Monday, 8 August 2022

The Question in Bodies Podcast, Episode 6: We Appreciate Power, with Tamsin Davis-Langley

(Grimes and Poppy, not me and Tamsin as you might have thought)

This episode, I'm joined by queersoteric hero Tamsin Davis-Langley to talk about one of the Great Questions of our era: Grimes or Poppy? 

That's where we start, anyway. But it gives us an inroad to talking about billionaire Singularity enthusiasts, whether consciousness is an emergent phenomenon, the shocking history of sideburns and sandwiches, and how you get a banging pop tune inspired by the sort of people who want us dead. 

Stick around for the discourse, and then go and find Tamsin's book (writing as Misha Magdalene) Outside the Charmed Circle

You can listen on the fancy widget below, subscribe via your favourite podcast outlet ( like Apple, Spotify, Amazon Podcasts, Google Podcasts and others) or find the archive at The Question in Bodies Podbean site. Want to hear episodes early? Back my Patreon. It's just one of those American dollars.

Oh, we might as well have some of the music, I suppose. Here's a playlist.

Thursday, 4 August 2022

The Question in Bodies #48: Rainbow Flags, Painted on the Sides of Missiles


[I wrote this piece, which juxtaposes little-seen British sitcom Hyperdrive and Isabel Fall's short story "I sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter" back in February this year, and you can see the original version of it on my Patreon. It's just my luck that the very week I choose to make it public is the week that the Helicopter Controversy gets a rather revealing and depressing coda. I've had to do a little rejigging because of that. But nothing's been toned down. If there's a content warning, it's for unvarnished rage.]

Commencify

Few people commented, even at the time, on Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley’s BBC sitcom Hyperdrive (2006-2007), but weirdly, it reads better now than it did back when it was broadcast. The basic concept was straightforward. Britain, a couple of centuries in the future, a nation which has not, contrary to more optimistic space operas we could name, sorted out its issues with the rest of the world, protects its interests in the stars. The show follows the HMS Camden Lock as they engage in interplanetary diplomacy in a changing galaxy. The comedy comes from the simple idea that a British space navy would still behave under the delusion that it mattered on the international stage and that it was competent and compassionate. 

Monday, 1 August 2022

The Question in Bodies Podcast, Episode 5: Neurodiversity and Horror, with Joanna Swan

Annalynne McCord in Excision; Angela Bettis in May.

It's Monday, and it's another instalment in Season 1 of the Question in Bodies Podcast. In episode 5, I'm joined by actor Joanna Swan to talk about the horror of being neurodiverse in a neurotypical world, why the best depictions of neurodiversity in cinema are in horror, and to do some deep dives into the movies Excision (2012) and May (2002).

Check it out on your favourite podcast outlet (and maybe you know, subscribe), or just listen on the handy widget below. Or if you want to get episodes early, back me on my Patreon.

Thursday, 28 July 2022

The Question in Bodies #47: What say of it? What say of CONSCIENCE grim?

Alain Delon as William Wilson in Spirits of the Dead (1968)
“What say of it? What say of CONSCIENCE grim, that spectre in my path?” – Chamberlaine’s Pharronida – Poe, “William Wilson”

I have never quite nailed down in my head whether I think Edgar Allan Poe misremembered the spurious epigrammatic quotes that pepper his work or if he just made them up. It doesn’t matter, in the end, but the effect is the same: an epigram offers up your text to be commented on by the world that already exists. It places it in a space, a context. But Poe’s epigrams all too often enhance the unreality of his worlds, the dreamlike nature of his stories. The footnotes in the editions of Poe I have – I have several – pretty much always say of the epigrams at the start of his stories and poems something like “this quote does not appear in the source it’s attributed to”.

The one at the start of “William Wilson”, my favourite of all Poe’s stories, might be the best example.

Monday, 25 July 2022

The Question in Bodies Podcast, Episode 4: Return of the House of Psychotic Women, feat. Kier-La Janisse

Emma Roberts in The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015)

In this episode I talk with festival programmer, writer and editor, and award-winning director of Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror Kier-La Janisse, about the imminently released new edition of her hugely influential book House of Psychotic Women. We talk about how Kier-La created a genre, her favourites of the films that have been made since, and just how much bigger the new edition is – which you can order at fabpress.com/hopw-expanded-edition-hardcover.html

Thursday, 21 July 2022

The Question in Bodies #46: Transeverything Identity in the Films of Julia Ducournau


(Spoilers, all of them)

people are just not good to each other

A little girl mucks about in the back of a car. Her behaviour gets worse and worse; eventually she takes off her seatbelt, and her dad, his attention now thoroughly distracted, crashes the car. To reconstruct her smashed skull, a titanium plate is implanted, which leaves her with a distinctive spiral scar on the side of her head. Leaving the hospital, the child ignores her parents, running to the car, which she embraces, and kisses.

Cut to her adult life: now she is a bisexual, genderfluid adult dancer. She is also a casual serial killer, whose lack of care attracts police attention. She has sex with a fancy custom car, and gets pregnant by it. As her body experiences the changes that might come from bearing a semi-mechanical mutant made of flesh, metal and engine oil, she goes on the run.

Look. All that is probably enough to be getting on with, but really that doesn’t even get you past the first half of Julia Ducorneau’s stunning 2021 film Titane (simply, “Titanium”). And you really need to have seen this movie before you read this next part. I mean, you can read this and you’ll be fine, it won’t ruin your life, so perhaps rather than tell you that you need to have seen it maybe it is better to say that I want you to have seen it. I think it’s a film that travels in directions that are better seen than talked about. And I'm going to be breaking down scenes in detail.

Now, while “Spoiler” discourse is usually toxic and stupid, a way to strangle discussion and thought in the crib, some films are simply better experienced without you knowing anything about them. And there’s a reason a film that looks on paper like a fairly direct piece of New French Extremity wound up winning the 2021 Palme d’Or (and a reason that, quite frankly, if I’d been on that jury at Cannes, I’d have voted to give it the Palme d’Or as well). Because what happens next turns a film with a bit of body horror and some quirky and gory murders into something entirely different. It becomes something smaller, stranger, and oddly, dysfunctionally beautiful.

But calling it dysfunctional isn’t right either. Like the highly polished custom that fathers Alexia’s child, Titane hides precision engineering under its shining bodywork, and its unique quirks a signifier of a surprising amount of passion, and even love.

Monday, 18 July 2022

The Question in Bodies Podcast, Episode 3: Bodies in Space, with Gwendolyn Kiste


It's episode 3! I'm super honoured to have with me multiple award winning author, Perky Goth style icon and official Nicest Person in Horror Gwendolyn Kiste. I talk with Gwendolyn – writer of The Rust Maidens, Boneset and Feathers, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and others – about the modern Gothic, the relationship of the human body to its environment and some other stuff, because we like digressions, like what an ambry is.

You should totally go and look at gwendolynkiste.com: her new novel, Reluctant Immortals, has just come out, so make sure you get on that. 

Listen on your favourite podcast outlet, or visit thequestioninbodies.podbean.com for all the episodes.