It could have been the greatest television show ever. Conceived by Harlan Ellison. Ben Bova acting as technical advisor. Special effects genius Douglas Trumbull was on board. Scripts and storylines had been contracted from Phillip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Joanna Russ, Thomas M. Disch, Alexei Panshin and A.E. van Vogt. Keir Dullea starred. (Dave from 2001: A Space Odyssey). Guest stars: John "Baltar" Colicos (Battlestar Galactica), Walter Koenig (Star Trek) and Barry Morse (Space:1999). And then it all fell apart. In all, 16 deliciously terrible episodes of The Starlost were made. Was it the worst science fiction series ever? Watch and decide for yourself! [more inside]
About two and a half years ago an odd email dropped into my inbox out of nowhere. It seemed to be a quickly written email from someone in Ireland. The writer, Liam, said he was asking if I had any stories that I thought might be worth filming. In particular, he was trying to find something under fifteen minutes long that he, and a crew of others from his village in Ireland, could enter into a film competition. And they needed it, like, yesterday.Tobias Buckell tells how one of his short stories became a movie. All Her Children Fought is now availabe on Youtube, proving you can make a sf movie with only three actors and one special effect.
This was the official inauguration of indigenous futurism. The movement is in part about speaking back to the SF genre, which has long used indigenous subjects as the foils to stories of white space explorers hungry to conquer new worlds. Given these continuously re-hashed narratives of “the final frontier,” it is no coincidence that western science fiction developed during a time of imperial and capitalist expansion. Science/speculative fiction author Nalo Hopkinson, known for her use of creole languages and Caribbean oral stories in her works, writes that people of color engaging with SF “take the meme of colonizing the natives and, from the experience of the colonizee, critique it, pervert it, fuck with it, with irony, with anger, with humor and also, with love and respect for the genre of science fiction that makes it possible to think about new ways of doing things.”
In the mid-1960s, Dad purchased several porn novels through the mail. My mother recalls him reading them with disgust — not because of the content, but because of how poorly they were written. He hurled a book across the room and told her he could do better. Mom suggested he do so. According to her, the tipping point for Dad’s full commitment to porn, five years later, was my orthodontic needs.If people know of Andrew J. Offutt, it's as a science fiction and fantasy writer. However, it turns out he was much more successfull as a porn writer back in the days you could still make a good living writing softcore porn novels. For the New York Times, his son Chris Offutt, goes through his legacy and finds some real surprises.
Welcome to my database of science fiction and fantasy books that demonstrate diversity in sexuality/gender, race, disability, and other aspects. My hope is that this will both promote existing but less well-known books, and inspire authors to write more and publishers to make them available.All Our Worlds is a "Database of Diverse Fantastic Fiction" which can be searched by tag, or you can check notable releases.
This is the central tension of "Get in Trouble," between the artificial and the actual, between what we think we want and who we really are. The stories here are effective because we believe them — not just their situations but also their hearts. [more inside]
Racism no longer exists now that all of humanity has banded together to speak English, vote democratically, adhere to 20th-century American social standards, and battle alien intruders in a thinly veiled metaphor for anti-immigration sentiment.By Mallory Ortberg. [slthetoast]
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]
A lot of people think that once you publish a book, that’s it – you go on publishing books. The publishing world opens its arms to you and welcomes every book like a precious squealing babe. The reality is that publishing your first book is when the real work starts. All that time you spent leveling up your craft, on dealing with rejection, on editing and revision: that was just a warm up for the crushing reality of life day-in, day-out as a published author.Kameron Hurley on the realities of being a critically acclaimed science fiction writer.
Robert Kinoshita, the production designer and art director who created Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot and Lost In Space's B-9 Environmental Control Robot [previously], has passed away at the age of 100.
HAL, Mother, and Father Watching the sixties and seventies through 2001 and Alien.
I get it. The show is impenetrable, watching the whole thing takes 178 hours. It’s also extremely silly — nearly every episode has a moment when grown men in pajamas throw themselves around in their chairsBut I want to make the case Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) is important and worth your time in 2015, and I want to suggest about 40 hours of Star Trek viewing that will cover all of the great episodes.
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]
Sound of Cinema - British Sci-Fi from the BFI Days of Fear and Wonder - BBC Radio 3 talks to film composer Stephen Price about The Shape of Things to Come, Alien, Gravity, and other science fiction soundtracks.
this is what happens when you read a super-sci-fi-y story about spaceships, aliens, and AI, then switch to a classically fantasy story with goblins and elves, and find out they’re actually fascinatingly similar books with a lot to say about power, empire, and administration.Alix E. Harrow talks about administrating imaginary empires and the similiarities between Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor.
