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?
Tomorrowland: how Walt Disney’s strange utopia shaped the world of tomorrow - cryogenically frozen head not included.
You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
"Heaven Is a Place on Planet X" by Desirina Boskovich. "Break! Break! Break!" by Charlie Jane Anders. "System Reset" by Tobias Buckell. These three short stories are from The End is Nigh anthology, the first volume of The Apocalypse Triptych, three anthologies of stories about life just before, during, and after the apocalypse. "Post-apocalyptic fiction is about worlds that have already burned. Apocalyptic fiction is about worlds that are burning. The End is Nigh is about the match." [more inside]
Collision Detection. "They sit cross-legged, facing each other, six thousand miles apart. Then he strokes her cheek." [Via]
An Aura of Familiarity: Visions from the Coming Age of Networked Matter. The Institute for the Future commissioned six science fiction writers to create short stories for their Age of Networked Matter research project. "We asked our collaborators to envision a world where humans have unprecedented control of matter at all scales, and to share with us a glimpse of daily life in that world. It was a process meant to make the future tangible." Three of the stories have appeared so far. [more inside]
The Smell of Orange Groves. This short story by Lavie Tidhar (author of Osama: A Novel) is part of his Central Station story cycle, taking place in or around Tel Aviv’s Central Station neighborhood sometime in the future. [more inside]
Valibation: It isn't in you, it is you. NSFW short film in which a man's addiction to his smartphone gets a bit out of hand. [Via]
"If you’re not getting it wrong really a lot when you’re creating imaginary futures, then you’re just not doing it enough."
Wired talks to William Gibson: on Why Sci-Fi Writers Are (Thankfully) Almost Always Wrong, on Twitter, Antique Watches and Internet Obsessions, and and on Punk Rock, Internet Memes, and ‘Gangnam Style’.
Is Newt Gingrich’s plan for a moon mine science fiction? The technology may be in place, but is there any reason to go?
On November 22, 2011, TEDxBrussels held an all day event whose theme was: "A Day in the Deep Future." Speakers were asked to try and contemplate what life will be like for mankind in 50 years. Overview. [more inside]
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these. The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth -- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect," a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger. More: Table of Contents - Publishing history - Technical discussion - Buy a paperback copy - Podcast interview - Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace" - possible sequel discussion
A spherical flying robot has been developed at the Japanese Ministry of Self-Defense; it can zoom along indoors and outdoors at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, or just hover. Menacingly. Science Fiction In The News is a subsection of science-fiction site Technovelgy, which tracks both the predictions of future tech made in science fiction past and present and its manifestations in real life. What tech, you ask? Well, if it’s appeared in your nightmares, it’s probably been on this page: [more inside]
Science Fiction writers Alastair Reynolds, Vernor Vinge, Karl Schroeder and MeFi's own Charles Stross discuss the Singularity - which, Stross cheekily points out, has been around the corner for a good 20 years.
"Captain, the tech is overteching" - Ron Moore confirms everything you suspected about the Star Trek TNG approach to writing.
The SF Signal Mind Meld feature poses science fiction related questions to a number of SF luminaries and the scientist, science writer or blogger. Subjects have included the best women writers in SF, taboo topics in SF, underated authors and the most controversial SF novels of the past and present. The also cover lighter topics, such the role of media tie-ins, how Battlestar Galactica could have ended better (bonus Geoff Ryman) and the realistic (or otherwise) use of science on TV SF shows.
"He's always thinking about lots of things — he's a pollinator, he brings ideas to the table" You probably know Neal Stephenson for his work as an author (generally in or adjacent to the Science Fiction genre), but he's also an inventor at Washington based "Idea Factory" Intellectual Ventures, a place with modern goals like stomping out malaria and preventing hurricanes. This is after his old job as part-time rocket scientist.