#sciencefiction Feed

"Her Strong Enchantments Failing..." Blogging

What would a hybrid tentacled-horror unholy cross between H.P. Lovecraft and Tom Clancy write if it set out to do a sendup of Anne McCaffrey, Bram Stoker, and J.R.R. Tolkien?

NewImage

Live from the Borderlands of Faerie: At Charlie Jane Anders's Writers with Drinks last Saturday night, Charles Stross read the opening to his brand-new The Nightmare Stacks. The whole is excellent. The opening is very, very fine and well-done. But the opening does not give an accurate picture of the full craziness.

So here is another passage. In this passage, the horns of Elfland call "boots and saddles", and we watch the Wild Hunt of the Unseelie Court of Faerie as the Queen of Air and Darkness prepares to take to the skies. Weyr Search was never like this:

Charles Stross: The Nightmare Stacks: "As the huge moon sets and the sky darkens towards true night...

...the ground crews in Malham Cove prepare the first two firewyrms for flight. Strikers One and Two are fettered, quiescent, upon the cracked limestone and grass below the cliff face. The dragons’ barrel-thoraxes rise and fall slowly, air pumping through their air sacs. Their legs, weak and hollow-boned, are splinted with a filigree of titanium trusses to stop them shattering under the weight of riders and weapons payloads. Woven copper wire hoses vanish into mouth and rectum, driven by moaning ventilator boxes to keep the corrosive fumes away from anyone who might approach them. Once airborne the deadly fluoritic acid (a decomposition product of wyrmspit) will diffuse away naturally, but close to the ground it can dissolve the bones inside the ground crew before anybody notices.

Continue reading ""Her Strong Enchantments Failing..." Blogging" »


Weekend Reading: John Scalzi: How Blogs Work Today

Pose off with John Scalzi

John Scalzi: How Blogs Work Today: "My piece... on Clinton and Sanders blew up... with roughly 75,000 views over two days...

...This gave me an excuse to check my referrers and ego search on Google and see a bit of who was talking about the post and/or sending people my way. What I found: Facebook was by far the largest mover of visits and the place where the largest number of people were commenting on the piece, on their own wall or in the comments of others. Twitter was the next highest contributor of traffic/discussion. After that, and a bit down the scale, a couple of political sites, community sites like Metafilter or Reddit, and Google Plus, which, yes, apparently some people still use. But, interestingly, almost none of the conversation about/traffic to the piece was coming from personal blogs.

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: John Scalzi: How Blogs Work Today" »


Writers With Drinks: Charles Stross, Sarah Kuhn, Shruti Swamy

The Nightmare Stacks A Laundry Files Novel Charles Stross 9780425281192 Amazon com Books

Charlie Anders: Spoken word variety show: "Variety is more that just the name of Prince's favorite girl-singer sidekick...

...It's more than just having sex dressed as Alien Greenspan every once in a while. It's also a Literary Imperative!...

At The Make Out Room 3225 22nd St., San Francisco CA. Saturday, July 9, 2016 from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM, doors open at 6:30 PM.

  • Charles Stross (The Nightmare Stacks)
  • Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex)
  • Shruti Swamy (Night Garden)

Continue reading "Writers With Drinks: Charles Stross, Sarah Kuhn, Shruti Swamy" »


Manu Saadia on Trekonomics at Books Inc. in Berkeley :: June 15, 2016

Star trek sarek live long and prosper Google Search

Manu Saadia: Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek http://amzn.to/28ZnBiD

Live from the Gamma Quadrant: Books Inc.: Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek: "Manu Saadia discusses Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek...

...What would the world look like if everybody had everything they wanted or needed? Delving deep into the details and intricacies of 24th century society, Trekonomics explores post-scarcity and whether we, as humans, are equipped for it. What are the prospects of automation and artificial intelligence? Is there really no money in Star Trek? Is Trekonomics at all possible? Manu will be in conversation with UC Berkeley economics professor Brad DeLong.


