Letter 44 – Aliens lurk in the asteroid belt, sending Earth into turmoil in this tense graphic novel

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On the day of his inauguration, Stephen Blades, the 44th president, finds a letter left on his Oval Office desk simply marked “44.” In it, outgoing President Carroll reveals a dark secret that he’s kept throughout his administration. An alien presence has been detected in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. And the beings there are building some sort of massive and potentially threatening structure.

President Carroll (obviously “inspired” by George W. Bush) has dragged the United States into two protracted wars and nearly broken the back of the country in the process. Now incoming President Blades learns to his horror that these wars were largely a ruse for achieving combat readiness for a possible alien attack. He also learns that, besides there being a deep black ops program for building next-gen military technology for confronting a possible alien menace, a secret one-way mission, with nine astronauts, has been dispatched by Carroll to the asteroid belt and will be arriving at the site of the alien construct soon. “Mr. President, they’re ready for your swearing in.”

And so begins the thrilling and surprisingly complex and tense ride that is Letter 44. Author Charles Soule and artists Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque, Guy Major, and Dan Jackson do an impressive job of creating a rich and layered world within this satisfying sci-fi comic series. The book confidently lays the interleaving stories of the first contact space drama, the cutthroat politics on the home front, and the geopolitical dramas as President Blades tries to carry on with two wars he now knows are shams and to prepare for a potential war coming from the stars. Read the rest

Win all six books nominated for this year's Philip K Dick Award

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The Philip K Dick Award is given to the best paperback original each year (past winners include Tim Powers' Anubis Gates, Rudy Rucker's Wetware, William Gibson's Neuromancer and Meg Elison's The Book of the Unnamed Midwife). Read the rest

The Android’s Prehistoric Menagerie

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We're pleased to present a story from Mothership Zeta, a new ezine from Escape Artists focused on fun science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Fun doesn’t necessarily mean “funny,” and stories can have conflict and darker elements, but they publish stories that leave the reader satisfied, usually in a positive way.

Kickstarting a new, Gormenghastian comic from Paul Di Filippo

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The Black Mill is a New Weird comic from Paul Di Filippo, a treasure of science fiction, drawn by Orion Zangara and colored and lettered by Derek Chase. Read the rest

The hyperviolent sport of Rollerball in Sports Illustrated, 1975

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The original Rollerball (1975) is a fantastic dystopian science fiction film in which corporations run the world and crowds go crazy for an ultraviolent sport called, you guessed it, Rollerball. (Watch the movie trailer below.) Just before shooting wrapped up, the movie teams played the game for real (apparently with less blood) for an audience of thousands at Munich's Olympic Basketball Stadium. Sports Illustrated covered the chaos for its April 21, 1975 issue:

(Director Norman Jewison... was delighted that the game devised for his film turned out to be one that can be played in earnest. "It can be played, if it's played with very strict rules..." he said on the set. "But it is still a very violent game, though maybe no more so than football. There is a gladiatorial aspect to rollerball that frightens me."

"Rollerball" article from Sports Illustrated (via Reddit, thanks UPSO!)

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What would happen if the whole world went face blind?

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Hello and welcome to newest addition to the Boing Boing podcast family! Flash Forward is a podcast produced and hosted by me, Rose Eveleth. Every week we really overthink what the future has in store for us. Every episode we tackle one possible (or, not so possible) future scenario — everything from a sudden ice age, to the end of antibiotic effectiveness, to a world in which contact sports are banned due to head injury — and try to work out how that future would really go down.

Today, about two percent of the population has prosopagnosia — a condition that makes them unable to remember faces. But what if we all had it? On this week’s episode, we travel to a future where nobody can recognize one another by face.

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In the episode we discuss what causes face blindness and the tricks that people use to remember their friends. We also go through all the things that would be easier (spying, hiding) and harder (police lineups, cocktail parties) in a world where we were all faceblind.

▹▹ Full show notes Read the rest

Kickstarting "Uprising - A Post-Apocalyptic Robot Comedy"

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Ben Hansford writes about his Kickstarter campaign for a short film called "Uprising - A Post-Apocalyptic Robot Comedy,"On the surface it's a comedy - but at its heart it's a story about me (an idiot man-child) becoming a responsible father. It's also a one-man show, with me doing all of the development, production, post, and visual effects on a shoe-string budget. But most importantly, Uprising is my chance to do my film, my way, with my friends and family by my side." Read the rest

Read: The End of Big Data: space weapons, UN inspectors and personal data

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James "New Aesthetic" Bridle writes, "I wrote an SF short story about satellites, space weapons, UN inspectors, and the end of personal data! I hope you like it." Read the rest

Seminar on Jo Walton's Philosopher Kings novels

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Jo Walton (previously) is one of science fiction's great talents, a writer who blends beautiful insight about human beings and their frailties and failings without ever losing sight of their nobility and aspirations. Read the rest

Charlie Jane Anders's All the Birds in the Sky: smartass, soulful novel

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All the Birds in the Sky is everything you could ask for in a debut novel -- a fresh look at science fiction's most cherished memes, ruthlessly shredded and lovingly reassembled.

Fury Road is still comprehensible at 12x speed

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Vashi Nedomansky sped up five movies that had shorter-than-average scene lengths and sped them up 1200%; alone among them, Mad Max: Fury Road was still comprehensible. The rest just dissolve into jump-cuts. Read the rest

Kathryn Cramer remembers her late husband, David Hartwell, a giant of science fiction

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Kathryn Cramer was married to David Hartwell for decades, and though they'd been in the midst of "a collaborative divorce" for four years, they were still close friends and still married. Read the rest

Very sad news about science fiction titan David G Hartwell

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David Hartwell, a senior editor at Tor Books, cofounder of the New York Review of Science Fiction, legendary collector, raconteur, critic, anthologist, and fixture in so many fo science fiction's scenes and fandom, is in the hospital with a "massive brain bleed" and is not expected to live. Read the rest

Howto: make your own fantastically detailed Star Trek: TOS bridge playset

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David Weiberg handed down his childhood set of Star Trek: original series action figures to his eight-year-old son, and then the two of them built a fantastically detailed, correctly scaled replica of the original Enterprise's bridge to go with them. Read the rest

Her Universe will start publishing science fiction novels

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Her Universe makes amazing, nerdy women's fashion (for example, and also). Read the rest

Transreal Cyberpunk! Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling's book of annotated, seminal cyberpunk fiction

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Rudy Rucker writes, "Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling's collection of nine jointly written stories is out in ebook and paperback: Transreal Cyberpunk!" Read the rest

2016 is the year of the telepathic election, and it's not pretty

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Charlie Stross describes the "the fusion of twitter, facebook, and other disclosure-induction social media with always-connected handheld internet devices" as "telepathy" for election campaigns, which are now able to attune their messages and tactics to the lizard-brains of the electorate. Read the rest

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