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.
Blue Monday - a sci-fi short story by Laurie Penny for Motherboard all about cats, Internet videos, and emotional contagions.
"I’ve been infected by a parasite. I won’t tell you what because I don’t want you to search for it. By the time this reaches you it won’t matter much, anyway. In fact, I’m forbidding you right now from looking for anything or asking anyone. Apparently I have about twelve hours as myself. They won’t say what happens next, because it’s kind of unpredictable. There are lots of animals who’ve had it, but only two people. They won’t tell me." -- The Glad Hosts, a SF short story by Rebecca Campbell
"Unconventional Advice for the Discerning Reader" by Sophie Wereley and "The Practical Witch's Guide to Acquiring Real Estate" by A. C. Wise are recent fantasy short stories that offer handy tips from similar perspectives. "Pockets" by Amal El-Mohtar and "The Apartment Dweller's Bestiary" by Kij Johnson (who adds one beast in a comment) are recent stories that blend strangeness into everyday life with poignant results. All via @SpiralGalaxy and @SFFMicroReviews. [more inside]
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]
Locus Magazine has published its 2014 Recommended Reading List. BestSF.net has given its Best SF Short Story Award for 2014. Tables of contents have been announced for The Year's Best Science Fiction, Thirty-Second Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois, Year's Best Weird Fiction, Volume Two edited by Kathe Koja and Michael Kelly, and The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Nine edited by Jonathan Strahan. And several writers have called out their favorite stories of the year too, e.g. Ken Liu, Carmen Maria Machado and Sofia Samatar, Usman Malik, and Fran Wilde, Michael R. Underwood, Tina Connolly, and Beth Cato. Quite a few of these short fiction selections from 2014 have been published online in full. [more inside]
Tor.com presents "As Good As New" a short story by Charlie Jane Anders about a girl, the apocalypse, and making sure those three wishes count.
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]
io9 has come up with a surprisingly good list of 100 science-fiction-themed songs. The comments are actually pretty great, with a lot more songs. There's rap, heavy metal, folk, polka, you name it. Still missing: more coverage of songs in languages other than English. [more inside]
On the Scientific-Marvelous Novel and Its Influence on the Understanding of Progress, written by Maurice Renard in 1909. Via.
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]
SF/F legend Connie Willis pours a preview of a near-future version of the story of backstage back-stabbing, " All About Eve" with "All About Emily" for Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine.
Though I am long dead as you read this, explorer, I offer to you a valediction. Contemplate the marvel that is existence, and rejoice that you are able to do so. I feel I have the right to tell you this because, as I am inscribing these words, I am doing the same. [more inside]
The collaborative wiki-as-fiction site, Secure Contain Protect (previously), held a contest to determine which entry will get the coveted SCP - 2000 spot. The theme? Science Fiction. Read the winning entry here, and the rest of the alien-spaceship-crashing-memetic-virus-watching-living-TV-show-spreading contestants here.
"In Advanced Readings in D&D, Tor.com writers Tim Callahan and Mordicai Knode take a look at Gary Gygax’s favorite authors and reread one per week, in an effort to explore the origins of Dungeons & Dragons and see which of these sometimes-famous, sometimes-obscure authors are worth rereading today." [more inside]
In a not too distant future, societies of all countries come to rely on an intricate network of artificial intelligence devices designed to bring efficacy to man's life. Yet, man continues to devour himself in useless wars. A strong political hierarchy now divides all powers into three factions, and A.I. devices rapidly gain ground as efficiency becomes a priority. As social revolts grow worse everyday, authorities seek ways to control their citizens. They decide to carry out a series of tests that will determine not only whether some crucial powers can be transferred to non human entities, but also whether man is ready to yield those powers. The world has become a cell for all man and women, who withstand and endure their lives, rather than living them. Machines might have found a solution. From now on, you are set free. [more inside]
Zero Hours - For a workshop on future London, Arup, Social Life, Re.Work, Commonplace, Tim Maughan and Nesta created 10 Future Londoners for the year 2023. This one describes the working day of 19 year old Nicki, a zero hours retail contractor.
There’s a moment which comes every time Minh Ha enters the Hall of the Dead: a single, agonizing moment of hope when she sees the streets before the bombs extinguished the lanterns hanging in the trees—when she sees Mother and the aunts exactly as she remembers them, their faces creased like crumpled paper—when she hears them say, “Come to us, child,” in Rong, just as they once did, when handing her the red envelopes of the New Year celebration.
It never lasts.