Science fiction is still very new in Nigeria, but while we could barely find 10 people to contribute to the anthology in 2010, there are now hundreds of writers who will readily try their hand at the genre. Just as I did, more writers are recognising that we have a copious amount of material for speculative fiction here in Nigeria. That means we need platforms where these stories can be anchored. To help this along, Chinelo Onwualu and I present Omenana, a bimonthly speculative fiction e-publication.The new, Nigerian speculative fiction magazine Omenana launched this month. [more inside]
The Boy Who Grew Up by Christopher Barzak is a Peter Pan story featured in the first issue of Uncanny Magazine, a kickstarter funded SF/F magazine co-edited by Hugo Award-winner Lynne M. Thomas and Hugo Award-nominee Michael Damian Thomas. Issue One contains fiction by Kat Howard and Max Gladstone (Gladstone previously) as well as non-fiction essays including "The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Films On The Web".
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.]
Black to the future: science fiction writer Tananarive Due talks about afrofuturism and why it's important. [more inside]
For golden centuries, the clone empresses of the Second Zenith Empire have ruled the galaxy. The source and expression of their power is the Zenith Fleet: a hundred ancient starships, the only vessels in existence capable of exceeding light speed. One of them has somehow disappeared—and you, Astronaut-Superintendent Waechter, must assemble a crew and find it.
Anyway, I had just finished reading a story I thought was really bad; I closed the book and said to myself, “I can do that.” I realized quite a bit later that I had given myself permission to write a bad story, but nevermind. I wrote a story in a notebook, the three-ringer lined paper kind, and I rented a typewriter. At least I knew it had to be typed double space, but that’s all I knew. I had never met a writer and there wasn’t a wealth of how-to books back then. I used the anthology for a clue about where to send the story and came up with Astounding Magazine. I sent off the story, and while I had the rented typewriter I wrote another story in the same notebook, copied it and this time sent it to Amazing. John Campbell at Astounding Magazine sent me a letter of acceptance along with a form to be notarized stating that it was an original story and I was the writer. I had no idea that that was not standard, and followed the instructions, and presently I received a check. I bought the typewriter with it.For Amazing Stories, R.K. Troughton interviews should be a SFWA grandmaster already Kate Wilhelm, writer & novelist, co-creator of the Milford and Clarion Writing Workshops, designer of the Nebula Award. [more inside]
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.
Why We Terraformed a New Home for Future Fiction: "Science fiction is an extremely powerful tool. Not for predicting the future, but for clarifying our present. We want to see that happening not just in monthly magazines, but on Reddit, Digg, and Facebook. We want fiction to be part of your feed." Vice has launched its new site for short-form science fiction, Terraform, with new stories by Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow, and "exciting newcomers."
What does the future hold? Is there life beyond the stars? Will artificial intelligence take over the world? Is time travel possible? All of these questions and more are addressed every week in Futures, Nature's science-fiction column. Featuring short stories from established authors and those just beginning their writing career, Futures presents an eclectic view of what may come to pass.... Prepare to be amazed, amused, stimulated and even outraged … That's the blurb from Nature's Futures online archive, with almost 400 short stories (under 1,000 words) to browse, and one new story added each week. If that is a daunting list to face, you can check out SF2 Concatenation's selection of the very best of the SF short stories from the journal Nature, with about 30 top picks as PDFs, instead of the web pages on Nature.com
Prolific television producer Glen A. Larson has died. Mainstream audiences might remember him as the creator of Alias Smith and Jones, his first hit series; and of such shows as Quincy M.E., Magnum, P.I., and The Fall Guy. But to science-fiction fans, he will always be remembered as the man behind TV's first million-dollar-per-episode series, Battlestar Galactica, and as a Consulting Producer on Syfy's highly regarded remake of the series. He also brought us Knight Rider; The Six Million Dollar Man, which may soon be getting a reimagining of its own; and Buck Rogers in the 25ᵗʰ Century, along with a handful of less successful, but still fondly remembered, sci-fi TV adventures. [more inside]
Unlike Elsie, Jackie, or Peewee, poor Podkayne is cut off at the knees before her adventure begins. Podkayne can dream of commanding a space ship but she can never see that dream realized because her narrative purpose is to serve as a doleful lesson to readers. This is where misplaced female ambition can lead! Well, if not Podkayne’s misplaced ambition, then her mother’s. Where the classic Heinlein juveniles are about boys reaching for the stars, Podkayne of Mars is a hectoring lecture, telling women to stay in their place.James and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Heinlein Juvenile is a review of Podkayne of Mars, the last of the Heinlein Juveniles and last in James Nicoll's series of The Great Heinlein Juveniles Plus The Other Two Reread. [more inside]
"And what they’re really asking me: is your first memory different from my own? Tell me, they are asking, under their breaths, tell me a story that shows how you and I are different."- a fictional story exploring conformity in sexual relations in a future society, by Debbie Urbanski.
