George RR Martin, 1993 "The fantasy novel I've been working on off and on for a while" is an unlikely project for TV

Scott Edelman writes, "I interviewed George R. R. Martin at a Thai restaurant on Episode 42 of my Eating the Fantastic podcast (MP3), and after I returned home, remembered I'd also interviewed him back in 1993. After digging out the tape, I couldn't resist incorporating his amusing admission about 'a fantasy novel I've been working on off and on for a while' as part of the episode." Read the rest

Puzzles that teach the fundamentals of crypto's essential, elusive zero-knowledge proofs

Zero-knowledge proofs are one of the most important concepts in cryptography: they're a way to "validate a computation on private data by allowing a prover to generate a cryptographic proof that asserts to the correctness of the computed output" -- in other words, a way to prove that something is true without learning the details. Read the rest

Decoder rings

Retroworks' $18 decoder rings don't have much by way of cryptographic robustness (they compare disfavorably to the cipher-wheel wedding rings my wife and I wear!), but they're not a bad way to introduce the littlies in your life to the idea of habitual secrecy. (via Red Ferret) Read the rest

Shade the Changing Girl v. 1: On sidequels and writing the teenage alien.

This week (and next due to the nature of different release dates for the direct market and the book market) marks the release of the first collection of SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL v.1: Earth Girl Made Easy, which compiles issues 1-6 (previously). It’s a heavy load to recreate a character that giants before you have written. Steve Ditko is a master of the strange. His mind a merry-go-round of experimentation.

Watch: a gifted and personable napkin folder who makes "botanically correct flowers"

Arnold Drake World is a talented paper artist who sits at a communal table at the cafe in Portland's legendary Powell's City of Books and turns paper napkins and towels into "botanically correct flowers" with many flourishes and grace-notes. Read the rest

Berlin SWAT raids yield arrests in theft of manhole-sized gold coin

On Wednesday, heavily armed and armored Berlin police carried out a series of raids, arresting four suspects in the theft of a $3.9m, 220lb manhole-cover-sized gold coin from Berlin's Bode Museum in March. Read the rest

An important, lyrical, critical book about the future of "Smart Cities"

Adam Greenfield's new book Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life (previously) has scored an outstanding review from The Guardian's Steven Poole, who calls it "a landmark primer and spur to more informed and effective opposition" to "the pitiless libertarianism towards which all [Smart Cities] developments seem to lean." Read the rest

LAX: a new online tragicomedy is "a mash-up of Locke and Girls"

Paul Bennun writes, "The incomparable Sarah Warren, (creator of feminist slapstick spy caper MLE) has launched a brand new tragicomedy web series called LAX on YouTube, keeping with the TLAs. Read the rest

Talking Walkaway with Reason Magazine

Of all the press-stops I did on my tour for my novel Walkaway, I was most excited about my discussion with Katherine Mangu-Ward, editor-in-chief of Reason Magazine, where I knew I would have a challenging and meaty conversation with someone who was fully conversant with the political, technological and social questions the book raised. Read the rest

Selling arms to alien arthropods is a tricky business

Good Business is a short science fiction film about a very dodgy arms deal indeed, with a sting in its metaphorical tail; the film was created by Ray Sullian, adapted from Simon Roy's comic of the same name. (via JWZ) Read the rest

Tropic of Kansas: Making America Great Again considered harmful

Chris Brown -- long known as a writer of perfect, jewel-like demented cyberpunk stories -- makes his long-overdue novel debut today with Tropic of Kansas; a hilarious, dark, and ultimately hopeful story of a terrible authoritarian president whose project to Make America Great Again has plunged the country into an authoritarian collapse that's all too plausible.

Nerdy nail-wraps

Espionage Cosmetics has your nerdy nail-art needs covered with the D20-themed $10 Critical Hit nail wraps, circuit board wraps and tentacle wraps. (via Geeky Merch) Read the rest

The EU's Right to Repair proposal makes America's look weaksauce

Eight US states are trying to pass minimal Right to Repair legislation that would require companies not to actively confound people who wanted to fix their stuff or choose an independent repair center. But in the EU, Europeans' strong preference for "durable, high-quality products that can be repaired and upgraded" has led to a proposal to require goods sold in Europe to be designed for improvement and maintenance, on the lines of the inspiring and enduring Maker's Bill of Rights. Read the rest

How to write pulp fiction that celebrates humanity's essential goodness

My latest Locus column is "Be the First One to Not Do Something that No One Else Has Ever Not Thought of Doing Before," and it's about science fiction's addiction to certain harmful fallacies, like the idea that you can sideline the actual capabilities and constraints of computers in order to advance the plot of a thriller. Read the rest

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea maintenance checklist

This document has it all: a neat quantization of the qualitative; a tale told in a single bureaucratic leaf that implies a whole hidden universe of night-scurrying morlocks who tend the magic under the harsh glare of floodlights on the third shift; a fine sheet slid in the nearly imperceptible crack between consensus hallucination and objective reality. (via JWZ) Read the rest

In the 1990s, a Serbian biology textbook used a still from Raising Arizona for its cover art

From 1993 to 2001, this Serbian middle-school biology textbook sported a cutout of a still from Raising Arizona in which Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter cradle their stolen baby. Read the rest

Bloomberg: Middle-class Americans were "fleeced" by neoliberalism

Noah Smith (previously) writes in Bloomberg (!) about the "fleecing" of the Gen-X and Boomer middle class -- a class that is growing continuously smaller and poorer, thanks to "financial deregulation, tax cuts and a lax attitude toward consumer protection and antitrust." Read the rest

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