Tag Archives: sci-fi

Raunch Reviews: Farscape

Raunch Review: Farscape

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


Raunch Reviews: Farscape
Raunch Reviews: Farscape
The Author: Rockne S. O’Bannon
Work in Question: Farscape
The Profanity: “Dren”

If there is one series that gets requested for Raunch Reviews all the time, it’s Farscape. For the uninitiated, it’s a cult Australian-American sci-fi show filled with great story, fully realized characters, incredible muppets, and not-so-incredible faux profanities. Which leads us to today’s word of choice: “dren.”

Ha! I bet you thought I was going to focus on “frell!” But no! I pulled a fast one on you and switched it up. Why? Well, because “frell” is bad—it’s used in confusing ways and is born from the same onus as “frak” nothing more than a slip around censors. Those don’t rank highly on Raunch Reviews. In comparison, the word “dren” is much more elegant, if not stinkier.

First, its use is not original (we have to be honest it’s another censor-slip/replacer-word), and, similar to its real-world comparisons, it’s idiomatic. “Dren” is used as a vulgarity, meaning essentially an “unwanted substance or act.” It’s easy to pick up on its English counterpart when it’s used in phrases like “piece of dren.” But, unlike “frak” and “frell” it doesn’t follow similar patterns in pronunciation and it spelled nothing like its real-world counterpart. I think that’s important. For these sorts of faux-vulgarities, you want them to be punchy—longer words drift and shrink, becoming manageable enough to work as modifiers. “Dren” does that—and it does it pretty well.

If you’re going to make poop jokes, at least get creative with it and the writers of Farscape did exactly that in this case. Creativity goes a long way and while this is still a censor-slip, it’s a more creative censor-slip. The uniqueness and originality set it apart from others, so “dren” gains some points for that.

Score: Half Swear (3.0)

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Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


An ECCC 2019 Debriefing

An ECCC 2019 Debriefing

This past weekend I joined thousands of others in attending the 17th annual Emerald City Comic Con in my hometown of Seattle, Washington. It’s incredible how far this show has come. This year I attended two days, Friday and Saturday alongside my friend and fellow writer Steve Toutonghi. (The paperback for his novel Side Life lands on April 9th, and you can and should preorder it now.)

I didn’t take a ton of photos this time. My iPhone is starting to show its age, and I am less inclined to snap photos as I wander. Besides, photographers more talented than I have it handled. If you want to see the cosplay, SYFY Wire did an excellent job covering the scene. They have galleries for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4. I recommend checking ‘em out.


🌤 Friday

Elmore Leonard always said to avoid opening with the weather, but I’m going to do it anyway. Sorry, Mr. Leonard. This past weekend was the first true spring weekend in Seattle, and it was gorgeous. I have to admit I felt a little guilty hiding away inside an enormous convention center rather than being outside. But I pushed those feelings aside and bathed myself in the glow of fluorescent lighting.

Steve and I tend to spend most of our time at the convention around the Writers Block—an extension near Artist Alley with a focus on the literary. That said—in the past few years, throughout the show I’ve noticed more of a book presence. It’s been great to see.

Sci-Fi Adrenaline Rush – (Left to Right) Rob Hart, Peter Tieryas, Madeleine Roux, moderator Jason M. Hough

The highlight of the days was attending “Sci-Fi Adrenaline Rush” moderated by Jason M. Hough with Madeleine Roux, Peter Tieryas, and Rob Hart. The topic centered on high-tension action within science fiction, but when Q&A happened, it became a discussion on craft. Everyone one of the authors had solid advice, and the audience came with some great questions. Really makes me think there should be a regular forum for this sort of discussion at ECCC—a re-occurring panel where people can ask the authors how they approach writing.

After the panel, Steve and I chatted with each of them briefly. When I got home, I bought Roux’s House of Furies, Tieryas’ United States of Japan and preordered Hart’s The Warehouse. I’m looking forward to reading all of them.

The cosplay was unbelievable

☀️ Saturday

We began our day with a game show style panel hosted by author Myke Cole. He did an excellent job, and the audience was lively and invested—the goal was to stump the panelists and overall the audience did just that. That said when it comes to game show formats, I think I prefer the pop-culture Battle Royale competition that Matt Youngmark hosts at Norwescon.

I found a Brom!
I found a Brom!

I spent quite a bit of time wandering the show floor on Saturday. Speaking of Matt Youngmark, I picked up the latest novel in his Futhermucking Classics trilogy from his table. (Managed to score the last copy! Yay me!) They’re always a fun read and Matt has a great sense of humor. I also saw my pal Brom and checked out some of the work of other local artists in the Homegrown section.

The best panel I attended on day two “The Thrill of the Chase” a discussion on YA Thrillers with April Henry, Cat Winters, Deb Caletti, Parker Peevyhouse, and Paula Stokes. There was a lot here, some discussion about craft and approach to thrillers in general. There was a question regarding the drama that seems to vortex around the YA space—and how the authors themselves handle that while writing dark subject matter. Most of them said they ignored it, and that most YA readers don’t pay much attention to Twitter. That makes sense, after all when one is outside of an echo chamber you don’t usually hear anything. A good reminder.

