As you may have heard, a real-life supervillain has put Gizmodo/io9's parent company through some shit. io9 isn’t going anywhere, but next week things will be different than they have been, so it is a time of somber self-reflection (as well as ridiculous self-indulgence). As such,we’ve asked io9's greatest writers their favorite posts and moments from the past 14 years.
My favorite thing about working at io9 was always the insane conversations I ended up having. I always thought of io9 as just a place to hang out and shoot the shit, and I got up every day knowing I was going to have some of the weirdest and most fascinating arguments you could possibly imagine. A lot of those debates and weird discussions were with my coworkers—Meredith, Cheryl, Katharine, James and Rob always had some totally bonkers ideas about Captain America’s shield versus Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. But meanwhile, Esther would be listing the 10 best kinds of poisonous mushroom or something, and Robbie and George would be geeking out about whether a black hole could become a supercomputer, and Annalee would be throwing out crazy brilliant ideas every second. Each day, there were a million chats about everything from books to art to music to movies and TV.
But also, my most amazing conversations were with our readers—whatever random observations and bits of info we threw out there, our readers made 1000 times better. The kibbutzing in io9's comment sections felt like the best party ever, every single day. I can’t possibly list every single io9 regular who made my forays into the comments better—there were so many supersmart, hilarious people, I often posted stuff on io9 just to have an excuse to geek out about it with my friends. As far as the one article I wrote that I’m still proudest of? Probably “What If Greedo Really Shot First?”
“When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like “Avatar”? is my all time, favorite io9 story. This was my first year on the job as entertainment reporter, and I spent the majority of my time on the phone with studio publicists trying to explain who (or what) an “EYE-OH-NINE” was.
When Annalee dropped this story, I didn’t have to explain anymore. This was who we were, and what we were about. In a wake of all the “OMG AVATAR SO PRETTY MOAR” articles, io9 was the first to stop and point out the nonsense. It was our “Oh hello” to the rest of the world, and it helped spark some pretty wonderful (and ridiculous) debates right in our own comments section. This is where Moff’s Law comes from kiddos.
We had nothing to lose (fact) and a group of great editors that would back us at every step. Never, not once, did CJ or Annalee push back and ask, “But what if we don’t get invited back to the set of Avatar 2?” (Heh). And believe me, Charlie Jane and I fought about EVERYTHING.
There are many, many other stories I’m proud of at io9. Cult Movie Worship was merely a collection of weird indie films that dropped every Sunday, but it was a celebration of the truly broke filmmaking folk long before Kickstarter. Our own readers responded to the influx of real life, idiot vigilantes with their own real life villain group R.O.A.C.H. purely for laughs. Also have you ever read an article by Cyriaque Lamar? I mean really read it? Here is a line from one of Lamar’s stories entirely chosen at random with the headline, “For $1,200, two handguns sculpted out of dead cats’ bones.”
“They don’t fire gerbil bullets or what-have-you, but these firearms are disconcerting enough to make any cat (or gull) lover on the warpath to momentarily lose focus, furnishing you a morbid escape.”
That’s poetry, and it’s about a gun made of cat bones.
Personally, I had a lot of fun working out my relationship issues very publicly through the strange, rapid stream of consciousness recapping True Blood. That was fun, thank you for reading that.
But overall I loved the people, the weird, wonderful people. Charlie Jane Anders said something to me a few months back when she was in LA for a big, fancy book festival (she’s legit famous now) that really nailed it, she called the time at io9 special. It really was, there’s no place on the internet like it. And although many have tried to recreate it, they can’t. There will never be another io9.
It’s no exaggeration to say that io9 completely changed my life. I was a few years out of law school and not sure what I was going to do with my life when Charlie Jane and Annalee plucked my resume out of the intern application pile.
When I first arrived at io9, I was already a pretty good researcher. When Charlie Jane asked me for a list of humans who punched aliens or superheroes who are massive screw-ups, I could provide that, no problem. But I was less comfortable when it came to my own writing. I was making my listicles and writing about my favorite webcomics, but I wasn’t really translating my more personal head thoughts into words.