Rough Semi-Transcript:

Continue reading "Manu Saadia on Trekonomics at Books Inc. in Berkeley :: June 15, 2016" »


Monday Smackdown: Todd van der Werff Gets Game of Thrones Wrong...

Battle of the bastards Google Search

This is wrong!:

Todd van der Werff: Game of Thrones season 6, episode 9: 5 winners and 6 losers in the “Battle of the Bastards”: "Winner 1: Jon Snow...

...Well, obviously. Jon doesn’t just win the titular battle. He also effectively wins a battle against the entire dramatic apparatus of the TV show he lives in.... Jon also earned his win. Yeah, he was saved at the last minute by his half-sister and Littlefinger (more on that in a second), but he kept his troops rallied, even when they were surrounded on all sides by men with shields who were slowly killing all of them.... Yeah, someone else saves the day, but Jon gets everybody to the point where the day can be saved...

John Snow was so completely out-generalled by Ramsey Bolton that it isn't even funny. Yes, Wun-Wun and Petyr Baelish's acceding to Sansa's request and showing up with the knights of the Vale saves the day. But all John Snow did was to not die while his strategic, operational, and tactical decisions got his army of Stark loyalists and Wildlings slaughtered.

Continue reading "Monday Smackdown: Todd van der Werff Gets Game of Thrones Wrong..." »


Weekend Reading: Manu Saadia: Introduction: Trekonomics

Manu Saadia: Trekonomics: Introduction:

I have shown how the ideas of progression and of the indefinite perfectibility of the human race belong to democratic ages. Democratic nations care but little for what has been, but they are haunted by visions of what will be; in this direction their unbounded imagination grows and dilates beyond all measure. Here then is the wildest range open to the genius of poets, which allows them to remove their performances to a sufficient distance from the eye. Democracy shuts the past against the poet, but opens the future before him... Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

...it no longer seemed so important whether the world was Adam Smith or Karl Marx. Neither made very much sense under the new circumstances... Isaac Asimov, I, Robot

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: Manu Saadia: Introduction: Trekonomics" »


Necessity Sweepstakes Tor com

Live from Thessaly: Stubby the Rocket: Necessity Sweepstakes!:

I went down yesterday to the Piraeus with Glaukon the son of Ariston, that I might offer up my prayers to the goddess; and also because I wanted to see in what manner they would celebrate the festival, which was a new thing. I was delighted with the procession of the inhabitants; but that of the Thrakians was equally, if not more, beautiful. When we had finished our prayers and viewed the spectacle, we turned in the direction of the city; and at that instant Polemarkhos the son of Kephalos chanced to catch sight of us from a distance as we were starting on our way home, and told his servant to run and bid us wait for him. The servant took hold of me by the cloak behind, and said: ‘Polemarkhos desires you to wait…’

‘Why?’ I responded.

Because tor.com is giving away a galley copy of Necessity, the third volume of Jo Walton’s Thessaly. And there was a drinking party last January over at Crooked Timber, in which part of the discussion went:

Continue reading "" »


NewImage

Live from R'lyeh: Charles Stross: The Nightmare Stacks: "A vampire is haunting Whitby; it’s traditional...

...It’s an hour after dusk on a Saturday evening four weeks before the spring gothic festival. Alex the Vampire strolls along the sea front, his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his tweed jacket. There’s a chill breeze blowing onshore, and he has the pavement to himself as he walks, eyes downcast and chin tucked into his chest, lost in thought. What profound insight does the creature of the night contemplate as he paces along the North Promenade beside the beach, opposite a row of moonlit houses? What ancient wisdom, what hideous secrets haunt the conscience of the undying?

Let’s take a look inside his head:

Alex is fretting about his Form P.764 Employee Travel and Subsistence Claim, which he will have to fill out once he returns to his cramped room in a local bed and breakfast...


Must-Attend: June 15, 2016 :: 7 PM :: @Booksincberk :: 1491 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA:

Manu Saadia: Join us for #Trekonomics:

Continue reading "" »


Live from the Gamma Quadrant: Matthew Yglesias: Star Trek Rannkings: "The 10 Best Star Trek Episodes...

