The British actor who played R2-D2 in the classic Star Wars films died today, age 81, after a long illness.
Really, Thinkgeek's $150 Star Trek White Noise Sleep Machine does it all: projects a moving starfield on your ceiling, plays starship-like white noise loops while you drift off, presents a goofily plausible UI and form-factor straight out of the Roddenverse, and can even play the red alert klaxon as its alarm-tone. Read the rest
Cyberpunk pioneer and games-writing treasure Marc Laidlaw writes, "The latest and for now final addition to my Kindle collection is now live. I've never had a collection; I put this one, 400 Boys and 50 More, together myself. It contains basically all my short stories, novelettes and novellas from the last nearly 40 years (except for the Gorlen series)." Read the rest
When Hugo "Award" Gernsback launched Volume 1, Number 1 of Amazing Stories in April, 1926, he created the first magazine in the world solely devoted to science fiction stories: on the magazine's editorial page, Gernsback laid out his vision for the genre. Read the rest
Pablo Defendini writes, "Fireside Fiction Company has released a report detailing the dismal state of representation of black writers in the science fiction and fantasy short fiction market . Despite increasing efforts to boost representation of people of color generally, the prospects for black writers, specifically, have not been improving. According to the data (which is available in a publicly accessible Google spreadsheet ), out of 2,039 stories published in 2015, only 38 were written by black authors. The report is accompanied by a series of essays in reaction to the report by Nisi Shawl , Troy L. Wiggins , Mikki Kendall , Justina Ireland , and Tobias Buckell ; as well as an interview with N.K. Jemisin . Fireside's editor, Brian White, has also written an editorial detailing some steps that Fireside is committed to taking to counter our own biases and help fix this huge problem." Read the rest
Original series, best series.
Osprey Publishing, the UK-based military history publisher beloved by wargamers and toy soldier nerds for their amazing Men at Arms series (which lovingly details the uniforms and accoutrements of war), has been expanding into gaming in a big way recently. They've been responsible for the increasingly popular skirmish-level dungeon-delving miniatures game, Frostgrave, the hugely popular Bolt Action (which they distribute through a publishing partnership with Warlord Games), and a growing number of excellent miniature rules sets covering everything from historicals to fantasy, sci-fi, and horror.
Another notable thing they've been doing is re-vamping existing games that had a lot of promise but had some rules problems, or component issues, or some other crippling flaw that limited their appeal on their first release. They've been re-doing these games in gorgeous new editions. One such game is Odin's Ravens, which I previously reviewed here. They also recently released a lovely, revamped edition of the very trippy The Ravens of Thri Sahashri, a Japanese cooperative card game where players enter the mind of a character and try and repair her memories and guide her to safety before she goes insane with ravens eating her mind. Another notable example of this revitalizing of a promising title is their recent "Ultimate Edition" of Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space.
Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space is a card-based hidden movement, hidden identity game of deception and bluffing. Read the rest
Laurel writes, "Holdfast is an award-winning free online speculative fiction magazine that celebrates all things fantastic. We are trying to raise enough money to pay our writers and artists for their valuable work and also print a beautiful paperback. After a successful campaign for anthology #1 and winning the British Fantasy Society award for best magazine 2015 - we're hoping to create an even bigger and better anthology this time." Read the rest
Marc Laidlaw, the cyberpunk pioneer who went on to serve as writer on some of Valve's greatest video-game titles -- the Half-Life series, Portal -- has just posted his entire backlist to Amazon as $3, DRM-free ebooks, including his debut novel Dad's Nuke (think Fallout, but with religious extremist militants who subsist on "Host on a shingle," this being the cultured recovered foreskin tissue of Jesus Christ on fortified crackers) and Kalifornia, a brilliant and prescient novel about media, cultural disintegration, and celebrity. Read the rest
Jan Chipchase has assembled a provocative, imaginative, excellent list of "driver behaviors in a world of autonomous mobility" that go far beyond the lazy exercise of porting the "trolley problem" to self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles, including flying drones. Read the rest
In Normal, Warren Ellis (previously) sets a technothriller in a kind of rehab center for futurists and foresight specialists who've developed "abyss gaze" -- a kind of special bleak depression that overtakes people who plug themselves into the digital world 24/7 in order to contemplate our precarious days to come. Read the rest