Then, one October, I hit a turning point. We’d had a meeting about out upcoming Horror Week, and I had pitched nothing. Graeme McMillan, who was weekend editor at the time, asked why. “Do you not like horror?” he asked. “It’s okay if you don’t.” At the time, I didn’t like horror. I had recently lost my brother, and every time I watched a scary movie, I couldn’t help but thinking about the poor families of all those people getting murdered. It left me more sad than stimulated. “Okay,” Graeme said, “so write about that.” That became the germ of “Why Great Horror is Heartbreaking,” a piece I’m still very fond of. Years later, when I was ready, I’d write, “How Science Fiction Helped Me Through My Grief.” It was like a weight lifted off my heart.
At times, working at io9 felt like writing on a dare. When Meredith sent me to the Hobbit event in New Zealand, I casually mentioned that I was thinking about posting drawings from my trip. “You better,” she said. On a few occasions, I cracked jokes during pitch meetings that Charlie Jane and Annalee mistook for genuine pitches. I ended up writing them. The highest compliment Charlie Jane could give you on a post is that it was “bonkers,” and Annalee didn’t just let me post my poorly drawn webcomics about early apocalyptic literature — she encouraged it.
That’s how I found things I really loved. I dug deep into Star Wars and fell for Ahsoka Tano. I buried myself in books and articles about medieval warfare in an attempt to learn about women’s armor. I kept writing about webcomics because I still love webcomics and want everyone else to love them too. And sometimes I’d post silly things, like the adorable antics of Spider Dog.
And so when I left io9, it was for something I loved: comics. And it was great to know that, when I announced that I was hanging up my blogging hat to go to comics school, my coworkers who shaped me would totally get it and wish me a passionate future.
Cyriaque Lamar (2010-2012)
I spent most of my time at io9 as the weekend editor and therefore desperately praying the site wouldn’t careen into the abyss every Saturday and Sunday. I actually wrote this on a weekday — I have no memory of what inspired me to write it, but Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders were cool with it because they are lovely. This piece makes me happy because I got to spend 800 or so words mostly dreaming up shark henchmen for Batman’s rogues gallery.
Charlie’s Transformers reviews seem as good a place as any to begin. These will always rank high on my list of favorite io9 posts. Especially this one. Or maybe this one. Hard to say. Picking favorites is tough, and CJ wrote a disproportionate number of my favorite articles at io9. (See: How to create a scientifically plausible alien life form; 10 Books You Pretend to Have Read, And Why You Should Really Read Them; The Deadly Legacy of HIV Truthers).
Rob’s fanboy-prodding spoiler FAQs (and the ire they drew from all corners of the Internet, including our own community forums) were my favorite thing about any movie that landed in your crosshairs.
And, okay, not to lean too hard on reviews and recaps, but Meredith’s True Blood coverage remains some of the best television writing to ever grace the internet. Not just TV writing about vampire humping—I mean TV writing, full stop.
What else? “Field Cameras Catch Deer Eating Birds—Wait, Why Do Deer Eat Birds?” is pure, unadulterated Esther (smart, hilarious, science-y). Every post Cyriaque ever wrote is pure, unadulterated Cyriaque (smart, hilarious, just a touch deranged). George turned cerebral listicles into an art form (e.g. 8 Great Philosophical Questions That We’ll Never Solve). Weekends at io9 With Lauren Davis ®, which aired from 2012 to 2014, was the best weekend programming this website ever ran (and I say that as a former weekend editor). And while we’re waxing nostalgic: Long before I came to work at io9, I cited Annalee’s article about the most accurate science fiction in a range of scientific fields in a college thesis. Yeah. My love for this place runs deep.
That’s because, whether we were covering exoplanets, Octavia Butler, <del>FTL</del> neutrinos, humanity’s origins, wacky GoT fan theories, space elevators, or transhumanism, indie io9 was always about optimism, first and foremost. For close to a decade, it’s been a bastion of humor, humanity, and hopeful futurism in an internet landscape rife with scum and villainy. Whoever scores this starship from the auction lot had better see that it stays that way.