"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."
Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown - A 90 minute documentary on HP Lovecraft with contributions by Neil Gaiman, John Carpenter and Guillermo Del Toro.
Richard Matheson—Storyteller - To mark the publication of a book of tribute stories writer and editor Richard Bradley has been blogging about the author's 60 year writing career- covering I Am Legend, Duel, and The Incredible Shrinking Man, not to mention Somewhere in Time (full index here). Of course Matheson is probably most famous for his contributions to the Twilight Zone, being one of it's three major writers and scripting Nightmare at 20,000 feet. Twice.
The NASA list of "silliest" science fiction films outlines some complete horseshit offerings but is sci-fi meant to be realistic? Fans of hard sci-fi might argue it is the core of that place where dreaming and science combine, but shouldn't the dreaming part allow an amount of creative freedom in the hopes of getting at some larger truth? Some would say there is a point where you've gone too far. But what if our current impossible dream later becomes plausible, possible or reality?
Ted Chiang is perhaps the finest author in contemporary science fiction -- and the most rarefied. A technical writer by trade and a graduate of the distinguished Clarion Writers Workshop, Chiang has published only twelve short stories in the last twenty years, one dozen masterpieces of the genre whose insightful, precise, often poetic language confronts fundamental ideas -- intelligence, consciousness, the nature of God -- and thrusts them into a dazzling new light. Click inside for a complete listing of Chiang's work, with links to online reprints or audio recordings where available, as well as a collection of one-on-one interviews, links to his nonfiction essays, and a few other related sites and articles. [more inside]
Fritz Leiber Jr. was born 100 years ago today. An actor (and son of an actor) and writer, he is best known for his characters Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (old school website). Project Gutenberg has some stories. Previously on Metafilter. [more inside]
An open letter to all fans of Science Fiction from Tom Hunter, Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award - The Arthur C. Clarke Award, the yearly award for best Science Fiction novel published in the UK, could be in trouble.
Murderbullets, 102 pages of power armour, guns, mega-scale rapidly mutating biological horror, cancer sticks, tanks and general comics mahem by James Stokoe.
"The project was the brainchild of three good friends of mine. One was an astronaut, one was a communications genius who used to work with Walter Cronkite and the third was a highly respected scientist, and the one thing I won’t tell you about them is their names. You see, the three of them collectively cooked up one of the very best ideas I have ever heard, and they overcame all obstacles to make it come to pass. But then they messed up one tiny, inconsequential little detail. That turned the whole enterprise into a catastrophic confusion which gave great pleasure to some but cost others, including one of its principle intended beneficiaries of the idea, the Holland America cruise ship line, a ton of money." - Frederik Pohl [previously] [more inside]
Pulp Fiction is an exhibition of (mostly) Australian pulp novel and magazine covers from the University of Otago Special Collections Library. (NSFW)
Scottish SF author Hal Duncan tells you It Gets Better. [Work Warning: carpet f-bombing] He has been blogging for a while about SF and social issues, including homophobia and cultural appropriation. A couple of short pieces and some audio files are available in the sidebar on the left of the blog, if you are inclined to check out his writing. If that's too much blog, here is an interview. [It Gets Better previously]
Meanwhile in the TARDIS - two bonus ‘mini-episodes’ from the fifth season of doctor who. Can't wait to see the next season? If you're overseas it may get to you a bit quicker, as the BBCs iPlayer goes international. Bonus link: Amy Pond by way of Alphonse Mucha, by Bill Mudron.
Jeff Vandermeer discusses Amazons top 10 SF/Fantasy books of the year, which he selected in consultation with Amazon editors : Part 1, Part 2.
"We appreciate all the support that fans have shown for 'Caprica' and are very proud of the producers, cast, writers and the rest of the amazing team that has been committed to this fine series. Unfortunately, despite its obvious quality, 'Caprica' has not been able to build the audience necessary to justify a second season." - The Battlestar Galactica prequel series Caprica has been cancelled, and it's final episodes consigned to 2011. As ever there is debate as to what went wrong, though it looks like one complaint, the shows relative lack of action, will be addressed by the next spin-off: Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, set during the war years of a young William Adama.
"The successful genres of a particular period are reflections of the needs and thoughts and social struggles of that time." Daniel Abraham offers some thoughts on the nature of literary genre, including urban fantasy, complete with specific predictions for the future of science fiction.
The Zensunni Wandering, among other Dune maps. The universe of Farscape. The Foundation universe, in Thai. All courtesy of the Stars in Science Fiction section of Winchell Chung's comprehensive 3-D Starmaps site. [more inside]
"I measure my life in terms of my relationship with Star Wars" - The Guardian interviews Simon Pegg, star of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and the forthcoming Paul (trailer).
Another glorious day in the Corps! A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal's a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune! Every formation a parade! I LOVE the Corps!
Surface Detail is the latest science fiction novel by the Scottish writer Iain M. Banks to be set in his Culture universe.... [more inside]
The biggest literary influence on my approach to game design, however, was one of the writers I worshipped as a teenager: Alice Sheldon, aka James Tiptree, Jr. Tiptree had one particular recommendation for starting a story: “Start from the end and preferably 5,000 feet underground on a dark day and then don’t tell them.” This is precisely how we begin Half-Life. It was a deliberate antidote to the many game openings that involved pages and pages of backstory presented in scrolling text. - An interview with Marc Laidlaw, writer for the Half Life series.