Tabletop Audio - a new site with sixty ambient sound and music files for science fiction, horror, fantasy, modern and historical tabletop games. Plus a nifty queue manager and the option to download the tracks for play offline.
Isaac Asimov's Foundation: The little idea that became science fiction's biggest series [SPOILERS] (io9)
On the planet Terminus, a group of academics struggles to survive as the Galactic Empire crumbles. With no weapons, all they can rely on are the predictions of a dead genius named Hari Seldon. That's right — it's time to discuss Isaac Asimov's Foundation![more inside]
Welcome to Foundation Week, a Blogging the Hugos special event. In 1983, Isaac Asimov won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for Foundation's Edge, in which he revisited his groundbreaking Foundation mythos for the first time in over thirty years. Because the Foundation series is such classic, quintessential, and beloved science fiction — the original stories won their own unique Hugo for Best All-Time Series in 1966, and influenced artists from Douglas Adams to George Lucas — Josh Wimmer and Alasdair Wilkins will be discussing each of the seven books between today and Sunday. We begin with Foundation, published in 1951.
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]
Requires Hate, aka Benjanun Sriduangkaew, is a multiple, serial & proven bully, liar & manipulator says fantasy author Juliet McKenna. She and other authors (like Ian McDonald) are taking up arms in the controversy around the machinations of one writer that are shaking up the SFF publishing world. [more inside]
Rave-rappers Die Antwoord are starring in Chappie, a movie about robots and consciousness, by Elysium/District 9 director Neill Blomkamp. Sigourney Weaver (Alien), Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) also star. Due out in early 2015. Trailer [slyt].
Who designed the tricorder, the flip-top communicator, the Vulcan lute, the the Romulan Bird-of-Prey? Wah Chang. Who made the Gorn and the salt vampire from M-113? Who commissioned the first 500 tribbles? Wah Chang. Who made Tarantula take to the hills? Who built the prototype for the time machine and created a monster too terrible to show on television? Who animated dinosaurs and adorned Cleopatra? Wah Chang, Wah Chang, Wah Ming Chang. [more inside]
Legendary science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin blogs about her 85th birthday. For those who don't already know about her, here's a Wikipedia selected bibiography. For those who do, here's an Appreciation of Le Guin following her receiving the National Book Award Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters last month.
How renegade sci-fi writers of the 1960s paved the way for today's blending of literary and genre fiction [more inside]
A New Wave of Black Filmmaking: Experimental and Black Speculative Indie Films "A brief survey of the contemporary Black independent film scene yields a long and ever-growing list of experimental and Black speculative (including horror, Afrofuturism, sci-fi, fantasy, fan fiction) short cinema, film trailers, music videos and other projects. (/The Atlanta Black Star) [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]
"I loathe science fiction," Vladimir Nabokov declared to a BBC interviewer in 1968. A few months later Nabokov published an elaborate sci-fi novel.Nabokov's Ada or Ardor is one of the works in the Science Fiction in Transition (1958-1975): New Wave & New Directions reading list put together by Ted Gioia, in his day job a jazz critic and music historian. [more inside]
This might explain why I have a special weakness for Cuban Sci-Fi in particular. Cuba is the only country in the Spanish-speaking word that has built itself—for better or worse—following a scientific model. My weakness, for the most part, has been nothing but a desire to find out if Cubans, during Fidel Castro’s half-century of control, have dreamed Sci-Fi dreams.At BoingBoing, Ilan Stavans talks about his discovery of Cuban science fiction. In the comments, some pushback and links on the same subject as well as Spanish language science fiction in general.
SIMILO. "2065. The entire planet is hit by the effects of climate change. One of the few places that remain habitable is Antarctica, where corporations have built private cities. Hebe and Ciro get back together again. She is looking for love. He is searching for his own identity." [NSFW, Via]
The most feminist moments in sci-fi history -- from 1905 Indian feminist proto-sf to the rescue of Star Trek by female fans and beyond.