Bruce Sterling on architecture, design, science fiction, futurism and involuntary parks

In 1918, there was plenty of speculation about 2018; in 2018, no one is talking about 2118. Bruce Sterling discusses the relationship of industrial design to science fiction; the New Aesthetic and Turinese architecture; and many other subjects with Benjamin Bratton. (via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest

Stet, a gorgeous, intricate, tiny story of sociopathic automotive vehicles

Sarah Gailey's micro-short-story STET is a beautiful piece of innovative storytelling that perfectly blends the three ingredients for a perfect piece of science fiction: sharply observed technological speculation that reflects on our present moment; a narrative arc for characters we sympathize with; and a sting in the tail that will stay with you long after the story's been read. Read the rest

Why Edgar Allan Poe's work is still so damn good and creepy

Edgar Allan Poe scholar Scott Peeples explains the black magic of Poe's work nearly 170 years after he died. From TED-Ed:

The prisoner strapped under a descending pendulum blade. A raven who refuses to leave the narrator’s chamber. A beating heart buried under the floorboards. Poe’s macabre and innovative stories of gothic horror have left a timeless mark on literature. But just what is it that makes Edgar Allan Poe one of the greatest American authors? Scott Peeples investigates.

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Support Rudy Rucker's Kickstarter for his new book "Return to the Hollow Earth"

Cyberpunk fiction pioneer and old-school bOING bOING pal Rudy Rucker has just finished "Return to the Hollow Earth," the sequel to his fantastic 1990 novel The Hollow Earth, a wonderful and rollicking adventure story filled with weird science, curious creatures, and Edgar Allan Poe. Rudy is publishing the new novel himself along with a revised third edition of the original book and the book-length Notes for Return to the Hollow Earth. Get in on the freaky scene by supporting Return To The Hollow Earth on Kickstarter!

In The Hollow Earth, we meet our narrator Mason Reynolds, a seventeen-year-old youth from 1850. He leaves his father's Virginia farm with the black Otha, befriends the dissolute Edgar Allan Poe, and falls through a thousand-mile-deep hole in Antarctica. Within the Hollow Earth Mason woos and wins Seela, who lives upon a giant flower.

At the core of the Hollow Earth they find the sky-surfing tribe known as the black gods. Nearby are a cluster of great sea cucumbers, who are known as the woomo. Otha stays at the core. Mason, Seela, and Poe make their way out through the crust and back to Earth. Due to their time in the strong light of the woomo, their skins are now black. At the end it seems as if Poe dies. This third edition of The Hollow Earth is lightly revised so as to fit with the sequel.

Return to the Hollow Earth is once again in the steampunk mode, with young Mason as our narrator.

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Ursula K. Le Guin on vinyl! "Music and Poetry of the Kesh"

Ursula K. Le Guin's "Always Coming Home" (1985) is a combination novel and anthropological study of the Kesh, a culture that "might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California." Early editions of the book included a cassette of faux "field recordings," indigenous songs, and other audio of the Kesh. Now, the good people at Freedom to Spend are bringing the Kesh experience to vinyl in a lovely limited edition that includes an LP containing the audio of the original cassette, "a deluxe spot printed jacket with illustrations from Always Coming Home, a facsimile of the original lyric sheet, liner notes by Moe Bowstern, multi-format digital download code and a limited edition bookmark letterpressed by Stumptown Printers in Portland, OR." From Freedom to Spend:

For Music and Poetry of the Kesh, the words and lyrics are attributed to Le Guin as composed by Barton, an Oregon-based musician, composer and Buchla synthesist (the two worked together previously on public radio projects). But the cassette notes credit the sounds and voices to the world of the Kesh, making origins ambiguous. For instance, “The River Song” description reads, “The prominent rhythm instrument is the doubure binga, a set of nine brass bowls struck with cloth-covered wooden mallets, here played by Ready...”

The songs of Kesh are joyful, soothing and meditative, while the instrumental works drift far past the imaginary lands. “Heron Dance” is an uplifting first track, featuring a Wéosai Medoud Teyahi (made from a deer or lamb thigh bone with a cattail reed) and the great Houmbúta (used for theatre and ceremony).

