science fiction debt

Jo Walton’s ↑The Best Science Fiction Ideas in any Non-Fiction Ever: David Graeber’s Debt: The First Five Thousand Years has some nice ideas about why so many science fiction readers and writers are fascinated by ↵anthropologist David Graeber’s book ‘Debt’ (2011): One of the problems with writing science fiction and fantasy is creating truly different societies. We tend to change things but keep other things at societal defaults. It’s really easy to see this in older SF, where we have moved on from those societal defaults and can thus laugh at seeing people in the future behaving like people in … Continue reading

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fistful of quarters

Joshua Bearman’s article ‘↓The perfect game‘ (2008) since years slumbers on my HDD—luckily it’s still available online for everybody. Testimony to the amazing zen-like perfect-flow achievable in high-end arcade gaming. Additionally there are two magnificent documentaries on the subject: ‘The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters’ (Gordon 2007) and ‘Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade’ (Ruchti 2007). Here are the trailers and what ↑filmcritic‘s ↑Anthony Burch has to say on the two documentaries:  the king of kong  Put this one at the top of your “Must Watch Now” list. Like, right now. Beyond functioning as an entertaining if somewhat shallow look … Continue reading

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turing’s cathedral

Here’s the official synopsis of historian of science ↑George Dyson‘s latest book ‘Turing’s Cathedral’ (2012): “It is possible to invent a single machine which can be used to compute any computable sequence,” twenty-four-year-old Alan Turing announced in 1936. In Turing’s Cathedral, George Dyson focuses on a small group of men and women, led by John von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, who built one of the first computers to realize Alan Turing’s vision of a Universal Machine. Their work would break the distinction between numbers that mean things and numbers that do things—and our … Continue reading

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forget your past

Last summer photographer ↑Timothy Allen met Alexander Ivanov, a colleague of his, at a photo festival in Bulgaria: ‘Back then he showed me some pictures of what looked to me like a cross between a flying saucer and Doctor Evil’s hideout perched atop a glorious mountain range.’ This winter Timothy went there, 250km from Sofia, and took ↑glorious pictures of the Buzludzha monument, a gigantic, now abandoned and decaying monument to socialism. The pictures show the building from the outside, the inside, and even from the sky. Goes well with the ↵cosmic communist constructions photographed by Frédéric Chaubin. via ↑entry … Continue reading

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desert mecha

The above 3D-scene, called ‘Desert Lion,’ was done by Andrew March in 2004 and since then sat on my HDD. Andrew used the model of the Cougar ↑mech (which at least dates back to 2002, but you can still ↓download it) by Pawel Czarnecki—until today a legend within the scene—, the model of the ↑AMX-30 tank by Deespona, and nicely composed and rendered them within his own scene. Obviously the piece of art was created under the impression of the ↑Iraq War.     The picture immediately rung a chord within me back then, but somehow I never came around … Continue reading

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astronaut mike mullane

He promised it ↵in a comment here, and made it true: The podcast ↑JetHead live with astronaut Mike Mullane is online. ↑Mike Mullane is a former NASA astronaut and author of the book ↑Riding rockets: The outrageous tales of a space shuttle astronaut (2006). The tagline of JetHead’s interview with Mullane reads: ‘What’s it like to ride over 4 million pounds of explosive thrust into earth orbit? Three times?’ This gives an overall impression, but there’s more in the book and the podcast, e.g. Mullane’s evolution from a ‘male sexist pig’ [his own words] towards a human being ;-) Much … Continue reading

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radium age sf

While reading ↑Brian Aldiss‘ ‘Billion Year Spree: The True History of Science Fiction’ (1973) [a revised and expanded edition was published as 'Trillion Year Spree' (Aldiss & Wingrove 1986)] Joshua Glenn thought that Aldiss unfairly neglected the period from 1904 to 1933: I’ve concluded that it’s an era of which science fiction historians and fans ought to be proud, not ashamed! I’ve dubbed this unfairly overlooked era ↑science fiction’s “Radium Age” because the phenomenon of radioactivity—the 1903 discovery that matter is neither solid nor still and is, at least in part, a state of energy, constantly in movement — is … Continue reading

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