"When the #coronavirus lockdown is lifted, we'll be closer to living in the world envisioned in the 1990s by the likes of @EFF, @WIRED, @stewartbrand, @rossetto, @janemetcalfe, @kevin2kelly, @2000_mondo, and others," says Nick Gillespie of Reason. Here's a video he made to explore the idea that "we may realize that life is mostly better in the cloud, where it's possible to learn faster, work better, and generally get what you really want delivered directly to your door, and for less money."
I definitely agree with learning faster online part. For me, video learning is the best thing to come out of the Internet. My 16-year-old daughter devours coding, math, and science videos, and when I watch some of them with her, I realize they quality of the teaching is superior to any class I took in high school.
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Matt Ruff is one of science fiction and fantasy's most consistently brilliant and innovative authors, whose recent work includes The Mirage
(an incredible alternate history in which the Global War on Terror is kicked off when Christian crusaders from the blighted, tribal USA fly a plane into the United States of Arabia's Twin Towers in Dubai, giving the hawkish CIA chief Osama bin Laden the chance to launch the all-out war he's been champing for), and Lovecraft Country
(an anti-racist reimagining of Cthulhu set in Jim Crow America where the real horror is white supremacy -- now being adapted for TV by Jordan Peele
). In his new novel, 88 Names
, Ruff adds to the canon of MMORPG heist novels (Charlie Stross's Rule 34
, Neal Stephenson's Reamde
, and my For the Win
, to name three) with a unique take that he dubbed "Snow Crash meets The King and I."
This morning, I launched a new series of posts that I'm going to be writing on Adafruit on the history of cyberpunk science fiction and how it has evolved, how it has influenced culture and technology, what it got right (and wrong) about the near future in its fictional speculations. Read the rest
Apparently a 13-year-old Julia Stiles appeared in an episode of PBS' Ghostwriter series, playing the hacktivist editor-in-chief of the Hurston High School newspaper in "Who is Max Mouse?" Do let us revel in the memories of a simpler time, full of long-forgotten promises of a better world brought on by Gibsonian buzzwords and the promise of equality and opportunity through a technological utopia.
How naive we once were.
In case you aren't familiar with Ghostwriter, it was a PBS show about a group of kids who solved mysteries with the help of an invisible ghost who could manipulate letters and words to create sentences and clue the kids in to whatever information that they needed at the time. No one ever knew who this Ghostwriter was, or how it came into its knowledge or abilities, but a 2010 interview with producer and writer Kermit Frazier revealed the surprisingly dark that really puts a fascinating twist on my childhood: “Ghostwriter was a runaway slave during the Civil War. He was killed by slave catchers and their dogs as he was teaching other runaway slaves how to read in the woods. His soul was kept in the book and released once Jamal discovered the book.”
That's a lot darker, and more powerful, than this old kids' show ever let me know.
Image by SlimVirgin - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Read the rest
My latest LA Times review is for William Gibson's new novel Agency, sequel to his outstanding 2014 novel "The Peripheral," which marked his return to explicitly futuristic science fiction after his amazing and audacious "Pattern Recognition" novels, which treated the recent past as though it was a speculative future setting.
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My buddy Dave Ganjamie and I have been collaborating on comics for a few years now. Not all of our brainstorm-and-sketch sessions end somewhere exciting, but we did have one fun idea that came to fruition. It was the fall of 2013, and Dave half-jokingly challenged me to write him a — his words, and I quote directly from our GChat — "cyber-craftian Eldritch-punk time travel" story.
I assumed this was meant to be deliberately absurd. But I'm never one to back down from a challenge. So we pitched the idea to Grayhaven Comics for one of their sci-fi anthology collections — and much to our surprise, they gave us the greenlight. With only 3 pages to work with, we were fairly strapped with space to express our ridiculous concept. But we did the best we could, and ultimately came up with something pretty cool.
Some day we'll get around to finishing our Evil Academy concept, or dramatize that time at New York Comic-Con when we found ourselves in an Abbot-&-Costello, Who's-On-First routine at a party with Kieron Gillen and Karen Gillan. In the meantime, Dave is probably still pissed that I made him draw all those suckers on the bottom of the tentacles (even though it was technically his idea in the first place). So enjoy the fruits of our labor: "iCthulhu!"
"iCthulhu" — art by Dave Ganjamie, words by Thom Dunn. Originally published by Grayhaven Comics. Read the rest
In the December 9, 2019 issue of The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman profiles one of the most influential authors in recent decades, William Gibson.
