Just before sunset on April 5, 1815, a massive explosion shook the volcanic island of Sumbawa in the Indonesian archipelago. This destroyed the village of Tambora, erasing the unique culture, and changed world history (previously, more). Among the impacts, a small group of authors and creative types holed up in the Villa Diodati in June of 1816 and wrote two iconic "monster" stories that set up the next two centuries of story telling. You can read the inspiration and subsequent works of Lord Byron, Mary Godwin, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John William Polidori and Claire Clairmont below the break. [more inside]
Browse through the history of science fiction and you don't see many women named. One of the first is Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who published a proto-SF novel in 1666, 152 years before Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Also notable, Mary Cavendish published her book, titled The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World (Internet Archive), under her own name. The book is a curious mixture of themes and styles: part science fiction, part fantasy, part scientific musing, part political tract, part social commentary and satire, and part autobiography. This diversity of topics reflected the amazing life and interests of its "Happy Creatoress," a woman of means but without formal education of her male peers. [more inside]
Dust - by Ember Lab & Mike Grier A Sci-Fi fantasy inspired by anime and classic horror, Dust is set in a harsh and unpredictable natural environment where people have isolated themselves in an ancient city behind a massive wall. A socially marginalized tracker teams up with a black-market merchant to save the society that has rejected his way of life.
Jeff VanderMeer, best known for his SF Southern Reach triology (previously, previously), wrote a guide for writing fiction: Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction (previously). An Illustrated Guide to Writing Scenes and Stories summarizes key points of the book and is a great resource for highly visual thinkers.
The end of WTF D&D's epic saga of 90's music stars and cosmic horrors has finally begun, half a year after that post (which contains links to the entire story so far). Zack and Steve's zany game logs from the interim: Death Star plans on Naboo (1, 2), Dark Heresy: The Lost Dog Detectives (1, 2), a redneck WWE wrestler, a 90's Marvel character trapped in the Cinematic Universe (1, 2) and a Ghostbusters franchise in North Dakota (1, 2). As evidenced by the site's archives, much pointing and laughing at sourcebooks did indeed also ensue.
In 1998, cult horror author Thomas Ligotti and coworker Brandon Trenz wrote a script for an episode of The X-Files which draws more on Ligotti's style and sentiment than on Kolchalk and flying saucers. The episode, "Crampton", was never produced, but the text is online.
In the almost too perfect Star Trek universe, Lt. Reginald "Reg" Barclay started out as a insecure and neurotic comic relief but became one of its most lovable and relatable characters. Here's a surprisingly sweet tribute to Reg.
Dan Aykroyd grew up with psychic researchers and seances, which lead to the original Ghost Smashers idea, which in turn would become the Ghostbusters film. As he and his father, Peter, discussed on Q TV, their shared interest in the unexplained continued. A significant work of theirs was Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal, a Canadian science fiction drama television series co-created by Peter Aykroyd and Christopher Chacon, a researcher of psychic and parapsychological phenomena, and episodes are hosted by Dan Aykroyd. You can now see the show, as archived by fans, on YouTube (72 episode playlist). [more inside]
Star Cops [YT playlist]: A "blast from the past" that is "paranoid in the way only Cold War eighties drama can be." The ISPF's commander "finds himself stonewalled ... while investigating old crimes with new sci-fi spins ... Throughout the series he picks up a motley collection of 'waifs and strays' ... Some of the plots seem eerily prescient today ... The show is both optimistic that we'll get 'out there' tinged with a realisation that we'll take the worst aspects of humanity on the journey. It's flawed brilliance." [more inside]
An African writer who makes mix tapes of game soundtracks. A Nairobi filmmaker with Nietzsche on his smart phone. A chess champion who loves Philip K Dick. An African SF poet who quotes the Beatniks… meet the new New Wave in Nairobi, Kenya. Part one of our series 100 African Writers of SFF.
Freefall is a science fiction webcomic that has been updating thrice-weekly since 1998. Yesterday, it finally reached a satisfying conclusion... to its first chapter.
Author Jim C. Hines (previously, previously, previously, previously) once again takes a look at sexism in Science Fiction and Fantasy, this time looking at the written word.
What if you swapped the genders in classic SF&F novels?
What if you swapped the genders in classic SF&F novels?
