Researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Microsoft Research, and Adobe Research have presented a technique for reconstructing an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. For example, the method can be used to extract intelligible speech from video of a bag of potato chips filmed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass. [more inside]
MIND MELD: Food in Science Fiction versus Fantasy
This week we asked about Food and Drink in SF. Food and Drink in science fiction sometimes seems limited to replicator requests for Earl Grey tea and Soylent green discs. Why doesn’t do as much food as Fantasy? Does Fantasy lend itself more to food than Science fiction? Why? This is what they had to say…[more inside]
Black Girls Hunger for Heroes, Too: A Black Feminist Conversation on Fantasy Fiction for Teens.
What happens when two great black women fiction writers get together to talk about race in young adult literature? That's exactly what happens in the conversation below, where Zetta Elliott, a black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children, and award-winning Haitian-American speculative fiction writer Ibi Aanu Zoboi decided to discuss current young adult sci-fi.
The U.S. Navy has just unveiled two rail-gun prototypes that it will be testing in 2016. [video] [more inside]
We have previously discussed "Starcrash" (trailer) here on the Blue, but we have only scratched the surface. After all, we're talking about nothing less than Roger Corman's answer to "Star Wars", and even that description does not do the film justice. [more inside]
In a suprise move, a "bombshell" even, Disney and Lucasfilms have announced that Rian Johnson will write and direct the next two films in the Star Wars franchise, Episodes VIII and IX, taking the reins from JJ Abrams after Episode VII. Copious previously. Johnson has previously directed Brick, Looper, and three episodes of Breaking Bad. Johnson responded thusly on Twitter.
Psycho-Pass is a fantastic anime written by Gen Urobuchi, the man who brought us 2011's brilliant Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Even if you are not an anime fan (I'm iffy on it myself), Psycho-Pass is worth checking out. Set in a "utopian" society where psychological profiles can be analyzed remotely, police carry guns that can only fire at would-be criminals, and aptitude tests determine how to provide "the greatest number of people with the greatest amount of happiness", Psycho-Pass asks intriguing, provocative questions about the relationships between humans and computers, criminals and society, and the responsibilities we owe society, versus the responsibilities said societies owe us in turn. There is also a good deal of people shooting each other, if you're into that sort of thing.
Psycho-Pass can be watched for free, either subbed or dubbed, at Hulu (as can Madoka if "lighthearted" "fantasy" is more your cup of tea).
Psycho-Pass can be watched for free, either subbed or dubbed, at Hulu (as can Madoka if "lighthearted" "fantasy" is more your cup of tea).
Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga discuss writing the Star Trek: The Next Generation series finale. [more inside]
Abandoned artificial satellites. Tanks jettisoned from shuttles. Refuse generated during space station construction. This junk, space debris, is traveling around the Earth at speeds approaching 8 km/s. This is a story of 2075, a time in which this space garbage has become a serious problem. This is Planetes, a near-future hard sci-fi story that focuses on a small group of debris collectors who are part of a larger company. Both the original manga and the anime adaptation set small personal stories and dramas in the realistic context of near-future space exploration, complete with radiation sickness, impacts of growing up on the moon, and of course, the dangers of space debris. The reality of the show is emphasized by a recent JAXA presentation was titled PLANETES could be a true story?: Instability of the current debris population in LEO, and the English DVDs include interviews with NASA staff who work on assessing orbital debris.
香港將於33年後毀滅 (Hong Kong will be destroyed after 33 years) is a near-future sci-fi short film about a fictional meteor that is headed for Hong Kong and expected to impact in 2047, but the public at large does nothing to address this impending doom. It might seem like an innocuous enough film, but China thought there was more to the story than that, and State Council Information Office requested that websites immediately remove video, text, etc. that advocates the short sci-fi film about Hong Kongers “saving themselves” titled Hong Kong Will Be Destroyed in 33 Years. The Diplomat has a bit more information about the film's not entirely coincidental use of the year 2047, the year in which China's Special Administrative Region (SAR) agreement with Hong Kong is set to expire, possibly bringing an end to one country, two systems.
Before Firefly, there was the television movie White Dwarf, a far-future pseudo-western scripted by Bruce "Wild Palms" Wagner. The story is essentially Kurosawa's Red Beard relocated to the tidally-locked planet of Rusta, a frontier world split between a Victorian dayside culture and a medieval nightside kingdom. Neal McDonough stars as an arrogant young Earth doctor dispatched to a Light Side clinic to complete an internship under the unorthodox Paul Winfield.
Andrew Liptak has been writing a bi-monthly column on the history of Speculative Fiction for Kirkus Review since May 2012, in which he covers authors, artists, themes and times in history. From T.H. White's 'Once and Future King', to Isaac Asimov and the Three Laws of Robotics, from Changing the (Sci-Fi Publishing) Playing Field: H.L. Gold & 'Galaxy Science Fiction' to The Elusive Margaret St. Clair, and even A Brief History of the Dystopian Novel, Liptak illuminates dusty shelves of speculative fiction. [more inside]
It remains one of the best science-fiction shows of the last 20 cycles: Farscape. It has been 15 years since the first episode aired. So why not enjoy the 15 best frelling moments from Farscape? Or the 10 must-watch Farscape episodes (or are they?). Or ponder what the cast members think since the show was cancelled? Because, with no space shows on TV anymore, the show with the muppets, shot in Australia, still matters. And Farscape isn't dead. Or is it?
