Yes, yes—We live in the Gibsonian tomorrow, the grim meathook future, the ever-weirder cyberpunk dystopia. But it won't be that way forever. Well, it might get weirder. But good-weird. To that end, the latest anthology from The Sockdolager, You Gotta Wear Shades, contains an astonishing seven tales of brighter futures. Because we happen to think things are in fact gonna get better.[more inside]
Tor.com presents "As Good As New" a short story by Charlie Jane Anders about a girl, the apocalypse, and making sure those three wishes count.
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.]
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.
I try to do two things with my style. The first is to pay attention to how the words sound together ... The other thing is to juxtapose odd images.Sometimes ornate, sometimes economical, and always striking, Yoon Ha Lee's short fiction combines motifs from fantasy and science fiction with remarkable fruitfulness: "There are soldiers and scientists, space travel and dragons, leather-bound books, locked doors, and genocidal rampages. Each tale strains at the edges of possibility. No two of Lee's stories are alike, except for a similar pulse powering each word, each juxtaposition, each startling turn of events." Much of Lee's output is available online, including dozens of flash fiction fairy tales and two works of interactive fiction. [more inside]
It began with a letter to a friend with a request: would he be willing to place a note in his fanzine, Khatru, letting people know that the reason he had been out of touch was that his mother had passed away in Chicago. The request came in 1976 from James Tiptree Jr., one of the recent stars writing short fiction. He was elusive; nobody had met or spoken with him in the years that he'd been writing, and there was much speculation about his real identity. The request was the first step toward unveiling who exactly Tiptree was: a 61-year-old woman named Alice Sheldon.
io9 has come up with a surprisingly good list of 100 science-fiction-themed songs. The comments are actually pretty great, with a lot more songs. There's rap, heavy metal, folk, polka, you name it. Still missing: more coverage of songs in languages other than English. [more inside]
Sifting through decades of publications, oral history and archival records, Michael Kmet sets the record straight on numerous aspects Star Trek: TOS production history lore. Was "Spock's Brain" originally conceived as a comedy episode? Did Roddenberry write the lyrics to the theme song as a cash grab? Which of the Mercury Seven did Roddenberry try to get as guest stars? [more inside]
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
Kichwateli (Kenya, 2011; 07:46), The Day They Came (Nigeria, 2013; 03:59), The Tale of How (South Africa, 2006; 04:28; previously), Alive in Joburg (South Africa, 2006; 06:22; previously), Umkhungo (South Africa, 2010; 30:34; trailer alt. link), Evolve (Egypt, 2014; 24:17), Mwansa the Great (Zambia, 2011; 23:11; two trailers as alt. links), and Pumzi (Kenya, 2009; 21:51): eight short works of SF/fantasy via The Skiffy and Fanty Show.
Monster Legacy, a blog "trying to delve into the secrets of the making of Movie Monsters," presents Subterranean Terror, an in depth look at the creature effects of the greatest Precambrian sandworm horror-comedy franchise of all time. [more inside]
S.F. inventor hopes to dress for success with 1-piece suit
Local developer Jesse Herzog has solved a problem most of us didn’t know we had. It’s kind of a trend with him. Simply put, Herzog has created an alternative to the tired old hoodie-and-jeans look that permeates the lofts and startups of San Francisco techie culture. It is — wait for it — the "suitsy." The suitsy is a pair of dress pants, a nice white shirt and jacket ... all sewn together. You step into it like a pair of mechanic’s coveralls, zip up the hidden zipper, and voila — you’re dressed for success.
You know how people say it’s a fine line between genius and crazy?
Kubrick wanted to film it, but couldn't get the option - so chose second-best for 2001. It is an epic novel of hope and wonder that ends with the destruction of humanity and the Earth. It could only have been written by a Brit living in the heady mix of progress and failing Empire that suffused the post-war UK. It has cardboard characters and meandering intermissions, mysticism and hard SF: in short, it's one of the best things Arthur Clarke ever wrote and a true classic of the genre. Now, sixty years after it first appeared, Childhood's End is finally set for our screens. [more inside]
How do you say controversial in your Terran language? The top 40 space movies, as decreed by the Telegraph. (Deslided)
Patrick McLaw, under the pen name "Dr. K. S. Voltaer', wrote a novel about a school shooting in the year 2902. However, Mr. McLaw is a 23-year-old middle-school teacher in Cambridge, Maryland. Because of the content of his sf novels, he has just been placed on administrative leave, according to Dorchester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henry Wagner as quoted in Raw Story. Mr. McLaw was taken for an 'emergency' medical exam, and the police were unwilling to disclose his location to local TV news. They would say he is not on the Delmarva peninsula. An article in Reason is characterizing the exam as a "mandatory psych eval". According to Reason, Mr. McLaw has yet to be charged with any crime. He teaches eighth-grade language arts.
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
Jeff VanderMeer reflects on connections between personal experience and written SF/fantasy, including those in his own work as well as that of Angela Carter, Lev Grossman, Ann Leckie, Lauren Beukes, and Nnedi Okorafor. [more inside]
On the Scientific-Marvelous Novel and Its Influence on the Understanding of Progress, written by Maurice Renard in 1909. Via.
