Categories
Short Stories

PreMachine|PostHuman

“Remember when we did that stupid super-villain thing?” She laughed.

Amongst all the layers of tone enhancement and sampled affectation I could still hear an echo of her original laugh. It gave me confidence in my decision to get back in touch. We hadn’t spoken in a decade, maybe more. Since then we had both changed.

“I do! Gaah, what was that about? Mid-shift crisis or what? Panthro the Panther man, so butch, I even had that Jaguar..”

“Oh yea that construct side-kick! You spent a bundle on him and you had to have that humongous litter tray in your lair for it to crap in! Why you went full bio on that thing I don’t know!”

And she laughed again, I noticed she had it so it sounded like the theme song from a cartoon made way back when we were still, when she was still, a young female, made of actual multicellular flesh and blood.

“It was a she actually.. yea that sucked, I had that robot that was supposed to collect and incinerate it.”

More laughter. What was that theme song from? Maybe it was a custom composition.

“Yea I remember! It didn’t work and we had The Pterodactyl and Brickfists and whatshername, thingygummy with the telekinesis that always gave her a migraine, for the Meeting of the Scorpio Five and HAH! The whole lousy lair just stank of burning catshit the entire time!”

Oh I remember all right. I forced an agreement laugh. I needed a come-back otherwise the teasing would go on and on.

“I remember your gimmick though; The Sorrow, you were supposed to be dark and brooding with that whole mysterious angle, you had those implants that was supposed to exude those chemicals that would..”

“Make everyone so sad they couldn’t do shit, I know! It was so lame.. it was way more fun when I programmed them to exude that DMT/MDMA gas mix though..”

“Oh Hell yea, but that’s the thing, you thought you wanted to be the silent mysterious one at the back who comes in wipes everyone out, but you were the total opposite! Like always the first to get stuck in kicking the shit out of those fucking dweebs we used to run against.. ‘The Chums of Chance’. Like some roided up cyborg Nancy Drew bullshit, what the fuck happened to them?”

“Got into the exploration scene and set out across the galaxy with a bunch of other egos in their hotmodded probes. Looking for life, some higher calling. Its kind of sweet but they take themselves so seriously, beaming back pictures all the time to the cloud, total oversharing overload because they’ve got nothing else to do and it looks so boring out there in deep space ‘ oh look another interesting Pulsar wave!’ She sighed. You’re lucky you’ve gone back to being a full meat and potatoes human, you don’t have to put up with all that bubbins.”

“Yeaa… there’s other things though”

I felt a light tingle around my left eyebrow as she charged the molecules in the air around it, her version of a caress. It moved across my eyebrow, around my ear and stayed there.

“Like touch?” My skin tingled as though bubbles in soda water where fizzing against it.

“There’s that. But you can touch and feel too.” I reached out to the large cardboard box, the arbitrary form her ego had manifested. It was the sort of box a small fridge might come in, heavily bound with brown sellotape along every seam and around its top and middle. An arrow that should be pointing up pointed down. I pushed a fingernail into a crevice and made a small slit in the tape.

“OOOOoooh not so rough! Gah we haven’t seen each other for ages and your already being totally dom”

“Weell, you started it. But why the box?”

“Because a large cardboard box is just so mysterious! Its chock full of possibilities, imagine them all!”

“Yea on the other hand its just a box, you could be anything, but really what if If your just a dead cat in there?”

“Oh I’m something alright!”

The fizzing intensified it ran down my face and neck, across my humungous traps and my boulder shoulders, it felt like someone unwinding a tape made of pure electricity as it carried on down my back and across my buttocks and hung there. My breathing got heavier, I was becoming aroused. I pushed another finger in the tape on the box, making the slit bigger and wider.

“mmmMM—OHH! YOU BEAST!”

Suddenly the fizzing caress shot down between my ass and unrolled over and around my cock and balls. The buzzing grew in intensity. I grunted as I began to grow hard, I could feel something like flies landing on the tip of my dick.

“Fuck you’re such a bad bitch, you like when I treat you mean though, don’t you? Answer me cunt!”

The electricity tape became a tight band across my body, I could feel it juddering.

“UH- HuuH..” She said in a little girl voice now

I reached out with both hands and began to tear at the tape, the cardboard started to give.

SNAP

My body spasmed, I jerked and stifled a moan as the band cracked like a whip, I felt it sting everywhere it had lain.

SNAP

“yessssssss”

SNAP

“uurrh yesssssss”

And then with every crack I tore at the cardboard, shredded it with my fists. And she began to cry.

“OoowWw! OOWW! OoooOh yourr hurting meeee.. yourr hurting meee.. “

“Yea you fuckin like that you whore, what are you,?”

