String Theory is a character-driven serialized comic book published on the web and written/illustrated by Dirk Grundy (Twitter cat feed). Following the adventures of grumpy, socially inept super scientist Dr. Herville Schtein, it is set in an alternate timeline where "the Cuban missile crisis went terribly wrong," the Cold War never ended, super scientists and super powered individuals run amok, the American Southwest is an irradiated postnuclear desert, "America...is not doing so well," and Chicago... Let's not talk about Chicago. It is about failure and families and how we all kind of mess each other up a little, but only because we care. It's kind of sad. But also kind of funny. Think Venture Brothers with the satire and comedy turned down, and the characterization and plotting turned up. Oh! There is also a very cute talking cat, if that helps sell it for you. [more inside]
ShapeWright Ship will take your name (or really any string of text) and generate a 3D model of a spaceship based on it.
Feng Zhu is a concept artist who has worked with a number of big name movies and video games, and has opened a design school in Singapore. With the general background out of the way, here's his website with hundreds if vivid pieces of concept art to stimulate your brain (*cough cough*NaNoWriMo*cough cough*), and a long list of free tutorial videos that have been included in at least one list of best free digital painting tutorials. [more inside]
Starships were meant to fly.
Infographic shows you how award-winning science fiction is born - From Jeff Vandermeer (and collaborators) Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. Trailer, website, interview.
Полигон (Polygon), also called Firing Range, is a Soviet short film from 1977. It concerns a tank that is able to read the brain impulses of enemy soldiers, and the man who designed it. The generals have great plans for this tank, but the designer, and the tank, have other plans. [more inside]
A dialogue between the Anthropocene and Afrofuturism looks at alternate aspirations for modernity: "[u]nlike what it suggests, Afrofuturism has nothing to do with Africa, and everything to do with cyberculture in the West." (via) [more inside]
Paolo Bacigalupi writes hard sci-fi set in the near future, inspired in part by the stories from his science journalist friends and the imminent future of cyberpunk. Some of his works have been classified as "biopunk," due to his focus on bio-engineered products that run rampant, with involvement for battling mega-corporations that (try to) run everything in a world where oil is expensive and human labor is cheap. His first published novel, The Windup Girl (Google books preview), won both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 2010. He has published three novels since then, all categorized as Young Adult fiction, but Bacigalupi sees his only adaptations for a younger audience to be to shift the focus to pacing, and less sexuality, but otherwise similar to his "adult" works. He has also written a number of short stories (plus a few non-fiction pieces) over the years, many of which can be found online. [more inside]
As part of this weekend's Guardian series: 50 years of Doctor Who, six of the actors who have played The Doctor's companions - Louise Jameson, Freema Agyeman, Katy Manning, Carole Ann Ford, Billie Piper and Karen Gillan discuss their experiences on the show in video interviews. (Links to print interviews within.) [more inside]
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Agent of Change and Fledgling are now available as free downloads. Starting points in the Liaden Universe, a space opera series notable for its romance elements and convoluted publication history, their particular sequences (among others) in the same setting take noticeably different approaches to common themes such as complicated manners, familial obligations, and meeting a soulmate. Not to mention humanoid turtles. And occasional cats. [more inside]
In the weeks since LoneStarCon 3 (the 71st annual World Science Fiction Convention) took place, videos of just a few events have appeared online: the complete Hugo Awards ceremony; the WSFS business meetings; Brandon Sanderson's video AMA; a clip of a Dalek wandering the exhibition hall. The pocket program listing the schedule of public events offers further insight into what went on. And many attendees have posted their written/recorded personal reactions. A selection of the programmed content itself might be evoked with an old-school smorgasbord of links. [more inside]
National Public Radio produced at least two short runs of sci-fi radio dramas in the relatively recent past. The first of these two was Sci-Fi Radio, which was was produced out of Commerce, Texas, and broadcast on NPR in 1989-90. The producers drew their inspiration from some of the best stories from some of the best science fiction authors of the 20th century, including Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelazny, Henry Kuttner, and Poul Anderson. You can read more here on the Old Time Radio Plot Spot, or listen to the series on the Times Past Old Time Radio blog (also on Archive.org). A decade later, NPR revisited the format with 2000X: Tales of the Next Millennia, for which they won a a 2001 Bradbury Award. The official site is no longer online, but Archive.org captured Yuri Rasovsky's site for the series. Rasovsky shared two of those broadcasts and talked about his work in radio with Radio Drama Revival, and you can listen to the rest, as recorded from radio and grouped in an unsorted jumble (with duplicates), thanks to the very generous OTR Sounds.
