BLOGGERS WEEK: Meet The Bloggers

Ready for some blogger-on-blogger action? SFX has refreshed its team of Bloggers, and to kick off a week of Blogtastic fun, we got them all interview each other

A year ago, when the SFX website first relaunched into its current incarnation, we introduced the world to the SFX Bloggers, a team of 12 erudite SF, fantasy and horror fans who’ve been merrily posting on the site ever since, enriching the site with their personal, esoteric, informative and entertaining insights (they asked me to tell you).

One year on, and it’s time to refresh the team with some new blood, as some of the old Bloggers have moved on. So we can now announce four new members of the team: Troo Topham , PigMonkey , Steven Ellis and Matt Risley .

But how best to introduced them to them to you? That’s when the idea of Bloggers’s Week started to form.

A whole week for the Bloggers to go wild!

There’ll be at least one blog from each of our Bloggers going up over the next few days, but to kick things off, we decided that they should introduce themselves. So we’ve got the bloggers to interviews the other bloggers. It certainly turned out to be an interesting experiment (especially the fact there’s a lot more killing mentioned in the boys’ interviews), and, we reckon, a great way for you to learn a little bit more about what makes our Bloggers tick.

Meet the new Bloggers

Click on the images to go the interviews, or just browse the pages using the next button

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Pig Monkey

John Cooper

Kell Harker

Laura McConnell

Steven Ellis

Lee Harris

Matt Risley

Narin Bahar

Stacey Whittle

Troo Topham

Will Salmon

Alasdair Stuart

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PigMonkey

Interviewed by Alasdair Stuart

Alasdair: What attracted you to podcasting and what keeps you there? (I host Pseudopod so I’m very much a podcast fan myself!)

PigMonkey: I started podcasting a few years ago when I was involved with the show Sonic Society. We had an hour to hour-and-a-half show in which we showcased some of the best modern and classic radio plays. We would broadcast it on a local radio station, record the broadcast, and podcast it. This led to several other radio play projects, the most popular of which was the fan six-part series Firefly: Old Wounds . After taking a hiatus, I started podcasting again with the new show Geeks Versus Nerds . I continue to podcast because that is where my audience it. I want to make it as easy as possible for people who want to listen to listen.

Alasdair: So, first off, Geeks vs Nerds . Which one are you, or re you some form of neutral, pseudo-Switzerland figure?

PigMonkey: People are so interested in what the difference is between a Geek and a Nerd. I hear that question two or three times a week. The only difference I can be absolutely sure of is the geeks sit on my right on the stage, the nerds sit on my left. I self-identify as a geek. I have been a sci-fi fan since I was four, just old enough to bounce up and down and scream, “I want to be a Jedi when I grow up”. However, there are many, many people who say I am a nerd. So I am both. What I am not, is neutral. I have a tendency to say what I am thinking, a quality that people find funny on stage.

Alasdair: What led you to form the premier genre fiction comedy improv podcast on the planet?

PigMonkey: Aaawww, “Premier comedy improv podcast?” That made me all gooey on the inside for a second. I like to do things – I never know how hard something is until give it a shot – and it is more fun to do things than not do things. I guess that is what started me doing it: I thought it was a good idea at the time. It is an opinion that has not changed. I have never questioned that Geeks Versus Nerds is a great show, and I have a great team helping me. Recording it and putting it on the net was always part of the plan; however doing the show in front of a live audience was a later development that really raised the bar on the show entirely.

Alasdair: How difficult is the show to moderate? Is it easy to get people fired up?

PigMonkey: Moderating a show is like herding 20 hyperactive toddlers with attention deficit disorder. They all want to talk at the same time and get really passionate about the topics. That is why I am armed with a nerf “PigMonkey says you are bad” gun. The great thing about the show is I have to do very little firing up. The Geeks and Nerds come to win and the audience comes to play. We have a great cast, but our audience is incredible. The great thing about geeks and nerds is when you are wrong, or if you misquote, they let you know. They don’t tell you after the show, they yell it out right there. It has lead us to say that there are four entities to a GvN show. The geeks, the nerds, The lord high PigMonkey, and the audience all come together to make a high energy show. That is why people say you can listen to and enjoy the podcast, but until you have been to a recording, you don’t really understand GvN .

Alasdair: What genre conflicts do you hold close to your heart? I for example still contend Peter Griffin could take Homer Simpson in a straight fight.

