Grues and Invisiclues: A Personal Remembrance of Infocom

I first encountered Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book series in 1985. I’d caught glimpses of the tatty-yet-much-loved BBC television series from 1981 on my local PBS station, and that sent me to the bookstore to find out what the heck this British science fiction comedy was all about. Over the summer of 1985 I tore through the paperback versions of the first three volumes in the series…

Surviving the Cursed Earth: The Mutants Recap 2018

Gentlemen, this is our third Christmas here at We Are the Mutants. 2018 has been particularly rough on all of us. Our “real” jobs have been punishing, we’ve lost loved ones, we’ve been sick as dogs, our significant others have been sick as dogs, one of my kids was in the hospital (she’s okay!), and Donald Trump is still the motherfucking President. But we’re still here…

Free From the Gravity That Holds the Mind: Playskool’s Star Rider

As part of this year’s holiday “festivities,” my fellow US-based Mutants have mockingly given me a couple of the toy pages from a 1979 American catalog to look at in the hope of stimulating some idiosyncratic British take on the very different world of US toys, and possibly provoking a bit of retrospective seasonal gift envy. I can almost hear them now, chortling away mirthlessly in their La-Z-Boy recliners in their respective dens, or wherever the fuck it is that North Americans go to chortle. But they won’t break me; I’m made of sterner stuff…

Platform of Dreams: A Lonely Kid Covets G.I. Joe’s U.S.S. ‘Flagg’

“Unwrapping” the G.I. Joe U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier playset that Kelly put under the (virtual) tree for me this Christmas is a bittersweet reminder of childhood desires scuttled. I think, even at age 10, I knew that I’d never receive this giant (seven and a half foot long!) Nimitz-class aircraft carrier that retailed for $110 in 1985 (that’s over $250 in today’s dollars). But, ahem, I did actually end up getting the Cobra Terrordrome for Christmas ’86, which retailed at about half the cost…

Giving at the Office: Palitoy’s Action Man

So this week we’re each going to talk about a toy from Christmas past that one of the other guys has figuratively “gifted” us. I volunteered Richard to be my secret Santa because I expected a gift so quintessentially representative of the forlorn British ’70s of his youth that I could simply rag on him and his homeland for a few paragraphs…

Death at the Fair: Britain’s Ghost Trains

By Richard McKenna

The itinerant fun fairs that stalked the British Isles, descending at regular intervals upon some desolate local field like shoddy Fortean dream cities, were once a major part of the informal national calendar. As a child growing up in the hinterland of the world’s most beautiful town—the gleaming futurist metropolis known as Doncaster, South Yorkshire—I was lucky enough to live near a fuck-off massive one…

Squaring the Circle: An American Becomes One of the ‘Children of the Stones’

By Michael Grasso

I’m not likely to add much to the thousands upon thousands of words penned over the past decade or so on how formative an experience watching Children of the Stones (1977) as a kid was. Now considered one of the signal works forming the foundation of the British folk horror and hauntological aesthetics, the series is a brilliant melding of folk memory and technological aspiration, of magic and science, of tradition and progress, done in that ineffable way that only the British seem able to express satisfactorily…