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Selections from the BFI's collection of early cinema

The British Film Institute's YouTube channels offer a staggering amount (previously) of content on historical cinema, shorts, and discussion. Some short selections from the early and silent period of note - The Sick Kitten (1903) - How Percy Won The Beauty Competition (1909) - Tilly The Tomboy Visits The Poor (1910) - Suffragette Riot In Trafalgar Square (1913) - The Fugitive Futurist, in which a man on the run shows a device that can see far into the future (1924) - Vaudevillian legend Billy Merson Singing 'Desdemona'. Widely considered Britain's first sound film - (1927) Charley In New Town - part of an animated series from the Central Office, this one explaining the need for "New Towns." (1948) - Growing Girls, a filmstrip guide to puberty for young women (1951).
posted by The Whelk on May 2, 2013 - 5 comments

The Net Before The Net

John Brunner’s The Shockwave Rider [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 30, 2013 - 31 comments

All Your TV Are Belong To Us

More than five years after it was first announced, it looks like beloved British 1970s/80s science-fiction show Blake's 7 (previously) is coming back to television. The story about the innocent freedom fighter framed for sex crimes against children and his criminal compatriots fighting the Authoritarian Federation is getting a fresh lick of paint at SyFy. It will be directed by Casino Royale and Green Lantern director Martin Campbell. But should it return? [more inside]
posted by Mezentian on Apr 9, 2013 - 110 comments

The moment has been prepared for.

Something is coming. Not Winter (well, yes, that), but the new half-series of Doctor Who. Here's the prequel to this weekend's episode: The Bells of St Johns. And here's what you really want: Madame Vastra, Jenny 'n' Strax The Sontaran in: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To London, Boy. [more inside]
posted by Mezentian on Mar 28, 2013 - 171 comments

We're Going To Have To Find Out How To Deal With Lots Of Idle Hands

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? (Youtube 56:43)
posted by The Whelk on Mar 27, 2013 - 18 comments

Our last, best hope for peace

The strange, secret evolution of Babylon 5 documents the development of the television show Babylon 5, which premiered just over 20 years ago on February 22, 1993 with "The Gathering." [more inside]
posted by never used baby shoes on Mar 5, 2013 - 104 comments

Best Science Fiction Related Metafilter Post

The finalists for the 2012 Nebula Awards have been announced (list with free fiction links here), but there's still another two weeks to get in nominations for the 2013 Hugo Awards. However, for those works not fiting the regular award categories Tim Pratt and other science fiction writers, fans and interested parties on Twitter have been suggesting #FakeHugoAwardCategories . io9 collects some of the best.
posted by Artw on Feb 27, 2013 - 53 comments

European SF classic films

Classic European science-fiction movies (1916-1961) you probably haven’t seen – but you should according to io9.
posted by Mezentian on Feb 20, 2013 - 10 comments

We, The Aliens.

In Defense Of Spielberg's War Of The Worlds
posted by The Whelk on Feb 19, 2013 - 197 comments

In the future, all Space Marines will be Games Workshop

Last December Amazon blocked sales of the Ebook Spots the Space Marine by author M.C.A. Hogarth after a notice from gaming industry powerhouse Games Workshop that they had trademarked the phrase "Space Marine" and that Hogarth, and anyone else who uses it, is infringing. GW brought this complaint based on "Class 16" of their European tradmark. [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Feb 7, 2013 - 77 comments

Like Lazarus with a triple bypass

Amazing Stories, "the World's First Science Fiction Magazine", founded by Hugo Gernsback in 1926 and cancelled in 1995, and resurrected in 1998 and again in 2004 before being cancelled again by Paizo Publishing in 2006, is back -- again. Amazing is now a website, claiming to have "more than 50 bloggers covering the field from more than 50 different perspectives". The idea is to develop an online following and release a print version. Bonus cover galleries from the Golden Age
posted by Mezentian on Jan 22, 2013 - 13 comments

The computer /is/ your friend

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 - 41 comments

Just in time for Lazarus Long's birthday

People tend to divide noted libertarian Robert A. Heinlein's career into three different eras, with the "juveniles," the "slick" science fiction stories, and the bigger, more opinionated novels, but over in Locus Magazine, Gary Westfahl has a theory that's sure to be controversial: Heinlein's career actually divides into a slew of serious novels, followed by a swerve into satire. {Via I09} [more inside]
posted by Mezentian on Nov 26, 2012 - 96 comments

"HAPPINESS FOR EVERYBODY, FREE, AND NO ONE WILL GO AWAY UNSATISFIED!"