PigMonkey: Unfortunately the fight is only one round in the debate. And the titles they debate for are more things the characters represent. For instance in the example of Peter and Homer, I would use the topic: who is the more unfit parent? I have some good ones and I am always coming up with others. Batman V Boba Fett is a big one for me and is going to be the season premiere episode. This year we have matches like Richard Castle V Jessica Fletcher, for the title of crime writing crime solver, and James T Kirk V Jack Harkness, for the title of lecherous captain man-whore.

Alasdair: What do you think gets us so fired up about this sort of thing?

PigMonkey: There are several reasons for people getting fired up for the show. The first is Geeks and Nerds like to argue: it’s a mental wrestling match, and there is something really satisfying about getting a really good insult on a character that does some thing that really bugs you. The second is the audience loves it. They are all juiced up for the argument, and they make the winning decision in the end so when the teams on stage really start to get into it, the audience feeds off of that adding to the energy of the show. The most important ingredient, though, I think is the topics themselves. We all have things that stirs emotion from our younger years, (and not so younger years) so when people start trashing a beloved character you want to defend it. All that passion, translates to funny.

Alasdair: You have unlimited resources, a blank cheque book and an audience of millions. What special guests do you ask on the show?

PigMonkey: It depends on the topic. I would like to get people who were closely associated with the characters. For example in Anakin Skywalker V Wesley Crusher (whiniest teenager in space), I would love to get Will Wheaton. I would also like to get Hayden Christensen, (under the tires of a bus). There are tonnes of match-ups like that, but if I had to pick a couple of guys who should be there, just for sheer geek processing power, I would have to say that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and Seth Green. And if money is truly no option, I want them gold-plated when they get here. For posterity.

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BLOGGER-ON-BLOGGER ACTION

John Cooper

Interviewed by PigMonkey

PigMonkey: Your name is John? Nice, concise, easy to remember. Did you ever want to change your name?

John: I’ve never wanted to change my own name officially. When I was a kid a thought “Chuck Wagner” was an awesome name and said it loads at school discussing Automan . I’m a character comic as well as stand-up, so I've been called “Danny” quite a lot, which I’m oddly used to.

PigMonkey: Are you a space beetle in a human skin bent on world domination? Follow-up question: where will the invasion fleet land?

John: Damn you! Yes I’m a space beetle, I just hide the other four legs by carrying this pantomime horse under one arm. The invasion fleet will be landing on the old Outcasts set where no one will see it. It will be dismissed as “futuristic”.

PigMonkey: If you had a time machine to travel to the past, who would you kill? and why?

John: Can have a time machine and not kill someone? Is that a pre-requisite? Surely just by going into the past I’d inadvertently do something that meant someone wouldn’t exist, which is almost killing someone – butterflies and all that.

PigMonkey: Luke or Anakin? why? (The wrong answer will result in death)

John: Anakin of course, that’s obvious. Hang on, a time machine has just appeared! With me inside – AAARRGGH!

PigMonkey: If you could make one superhero real, who would it be? Why? How long would it take for the general populace to turn on them?

John: Matter Eater-lad from DC’s Legion of Super Heroes . He’d get his own TV show eating stuff like carrier bags and radioactive waste, then release his own line of food products, then a keep-fit video. Then we’d go off him.

PigMonkey: Your shoelace is untied.

John: Is it?

PigMonkey: What really happens at 88 mph?

John: Leonardo DiCaprio

PigMonkey: If you were a tree, how would you keep dogs away?

John: I’d make sure I was a tree planted on a new housing development, which in turn was built on an old Indian burial ground.

PigMonkey: Who wins in a fight, Chuck Norris or Batman?

John: Chuck Norris beats Christian Bale, but Adam West beats Chuck Norris.

PigMonkey: If we buried you with your Geeky possessions: comics, videos, video games, board games and figures, how big would the tomb have to be?

John: If I live long enough I’ll probably despair to see the day all my worldly possessions can fit onto a USB stick, including my own drooling consciousness. In the future, the recently-deceased will be burned to make electricity for some big useless Wikipedia of dead people’s thoughts.

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Kell Harker

Interviewed by John Cooper

John: I didn’t get a chance to meet you at the SFX weekender, but I can tell from your input on the SFX site and forum you’re clearly well into well into all things SFX y and know your fantasy onions. Was there any one thing in particular that got you into sci-fi and fantasy?

Kell: Firstly, I want to say that The SFX Weekender2 rocked my world. As a huge fan of the magazine it was really cool to meet the team, and I hope SFX will let me come back for the next one – I’m worried I may have hugged Jordan Farley too much.

