Cassandra Khaw's shockingly good 3-page short story Monologue by an unnamed mage, recorded at the brink of the end takes a genre and an archetype and distills from them a perfect moment that embodies and exceeds both.
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That they dragged us back, bound in brambles and bronze, that they made us choose between being separated or being part of the vanguard against the apocalypse, all that is of no importance. That we laughed at their ultimatum, that we said yes, that we held hands as they told us we probably wouldn’t come back, that is what matters.
What matters is that I love you and that I will always love you, and I won’t let them have you, even if I have to husk myself of all that I am and splinter the universe again. You’re mine and I am yours, and what are gods to people who have seen the continents fold up like paper planes?
Star Trek has many spinoffs, but they all happen within a fairly shallow focal plane: consider how controversial it was to set DS9 on a space station instead of a starship, or how radical it seemed for Discovery to not star the ship's commanding officer. Tiffany Kelly got eight SF writers to cook up more intriguing adventures in America's favorite future.
I like the ideas from Rob Boffard, Annalee Newitz andd Charles Yu, who each want a look at invisible levels of Klingon and Federation society. Newitz wants to see Klingon scientists and workers navigating the military elite's endless honor games; Yu wants to make a hero of a green-visored Ferenghi number-crunching his way through the Federation finances, a moneyless socialist energy economy that must yet do business with a universe that runs on gold-pressed Latinum.
(Together, the eight proposals seem almost like a critique of Star Trek's practical limitations as television SF.) Read the rest
Fear of Palindromes stuffed an entire computer inside a standard power supply box, complete with gaming-class GTX 1060 video card and a (smaller!) internal power supply.
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While lesser ATX units can't do anything on their own, and must be installed in a case and hooked up to other parts in order to create a functional system, STX160.0 is entirely self-contained, fitting within it's case both the power delivery subsystem, and a full gaming computer! Here we can see that despite the somewhat large size compared to other ATX units, there is not a bit of wasted space. ... In order to fit within the 150mm width of the ATX form factor, a Mini-STX had to be used, this particular one being an ASRock H110M-STX.
Looking for a tiny PC that still has space for a gaming-quality video card? SFF PC Cases is a remarkably detailed spreadsheet listing dozens of models, complete with cost, dimensions, volume and even important build tips. The very smallest are not practical for powerful builds, but the critical "Maximum GPU length" field is right there to help you out.
The gold-standard NCase M1 turns out to be only the 27th smallest case that can accommodate a GPU, and even the ultrawee Dan Case A4 doesn't hit the top ten! But it's also true that many on the list require fat external power bricks
(if you're happy with that, the Custom Mod and S4 Mini models are astoundingly tiny, though good luck finding them for sale) or impose other brutal compromises, such as proprietary power supplies, too-severe limitations on GPU size, or plain goofy design.
The smallest case that's widely-available, attractive, and (relatively) inexpensive? And not so small that assembly will be a nightmare? Probably the Fractal Node 202. Read the rest
Yours for €2099, Love Hultén's limited-edition Datorbox comes in green or orange and looks like something from another age. Well-specced and tiny, you'll have the challenge of finding pretty peripherals to go with it.
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Datorbox is an extremely compact gaming desktop system, enclosed by an elegant handcrafted wooden case. Despite it's small form factor- measuring only 31x24x7cm, this small minimalistic beast delivers monster performance. To fulfill the needs of gamers further, the Datorbox is fully VR-ready and supports 4K video. The wooden casing is designed for optimized airflow and Datorbox runs very quiet, even on full load.
The top of this eye-catching artifact displays a saturn fan grille, and the front panel is adorned by a composition of six big bulb-caps completing an ambient Larson scanner effect when in use.
Wendy Pini is most famous for Elfquest (above), but her artistic career spans fifty years of pop culture history, from weird lowbrow surrealism to yaoi pastiche. Line of Beauty isn't just a stunning art book covering decades in and beyond epic fantasy, but a powerful yet curiously tentative biography, drawing together threads from a childhood in the Californian sticks to the poisoned promises of Hollywood.
That it's so mysterious and unjudgmental (of her, at least) is most remarkable for the fact it was written by her husband, Richard Pini. His book is a crafty invitation to the worlds implied by her work, a mythos that seems misty and intangible even as its details take shape.
Born 1951, Wendy was a talent from early childhood, and we learn of the tensions and inspirations that flowed through her to emerge as a personal Elfame: adoptive parents whose emotional abuses hover on the margins of trauma; childhood obsessions and contrasts; and encounters with what were then rare oddities in rural America—manga, weird cartoons, the deeper magics of European and Japanese folklore—which she consumed voraciously.