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Anthology of science fiction by the Clarion Class of 2012, to benefit the Clarion Foundation

The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop is the oldest workshop in the field, run by a nonprofit (I volunteer on its board), and much-loved by its many grads; the Clarion Class of 2012 (who call themselves "The Awkward Robots") periodically release volumes of their fiction to benefit the nonprofit foundation and pay forward to future classes (previously). Read the rest

Top science fiction writers imagine a flight that accidentally jumps to the year 2037

XPrize and ANA present a series of short stories "of the passengers from Flight 008, imagined by the world’s top science fiction storytellers, as they discover a future transformed by exponential technologies."

At 4:58am on June 28th, 2017, the passengers on board ANA Flight 008, en route from Tokyo to San Francisco, are cruising at an altitude of 37,000 feet, approximately 1,500 nautical miles off the West Coast of the United States. A small bump, otherwise noted as a barely perceptible bout of turbulence, passes Flight 008 through a temporary wrinkle in the local region of space-time. What these passengers will soon find out as they descend into SFO is that the wrinkle has transported them 20 years in the future, and the year is now 2037.

Writers in the anthology: Gregory Benford, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Brenda Cooper, Bruce Sterling, Hannu Rajaniemi, James Smythe, Nancy Kress, Daniel H. Wilson, Hugh Howey, James Morrow, Chen Qiufan, Madeline Ashby, Margaret Atwood, Karl Schroeder, Paolo Bacigalupi, Mike Resnick, Sheila Finch, Matt Hill, Charlie Jane Anders, Lee Konstantinou, Kevin J. Anderson, Eileen Gunn, and Charles Yu.

They are inviting the public to write a story based on this scenario. Winner gets $10,000 and a trip for two to Tokyo. Read the rest

Brilliant short story about being trapped in an infinite IKEA

The SCP Foundation features unsettling horror and SF stories, all posed as the technical reports of a secret international consortium whose job is to secure, contain and protect the public from all manner of weird threats, from unnatural beasties to sentient buildings. Written in the dry language of officialdom, they're the perfect short fiction for the internet-era and often extremely clever. I think this one about being trapped in an infinite IKEA, by Mortos, is my favorite yet.

Description: SCP-3008 is a large retail unit previously owned by and branded as IKEA, a popular furniture retail chain. A person entering SCP-3008 through the main entrance and then passing out of sight of the doors will find themselves translocated to SCP-3008-1. This displacement will typically go unnoticed as no change will occur from the perspective of the victim; they will generally not become aware until they try and return to the entrance.

SCP-3008-1 is a space resembling the inside of an IKEA furniture store, extending far beyond the limits of what could physically be contained within the dimensions of the retail unit. Current measurements indicate an area of at least 10km2 with no visible external terminators detected in any direction. Inconclusive results from the use of laser rangefinders has lead to the speculation that the space may be infinite.

SCP-3008-1 is inhabited by an unknown number of civilians trapped within prior to containment. Gathered data suggests they have formed a rudimentary civilisation within SCP-3008-1, including the construction of settlements and fortifications for the purpose of defending against SCP-3008-2.

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Noah fights a Tyrannosaurus in totally accurate Biblical interpretation

Fandom Jesus is no match for canon Jesus, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex is no match for fandom Noah in this meticulously faithful retelling of the Bible's greatest ark-builder. Read the rest

Coup! Serial satire uses imaginary Mike Pence coup to lampoon Trump's "presidency"

Gersh Kuntzman's serialized novel "Coup!" is notionally the memoir of a retired CIA operative ("Deep State") who, having discovered he had terminal cancer, decided to help Mike Pence invoke the 25th Amendment and stage a coup deposing Donald Trump and installing himself as President Handmaid's Tale, with a coterie of morally flexible billionaires who'd been bought off of Trump's cabinet with promises of special favors and steady leadership. Read the rest

Guy from Tinder doesn't look like his pics

Lane Loomis posted a scary story about how manners and expectations lead us into danger, especially when one person has all of one and none of the other.