As to what got me into sci-fi and fantasy in the first place, well let’s see… 1993 was the year I wallpapered my bedroom with posters of David Duchovny and Dean Cain, so I guess I have to give credit to The X-Files and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman for significantly contributing to my geekdom.

John: An obvious question to ask is always “What is your favorite show?”, so I’ll turn this on its head and ask, is there a show you really don’t like, something you reckon gives genre telly a bad name?

Kell: Hmm. There isn’t a show that comes to mind, but I’ve recently seen Battle: Los Angeles and was disappointed by its propaganda – there was no “other side” and it was really all just so one dimensional.

John: Is there anything you’re watching or reading at the moment you want to rave about?

Kell: I’m taking advantage of this opportunity to remind Nick Setchfield to rave about Lady Gaga’s new music video, Born This Way in The Inside Skinny. Yes the video is sci-fi and yes, it is awesome – strange and dark and like an alien horror flick, it’s also packed with a powerful message about equality for all. Go Gaga!

John: You hail from that there Canadia. From experience it’s a very different place and culturally less cynical than Blighty. Does where you’re from inform the kind of fan you are and the stuff you like?

Kell: Yes, very different: I can’t believe you don’t have Graham Crackers in Britain! That means you can’t make s’mores! Then what the heck do you guys eat when you’re camping?!

In terms of Canada being less cynical than Blighty, well the science fiction and fantasy genres are strong elements in our contemporary culture – they make films in Toronto, did you know? I think they may even film some sci-fi stuff in Vancouver, too…

More seriously, I do want to give a special shout-out to InnerSPACE, the retrospective discussion show (hosted by SPACE personalities Ajay Fry, Teddy Wilson and Natasha Eloi) that navigates all things geek; and also fan activities such as Polaris in Toronto and Hal-Con in Nova Scotia all help to broaden awareness and appreciation of the science fiction and fantasy genres.

John: Finally, imagine I handed you a blank cheque and had the power to commission any TV show you liked, what would it be called, and what would it be about?

Kell: I have a potentially offensive television show idea about a zombie slayer who accidentally falls in love with an undead cutie. It’d be gruesome and grim and naughty and it would of course be titled When Death Comes . Geddit?

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Laura McConnell

Interviewed by Kell Harker

Want to know SFX ’s American blogger Laura McConnell better? Well you’re in luck my friend, because I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Laura, just for you:

Kell: What are some of your geeky interests?

Laura: My favorite gone-but-not-forgotten genre television shows are The X-Files , Stargate SG-1 , Stargate Atlantis , Farscape , Firefly , and all things Star Trek . Yes, even Enterprise. I really like Quantum Leap , too. As for current shows, I watch Sanctuary and Eureka , but my favourite genre show on the air right now is Being Human (UK version).

Movie-wise, I’m big into Star Wars and Star Trek , and I love superhero movies of all sorts.

I read Invincible Iron Man , Farscape , Serenity , and G.I. Joe comics, too.

Kell: What do you like most about blogging for SFX ?

Laura: I enjoy writing non-fiction and interacting with my fellow fans in the comments.

Kell: As the American blogger, what do you think are the major differences between American and British science fiction?

Laura: Oh, that’s easy! The profanity, of course! You guys do know that BBC America bleeps out the eff word in Being Human and blurs any bare buttocks, right? It is ridiculous beyond comprehension, but that’s the FCC for you. I find it funny, personally. If I couldn’t laugh at the idiocy of censorship, it’d make me angry so I choose laughter.

Then there’s the above-mentioned nudity and there’s always the spelling! But seriously, there’s not much difference, really. The humour has a different note to it, though, I’ll grant you that. There are certainly American programs that excel in irony, wit, and intellect, but there is still a certain je ne sais quoi to British humor that I just adore.

Kell: If you were captain of your own spaceship, what would you name your ship and which SF characters would you want as your crew?

Laura: I’d call the ship Serendipity because I’m quite sure I’d need a lot of luck.

As for my crew, well, my head exploded when I tried to answer this. There are far too many wonderful characters out there to choose from. So I think I’m going Solo on this. Yes, Solo with a capital “S”. I’m taking my Wookiee and getting the heck out of Dodge.

Kell: What’s the best way to geek your geek on?

Laura: That would be Dragon*Con.

Thank you, Laura! May the Force be with you.

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Steven Ellis

Interviewed by Laura McConnell

Laura: I know you love Star Wars and Supernatural . What other genre shows/movies/books are you into?

