Futures From Nature: 100 Speculative Fictions is an anthology of 100 short-short science fiction stories originally published on the back page of the prestigious weekly science journal Nature. The stories come from all matter of writers -- science fiction professionals, working scientists, science writers (there's even one -- rather good -- story written by a scientist's 12-year-old daughter!), and take all manner of approaches to the challenge.
As is inherent in the short-short story form, the pieces are often comic and conceptual, rather than fleshed out narratives -- it's quite a trick to cram a full-blown story with realized characters into a mere 700 words. Many of these stories are flat-out brilliant, and not all of those come from professional writers (though sf pros like Bruce Sterling, Ben Rosenbaum, Joan Vinge, Kathryn Cramer, Robert Charles Wilson and Toby Buckell all have superb little gems here). Clearly, many scientists have a frustrated sf writer lurking within them.
100 short-short stories make for a very strong cup of tea indeed. The opening paragraphs alone are something of a masterclass in the rapid establishment of a story: setting, person and problem all nailed up within a few words. Plunging into -- and emerging out of -- 10 worlds in a day's reading can be a genuinely disorienting experience.
But it's a good kind of disorientation. These stories take on the big and small problems of science, from grant-writing to debunking pseudoscience, from Frankensteinian techno-apocalypses to the brightest utopias. Considered purely as an exercising in finding out what sort of thing captures the imagination of a working scientist, this is a fantastic little journey.
And of course, it doesn't hurt that many of these are just plain great stories.
(Disclosure: I have a story in this collection)
Xnet, a wonderful Spanish activist group, has created the Anti-Corruption Complaint Box, a whistleblowing platform for the city of Barcelona that allows people to file anonymous claims in a Globalleaks repository, with their anonymity protected by Tor.
Five years ago, we won an unprecedented victory: spurred on by blackouts of more than 50,000 sites, more than 8 million Americans called Congress to object to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a brutal internet censorship bill that would have been a stake through the heart of the open net. SOPA, which had been […]
The next installment in the extraordinary lecture/reading series features Hugo-winning environmentalist author Kim Stanley Robinson and prolific historical novelist Cecelia Holland: $10 donation at the door, no one turned away for lack of funds. (Images: AllyUnion, CC-BY-SA; Other Change of Hobbit)
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