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 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.
's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew
, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism
), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section
, tomorrow will see the release of
Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website]
, the long-delayed
"sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Aug 25, 2014 -
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]
posted by Lexica
on Aug 1, 2014 -
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
. 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
posted by Kattullus
on Feb 1, 2014 -
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]
posted by gucci mane
on Oct 8, 2013 -
In the pre-podcast days of 1999, the then Sci-Fi Channel website worked with the Seeing Ear Theater and Bablyon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski to produce a series of Twilight Zone-inspired radio stories called "City Of Dreams" along with a cast that included Steve Buscemi, Tim Curry, Kevin Conway, and John Turturro. 13 episodes were planned, but only 8 got produced, and with the decline of Real Player and the Seeing Ear Theater, the episodes were thought to be lost to the mists of internet history.
Until someone uploaded all of them to Youtube.
(each episode about 30 min, link goes to the first video for the episode)
The Damned Are Playing At Godzilla's Tonight!
. Rolling Thunder
.The Friends Of Jackie Clay
. The Tolling Of The Hour
. Night Calls
. Samuel Becket, Your Ride Is Here
. The Alpha And Omega Of David Wells
. MSCD 00121J [more inside]
posted by The Whelk
on Aug 1, 2013 -
"I started the World SF Blog in February of 2009
– a century in Internet time! – partly as an excuse to promote my then-forthcoming anthology of international speculative fiction, The Apex Book of World SF – but mostly out of what can only be described as an ideological drive, a desire to highlight and promote voices seldom heard in genre fiction... The change I have seen in the four years of the blog is heartening. In a way, I have decided to stop now because the blog has fulfilled everything I ever wanted it to, and so much more." - Lavie Tidhar. The World SF Blog leaves behind 61 short stories and a serialized novella
by authors from 33 countries, plus exclusive interviews
, articles, guest posts and round tables
(on WP.com where it's likely to stay up for a while)
posted by oneswellfoop
on Jun 19, 2013 -
The Forces Of The Next 30 Years - SF author and Mefi's Own
Charles Stross talks to students at Olin College about sci-fi, fiction, speculation, the limits of computation, thermodynamics, Moore's Law, the history of travel, employment, automation, free trade, demographics, the developing world, privacy, and climate change in trying to answer the question What Does The World Of 2043 Look Like?
posted by The Whelk
on Mar 27, 2013 -
Friendship is Optimal
is not a "My Little Pony" fanfic, but a SF story that starts with a procedurally-generated MLP MMO, and crescendos to what could very well be the Best Possible Outcome if self-optimizing algorithms are given /almost/ the right goals.
Some readers are horrified by the implications; some want to move into "Equestria Online" anyway. Whichever camp you fall in, you'll never forget the phrase "satisfy human values through friendship and ponies".
posted by DataPacRat
on Nov 28, 2012 -
Ken Liu's "Paper Menagerie", the first work of fiction to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, is now available to read
in full at io9.
posted by Errant
on Nov 9, 2012 -
She sat zazen, concentrating on not concentrating, until it was time to prepare for the appointment. Sitting seemed to produce the usual serenity, put everything in perspective. Her hand did not tremble as she applied her make-up; tranquil features looked back at her from the mirror. She was mildly surprised, in fact, at just how calm she was, until she got out of the hotel elevator at the garage level and the mugger made his play. She killed him instead of disabling him. Which was obviously not a measured, balanced action--the official fuss and paperwork could make her late. Annoyed at herself, she stuffed the corpse under a shiny new Westinghouse roadable whose owner she knew to be in Luna, and continued on to her own car. This would have to be squared later, and it would cost. No help for it--she fought to regain at least the semblance of tranquillity as her car emerged from the garage and turned north. Nothing must interfere with this meeting, or with her role in it. "Melancholy Elephants,"
an enthralling, Hugo Award-winning short story by Spider Robinson about a disciplined operative, a powerful senator, and a crucial mission to preserve humanity's most precious resource. (some spoilers inside) [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Oct 27, 2012 -
Television Without Pity
re-capper Jacob Clifton
has written a short steampunk story for Tor.com. “There’s a level on which the story is an indictment of using steampunk as a fashion or trend. It came about because I wanted to see what would happen if you substituted Jane Austen for Jules Verne in the steampunk equation...” The Commonplace Book
posted by The Whelk
on Oct 2, 2012 -
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
posted by 256
on Jul 19, 2012 -
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these.
The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth
-- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect,"
a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger
. More: Table of Contents
- Publishing history
- Technical discussion
- Buy a paperback copy
- Podcast interview
- Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace"
- possible sequel discussion
posted by Rhaomi
on Dec 27, 2011 -
To paraphrase a character in the film, The Black Hole walks "a tightrope;" if not between "genius" and "insanity," then certainly between "genius" and "banality". If you're looking at this movie as a Manichean exercise between darkness and light, then you can -- for at least a few hours -- entertain the "genius" part of that equation.
posted by Trurl
on Sep 25, 2011 -
Ever wonder how many variants of jumpsuits there can be? Do mock turtlenecks belong in space? Why is brown the color of respecting alien cultures? Fashion It So
takes on the couture of the 24th century one Next Generation episode at a time.
posted by The Whelk
on Jul 3, 2011 -
Starship Schematics Database
: dedicated to the sole purpose of archiving every single starship design ever conceived in the Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, and Space Battleship Yamato (A.K.A. Star Blazers in the USA) Universes, both official and unofficial, interesting and mediocre.
posted by Joe Beese
on Feb 12, 2011 -