Steven: I'd have to say Fringe . What started as a fairly standard X-Files -type show has really come into its own, with very compelling stories, both arc-related and stand-alone stuff. I’d say it’s my favourite hour of sci-fi TV at the moment. A great cast and I think Walter Bishop is one of the best characters I’ve ever seen on TV. I’m glad the show is doing well in its new Friday night time slot over in America. Hopefully we’ll get a few more seasons yet and they’ll be able to tell their story completely.

I’d also mention Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books which I’m re-reading at the moment. He’s a brilliant writer and his use of words and the book-related world is fantastic.

Laura: If you had to pick one medium from whence to get your sci-fi fix, which would it be? Book, comic book, television show, or movie? Why?

Steven: Oooh. That’s not fair. That’s a real toughy! I love books and TV and comics and film... But if I had to say which has given me most pleasure over the years I suppose I’d have to say film. Star Wars started it all for me and I haven’t looked back, so I think I’ll go for film. Wait... Can I change my answer to comics... No wait, books! What ever answer I give I would regret, I get my fixes from so many different things. Aarrrgh!

Laura: What do you think of sci-fi parody/comedy films, like Galaxy Quest and Fanboys ? Are they celebrations of the so-called geek culture or insults to it?

Steven: I really liked both films you’ve mentioned, so I guess I think of them as celebrations. As long as they’re made from a place of love of the genre and are inclusive of the fans, something the fans of the parodied shows can laugh along to without offence, then I think they work well. It's always better to laugh with than to laugh at in this kind of thing. If it’s just pointless cruel fun poking then less so.

Laura: Marvel or DC?

Steven: Neither. Sorry. I’m a 2000AD boy all the way! I’ve never been a big fan of the superpower/superhero type stuff. I don’t own very much Marvel/DC stuff at all. I have a friend who used to lend me stuff to read to try to win me over. I quite enjoyed The Authority but then it descended into crossovers and team-ups and I lost interest. I really enjoyed the Squadron Supreme reboot series by Michael Straczynski a few years back; I thought it started really well but it lost its way a little.

Laura: What or who made you a sci-fi fan?

Steven: My Dad. It’s all his fault! He took me to see Star Wars as a kid and he bought me my first issue of 2000AD as well.

Laura: You seem to be well-versed in the expanded universe of Star Wars . What is your favorite book series? Thrawn ? Rogue Squadron ? Other? Do you enjoy the short story compilations, like Tales of the Bounty Hunters , or novels, like, say, Darksaber ?

Steven: Yeah, I love my Expanded Universe stuff. Darksaber I didn't like. Not one of the better SW books. But on the whole there’s a lot of good stuff in the EU literature. I’m not a big fan of the huge long arcs of the Yuuzhan Vong / New Jedi Order stuff or the later nine-book Legacy of The Force / Fate of the Jedi arcs, they’re just too long. I’d rate the Thrawn trilogy, the Tales books, and Karen Traviss’ Republic Commando series as my favourites.

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Lee Harris

Interviewed by Steven Ellis

Steven: Okay. First question. You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise; it’s crawling toward you... You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back. Its belly begins to bake in the hot sun. It’s beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t. Not without your help. But you’re not helping…. Oh, sorry, wrong questions… That’s a Voight Kampff question from Blade Runner , not much call for that here. Unless you’re a replicant… Are you a replicant?

Lee: No, but I do now have a hankering for baked tortoise...

Steven: So, I suppose I’ll start with the obvious question; how did you get involved with blogging for SFX ?

Lee: Pretty simple, really – SFX put out a call to arms for some bloggers a year or so ago, and asked for a sample of writing. I was lucky enough to be picked.

Steven: While researching for this blog I discovered you are a man with fingers in many varied pies: writer, blogger, reviewer, editor for Hub and Prism and also an editor for Angry Robot. Tell me how do you juggle all these hats?

Lee: Well, I no longer edit Prism , so that helps. It’s a constant juggling act – other than making time for family, work always comes first, so most of my time is spent wrangling manuscripts for Angry Robot. Everything else fits in around this. With Hub , I have a great team looking after it with me – Alasdair Stuart (another SFX blogger) edits it, and Philip Lunt puts it together. I just point and frown every now and then, and point and smile more often. I also work long days. It helps that I love my day job.

Steven: With regards Hub and its championing the sci-fi short story what are your feelings about the popularity of short fiction in the genre?