Boris Strugatsky passed away Monday, 19 Nov 2012. [more inside]
posted by wobh on Nov 20, 2012 - 22 comments

...and then you strangle a giant slug with a chain.

Searching for Slave Leia fiction by Sandra McDonald. Slave Leia PSA starring Kaley Cuoco (yt), Leia's Metal Bikini, Meet the Slave Leia's of Star Wars Celebration V (yt), Slave Leia Appreciation Society, In Defense of Slave Leia , In Response to In Defense of Slave Leia.
posted by Artw on Nov 10, 2012 - 76 comments

Paper Menagerie

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 - 23 comments

There is Nothing New Under the Sun

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 - 14 comments

Neutral to the Slibs!

Initiate salutation cascade, star-citizens! Seven years ago tonight, Stephen Colbert introduced Tek Jansen to the world. Originally a one-off parody of vanity fiction by media blowhards, the "super-awesome spectacular ultraspy" became the center of a small universe of comics, cartoons, and books, his exploits satirizing awful pulp sci-fi, rampant Mary Sue "Marty Sue" syndrome, and the cheesy melodrama of 1970s Hanna-Barbera. Look inside for US/Canadian links to both animated seasons along with other content available on the web. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Oct 26, 2012 - 3 comments

I HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE FUTURE

The mash-up clip music group Electic Method re-mix and paste together sounds from Sci-Fi movies to create THE FUTURE
posted by The Whelk on Oct 8, 2012 - 5 comments

Songs in the key of H

Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds, and Peter F. Hamilton discuss their books with fans (video). The Hydrogen Sonata, the 10th of Bank's Culture books, will be released October 12th, read the first chapter here. Meanwhile it's 20 years since Reynolds first started work on Revelation Space.
posted by Artw on Oct 7, 2012 - 94 comments

Behold, the Orc!

Ecce Orcus! An Argument for Humanizing the Orc [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 6, 2012 - 52 comments

Take Those Damned Goggles Off

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 - 19 comments

Puppet Guitar Rock

It's 1983. Put Eddie Van Halen and Brian May in a room together. The result? Of course, Star Fleet, a cover of the theme from the children's marionette tokusatsu series broadcast Saturday mornings in the U.K.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Oct 1, 2012 - 15 comments

Atomic Rockets

Atomic Rockets is chock full of stuff to tickle the imagination of anyone who has enjoyed science fiction accounts of space travel. You can move your cursor over the "Show topic list" button in the top right corner of the page and start exploring.
posted by Egg Shen on Sep 29, 2012 - 8 comments

"The reason they joined the Navy was because Starfleet Command wasn't hiring."

Aircraft Carriers in Space: Naval analyst Chris Weuve talks to Foreign Policy about what Battlestar Galactica gets right about space warfare.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Sep 29, 2012 - 63 comments

The Star Wars franchise continuity administrator

His official title is continuity database administrator for the Lucas Licensing arm of Lucasfilm — which means Chee keeps meticulous track of not just the six live-action [Star Wars] movies but also cartoons, TV specials, scores of videogames and reference books, and hundreds of novels and comics.
posted by Egg Shen on Sep 27, 2012 - 65 comments

The "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" game

How do you make a computer game out of "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream"?
posted by Egg Shen on Sep 20, 2012 - 45 comments

