You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
"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.
Margaret Atwood defines science fiction "Is [the term science fiction] a corral with real fences that separate what is clearly 'science ﬁction' from what is not, or is it merely a shelving aid, there to help workers in bookstores place the book in a semi-accurate or at least lucrative way? If you put skin-tight black or silver clothing on a book cover along with some jetlike ﬂames and/or colourful planets, does that make the work 'science ﬁction'? What about dragons and manticores, or backgrounds that contain volcanoes or atomic clouds, or plants with tentacles, or landscapes reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch? Does there have to be any actual science in such a book, or is the skin-tight clothing enough? These seemed to me to be open questions."
"The successful genres of a particular period are reflections of the needs and thoughts and social struggles of that time." Daniel Abraham offers some thoughts on the nature of literary genre, including urban fantasy, complete with specific predictions for the future of science fiction.
Are you an aspiring writer of genre fiction? Would you like to workshop your stuff before submitting it to magazines and publishers, but you don't happen to have a group of local friends that you can workshop with? Critters.org is an online, highly automated fiction workshop. You submit your manuscript, it waits in a queue until its time comes up, and then it gets sent out to all the active subscribers, some of whom will hopefully send you some helpful feedback! Make sure to critique at least one story every week, though, or you lose your privileges to post your own stories to the queue. [more inside]
John Anealio records songs inspired by science fiction and fantasy. Sing along about Cylons, Summer Glau (Firefly/Serenity), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and about how "George R.R. Martin is not your bitch" (previously).
New Scientist kicks off it's science fiction special by asking "Is science fiction dying?", with answers by Margaret Atwood, William Gibson and Ursula K Le Guin amongst others. Meanwhile on the Nebula Awards site Geoff Ryman talks about Mundane SF, and how it was a reaction to a phenomenon he noticed in new SF coming through the Clarion workshop: A lot of it doesn't have much science fiction in it.
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)
Samuel R. Delany has become known for his Silent Interviews, where he responds to questions in writing. But many other interviews are available online: The Onion AV Club; Nerve; Science Fiction Studies; SF Site; K. Leslie Steiner [Delany's pseudonym]; Science Fiction Weekly. Some are not-so-silent: Blackbird; Smithsonian. He also writes fiction. [More Inside]