Read: an excerpt from Tropic of Kansas, a spookily prescient comic dystopia about trumpism

Christ Brown's debut novel, Tropic of Kansas, will be out in July -- but Brown finished it years ago, long before the darkly comic trumpian political intrigue it envisions became more like factual reporting than satire. Read the rest

SF in SF: see Kim Stanley Robinson & Cecelia Holland live in San Francisco this Saturday

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) Read the rest

Bruce Sterling on dieselpunk, alternate history, fascism and the current political moment

In November, Bruce Sterling published "Pirate Utopia," a dieselpunk novella set in the real, historical, bizarre moment in which the city of Fiume became an autonomous region run by artists and revolutionaries, whose philosophies ran the gamut from fascism to anarcho-syndicalism to socialism. Read the rest

Revealing the cover and first excerpt of Autonomous, Annalee Newitz's long-awaited debut novel

We've followed Annalee Newitz's career here for more than a decade, from her science writing fellowship to her work as an EFF staffer to her founding of IO9 and her move to Ars Technica and the 2013 publication of her first book, nonfiction guidance on surviving the end of the world and rebooting civilization: now, I'm pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from Autonomous, her debut novel, which Tor will publish in September 2017, along with the first look at her cover, designed by the incomparable Will Staehle. As her editor, Liz Gorinsky, notes, "Autonomous takes an action-packed chase narrative and adds Annalee's well-honed insight into issues of AI autonomy, pharmaceutical piracy, and maker culture to make a book that's accessible, entertaining, and ridiculously smart." I'm three quarters of the way through an early copy, and I heartily agree.

Glowing, UV-reactive Tron pie

Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin, storied nerd piemaker, created this fluorescing Tron pie, doped with tonic water for extra UV-reacting goodness. Read the rest

Lovely cast aluminum and brass science fiction sculptures

Scott Nelles is a Wisconsin sculptor who works in cast brass and aluminum, making beautiful, whimsical pieces with a strong science fictional flare tinged with strealined dieselpunk. Read the rest

Penguin Galaxy: a boxed set of six science fiction greats, introduced by Neil Gaiman

Last October, Penguin released its Galaxy boxed set, a $133 set of six hardcover reprints of some of science fiction's most canonical titles: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin; Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein; 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke; Dune by Frank Herbert; The Once and Future King by TH White; and Neuromancer, by William Gibson.

Laser-cut, wall-mounted Millennium Falcon clock

The $38 Millennium Falcon wall clock is handmade to order from plywood, birch and MDF by Hamstercheeks in Nottingham, UK, who uses a laser-cutter to turn orders around in 2-5 business days (the clock itself is an AA-powered quartz sweep movement). (via Geekymerch) Read the rest

Four Futures: using science fiction to challenge late stage capitalism and Thatcher's "no alternative"

Margaret Thatcher's 1979 declaration that "there is no alternative" to neoliberal capitalism is more than a rallying cry: it's a straitjacket on our imaginations, constraining our ability to imagine what kinds of other worlds we might live in. But in science fiction, alternatives to market economies abound (and a surprising number of them are awarded prestigious awards by the Libertarian Futurist Society!), and it is through these tales that sociologist Peter Frase asks us to think through four different ways things could go, in a slim, sprightly book called Four Futures -- a book that assures us that there is no more business as usual, and an alternative must be found.

How defunding Planned Parenthood killed Star Wars' Old Republic

Sarah Jeong continues her brilliant, obsessive tear through the Star Wars canon (here's yesterday's post on the difficulties of the Warsverse's storage media and IT systems), this time looking at the outsized role that the lack of obstetric care plays in the collapse of the Old Republic and the rise of the Empire. Read the rest

Selfie stick in 1969 Czechoslovak science fiction movie

I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen is a 1969 Czechoslovak science fiction comedy film directed by Oldřich Lipský. Wikipedia says "it became known for the scene showing the first selfie stick."

Here's the full movie. The opening seconds probably raised some eyebrows at the time: Read the rest

Why are the data-formats in Star Wars such an awful mess? Because filmmakers make movies about filmmaking

Sarah Jeong's long, terrifyingly thorough analysis of the data-formats in the Star Wars universe is both hilarious and insightful, and illustrates the difference between the burgeoning technological realism of shows like Mr Robot and the long tradition of science fiction media to treat computers as plot devices, rather than things that audiences are familiar with. Read the rest

Synthetic linguists file a new brief (with Klingon passages!) about Paramount's fan-film crackdown

2016's lawsuit between Paramount and the Trekkers who crowdfunded Axanar, a big-budged fan film set in the Trekverse, continues its slog through the courts, and continues to be enlivened by the interventions of the Language Creation Society, an organization of synthetic language enthusiasts, whose amicus briefs ask the court to reject Paramount's claim of a copyright in the synthetic language of Klingon, which has many speakers, including some who learned it as their first language. Read the rest

Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky's annual State of the World wrangle on The WELL

It's January, which means that Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky have returned to the WELL for their annual State of the World wrangle, in which, as Sterling puts it, we see who's "gonna collapse first: us pundits, or the World?" Read the rest

2017: the medium-disastrous projection (as told by Charlie Stross)

Charlie Stross has concluded his three-part, wrist-slittingly hilarious projection of the likely (?) outcomes of 2017, which starts with the death of Queen Elizabeth and a massive economic collapse in the UK, and ends when President Pence gets stomach flu and is replaced, once again, by the disgraced President Trump, whose fingers are itching to press the nuclear button. Read the rest

Josh Glenn's top 75 Golden Age sci-fi novels

My friend and frequent Gweek podcast guest Josh Glenn put together a terrific list of Golden Age science fiction novels (which he classifies as 1934–1963). It includes YA sci-fi, comic books, science fantasy, Beckett, Borges, Vian, Pynchon, and "other science fiction-adjacent writing that typically doesn’t get included on such lists." Josh told me, "I had fun re-reading, or in some cases reading for the first time, a lot of terrific sci-fi yarns. I hope others enjoy it, too."

This is one heck of a great reading list, and Josh's commentary is great. I also like it that Josh hunted down the early cover art for each book, because it is so much better than the garbage cover art on recent editions.

Bookmark this page for a lifetime of reading.

50. Philip K. Dick’s The Cosmic Puppets (1956–1957). On a visit, with his wife, to his hometown — sleepy, isolated Millgate, Virginia — Ted Barton discovers that you can’t go home again. (Because your hometown is different in important particulars than you remember — shops, parks, even people no longer exist — and apparently, it always already was different. Also, a child with your name died in that town, years ago.) What’s going on? Has the town been caught up in an illusion — or are Ted’s memories false ones? Why does the town drunk remember the town the way Ted does? Who are the incorporeal Wanderers haunting the town? And why can’t Ted escape from Millgate? Although he struggles to make sense of these eerie incongruities, before long Ted finds himself in the midst of a cosmic struggle stretching far beyond Virginia or even Earth. Read the rest

Kirkus just gave me an AWESOME Christmas present: this starred review for WALKAWAY

Kirkus Reviews is one of the publishing industry's toughest gauntlets, used by librarians and bookstore buyers to help sort through the avalanche of new titles, and its reviews often have a sting in their tails aimed at this audience, a pitiless rehearsal of the reasons you wouldn't want to stock this book -- vital intelligence for people making hard choices. Read the rest

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