, reformed socialist, nudist, militarist and McCarthyite, Heinlein is one of the most interesting and irritating figures in American science fiction. This swinging 60s bestseller (working title: The Heretic) is typically provocative, with a central character, Mike Smith, who is raised by Martians after the death of his parents and questions every human assumption - about sex, politics, society and spirituality - on his arrival on Earth. Smith's religion, with its polyamory, communal living and ritual cannibalism, inspired the neo-pagan Church of All Worlds. PD

Frank Herbert: Dune (1965)
Set on the desert world of Arrakis, this complex novel combines politics, religion, ecology and evolution in the rise to power of Paul Atreides, who becomes a revolutionary leader and a prophet with the ability to foresee and shape the future. Epic in scope, Dune is primarily an adventure story, though Herbert was one of the first genre writers convincingly to tackle the subject of planetary ecology in his depiction of a drought-stricken world. Eric Brown

Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (1943)
Set in the fictional country of Castalia, Hesse's last novel tells of a young man's rise through the hierarchies of an elite boarding school. Step by step, young Josef Knecht is initiated into the mysteries of the "glass bead game" that forms the focal point of Castalian social and academic life - until he starts to question its rules and falls out with the order. That we never find out exactly how this game is meant to be played is part of Hesse's plan: with its characteristic mix of the arcane and the esoteric, the novel sketches out a timeless allegory about the ivory-tower mentality of communities devoted to a single intellectual cause.Philip Oltermann

Russell Hoban: Riddley Walker (1980)
After the Bomb - long, long after - humanity is still huddled in medieval-style stockades, cold, ignorant, superstitious and speaking in degraded English, the patois in which this book is written. It takes some getting used to, but Riddley's misspelt narrative is astonishingly rich and rewarding. As he circles burnt-out Kent, trying to make sense of the fragments of modern-day knowledge that have passed into folklore (a "saddelite" bird flies very high, the "Pry Mincer" is an authority figure), the mythical/religious/scientific allusions whirl so fast that we are left as gobsmacked as he is. Yet his story is still poignant. Will this be us in 2,500 years' time? Carrie O'Grady

James Hogg: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
Suppose you discovered that you were one of the elect - predestined to an bookseternity in paradise not because of the goodness of your actions or the strength of your faith, but by God's grace. This is what happens to Robert Wringhim, who is brought up in the Calvinist belief in predestination. When he encounters a devilish figure known as Gil-Martin, Wringhim is easily tempted into undertaking a campaign to purge the world of the Reprobate - those not selected for salvation. After a series of rapes and murders, and seemingly pursued by demons, Wringhim yields to the ultimate temptation of suicide. Hogg's novel, an early example of unreliable narration, was a strong influence on Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Adam Newey

Michel Houellebecq: Atomised (1998)
Sexist, racist, snob, Islamophobe ... Houellebecq has been called many things, with varying degrees of accuracy. The charge of misanthropy is hard to deny, given his repeated portrayal of humankind as something that has lost its way, perhaps even its right to exist. Atomised - set in the world we know but introduced by a member of the superior species that will supplant us - provides two more examples of our inadequacy in half-brothers Michel and Bruno, an introverted biologist and a sex-addict teacher. It is Michel's work on cloning that will eventually free the world of the burden of humanity. PD

Aldous Huxley: Brave New World (1932)
Huxley's dystopian vision of a "stabilised" world, based on the philosophies of Henry Ford and Sigmund Freud. Conflict has been eradicated with the aid of sexual hedonism and the drug Soma; babies are factory-bred in bottles to produce a strict class hierarchy, from alpha to epsilon. It is the year AF (After Ford) 632. "Alpha plus" Bernard Marx takes a "pneumatic" secretary on holiday to an Indian reservation in New Mexico, and brings back with him a native, John Savage. Savage is disgusted with the "civilisation" he finds, making an ultimately suicidal case for self-determining misery. John Sutherland

El resto de la segunda parted el listado se puede consultar aquí.

jueves, 22 de enero de 2009


El diario británico The Guardian tiene una sección llamada “1.000 Libros” y acaba de subir a su web su listado de libros de ciencia ficción y fantasía. Un festín para los seguidores de este género, donde no sólo se puede revisar lo que uno ha leído, sino sobre todo lo que uno ni siquiera sabía que existía. Todo un acierto. Lo publicaré diariamente en tres entregas.

Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
Originating as a BBC radio series in 1978, Douglas Adams's inspired melding of hippy-trail guidebook and sci-fi comedy turned its novelisations into a publishing phenomenon. Douglas wrote five parts from 1979 onwards (the first sold 250,000 in three months), introducing the world to Marvin the Paranoid Android, the computer Deep Thought, space guitarist Hotblack Desiato (named after Adams's local estate agent) and the Guide itself, a remarkably prescient forerunner to the internet. Andrew Pulver

Brian W Aldiss: Non-Stop (1958)
Aldiss's first novel is a tour-de-force of adventure, wonder and conceptual breakthrough. Set aboard a vast generation starship millennia after blast-off, the novel follows Roy Complain on a voyage of discovery from ignorance of his surroundings to some understanding of his small place in the universe. Complain is spiteful and small-minded but grows in humanity as his trek through the ship brings him into contact with giant humans, mutated rats and, ultimately, a wondrous view of space beyond the ship. Eric Brown

Isaac Asimov: Foundation (1951)
One of the first attempts to write a comprehensive "future history", the trilogy - which also includes Foundation and Empire (1952) and Second Foundation (1953) - is Asimov's version of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, set on a galactic scale. Hari Seldon invents the science of psychohistory with which to combat the fall into barbarianism of the Human Empire, and sets up the Foundation to foster art, science and technology. Wish-fulfilment of the highest order, the novels are a landmark in the history of science fiction. EB

Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin (2000)
On planet Zycron, tyrannical Snilfards subjugate poor Ygnirods, providing intercoital entertainment for a radical socialist and his lover. We assume she is Laura Chase, daughter of an Ontario industrialist, who records their sex and sci-fi stories in a novel, The Blind Assassin. Published posthumously by Laura's sister, Iris, the book outrages postwar sensibilities. Iris is 83 in the cantankerous present-day narrative, and ready to set the story straight about the suspicious deaths of her sister, husband and daughter. In this Booker prize-winning novel about novels, Atwood bends genre and traps time, toying brilliantly with the roles of writing and reading. Natalie Cate

Paul Auster: In the Country of Last Things (1987)
Anna Blume, 19, arrives in a city to look for her brother. She finds a ruin, where buildings collapse on scavenging citizens. All production has stopped. Nobody can leave, except as a corpse collected for fuel. Suicide clubs flourish. Anna buys a trolley and wanders the city, salvaging objects and information. She records horrific scenes, but also a deep capacity for love. This small hope flickers in a world where no apocalyptic event is specified. Instead, Auster creates his dystopia by magnifying familiar flaws and recycling historical detail: the novel's working title was "Anna Blume Walks Through the 20th Century". NC

Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory (1984)
A modern-gothic tale of mutilation, murder and medical experimentation, Banks's first novel - described by the Irish Times as "a work of unparalleled depravity"- is set on a Scottish island inhabited by the ultimate dysfunctional family: a mad scientist and his unbalanced sons, older brother Eric, who has been locked up for everyone's safety, and Frank, the 16-year-old narrator, tormented by a freak accident that cost him his genitals. Frank's victims are mostly animals - but he has found time to kill a few children … Phil Daoust

Iain M Banks: Consider Phlebas (1987)
Space opera is unfashionable, but Banks couldn't care less. "You get the opportunity to work on a proper canvas," he says. "Big, big brushes, broad strokes." The strokes have rarely been broader than in Banks's Culture novels, about a galaxy-spanning society in which humans and artificial intelligences are united by a love of parties, adventure and a damn good fight. Consider Phlebas introduced the first of many misguided or untrustworthy heroes - Horza, who can change his body just by thinking about it - and a typically Banksian collision involving two giant trains in an subterranean station. PD

Clive Barker: Weaveworld (1987)
Life's rich tapestry is just that in Clive Barker's fantasy. A magic carpet is the last refuge of a people known as the Seerkind, who for centuries have been hunted by both humans and the Scourge, a mysterious being that seems determined to live up to its name. When it all starts to unravel, the carpet people's best hope is a pigeon-fancying insurance clerk and his half-Seerkind companion. Yes, it sounds twee, but as Barker himself said, "the Seerkind fornicate, fart - they're very far from pure". PD

El resto de la primera parte del listado lo pueden leer aquí.

martes, 20 de enero de 2009

BOB MAY (1940-2009)

¿Quién es él? Nada menos que uno de los actores más conocidos de serie “Perdidos en el Espacio”. Uno que estuvo presente a lo largo de todas sus temporadas y que asombrado vio el paso de la serie del riguroso blanco y negro a los colores de la nueva TV.