Friendship is Optimal is not a "My Little Pony" fanfic, but a SF story that starts with a procedurally-generated MLP MMO, and crescendos to what could very well be the Best Possible Outcome if self-optimizing algorithms are given /almost/ the right goals. Some readers are horrified by the implications; some want to move into "Equestria Online" anyway. Whichever camp you fall in, you'll never forget the phrase "satisfy human values through friendship and ponies".
She sat zazen, concentrating on not concentrating, until it was time to prepare for the appointment. Sitting seemed to produce the usual serenity, put everything in perspective. Her hand did not tremble as she applied her make-up; tranquil features looked back at her from the mirror. She was mildly surprised, in fact, at just how calm she was, until she got out of the hotel elevator at the garage level and the mugger made his play. She killed him instead of disabling him. Which was obviously not a measured, balanced action--the official fuss and paperwork could make her late. Annoyed at herself, she stuffed the corpse under a shiny new Westinghouse roadable whose owner she knew to be in Luna, and continued on to her own car. This would have to be squared later, and it would cost. No help for it--she fought to regain at least the semblance of tranquillity as her car emerged from the garage and turned north. Nothing must interfere with this meeting, or with her role in it. "Melancholy Elephants," an enthralling, Hugo Award-winning short story by Spider Robinson about a disciplined operative, a powerful senator, and a crucial mission to preserve humanity's most precious resource. (some spoilers inside) [more inside]
Television Without Pity re-capper Jacob Clifton has written a short steampunk story for Tor.com. “There’s a level on which the story is an indictment of using steampunk as a fashion or trend. It came about because I wanted to see what would happen if you substituted Jane Austen for Jules Verne in the steampunk equation...” The Commonplace Book
"... That’s the way with epiphanies: You can’t know in advance what they’ll be. Even me. I can see them coming, but I can’t understand something until I understand it.”T he man who can see the future has a date with the woman who can see many possible futures.
"Because we’re a smaller outfit, we can take some risks—find authors and manuscripts that are trying to move the genre forward."
ChiZine Publications (CZP) is an independent Toronto-based book publisher that is single-handedly changing the face of genre fiction in Canada. Though CZP was founded just four years ago and put out just twelve books per year, they are responsible for four of the six nominees for the the 2012 Best Novel Prix Aurora (Canada's highest honour in genre fiction). CZP grew out of the self-styled "dark fiction" 'zine The Chiaroscuro which has been publishing free genre fiction online since 1997. Their most recent release is David Nickle's tale of cold war psionic operatives gone rogue, Rasputin's Bastards.
Around 1992 Mondo 2000 magazine asked: "R.U A Cyperpunk?"
SF author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross talks about the future of "big idea" Science Fiction: If SF's core message (to the extent that it ever had one) is obsolete, what do we do next?
"It's a Good Life" is a 1953 story by Jerome Bixby, who also wrote It! The Terror From Beyond Space, said to be the inspiration for Alien, and the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror" (the one with evil bearded Spock.) It was made into a famous Twilight Zone episode, and is generally considered among the greatest SF stories ever written. Is "It's a Good Life" about God? Communism? 1950s suburban conformity? Or just about the horror of the self-contained world it creates in its few pages and the terrible realization that it would be possible to survive inside it, for a while?
One of the most popular stories on the Amazon Kindle marketplace is ...Wesley Crusher Slash Fic?. (i09)
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
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]
OMNI was launched (PDF) by Kathy Keeton, long-time companion and later wife of Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione, who described the magazine in its first issue as "an original if not controversial mixture of science fact, fiction, fantasy and the paranormal". [more inside]
War of the words - Science fiction was once driven by a faith in human ability to change the world. These days, the genre seeks to expose the illusions of everyday life. cf. near-future science fiction [1,2] & radical presentism  (via mr)
Harlan Ellison tears up the debate and J. Michael Straczynski speaks up on the topic. Oh, yeah there is also Herb Solow as well and his wife Yvonne (WTF) speaking on the subject "Science Fiction" over "SciFi". None of them saw SyFy coming back in 1997, that's for sure! (SLYT) [more inside]
StarshipSofa has podcasted all of the Nebula Best Short Story Nominees for 2008, following on from podcasting all but one of the 2008 BSFA short story nominees. Previous StarshipSofa.
60+ One-Of-A-Kind Robots From Science Fiction. "You'd think a major advantage of robots is you can mass-produce them. They're just metal-and-circuit bodies. But science fiction is full of one-of-a-kind bots. Here are all the bots for whom they broke the mold."
