A review I published last week at Fantastica of Annihilation, the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s The Southern Reach Trilogy. The only thing I’d read of his before was a very Borgesian chapter in City of Saints and Madman, so I went into it expecting a very ‘conscious’ reading experience, rather than what I would call more passive escapism.
When I say “science fiction”, some people may think of socially awkward boys with pale skin, Hollywood blockbusters where characterisation is sacrificed for special effects, or pure escapism that ignores the grim realities of the world we live in.
Personally, I go for the intersection of philosophy, politics and popular culture. Like the dystopian critique of Thatcher’s England in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta; or the fusion of Plato, Baudrillard and more besides in The Matrix; I also think of two of the most important science fiction writers: Mary Shelley and Ursula Le Guin.
Riddick, in cinemas this week, sees Vin Diesel return to his niche role – antihero with night vision – the role which made him famous in the cult scifi-horror Pitch Black (2000). Director David Twohy also returns, dispensing with the space opera, pseudo religion, subplots and backstory which made the second film in the series, the Chronicles of Riddick (2004), absolute rubbish (at the same time removing the need for Diesel to actually act) and reprises the formula which made Pitch Black a cult classic: bad arse aliens, meet bad arse antihero – fight, preferably in low visibility.