Bob May fue el hombre que dio vida al robot B9, el fiel y mecanizado amigo de Will Robinson y que se hizo mundialmente famoso por su frase: “¡Peligro, Will Robinson!”. Y que a los 69 se despidió de los viajes junto a la familia Robinson y el intrigante doctor Smith, para embarcarse en su última travesía.

lunes, 19 de enero de 2009


La noticia podría cortarle la respiración a cualquiera. Finalmente, tras décadas de rumores y desmentidos, según Variety, la saga de “Fundación” —creada por el archifamoso Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)—, será llevada al cine por el director alemán Roland Emmerich, luego que los estudios Columbia compraran los derechos de la obra por un monto que hasta ahora no ha sido revelado.
El punto es si Emmerich, quien ha sido tan irregular en su carrera, con bodrios de la talla de “Godzilla” y “10.000 a.C.”, podrá llevar exitosamente al cine la saga de los psicohistoriadores y su lucha por mantener a flote a la humanidad, en medio de las turbulencias que recorran la galaxia.
A lo mejor hay suerte y el proyecto sucumbe por la crisis mundial. Porque en esas manos, no sería raro ver a Jim Carrey como Hari Seldon.

miércoles, 14 de enero de 2009


Es irónico que los grandes actores de Hollywood acaben siendo recordados por sus últimos trabajos, a pesar de tener impresionantes trayectorias en cine y televisión. Es el caso de Ricardo Montalbán, cuyo fallecimiento se supo hoy. Y que en todos los cables y sitios web es recordado sólo como “el misterioso señor Roarke”, el anfitrión de ese bodrio que era “La Isla de la Fantasía” (1978-1984).
Es cierto, probablemente más de alguien lo recuerde como el abuelo de la saga “Mini Espías”. Y otros, como yo, lo harán a partir de su papel del villano Khan Noonien Singh en la primera temporada de “Star Trek” (1967), y que reflotó su sádico y arrogante personaje en la película de 1982 “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”.

Vuelvo sobre mis palabras. Posiblemente a Montalbán tampoco le gustaría ser recordado sólo como Khan, después de haber protagonizado tanto drama, western y comedias.
Sin embargo, le tengo cariño a su personaje. No deja de ser llamativo que Khan sea producto de la ingeniería genética de comienzos del siglo XXI (según veían el futuro en 1967), que hubiese gobernado buena parte del mundo, como miembro de una nueva raza que acabó por esclavizar a sus creadores. Y que para evitar ser derrocado, huyó al espacio junto a sus seguidores, en animación suspendida.
Nunca he encontrado la razón por la cual lo eligieron a él, dentro de todos los villanos de la serie original, para ser el rival de Kira, pero creo que a pesar de su sobreactuado papel y su pecho de plástico, dio la talla. A lo mejor J.j. Abrams podría ir pensando en reflotar su personaje a futuro.


Era obvio. Un éxito comercial como el que desató la saga de Crepúsculo, no podía terminar ahí, sólo en un cuarto tomo y la adaptación cinematográfica del primer título. Sobre todo tras la filtración del borrador inconcluso del quinto volumen, y que ahora se encuentra detenido en de manera indefinida.
Así que por mientras, para todos los amantes de esta saga de vampiros juveniles, les cuento que se viene "The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide" y aunque todavía no tiene fecha concreta de salida al mercado, ya está trepando en los listos de Amazon como uno de los libros más vendidos. A toda preventa.
Lugares, personajes, mitos, etc. Todo parece venir ahí. Sin duda, una idea para tomar en cuenta cuando logremos poner en marcha alguna saga literaria local, sea fantástica o no. Guías, guías y más guías, para saber cómo navegar en medio de los océanos de la ficción.

viernes, 9 de enero de 2009


Este nuevo año ya está rodando y a pesar de todas las apocalípticas predicciones económicas, el 2009 promete. Es un lienzo en blanco sobre el cual dibujar proyectos y aspiraciones. Nada menos que doce meses de oportunidades
Y a pesar de que marzo suele ser sinónimo de colegios, uniformes y patentes, este año será distinto. ¿La razón? En marzo próximo llegará a las librerías la segunda parte de la trilogía Leyendas de Kalomaar: “La Hermandad del Viento”.
La primera parte fue “La Lanza Rota” (2007) y ha tenido un gran éxito de venta, así que muchas gracias a todos, en verdad. Y ahora, con este segundo libro, siento que he podido profundizar no sólo en los personajes, sino también el universo que soñé hace tantos años.
“La Hermandad del Viento” es más, en todo sentido: más páginas, por cierto, pero también una trama que estoy seguro gustará mucho, retomando los protagonistas de la primera entrega, pero agregando nuevos amigos y villanos. Y por supuesto, con las ilustraciones de Rodrigo Vidaurre. Así que ya lo saben, sólo quedan dos meses.
Por mientras, mañana sábado 10 de enero, estaré en la primera Feria del Libro de Vitacura, a partir de las 17:30, en el puesto de Editorial Universitaria / Andrés Bello. Y les adelanto que todos aquellos que compren un ejemplar de “La Lanza Rota” se llevarán de regalo –y como adelanto exclusivo- el primero capítulo de “La Hermandad del Viento”. No falten, los espero.