"The past is like a foreign country: They have weird McDonald’s specials there. Here, it's a burger with olives and larks' tongues; it's called the McTrojan Deluxe, which makes it sound like there's something sneaky hiding inside it, which if you hate olives is true. I hate olives. But they also serve wine, so I'm drinking lots of wine. It’s unpleasantly packed in the restaurant, but then, it’s packed everywhere." Time Travel tourism takes off in 'Trojan Horses' a short story by Jess Zimmerman [more inside]
Craig Baldwin creates "collage essay" films, redeeming or taking revenge on the trash(ed) videos of the past, and making movies on the cheap (YT interview). The work of this culture jammer, media appropriator, director and documentarian (Sonic Outlaws, Archive.org) stretches back to his short student films in the 1970s, and often includes political commentary, usually concerning the exploitation of countries and people under imperialism, capitalist or otherwise. But you might have to look beyond the chaos on the surface, as found in the ultimate conspiracy theory film, Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (1991 - 48 minutes, Vimeo). [more inside]
On Saturday morning you're given a title, a line of dialogue, and a description of a prop. Exactly 48 hours later, your team hands in a completed 5-minute science fiction film. The shortlisted 5-minute films to win this year's challenge have just been announced, and are free to watch here. Plus, in a new twist for this year, the shortlisted flash fiction (<1500 words) entries based on the same time limit and randomised prompts. [more inside]
OSCAR is a prototype (the size of a human hand) consisting of clickable organ modules grown from human cells. (skippable auto-playing video warning) [more inside]
Between 1975 and 1977, Paramount and Gene Roddenberry planned to make a Star Trek movie, but it turned out to be anything but easy. What would it be about? Plot ideas included time travel, snake people, God, black holes and the titans of ancient Greek mythology. Writer after writer took a turn at coming up with a story, leaving behind a string of rejected screenplays. In March 1978, Paramount president Michael Eisner announced a film spin-off. The race to make Star Trek: The Motion Picture was on. (Via) [more inside]
The story of Cosmic Encounter is about a flash of creative genius in the early seventies, followed by four decades of struggle to see that vision fully realised. Despite the rapturous critical acclaim Cosmic Encounter has accrued in the 39 years since its first publication, it has not been followed by commercial success. Indeed, the creators of the greatest boardgame in existence have never made a living off it. The making of Cosmic Encounter, the greatest boardgame in the galaxy
SF author (and Mefi's own) Charles Stross is thinking about the cliches in Space Opera and tries to put together a complete list of the hoary genre tropes that literary (no TV or movies) Space Opera is prone to.
After many months, Something Awful (and now also The Bad Guys Win) comedy/insanity writer Zack Parsons (previously) has finally confirmed the long-promised finale of his and Steve Sumner's series of Call of Cthulhu 1990's Handbook campaigns starring Kurt Cobain, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and Eazy-E as they battle forces beyond human ken: the custom module Hard Ticket to Baghdad. (He also eventually finished the Tooth Tooth series because word is bond, god.) Beneath the fold: the entire story so far, including the recent 'solo project' campaigns. [more inside]
In the history of gag dubs, one of the earliesr and more obscure is a segment from MTV's Cartoon Sushi, Ultracity 6060, debuting in episode one. After the fold, all but one of its six or seven episodes, depending on how you count - one is an original parody. [more inside]
Space 1970 :: Journey with us back to the days when special effects were created by skillful hands and spaceships were detailed models, when robots were obligatory comedy relief, when square-jawed heroes and cloaked villains battled among the stars -- and the future was fun!
Sci-Fi Author (and Metafilter's own) Charlie Stross has an interesting thought experiment: Could you get to a technological society without the use of writing? And if so, what would that look like?