...‘The Best of Both Worlds,’ The Next Generation. ‘In the Pale Moonlight,’ Deep Space Nine. ‘Equinox,’ Voyager. ‘The City on the Edge of Forever,’ The Original Series. ‘Chain of Command,’ The Next Generation. ‘Cogenitor,’ Enterprise. ‘What You Leave Behind,’ Deep Space Nine. ‘The Trouble With Tribbles,’ The Original Series. ‘Time’s Arrow,’ The Next Generation. ‘The Void,’ Voyager

The 10 Best Star Trek Villains: Q, Gul Dukat, Khan Noonien Singh, The Borg, Weyoun, Captain Ransom, Kruge, Lore, Lursa and B’Etor, Kai Winn


Manu Saadia's Trekonomics Is Out!

NewImage

"Live Long and Prosper" Blogging...: Manu Saadia: Trekonomics http://amzn.to/20ZqMdG (San Francisco: Piper Text: 941758754): Forward by J. Bradford DeLong:

'Live long and prosper.'

'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.'

'Fascinating.'

'Make it so.'

‘Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.’

'I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer.'

‘Highly illogical.’

'You can stop it!' 'Stop it? I'm counting on it!'

Over the past century Star Trek has woven itself into our socio-cultural DNA. It provides a set of cultural reference points to powerful ideas, striking ideas, beneficial ideas that help us here in our civilization think better--even those of us who are economists.

Continue reading "Manu Saadia's Trekonomics Is Out!" »


Live from Soda Hall: Hugh Hancock: 5 Magical Beasts And How To Replace Them With A Shell Script "Interestingly, there's another mystical summoned creature...

...that fits rather well here: the homunculus. After all, what are MOOCs doing but creating a small version of the magus (or professor) you wish to consult, and thus enabling the magus themselves to be in many more places at once, using their knowledge to do many more things?"


Weekend Reading: James Gunn and H.G. Wells on H.G. Wells

James Gunn: H.G. Wells: The Man Who Invented Tomorrow: "In his autobiography (1934)...

...he pointed out what he saw as distinguishing his intentions from those of Conrad and James. They looked upon the novel as a form of art; Wells saw it as a means to an end. He wanted his writing to be appraised 'as a system of ideas'; they wanted ideas to enter, if at all, only as an integral part of the artistic whole. He wanted to write about himself, his reactions to what had happened to him and what had happened and was happening in the world; they wanted the writer kept out of it.

The literary approach, Wells finally decided:

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: James Gunn and H.G. Wells on H.G. Wells" »


Weekend Reading: Guy Gavriel Kay: Rhiannon of the Birds, Rhiannon of the Horses...

Weekend Reading: In the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay, even the mortal humans are of Faerie:

Guy Gavriel Kay: Rhiannon of the Birds, Rhiannon of the Horses...: From Guy Gavriel Kay (2004), The Last Light of the Sun (New York: Roc: 0451459857), pp. 46-7:

'Needful as warmed wine in winter,' someone Alun couldn't see offered from down the room. Approval for that, a nicely phrased offering. Winter memory in midsummer, the phrase near to poetry. The hostess turned to Dai, politely, beyond her husband and the cleric, to let the other Cadyri prince have a turn.

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: Guy Gavriel Kay: Rhiannon of the Birds, Rhiannon of the Horses..." »


"Live Long and Prosper" Blogging...

Spock live long and prosper sarek Google Search

Manu Saadia: Trekonomics http://amzn.to/20ZqMdG (San Francisco: Piper Text: 941758754)

Forward by J. Bradford DeLong:

"Live long and prosper."

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

"Fascinating."

"Make it so."

“Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.”

"I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer."

“Highly illogical.”

"You can stop it!" "Stop it? I'm counting on it!"

Over the past century Star Trek has woven itself into our socio-cultural DNA. It provides a set of cultural reference points to powerful ideas, striking ideas, beneficial ideas that help us here in our civilization think better--even those of us who are economists.