John Barnes hates snark

Snark is the universal solvent of cultural conversation. Someone mentions Hemingway; you mention cross-dressing, drinking, and short choppy sentences. Not only did you not have to read Hemingway, you have one-upped the other person by not having read it; you know more about it than they do because you know the important thing, that Hemingway doesn't need to be read. Star Wars has a plot straight out of a comic book, the indescribable beauty of an athlete's best moment is just ritualized combat, any given religion is a collection of three or fewer especially silly-sounding superstitions, all academic subjects are useless hazing intended to keep the wrong people from being hired, all peace protestors are just trying to get on television and soldiers are all unemployed hillbillies whose masculinity feels threatened so they've enlisted for a chance to commit war crimes. Occupy Wall Street is rebels without a clue (itself a plagiarized phrase), the Tea Party is scared old people, and nothing in the wide world matters compared to the general wonderfulness of the observer. [Some 3700 words from a science fiction writer deriding and analyzing the emptiness of snark as a rhetorical mode. Might need to click through Blogger's NSFW warning, though it's just text.]
posted by cgc373 on Aug 31, 2012 - 114 comments

The main African American character in the novel is referred to as a "beast-man."

It's about a year since the storied Weird Tales magazine (previously) got a new editor and sacked its staff (previously), so WT elected to celebrate that milestone by publishing some text from actress, film director, sometime blogger and new author Victoria Foyt's debut Revealing Eden: Save the Pearls. Some people have a problem with its content and its video. [more inside]
posted by Mezentian on Aug 22, 2012 - 92 comments

W.D. Richter's "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension"

... Buckaroo Banzai is paradoxically decades ahead of its time and yet completely of its time; it’s profoundly a movie by, for, and of geeks and nerds at a time before geek/nerd culture was mainstreamed, and a movie whose pre-CG special effects and pre-Computer Age production design were an essential part of its good-natured enthusiasm. What at the time was a hip, modern take on classic SF is now, almost thirty years later, almost indistinguishable from the SF cinema that inspired it in terms of the appeal to modern viewers: the charmingly old-fashioned special effects, and the comparatively innocent earnestness of its tone. - Danny Bowes [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Aug 19, 2012 - 119 comments

“You’re maybe going to take this journey with me for a spell, People aren’t stones.”

"... That’s the way with epiphanies: You can’t know in advance what they’ll be. Even me. I can see them coming, but I can’t understand something until I understand it.”
T he man who can see the future has a date with the woman who can see many possible futures.
posted by divabat on Aug 9, 2012 - 21 comments

Images from SF conventions of the past

SF conventions, and snapshots of SF conventions, go back a long time. Here's Midwestcon 2, put on by the Cincinnati Fantasy group in June 1951; shots include a haunting image of Henry Burwell, publisher of Atlanta zine Science Fiction Digest, and an already-old E.E. "Doc" Smith. From Retronaut, an unnamed 1980 con in LA. From the Mills photo archive, con costumes from the late 60s through the 80s. Forrest Ackerman, editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, in "futuristic costume" at the first WorldCon in 1939. This last from the endless compendium that is the MidAmerican Fan Photo Archive.
posted by escabeche on Aug 1, 2012 - 19 comments

Zakalwe enfranchised;

Guardian Book Club: Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks, Week one: John Mullan discusses the twist [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jul 21, 2012 - 50 comments

"Because we’re a smaller outfit, we can take some risks—find authors and manuscripts that are trying to move the genre forward."

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 - 6 comments

Or, the ethics of popular culture

Sub-Cultural Darwinism: Some Thoughts on the Rise and Fall of Fandoms
posted by subdee on Jul 18, 2012 - 76 comments

Bush to the bay, Pine to the sea

Reddit user and actual wizard bananimator takes us on a quick spin through the city by the bay.
posted by theodolite on Jul 13, 2012 - 19 comments

From Solaris to the Zone

Through a spasm of serendipity whose mechanism I cannot begin to fathom, two inarguable masterpieces of Eastern European science fiction - Solaris by Stanislaw Lem and Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky - have recently been accorded fresh translations. In this posting I would like to briefly consider the virtues of these new versions [...] [more inside]
posted by smcg on Jul 11, 2012 - 51 comments

Ford Fiesta Flips Donuts in SF

DC and Ken Block present Gymkhana FIVE: Ultimate Urban Playground; San Francisco -- Or what happens when a drifting master gets free reign over SF streets. I have been wondering who put those donut-shaped tread marks on the Bay Bridge. Previously... Previouslier... Previousliest
posted by cman on Jul 10, 2012 - 69 comments

