Troop of monkeys attack lab assistant, steal COVID-19 samples

The badly written dystopian fiction that is our global pandemic continues. Read the rest

Original band does wonderful isolation version of the Cowboy Bebop theme song

The SEATBELTS, the original band that recorded the theme song to the amazing Japanese anime TV series, Cowboy Bebop, have recreated the song in social isolation. "Tank," the jazzy theme song, was recorded at home by each of the ten individual players. The song has always been memorable and this performance nails the its intensity and excitement.

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Look at this 'Ludo' beastie made by a 'Labyrinth' fan

So real, I can smell it! Read the rest

Exquisite crochet Dalek

IMGURian @zikikki1 does wonderful “nerdy crochet,” and this Doctor Who 'dalek' is a fantastic example of their work. Read the rest

Kim Stanley Robinson on how the coronavirus is rewiring our imaginations

Science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars, New York 2140, Aurora) has a fascinating piece in The New Yorker on how the pandemic is opening our thinking up to new possibilities, both good and bad, as we suddenly find ourselves in a world we only used to know in dystopian fiction.

Imagine a heat wave hot enough to kill anyone not in an air-conditioned space, then imagine power failures happening during such a heat wave. (The novel I’ve just finished begins with this scenario, so it scares me most of all.) Imagine pandemics deadlier than the coronavirus. These events, and others like them, are easier to imagine now than they were back in January, when they were the stuff of dystopian science fiction. But science fiction is the realism of our time. The sense that we are all now stuck in a science-fiction novel that we’re writing together—that’s another sign of the emerging structure of feeling.

Science-fiction writers don’t know anything more about the future than anyone else. Human history is too unpredictable; from this moment, we could descend into a mass-extinction event or rise into an age of general prosperity. Still, if you read science fiction, you may be a little less surprised by whatever does happen. Often, science fiction traces the ramifications of a single postulated change; readers co-create, judging the writers’ plausibility and ingenuity, interrogating their theories of history. Doing this repeatedly is a kind of training. It can help you feel more oriented in the history we’re making now.

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Science fiction author Marc Laidlaw is reading his work on YouTube

On his blog, Cory Doctorow alerted me to the news that science fiction author Marc Laidlaw has started a YouTube channel and is re-reading his short fiction. He does an excellent job creating voices for the characters in his stories. Marc has also released his novels as Kindle editions, and if you have a Kindle Unlimited membership (try a month for free) you can read them as part of your membership. Read the rest

Sci-fi author David Brin's recommended reading list

Science fiction author and futurist, David Brin, has put together an excellent list of sci-fi books to read. He posted this list years ago, but has re-surfaced it to remind people that now is a great time to READ.

He has the books divided up into interesting categories, like Harbingers of Hope, Sci-Fi for Kids, the Hard Stuff, Fantasy - with Brains, etc. Hundreds of great recommendations here.

Image: Glogger CC BY-SA 3.0 Read the rest

Yaphet Kotto turned down the role of Jean-Luc Picard

Viral again this week is the casting wishlist for Star Trek: The Next Generation, which reveals that Denise Crosby was originally to be cast as Counselor Troi, not Lt. Tasha Yar, and Predator's Kevin Peter Hall was considered for both Lt. Cmdr. Data and Lt. Geordi LaForge.

Best of all, Bond and Alien legend Yaphet Kotto was close to being cast as captain Jean-Luc Picard, a part that ultimately went to Patrick Stewart. I've shooped how the big fella might have looked in the role: take me to that timeline!

From an interview:

You also turned down the role of Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation? I think I made some wrong decisions in my life, man. I should have done that but I walked away. When you’re making movies, you’d tend to say no to TV. It’s like when you’re in college and someone asks you to the high school dance. You say no.

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Syfy makes all four seasons of Battlestar Galactica free to stream online

The Syfy Network is making all fours seasons of Battlestar Galactica available for streaming online. No registration is required.

The network has also made the two BG films, Battlestar Galactica: Razor and Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, available for streaming. But wait! There's more! The Battlestar Galactica mini-series (which I've never seen) is also now available for free streaming.

This is welcome news for all of us who are fans of the critically-acclaimed 2004 reboot of the original 1979 Glen A. Larson series.

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Max Barry on how science fiction prepares us for the apocalypse

I greatly enjoyed Max Barry's 2013 novel Lexicon (Cory loved it, too -- here's his review). Barry has a new novel that came out today from Putnam, called Providence, which I started reading. It's a space thriller about a four person crew on an AI controlled spaceship programmed to seek and destroy "salamanders" - creatures that kill by spitting mini-black holes. It's terrific so far (I'm 70% finished).