“I’m a fucking whore”

“That’s right. Hit me again bitch I fucking dare you.”

SNAP SNAP SNAPP

The lashes felt cruel but immaculate, clean and scouring. I fought the urge not to give in to them. My teeth clenched so hard my jaw clicked and I went down on one knee. But I kept a firm grip on the box, and pulled more of it apart. A shape within was metamorphosing into something tangible.

I plunged a fist in and grabbed soft curly hair. My other hand went in and I felt a mouth, a tongue, soft and long licked my fingers. Lips began to suckle them. I pushed all four of them into her mouth and heard her gargle as I tickled the back of her throat. I let go of her hair and went around the back and felt soft warm wetness there too.

Fingers in either end.

Enough was enough.

I pulled them out suddenly and she moaned with a mixture of pain and pleasure.

With my hands slick from her juices, I ripped the last of the box away.

And there she was down on all fours, all limbs tied to wooden rockers, her fleece a soft creamy white, her tail wagged and she turned her head, looked me in the eye and winked.

“Baaaah” She bleated.

Everything was just like I remembered when I first met her.

Categories
Pirate Film Reviews

Sputnik /Спутник (2020)

Last night I got around to watching Russian Sci-Fi / Horror film Sputnik which is a clever, compelling and beautifully shot post soviet rethink of the xenomorph body-horror genre.

Sputnik, is misleadingly not about the first satellite to orbit the Earth. Instead it’s a fairly well crafted sci-fi/thriller/horror set in 1983. Russian Cosmonaut Konstantin (Pyotr Fyodorov) crash lands back to earth when something sinister causes his Soyuz capsule to malfunction. He has no memory of the catastrophic re-entry which may or may not have killed his Co-pilot. Colonel Semiradov (Fyodor Bondarchuk), suspects something funny regarding his claims of amnesia and recruits unorthodox and controversial neuro-physiologist Tatyana Klimova (Oksana Akinshina) to treat him at distant military facility in Kazahkstan. Of course, as the promotional poster makes clear, Konstantin did not come back to earth alone..

Ok, but is it any good?

So this film is Egor Abramenko’s full feature directorial debut and certainly marks him out as one to watch in the future. The setting of the film at the just before Perestroika and subsequent fall of the USSR is particularly interesting as it makes it feel like Post-Soviet-Soviet film! No really. I’ve always thought that period of USSR history would make a brilliant setting for a whole series of films. (A vampire film set in Soviet Norilsk anyone? Mutant Siberian Tigers terrorising a gulag?)

Anyways the Eastern Bloc has a long and storied history of producing great science fiction films. If you haven’t seen any I strongly urge you to check out the films of Andrey Tarkovsky. One of the hallmarks of the classic Soviet sci-fi films is it they push well away from convention; ‘Stalker’ 1979 and ‘Kin-Dza-Dza’ 1986 respectively being both well-feted internationally as genre breaking films that don’t rely on the conventional sci-fi tropes.

However even within the well trodden science fiction conventions i.e. space ships, robots and aliens, etcetera, there are Soviet era films such as Ikarie X-B1 1963 and Solaris 1972 that have subtle cerebral and culturally salient takes on such thematic standards. That both those films are based on Stanislaw Lem stories is also rather telling.

Sputnik also knowingly references it’s sci-fi B Movie roots.

In any event Sputnik is more akin to the latter genre of Soviet sci-fi films. For it is essentially a reworking of Alien (1979) and this isn’t a bad thing, but the parallels are fairly obvious:

For instance the main protagonist is a strong female lead and the creature is a violent, body-horror xenomorph not too distantly related to the H.R Giger vision we all know and love. That the powers that be also wish to control it in order weaponise it, and in so doing allow it to munch men in body armour like popcorn, also relates it to the second and third Alien films.

What Abramenko does do differently is add a more intimate and complicit relationship between man and xeno than we might normally expect. Without overly fetishising the creature itself as an intrusively sexual or pointlessly savage. Though visually the beast is well actualised via CGI, it’s not really anything genre aficionados haven’t seen before. But it is suitably alien both in design and behaviour, straddling the line initially between gross and disarmingly menacing. When we are shown it in full in the third act it is not disappointing as it still manages to be inscrutably intelligent and a credible threat.

VISUALS & THEMES

As far as looks go, Abramenko perfectly captures a stylised and aesthetically pleasing version of early 1980’s USSR. The sets and locations are striking and completely of the era and Abramenko makes full use of Brutalist space. The period buildings and internal sets are all heavy concrete and stained birch veneer. Their frontages and auditoriums both massive and gloomy yet seemingly empty and underpopulated. This is clearly the USSR of committees and reports. Indeed we are introduced to Dr Klimova, who is being censured for her unorthodox clinical treatments by just such a committee.