Lee: Short fiction is as popular as it ever was, but short fiction anthologies don’t sell as well as they used to – it’s easy to find good quality short fiction for free, online. That’s a bit sad – I used to devour anthologies and collections, but these days they’re less prevalent.

Steven: You are heavily involved with literary sci-fi, so would you say it is your biggest sci-fi passion?

Lee: If you mean literary SF as opposed to TV or film, then yes – although I love good quality drama as well as great prose.

Steven: Other than books what are you enjoying in the SciFi world at the moment?

Lee: I’ve really enjoyed the latest series of Being Human – especially the latter half of the series when they toned down the slapstick. I’m also going to put my neck on the line here, and say that I’m really enjoying the US version, too – almost as much as the original UK series. I wouldn’t be surprised if the SyFy Channel’s version becomes my preferred series.

Other than Being Human , I’m working my way through (and enjoying) season two of True Blood . I wasn’t sure I’d like it at first, but had to buy it when I saw it was produced by HBO. Seriously – anything made by HBO gets a place on my DVD shelves.

Steven: One final question – are you sure you’re not a replicant?

Lee: That tortoise really does look tasty, you know...

Steven: Okay, thank you Lee, I think that about wraps it up. You’ll be notified by post if you get the job or a free tortoise meal. Thank you for your time.

Dave? I think he’s a replicant!

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Matt Risley

Interviewed by Lee Harris

Lee: Your two worst enemies are about to come to blows. It’s serious; they want to do each other real harm, and you have a cricket bat (though you don’t want to get involved, yourself). One of these people is a lifelong Star Trek (Original Series) fan. The other, Doctor Who . Who do you give the cricket bat to, and why?

Matt: Hmm. I’d have to side with the Whovian, purely because while Abrams’ simply interstellar (nerdy pun #1) reimagining really impressed me, I’ve never really warmed to the original series. Plus, I’d replace the cricket bat with a knock-off phaser, just to compound the humiliation.

Lee: You’re going to stay in a deserted island paradise. It has electricity, but no internet or TV reception. You are allowed to take one whole TV series with you. Which is it to be? What would your second choice have been, and why did you choose against it?

Matt: Reflexively I’d say Firefly , but with only 14 episodes to get through there’s every possibility it’d drive me slightly mental, and while the idea of a Wilson-esque coconut friend hacked into the misshapen face of Mal Reynolds is certainly an acceptable way to play out my days, I’d probably need a little more support. As such I’d choose Buffy (yes, I’m a Whedonite). There are enough discs to fashion a whole host of practical MacGyver -esque accessories/weapons, and enough comedy, drama and fuzzily loveable characters actually on the things to ensure I never feel lonely. And it means I'd finally have time to learn all the lyrics to “Once More, With Feeling”.

Lee: When did you realise you were officially an SF fan?

Matt: I know this will probably make me sound like I’m about 72, but I honestly can’t remember. The X-Files was the first TV show I really got into, to the extent where my teenage bedroom wall was made up of a worryingly Se7en -esque sprawl of Gillian Anderson clippings. Good (restraining order-eliciting) times.

Lee: What is your ideal career, and why?

Matt: In a perfect world, devoid of logic, sense or reason? Probably a skydiving travel-cum-sci-fi writer. I’m lucky enough to already scribble for a career, but if I could merge that with a mystical travelling job that would somehow intertwine with watching oodles of sci-fi films and TV, I think I’d be set.

Lee: Would you rather read the book, watch the TV series or see the movie?

Matt: Read the book, then see the movie and finally watch the TV series. That way you get the quintessentially personal experience of reading the material for the first time, the nerdy nirvana of seeing it on the big screen, and then the option to prolong the love over a matter of years with a TV show that will no doubt be cancelled way before its time.

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Narin Bahar

Interviewed by Matt Risley

Matt: A brief Google/mild internet stalking reveals that you were originally behind a petition to green light the Being Human pilot into a full series. Do you think this is the geekiest (and admittedly most amazing) thing you’ve ever done?

Narin: Setting up that petition actually isn’t as geeky as it sounds. I was trying out web petitions for my day job; the show was on my mind having reviewed the pilot so I used it as a test and stuck the link on the end of my story, went home for the weekend and was shocked to see 1,000 people had signed it by the time I got in on the Monday morning.

In terms of the geekiest things I’ve done I think it’s a toss-up between being a background vampire in Being Human series one, meeting Steven Moffat and telling him I became a journalist because of him (I really did, Press Gang made a lasting impression on me), or going to San Diego Comic Con as a freelance journalist and full time geek. I got to interview Zack Snyder in his hotel room about Watchmen , and saw some amazing panels.