Those mammoth vessels carried within their holds treasure of which the United States was in most desperate need: gold, to bail out the almost bankrupt federal, state, and local governments; special chemicals capable of unpolluting the environment, which was becoming daily more toxic, and restoring it to the pristine state it had been before Western explorers set foot on it; and a totally safe nuclear engine and fuel, to relieve the nation's all-but-depleted supply of fossil fuel. In return, the visitors wanted only one thing—and that was to take back to their home star all the African Americans who lived in the United States."The Space Traders" is a science fiction story and social parable published in 1992 by pioneering law professor and civil rights advocate Derrick Bell. In 1994, "The Space Traders" was adapted for television as one-third of HBO's Cosmic Slop, a TV-movie anthology of scifi starring people of color. Written by Trey Ellis and directed by Reginald Hudlin, the half-hour "The Space Traders" episode can be watched in its entirety here. [more inside]
In 1981, NPR affiliate station KUSC hatched a bold plan to adapt George Lucas’ Star Wars for radio. Easily the most visual film of the last decade, Star Wars as a listening experience seemed like an unlikely idea, but Lucas sold them the rights to adapt the hit movie for one dollar, and opened the Lucasfilm vaults to the show’s producers: Star Wars sound effects would be available to them in their raw form, along with every note of John Williams’ music. The cast was a mixture of original Star Wars cast members, Hollywood veterans, and future TV and movie stars still in the early stages of their careers. Novelist Brian Daley and Director John Madden then turned the first three films into "movies to watch with your eyes closed." [more inside]
In September, sci-fi master Irwin Allen’s 1965 cult TV classic, Lost In Space marked its 50th anniversary. Now, Netflix has won a bidding war to remake the series. Meanwhile… [more inside]
The "SyFy" network has released the first episode of their space noir television adaptation of James S. A. Corey's The Expanse novels on YouTube: "Dulcinea." (region-restricted to US viewers only -- contains a scene that may be NSFW) [more inside]
These photos are why I'm trapped in Tokyo forever now is an animated photo essay about ... some kind of Tokyo.
Nigerian AfroSFF writer Wole Talabi shares links to his favourite 10 short stories of 2015 with a short intro.
Øyvind Thorsby, creator of multiple strangely charming webcomics (previously), has recently begun his fifth series, Trixie Slaughteraxe for President (link is to the first page). Thorsby's comics bear multiple trademarks: distinctively simplistic art, strange creatures with strange adaptations to their environments, creative applications for magical and technologically advanced objects and phenomena, and, of course, complicated farcical situations often involving desperate wacky schemes. A list of his comics (including the new hosting for his first three comics) is inside. Content warning: violence, swearing and sexual themes. [more inside]
The film Alien Nation was a hit in 1988, so the fledgling Fox Network figured building off its success with a human-alien buddy cop show was a can’t-miss concept.... [more inside]
Zack Parsons, Something Awful's resident writer of much weirdness (oldest articles in that listing may be misattributed) has resumed his beloved series with Steve Sumner (the Max to his Sam), WTF D&D. While Zack still writes for Something Awful, he and Steve's reviews of weird pen-and-paper RPG sourcebooks and art, and their rollicking RPG campaigns, have resumed on Zack's new site, The Bad Guys Win, which also features other new articles from Zack (all of the new WTF D&D, currently a two-part adventure in the Ravenloft setting starring Steve as an idiot monk, is collected under Games). [more inside]
In May 1991, ABC launched a half-hour drama series called "My Life and Times." The premise: An 85 year old man living in a retirement community in 2035 looks back on his life and shares his experiences with friends and family. Framing sequences were set in 2035 while the bulk of the episodes featured flashbacks to the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s. The show begins on April 9, 2035. [more inside]
This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a bronchial spasm. That is, at least, according to William Delisle Hay’s 1880 novella The Doom of the Great City. It imagines the entire population of London choked to death under a soot-filled fog. The story is told by the event’s lone survivor sixty years later as he recalls “the greatest calamity that perhaps this earth has ever witnessed” at what was, for Hay’s first readers, the distant future date of 1942. -- Brett Beasley in the Public Domain review on one of the first modern urban apocalypse stories.
In a universe at a slightly different frequency than ours there was an alternate Hugo Ballot. Below the fold are links to the authors and works: [more inside]
"Right around the time I first joined the cast of Under the Dome, I was smoking a bowl with the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey."-a review of sorts of the final episode and series of the American tv show.
Here is the first episode of Sam Sweetmilk. A funny/serious sci-fi cartoon, you know, like those that are all the rage these days, extra words. There is currently only one episode (and part of it is an animatic), but a second is nearing completion! Part one.
The Hugo Award process has always been hackable, There was just never anyone narcissistic enough to hack it. [more inside]
"Hollywood brings glitz, glamour and big budgets to movie-making; France has avant-garde artistry. But what about Britain? Looking at our selection of the 75 greatest British movies of the past century, you'll find that Britain excels at genres you'd expect (kitchen sink and period drama, class-obsessed satire) and plenty you wouldn't (strange sci-fi, blood-freezing contemporary horror). Here are the essential home-grown films to watch, listed in the order they were made..." [SLTelegraph]
The fastest ships in the universe. All universes, sci-fi and otherwise, that is.
African sci-fi features all manner of weird and outlandish things, from crime-fighting robots to technological dystopias. But could they be closer to predicting the future than they realise?