"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is without a doubt the most boring, soulless, stacked revolution I’ve ever read. The people of the Moon – that is, actually THREE people on the moon (the Prof, Wyoh, and a reluctant Mannie) – decide one day to revolt when supercomputer Mike informs them that cannibalism will ensue in nine years should things progress down the same path. This is especially troubling in the context of modern reading, considering the many revolutions around the world that have and continue to happen today – these are powerful movements with drastic, often violent but always life-changing consequences. In contrast, Heinlein’s contained, sanitized revolution – planned and powered by the smartest AI computer everrrrr! – is so theoretical, so calculated, so utterly artificial that it loses any meaning. Is revolution the simplistic, quick, predictable thing that Heinlein creates in this frankly soulless book?" -- To prove their real fan status, Ana Grilo and Thea James (aka the Booksmugglers) review arguably Heinlein's greatest novel and find it wanting. [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]
"Heaven Is a Place on Planet X" by Desirina Boskovich. "Break! Break! Break!" by Charlie Jane Anders. "System Reset" by Tobias Buckell. These three short stories are from The End is Nigh anthology, the first volume of The Apocalypse Triptych, three anthologies of stories about life just before, during, and after the apocalypse. "Post-apocalyptic fiction is about worlds that have already burned. Apocalyptic fiction is about worlds that are burning. The End is Nigh is about the match." [more inside]
Are you a fan of inventive, black-humored sci-fi/fantasy animation? Desperate to fill the Futurama-shaped hole in your heart? Look no further than Rick and Morty, the superb new Adult Swim series from animator Justin "Lemongrab" Roiland and Community darling Dan Harmon. Inspired by a (terrible and very NSFW) Back To The Future knock-off, the show pairs a naïve young teen (Morty) with his cynical, alcoholic, mad scientist grandfather (Rick), each episode exploring a trope -- dreams, aliens, innerspace, parallel universes, virtual reality -- and turning it inside-out with intricate plotting, eye-catching art, and dark, whipsmart humor (with plenty of improvisation along the way). A ratings hit already secured for a second season, the show returns from an Olympics-induced hiatus tomorrow -- in the meantime, why not sample the six episodes aired so far: Pilot - Lawnmower Dog - Anatomy Park - M. Night Shaym-Aliens! - Meeseeks and Destroy - Rick Potion #9. Want more? Promo/highlight reel - AV Club reviews - TVTropes - Reddit - Rick & Morty ComicCon panel - Storyboard Test - Soundtrack samples - Play the "Rushed Licensed Adventure" point-and-click game
Legendary science fiction editor Gardner Dozois once said that the job of a science fiction writer was to notice the car and the movie theater and anticipate the drive-in – and then go on to predict the sexual revolution. I love that quote, because it highlights the key role of SF in examining the social consequences of technology – and because it shows how limited our social imaginations are. Today, we might ask the SF writer to also predict how convincing the nation’s teenagers to carry a piece of government-issued photo ID (a driver’s license) as a precondition for participating in the sexual revolution set the stage for the database nation, the idea that people are the sort of thing that you count and account for, with the kind of precision that the NSA is now understood to bring to the problem.
How well do you know (American) sexual harassment law as it relates to conferences? Attorney and Popehat blogger Ken White has created a short quiz to find out. [more inside]
Just Ella. A short film from Jim Munroe, the creator of Ghosts With Shit Jobs, for the Lo-fi Sci-fi 48 Hour Film Challenge. "Just Ella posits a future overrun by gibbering monstrosities. Ella takes refuge in a 'the Ossington Safehouse, a collectively-run space dedicated to human sovereignty.' But despite doing the assigned tasks on the chore list, the Safehouse isn’t safe — the terrors outside are nothing compared to those within." [Via]
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (not to be confused with the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel) has been running since 1974 and featured some amazing writers over the years. Want to sample some of it? You're in luck, as a massive anthology featuring 111 Campbell winners and nominees is now available for free, drm free download. It's a limited time offer only, so act now while supplies last.
An Alderson Disk is a science fiction megastructure imagined first by scientist Dan Alderson. It's a solid disk that is thousands of kilometers thick, with a circumference equal to the orbit of Mars or Jupiter. The habitable zone would be on both sides of the disk and would be millions of times the surface area of the Earth. Not much theoretical work has been done on its feasibility, but some have tried. Missile Gap, by MeFi's own Charles Stross, which won the Locus readers' award for best novella of 2006, features a 1960s Earth transposed to an Alderson disk and is available for free on the publisher's website.