I walked down to the front door of my building and there was a man there who looked nothing like “Jamie”. The thing about being a woman is that pleasing people is in your blood. From a young age you’re taught that not being liked by a guy is the worst possible thing. No one tells you why this is so bad, or even what would happen that’s so terrible about a guy not liking you. You just have this instinct to do it. It’s hard to go against.

So I saw this guy down there, and I had studied Jamie’s Tinder photos for the last hour since we started talking. I knew it wasn’t the same guy and I was confused about it. But I also didn’t turn around and go lock myself in my apartment. I did the stupid thing. I did the thing that women do and I went down and opened the door and smiled at him.

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Bad Sex in Fiction Award finalists

Since 1993, the Literary Review has presented the Bad Sex in Fiction Award to "an author who has produced an outstandingly bad scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel." The winner will be announced November 30; below are a few of the finalists:

Robert Seethaler’s The Tobacconist

“He closed his eyes and heard himself make a gurgling sound. And as his trousers slipped down his legs all the burdens of his life to date seemed to fall away from him; he tipped back his head and faced up into the darkness beneath the ceiling, and for one blessed moment he felt as if he could understand the things of this world in all their immeasurable beauty. How strange they are, he thought, life and all of these things. Then he felt Anezka slide down before him to the floor, felt her hands grab his naked buttocks and draw him to her. “Come, sonny boy!” he heard her whisper, and with a smile he let go.”

Janet Ellis’ The Butcher’s Hook “When his hand goes to my breasts, my feet are envious. I slide my hands down his back, all along his spine, rutted with bone like mud ridges in a dry field, to the audacious swell below. His finger is inside me, his thumb circling, and I spill like grain from a bucket. He is panting, still running his race. I laugh at the incongruous size of him, sticking to his stomach and escaping from the springing hair below.”

Erri De Luca’s The Day Before Happiness “She pushed on my hips, an order that thrust me in.

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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

Happy Chilcot Day (A Fairy Story)

Fantasy author Charlie "Oversight/Paradox" Fletcher says, "I wrote this as a Christmas story for my friends and family in 2010, seven years after the Iraq War began, eighteen months after the Chilcot Inquiry into it was announced. Six years further on Chilcot has finally reported. Because of that, and prompted by last week’s incredibly moving WW1/Battle of the Somme living memorial in the UK , it seems like a good time to share it again."

An unsettling metafiction told in paranoid Reddit comments

Sinister conspiracy theories about LSD, the government and MKUltra are not uncommon on the internet. But one anonymous Redditor's comments, easily ignored as odd paranoid tangents on the threads they appear on, add up to a "compelling science-fiction horror story" in aggregate — especially all that stuff about flesh interfacing. Reddit is a fascinating platform for such eerie, slow-building metafiction, writes Leigh Alexander.

The seemingly random thread names start to form a pattern: the reader gets the distinct pleasure of wondering why the author chose to post each component in each place. Eerie fragments of fiction hide among commonplace online discussion. Sometimes readers reply and engage, and sometimes are none the wiser. The enthusiastic cult fandom quickly built a Wiki to study and catalogue the mysterious tale, create a timeline of known events, and to note in a sort of literary formalist way what tropes the author is employing. The story also has its own dedicated discussion thread where volunteers have even developed audiobook editions.

The internet has always loved a good mystery, and Wikis, message boards and image boards have a history of playing host to fascinating and often scary folktales that leverage the format and utility of these digital spaces in creative ways.

"We can only hope," she adds, "that it's not a viral marketing stunt." Read the rest

Tailender

A short story about self-satisfaction, nerdcrime, and the 2008 economic meltdown. [5 min read]

My novel "Walkaway" will hit shelves in 2017

Update: Utopia's title is now "Walkaway" and it drops on April 25, 2017.

My biggest (and, IMO, best) adult novel has just sold to Tor for a very pleasing sum of money; it will hit shelves in 2017. Read the rest

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