On Thursday, the 1941 Retro-Hugo Awards were presented at the 74th Worldcon. Relevant material online includes Slanology: An In-Depth Guide to A.E. van Vogt's Slan, "A Study of 'If This Goes On--'," 1950s radio adaptations of "The Roads Must Roll", comments/links on "Robbie", and Batman #1, as well as a review round-up of many finalists. The 2016 Hugo Awards ceremony set for 8pm CDT this evening will have both video and text coverage (see also #MAC2 on Twitter). The nominees have been broken down by slate at File 770, and Alexandra Erin offers timely remarks in anticipation of the outcome.
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]
Netflix’s sci-fi throwback Stranger Things is Yesterday’s Summer Blockbuster Today [A.V. Club] Stranger Things is stylish, beguiling, and eminently bingeable, but it isn’t skeptic-proof. The Duffer brothers, who previously worked on Fox’s surprisingly compelling Wayward Pines, should know by now that open-ended supernatural mysteries are going to dissuade some viewers, particularly those who have felt duped by such stories in the recent past. But anyone willing to push through their resistance will find a borderline hypnotic show that could be to this summer what USA’s Mr. Robot was to last summer: a hyper-stylized niche series that feels essential even at its wobbliest. [more inside]
The Forbidden Words Of Margaret A. is a science fiction story by L. Timmel Duchamp, first published in 1990, describing a journalist's heavily-vetted meeting with a woman whose words have been declared illegal by the American government. [more inside]
42 black science fiction works that are important to your understanding of its history. Nisi Shawl has assembled a rich syllabus of novels and story collections, from 1859 to 2015. Some fantasy and horror along with the strictly science fictional.
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.
"That's what Life Magazine calls GALAXY!" The Internet Archive presents the complete run of classic sf magazine Galaxy, from 1950 to 1980.
Previously on MetaFilter. (via HackerNews)
Previously on MetaFilter. (via HackerNews)
Equality [internet archive] was first published in 1897: "The story takes up immediately after the events of Looking Backward with the main characters from the first novel, Julian West, Doctor Leete, and his daughter Edith. West tells his nightmare of return to the 19th century to Edith, who is sympathetic. West's citizenship in the new America is recognized, and he goes to the bank to obtain his own account, or 'credit card', from which he can draw his equal share of the national product... " (previously 1,2) [more inside]
Waterdrop "Waterdrop" is a science fiction film about the second kind of close encounter with aliens. It is a tribute to the critically acclaimed Chinese science fiction novel "The Dark Forest"
Martin L. Shoemaker's "Today I Am Paul" and Rich Larson's "Meshed" explore the emotional impact of technological developments within relatively familiar futures, and Caroline M. Yoachim's "Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World" draws on a wide variety of SF motifs to make the future a strange and sometimes poignant allegory for wonders of the past. Each story has been selected for an upcoming year's best SF anthology—either Rich Horton's or Neil Clarke's—and two received mention earlier this year from the unverified @gardnerdozois.
Heather Lindsley's "Werewolf Loves Mermaid," Sunil Patel's "The Merger," and Emil Ostrovski's "Tragic Business" develop humorous situations from SF/F motifs: cryptid romance, intergalactic business negotiations, and the cycle of death and rebirth, respectively. Lincoln Michel's "Dark Air" combines common weird fiction / horror situations with a very dry, very dark sense of humor. Naomi Kritzer's "So Much Cooking" is a serious SF story about a grave possibility, but it brings the matter home via a witty parody of a cooking blog.
After teasing for hours on the official BBC Doctor Who twitter feed about #bigdoctorwhonews leading to a fever pitch of speculation re potential mega famous guests stars, new companion(s) or the recovery of lost episodes... it was finally announced that there will be a new spin-off YA series Class written by Patrick Ness centered around Coal Hill School in London
Reclaiming the Nerdiverse [NSFW audio] is a fascinating hour-long discussion about women in science fiction and fantasy on the late night edition of the venerable BBC radio show Woman's Hour (podcast link). The host is Lauren Laverne, and her guests are author and game designer Naomi Alderman, journalist Helen Lewis, sociologist Linda Woodhead, fantasy novelist Zen Cho, and cosplayer and writer Lucy Saxon. The discussion takes in everything from 70s feminist writers to alpha/beta/omega slash fiction to cosplay etiquette to geek sexism. The Late Night Woman's Hour has been the topic of some discussion in Britain.