Although much of the film is primarily set inside a military base, there are exterior shots of the Kazahk steppe. Frequently Abramenko has the wide-open slate skies and distant rolling hills bisected by an almost needless chainlink fence. Which is a nice touch regarding other subtle themes about illusions of constraint and control present in the film.

CHARACTERS

The characterisations in Sputnick are fairly robust and well construed. Dr Klimova is suitably hard willed and humanistic, Konstantin the Cosmonaut is funny, rueful ambitious and sly. Anton Vasiliev as Dr Rigel provides a decent cowardly turn. But the standout for me though is Colonel Semiradov who rather than being the hard nosed military man associated with the stereotype in such films is warm, considerate and forward thinking. This also muddies the waters somewhat between whether there is a definite ‘good or bad side’ in the film, which is when it is at it’s most interesting.

My main negative criticism of the film is that I found the score un-necessarily intrusive at key moments, being thumping and fast paced. Others may not mind it so much. There is also a more schmaltzy subplot that does not detract from the film but does feel that it is there mainly to provide closure at the end. All in all I highly it’s an interesting film that provides a decent twist on the genre and it is well worth a watch.

Categories
Articles Collapse Culture

What is Collapse Culture?

Culture:- The power by which humans create meaning in their lives encompassing the total sum of ideas, knowledge, values and beliefs that underpin social action.

Collapse:- To fall, break down or fail completely.

When I was younger I used to enjoy reading and watching science fiction. Especially the grim, post apocalyptic genre. But over the last ten years what I thought were apt fictive warnings for the dangers of human hubris have increasingly come to manifest as brute reality.

So much so, that it is hard not to see life right now through an overheating montage of cataclysmic events. Images and videos of systems breaking down proliferate in every available form of media.

Indeed as I write this;

Uyghurs detained and being transported by train. Xinjiang Province.

And so it goes on. Until it feels like we’re living under a barrage of anger and despair. Now due to the current pandemic we have ample time to reflect impotently on these issues. Political corruption and oppression. Social breakdown and general disorder. Climate pollution and mass animal death. Playing out on a loop through our own individualistic lenses of collective desolation, and internalised as rage, fear and guilt. Much like the opening overture of Soylent Green. Except without the benefit of Chuck Braverman’s excellent piano composition. .

LAPD fire rubber bullets at a homeless man in a wheelchair during the BLM protests 5/06/2020

So What?

So this blog is an attempt to reconcile these latter day horrors. For myself but mainly to pin down what Collapse Culture is and how it is manufactured. I don’t wish it to be a kind of compendium of agony so much as it is a vehicle for my own work here. Which is directed at how we actively attempt to ignore the yawning abyss. Those ways we attempt to keep the capricious capitalist fires still burning in a zero sum future. And in those efforts identify how we retcon the old consumable tropes that slid down so easy all those years, into something deconstructively new. That’s what I mean by collapse culture.

Hyper-reality.

Manufacturing Collapse Culture

At the moment it feels like technology has bloated many cultural conceits, mutating values and perceptions into absurd parodies. To such a degree that it is now acceptable and rewarding to retune your face via software and surgery in order to flex Gucci at Auschwitz. Shock value catches eyes and shifts units. Maybe it always has. But now any attention is good attention as long as a person is getting a lot of it! The algorithms that measure taste, and to an extent dictate it as well, are mathematical monuments. Heavy edifices of code that grind down meaning into siftable samples. Scale is key. Ethical and moral considerations are tertiary considerations. Relegated behind ‘reach’, ‘runtime’ and enterprise. As Stalin may or may not have said “Quantity has a quality all of its own.”

Current pop culture or pop tech doesn’t just eat itself. It makes you eat it and then hoovers up your leavings, like so many chocolate hundreds and thousands, that it then sprinkles all over itself to entice you to take another bite. The process repeats ad infinitum until you lose interest and/or it withers away to be the captive preserve of self appointed enthusiasts, aka fans and nerds.

Vuitton but you get the point.

Whether we do this by seeing our folk heroes afflicted with Alzheimers and bone death. By letting our televisions exhort us to part with time and money in ever more infantile and elaborate ways. Or just by feeding into the fucking beast like your doing right now reading these words. In terms of the time-cultural continuum we are constantly surfing the bleeding edge of how we create meaning. It’s just that right now that that edge is hemorrhaging out because the beast whose belly we’re all trapped is in is dying.

Federal Agents use a futuristic teargas gun on protesters in Portland Oregon.