Just in time for the 30th anniversary of the movie's release, The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back chronicles the complete tale—from pre-release to blockbuster success — of what’s become the fan favorite of the Star Wars series. Vanity Fair presents an excerpt from the book: rarely seen photographs from the Empire Strikes Back set, annotated with behind-the-scenes details. They also have interviews with the book’s author, J. W. Rinzler, and the man behind Boba Fett’s mask, actor Jeremy Bulloch." On a lighter note, how about a Wampa Throw Rug, new from the folks at ThinkGeek?
His Masters Voice by Hannu Rajaniemi, the Edinburgh based Finnish physicist currently causing a big stir in Hard SF - also features doggies and kitties. Audio version and interview at StarShipSofa. Review of The Quantum Thief at Locus. Bonus story: Elegy for a Young Elk.
Skiffy - a huge collection of classic science fiction book covers, featuring the likes of Chris Foss, Bruce Pennington and John Schoenherr.
This is all rooted in a vision I had, of William S. Burroughs as a CIA agent, and Philip K. Dick as his young henchman, going head-to-head with notorious gangster and pervert Adolf Hitler somewhere in Hamburg to find out where Hitler is shipping all the computers he can get his hands on. - In another world Charles Stross wrote this sprawling work of Alternate History instead of the Merchant Princes books. Fictional books are of course themselves a common them in Alternative History stories, from The Grasshopper Lies Heavy in The Man in the High Castle to Adolf Hitlers pulp novel Lord of the Swastika in The Iron Dream. Stanisław Lem was particularly enamoured with the idea of the fictional book, and wrote two volumes of reviews and introductions for them, lovingly described here by Bruce Sterling.
“Immortality is for suckers. If even a few of my words outlive me by even one hour, then I have cheated death.” - F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre
Behind the opening scenes of Blade Runner. “Doug and his Entertainment Effects Group team created thousands of acid-etched brass miniatures lit from below with hundreds of bundles of fiber-optic lights, shot in forced-perspective through layers of smoke to create layers of light refraction, creating depth.” The first of a three-part series on the making of Blade Runner’s unforgettable opening sequence.
Q&A with Duncan Jones, the director of the recent Hugo winner Moon plus Gavin Rothery - concept designer and VFX supervisor, Barrett Heathcote - visual effects editor and Hideki Arichi - art director (MLYT) (1,2,3,4,5)
The Island by Peter Watts (previously), winner of this years Hugo Award for Best Novelette. An audio version is available over at StarShipSofa (previously), itself a Hugo recipient.
Snippets of poetry from the Imperium; a sample folk tale from the Oral History; brief biographies of over a dozen Duncan Idahos; two differing approaches to Paul Muad'Dib himself and to his son Leto II; Fremen recipes; Fremen history; secrets of the Bene Gesserit; the songs of Gurney Halleck -- these are just some of the treasures found when an earthmover fell into the God Emperor's no-room at Dar-es-Balat. Out of print for more than two decades, disavowed by Frank Herbert's estate, and highly sought-after by fans, the legendary Dune Encyclopedia is now available online as a fully illustrated and searchable PDF [direct link]. [more inside]
Futurama has always been a haven for geek humor, but last week's episode "The Prisoner of Benda" pushed things to the next level. First hinted at in an American Physical Society interview with showrunner David X. Cohen (previously), staff writer and mathematics Ph.D. Ken Keeler devised a novel mathematical proof based on group theory to resolve the logic puzzle spawned by the episode's brain-swapping (but no backsies!) conceit. Curious how it works? Read the proof (in the show or in plain text), then see it in action using this handy chart. Too much math for a lazy Sunday? Then entertain your brain with lengthy clips from the episode -- including two of the funniest moments in the series in the span of two minutes.
Road to the Stars (Doroga k Zvezdam, 1958) was a remarkable Soviet documentary about the future of space exploration, directed by the "Godfather of Star Wars" and still admired for its impressive miniature effects. Watch the entire film.
Robert A. Heinlein: The Tor.com Blog Symposium - a series of blog posts commemorating the publication the first half of a new biography of Robert Heinlein. Interview with the Biographer.
Ray Bradbury is one of the most celebrated among 20th and 21st century American writers of speculative fiction. Now, his reputation is complete, with a work-inappropriate music video about sleeping with him. [more inside]
Before the internet, nerds communicated through Amateur Press Associations (APAs). Members wrote and photocopied their individual 'zines on a subject, then mailed them to a central mailer, who collated and mailed the completed sets to all the members. The earliest APAs were founded by printers and amateur journalists. The National Amateur Press Association is the oldest, founded in 1876. Later APAs were often the province of science fiction and comic book fans. They are still around [pdf]. A lot more inside... [more inside]
Are you an aspiring writer of genre fiction? Would you like to workshop your stuff before submitting it to magazines and publishers, but you don't happen to have a group of local friends that you can workshop with? Critters.org is an online, highly automated fiction workshop. You submit your manuscript, it waits in a queue until its time comes up, and then it gets sent out to all the active subscribers, some of whom will hopefully send you some helpful feedback! Make sure to critique at least one story every week, though, or you lose your privileges to post your own stories to the queue. [more inside]
La Guerre Infernale was a serialized novel for children, written by Pierre Giffard and lavishly illustrated by Albert Robida. It told the tale of the second world war, with battles between Britain and Germany, and between the United States and Japan. Sadly, it's been out of print for over 100 years, because it was written in 1908. [more inside]