Just before sunset on April 5, 1815, a massive explosion shook the volcanic island of Sumbawa in the Indonesian archipelago. This destroyed the village of Tambora, erasing the unique culture, and changed world history (previously, more). Among the impacts, a small group of authors and creative types holed up in the Villa Diodati in June of 1816 and wrote two iconic "monster" stories that set up the next two centuries of story telling. You can read the inspiration and subsequent works of Lord Byron, Mary Godwin, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John William Polidori and Claire Clairmont below the break. [more inside]
152 published authors of speculative fiction, of Asian descent. (includes links to stories by the authors, if available online.)
Equality [internet archive] was first published in 1897: "The story takes up immediately after the events of Looking Backward with the main characters from the first novel, Julian West, Doctor Leete, and his daughter Edith. West tells his nightmare of return to the 19th century to Edith, who is sympathetic. West's citizenship in the new America is recognized, and he goes to the bank to obtain his own account, or 'credit card', from which he can draw his equal share of the national product... " (previously 1,2) [more inside]
Life After A Total Hack. "A short story about the biggest fear you don’t even know you have," by Jon Methven. LinkedIn, eHarmony and Last.fm were all "hacked wide open this week [June 6, 2012] .. But what would happen to us if everything got compromised?" [more inside]
Reclaiming the Nerdiverse [NSFW audio] is a fascinating hour-long discussion about women in science fiction and fantasy on the late night edition of the venerable BBC radio show Woman's Hour (podcast link). The host is Lauren Laverne, and her guests are author and game designer Naomi Alderman, journalist Helen Lewis, sociologist Linda Woodhead, fantasy novelist Zen Cho, and cosplayer and writer Lucy Saxon. The discussion takes in everything from 70s feminist writers to alpha/beta/omega slash fiction to cosplay etiquette to geek sexism. The Late Night Woman's Hour has been the topic of some discussion in Britain.
"Like all cultural works, SF is situated in a political and economic context. In ours, people are noticing that whatever carrot of prosperity capitalism seems to offer, the stick is all they ever get. SF’s heightened focus on inequality is a sign that the ideological basis of our current social order may be undergoing a significant shift." From Jacobin: "Unequal Universes."
This is the central tension of "Get in Trouble," between the artificial and the actual, between what we think we want and who we really are. The stories here are effective because we believe them — not just their situations but also their hearts. [more inside]
How renegade sci-fi writers of the 1960s paved the way for today's blending of literary and genre fiction [more inside]
When it comes to mental illness you must absolutely pay meticulous attention to detail. Misconceptions and preconceptions are the reason funding is inadequate, why people who suffer from mental illness do not wish to come forward, why people with gender dysphoria suffer minority stress, why the mentally ill are targets of physical and verbal violence.Mental Illness: a prome for speculative fiction creators. [more inside]
The Black Fantastic: Highlights of Pre-World War II African and African-American Speculative Fiction: pulp historian Jess Nevins attempts to shine a light on a long neglected part of science fiction and fantasy. [more inside]
Andrew Liptak has been writing a bi-monthly column on the history of Speculative Fiction for Kirkus Review since May 2012, in which he covers authors, artists, themes and times in history. From T.H. White's 'Once and Future King', to Isaac Asimov and the Three Laws of Robotics, from Changing the (Sci-Fi Publishing) Playing Field: H.L. Gold & 'Galaxy Science Fiction' to The Elusive Margaret St. Clair, and even A Brief History of the Dystopian Novel, Liptak illuminates dusty shelves of speculative fiction. [more inside]
"We can go to science fiction for its sense of wonder, its power to take us to far-off places and future times. We can go to political fiction to understand injustice in our own time, to see what should change. We may go to poetry — epic or lyric, old or new — for what cannot change, for a sense of human limits, as well as for the music in its words. And if we want all those things at once — a sense of escape, a sense of injustice, a sense of mortality and an ear for language — we can read the stories of James Tiptree, Jr.," the reclusive, award-winning author whose vague biography started out in the Congo, routed through a period as a painter, then service as a photo intelligence officer in WWII, and finally a researcher and teacher of "soft" sciences before getting to writing science fiction. There was another facet that was only guessed at by some, dismissed by others: the fact that "Uncle Tip," and his reclusive friend, the former school teacher Racoona Sheldon, were the same person. And they were Alice Bradley Sheldon. [more inside]
"If Shirley Jackson’s intent was to symbolize into complete mystification, and at the same time be gratuitously disagreeable, she certainly succeeded" - The New Yorker takes a look at the over 300 letters in reaction to The Lottery
How To Write Drone Fiction: "One can easily and self-righteously claim the merits of writing non-fiction about drones by asserting a primacy of fact over “false fiction”. The problem is that one does not write non-fiction about drones." [more inside]
“[...] it took more than a dozen calls to work out the details of her zombie contagion. “After about the 17th time,” says McGuire, “I called and said, ‘If I did this, this, this, this, this, this and this, could I raise the dead?’ And got, ‘Don’t … don’t do that.’ And at that point, I knew I had a viable virus.”
Murray Leinster wrote more than fifteen hundred works of speculative fiction. Technovelgy notes the science fiction tropes and devices that he invented, as well as other writers. Chee!
Vandana Singh is a science fiction writer and a physicist. She describes her work as "ponder[ing] deep questions about the universe." In a series of three essays for Strange Horizons she just does that, probing the relationships between (as her subtitle indicates) science, emotions and culture. [more inside]
Pioneering science fiction writer Philip Jose Farmer, who won a Hugo in 1953 for Most Promising New Talent for his disturbing story, The Lovers, died today at age 91. [more inside]
Vegging Out vs. Geeking Out. Romance as the MSG of film. The bifurcated careers of Lucy lawless, Sigourney Weaver, and Hugo Weaving. Characters making smart decisions vs. stupid decisions. Neal Stephenson discusses Sci-Fi/Speculative Fiction as a literary genre at Gresham College. (Warning: requires Flash 9)
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.
Where did you want to live when you grew up? If you're like me, you read Clarke's SF classic, Rendezvous with Rama (soon to be a major motion picture?). Donald E. Davis took what we dreamed about and illustrated it, for NASA. His depictions of O'Neill Cylinders, Stanford Tori, and Bernal Spheres are in the public domain (and make excellent desktop wallpaper).