Science-Fiction Summer

Summer is traditionally when local readings series go into hibernation, as venues wait for the more literary-minded autumn to roll around. But this summer, a glut of great sci-fi talent is coming to town, including Northwest authors like Chuck Palahniuk (July 24, Town Hall), Neal Stephenson (Aug 7, Kane Hall), and Nancy Kress (whose After the Fall Before the Fall During the Fall is one of the best postapocalyptic novels to be published this year; Aug 9, University Book Store). Also, Colson Whitehead is coming to town with the paperback of his zombie book Zone One (July 17, Elliott Bay). If those above-the-marquee names make the book snobs in your life turn up their noses, remind them that Kelly Link and Gavin Grant are coming to town, too (July 17, University Book Store). Grant and Link together founded gorgeous tiny weird fiction publisher Small Beer Press, and Link's strange short stories are praised by everyone who admires quality literary fiction. (,, PAUL CONSTANT

Hits of SIFF 2012!

This year's Seattle International Film Festival was one of the best in recent memory, and a good number of SIFF selections are returning to Seattle for proper theatrical runs. This summer brings a handful of 'em, including Sarah Polley's dazzlingly accomplished dramedy Take This Waltz (opening July 13, Harvard Exit), the mind-fucking, ripped-from-the-headlines nail-biter Compliance (opening Aug 24, TBA), Mike Birbiglia's freakishly entertaining cinematic expansion of his beloved This American Life story Sleepwalk with Me (opening Aug 31, Varsity), and Beasts of the Southern Wild, the intoxicating bayou fantasia that won the Camera d'Or at Cannes and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance (opening July 13, Egyptian). DAVID SCHMADER

Intiman's Summer Festival

This weekend, Intiman will unveil the most thrilling high-wire act of the summer. After the theater collapsed last year, a young man named Andrew Russell stepped forward with an idea to save it—a summer festival of four shows by one team of actors and designers, running simultaneously. They are: Hedda Gabler directed by Russell, Romeo and Juliet directed by Allison Narver, Dirty Story directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, and Miracle! (an original drag musical about Helen Keller) conceived and directed by Dan Savage. Will they soar or fall on their asses? Go and see. (July 5–Aug 26, Intiman Theatre, 201 Mercer St,, $30 per show) BRENDAN KILEY

Fremont Outdoor Movies

For the past 20 years, Fremont Outdoor Movies has inspired movie-loving citizens to transport lawn chairs, inflatable mattresses, even sofas to the parking lot abutting Fremont Studios for screenings of beloved films. This year's lineup includes comedy classics (Ghostbusters, July 14; The Big Lebowski, Aug 25), charming crap (Mamma Mia!, Aug 4), and softcore gay porn (Top Gun, July 28). One highlight: the 21+ screening of Alexander Payne's wine-soaked romantic comedy Sideways (Aug 11), officially hyped as a "brown-bag BYOWine night." Movies start at dusk, and various food trucks are helpfully parked close by. (3501 Phinney Ave N,, $5–$10, through Aug 25) DAVID SCHMADER

Hot Summer Nights Fest

Central Cinema is the Seattle cinema pub that's tolerated for its erratic kitchen output but beloved for its beer and popcorn and movies and general life-loving ambience. This August brings the Hot Summer Nights series, a monthlong parade of films that hit the summery sweet spot. There are adolescent classics (Dirty Dancing! Meatballs!), horror classics (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre!), classic classics (Rear Window! Gone with the Wind!), sexy sizzlers (Body Heat!), and movies that just scream summer (Do the Right Thing!). A special highlight: Robert Altman's kaleidoscopic Raymond Carver adaptation Short Cuts, screening on the 24th anniversary of Carver's death (Aug 2). (Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave,, through Aug 24) DAVID SCHMADER

'Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art'

This huge survey of 120 paintings and sculptures establishes Seattle as the center of contemporary Australian aboriginal art in the United States, and what a rewarding category that is. The easy way to describe it is that these are wild abstractions that are not abstract at all—they map the outback, studded as it is with the bones and ghosts of ancestors. To get an idea of what it's like visually, imagine if Tibetan mandalas met the night sky met Keith Haring met Agnes Martin met Vincent van Gogh met a rainbow met feminist body art met a fire met a spider met a banquet table set for a feast, and you could look at everything from a satellite view and through a microscope, back and forth. This is the sort of blockbuster exhibition you will remember for the rest of your life. (Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave,, $17, through Sept 2) JEN GRAVES

Christopher Martin Hoff

Christopher Martin Hoff didn't live very long. He died suddenly this spring, leaving a gaping hole in the community; it seems that everyone who knew him dearly loved not only his work but also him. While he was here, you could always find him on the streets, painting the streets, set up with an easel and an easygoing attitude. His skies were big, cloudy, and moody, but bound, lined by the grids of electrical bus lines seen from below. There was no separation between city and environment; this was Seattle. This show is a concentrated chance to see this place through his eyes one last time, and try to hold on to it. (Aug 2–Sept 1; memorial Aug 12, 3–5 pm; Linda Hodges Gallery; 316 First Ave S;; free) JEN GRAVES