EDITORIAL thoughts and musings on genre topics, and news about The ZONE
Next month is the 8th anniversary of The ZONE website...
To be honest, I have not been happy with the site's basic design for a while. Changes - to all the first directory's pages, at least - were long
overdue, but I had little spare time, even for just thinking about it. A catalyst was needed... Luckily, along came Lawrence Dyer (creator of the
now-archived Dowse website), offering lots of very helpful SEO advice to refocus my thoughts
on improvements for the site, and he also designed a template - giving The ZONE a clear and fresh new look - that is now in use for top-level
pages, and presenting all the latest material on the site. (For more about Lawre's work, visit his
Website Traffic site - which features varied articles on web marketing, and strategies for
promoting sites, in a friendly, blog-style format.)
So far, the 2008/9 period has been great for horror movies, with British genre thriller
Eden Lake delivering bigger shocks than most Hollywood studio product, and
a cycle of imaginative new European films often eclipsing the unfortunate recycling tendency of recent Asian subgenre output. Brazilian filmmaker
José Mojica Marins staged an international comeback with
Embodiment Of Evil, and we saw the welcome return of Frank Henenlotter with
Bad Biology. However, SF in the media has not fared as well.
Two of this year's blockbusters, the Transformers sequel and the blatantly derivative Terminator Salvation, proved to be successful
entertainments only if viewed as pure comicbook-styled nonsense, and the fun-but-charmless
Star Trek franchise reboot was heavily disappointing when I would much prefer
to see a space opera of higher-calibre imaginationů perhaps something from the 'Culture' series by Iain M. Banks' adapted for cinema?
Meanwhile, on home screens, the appeal of Smallville continues to wane,
Battlestar Galactica (which, for me, never really got off its re-launch pad)
reached its horribly clichéd conclusion, and the only new genre TV series I have seen that promises better things to come, and warrants any
critical attention, is Joss Whedon's mystery-chiller Dollhouse, which began rather unsteadily but soon developed into its first season of
fine episodes with some considerable ingenuity.
As usual, if you have any thoughts about The ZONE's content or this new design, please email your comments for possible use on the site's
Grey Area letters page.
Tony Lee, August 2009
This editorial marks the fifth anniversary of The ZONE online... The last few years have seen a multitude of changes, both major and minor,
across the varied forms of genre publishing and media entertainment. On the book and magazine side of things, few patterns or trends are readily
discernable but, after a period of upheaval, most observers seem to agree that the printed field of SF has reached stability, however temporary
that might be. British magazine Interzone
survived the millennial transition and got a new editor-publisher. Not many other 'zines (whether small press or semipro) appear to be flourishing,
and even online sources (like Ellen Datlow's Sci Fiction, which was, admittedly, of little interest to me - personally - because I still hate
reading fiction on a screen) have been closing down. Meanwhile, offering consistently good value for money and winning a richly deserved critical
reputation, relative newcomer Elastic Press proved to be a busily productive UK independent,
delivering a stream of commendably genre-breaking, single-author collections, and offbeat though usually worthwhile anthologies.
Last year, I was at the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention - Interaction (4-8 August, 2005) in Glasgow. It was actually my first ever visit
to any such gathering. Although I did enjoy (greatly, in fact) the long weekend, that Worldcon will probably be my last holiday at such a big
event. Despite meeting lots of interesting writers, and making some new friends, I discovered that SF fandom at large (or, at least, regular convention-goers)
was even more unhelpfully blinkered and cliquey than expected.
In the screen worlds, the most curious (either disturbing or fascinating, depending on your bias) and notable change has been that sci-fi movies no
longer simply lag behind literary SF by a decade or two. Nowadays, thanks in part to brainless action pictures such as
I, Robot and the rise to prominence of popular superhero comic-book adaptations (most notably
Hulk), the imaginative content of both genre cinema and television
productions appears to be moving away, and accelerating rapidly, from most of the usual visionary concerns. Driving this change in themes and substance
is the perceived 'death' of space opera - at least in its screen incarnations - following the critical failure of the absurd
Star Wars prequels, and the recent cancellation of Star Trek's current
flagship TV show, Enterprise. Instead of bold new space adventures, we get dismal remakes like Spielberg's
War Of The Worlds, derivative exercises in fetishistic martial artistry
(Aeon Flux, etc), and charmless nonsense (like Doom) based on tawdry
videogames. The revival of Doctor Who acquired a strong new following, expanding
the already international fanbase, but the few episodes I saw lacked anything of merit - except some weird yet wearisome novelty moments (oh, look,
a Dalek going upstairs). Surprisingly, it looks as if the most genuinely addictive (if not really the finest, or most creatively successful) TV fodder
can be found in high concept thrillers like real-time actioner 24, and even that show is perhaps best appreciated on DVD.
Thanks to our growing team of perceptive contributors, this website is now five years old. Yay for us! (As usual, your feedback about the site's content
is welcome for the Grey Area.) We hope you will still be around when The ZONE hits ten...
Tony Lee, September 2006
This week (ending Saturday 21st September) marks the first anniversary of The ZONE website... In the past year we have presented interviews
with some of the biggest names in science fiction, including Simon Clark,
Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Moorcock,
Kim Stanley Robinson, Dan Simmons, and
Connie Willis, alongside many other prominent genre writers, such as
Robert Rankin, Ken MacLeod, and
Mark Chadbourn. We have thoroughly explored the movie
adaptations of Tolkien with articles
on the animated versions and a profile of film director
Peter Jackson, and we have published original articles on subjects as varied as
Frank Herbert, Alan Moore,
sexuality in comics, planet Jupiter
in SF, fantasy art, heavy metal
music, robotics, and
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In addition to all this, our frequently updated review sections
have covered many new and recent genre books and
We would be pleased to hear about your likes and dislikes regarding the content and design of the website, so far. Any comments are welcome - send
messages to: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you write during the next two weeks (16 - 30 September 2002), please
include your full name and postal address with correspondence, as writers of the three best critical letters (among those published on the site's
Grey Area before end of this month), will each receive a special mystery gift.
Tony Lee, September 2002
The biggest change at Pigasus Press this year concerns our premier SF magazine,
The ZONE. With so many small press fiction magazines folding, and while other editors switch over to online publication (to save on rising
costs of printing), as the genre readership and SF fans seem to be drifting away from hardcopy formats in favour of electronic media, it was inevitable
that some changes would have to made at Pigasus Press, too. Since there was no need to close the magazine, what we decided to do was separate
The ZONE's non-fiction content from its short stories, and create this website for our new SF related articles and genre reviews. If you would
like to contribute to this SF site, please read our guidelines.
Subscribers to the printed magazine will continue to receive top quality, original short fiction in the form of a new
Premonitions magazine, with every issue of that
resurrected title boasting a dozen new short stories, plus a selection of genre poetry, furthering the model established by recent issues of
The advantages of this diversity means that we are now able to deliver a far higher standard of production (with colour graphics and lots more images!),
to complement The ZONE's usual range of first class interviews and author profiles, its varied feature articles, genre essays, retrospective
listings, plus a comprehensive section of incisive reviews - covering books, cinema, TV, video and DVD, and much more. For info updates about this
website, join our mailing list - send a blank message to subscribe.
Tony Lee, September 2001