I'm happy that Max wrote this op-ed for Boing Boing, titled "How Science Fiction Prepares Us For the Apocalypse." -- Mark

My favorite theory on why we dream is that we’re practicing for emergencies. Asleep, unguarded, our minds conjure threats and dilemmas so that once we wake, we’ve learned something. Maybe not very much—maybe only what not to do, because it rarely goes well. But we learn more from our failures than our successes, and this is what our minds serve up, night after night: hypothetical dangers and defeats. Whether we’re fleeing a tiger or struggling to persuade a partner who won’t listen, we fail, but we also practice.

I suspect that’s also why we read fiction. We don’t seek escapism—or, at least, not only that. We read to inform our own future behavior. No matter how fanciful the novel, in the back of our minds, something very practical is taking notes.

Popular fiction regularly mirrors the times in which it’s published. Two hundred years ago, society readers were thrilled by dangerous flirtations in Jane Austen novels; a century ago, people living in newly urbanized cities devoured mysteries and detective stories; and the 1930s gave rise to the Golden Age of science fiction, with stories that asked where technology might take us. Read the rest

400 pages of Judge Dredd available for free

Rebellion has released the critically- and fan-acclaimed Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol.5 free to download and view on the 2000 AD app.

This 400-page collection includes classic Judge Dredd stories such as The Mega-Rackets, Judge Death Lives!, Diary of a Mad Citizen, The Hotdog Run, and the all-time great mega-epic Block Mania and The Apocalypse War!

Written by John Wagner (A History of Violence) and Alan Grant (Batman), it features artwork by some of the titans of comics, including Brian Bolland (Batman: The Killing Joke), Carlos Ezquerra (Preacher), Colin Wilson (Blueberry), Ian Gibson (Halo Jones), Mick McMahon (The Last American), Ron Smith (Transformers), and Steve Dillon (Preacher)!

[H/t Rodney Orpheus] Read the rest

Sci-fi film timeline: Next stop Soylent Green!

Artist and illustrator, Dan Meth, created this graphic years ago as part of his Pop Culture Charts series. Next stop: Soylent Green!

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88 Names: Matt Ruff's MMORPG heist novel is "Snow Crash meets the King and I"

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."

Trailer for Tales from the Loop

Simon Stålenhag's (previously at Boing Boing) unnerving blend of social realism, misty landscapes and alien technology is coming to TV in the form of a series based on Tales from the Loop. [via The Verge] Read the rest

A new blog post series exploring the history and import of cyberpunk launches on Adafruit

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

Nerding out over sci-fi spaceship designs at the Spacedock

When I was a teen devourer of sci-fi, I was obsessed with the spaceship designs on paperback book covers. I would buy any novel or short story collection, however sketchy the contents seemed, if I dug the ship on the cover. Conversely, I would pass over well-regarded books if I thought the spaceship art was crappy. Sometimes, the covers would make a more lasting impression on me than the contents.

I can't imagine how high over the moon teenage me would be for YouTube channels like Spacedock. This excellently-produced channel is a collection of deep-nerdings over the minutia of spaceship designs found in sci-fi media. Episodes look at categories of ships across different sci-fi universes or they are deep dives into a specific class of ship from a world, or a single, iconic ship from a series.

The opinions are definitely those of the creator of the channel, and I don't always agree with them, but current me and teenage me are in love with the nerdiness of it all. Read the rest

Kevin Kelly discusses "Fall, or Dodge in Hell" with author Neal Stephenson

I really enjoyed this interview that Kevin Kelly conducted with sci-fi author, Neal Stephenson, as part of The Long Now Foundation's salon series at The Interval in San Francisco.

During the one hour exchange, these two inspiring thinkers discuss Neal's latest book, Fall, or Dodge in Hell, some of the inspirations behind it, and how some of these technologies may come to pass. Half of the video is Q&A with the audience.

Here is the cover slap copy for the book:

Fall, or Dodge in Hell" is pure, unadulterated fun: a grand drama of analog and digital, man and machine, angels and demons, gods and followers, the finite and the eternal. In this exhilarating epic, Neal Stephenson raises profound existential questions and touches on the revolutionary breakthroughs that are transforming our future. Combining the technological, philosophical, and spiritual in one grand myth, he delivers a mind-blowing speculative literary saga for the modern age.

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