Karl Schroeder's "Stealing Worlds": visionary science fiction of a way through the climate and inequality crises

Karl Schroeder (previously) is literally the most visionary person I know (and I've known him since 1986!): he was the first person to every mention "fractals" to me, then "the internet" and then "the web" -- there is no one, no one in my circle more ahead of more curves, and it shows in his novels and none moreso than Stealing Worlds, his latest, which is a futuristic roadmap to how our present-day politics, economics, technology and society might evolve. Read the rest

Karl Schroeder's "The Million": a science fiction conspiracy novel of radically altered timescales

Karl Schroeder's 2014 novel Lockstep featured tour-de-force worldbuilding, even by the incredibly high standards of Karl Schroeder novels: the human race speciates into cold-sleeping cicadas who only wake for one day in ten, or a hundred, or a million, allowing them to traverse interstellar distances and survive on the meager energy and materials available in deep space; with his new novella The Million, Schroder shows us how Lockstep is lived on Earth, the cradle of the human species, where a brutal murder threatens to blow apart the life of a very out-of-step protagonist.

The Warrior Within: a tight science fiction novella about a warrior who contains multitudes

We've featured Angus McIntyre's short fiction here before (see 2015's Someone to Watch Over Me), and now I'm delighted to recommend his debut between covers: a Tor.com novella called The Warrior Within.

Charlie Stross on the sorry state of science fictional worldbuilding

Charlie Stross explains that he's more-or-less stopped reading science fiction, no longer capable of stomaching the paper-thin worldbuilding that refuses to contemplate the profound ways in which technology changes human relations and motivations. Read the rest

Stephen Wolfram teched the tech for Arrival

Mathematician Stephen Wolfram and his company do a lot of consulting for Hollywood. But he doesn't often do it on an urgent basis because a movie is about to shoot and they neglected to "tech the tech."

When I first started looking at the script for [Arrival], I quickly realized that to make coherent suggestions I really needed to come up with a concrete theory for the science of what might be going on. Unfortunately there wasn’t much time — and in the end I basically had just one evening to invent how interstellar space travel might work. Here’s the beginning of what I wrote for the movie makers about what I came up with that evening (to avoid spoilers I’m not showing more)

He builds a convincing technical and scientific backstory for space travel that informs the movie production rather than being dumped on the viewer. But he also offered suggestions on fixing little howlers (“You shouldn’t say the spacecraft came a million light years; that’s outside the galaxy; say a trillion miles instead.") and found that the process of line-editing screenplays reminded him of software design. (“cut out any complexity one can, and make everything as clear and minimal as possible.”)

He also created, at short notice, a whiteboard covered in physics jibber-jabber when the filmmakers were doing reshoots. Irony: he's not used one in decades. Read the rest

Too Like the Lightning: intricate worldbuilding, brilliant speculation, gripping storytelling

Ada Palmer -- historian, musician, librettist -- debuts as a novelist today with a book called Too Like the Lightning, a book more intricate, more plausible, more significant than any debut I can recall.