Science Fiction grandmaster Samuel R. Delaney interviewed by SF Signal, with a very long answer in part 2, and by The New Yorker where he talks about race, recent Hugo controversies being nothing new, and the past and future of science fiction.
Predator: Dark Ages Templar Knights are put to the ultimate challenge, to hunt The Predator. Testing not only their skills as fighters but also their faith. Kickstarter funded fan film. IMDB. Facebook page.
Every April for the past several years, Fantasy Cafe has published a series of guest posts for Women in Science Fiction & Fantasy Month. This year, the article that generated the most discussion was "'I am ... ?': Representation of Mature Women in Fantasy" by Mieneke from A Fantastical Librarian, who asked, "So where are the older women in fantasy? Mature women who are the hero of their own story?" The many other guest posts this year offered an interesting range of questions, observations, and reflections--often by well-known names in the field. [more inside]
Other Space: A sci-fi workplace comedy created by Paul Feig. Featuring Milana Vayntraub (a.k.a. the lady from the AT&T ad), Karan Soni (a.k.a. the dude from the AT&T ad), and Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu from MST3K.
The 2015 Hugo Nominees have been announced. Notably, authors from Brad R. Torgensen's "Sad Puppies" slate have successfully secured all of the nominations for both the Novella and Novellette categories, a result which is bound to cause significant discussion.
Sundays is a beautiful science fiction short film by Dutch director Mischa Rozema of PostPanic Pictures for roughly $50000. The film was also intended to be a concept pitch for a feature, and it worked as intended, sparking a bidding war between Hollywood studios.
Never Give Up, Never Surrender: Cosplay After 40
My name is Phaedra Cook, I am 46 years old and I’m a cosplayer. That sounds like some kind of intro to a confession at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, doesn’t it? There are certain types of people who would like me to have a sense of shame about my hobby, but that’s not going to happen.[more inside]
Worldcon is the "world science fiction convention." It's been around in one way or another since 1939 and is typically hosted at a different existing convention every year. (The Hugo awards are voted on by Worldcon members.) Last year it was in London; this year in Spokane. To get the event hosted at your convention, there is an elaborate bidding process. There is a long tradition of hoax con bids (which sometimes take on a life of their own, as in this Westercon story). The latest in the tradition: Nightvale Worldcon. If you have further questions regarding the bid, please contact the Help Desk with your bloodstone. [more inside]
Yes, yes—We live in the Gibsonian tomorrow, the grim meathook future, the ever-weirder cyberpunk dystopia. But it won't be that way forever. Well, it might get weirder. But good-weird. To that end, the latest anthology from The Sockdolager, You Gotta Wear Shades, contains an astonishing seven tales of brighter futures. Because we happen to think things are in fact gonna get better.[more inside]
The specialists began to use terms such as "quality of life" to describe all the things she was likely to be without. My husband, Michael, realized it was going to be nearly impossible to pry me away from her bedside. He asked what he could bring me from home: a change of clothes, sweater, food, or something to read? I asked him to bring me anything by Anne McCaffrey."Changes Without Notice" is one reader's personal essay about discovering a book at just the right moment. An afterword in Dragonwriter says a little more about how things turned out. [Via and previously.]
The long-term optimism comes from the the fact that no matter how bad things seem and how idiotically and cruelly we behave. . . well, we've got this far, despite it all, and there are more people on the planet than ever before, and more people living good, productive, relatively happy lives than ever before, and—providing we aren't terminally stupid, or unlucky enough to get clobbered by something we have no control over, like a big meteorite or a gamma ray buster or whatever—we'll solve a lot of problems just by sticking around and doing what we do; developing, progressing, improving, adapting. And possibly by inventing AIs that are smarter and more decent than we are, which will help us get some sort of perspective on ourselves, at the very least. We might just stumble our way blindly, unthinkingly into utopia, in other words, muddling through despite ourselves.In 2010 Jude Roberts interviewed Iain M. Banks for her PhD. Banks discusses his utopia, The Culture, which he created in a series of science fiction novels.
