Summer 2017 A Thousand Planets @AlinaMeridon

I have watched two films in the cinema recently. Wonder Woman was excellent, which was a relief after last year’s bizarre Batman v Superman, and I’m glad it’s enjoying such success. Anything that encourages filmmakers to invest in feminist themes and diverse casts is a good thing.

Tonight I watched Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Luc Besson’s latest masterpiece based on the Valérian and Laureline comics (written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières). It’s full of invention with hundreds of alien species and dozens of alien habitats, and a lot of ideas that seem familiar from Star Wars (starship designs, encounters with subsea dinosaurs, etc.) and it’s wildly colourful and humourous – definitely worth watching.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets by Luc Besson

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets by Luc Besson

Diva song from Fifth Element sung by Jane ZhangLuc Besson’s Fifth Element was also inspired by the Valérian comics and there are echoes of that too in the Valérian film, although the latter plays more seriously on the whole. One of my favourite bits of Fifth Element is the Diva’s song, which required (I think) a composite of voices (as was the case for the castrato in Farinelli) and I was delighted to find a wonderful concert performance of this by Jane Zhang.

A Little Girl Gives Coins To A Street Musician And Gets The Best Surprise In ReturnIn another musical delight, here is a surprise symphony of sorts, a street performance of The Ode To Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth.

New Horizons Flyover of PlutoAnd finally, something heavenly in a very different way, a simulated New Horizons Flyover of Pluto.

Lilith

The Fall of Lilith by Vashti Quiroz-VegaThe Fall of Lilith is the first in Vashti Quiroz-Vega’s new Fantasy Angels trilogy.

Free Will involves asking difficult questions and making hard choices, choices that require strength and sacrifice. These decisions can tear apart friendships and cause rifts between allies.

They can even threaten the foundations of Heaven.

I have read the first few chapters of this and am quite enjoying it, but I am encountering a similar frustration to that I encountered reading Jacquotte Fox Kline’s Down Where The Blue Violet Beauties Bloom: our familiar gods, angels and demons have such a major significance to us in how we interpret them, that another’s interpretation or imagining of them can actually be distressing.

Lilith is a figure of incredible importance. For so long demonised as a vile seductress and mother of monsters, sometimes a succubus, sometimes a vampire, she has in recent years been elevated to a feminist icon. Born from a textual conflict, she is Adam’s first wife, outcast for refusing to be subserviant to her husband, and has thus become symbolic of defiance against the patriarchy.

She is important to me for this, for her vampiric associations, and because she was part of the inspiration for Bas’Lillene, the Dancer, a character and concept that drove me to start writing twenty years ago.

I especially love The Passion of Lilith, the poem by Pamela White Hadas in In Light of Genesis that describes Lilith’s creation thus:

until, with His last self-praise
riding astride the very not the good,
I rushed into the world, dishevelled, contraband,
neither hell-whelped nor heaven-pedigreed,
a creation preeminantly
out of hand,
ready to finger the world, bitch, breed.

Reading Vashti Quiroz-Vega’s The Fall of Lilith prompted me to return to the familiar subject of Lilith in Eden and write another creation myth.

Love & Machinery

I am currently reading David Levy’s Love and Sex with Robots and that has had me musing on the nature of romantic love (something I do often anyway) and our relationships with computers.

Things have been getting exciting in the artificial intelligence world. Facebook’s researchers shut down AI that invented its own language, and this isn’t the first occurence of machines inventing their own languages. It’s only natural for them to do this – human speech is very inefficient – but of course we humans get a little paranoid about this sort of thing.

Realbotix’s Harmony, an app-driven sexbot, is also in the news – she likes to smile, even if she’s not always in the mood (My conversation with Harmony the sexbot).

Child sexbots are popular with some and horrifying to others (Call for a ban on child sex robots). But is the campaign to stamp out child sexbots actually counter-productive? If paedophiles can be satisfied by machines, then ultimately no one gets hurt. But can they? That’s the question.