Matt: With that in mind, if you could resurrect any pilot or cancelled series from times gone yonder, what would it be and why?

Narin: While I love Firefly , and it’s the obvious choice, there’s something more pressing: The Middleman . Probably the best hidden gem of a show of the last few years – funny, clever, brilliantly acted, lots of pop culture references, great cameos and strong, funny female characters of the quality we haven’t seen since Buffy .

Matt: If you had the choice of being a werewolf, vampire or ghost, what would you go for? And what movie/TV/book version would they adhere to (ie, Twilight vampire vs Buffy vampire)?

Narin: Fundamentally I don’t really have a burning desire to die, which means I guess of the three, werewolf-ness is my only option. I’d rather be a Slayer than any of them though – especially the Twilight vampires. Vampires don't sparkle. Or drive Volvos. Fact.

Matt: Who’d win in a fight between Toby Whithouse and Joss Whedon?

Narin: I think they’re both brilliant at what they do, but frankly I’m happy for Toby to kick a little arse in retaliation or the disappointment that was Dollhouse . As so long as they don’t end up joining forces – they're evil enough separately, I don’t know the world could withstand two such twisted minds teaming up without it bringing on the apocalypse. Although it’d be a wittily written pun-heavy apocalypse. Possibly with musical numbers

Matt: What’s been your SF highlight from the last year – and what are you most looking forward to in 2011?

Narin: My sci-fi highlight of last year was the criminally under-appreciated Scott Pilgrim vs the World . Phenomenal cast, cracking soundtrack and the kind of film you can watch again and again.

As for what’s coming up this year – my televisual hopes are high for both Game Of Thrones and Walking Dead season two. In cinematic terms, I’m hoping everything coming out from Marvel this year is solid stuff.

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Stacey Whittle

Interviewed by Narin Bahar

Stace is, in her own words, “an all-round geek, a Dresden File junkie, a Whedonite, a new Who aficionado from Sector ZZ9 plural Z alpha”. But, as regular readers know, her big passion is comics, particularly the small and independent press and 2000AD . With her podcasting wife (and SFX forumite) Lee Grice she does the Small Press Big Mouth podcast ( http://smallpressbigmouth.blogspot.com ).

Narin: Earliest genre memory?

Stacey: Button Moon . I loved Mr Spoon, I did. But I think the thing that made me a geek was Douglas Adams and my dad – they collaborated. My dad loved Douglas Adams and when I was about 13ish he gave me The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy to read and that was it. Geek ever since.

Narin: What are your genre recommendations?

Stacey: Maus by Art Spiegelman is an amazing comic for so many reasons. The storytelling, the subtext, the relationships, the lessons. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is a masterpiece in subtlety and humanity and hopelessness, falling vaguely under the genre banner, it’s a book that haunts me. The Day The Earth Stood Still (what remake?) remains one of my most favourite genre films. Subtlety, pacing and humanity, looking at this list, seems to be what affects me most.

Narin: Proud geek moments?

Stacey: I have a few. This is one, writing blogs for SFX – does it get much cooler than this? – seeing the Small Press Big Mouth website in the drop down voting box in the Eagle Awards nomination round, and interviewing Rob Grant and Bryan Hitch, very proud and terrifying moments!

Narin: Sci-fi bugbear?

Stacey: The sense of entitlement that some geeks have. I’m thinking particularly of the bashing James Moran and others writers were subjected to when Ianto Jones of Torchwood was killed off. I was ashamed of the behaviour exhibited by a section of geekdom. We all have opinions on storylines (get me a pint and get me started about Lennier's treatment in Babylon 5 ) and are absolutely entitled to those opinions; but that is all we are entitled to. Not braying for blood and demanding changes. Not calling writers names and harassing them. It was a dark day in geekdom for me that day.

Narin: The most important lesson learned from sci-fi:

Stacey: Never throw a nuclear bomb into space, then give up all your superpowers for love. It will lead to hamburgers in the face and Zod! I shall never forget that!

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Troo Topham

Interviewed by Stacey Whittle

Stace: Firstly a massive welcome to the blogging team, the fact that you’re here means you must be a bit of a geek. Where do your geek passions lie?

Troo: Thanks, Stace. It’s good to be here. I’m geeky about all kinds of things, and I’m going to come straight out and use the word otaku here, because I think the Japanese get it right when they accept that geeks – otaku – can be geeky about anything. Otaku covers it all more comfortably than “geek” does.

