Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily

Classic Young Adult SF

io9 has a list of six “Pre-Potter” novels that might hook young readers on science fiction. It’s a nice sampling of classic authors, and it’s hard to fault their choices.

They mention one Heinlein juvie (The Rolling Stones), although I think I’d probably choose something like Have Space Suit, Will Travel or Red Mars Planet instead. I can’t argue with the Madeleine L’Engle selection; if pressed to name the YA novel that hooked the most kids on SF, A Wrinkle in Time is probably the one I’d mention.

What do you think? Are there any YA books that have been glaringly omitted from this list?

Posted in Books & Authors June 30th, 2008 by Chip
1 comment

Earth’s Messages to Aliens

The latest Alt Text at Wired explores the various messages we’ve sent in an attempt to contact alien intelligence.

It’s been a long time since I actually shot a beverage out of my nose, but the “Pioneer Plaques” bit did me in.


Posted in Humor June 27th, 2008 by Chip
Comments Off on Earth’s Messages to Aliens

Boundary Disputes

Over at the Futurismic blog, Blasphemous Geometries has an essay exploring the arbitrariness of defining a work as “science fiction” (and also of defining an SF work as belonging to a particular subgenre). His argument is that we shouldn’t try to do either: If somebody points to something and calls it science fiction, then by gum it’s science fiction.

In other words, Roberts and the Clarke Award do not give us a definition of SF. Instead, they simply point at works that interest them and say “this is SF”, inviting us to consider these works not as an attempt to encapsulate and define a genre, but rather as interesting ways of thinking about a genre whose limits are ultimately arbitrary.

I’m not entirely thrilled with the idea. We already have trouble with “fantasy” encroaching on SF in bookstores; anything that blurs the distinction any further means having to wade through more elves to get to the rivets.

What do you think? Is it impossible to have even fuzzy guidelines about what qualifies as science fiction?

Link (via SF Signal)

Posted in Books & Authors June 27th, 2008 by Chip
Comments Off on Boundary Disputes

Tales of the Singularity

Michael at Vivtek was thinking about the accelerating time just before the Singularity, when all kinds of weird stuff is occurring. He realized that it would be a perfect environment for folk tales, so he’s writing some. So far he’s got “Bruce Schneier and the King of the Crabs,” “Lord Cthulhu Walks the Desert,” and “Paul Bunyan and the Spambot.”

Naturally, just getting Paul Bunyan online was already no mean feat. There was no broadband available in the remote areas of the woods where they’d been working, so the first thing he had to do was string optical cable from the nearest T1 line, which was clear down in St. Paul. For anybody but Paul Bunyan, that would have been near impossible, but ol’ Paul just ordered a couple flatbeds of the finest glass windows Minnesota had to offer, chewed ’em all up in a single mouthful, and drew ’em out between his teeth to spin three hundred miles of perfect fiber optics. Then he just coiled it all up in a loop, and walked all the way into town, stringing that cable all the way. So getting online wasn’t a real problem.

No, the real problem was using a computer built to the scale of a normal man! To Paul, the biggest font available was like microfiche, and he’d never been fond of reading much but lumber futures, anyway. And the largest screen they could find was no better than an old Nokia mobile phone for Paul.

This is definitely a theme that is ripe for expansion. “Pecos Bill vs. the Wunch,” “Casey Jones and the Fermi Paradox….”

Link (via BoingBoing)

Posted in Ephemera June 26th, 2008 by Chip
1 comment

Martian Skies

Martian Cloud

The atmosphere of Mars is hundreds of times thinner than Earth’s atmosphere, but it can support dust devils, wind storms, and clouds.

The current six live probes are sending back thousands of images of the surface, but there are only a few showing atmospheric phenomena. has a collection of some of the best images, including some cool animations created by stringing together several still photos. Watching a Martian dust devil scoot in front of the camera is oddly satisfying.

Link (via The Presurfer)

Posted in Space June 25th, 2008 by Chip
1 comment

Mozilla Makes Me Happy

Firefox 3.0 was released a couple of days ago, to great geekly acclaim. The browser has a new Easter egg, accessible by typing about:robots in the address bar.

(Click the thumbnail to view full size)

Firefox Robots

Also click the “Try Again” button for a bonus reference.

(via The Presurfer)

Posted in News, Space June 24th, 2008 by Chip
Comments Off on Mozilla Makes Me Happy

Where the Hell is Matt?

This has absolutely no relationship to science fiction, but it makes me awfully happy.

My favorite bit is North Korea, at the 1:52 mark.

Posted in Humor June 23rd, 2008 by Chip
1 comment

Things That Have Amused Me Recently

“The ‘Net is a waste of time, and that’s exactly what’s right about it.”
— William Gibson

“Instead, they celebrate the pan-denominational Wookiee Life Day, which isn’t as much celebrated by Star Wars fans around this time of year as it is observed, like the anniversary of an atrocity.”
SciFi Scanner, about the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special

Ask a Klingon (Also Destroy the Universe)

“I have a quantum car. Every time I look at the speedometer I get lost.”
— Steven Wright

I’m hoping that Battlestar Galactica has a Newhart ending, only with Richard Hatch instead of Bob Newhart.
Lore Sjöberg

The fact that the Harlan Ellison documentary is called Dreams with Sharp Teeth.

“There is no limit to what a bored nerd can do!”
— Tagline for Middle Earth Map, and truer words have never been spoken.

(from Eek!)

Posted in Humor June 23rd, 2008 by Chip
Comments Off on Things That Have Amused Me Recently

Received in email …

The New York Times, among other world newspapers, has published a new Hubble photograph of distant galaxies colliding.

Of course, astronomers have had pictures of colliding galaxies for quite some time now.

But with the vastly improved resolution provided by the Hubble Space Telescope, you can actually see the lawyers rushing to the scene …

::: Chortling :::

Posted in Humor June 21st, 2008 by Gandalara
Comments Off on Received in email …

w00t Indeed

The Phoenix Twitter feed reports:

Are you ready to celebrate? Well, get ready: We have ICE!!!!! Yes, ICE, *WATER ICE* on Mars! w00t!!! Best day ever!

Phoenix was keeping an eye on some bright stuff at the bottom of a trench, and it sublimated.

Link (via BoingBoing)

Posted in News, Space June 20th, 2008 by Chip
Comments Off on w00t Indeed