The long-term optimism comes from the the fact that no matter how bad things seem and how idiotically and cruelly we behave. . . well, we've got this far, despite it all, and there are more people on the planet than ever before, and more people living good, productive, relatively happy lives than ever before, and—providing we aren't terminally stupid, or unlucky enough to get clobbered by something we have no control over, like a big meteorite or a gamma ray buster or whatever—we'll solve a lot of problems just by sticking around and doing what we do; developing, progressing, improving, adapting. And possibly by inventing AIs that are smarter and more decent than we are, which will help us get some sort of perspective on ourselves, at the very least. We might just stumble our way blindly, unthinkingly into utopia, in other words, muddling through despite ourselves.In 2010 Jude Roberts interviewed Iain M. Banks for her PhD. Banks discusses his utopia, The Culture, which he created in a series of science fiction novels.
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.
"We fall into genre wars, of literature versus science fiction, and I don't think it's a real war." - Lauren Beukes
The Guardian interviewed four science fiction authors on the theme of the current state of SF. These authors are, in order, Lauren Beukes, Michael Moorcock, Alistair Reynolds and Jeff Noon, the latter two being interviewed together. Opinion ranges from bullish to crotchety, with plenty of shades and nuances.
Selene is a hip hop EP inspired by Duncan Jones' fine science fiction film Moon. The beats, which heavily sample Clint Mansell's score for the movie, were created by Max Tannone, best known for mashup album Jaydiohead, Doublecheck Your Head and Mos Dub/Dub Kweli. The MC is Brooklyn rapper Richard Rich.
Back to the Hugos is a series by Sam Jordison of the Guardian Books blog where he reads and reviews old Hugo Award winners. He was once skeptical of the literary quality of science fiction but then started to examine the validity of the critical orthodoxy and is now a firm convert, as this review of The Man in the High Casle demonstrates, and now even goes to science fiction events. Among the other books he's covered so far are A Case of Conscience by James Blish, Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner and the latest review is of The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin. It's not all sunshine and roses though, The Big Time and The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber don't appeal to him and the dreadfulness of They'd Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley makes Jordison doubt the value of democracy, at least when it comes to selecting litearary award winners.
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]
Clarkesworld Magazine has been serving up new science fiction and fantasy short fiction monthly free of charge since October of 2006. The current issue has a story by Robert Reed. Among the authors who have been published in Clarkesworld Magazine are Mike Resnick, Elizabeth Bear, Jeff VanderMeer and Sarah Monette. Clarkesworld has a podcast of readings of selected stories from the magazine. The magazine also publishes non-fiction, separated into two categories, commentary and interviews. Among those interviewed are Gene Wolfe, Kage Baker and Steven Erikson. There is also a covers gallery and a discussion forum.
Free Speculative Fiction Online is a database of free science fiction and fantasy stories online by published authors (no fan-fiction or stories by unpublished writers). Among the authors that FSFO links to are Paul Di Filippo (14 stories), James Tiptree, Jr. (4 stories), Connie Willis (3 stories), Eleanor Arnason (3 stories), Bruce Sterling (5 stories), Robert Heinlein (7 stories), Ursula K. LeGuin (3 stories), Jonathan Lethem (5 stories), Michael Moorcock (6 stories), Chine Miéville (2 stories), Samuel R. Delany (3 stories), Robert Sheckley (8 stories), MeFite Charles Stross (33 stories) and hundreds of other authors. If you don't know where to start, there's a list of recommended stories.