Richard's access to private artwork and private fact far exceeds what a researcher might get to, but flags his story right off as both authorized and intimate. But while uncritical, the narrative stops short of hagiography: there's much evidence of unexpected turns and some evidence of friction in its creation. The focus is on Wendy's deep fascination with Hogarthian serpentine structures and sequential art (hence the title), and her artistic motivation and development. Read the rest
Vulgar constructs languages for fantasy fiction or whatever other purpose you can imagine, applying consistent rules to the custom phonemes you feed it. [via]
Vulgar's output models the regularities, irregularities and quirks of real world languages; phonology, grammar, and a 2000 unique word vocabulary. Trial the demo version online. Purchase the premium version to get access to the complete 2000 word output (with derivational words) and extra grammatical rules. ...
Vulgar generates ... based on a list of some of English's most common words. However, the program is more than just a one-to-one mapping of unique outputs to English words. In an effort to mimic real world languages, Vulgar also creates various homphones and overlapping senses inspired by examples from real world languages. For example:
Here's my language:
The Language of Puput /ˈpʰupʰutʰ/
...and he stood holding his hat and turned his wet face to the wind.
...u lu bunela une luch yafa u neba luch miku peb tul ye
Pronunciation: /u lu bɯˈnela ˈune løtʃ ˈjafa u ˈneba løtʃ ˈmikʰø pʰeb t̪øl je/
Narrow pronunciation: [u lu bɯˈnela ˈune løtʃ ˈjafa u ˈneba løtʃ ˈmikʰø pʰe t̪øl je]
Puput structure: and he stood holding his hat and turned his wet face the wind to
Seed for this language: 0.36384689368800394
The Puput word for "stuff" is "nut." I'll spare you details of the nominative and accusative case forms, but they're there. The full edition of the app is $20. Read the rest
The Cancer of Superstition, a non-fiction treatise commissioned from author H.P. Lovecraft, was found in a memorabilia collection in a defunct magic shop.
Magician Harry Houdini asked Lovecraft to ghostwrite the text for a book project, but died shortly thereafter. Now it goes to auction.
The collection bounced around after Beatrice Houdini’s death in 1943 and was never truly catalogued or ‘mined’ in all that time. The papers were never researched or inventoried,” said Potter & Potter president Gabe Fajuri. “In all that time, no one seemed to realise the significance of the manuscript.”
Fajuri said the collection was recently bought privately, and when “the new owner began sorting through the mountain of paperwork, he began putting the pieces together, and in the process discovered the manuscript and its significance”
From the excerpts, it sounds exactly as you'd imagine a Lovecraft text about superstition to sound ('superstition is an “inborn inclination” that “persists only through mental indolence”' etc). There is some debate over the authorship, with S.T. Joshi identifying CM Eddy. If you want it, expect to pay $25,000-$40,000 for it. Read the rest
Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt talk about the latest in science fiction and fantasy.
Ghost writes, "The Octavia Project, named for Octavia Butler, is a project 98% funded at Indigogo, with only a few days left. Helping them get over the top would be great, and the more they raise, the more girls they help. From their description:" Read the rest
Small productions are becoming better—and more professional—than ever. But the falling price of good equipment is only part of the magic.
Fables, Elfquest, Marvel's Conan and Neil Gaiman's Sandman are the best fantasy comics of all time, according to Comic Book Resources, whose list is bullshit without Groo. Read the rest
reviews The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
, where we see more clearly Jackson's vision to give The Hobbit
the look, feel and slow majesty of The Lord of the Rings
Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs offer an illustrious list that includes H.G. Wells, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury and Ursula K. LeGuin. [i09] Read the rest
From Max Read's fantastic article nitpicking the inconsistencies in Game of Thrones' deployment of regional British accents:
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"The show has dragons, who cares if the accents don't match?": Well, first of all, I care. Second of all, the cornerstone of science fiction and fantasy fandom is nitpicking. Third of all, the fact that Game of Thrones doesn't take place within our collectively agreed-upon reality doesn't release it from its responsibility to verisimilitude or the maintenance of internal consistency within its own systems.
Knightmare was a fantastic childrens' adventure show that ran on British TV in the 1980s. A youngster, wearing a vision-blinding helmet, would be guided around a giant virtual reality castle by a team of his or her peers, which issued instructions from dungeon master Treguard's chambers. Though defined by its technical limitations, Knightmare built a cult following thanks to its pioneering blue-screen setup—hence the blindfolding—and merciless treatment of contestants. The Guardian's Ben Child interviewed creator Tim Child and star Hugo Myatt and found that the production was itself something of a bad dream. Embedded above is the show's intro and a short documentary about it. Then you may enjoy a a selection of deaths. Read the rest