Hugo Gernsback's 1963 television eyeglasses anticipated virtual reality

This oft-seen wonderfully weird photo depicts Hugo Gernsback wearing his "teleyeglasses" in 1963. Gersnback, an inventor of such innovations as a combination electric hair brush/comb and a battery-powered handheld illuminated mirror, is best known to science fiction fans as the founder of Amazing Stories magazine! Gernsback coined the term "science fiction" and the Hugo Awards are named in his honor. But back to the history of his teleyeglasses, as discussed in IEEE Spectrum:

A Life magazine profile of Gernsback in July 1963, when he was 78, described his “teleyeglasses”:

He now invents only in broad outline, leaving the actual mechanics of the thing to others. His television eyeglasses—a device for which he feels millions yearn—constitute a case in point. When the idea for this handy, pocket-size portable TV set occurred to him in 1936, he was forced to dismiss it as impractical. But a few weeks ago, feeling that the electronics industry was catching up with his New Deal-era concepts, he orders some of his employees to build a mock-up.

The teleyeglasses weighed about 140 grams and were built around small cathode-ray tubes that ran on low-voltage current from tiny batteries. (The user faced no danger of being electrocuted, Gernsback promised.) Because there was a separate screen for each eye, it could display stereoscopic images—much like today’s 3D virtual-reality glasses. Noting the massive V-type antenna protruding from the teleyeglasses, Life described the effect as “neo-Martian.”

"The Man Who Invented VR Goggles 50 Years Too Soon" (IEEE Spectrum) Read the rest

The screenwriter of Arrival on how hard it was to adapt Ted Chiang for the screen

Eric Heisserer adapted Ted Chiang's novella Story of Your Life as the screenplay Arrival. Both are brilliant, but in different ways. It wasn't easy.

In all my draft work on the adaptation, I spent the most time on the intellectual and political challenges of the story. But if I ever encroached on the intimate, emotional through-line of Louise’s journey, the story fell apart. Other scenes could be sacrificed, reworked, moved, or cut to the bone. But director Denis Villeneuve and I found a bare minimum of steps to Louise’s personal journey, and that became our Alamo; our hill we would die defending. Denis had a knack for visuals that spoke on an emotional level while also dovetailing with the intellectual challenges our characters faced. Marrying those two, sometimes in a single line of dialogue or image, made the film come alive. It made us feel the story. And at the end of the day, what drew me most to Ted Chiang’s story was the way it made me feel, and above all else we wanted to transport and share that feeling with audiences

It's always fascinating to see how the sausage is made. Screenwriters must write for several audiences--the author being adapted, producers, directors--at different stages of the process, while keeping moviegoers in mind all along. You can see here how a master makes his script align with each on its journey to the screen, somehow without alienating everyone.

Also interesting is the fact Final Draft, the expensive and mandatory screenplay production software package, can't handle images—an unusual but unavoidable requirement for a movie full of alien logograms to be deciphered. Read the rest

Science fiction vintage Japanese matchbox art mashup prints

Etsy seller Chet Phillips sells his amazing science-fiction/vintage Japanese matchbox art remixes as 5"x7" signed prints with mats and backing boards at $12 each. (via Kadrey) Read the rest

Normal: Warren Ellis's story of futurists driven mad by staring into the abyss of tomorrow

Last summer, Warren Ellis serialized a novel, "Normal," as a series of four novellas; today, they're collected in a single, short book that mainlines a month's worth of terrifying futuristic fiction in one go.