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
2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi masterpiece – seems an appropriate place to start a blog about typography in sci-fi. Amongst other delights, it offers a zero-gravity toilet, emergency resuscitations, exploding bolts, and product placement aplenty. It’s also the Ur Example of Eurostile Bold Extended’s regular appearance in spacecraft user interfaces. [via]
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.
Sculptor Grant Louden took Colin Hay's beautiful illustration, which appeared on the cover of a reprint of James Blish's The Star Dwellers (or in the Terran Trade Authority's Spacewreck book) and recreated it in a detailed sculpture. He also posted making of shots during the process. He talks about his work here. Louden's work is fully licenced, unlike some previously discussed derivative works.
70s Sci-Fi Art A single-subject Tumblr that does what it says on the tin, a dozen times a day.
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]
Junk Head 1 - Start with the stop motion animation look of an old Tool video, add in a bit of that Jeunet/Caro style humanity and humor, weave in some Cronenberg-like WTF creatures, and wrap the whole thing in an interesting story, and you have yourself a very cool short from Yamiken Hori.
"In 'Somebody Will' I wanted to get across why I see sci-fi and fantasy fandom as a more positive, productive world than many of the hobbies and communities common in our culture. [...] The hardest part of the piece is singing it to the end without crying."[more inside]
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]
When I published my first novel 20 years later, I found myself faced with the same challenge: how do I talk about this book to people whose entire conception of science fiction and fantasy are built around Star Wars and The Hobbit? How do I convince folks that stories about the dissolution of a marriage in Montreal in 2155 are just as serious an endeavor as writing about the dissolution of a marriage in Montreal 1955?
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]
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.
"We can go to science fiction for its sense of wonder, its power to take us to far-off places and future times. We can go to political fiction to understand injustice in our own time, to see what should change. We may go to poetry — epic or lyric, old or new — for what cannot change, for a sense of human limits, as well as for the music in its words. And if we want all those things at once — a sense of escape, a sense of injustice, a sense of mortality and an ear for language — we can read the stories of James Tiptree, Jr.," the reclusive, award-winning author whose vague biography started out in the Congo, routed through a period as a painter, then service as a photo intelligence officer in WWII, and finally a researcher and teacher of "soft" sciences before getting to writing science fiction. There was another facet that was only guessed at by some, dismissed by others: the fact that "Uncle Tip," and his reclusive friend, the former school teacher Racoona Sheldon, were the same person. And they were Alice Bradley Sheldon. [more inside]
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]
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]
Wayside Creations' surprisingly high-budget, on location shot Fallout New Vegas fan-series returns with: Nuka Break Season 2! (Full episode playlist). Rejoin Twig the Vault-Dweller, Ben The Ghoul , Scarlet The Escaped Slave and the Mysterious Ranger as they deal with the explosive aftermath of Season 1. (Nuka Break Previously, Wayside Creations previously)
"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]
On Starship Troopers : "the most subversive major studio film in recent (or distant) memory" (AV Club link in Scott Tobias's The New Cult Canon, previously on mefi)
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.
Twitter: @HardSciFiMovies imagines the plots of SF/F movies moving more in line with reality.... [via mefi projects]
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]
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]
Samuel R. Delany's 1971 film The Orchid is on YouTube. According to K. Leslie Steiner (aka Samuel R. Delany), when it "Primiered [sic] at the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago that September (Delany himself was not present), it caused a riot. Outraged fans tried to shout the film off and even pulled down the screen." Sci-fi writer Scott Edelman explains why: "Imagine that you're 16 and collapsed in the film room of an early '70s Phil Seuling Comic-Con, dazed from a day storming the dealers room and attending panels. You're with your friends enjoying Star Trek bloopers and installments of old Captain Marvel serials and maybe even Bambi Meets Godzilla ... when all of a sudden you're staring up at Bernie Wrightson's junk!" And he explains how you can get a much better copy of the film, along with a doc about Delany.
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.
Noted science fiction author, editor, and SFWA Grand Master Frederik Pohl has died. His granddaughter announced the news via her twitter account. Pohl was born in 1919 (the same year stainless steel was patented and a year before the first commercially licensed radio station in the US) and after nearly a century of imagining the near and far future, and sharing that with the world, he was still updating his blog [previously] on a regular basis until his death.
The Problems of the 1st and 3rd Worlds have been well covered. And in 2011 we found out about 5th World Problems and 6th World Problems. But there are new worlds and new problems (and new ways to express them). Let's explore some shall we? [more inside]
Why has there been only one non-white Worldcon chair? Because science fiction fandom is not welcoming to non-white people, because con-running has not done enough to address its own lack of diversity, because people would rather believe that fandom is inclusive than force it to become inclusive.Jonathan McCalmont writes on institutional racism in the science fiction fandom.