Continue reading ""Live Long and Prosper" Blogging..." »


Comment of the Day: David Moles: Socrates as Mary Sue: "Belle—I’ve been regretting the dilution/appropriation/MRAification of ‘Mary Sue’...

...for a while now, and ‘Louis Wu’ is absolutely the best possible replacement. (So perfect that I can’t help wondering whether Paula Smith might have had old Louie in the back of her mind when she named her precocious Starfleet lieutenant.) You’re a God-damned genius. Thank you.


Live from Evans Hall: If this is the kind of thing you like, you will like this thing very much--you will, in fact, think that this is the best thing on the internet so far this year:

Ada Palmer: Plato vs. Metaphysics, or How Very Hard it Is to Un-Learn Freud — Crooked Timber

It's a 10,000 word essay triggered by The Republic of Aristocles son of Ariston, and by The Just City and The Philosopher Kings of Jo Walton...


Glosses on Jo Walton's Plato Fanfic and Robots: A Brief Pickup Platonic Dialogue: Today's Economic History

Jo Walton (2015): The Just City (New York: Tor Books: 9780765332660) http://amzn.to/1WQi0cn

John Holbo: Walton’s Republic: What is Athene’s motive in dragging all those robots from the future to help build this thing?...

Brad DeLong: Re: ‘What is Athene’s motive in dragging all those robots from the future to help build this thing?’ Aristoteles son of Nikomakhos of Stagira:

Continue reading "Glosses on Jo Walton's Plato Fanfic and Robots: A Brief Pickup Platonic Dialogue: Today's Economic History" »


In Praise of the Late Iain M. Banks and His "Culture"

{For the New York Times Room for Debate:](http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/12/29/what-science-fiction-movie-or-novel-is-most-prescient-today/use-of-weapons-by-iain-banks) Let me put in a plug for the late, alas!, Iain M. Banks (1954-2013) and his truly-astonishing novel [Use of Weapons][1].

The best science fiction is always about us in the here-and-now rather than about them in the there-and-then. It is a distancing that makes us see ourselves more clearly.

Continue reading "In Praise of the Late Iain M. Banks and His "Culture"" »


Essence of Decision: Understanding the Real History of the Imperial and Succession Wars

Star destroyer Google Search

Recommended Star Wars Viewing Order:

  1. The Force Awakens
  2. A New Hope
  3. The Empire Strikes Back

And that is it. Everything else would simply be a letdown, and leave viewers disappointed...


Plus:

Essence of Decision: Understanding the Real History of the Imperial and Succession Wars

The fall of the Empire, and the failure of its successor states to re-establish order in the galaxy, is usually mistold in the history books. Popular, semi-academic, and even academic authors write it as a combination of tabloid soap opera and personal heroics: villains, Jedi Knights, stunning double crosses, the Palpatine succession, and--of course--the bizarre and incomprehensible repeated cross-generational psychodramas of the Skywalker family.

Continue reading "Essence of Decision: Understanding the Real History of the Imperial and Succession Wars" »


Are We Approaching Peak Human?: The Honest Broker for the Week of November 9, 2015

Are We Approaching Peak Human?

Uncharted: The Berkeley Ideas Festival :: Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse :: October 16, 2015

Brad DeLong and Peter Leyden

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hAHsGr76tY :: Reinvent.net

Transcript edited for clarity and coherence

Continue reading "Are We Approaching Peak Human?: The Honest Broker for the Week of November 9, 2015" »


Weekend Reading: Charlie Stross: 21st Century: A Complaint

NewImage

Charlie Stross: 21st Century: A Complaint:

I want to complain to the studio execs who commissioned the current season of '21st century'; your show is broken.

I say this as a viewer coming in with low expectations. Its predecessor '20th century' plumbed the depths of inconsistency with the frankly silly story arc for World War II. It compounded it by leaving tons of loose plot threads dangling until the very last minute, then tidied them all up in a blinding hurry in that bizarre 1989-92 episode just in time for the big Y2K denouement (which then fizzled). But the new series reboot is simply ridiculous! It takes internal inconsistency to a new low, never before seen in the business: the '21st century' show is just plain implausible.