Beyond Bad Lip Reading: the Auralnauts' astounding Star Wars remixes

The Auralnauts' wildly successful Star Wars remixes have gone from strength to strength, combining bad lip reading, South Park-ish raunchy humor, and massive dance-parties accompanied by some seriously rockin' tunes. Read the rest

Bad Lip Reading Empire Strikes Back: the funky seagull mix

Yoda's never been so funky as he is in this amazing 4-minute music video for "SEAGULLS! (Stop It Now)," a masterpiece from the Bad Lip Reading project, whose virtuosity is so great that "lip reading" a puppet doesn't even seem like a cheat. (via Waxy) Read the rest

Chestburster roast turkey

Prepare a turkey as usual, but add a prosciutto-wrapped pork loin with spaghetti teeth into the just-split chest cavity of the bird, garnished with dye-enhanced gravy and cranberry sauce -- YUM! Read the rest

Car Wars: a dystopian science fiction story about the nightmare of self-driving cars

Melbourne's Deakin University commissioned me to write a science fiction story about the design and regulation of self-driving cars, inspired by my essay about the misapplication of the "Trolley Problem" to autonomous vehicles. Read the rest

Wesley Crusher bomber jacket and Star Trek patches bomber

Thinkgeek's new Her Universe Star Trek collection includes a couple of standout pieces: first, the Wesley Crusher bomber with embroidered "Crusher" over the breast and the three-stripe sleeve piping; second, the Patches Paige bomber with Trekkie embroidery and a selection of Starfleet Academy patches. Read the rest

Science fiction short shot with semi-autonomous drones

Tim Maughan writes, "Thanks to all the Boing Boing crew that checked out the trailer for our Detroit LIDAR film, it'll be out soon - in the meantime our film IN THE ROBOT SKIES is now up to stream. The first narrative film shot entirely by semi-autonomous drones, it's a love story set on a highly surveilled housing estate in London. Written by me, directed by Liam Young, with music by Forest Swords." Read the rest

Nimona: a YA graphic novel that raises serious, unanswerable moral quandries with snappy dialog and slapstick

I first encountered Noelle Stevenson's work through her groundbreaking, brilliant comic Lumberjanes, but before the 'Janes, Stevenson was tearing up the webcomics world with Nimona, which was collected and published by Harper Teen in 2015.

Read: Rescue, by Sarah Gailey

Sarah Gailey's demon-dog duo from "Bargain" in Mothership Zeta's first issue return for another adventure in Mothership Zeta 5 (October 2016). Malachai, Devourer of Miscreants and Usurper of Souls, has a lot to learn about dog parks, tiny pinstriped pajama tops, and the need to carry plastic bags everywhere. Mothership Zeta is an Escape Artists ezine publishing fun science fiction, fantasy, and horror four times a year. Read the rest

Pirate Utopia: Bruce Sterling's novella of Dieselpunk, weird politics, and fascism

Between 1920 and 1924, the Free State of Fiume was a real-world "pirate utopia," an ungoverned place of blazing futurism, military triumphalism, transgression, sex, art, dada, and high weirdness. In Bruce Sterling's equally blazing dieselpunk novella Pirate Utopia, the author turns the same wry and gimlet eye that found the keen edges for steampunk's seminal The Difference Engine to the strange business of futurism.

How science fiction can help us survive Trump's America

Tor Books associate publisher Patrick Nielsen Hayden found himself presiding over a "long-planned major meeting" the morning after the election of Donald Trump, and used the chance to explain why, on that day, he was "very grateful that I work in science fiction." Read the rest

A history of Chinese science fiction, from 475 BC to Cixin Liu

At the 2016 Hugos, a Chinese book in translation made history by winning for Best Novel: Cixin Liu's "Three Body Problem". Read the rest

Where the City Can't See: the first movie shot with laser scanners

Tim Maughan (previously) writes, "Here's the teaser for our short film WHERE THE CITY CAN'T SEE - the first narrative film shot with laser scanners." Read the rest

I signed 2,800 copies of Walkaway, my next novel, and you can pre-order now!

It took most of a week to sign all 2,800 "tip-in" sheets that are being bound into a special, limited-edition version of Walkaway, my first novel for adults since 2009, but it was worth it! You can pre-order one from the good fellows at Barnes and Noble (hey, indie booksellers: there's some left over for you -- talk to your Macmillan rep!) Read the rest

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