Sci-fi novelist David Brin has a new book out titled Existence (Amazon US and UK) which touches on a number of topics we enjoy discussing here, perhaps most prominently the possibility of alien contact. Here's the trailer and short summary for those interested, following which I have a question for you all, and would love to hear your answers:
Gerald Livingston is an orbital garbage collector. For a hundred years, people have been abandoning things in space, and someone has to clean it up. But there’s something spinning a little bit higher than he expects, something that isn’t on the decades’ old orbital maps. An hour after he grabs it and brings it in, rumors fill Earth’s infomesh about an “alien artifact.”
Thrown into the maelstrom of worldwide shared experience, the Artifact is a game-changer. A message in a bottle; an alien capsule that wants to communicate. The world reacts as humans always do: with fear and hope and selfishness and love and violence. And insatiable curiosity.
This io9 write-up mentions some of the setting of Brin's future world of the 2050s, including "the mesh, a virtual reality that exists on top of the real world and is viewable through glasses, contacts and eye implants collectively". Reading about such ideas, and agreeing completely with things such as 'the mesh', prompted me to wonder what you all think we will be seeing in four decades (if we're still alive)? Where will we be at technologically, spiritually, and politically? Tell me how *your* Earth of 2050 looks.
Acclaimed Science-Fiction legend Ray Bradbury has departed our world. The writer of classics like The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 & Something Wicked This Way Comes passed away last night at the age of 91.
Forever a Luddite, it seems the Red Planet's visionary opted for Venus as a much suitable transport than an airplane for his next destination.
"In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury has inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create," the statement said. "A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time."
Feel free to share your admiration for his work, and how it influenced your life's journey.
Rest in Peace.
When does a machine stop being a machine?
When does it become a person?
Kara, a impressively-moving short video intended to portray the power of the Playstation's graphic engine, makes a clever use of the limitations in accurately rendering a human character --the famous Uncanny Valley-- as a powerful narrative element that adds depth to the story of a self-aware android.
[H/T Boing Boing]
For the post-apocalyptic sci-fi lovers: check out Rosa, an epic sci-fi short film set in a future where all natural life has disappeared (warning - violence):
From the destruction awakes Rosa, a cyborg deployed from the Kernel project, mankind’s last attempt to restore the earth’s ecosystem. Rosa will soon learn that she is not the only entity that has awakened and must fight for her survival.
Unbelievably, Rosa was created entirely by young comic-artist Jesús Orellana over the course of a year with no budget. Happily, after the feature won prizes at a number of festivals, Hollywood got interested and Rosa is now in development to be a feature film. Certainly, a number of aspects of the short film hint at a much larger storyline and already-constructed fictional world...so I'm looking forward to seeing the full deal.
A quick heads-up for any Grailers who are interested: Comic Cavalcade have just put on sale a signed, limited edition (200 copies) hardcover of Alan Moore's Lovecraftian-themed Neonomicon (illustrations and wonderful cover by Jacen Burrows). If interested, I'd get in very quickly (I did!):
A warning note for the uninitiated (pun unintended): Neonomicon certainly puts the graphic into 'graphic novel' - it is full-on, adults-only, murder and (beast-)sex fare. Consider yourself warned...
Well this is just wonderful: The Call of Cthulhu, by H.P. Lovecraft, channeled by Dr Seuss:
In the month of March '25 it occurred
(amongst other ills of which you might have heard)
Wilcox asked Professor Angell to explain
the visions of R'lyeh assaulting his brain.
Browse all of the pages via Dr FaustusAU's Deviant Art gallery.
Last month I linked to NPR's list of the Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books. For those, like me, who thought it might be a good idea to work through the (unread portions of the) top 100 as a future reading list, here's a handy tool to help you out with individual selections: SFSignal has posted an awesome flowchart "designed to help you follow your tastes, provide context, and fulfill (indeed exceed!) any need for pithy commentary you might harbor".