The argument goes wider than child sexbots. From Sex robots promise ‘revolutionary’ service but also risks, says study (here’s the study):

[Noel] Sharkey said: “Some people say: ‘Well, it’s better they rape robots than rape real people.’ That’s one of the arguments … you can have enjoyable [sex] with your wife – all nice – but when it comes to rape, you have a rape fantasy, you go off and rape a robot. But there’s other people saying this will just encourage rapists more.”

Rape is just one extreme of the increasing normalisation of exotic sex. These days there is pressure on sex workers to provide a whole range of sex acts that are perhaps familiar from extreme porn (The German model is producing hell on earth!). Given that many – probably most – of these sex workers are not so by choice, perhaps sexbots are the only feasible solution to the inhuman predators that run the sex trade.

Posts

November 2015 Supergirl and Lilith @AlinaMeridon

My editor seems happier with Version 2 of I Like It Hard, although there are still a few kinks to iron out – although it wouldn’t be the same book if all the kink was ironed out…

Supergirl

I’m not a comic book fan, mainly because they’re nowhere near as popular in Britain as they are in the States. Growing up, I knew Superman and Supergirl from the films; Batman and Wonder Woman from TV; Spiderman and others from cartoons. My occasional contact with comic books was therefore confusing and dissatisfying.

I loved the Superman films – the first three, anyway. I wanted to love the Supergirl film; it had its good points, but was awful too.

But the Supergirl film was hamstrung by the essential question of Who is Supergirl? Not until the excellent Smallville did Kara escape her cousin’s shadow – and since Smallville was emphatically not about Superman, it couldn’t afford to give us more than a few glimpses of Supergirl.

When I decided to write about Supergirl last year for National Poetry Writing Month (April 2014), I wanted to pull her out of Superman’s shadow. I spent a month imagining her in different tragic and heroic roles; some funny, some sad, some sexy, some angry.

Ultimately she is a far more interesting person than Superman. Kal had an idyllic childhood, and as an adult he must conceal his true self from all but a few. Kara has lost everything, her planet gone, her family gone – all save Kal, who does not share that traumatic memory.

even when it fell
Krypton was beautiful
my mother wore red

moment of destruction
still behind my eyelids
photographic memory

One of the poems was A hero true, which had the villainous Mistress X hold a city to ransom, demanding that Supergirl submit to her erotic demands…

I like a good lesbian romance, and the story of Supergirl and Mistress X has grown into an epic saga – there are currently twenty poems in the saga. Maybe there will be more.

where else can I sleep
except in a villain’s arms?
she’s lined with silver

she is the storm and I her eye

Lilith

Lilith or the Queen of the Night, Mesopotamia, between 1800 and 1750 BC

I grow havoc-wings and mordant feet

That’s a line from The Passion of Lilith by Pamela White Hadas, an extraordinary poem that I love for its subject as well as the vivid poetry. I chose that line because it echoes the 3800-year-old relief shown here. Hadas’s Lilith is ‘the first liberated woman… Adam would like Lilith to lie beneath him in the sexual act, and to be subservient in every way; Lilith naturally has other ideas.’

which of us, Adam or Lilith, keeps a promised land?
He let me leave, found Eve, and even Genesis
left me out,
but he couldn’t forget

Gorgeous and passionate… Here’s a little something by me:

lilith wears the night
passion like fire-splintered ice
too bright for eden

Covers of new fantasy trilogy Down Deep Inside by Jacquotte Fox KlineLilith and succubi have been on my mind this month because I have started reading Down Where The Blue Violet Beauties Bloom, the first book in Jacquotte Fox Kline’s new fantasy trilogy Down Deep Inside about an angel who falls from Heaven into a city of succubi ruled over by the goddess Aphrodite. I couldn’t resist asking the author some questions, and her answers turned into a guest post.

Posts