John Wyndham: The Invisible Man of Science Fiction (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) - documentary about the British science fiction writer best known for The Day Of The Triffids
Like others before him Benjamin Rosenbaum is making his debut short story collection, The Ant King And Other Stories, available from his publishers, Small Beer, as a free download. More than this though, he is holding a competition to find the best derivative work inspired by it. These include "translations, plays, movies, radio plays, audiobooks, flashmob happenings, horticultural installations, visual artworks, slash fanfic epics, robot operas, sequels, webcomics, ASCII art, text adventure games, roleplaying campaigns, knitting projects, handmade shoes, or anything else you feel like." [more inside]
Vegging Out vs. Geeking Out. Romance as the MSG of film. The bifurcated careers of Lucy lawless, Sigourney Weaver, and Hugo Weaving. Characters making smart decisions vs. stupid decisions. Neal Stephenson discusses Sci-Fi/Speculative Fiction as a literary genre at Gresham College. (Warning: requires Flash 9)
Free Speculative Fiction Online is a database of free science fiction and fantasy stories online by published authors (no fan-fiction or stories by unpublished writers). Among the authors that FSFO links to are Paul Di Filippo (14 stories), James Tiptree, Jr. (4 stories), Connie Willis (3 stories), Eleanor Arnason (3 stories), Bruce Sterling (5 stories), Robert Heinlein (7 stories), Ursula K. LeGuin (3 stories), Jonathan Lethem (5 stories), Michael Moorcock (6 stories), Chine Miéville (2 stories), Samuel R. Delany (3 stories), Robert Sheckley (8 stories), MeFite Charles Stross (33 stories) and hundreds of other authors. If you don't know where to start, there's a list of recommended stories.
Edinburgh author Iain M. Banks, creator of the post capitalist space faring society The Culture and it's oddly named ships, has long been the UKs top science fiction writer, but has never had more than a toehold in the US (in part through lack of availability, in part due to lack of promotion and in part due to some pretty awful covers. That could change: Matter, his latest, has been heavily promoted in the US and sports a cover nearly identical to the UK edition. This week Orbit are releasing US editions of the two earliest Culture novels, with the third following in July, which could mean a complete release of all the novels in the US in order. [more inside]
Flurb! Issue 2 of the Webzine of Astonishing Tales -- edited by Rudy Rucker, featuring 'demented and counter-cultural' stories from luminaries of the cyberypunkery like Charles Stross, John Shirley, Mark Laidlaw (who also wrote the story for Half Life 2), Richard Kadrey, one of MeFi's favorite snark-targets, Cory Doctorow and others besides -- is out. [found via the RU SIRIUS podcast] [Previously: Issue #1]
Hopefully this will put an end to the interminable AskMe questions: Adam Cadre has written a complete retrospective and review of William Sleator’s young adult science fiction.
' "Predictive programming works by means of the propagation of the illusion of an infallibly accurate vision of how the world is going to look in the future". Through the circulation of science "fiction" literature, the ignorant masses are provided with semiotic intimations of coming events. Within such literary works are narrative paradigms that are politically and socially expedient to the power elite. Thus, when the future unfolds as planned, it assumes the paradigmatic character of the "fiction" that foretold it...........' The Illuminati: an all encompassing conspiracy stranger than any fiction
Stovokor! Captain pInluH and Commander Khrell are stuck in Portland, the sneaky Ferengi having sold them a 'faulty temporal device.' Life is hard on Earth, it seems. Did anyone get a set list? No matter. It's my beleif that we will not see these warriors astride golf carts. Look out, number 1: perhaps they are looking to pull a Titor on your burgeoning data empire!
The Original Tom Swift Series Public Domain Texts. Twenty-five of 'em for your perusal. In piles of formats, some including page scans, and with color cover images (mostly from here, where they also have larger images). Not that kind of Tom Swift, mind you.
I must admit, the domain name gave me pause. So far, no teleportation has transpired.
I must admit, the domain name gave me pause. So far, no teleportation has transpired.
AsimovLite. Three cringe-worthy Isaac Asimov short stories. Also: Asimov's "Lecherous Limericks", quotables and links to related essays.
Violet Books catalogs Antiquarian Supernatural Literature, including literary ghost stories, Victorian science fiction, Yellow Nineties Decadence, H. Rider Haggard & haggardesque "Lost Race" novels, Marie Corelli & other occult romancers, Rafael Sabatini & Jeffery Farnol & all vintage swashbuckling historical romances, Yukon adventures, jungle tales, Sax Rohmer & all weird thrillers, classic detectives, vintage children's & young adult fantasies & series books, vintage westerns, and all things old, fictional, adventurous, and weird. Make sure to check for the titles that have dustjacket scans.
Looking for that rare science fiction first edition? The Barry R. Levin Science Fiction & Fantasy Literature store just might have the volume you seek.