Speculating Futures looks at past speculative narratives, like those of Ursula K. Le Guin, and past attempts at creating technological utopia, like Chile's Cybersyn. [more inside]
The 2016 Hugo Award finalists have been announced. As is probably to be expected given the problems of the last two years slates have yet again had an outsized influence on the nominations. Though various fixes have been proposed the future of the award may be in doubt.
Science Fiction grandmaster Samuel R. Delaney interviewed by SF Signal, with a very long answer in part 2, and by The New Yorker where he talks about race, recent Hugo controversies being nothing new, and the past and future of science fiction.
Gaming made me - RPS writer Patricia Hernandez on how Fallout 2 shaped her world view, her politics and her sexuality.
COLBERT: I suppose fear is like a drug. A little bit isn’t that bad, but you can get addicted to the consumption and distribution of it. What’s evil is the purposeful distribution of fear. As Paul said when he was faced with the gom jabbar, “Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.”A thoughtful interview with Stephen Colbert in Playboy (NSFW ads)(Non-Playboy copy.)
PLAYBOY: Did you just make a Dune reference?
COLBERT: I did! [laughs] If you’re injecting fear into other people, then you’re trying to kill their minds. You’re trying to get them to stop thinking.
Is Newt Gingrich’s plan for a moon mine science fiction? The technology may be in place, but is there any reason to go?
Now the future is a kind of attenuating peninsula; as we move out on it, one side drops off to catastrophe; the other side, nowhere near as steep, moves down into various kinds of utopian futures. In other words, we have come to a moment of utopia or catastrophe; there is no middle ground, mediocrity will no longer succeed. So utopia is no longer a nice idea, but a survival necessity. "Remarks on Utopia in the Age of Climate Change," from Kim Stanley Robinson. Previously.
In this time of corrupt politics, police brutality, media dereliction, and increasingly vicious culture wars, there's perhaps no graphic novel more relevant today than the brilliant and blackly funny Transmetropolitan. Created by Warren Ellis back in 1997 and inspired by prescient sci fi novel Bug Jack Barron, the series covers the work of gonzo journalist, vulgar misanthrope, and all-around magnificent bastard Spider Jerusalem in a sprawling futuristic vision of New York so chaotically advanced that humans splice genes with alien refugees, matter decompilers are as common as microwaves, and a new religion is invented every hour. As a callous Nixonian thug nicknamed The Beast prepares for his re-election to the presidency, a primary battle heats up between a virulent racist and a charismatic senator whose rictus grin masks some disturbing realities. When Jerusalem delves into the machinations of the race, he breaks into a web of conspiracies that threaten the future of the country -- a problem only he, his "filthy assistants," and the power of intrepid journalism can defeat. More: Read the first issue (or three) - browse images from the new artbook - Tor's read-along blog (another) - Jerusalem's touching report on cryogenic "Revivals" - dozens of original sketches and sample pages - timeline - quotes
NationStates is a free political simulation game founded by author Max Barry back in 2002 (previously). Loosely based on his dystopian corporate thriller Jennifer Government, the game starts by asking players to provide some national trappings and answer a few civics questions, then generates a virtual country with a matching political outlook. Periodic policy decisions like mining rights and compulsory voting allow players to further modify their country along axes of social, political, and economic freedom, arriving at one of twenty-seven colorful government types like Tyranny By Majority or Scandinavian Liberal Paradise. There's also a healthy roleplaying community -- players can discuss current events in the General forum, practice wargaming in International Incidents, form cooperative Regions to debate internal affairs (many of which form their own communities), and elect Delegates to send to the World Assembly (so renamed after an amusing cease-and-desist from the real-world U.N.). Their collective history is thoroughly recorded in the 35,000-article NSWiki, which provides a detailed legislative record, gameplay guide, and profiles on many of the 90,000 active nations, 8,000 player regions, and countless characters that currently make up the game world.
The Exterminator’s Want-Ad, a short story by Bruce Sterling, is a twisted first-person missive by a former K-Street lobbyist making his way in a post-collapse socialist regime of sharing. It's part of the Shareable Futures series of short stories and speculative essays at Shareable.net. [Via]
Anarchism and Science Fiction: A Reading List
"My exact words were: I’d like to overthrow the government. I was a young firebrand and I wanted to answer honestly. I was very angry about the social injustice in Britain under Thatcher and I’m delighted that came into the show." - former Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel on the shows 80s political stance. Terrance Dicks and Andrew Cartmel on Newsnight. Meanwhile former Doctor David Tennant gives his veiws on the Master-like characteristics of Tory leader David Cameron.
Fantasy Meets Reality. The very best works of science fiction illuminate controversial current events and the intricacies of human nature. So, it's no surprise that the United Nations Public Information Department and the Sci Fi (SyFy?) Channel co-hosted a panel yesterday evening on "humanitarian concerns" at the UN, with the creators and actors of Battlestar Galactica -- a show which regularly explores those themes. A 2-hour video webcast is archived here. (RealPlayer video). Entertainment Weekly has an additional write-up. [more inside]
Orson Scott Card on gay marriage, which he says "marks the end of democracy in America". Not everyone is too happy about that.
Science fiction writers on Arnold Schwarzenegger's election as California gov. (more inside)