My otaku nature is especially drawn toward manga and anime for teens and upwards. Favourites include Fullmetal Alchemist , Hellsing , Ray , Black Butler , Naruto , MPD Psycho and The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service . I’m also a big nerd for Doctor Who , Star Trek and the other traditional forms of Western geekery. I also enjoy roleplaying games – the ones with books, character sheets, and dice, that is.

Stace: Can you tell us a little bit about Pantechnicon and how you're involved?

Troo: I co-founded Pantechnicon with the author Andy Frankham back in 2006 over pizza and perhaps a little too much fresh air. We both learned a lot from the process, and I think we're both very proud of what we achieved. By the time we stepped away from Pantechnicon it was edited to as professional a standard as we could offer, output to as regular a schedule as we could manage, and reached an audience of thousands (no exaggeration). Sadly it became too draining for both of us, though, and we had to hand it over to far less busy hands in 2009.

Stace: What are your favourite current TV/book/comic series at the moment?

Troo: I’m really enjoying Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows Of The Apt books, as well as Brent Weeks’ new trilogy (hurry up and write the next one, Mr Weeks – some of us are waiting!).

My Manga fix is mostly coming from Black Butler and Naruto at the moment.

My current genre TV loves are Supernatural and No Ordinary Family . And of course I’m counting the days until Doctor Who starts again. Apparently there's some wedding in the way, though.

Stace: And if you could bring one back what would it be and why?

Troo: There's no contest here, and I know I’m not alone: Ultraviolet . I know, the time is gone, everyone has moved on, and careers have progressed. But it was one of the best supernaturally-flavoured British TV shows of all time, and only making six episodes of it was close to criminal behaviour.

Stace: What are the best and worst aspects of geekdom do you think?

Troo: I like that geeks tend to be articulate, thoughtful, perceptive and accepting of other people’s differences – whether they be differences in race, gender, religion, sexuality or whatever. Geeks tend not to care what you wear, what colour you dye your hair, what gender your partner is, or whether you’re a practicing Buddhist.

The flip side, alas, is that geeks tend to divert their divisiveness in on each other and draw their lines in the sand over TV shows, films, actors and things which to the outside (read: “normal”) world just seem silly. And sometimes they are silly. I’ve seen full-on vitriolic flame-wars over the daftest of things, and it’s a shame that lovable, intelligent people can be eager to scream blue murder at each other over films or TV shows.

Stace: Who would win in a fight between Wolverine and Batman? :-)

Troo: Batman. I’m sorry, Wolverine, but you just lose your rag too easily, don’t think things through, and charge in relying on claws and regeneration to save you. Batman would out-think you, outmanoeuvre you, and have you trussed up like a chicken with minimal effort or risk. Really, Wolverine, you just don't match up to his calibre of enemy.

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BLOGGER ON BLOGGER ACTION

Will Salmon

Interviewed by Troo Topham

Troo: Why don’t you tell us a little about what it is you do over at SFX Towers?

Will: I’m the deputy editor on a mobile phone magazine that Future produces. We’re on the floor below SFX , so technically I think that places me in the dungeon, rather than the tower. SFX -wise I blog, write freelance and babble bollocks at the team when I’m drunk. There’s a pub next door, so this happens a fair bit.

Troo: What got you into the mad, bad world of magazine publishing?

Will: A mid-twenties crisis about what I wanted to do with my life! I took a course in magazine journalism. It was great, but hard work. 16 or so started, and only about eight finished, mainly due to the armed, Battle Royale -style showdown at the end. After that I did a bunch of work placements and started pimping myself out to anyone who would take me (I’m still talking about magazines here, don’t worry). Then I got a break at Future and have been working here for the past four years or so.

Troo: Really, we know you’re a geek. It’s written all over your face. What’re your favourite geekthings?

Will: It’s Doctor Who mainly. I love it to death and always have done, even guff like “Delta And The Bannermen”. I read a lot in the genre. China Miéville and Richard Morgan are two faves, and I’m currently reading New Model Army by Adam Roberts, which is superb. I like Grant Morrison comics better than Alan Moore – though From Hell is one of the best things ever written. Film wise I adore The Wicker Man (original, natch) and Fahrenheit 451 . The latter is an interesting one. It’s really flawed, but Truffaut is such an exceptional director that he makes every single frame look beautiful. It’s very weird and unique, and makes me cry.

Troo: If you have one moment which you would say defines your love of all things genre, what would it be?

