'Dark Matter' by Blake Crouch is a romp through problems with time travel

Dark Matter is a time travel story that reminded me of a Tom Clancy 'Jack Ryan' adventure and beats all the tropes over the head.

Blake Crouch sets up a blazingly paced adventure revolving around what happens if a human can be placed in Schröedinger's box, instead of damn cat. That human is Jason Dessen, the guy who built the damn box in the first place.

Talk about screwing yourself up, Dessen's adventure takes the cake.

A fast read that touches on heady subjects but doesn't force you down a rathole, Dark Matter was a welcome read during this odd time.

Dark Matter by Black Crouch via Amazon Read the rest

Man in 1937 painting appears to be staring at a smartphone

Italian artist Umberto Romano painted the mural above in 1937 in the original Springfield, Massachusetts post office, now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Office Building. Titled "Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield," it's actually the first in a series of murals telling the story of Springfield's history from 1636 to 1936. More details at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum site. But if Romano painted this in 1937, how come the Native American in the bottom middle appears to be staring at a smartphone? From Brian Anderson's riff on the matter in Vice:

My introduction to the man came recently by way of New York City-based writer and historian Daniel Crown, who published an illuminating essay on William Pynchon in The Public Domain Review in 2015. Crown's piece makes one passing mention (in an image caption written by a PDR editor) to the object the man holds, noting how it bears a striking likeness to a smartphone. Romano, who died in 1982 at the age of 77, appears to have made no remarks specifically about the man; whatever clarity the artist could've offered he likely took with him to the grave. Crown's nod to the sitting man, near as I can tell, is the first and only such reference to date. I figured I'd start by reaching out to him.

"To put it in the kindliest possible terms, Romano's so-called 'abstract' aesthetic was willfully ambiguous," Crown told me over email. But it could very well be, he added, that the man quite literally sees himself in the handheld object, looking back at him.

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I reviewed William Gibson's novel "Agency" for today's LA Times

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. Read the rest

Where are all the time travelers?

Over at Medium, Kesh Anand has a crisp answer, or rather five possible five answers, to this questions: "Where are all the time travelers?" Of course, it's very possible that there just aren't any. And that's Anand's fifth answer. The others four are more fun to consider:

1. They’re not visiting your time period.

2. They’re hiding in plain sight.

3. You think they’re crazy.

4. People experience the past without leaving their own time.

And for the last word, here is some old wisdom from Britney Spears and Kevin Federline:

(via Daily Grail) Read the rest

Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang bring Paper Girls in for a perfect landing

Paper Girls is Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang's outstanding, Stranger Things-esque all-girl time-travel adventure comic, and after four years, the pair have completed the story, tying up the increasingly complicated braided timelines of their tale in a fantastically satisfying bow. Read the rest

Annalee Newitz's "Future of Another Timeline": like Handmaid's Tale meets Hitchhiker's Guide

Annalee Newitz (previously) just published her second novel, The Future of Another Timeline, a madcap feminist time-travel novel that pits incel extremists who are trying to snuff out feminism before it can get started against a secret liberation army of feminists inspired by the (alternate history) Senator Harriett Tubman. Read the rest

The Folio Society is releasing a gorgeous edition of Octavia Butler's "Kindred"

Octavia Butler (previously), the brilliant Afrofuturist, McArthur Genius Grant-winning science fiction writer, died far, far too soon, leaving behind a corpus of incredible, voraciously readable novels, and a community of writers who were inspired by her example. Read the rest

'There is no God': Stephen Hawking's final book has 'Brief Answers to the Big Questions'

Stephen Hawking's final book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, was released posthumously Tuesday by his children. Read the rest

FILM: 'Calling All Earthlings' explores Integratron Time Machine of UFO 'contactee' George Van Tassel

CALLING ALL EARTHLINGS, the new documentary from filmmaker  Jonathan Berman ('Commune,' 'The Schvitz') has it all: UFOs, a mystical dome in the Joshua Tree desert, psychic experiences, time travel, Howard Hughes, Nikolai Tesla, communists, eternal life, murder-- oh yeah, and Nazis. Read the rest

Formula 1 car hits 88 mph with ease

"I can't be the only person who saw the sparks and thought this," writes Barry Dennen, "so apologies if it's been done already."

It has not only been done, but it will be done again forever! Read the rest

Paper Girls 4: duelling invisible megabots, time travel and the prime directive, now with more Hugo nominations!

Paper Girls is the outstanding Stranger-Things-esque graphic novel series by Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, a tale of time-travel, meddling, war and coming of age whose mind-bending twists and turns earned it a Hugo nomination this year. Now Paper Girls 4 is on shelves, and it's time to party like it's 1999.

Don these slippers inspired by Marty McFly's self-lacing sneakers

You probably missed out when Nike auctioned off 89 modern-day replicas of Marty McFly's self-lacing sneakers, but that shouldn't stop you from having a pair. While they don't tie themselves, these handcrafted slippers inspired by Marty's futuristic Back to the Future II Air Mags should do the trick. Read the rest

When Fonzie and the Happy Days gang time traveled

If you're a child of the seventies, you'll probably remember that while the sitcom Happy Days aired from 1974 to 1984, it was set in Milwaukee in the late fifties.

Ok, so in 1980, an animated spin-off series called The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang hit the Saturday morning cartoon circuit, lasting just two years. In those two seasons, they meet a "future chick" named Cupcake and are accidentally hurled through time and space in a janky spaceship with Mr. Cool, a talking dog. This quasi-educational show (which has Wolfman Jack as its narrator) chronicles their journey trying to get back to 1957, but first they jump to significant historical time and places, like the Salem Witch Trials.

So, it's a cartoon, made for early-eighties kids, of fifties youth bouncing around in time trying to get back to 1957. Sure... why not?.

If you have the time (heh), watch all of Season 1 and Season 2.

If you're wondering, this cartoon happened two years after Robin Williams landed a small role as Mork on the live-action Happy Days (which eventually turned into the spin-off, Mork & Mindy) and just three years after the Fonz jumped the shark.

Ayyy... Can you dig it?

(Weird Universe) Read the rest

Watch this wonderful whiteboard mapping of time travel in movies

MinutePhysics' Henry Reich works the whiteboard to map and categorize time travel in films like Back to the Future, A Christmas Carol, Groundhog Day, Looper, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

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William Gibson's Archangel: a graphic story of the unfolding jackpot apocalypse

William Gibson's 2014 novel The Peripheral was the first futuristic book he published in the 21st century, and it showed us a distant future in which some event, "The Jackpot," had killed nearly everyone on Earth, leaving behind a class of ruthless oligarchs and their bootlickers; in the 2018 sequel, Agency, we're promised a closer look at the events of The Jackpot. Between then and now is Archangel, a time-traveling, alt-history, dieselpunk story of power-mad leaders and nuclear armageddon.

Paper Girls volume 3: the all-girl, time-traveling Stranger Things gets even better

In Paper Girls, the celebrated comics creator Brian K Vaughan (Saga, Y: The Last Man, etc) teams up with Cliff Chiang to tell a story that's like an all-girl Stranger Things, with time-travel. Read the rest

Kindred: a powerful graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler's slavery masterpiece

Octavia Butler is a name to conjure with: the first African-American woman to rise to prominence in science fiction, Butler's fiction inspired generations of writers by mixing rousing adventure stories with nuanced, razor-sharp parables about race and gender in America; she was the first science fiction writer to be awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant, and her sudden and untimely death left a hole in the hearts of her readers, proteges and admirers.

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