Every Hollywood Movie Is A Children's Film

Essayist and cartoonist Tim Kreider is no stranger to film criticism ( previously) but his thoughtful, surprising, detailed analysis of Lynch's The Straight Story and Spielberg/Kubrick's AI deserve special attention.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 23, 2012 - 42 comments

Kubrick In The 60s

Stanley Kubrick didn’t like giving long interviews, but he loved playing chess. So when the physicist and writer Jeremy Bernstein paid him a visit to gather material for a piece for The New Yorker about a new film project he was writing with Arthur C. Clarke, Kubrick was intrigued to learn that Bernstein was a fairly serious chess player. The result was an unusually long and candid recorded interview for the New Yorker. (77 min)
posted by The Whelk on Jun 17, 2012 - 8 comments

Yeah, I'm pro-cat-saving, too.

Alex Pappademas and Sean Witzke over at Grantland have a long, detailed, super geeky film-nerd discussion of the Alien franchise. "It's important to note here that this is a nuke-it-from-space kind of conversation in which just about every aspect of the original "Alien Quadrilogy" is spoiled, as are some fairly crucial plot points from Prometheus. The Alien vs. Predator movies are neither spoiled nor discussed, because that would mean acknowledging their existence. Some people will undoubtedly view this as curatorial negligence on our part, but we welcome their scorn. "
posted by The Whelk on Jun 14, 2012 - 109 comments

If More Gyms Had Sword Fighting Classes....

"I'm in a nondescript warehouse in Seattle, to which I've traveled so that award-winning science fiction novelists can demonstrate how they could cut me in half if they felt like it." i09 Talks to Neal Stephenson about working on the multi-author IP-experiment *thing* The Mongoliad and sword fighting as a heart-healthy hobby.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 3, 2012 - 29 comments

Can You Jam With The Console Cowboys In Cyberspace?

Around 1992 Mondo 2000 magazine asked: "R.U A Cyperpunk?"
posted by The Whelk on May 24, 2012 - 123 comments

Where Do We Go From Here?

SF author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross talks about the future of "big idea" Science Fiction: If SF's core message (to the extent that it ever had one) is obsolete, what do we do next?
posted by The Whelk on May 23, 2012 - 71 comments

“I suppose the first thing I should do is apologize for the billions of dead.”

A famously reclusive writer, John Swartzwelder is responsible for many of The Simpson's iconic episodes. He stopped writing for the show in '04 and began to self-publish a series of increasingly absurd Sci-Fi Detective novels.
posted by The Whelk on May 16, 2012 - 47 comments

Women's lib... in space!

Star Maidens was an obscure and pretty much forgotten British/German low budget (they borrowed sets from Space 1999 ) science fiction televsion series from 1975... On the planet Medusa where the women (naturally all hot) rule over the men, two of the later inferior species escape (including Gareth 'Blake' Thomas!) to the 'paradise' of Earth [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on May 4, 2012 - 13 comments

It's a good life

"It's a Good Life" is a 1953 story by Jerome Bixby, who also wrote It! The Terror From Beyond Space, said to be the inspiration for Alien, and the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror" (the one with evil bearded Spock.) It was made into a famous Twilight Zone episode, and is generally considered among the greatest SF stories ever written. Is "It's a Good Life" about God? Communism? 1950s suburban conformity? Or just about the horror of the self-contained world it creates in its few pages and the terrible realization that it would be possible to survive inside it, for a while?
posted by escabeche on May 1, 2012 - 106 comments

Luc Besson's "The Fifth Element"

Beanplating on The Fifth Element from architecture students at the University of Waterloo. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Apr 25, 2012 - 198 comments

The Logical Extension Of Business Is Murder

The extended trailer for David Cronenberg's adaptation of Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis has hit the internet.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 21, 2012 - 62 comments

Hull 0, Scunthorpe 3

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".
posted by Hartster on Mar 29, 2012 - 226 comments

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