Posts Tagged: Science Fiction

Our National Box Office Nightmare

The bulk of this year’s action and sci-fi films did clever violence better than in previous years but generally failed to develop minority characters. I mean the frequently derided popcorn fare such as Fast & Furious 6, as opposed to the hallowed and equally problematic Chilean Sea Bass fare of films such as Captain Phillips: The Wrath of Khat. A great deal of my fascination with the former subset stems from a desire to see smart, setting-specific violence that draws upon the elements of cinema as much as it does its surroundings. More often than not, this is something beyond the bullet and therefore historically unspecific to the white male [...]


William Gibson On Burroughs, Sterling, Dick, Libraries, The Uncanny, The Web

In real life, William Gibson looks like you would imagine. A little older than the Gibson you imagine, but he was born in 1948, so it only stands to reason. He is gaunt and affable, clothes black, smart looking frames on his eyeglasses, more avuncular than professorial. And he really talks like that! Those neologisms and the sizzling chrome-finished turns of phrase? They fall out of his mouth in the course of conversation. He lives the gimmick.

Gibson appeared at the New York Public Library on Friday night for the LIVE From the NYPL series, and it was something of an occasion. Gibson, as active as he is in [...]


The Great, Forgotten Sci-Fi Novel About The End Of The World

David Roth: So, tell me again, please, how you found this novel, The Last Western? I know how I found it, which was by you giving me a copy and telling me it was important that I read it.

David Roth: It was like Natalie Portman's "The Shins will change your life" moment in Garden State, except you are shorter, smarter and less pointy than she is, and I am marginally less grumbly-sad than Zach Braff, and you were right and also The Shins couldn't conceivably really change anyone's life.

Maria Bustillos: A guy named Mark Harris went all crazy over it on this listserv I was on back [...]


Ray Bradbury, 1920 – 2012

"Margot stood alone. She was a very frail girl who looked as if she had been lost in the rain for years and the rain had washed out the blue from her eyes and the red from her mouth and the yellow from her hair. She was an old photograph dusted from an album, whitened away, and if she spoke at all her voice would be a ghost. Now she stood, separate, staring at the rain and the loud wet world beyond the huge glass." —The great science fiction author Ray Bradbury died last night in Southern California at age of 91. He'll be best remembered for The [...]


The Fantasy of Girl World: Lady Nerds and Utopias

Here's a story for you. It's an old story, and it goes like this: There's a place where we're in charge. You've never seen it. You can't visit. It doesn't exist—it's in the future, or it's in the past, or it's just sideways, outside our borders, somewhere no one has been. But us, the girls, we run everything there. There aren't any men. Or: There were men, but we kicked them out. Or even: There are men, but they answer to us. This place is always threatened. This place is always on the verge of being invaded. This place is always just about to change. [...]


Our Science Fiction Movies Hate Science Fiction

Ripping off the heads of robots like a sweaty space-age cyberpunk Robin Hood, Matt Damon is delivering future-social-justice this week in Elysium. It's directed by Neill Blomkamp, who brought us the politically charged alien flick District 9. Elysium as well has been positioned to be this summer's antidote to stupid run-of-the-mill blockbuster science fiction films.

Like the alien apartheid in District 9, the division between “serious” science fiction films and “mainstream” SF flicks certainly exists. But the actual boundaries between these kinds of movies might be fairly blurred. What's more, it's not clear any more if these science fiction movies even like science fiction.

When I was nine years old, [...]


45 Years Ago, The iPad Was First Used By Astronauts Before Another Computer Tried To Kill Them All

The first mobile call was made 40 years ago today, on a device based on the communicators used in the original "Star Trek," and the iPad was apparently introduced in 2001: A Space Odyssey, released 45 years ago this week. It's a good thing that show business invented the future for us so long ago, because god knows we can't come up with anything on our own.


What "Real Life" Means On Wikipedia

The title of the Wikipedia entry for "Real life" differs from its disambiguation page "Real Life" through the absence of one capital letter. But while the "Real Life" (upper case) page will lead you to many films and books and songs of that name, the "Real life" entry affirms, alas, that there is only one real life. "Real life." The topic is abstract, speculative, and possibly even redundant. (Since when, after all, was life ever un-real?) Still, as the extensive entry for "In Real Life" shows us, we have more sure things to say about reality television than we do about "real life." Turn [...]


We Must Go Back in Time to Prevent the Awful Season Finale of 'Doctor Who'


We, the undersigned, write to express our outrage with the outcome of the "Doctor Who" season composed of episodes 214 to 223.

There were those who held out hope that show-runner Steven Moffat had a nifty and satisfying plan to resolve the season's primary opening gambit, which was the killing of the Doctor himself. There was wide-spread appreciation at first for opening a season so audaciously. And along the way, Moffat did himself a service with a strong secondary through-line (though it was somewhat abbreviated and telegraphed, as one can fairly expect in a 13-episode season), by setting to rest the mystery of [...]


"Misfits of Science": The 80s TV Show That Only Courteney Cox Survived

No one sets out to make bad art. If a producer approaches a young director and says, "Look here, Sonny Jim, The Hunger Games are a popular film franchise, make me one of those," the young director is going to do his best to make the film his and craft it well. Success is just a matter of being able to work with constraints. Constraints are everywhere. Picture the college writing exercises, where the directions are like, write a three-page play using the following elements: the color red, the number forty-three, have no actors on the stage, and have the play take place over three thousand years.

The problem [...]


We'll Die The Way We Lived: The Arcology Dream Is Over

Conservative millionaire entertainer and peddler of conspiracy theories Glenn Beck is building a city-state, "an entirely self-sustaining community called Independence Park." I can't wait to visit, it sounds like it will be very welcoming to all kinds of Americans.

He's on the right track, though. So are the seasteaders. And the gun-hoarding survivalists of all stripes. And those of us who are interested in reviving the New York City Secession Movement. (Our plan is to secede and then, uh, magically raise the city by 30 feet. Still working on details there, do check back.) But yes. The coasts will drown, or the United States will disband, or World [...]


Google On The L Train: Sci-fi, Wifi And The MTA

Second in a pair of essays today on freedom and the Internet. Previously: What are the politics of the Internet?

Last week, gracious youngsters from Google, Inc. were stationed below 14th Street, handing cards to commuters. The cards confirmed that those wireless signal bars appearing on certain subway platforms weren’t phishing expeditions by identity thieves or digital phantoms. Rather, they were the fruit borne of a partnership between Google and a wireless Internet provider named Boingo. Log in to their hotspot and get a summer of free Wi-Fi access all over New York City. In return, Google gets to hoard the information they generate, assembling an accurate picture of [...]


'Surface Detail': Maybe the Best 'Culture' Novel Yet?

Just as Laura Miller has recently suggested, those who are writing a lot don't have much time to read—and so I'm making miserably slow progress with Iain M. Banks' new novel Surface Detail. But I do so far agree with the space ladies of io9: it's excellent, weirdly structured and either ingeniously or callously organized. Here's a brief bit from my allotted fifteen minutes of reading last night that reaffirmed why I am loving it.