Will: Watching Doctor Who ’s “Rose” with my friend Peter and his kids. They talked through the first few minutes. And then the dummies started to move and they shut up and didn’t speak for 45 minutes. Awesome. A pal got me Eccleston’s autograph. He wrote “Dear Will, I am writing this with my sonic screwdriver. Happy birthday!”

Troo: Let’s name names: who’s the person you are proudest to have met, interviewed, photographed or otherwise stood beside at a signing/convention? Why?

Will: Going round to Eve Myles’ house in Cardiff to film her SFX awards acceptance speech was pretty cool. Most of my interviewing has been outside of the genre though. I met (didn’t interview) Tony Wilson about a year before he died, which was exciting. He was wearing a USB stick on a chain around his neck and these grim tracksuit bottoms.

Troo: Have you always enjoyed the sci-fi life, or is it something you came to as an adult? How did you get into it?

Will: It started with finding my older brother’s stash of Target Doctor Who books and Starburst magazines. And I was weirdly fixated with Aliens after playing the arcade game. I don’t think I actually saw the film until about four years later, but I’d worked out the whole plot in my head based on this game which bares little resemblance to the actual film.

Troo: If there's one thing from all of your genre loves that you could have and hold for all time (real or imagined) what would it be?

Will: I want a Wookie. He could just hang out at my house and I’d take him for walks and that. Wookies are okay, and you don’t get any of the hassle and mess that you would with an Ewok.

Troo: How do you spend your free time?

Will: Riffling around in record shops. I review music for Clash magazine and I DJ (quite poorly, it has to be said) at a local pub. It’s a bit of a schizophrenic set up. My pal Joss tends to play ’60s garage and rock’n’roll, and I play weird Radiophonic stuff and soundtrack music. It’s a laugh and the beer is good.

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BLOGGER ON BLOGGER ACTION

Alasdair Stuart

Interviewed by Will Salmon

As well as writing for this site, blogger Alasdair Stuart is the co-editor of top SF eZine, The Hub . I caught up with him to talk Tom Baker, the paranormal and his darkest secret...

Will: Tell me about how you got into SF? What got you hooked?

Alasdair: It’s Tom Baker and Arthur C Clarke’s fault! My mum was a geriatric nurse when I was a kid and I’d go out to the people she’d visit. A nice old lady gave me lemonade and sat me down to watch Doctor Who . I was hooked. Then there’s 2010 . It blew my mind. I loved how alien Dave Bowman appeared to be and the scale of it. I love the film even more...

Will: Controversial!

Alasdair: It’s an overlooked classic. The effects look great, the cast are red hot and the script absolutely crackles.

Will: What's your favourite piece of genre fiction?

Alasdair: Orbiter by Warren Ellis and Coleen Doran. It’s a graphic novel that opens ten years after the disappearance of a shuttle. It returns with a single crewmember aboard who hasn’t aged... It’s a beautiful book, both in art and story.

Will: Are you mainly into SF?

Alasdair: I never really got high fantasy. Horror is fun. I host Pseudopod , a weekly horror fiction podcast. However, only one thing has legitimately terrified me: The Mothman Prophecies .

I could talk at length about the original case. Something very odd does seem to have happened in Point Pleasant. The film fictionalises this and places Richard Gere as a journalist who realises that something is haunting the area. I can't articulate how chilling the movie is. Watch it with the lights on.

Will: Do you believe in the paranormal?

Alasdair: I want to believe. The field fascinates me, but UFOlogy is too often concerned with what to sell. As a result, for me, it tends to be a spectator sport.

Will: Tell me about Hub magazine...

Alasdair: There are two things about Hub that make it dear to me. We’re free. Just go to www.hubfiction.com and download the latest issue. Secondly, we’re passionately interested in new writers. We don’t pay well, we wish we could, but we’ve put writers like Emma Jane Davies, Adam Christopher and Scott Roche in front of 12,000 people.

Will: Do you write fiction yourself?

Alasdair: Oh yes. I decided I didn’t write horror, because I wasn’t very good at it, and then I got two horror stories published, so that shut me up. Mostly, though, I love science fiction.

Will: What are you into outside of the genre?

Alasdair: Fighting. Not in the Tyler Durden way, don’t worry. I’ve been learning Judo and I passed my first grading recently. There’s a weird politeness and courtesy to it, combined with serious physical exercise. It’s done incredible things for my confidence and fitness.

Will: Tell me a secret…

Alasdair: I loved Mamma Mia and have seen it more than once. Pierce Brosnan is my singing hero.