B-movie legend Albert Pyun is retiring from filmmaking due to a diagnosis of "full blown MS". [more inside]
Why You Can't Travel Back in Time and Kill Hitler. (SLio9) io9 takes on the Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act trope, from a classic episode of The Twilight Zone to Desmond Warzel's Wikihistory. [more inside]
Disch died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on July 4, 2008, and, if one so desires, Endzone can be read as a suicide letter. But then, so could his entire body of work; the reduction of any writer's output, whether it be that of Sarah Kane, David Foster Wallace or Hunter S. Thompson, to an explanation of his or her suicide divests it of intention and frisson. It reduces the novelist to a patient of post-mortem psychotherapy. Clute, reversing this impulse, wrote that Disch took his own life "to demonstrate that he really had meant what he had been saying over [his] career." -- Brendan Byrne reviews the last work Thomas M. Disch completed before his suicide: his Livejournal.
Were you one of a handful of geeky teens watching BBC2 at 9.35pm on Saturday January 16th 1982? Or perhaps you were one of the sports fans who tuned in by accident when the football was cancelled. If so, you caught the first and last British television screening of a surreal, pitch black time travel farce from the pen of Czech sci fi maestro Josef Nesvabda, and you have probably never forgotten it. Now thanks to the Internet, you can watch Zítra vstanu a oparím se cajem, or Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scald Myself With Tea again at last, after more than thirty years.
Fragments of a hologram rose: Re-seeing Blade Runner - Tears in rain Memories of missing words, stories and concepts; All-seeing eye Entering picture space with the Esper; The city and the city The architecture of Los Angeles, 2019; Painting the future Syd Mead’s production art; Spinner and gun Tools of the job
Why has there been only one non-white Worldcon chair? Because science fiction fandom is not welcoming to non-white people, because con-running has not done enough to address its own lack of diversity, because people would rather believe that fandom is inclusive than force it to become inclusive.Jonathan McCalmont writes on institutional racism in the science fiction fandom.
"To launch a science-fiction anthology series is to dare comparisons with The Twilight Zone. Happily, Welcome to Paradox is not unworthy to be mentioned in the same sentence as Rod Serling's classic show. The weekly dramas, all based on short stories, are set in Betaville [a nod to Jean-Luc Godard's 1965 dystopian sci-fi/noir film, Alphaville], a future city filled with ultrahigh technology and perennial human unhappiness.... Bottom Line: Makes the future look intriguing." The Sci-Fi channel only produced 13 episodes (archived view of their site; ep list on Wikipedia), letting the series end with one season. The show was only released on DVD in Australia, which now seems to be out of print. But fear not! You can watch the episodes on YouTube in a convenient playlist, or with separate episodes linked below the fold. [more inside]
The Thoreau Poison - Caleb Crain of The New Yorker takes a closer look at the ideas explored in Upstream Color (spoilers)
"I think the answer is 100 per cent of people cheated! That's what everyone tells us. Do we mind? No." A history of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy game books.
Syd Mead's Stanford Torus Illustrations for National Geographic got him the job, 40 years later, of designing Elysium for Neill Blomkamp. Mead calls the unique visual effect of these interior drawings, in which the horizon wraps up and over the viewpoint, 'inverse perspective'. This effect, and others like it, have been explored in the concept art for large, rotating, space habitats at least since the early 1960s. [more inside]
Comic artist Chris Weston unilaterally declares it Kurt Russell week and produces a triptych of posters for Escape from New York, The Thing and Big Trouble in little China. These are just the roughs.
Our Science Fiction Movies Hate Science Fiction. An intelligent discourse from The Awl about the state of modern science fiction movies. [more inside]
The X-Files 20th anniversary reunion panel at San Diego Comic-Con (Youtube) (Podcast version here) (Summary and slideshow), featuring Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan, Jim Wong, John Shiban, Howard Gordon and James Amann. sex scenes, a third movie and Home are discussed. The Lone Gunmen will return in Season 10. The Guardian picks 13 best X-Files episodes but somehow misses Jose Chung's From Outer Space.
The Final Moments of Karl Brant. "In the near future, a neurologist and two homicide detectives use experimental brain taping technology to question a murder victim about his final moments." [Via]
100 great science fiction (short) stories by women, with links to the stories where available, as compiled by Ian Sales out of irritation with a 1978 anthology of great science fiction stories in which only five had been written by women.
