"The spotted hyena has a genital set-up that is unique among animals. [...] They have a pseudopenis; an extended clitoris through which they urinate, have sex, and give birth. In order to have sex a male has to place his penis in the pseudopenis, which is extremely difficult without her complete cooperation. Once the two have mated, the female has the option of simply peeing, and flushing out much of the male's sperm."
io9 tells us that Chinese food on Christmas is no longer just a Jewish tradition and digs up an ethnographic article examining the birth of the customary meal: Chinese food is unkosher and therefore non-Jewish. But because of the specific ways that Chinese food is prepared and served, immigrant Jews and their children found Chinese food to be more attractive and less threatening than other non-Jewish or treyf food. Chinese food was what we term "safe treyf." [more inside]
Roughly 9,000 years ago, humans had mastered farming to the point where food was plentiful. Populations boomed, and people began moving into large settlements full of thousands of people. And then, abruptly, these proto-cities were abandoned for millennia. It's one of the greatest mysteries of early human civilization.[more inside]
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.
Lauren Davis rounds up webcomics to give you thrills and chills on io9, calling out 18 specifically, then listing additional titles in some of the descriptions. [more inside]
"10 Lessons From Real-Life Revolutions That Fictional Dystopias Ignore"...because sometimes the biggest problems with Science Fiction is less 'getting the Science wrong' and more 'getting the Social Science wrong'.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it became possible to believe in the existence of life on other planets on scientific grounds. Once the Earth was no longer the center of the universe according to Copernicus, once Galileo had aimed his telescope at the Moon and found it a rough globe with mountains and seas, the assumption of life on other planets became much less far-fetched. In general there were no actual differences between Earth and Venus, since both planets orbited the Sun, were of similar size, and possessed mountains and an atmosphere. If there is life on Earth, one may ponder why it could not also exist on Venus. In the extraterrestrial life debate of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Moon, our closest celestial body, was the prime candidate for life on other worlds, although a number of scientists and scholars also speculated about life on Venus and on other planets, both within our solar system and beyond its frontiers. Venusians: the Planet Venus in the 18th-Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate (PDF), from The Journal of Astronomical Data (JAD) Volume 19, somewhat via NPR and their mention of amateur astronomer Thomas Dick's estimations of the populations of the other planets in our solar system (Archive.org online view of Celestial scenery, or, The Wonders of the planetary system displayed, 1845).
io9 offers a straight forward guide of 13 tips to help you survive a night in a cabin in the woods. [more inside]
Bored with basketball but want some Tournament action in your March-to-Early April? MentalFloss.com has collected* a list of (More Than) 11 OTHER March Madness Tournaments, covering books, music, TV, webcomics, various flavors of sci-fi and fantasy, plus bunny slippers, hot dog toppings, the (previously here) WORST Company in America and MORE! [more inside]
The infamous, sprawling Winchester Mystery House has plans to allow overnight stays and full onsite alcohol consumption
io9: "After making a mere $84 million at the U.S. box office, Star Trek Into Darkness is considered by some to be a disappointment. Perhaps the problem is that it was a touch confusing. To help our readers better understand it, we've compiled and answered these Frequently Asked Questions about the movie." (Maximum Possible Spoiler Warning)
The finalists for the 2012 Nebula Awards have been announced (list with free fiction links here), but there's still another two weeks to get in nominations for the 2013 Hugo Awards. However, for those works not fiting the regular award categories Tim Pratt and other science fiction writers, fans and interested parties on Twitter have been suggesting #FakeHugoAwardCategories . io9 collects some of the best.
Malaria, a short "motion comic" that bends the boundaries of what that means. "Malaria" is a short film/motion comic by Edson Oda. It's unlike any motion comic you've ever seen, and you need to watch it without knowing what's coming.
For the past few years, Topless Robot has run a column called Fan Fiction Friday (NSFW text, criticising the worst of the worst in fan-fiction (probably NSFW), crack-fiction, vile fan-fic and bad grammar in a style similar to MST3K. Several weeks ago Topless Robot founder Rob Bricken made the leap to Gawker Media's science-fiction-and-science website io9, and announced to the surprise of many that FFF would continue. Two weeks in (NSFW) io9 editor Annalee Newitz announced that FFF would be cancelled claiming "it's not going to work on io9". [more inside]
Ken Liu's "Paper Menagerie", the first work of fiction to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, is now available to read in full at io9.
Kind of, sort of, "holograms" have been popping up on election night and (previously) have resurrected famous musicians. The next step may be the pre-boarding kiosk. The only questions that really remains is how close are we to having a time-traveling, Victorian era Guy Pearce in our midst?
io9 asks the question: When and Why did Science Fiction drop the ubiquitous "Dinner in a pill" device?
The Victorian Hugos: "Over the next several months, in open imitation of Jo Walton's splendid "Revisiting the Hugos" series at Tor.com, I'll be reviewing science fiction and fantasy works from 1885 to 1930 and deciding which novels and short works would have received the Hugo had a Worldcon been held that year and which novels and short works should have received the Hugo–often not the same thing." 1885 1886 1887 1888
With everything rolling towards the abyss, our only hope for a bright future seems to be the Singularity, a technological transformation of what it means to be human. But in a talk for TEDx Brussels, science fiction and horror writer John Shirley argues that there are really two Singularities — and yes, everything will be terrible in the short term. So why is he optimistic about the future of the human race? Read on.
Why Gawker Nick Denton is a genius - he can smell the page views!. The redesign he's championed (previously) is a convoluted nightmare which breaks the web and left blog posts unindexed Google. Page views are in the toilet. He may loose that bet. It doesn't matter, Nick Denton is a genius. Look, pictures of a naked man!
An anonymous hacking outfit called "Gnosis" has infiltrated Gawker Media, hijacking the front page and leaking the company's internal chat logs, source code, and content databases along with the usernames, email addresses, and passwords of over 1.3 million users (including Gawker staff). The attack, which was motivated by what the group describes as the "outright arrogance" with which the company's bloggers taunted anonymous imageboard 4chan (semi-previously), affects every site in the Gawker network, including Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, Jezebel, Deadspin, Jalopnik, and io9. While most of the leaked passwords are encrypted, more than 200,000 of the simpler ones in the torrent file have been cracked, and the links between account names and email addresses are in plaintext for all to see. Since the integrity of Gawker's encryption methods remains in doubt, it is recommended that anyone who has ever registered an account on any Gawker property change their passwords immediately, especially if the same log-in information is used for other services.
"Sex and the City 2: a science fiction flick replete with fictional cartographies, temporal recursion, and a wanton, metro-biological god-being that exists both within and without of time and space. Oh, and magic shoes."
Five imaginary movies about your favorite childhood games. In reaction to Ridley Scott's Monopoly and Peter Berg's Battleship (each a real-life film in development), io9 posits about the as-yet-imaginary movies-to-come, once the "board game movie" craze takes off, of Darren Aronofsky's Pac-Man, J.J. Abrams' Candy Land, Werner Herzog's Tic-Tac-Toe, Paul Verhoeven's Snakes and Ladders, and Joss Whedon's POGs. [more inside]
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."
One Pill Makes You Autistic -- And One Pill Changes You Back. It might also lead to recreational autism, where people who want to take a break from having messy emotions about other people decide to unplug and enter a state where human relationships are no more important than inanimate objects. [more inside]
io9 is a sci-fi blog that went live yesterday, edited by Annalee Newitz and friends. Newitz is an AlterNet Columnist and a founder of Bad Subjects, which is a major achievement considering she used to be afraid of blogs!