The flowchart starts with the simple choice of sci-fi or fantasy, and then narrows down the selection based on what subjects you'd like to read about (e.g. Sci Fi/Not Cyberpunk/Space-Based/Not Military/Peaceful Aliens/"Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke):
Update: Now also available in an interactive version.
You might also like:
Back in 2004 my good friend Mark James Foster (design genius behind our online mag Sub Rosa and various books released by Daily Grail Publishing) gave me a book that he had written, titled Everywhere But No Place. Up until that point, I only knew Mark as a wonderful graphic designer - but after reading his book, I was sickened to learn that he may be an even better fiction author...far too much talent for one person to have in my opinion! Everywhere But No Place is a great science fiction and fantasy crossover (in my opinion), taking virtual reality and infusing it with a strange magic (being far more worthy of the famous Matrix quote, "Buckle your seatbelt Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye-bye!"). And his descriptive flourishes are just spot-on (seven years later, I still remember the line describing two decrepit tower blocks in a housing estate as looking like "a pair of dark concrete fingers telling the sky to f**k off".)
Unfortunately, Mark's book was never picked up by a big publisher (perhaps because it didn't conform to tired old formulas). However, the recent 'revolution' in publishing has meant that Mark has now been able to release the novel as a Kindle eBook, for the absolutely crazy price of $2.77 at Amazon US (£1.71 at Amazon UK, and €2.99 at Amazon.de)! At that price I recommend you *all* go and download a copy, for reading on your Kindle, Apple/Android/Blackberry device or just on your computer via Amazon's Kindle software.
Here's a view of the cover with some of the internal text:
If you'd like a taste of the novel before buying (seriously though, at that price?!), head to the official Everywhere But No Place website, where you can read more about the book, including some sample material. Well worth a couple of dollars - hours of enjoyment in return. Would be great to see the Grail battalions push it up the Kindle charts where it might receive further attention from others!
Get your copy now:
Unbeknownst to most of the world due to limited availability, back in February a graphic novel - H2O - hit the stands that caught TDG’s attention for two primary reasons: the subject matter, and the fact that it was created and written by one of TDG’s own, Friday news admin Grant Calof!
Here’s a quick summary of H2O, in case the title didn’t give it away...
Set two hundred years in the future, after a 100-year drought and a failed rainmaking experiment decimate the Earth and its atmosphere, the extinction of humankind appears all but certain... until two scientists on opposite sides of what’s left of the world discover a vast, buried glacier - setting off a deadly race to claim the planet’s last source of fresh water.
Now if that wasn't cool enough, here's the kicker: we're making the comic available to all TDG readers for free, as a downloadable PDF. Just click the cover image below to head off and download your own copy (courtesy of the author). The PDF will only be available for a limited time, so get in.
The artwork is sumptuous - a real treat for the eyes. Grant noted to me that the original story for H2O was actually twice as long, but significant portions of the backstory and connective tissue wound up getting cut – so at times the story reads, in his words, "like an abridged action flick". That said, if the stars continue to align, H2O could very well be an action flick coming soon to a theater near you...
In case you’re interested in reading more about the artists, the writer or the inspiration for the comic/graphic novel, Newsarama.com published a lengthy interview in October of 2010 (the book's original release date).
A few weeks back I pointed out NPR's reader poll of the top 100 science fiction and fantasy titles. Well, after more than 60,000 votes, the results are now in - here's the top ten as voted by the public:
- The Lord Of The Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
- Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
- The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
- A Song Of Ice And Fire series, by George R.R. Martin
- 1984: A Novel, by George Orwell
- Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
- The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
- Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
- American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
Not a lot of surprises at the top of the list, although I was rather shocked that one of my personal picks, The Day of the Triffids, didn't even make the top 100. Any other notable inclusions or omissions that caught your eye (remembering that Young Adult and horror were left out, as they will get their own poll...so, no Harry Potter by default)?
Also at NPR: Parsing the results.