Want to introduce your genre shunning friends or family to the wonders of science fiction? A baker's dozen of sf writers and editors, including a certain John Scalzi of this parish, have listed their favourite books to entice new readers to science fiction with.
The 100 Greatest Painters in Western History (according to the editors of This Recording). [more inside]
Then Ellison himself left some notes. They were bombastic, and far more articulate than the comments from the fans. One read, in part, “Goodbye Bradbury. Goodbye Lieber. Goodbye Aeschylus. Goodbye Pliny the Elder…” and continued at length. By the time he got describing me as a “manque, a poetaster, a no-price for whom the internet is a last chance slave market where, for free, he can bleat to his shrunken little heart's delight” my wife Olivia, who had been reading along over my shoulder, said to me, “Wow, I see what you mean. He really is a great writer! No wonder you like him so much.” -- Nick Mamatas on the importance of Harlan Ellison and why he still likes him. [more inside]
Jorge Luis Borges called the stories of Craig Strete “shattered chains of brilliance.” Salvador Dali said, “like a new dream, his writings seizes the mind.” First published in1974 and then again in 1977, [The Bleeding Man] has its foreward written by none other than the great Virginia Hamilton who dubs him “the first American Indian to become a successful Science Fiction writer” and says that “the writing is smooth and unassuming, and yet the fabric of it is always richly textured.” The Bleeding Man and many other out-of-print titles by Strete are available in eBook format[s (PDF, PRC, ePUB)] for free. [more inside]
The sale of Glenn Brown's "Ornamental Despair (Painting For Ian Curtis) Copied from the Stars Like Dust, 1986 by Chris Foss" (1994) for roughly $5.7 million has again raised questions over whether copying something but larger and slapping your name on it constitutes art and how it can sell for so much. Here's why it does. Just don't talk about Shia LaBeouf.
Superego (previously) and The Thrilling Adventure Hour present A War of Two Worlds, a multi-part, crossover, podcast event spectacular. Written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker and improvised by Superego, The WorkJuicePlayers, and special guests. Written and improvised? Yes! [NSFW] [more inside]
During the 1950's, Wernher von Braun served as technical adviser for three space-related television films produced by Disney: Man in Space, Man and the Moon and Mars and Beyond. [more inside]
Collision Detection. "They sit cross-legged, facing each other, six thousand miles apart. Then he strokes her cheek." [Via]
Renegade Studios, the team behind the 2008 fan film "Star Trek: Of Gods and Men", has released a teaser trailer for their next web series project: Star Trek: Renegades. [more inside]
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Art of Fiction Interview at The Paris Review: "It’s like working in any form—in poetry, for example. When you work in form, be it a sonnet or villanelle or whatever, the form is there and you have to fill it. And you have to find how to make that form say what you want to say. But what you find, always—I think any poet who’s worked in form will agree with me—is that the form leads you to what you want to say. It is wonderful and mysterious."
On September 13, 1999, nuclear waste from Earth stored on the far side of the Moon exploded in a catastrophic accident. The explosion knocked the Moon out of orbit and sent it, and the 311 inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, hurtling uncontrollably into space. Their subsequent trials and adventures were chronicled... in Space: 1999. [more inside]
Colin Wilson has passed away at the age of 82. He rose to fame in the 50s with The Outsider, which made him a figure amongst Britain's Beat movement and Angry Young Men. His writing has spanned the fiction and non-fiction, with an interest in the paranormal and the occult, his thoughts on which he blended with HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos to produce The Mind Parasites. A TV series based on his The Space Vampires, also the basis for the movie Lifeforce (previously), is currently planned. Wikipedia page, 2004 Guardian interview, Times Obituary (subs only).
"The long night has come. The Systems Commonwealth, the greatest civilization in history, has fallen. Now, one ship, one crew have vowed to drive back the night and rekindle the light of civilization. On the starship Andromeda hope lives again" [more inside]
"He logged onto the central network using his personal computer, and waited while the system verified his identity. With a few keystrokes he entered an electronic ticketing system, and entered the codes for his point of departure and his destination. In moments the computer displayed a list of possible flights, and he picked the earliest one. Dollars were automatically deducted from his personal account to pay for the transaction." -- If all stories were written like science fiction stories, by Mark Rosenfelder.
Aningaaq is a short companion piece to Gravity, written and directed by Gravity co-writer Jonas Cuaron.
Travel posters for imaginary destinations, from Ryhope Wood to the Dream Archipelo, with side jaunts to e.g. the end of the earth and the wreckage of the Nomad.
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.