5 things you know about pulp science fiction are wrong, or at least not always true

Vintage Geek offers a list of miscconceptions people have about pulp-era science fiction, whose legacy has warped in the public imagination moreso even than Captain James T. Kirk's. [via MeFi]

“Pulp-Era Science Fiction was about optimistic futures.” “Pulp scifi often featured muscular, large-chinned, womanizing main characters.” “Pulp Era Scifi were mainly action/adventure stories with good vs. evil.” “Racism was endemic to the pulps.” “Pulp scifi writers in the early days were indifferent to scientific reality and played fast and loose with science.”

All these things are true, of course, but what better time to search for counterexamples than now?

To be fair, science fiction was not a monolith on this. One of the earliest division in science fiction was between the Astounding Science Fiction writers based in New York, who often had engineering and scientific backgrounds and had left-wing (in some cases, literally Communist) politics, and the Amazing Stories writers based in the Midwest, who were usually self taught, and had right-wing, heartland politics. Because the Midwestern writers in Amazing Stories were often self-taught, they had a huge authority problem with science and played as fast and loose as you could get. While this is true, it’s worth noting science fiction fandom absolutely turned on Amazing Stories for this, especially when the writers started dabbling with spiritualism and other weirdness like the Shaver Mystery. And to this day, it’s impossible to find many Amazing Stories tales published elsewhere.
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Trailer for Black Mirror season 3

Charlie Brooker's back, and so are six of his stories: "The Twilight Zone for the digital age," as The New Yorker put it. (Previously) Read the rest

EFF announces the 2015 Pioneer Award winners

Caspar Bowden, Citizen Lab, Anriette Esterhuysen and the Association for Progressive Communications, and Kathy Sierra will be awarded the EFF's prestigious prize recognizing the leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. Read the rest

Soylent's new liquid form is kind of spermy, and the guy behind it is sort of creepy

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Doctor Who stars enjoy adorable Comic Con rivalry

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Gregory Benford on Philip K. Dick

SF author/physicist Gregory Benford reminisces about his friend Philip K. Dick: Read the rest

Meet the man who remade Middle‑earth

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Read Rose Fox and Daniel José Older's introduction to The Long Hidden, a new anthology of historical fiction.

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MK Wren's Shadow of the Swan

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San Francisco police beat up and detain Good Samaritans who call 911 and perform first aid on accident victim

Peretz Partensky and her his friend had just had a dinner at a restaurant in San Francisco's SOMA district when they happened on an injured woman who had fallen off her bicycle. They called 911 and performed first aid while they waited for emergency services. When the police got there, they beat up Partensky's friend and detained him, and when Partensky objected, they cuffed, brutalized and arrested him. Injured and in an holding cell, she asked to see a doctor, and the SFPD deputies on duty at the jail stripped him naked and threw him in solitary confinement and marked him as a candidate for psychiatric evaluation.

Partensky complained to the SF Office of Citizen Complaints, documenting him plight in eye-watering detail (Partensky works for a company that supplies software to the restaurant on whose doorstep the entire incident took place, and they were happy to hand him CCTV footage of the incident). The entire procedure then went dark, because in San Francisco, you aren't allowed to know what happens to police officers who beat you up, thanks to the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights.

One of the officers who harassed, beat, and wrongfully arrested Partensky, Paramjit Kaur, is already the subject of a civil rights suit. The other SFPD personnel who attacked and arrested the Good Samaritans are Officers Gerrans and Andreott.

For Partensky, the take-away message is clear: if you see someone who needs medical assistance, don't call 911, because the police might come and beat you up. Read the rest

Classic British sci-fi show Blake's 7 returns ... to Xbox

Blake's 7, the classic BBC science fiction show, is coming back.

A Microsoft-funded reprise of the 1978-1981 series is headed to the Xbox Live service, according to The Financial Times (paywall), replacing earlier plans to revive the show on the SyFy channel. SyFy's choice of director, Martin Campbell, will still helm the new production. Read the rest

Save the Castro's Theater's mighty Wurlitzer!

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Amen. This is one of San Francisco's great, underappreciated attractions, along with the Musee Mechanique and Alcatraz. It needs saving.

Join Us in Preserving a San Francisco Musical Tradition Read the rest

Cory's last night in San Francisco tonight!

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US naval analyst on science fiction space warfare

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Has sci-fi affected the way that our navies conduct warfare?

CW: This is a question that I occasionally think about. Many people point to the development of the shipboard Combat Information Center in World War II as being inspired by E.E. Doc Smith's Lensman novels from the 1940s. Smith realized that with hundreds of ships over huge expanses, the mere act of coordinating them was problematic. I think there is a synergistic effect. I also know a number of naval officers who have admitted to me that the reason they joined the Navy was because Starfleet Command wasn't hiring.

"Aircraft Carriers in Space" (Thanks, Todd Lappin!) Read the rest

Lord of the Rings: The Orcs' side of the story, told in LEGO

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