Science fiction and fantasy writer/editor Jay Lake has been living with cancer for years, but in early May received notice that unfortunately he wouldn't do so for much longer (diagnostic details), with the most optimistic forecast giving him just a year left to live. If nothing else, this has given him time to wind up his affairs, as well as do something few people get the chance to: attend his own wake.
The Clone Wars (previously) are over, with only a few last mopping up operations underway and a few Jedi unaccounted for. But there is another... Star Wars Rebels will be the new Lucasfilm animated series, and will be taking it's design direction from the work of Ralph McQuarrie.
At the dawn of the millennium, Japanese society has suffered a severe economic collapse, leading to widespread youth apathy and 800,000 students boycotting school. Adult society sought to reassert their authority by passing the Millennium Education Reform Act, otherwise known as the BR Act. - a look at Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale.
Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples , has swept the Eisners, taking home awards for Best Continuing Series, Best New Series and Best Writer. Here's why you should be reading it.
District 9 director Neil Blomkamp talks to WIRED about Elysium, District 10, Halo, his desire to buy a skyscraper and almost casting Eminem or Ninja from Die Antwood in Elysium's Matt Damon role.
Tekhnika Molodezhi was the Popular Mechanics of the Soviet Union. The magazine, whose name means Technology for the Youth, had illustrations of everything from space stations, computerized farming, transport of the future, friendly robots, to more abstract images. If you don't want to hunt through the archive, Mythbuster's Tested website has a gallery of 201 great images from the magazine.
A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
They came from test tubes. They came pale as ghosts with eyes as blue-white as glacier ice. They came first out of Korea. N-Words - a science fiction short story by Ted Kosmatka. Audio version.
“What I wanted was for kids to see a movie where they don’t need to aspire to be in an army to aspire for an adventure. And I used very deliberate language that is a reference to westerns. I don’t have captains, majors, generals. I have a marshal, rangers . . . it has the language of an adventure movie. I want kids to come out of the movie and say, I want to be a Jaeger pilot! I really think that would be my dream come true.” - Guillermo del Toro on being a monster loving pacifist. Designer Wayne Barlowe talks about Pacific Rim's creatures. But has maneuvering at Legendary doomed the film before it has even opened?
"Although their behavior was professional and respectful, I was stunned when I found out that mine was the first formal report filed there as well. From various discussions in person and online, I knew for certain that I was not the only one to have reported inappropriate behavior by this person to his employer. It turned out that the previous reports had been made confidentially and not through HR and Legal. Therefore my report was the first one, because it was the first one that had ever been formally recorded. " -- Well known science fiction fan Elise Matthesen was sexually harassed at Wiscon and decided to formally complain to both the convention and the harasser's employer. [more inside]
The 2013 Locus Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy have been announced by Locus Magazine, and (at least) two MeFi writers have won in the novel categories. [more inside]
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]
Science fiction writer/fan Jamie Todd Rubin went on a holiday in the Golden Age, by reading through vintage issues of Astounding Science Fiction, starting with the July 1939 issue.
The very first major science fiction series for adults on radio was Mutual Broadcasting System's 2000 Plus (1950-1952). An anthology program, 2000 Plus used all new material rather than adapting published stories. Just one month after its premiere, NBC Radio began airing Dimension X (1950-1951), which dramatized the written work of such young writers as Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Kurt Vonnegut. In 1955, NBC relaunched Dimension X as X Minus One (1955-1958), drawing from stories that had been published in the two most popular science fiction magazines at the time: Astounding and Galaxy. 17 of 30 episodes of 2000 Plus, all 50 episodes of Dimension X, and all 125 episodes of X Minus One are available for free download as individual mp3s from the Internet Archive. [more inside]
The LA Times Hero Complex looks at diversity in SF and Fantasy fiction.
"I've been thinking recently about the way readers come to be in sympathy with characters in a story. This is something that isn't talked about much, and when it is it seems to be in terms of how to manipulate the reader. Indeed, I stopped reading Orson Scott Card for a different reason than the reason everyone else stopped reading him -- long ago he said in a book on how to write that you get reader sympathy by taking a sympathetic character, preferably a child, and doing something terrible to them, like for instance torturing them. Once I knew he was doing this on purpose it was like "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain", I couldn't enjoy reading because I felt manipulated. Also, torturing children? Really? That's the only way to make me care? I don't think so." -- Jo Walton's Wiscon speech on how to make readers care about your characters.