The specialists began to use terms such as "quality of life" to describe all the things she was likely to be without. My husband, Michael, realized it was going to be nearly impossible to pry me away from her bedside. He asked what he could bring me from home: a change of clothes, sweater, food, or something to read? I asked him to bring me anything by Anne McCaffrey."Changes Without Notice" is one reader's personal essay about discovering a book at just the right moment. An afterword in Dragonwriter says a little more about how things turned out. [Via and previously.]
A collection of philosophical science/speculative fiction reading lists, (with decent amount of short fiction and some media thrown in) with short "why you should read this " blurbs. The suggestions are made by professional philosophers and philosophy-trained SF writers, and curated by Eric Schwitzgebel, Professor of Philosophy at UC Riverside. Part 2, Part 3 With more suggestions promised to come. (Previously, a course on Science Fiction and Political Science , previouslier - curated lists of anarchist and socialist science fiction
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
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]
Guardian Book Club: Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks, Week one: John Mullan discusses the twist [more inside]
How can one describe it? For fuck’s sake, it is a quest saga and it has a talking horse. There are puns on the word ‘neigh’. Christopher Priest on the 2012 Clarke Award shortlist, the self-described "most prestigious award for science fiction in Britain".
Out Of This World: Science Fiction But Not As You Know It is an exhibition at the British Library exploring the origins of Science Fiction, running until September. China Mieville takes a look at the exhibition for the BBC. (Out Of This World postcards - images from the exhibition) [more inside]
Inspired by the cage matches between popular characters over at Suvudu, Random House's SF/fantasy blog, Heather Zundel and friends have started a YA Fantasy version. At least 3 of the characters' authors are involved in the fight write-ups, although one author reacted differently. All I know is that I have a lot of books to check out.
War of the words - Science fiction was once driven by a faith in human ability to change the world. These days, the genre seeks to expose the illusions of everyday life. cf. near-future science fiction [1,2] & radical presentism  (via mr)
The Art of Penguin Science Fiction is a historical guide to the design of book jackets in the Penguin SF line by James Pardey. But before reading the essay I recommend looking at some of the wonderful cover designs, for example We, Deathworld, Rork!, The Drowned World, Star Maker, The Evolution Man, Fifth Planet and Alternating Currents. They certainly don't make SF book jackets like they used to. All hundred plus covers can also be browsed alphabetically by author. [via The Guardian Books Blog]
Like others before him Benjamin Rosenbaum is making his debut short story collection, The Ant King And Other Stories, available from his publishers, Small Beer, as a free download. More than this though, he is holding a competition to find the best derivative work inspired by it. These include "translations, plays, movies, radio plays, audiobooks, flashmob happenings, horticultural installations, visual artworks, slash fanfic epics, robot operas, sequels, webcomics, ASCII art, text adventure games, roleplaying campaigns, knitting projects, handmade shoes, or anything else you feel like." [more inside]
Nova Swing by M John Harrison has won the 2007 Arthur C Clarke Award. Named after the famous author and announced on the opening night of the Sci Fi London film festival the award is one of the most prestigious in science fiction. Everything you could possibly wish to know about this year's shortlist.
2 years ago I FPP'd FlavorPill, a company that sends out permission-based emails for books (Boldtype), music (Earplug), and fashion (the JC Report). They've since added ArtKrush (it's art, stupid! - nsfw) and Activate (world events) to their aresenal. In addition to the topic-specific mailing lists, they offer city-specific lists for London, New York, SF, LA, and Chicago. Sample issues are archived on the site.
The first Transhuman Conference On the Law of Transhuman Persons: Whether or not you believe humans are set to evolve into gods, or AI is destined to achieve self-awareness the idea of the Transhuman is a thought provoking concept. Philosophers have debated the nature of the self, of the human for millennia. Is it time to start drafting new laws to govern all possible sentient beings on this planet? or is it all just a science of fiction? a comfortable humanist illusion?
There is nothing wrong in this whole wide world. Artist Chris Cobb convinced Adobe Bookshop in San Francisco to allow him to reclassify 20,000 books based solely on their color. The result is like something out of a dream. Here are some pictures, and here's an interview with him.
Looking for that rare science fiction first edition? The Barry R. Levin Science Fiction & Fantasy Literature store just might have the volume you seek.
Jeff VanderMeer is not only a great author of weird sf, and a creator of the mysterious city of Ambergris, but has an alternative official site where he makes merciless fun of himself and the whole idea of author web pages. The site includes bad poetry, a secret subsite of the "webdesigner" Garry and a strange alien baby project, just for starters.....