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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
Maciej Cegłowski (previously) gave this talk, "Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People," at Web Camp Zagreb last October, spending 45 minutes delving into the origin of the idea that computers are going to become apocalyptic, self-programming, superintelligent basilisks that end all live on Earth (and variations on this theme) and then explaining why this fundamentally evidence-free, fuzzy idea has colonized so many otherwise brilliant people -- including people like Stephen Hawking -- and why it's an irrational and potentially harmful belief system. Read the rest
Tony from Starshipsofa writes, "StarShipSofa is very proud to have Hugo winning author Nnedi Okorafor on this week's show (MP3) with her story 'Spider the Artist,' first published in the anthology Seeds of Change. Nnedi Okorafor is the Hugo winning novelist of Nigeria-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. The narration is by Aminat Badara." Read the rest