Gibson doesn’t have a name for his method; he knows only that it isn’t about prediction. It proceeds, instead, from a deep engagement with the present. When Gibson was starting to write, in the late nineteen-seventies, he watched kids playing games in video arcades and noticed how they ducked and twisted, as though they were on the other side of the screen. The Sony Walkman had just been introduced, so he bought one; he lived in Vancouver, and when he explored the city at night, listening to Joy Division, he felt as though the music were being transmitted directly into his brain, where it could merge with his perceptions of skyscrapers and slums. His wife, Deborah, was a graduate student in linguistics who taught E.S.L. He listened to her young Japanese students talk about Vancouver as though it were a backwater; Tokyo must really be something, he thought. He remembered a weeping ambulance driver in a bar, saying, “She flatlined.” On a legal pad, Gibson tried inventing words to describe the space behind the screen; he crossed out “infospace” and “dataspace” before coming up with “cyberspace.” He didn’t know what it might be, but it sounded cool, like something a person might explore even though it was dangerous.
(Image: William Gibson by Frédéric Poirot , CC-BY) Read the rest
I first met Bill Gibson in 1999 when I was profiling him for the Globe and Mail as part of a review of his book "All Tomorrow's Parties." Since then, we've become friends and colleagues, and I genuinely treasure every chance I get to sit down with him, because he's both fantastically clever and incredibly nice.
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Terumasa Ikeda uses lacquer and bits of mother of pearl to create surreal sculptures. He demonstrates the painstaking process in this video:
The results look like code given solid form:
(H/T @MasakiSe.) Read the rest
This week's bizarre speech to the UN by the UK's clownish, authoritarian Prime Minister pro tem Boris Johnson has sparked a lot of talk, especially among science fiction readers who recognise the difference between cautionary tales about hi-tech dystopias and suggestions for public technology policy (unlike PM Johnson).
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New biohacking from the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective (previously): the Pegleg, a stripped-down Piratebox (previously) based on a Raspberry Pi 0 with needless components removed and an extra wifi card soldered on.
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Leo Corvaisier, an art student in Paris, created this 3D rendered "bio-modem" based on an illustration from Things From the Flood, an alternative future-history of Sweden published in 2016 by Simon Stålenhag (previously), which was turned into a crowdfunded RPG last year. Corvaisier notes, "Tried getting a handpaint feeling to stick with Stålenhag's illustration style." (via JWZ)
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Pioneering cyberpunk author and old-school bOING bOING contributor Rudy Rucker hips us to his forthcoming novel about "three teens driv(ing) across space to save our world from invading UFOs" and asks for support:
My wild SF adventure Million Mile Road Trip is being published in hardback and paperback by Night Shade Books in May. And I'll publish the ebook version via my Transreal books. Also I'm publishing my novel's companion, Notes for Million Mile Road Trip.
So I'm running a Kickstarter again. The campaign is at
There's a fun video trailer for the book at the top of the Kickstarter page, so if nothing else, take a look at that. It's fast-paced.
And the permanent Million Mile Road Trip home page is
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The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
I read William Gibson's Neuromancer for the first time in 1985. I bought a copy at the San Francisco State University bookstore (Carla was attending college there and I was working at Memorex/Burrough in nearby Santa Clara as a mechanical engineer) after we went to a talk by Timothy Leary and he raved about it.
It's probably safe to say that without Neuromancer, Carla and I might not have ever started the bOING bOING zine in 1987, because the novel was hugely influential on the way we thought about technology and society.
Neuromancer is on sale on Amazon in the Kindle edition for a very low price right now. Get it before the price goes back up. Read the rest
The second Lego movie includes a memorable scene in Apocalypseburg, an homage to the final scene in Planet of the Apes, complete with a Beyond Thurderdome-style settlement in Lady Liberty's tilted shadow; this is now immortalized as a $300 Lego set. (via Beyond the Beyond)
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Tim Maughan has long been one of the most promising up-and-coming, avante garde UK science fiction writers, whose post-cyberpunk short fiction mixed radical politics with a love of graffiti and a postmodern filmmaker's eye: now, with his debut novel Infinite Detail, Maughan shows that he has what it takes to work at longer lengths, and can sustain a first-rate adventure story that grabs and never lets go, without sacrificing the political and technological insights that give his work depth that will stay with you long after the book is done.
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Back in the 1980s, the giant German sf publisher Heyne tried out an experimental partnership with a soup company Maggi (they're still around), and it was bonkers.
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