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: Charlie Stross: 21st Century: A Complaint" »


Weekend Reading: Hendrik Hertzberg: Reviewing "An American Life"

Hendrik Hertzberg: Reviewing "An American Life": "We knew about Reagan and war movies...

...What Cannon adds is that Reagan loved peace movies, too.

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: Hendrik Hertzberg: Reviewing "An American Life"" »


The Dreamwork of Humanity

Le dernier blog Blog Archive Face aux feux du soleil

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any trip that involves five talks in five cities in five days will, if it also requires two intercontinental redeyes, acquire a certain dreamlike quality--a certain fuzziness and confusion of memory.

For example:

  • Those flashes in my brain relatively-slight short-haired person wearing glasses, a pinstriped shirt, and a rather loud tie: was she an investment-banking forecasting minion, the editor-in-chief of http://gizmodo.com, or Breq Mianaai--off for what she thought would be her fatal confrontation with one of the instantiated avatars of her adoptive mother, Anaander Mianaai, Lord of the Radch?

Continue reading "The Dreamwork of Humanity" »


Watching Star Trek Is Doing the Dreamwork of Planning for Our Own Future, and Izabella Kaminska Is ON IT!!!!

Comicon1 jpg 480×640 pixels

Over at Equitable Growth: In the utopian post-scarcity future, the extremely-sharp Izabella Kaminska will transcribe and curate my random blatherings into sharp, concisive, and useful diamond-like weblog posts--and will do so for free!

That future is here, albeit unevenly distributed--and a lot of it is distributed to me:

Felix Salmon: What is post scarcity?

Me: Well 400 years ago, in almost all human societies, being rich relative to your neighbours mattered a lot. If you were poor, especially poor and female, chances were you weren’t getting the calories you needed to reliably ovulate, and chances were your children weren’t getting the nutrients that they needed for their immune systems to be protected against the common cold. 400 years ago the great bulk of humanity lived lives that were nasty, brutish, short and they were hungry pretty much all the time. And when they weren’t hungry they were wet, because the roof leaked, and when they weren’t wet they were probably cold, because damp-proofing hadn’t been invented. READ MOAR

Continue reading "Watching Star Trek Is Doing the Dreamwork of Planning for Our Own Future, and Izabella Kaminska Is ON IT!!!!" »


Live from New York ComicCon: io9: Come See io9 Editors Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders at New York Comic Con!: "Tomorrow at 1:15 PM, io9 Founding Editor (and Gizmodo Editor in Chief)...

...Annalee Newitz is on a panel called ‘The Amazing Economics of Star Trek.’ Also featuring Paul Krugman, Felix Salmon[, Manu Saadia,] and Brad DeLong. This is in Room 1A24.


Weekend Reading: Isaac Asimov: "Second Foundation", from Chapter 8

Agitation from the other side of the desk. “No--now you must take this phlegmatically. You had hoped you would qualify. You had feared you would not. Actually, both hope and fear are weaknesses. You knew you would qualify and you hesitate to admit the fact because such knowledge might stamp you as cocksure and therefore unfit. Nonsense! The most hopelessly stupid man is he who is not aware that he is wise. It is part of your qualification that you knew you would qualify.” Relaxation on the other side of the desk....

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: Isaac Asimov: "Second Foundation", from Chapter 8" »


Comment of the Day: Ajay: "A colleague asked for advice on how to open a conversation with a chap she'd met through Tinder...

...(not actually Tinder but some similar thing). For some reason she took my advice and gave the guy the Voigt-Kampff test (you know, the 'you see a tortoise on its back in the desert, what do you do' thing) from 'Blade Runner', a film that she has not in fact seen. She is now committed to going on a date with him based on a shared love of cyber-noir films of the 1980s which is, in her case, completely fake. I mention this to show that that sort of thing does happen in real life as well as in bad sitcoms.