I try to do two things with my style. The first is to pay attention to how the words sound together ... The other thing is to juxtapose odd images.Sometimes ornate, sometimes economical, and always striking, Yoon Ha Lee's short fiction combines motifs from fantasy and science fiction with remarkable fruitfulness: "There are soldiers and scientists, space travel and dragons, leather-bound books, locked doors, and genocidal rampages. Each tale strains at the edges of possibility. No two of Lee's stories are alike, except for a similar pulse powering each word, each juxtaposition, each startling turn of events." Much of Lee's output is available online, including dozens of flash fiction fairy tales and two works of interactive fiction. [more inside]
A collection of philosophical science/speculative fiction reading lists, (with decent amount of short fiction and some media thrown in) with short "why you should read this " blurbs. The suggestions are made by professional philosophers and philosophy-trained SF writers, and curated by Eric Schwitzgebel, Professor of Philosophy at UC Riverside. Part 2, Part 3 With more suggestions promised to come. (Previously, a course on Science Fiction and Political Science , previouslier - curated lists of anarchist and socialist science fiction
Monster Legacy, a blog "trying to delve into the secrets of the making of Movie Monsters," presents Subterranean Terror, an in depth look at the creature effects of the greatest Precambrian sandworm horror-comedy franchise of all time. [more inside]
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
Jeff VanderMeer reflects on connections between personal experience and written SF/fantasy, including those in his own work as well as that of Angela Carter, Lev Grossman, Ann Leckie, Lauren Beukes, and Nnedi Okorafor. [more inside]
On the Scientific-Marvelous Novel and Its Influence on the Understanding of Progress, written by Maurice Renard in 1909. Via.
MIND MELD: Food in Science Fiction versus Fantasy
This week we asked about Food and Drink in SF. Food and Drink in science fiction sometimes seems limited to replicator requests for Earl Grey tea and Soylent green discs. Why doesn’t do as much food as Fantasy? Does Fantasy lend itself more to food than Science fiction? Why? This is what they had to say…[more inside]
SF Signal today finished a top 50 countdown of short SF/fantasy podcast fiction: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1. The Parsec Awards for SF podcasts honor many other stories annually, as well as related non-fiction, comedy, and music: 2014 nominees; 2013; 2012; 2011; 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; and 2006. And since 2012, the Hugo Award nominees for Best Fancast have been two-time winner SF Squeecast!, plus The Coode Street Podcast, Galactic Suburbia, SF Signal, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, StarShipSofa, Tea and Jeopardy, Verity!, and The Writer and The Critic with the popular Writing Excuses podcast often appearing in another category. [more inside]
The Pulp Magazines Project is an open-access digital archive of all-fiction pulp magazines from 1896-1946, such as The Argosy, Amazing Stories, and Weird Tales. In addition to the archive, it features a cover gallery, a collection of articles and contextual material (including "So What is Pulp?", publisher index card files, and an office dummy), and links to dozens of related or similar resources such as the Speculative Fiction Collection at Virginia Tech, the Anarchist Periodicals archive at Pitzer College, and the Digital Dada Library.
Some Musings on Diversity in SF by Vandana Singh: "The best speculative fiction, like travel, does that to you – it takes you to strange places, from which vantage point you can no longer take your home for granted. It renders the familiar strange, and the strange becomes, for the duration of the story, the norm. The reversal of the gaze, the journey in the shoes of the Other, is one of the great promises of speculative fiction. " (Previously)
O Human Star, an ongoing webcomic by Blue Delliquanti, is a near-future science fiction family drama about robots, relationships, identity and finding a place for oneself in the world. [more inside]
Legendary science fiction editor Gardner Dozois once said that the job of a science fiction writer was to notice the car and the movie theater and anticipate the drive-in – and then go on to predict the sexual revolution. I love that quote, because it highlights the key role of SF in examining the social consequences of technology – and because it shows how limited our social imaginations are. Today, we might ask the SF writer to also predict how convincing the nation’s teenagers to carry a piece of government-issued photo ID (a driver’s license) as a precondition for participating in the sexual revolution set the stage for the database nation, the idea that people are the sort of thing that you count and account for, with the kind of precision that the NSA is now understood to bring to the problem.
An Alderson Disk is a science fiction megastructure imagined first by scientist Dan Alderson. It's a solid disk that is thousands of kilometers thick, with a circumference equal to the orbit of Mars or Jupiter. The habitable zone would be on both sides of the disk and would be millions of times the surface area of the Earth. Not much theoretical work has been done on its feasibility, but some have tried. Missile Gap, by MeFi's own Charles Stross, which won the Locus readers' award for best novella of 2006, features a 1960s Earth transposed to an Alderson disk and is available for free on the publisher's website.