Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily

Robots That Suck at Their Jobs

Cracked Magazine has put together a list of classic movie robots that are actually really bad at what they do. I hadn’t really considered this before, but yeah…they do suck.

That is of course the real problem with R2: He’s just a little rolling Deus Ex Machina device, who can pull out the right tool in any random situation as though he were Inspector Gadget. When the same tool would be handy in dozens of other situations, it’s never seen again. So either it’s bad writing or R2 is in a union.

Link (via SF Signal)

Posted in Humor June 20th, 2008 by Chip
Comments Off on Robots That Suck at Their Jobs

Stross in Second Life This Saturday

Charles Stross, whose novel Halting State explores virtual worlds and augmented reality, will be a guest in Second Life on Saturday, June 21, from 1-2:30 pm SLT (which is Pacific Time in the real world).

He’ll be appearing at Sophrosyne’s Special Salon in Extropia, a large futurist/transhumanist city. He plans to discuss the Singularity in fiction, cutting-edge technologies, and his novels, including the upcoming Saturn’s Children.

Link (via BoingBoing)

Posted in News June 19th, 2008 by Chip
Comments Off on Stross in Second Life This Saturday

Y’Know, He’s Got a Point

John Scalzi has an article about SF movies over at SciFi Scanner, and he makes an interesting observation: In science fiction, unlike every other movie genre, “classic” does not automatically equal “good.”

Gojira and its dozens of sequels are so bad that if there was any honesty in the world, people would have to admit that the universally-reviled 1998 Roland Emmerich version is actually the best-written, best-acted, best-produced Godzilla film ever made. No one will ever admit this, ever (except for me, and maybe, if he’s drunk enough, Roland Emmerich), but there it is. Gojira is a classic science fiction film. Gojira stinks.

He’s got lots of other examples. And he’s right: For every Blade Runner, there’s a Logan’s Run.

The comments thread is interesting, too.


Posted in Movies & TV June 18th, 2008 by Chip
1 comment

Eyewitness to History

This isn’t exactly SF, but it’s mighty cool. Let’s pretend that it somehow involves Alternate History and move on.

This site, created by a digital publisher of educational programming, bills itself as “Your ringside seat to history – from the Ancient World to the present.” It presents historical data about various events, along with eyewitness accounts. There’s Plato’s description of the death of Socrates, a 15-year-old girl’s memories of the Battle of Gettysburg, and an Indian interpreter’s view of the Massacre at Wounded Knee. The site also includes photos and film clips.


Link (via The Presurfer)

Posted in Ephemera June 17th, 2008 by Chip
Comments Off on Eyewitness to History

The Name Makes Me Wince a Little

The Isle of Thanet in Kent, England is doing a little terraforming. They’re placing an astonishing 220 acres of land under glass so they can grow vegetables year ’round. The 1.3 million plants will all be grown hydroponically, resulting in a relatively small carbon footprint. When the greenhouse is fully functional it will increase the U.K.’s crop of green vegetables by 15%.

Oh…and they’re calling the place “Thanet Earth.” Doesn’t that make you want to smack whomever thought it up for Extreme Tweeness?

Link (via io9)

Posted in News June 16th, 2008 by Chip
Comments Off on The Name Makes Me Wince a Little

Alternate History

Worth 1000

It’s been a while since we’ve mentioned Worth 1000, where Photoshop gods go to play. I like their recent Alternate History contest.

They’ve had similar themes previously, too:

Part 2

Part 1

Posted in Ephemera June 13th, 2008 by Chip
Comments Off on Alternate History

Pink Raygun: SF Site for Women

Pink Raygun is a fan site that focuses on the modern fangirl, describing itself as “everything you’d expect from a genre site, but girly.” Editor Lisa Fary originally launched the site because she couldn’t find a place where women were having fun with science fiction and “just enjoying the sheer geekery of it.”

Their argument goes that little boys are encouraged in their interest of things like science and space travel, but girls who like that stuff are viewed as an aberration. That may have been true in the past, but I’m not so sure whether it’s still the case.

They appear to be casting themselves somewhat in a riot grrl mold; the header on each page includes a different quote from a female SF character, many of which aren’t particularly complimentary to men. (e.g., “Red, white, whatever … guys are all the same!” – Liz Sherman (Hellboy)) However, they take pains to stress that men are welcome to visit as well.

There’s quite a lot of content–a bit lopsided toward TV and movies–and it seems to be a pretty dynamic site, so check it out.

It’s…really pink.

Link (via SciFi Scanner)

Posted in Computers & Internet June 12th, 2008 by Chip
1 comment

Hard SF That’s Actually Hard

io9 makes a good point: Many lists of books that claim to be “hard” SF–in the sense of being rigorously scientific–either include works that are only hard if you squint (like Dune, where you’ve got people folding space with their minds) or don’t explore new technologies. As they put it, “It’s as if most definitions of hard SF were written back in the 1950s and not rethought much since.”

They’ve put together a list of ten books that they feel are transforming hard science fiction and moving it in new directions. It’s somewhat eclectic, but sounds interesting.

Link (via SF Signal)

Posted in Books & Authors June 11th, 2008 by Chip
Comments Off on Hard SF That’s Actually Hard

SciFiSource: Huge SF Directory

First launched in 1999, SciFiSource bills itself as “The Ultimate Science Fiction Directory.” It’s a portal devoted entirely to SF Websites, with over 2,500 currently listed.

The links are broken down into general categories, and there’s a basic search function. They’re about to roll out a redesign with more advanced search capabilities and even more content.

This is a site for fans, by fans. I think that’s swell.

Link (via SciFi Scanner)

Posted in Computers & Internet June 10th, 2008 by Chip

Algis Budrys

From Locus:

Monday 9 June 2008

SF author, critic, and editor Algis Budrys, born 1931, died this morning, June 9, 2008, at the age of 77.

Posted in Books & Authors, News June 9th, 2008 by Gandalara
Comments Off on Algis Budrys