The Thrill of the Chase – (Left to Right) moderator Avrey (whose last name I couldn’t find/remember—Sorry!), Deb Caletti, Cat Winters, April Henry, Paula Stokes, and Parker Peevyhouse

I wasn’t feeling so great Sunday morning, and I had a manuscript to fight with, so I ended up staying home and working on the last day. Unfortunately, I missed a few folks (Sorry, Lars!) which bummed me out. One of the best parts about conventions like ECCC is hanging out with cool and likeminded people.

Overall, I enjoyed my time at ECCC. I do wish there were more craft related discussions—nerding out can be great, but it’s nice to hear others experiences working in the industry. I feel like if I go again, I need to participate more—at the very least run a table. Otherwise, I tend to be aimless and a little restless. (I know, I know, I said as much last year. But I mean it this time.)

Thanks for a great convention Emerald City—it was a lot of fun. I’m sure I’ll see you again.


Have a convention you’d like me to attend? Let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email. Remember, You can keep track of where I’ll be and read previous convention debriefing over on my Upcoming Appearances page.


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Raunch Review: Friday

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


Raunch Review: Friday
The Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Work in Question: Friday
The Profanity: “Slitch”

Heinlein has had his share of fans and detractors, and certainly, Friday isn’t his best-loved book by either group. (A few years ago, Jo Walton wrote a great review for Tor.com, ‘The worst book I love: Robert Heinlein’s Friday,’ which is worth reading.) Within the near-future world of the novel, there a pernicious vulgarity which we’re going to examine today. The word: “slitch.” Regardless of your Heinlein hot-take—something about this vulgarity works too well.

In the novel, the titular Friday —an “Artificial Person” or “AP”— must pass in the near-future world as a human, despite being genetically engineered and possessing mental and physical abilities which far exceed a normal person. There’s a lot of hate and bigotry toward APs. And throughout Friday, we see a world where society is built upon intolerance. In an environment like this, creating a portmanteau like “slitch” fits. (I’ll let you figure out its roots.)

“Slitch” builds off history — twisting and combining a pair of vulgarities we, the reader, recognize while still creating a new word. Its score is slightly held back because understanding its roots require a working knowledge of our modern vulgarities. (We value pure originality here at Raunch Reviews.) But, it feels as icky as its history and its link to the past goes a long way toward creating an effective piece of faux-profanity.

Score:  (4.0)

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Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


 

Raunch Review: A Clockwork Orange

Raunch Review: A Clockwork Orange

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


Raunch Review: A Clockwork Orange

The Author: Anthony Burgess
Work in Question: A Clockwork Orange
The Profanity: “Yarbles”

The evolution of language is a large part of profanity. What is considered obscene changes over the years, and can seem silly to following generations. One of the most famous examples of this was the word “leg” which, during the Victorian era, was considered obscene. (“Limb” became the de-facto replacement when discussing one’s extremities.) It’s strange to think about now, but that evolution influences the effectiveness of profanity. It’s very much a product of its time. That same evolution should apply to fictional swearing as well.

Enter “yarbles,” Anthony Burgess’ offering into the lexicon of faux-profanity. Uttered by the milkplus-fueled street toughs who prowl the streets of a retro-futuristic London, this word is used as a vulgarity for male genitalia. Burgess, a linguist as well as a writer, based much of the unique language in a Russian-influenced argot he called “Nadsat” (which translates to -teen). “Yarbles” is based on the Russian word аблоко (jabloko) which translates as “apple.” Within English, we often see words get anglicized as they shift and change over time. With that anglicization, a word will inherit new pronunciations and often evolve new meanings. We see that with “yarbles.”

“Yarbles,” as a result, is subversive—so perfect that they slapped it on the first edition cover! It carries that hint of naughtiness which sharpens its use as a vulgarity. It has a history and an evolution. Its visceral nature fits within the context of the novel, and it’s wielded perfectly by the book’s protagonist, Alex. In almost every way, it can be viewed as a gold standard for faux-profanity.

Score:  (5.0)

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Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


 

Raunch Review: Warhammer 40k

Raunch Review: Warhammer 40k

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


Raunch Review: Warhammer 40kThe Author: Dan Abnett
Work in Question: Warhammer 40k – Gaunt’s Ghosts
The Profanity: “feth”/“fething”/“fether”

Warhammer 40k’s backstory is complicated. So, let’s set the scene. The word “feth” comes from the planet Tanith, a now-dead world in the Warhammer 40k universe. Taken from the name of a forest spirit said to inhabit Tanith’s now-deceased Nalwood trees, “feth” is generally uttered as a vulgarity by Tanith’s survivors. That usage is interesting: typically, within language, the names of deities (or names in general) tend to be uttered as oaths. Yet, that isn’t the case here, to further complicate the usage, the term is mainly used by the survivors from that dead world: a military regiment known as the Tanith First-and-Only. They’re observed combining the word with others the way one would with vulgarities, epithets such as: “fething gakhead” and “tread fethers.”

While I like the added aspect of history, that doesn’t work. It’s inconsistent with language’s evolution. The fact that a grieving unit of survivors exclusively use the word further muddies things. It’s odd that the whole group would choose the name of a forest spirit from a beloved homeland and adopt it as a vulgarity. As a vulgarity, it has no impact. If anything, it’d make more sense to be generally accepted by survivors as a compliment. The name itself doesn’t mean anything offensive. If it were used as an oath, however, “feth” would have scored much higher.

Score:  (1.5)

🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.