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]
There are approximately 530 single resident (or room) occupancy (SRO) hotels in San Francisco. San Francisco has hundreds of SRO hotels that are home to more than 30,000 tenants or approximately 5% of the city, the majority of whom live in low-income neighborhoods such as the Tenderloin and Chinatown. As San Francisco’s cost of living continues to leap upwards and SROs get demolished or converted to condos, many housing activists worry about what will become of the vulnerable SRO population. Life has always been precarious for these residents and far from idyllic in even the best-managed buildings. Here are the stories of six people trying to survive in a city that’s increasingly out of reach. [more inside]
SF Signal today finished a top 50 countdown of short SF/fantasy podcast fiction: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1. The Parsec Awards for SF podcasts honor many other stories annually, as well as related non-fiction, comedy, and music: 2014 nominees; 2013; 2012; 2011; 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; and 2006. And since 2012, the Hugo Award nominees for Best Fancast have been two-time winner SF Squeecast!, plus The Coode Street Podcast, Galactic Suburbia, SF Signal, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, StarShipSofa, Tea and Jeopardy, Verity!, and The Writer and The Critic with the popular Writing Excuses podcast often appearing in another category. [more inside]
The Pulp Magazines Project is an open-access digital archive of all-fiction pulp magazines from 1896-1946, such as The Argosy, Amazing Stories, and Weird Tales. In addition to the archive, it features a cover gallery, a collection of articles and contextual material (including "So What is Pulp?", publisher index card files, and an office dummy), and links to dozens of related or similar resources such as the Speculative Fiction Collection at Virginia Tech, the Anarchist Periodicals archive at Pitzer College, and the Digital Dada Library.
Phenderson Djèlí Clark details H. P. Lovecraft's racism (earlier version with links to recommended reading/listening). Daniel José Older situates HPL's racism within a more general aesthetics of disgust. Silvia Moreno-Garcia engages with racism in both HPL and Robert E. Howard through work such as co-editing a multicultural issue (pdf) of Innsmouth Magazine (formerly Innsmouth Free Press) and a new Sword & Mythos anthology. Balogun Ojetade explains how confronting racism in HPL and REH spurred his participation in the sub-genre of Sword and Soul.
The SFMTA has published excerpts of their photo archives from donated collections, spanning the post-1906 earthquake period all the way up to modern times. [more inside]
Some Musings on Diversity in SF by Vandana Singh: "The best speculative fiction, like travel, does that to you – it takes you to strange places, from which vantage point you can no longer take your home for granted. It renders the familiar strange, and the strange becomes, for the duration of the story, the norm. The reversal of the gaze, the journey in the shoes of the Other, is one of the great promises of speculative fiction. " (Previously)
Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga discuss writing the Star Trek: The Next Generation series finale. [more inside]
O Human Star, an ongoing webcomic by Blue Delliquanti, is a near-future science fiction family drama about robots, relationships, identity and finding a place for oneself in the world. [more inside]
Velma "Velveteen" Martinez is a toy-animating super hero created by Seanan McGuire, a.k.a. Mira Grant. Over the past six years, McGuire's "Velveteen vs." story cycle has been released gradually on LiveJournal, achieving a dedicated following thanks to the story's overall emotional complexity. As fantasy author Tanya Huff has written, "Velveteen is about a young woman who fights crime in a pair of rabbit ears in much the same way Buffy was about a girl who killed vampires. That being, not so much." [more inside]
SF/F legend Connie Willis pours a preview of a near-future version of the story of backstage back-stabbing, " All About Eve" with "All About Emily" for Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine.
Though I am long dead as you read this, explorer, I offer to you a valediction. Contemplate the marvel that is existence, and rejoice that you are able to do so. I feel I have the right to tell you this because, as I am inscribing these words, I am doing the same. [more inside]
Wired's Gideon Lewis-Kraus reports from the trenches of the Silicon Valley "ecosystem". [more inside]
Last week, a publication based in New York that is called “New York,” asked the question, “Is San Francisco New York?”
A publication based in San Francisco answered, quite resolutely, “No.”
A publication based in San Francisco answered, quite resolutely, “No.”
R.I.P. Lucius Shepard On March 18th, Science Fiction Literature lost one of it's best short story writers, Lucius Shepard [more inside]
Legendary science fiction editor Gardner Dozois once said that the job of a science fiction writer was to notice the car and the movie theater and anticipate the drive-in – and then go on to predict the sexual revolution. I love that quote, because it highlights the key role of SF in examining the social consequences of technology – and because it shows how limited our social imaginations are. Today, we might ask the SF writer to also predict how convincing the nation’s teenagers to carry a piece of government-issued photo ID (a driver’s license) as a precondition for participating in the sexual revolution set the stage for the database nation, the idea that people are the sort of thing that you count and account for, with the kind of precision that the NSA is now understood to bring to the problem.
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.
"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]
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.
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)
"Now, I don't write many short stories these days, but I'm a sucker for the right kind of charity approach. And besides, I had a hypothesis I wanted to test: that every short story can be improved by adding dinosaurs and sodomy." SF author Charles Stross (metafilter's own) shares a short shaggy dog story he wrote back in 2011 containing sex, waterfowl, and reverse-engineering evolution: "A Bird In Hand."
On the Lovecraftian Mode - Gord Sellar on why he writes lovecraftian fiction. Elizabeth Bear on the same question. I. N. J. Culbard on adapting Lovecraft.
"In Advanced Readings in D&D, Tor.com writers Tim Callahan and Mordicai Knode take a look at Gary Gygax’s favorite authors and reread one per week, in an effort to explore the origins of Dungeons & Dragons and see which of these sometimes-famous, sometimes-obscure authors are worth rereading today." [more inside]
Starships were meant to fly.
Полигон (Polygon), also called Firing Range, is a Soviet short film from 1977. It concerns a tank that is able to read the brain impulses of enemy soldiers, and the man who designed it. The generals have great plans for this tank, but the designer, and the tank, have other plans. [more inside]