Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily

RIP – JG Ballard

Cult author JG Ballard dies at 78


Posted in Books & Authors April 19th, 2009 by Gandalara
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Link Dump

OYO Mirrors – Neat laser-cut mirrors resembling circuit boards and chemical chains.

The Hall of Cliche Superheroes – Threadless T-shirt.

If Homer’s Odyssey Was Written On Twitter – Just what it says.

Strangest Creatures to Ever Die – List of unusual extinct animals.

Uncomfortable Plot Summaries – Loads of unexpected yet surprisingly accurate movie summaries, e.g., “STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE – Religious extremist terrorists destroy government installation, killing thousands.” (via Cynical-C)

YouSB – A print ad project featuring an embedded USB port. The product is fake, but the ad is plausible. It’s oddly unsettling.

Heavy Metal Satan Fingers – A primer.

Zombie Playground – Rather chilling art print of kids on a playground fighting off a horde of zombie children.

I’ve often said, what we really need is a Cthulhu Musical….

Posted in Ephemera April 17th, 2009 by Chip
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“Inaccurate” Movies About the Future

Yahoo has an article listing its “Top 10 Inaccurate Movies About the Future.” As nearly as I can tell, they’re basing inaccuracy entirely upon whether the movie’s events occurred by the time the movie predicted.

According to this movie, the population of New York City in 2022 — a mere thirteen years from now — is somewhere around 40 million people, or three times the population of Mumbai. As of the 2000 census, the current population is around 8 million, so if this movie is going to approach anything close to reality, New Yorkers had better get busy.

To quote Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Link (Hat tip to DaleB)

Posted in Movies & TV April 16th, 2009 by Chip
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Talk to Strangers


Omegle is a simple chat site that connects you to a random person, anonymously, for a conversation. That’s it. I saw it mentioned on the xkcd blag, and my first thought was, “This is IRC 2.0,” but after reading some other users’ comments it actually sounds kind of fun. I like the fact that the Internet allows us to have a “meeting of the minds” with people we would otherwise never encounter.*

Even if you don’t check out Omegle, you should read the comments over on xkcd. They’re hilarious.

Stranger: hi
You: what was the last thing you googled?
Stranger: the devine comedy
You: not for school i hope?
Stranger: nope
You: oh good
You: you would’ve had a hell of a lot of spelling errors in that paper.

*As long-time O*W*C members know, I’m particularly grateful for this aspect of the ‘Net, since Shadow and I met in an online chat room.

Posted in Computers & Internet April 15th, 2009 by Chip
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It’s Come a Long Way, Baby

ISSThe USA Today site has an interesting Flash presentation illustrating the growth of the International Space Station from 1998 to the present. It includes a clickable timeline which highlights each chunk of the ISS and gives a bit of background on its purpose. Many of the popups also provide a 360-degree view of the equipment in question.

It’s astonishing to see how much the ISS has expanded over time.

Link (Hat tip to BLR WIZ)

Posted in Space April 14th, 2009 by Chip
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What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

AMEEBanking on the notion that programming glitches are entirely preventable, the U.S. Army is commissioning studies on the creation of autonomous armed robots that could find and destroy targets on their own. Ronald Arkin, one of the robotics experts working on the study, feels that “Robots can be built that do not exhibit fear, anger, frustration or revenge, and that ultimately behave in a more humane manner than even human beings in these harsh circumstances.”

As a programmer, I have this to say: Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. I had to actually check the article date to make sure it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. Even assuming that we could come up with some kind of AI routine to tell an enemy combatant from a friendly soldier or a civilian or, y’know, a wombat; and further assuming we could implement Arkin’s proposed “ethical governor” so that the robot followed proper rules of engagement; there’s still the issue of making sure that code malfunctions aren’t possible. Good luck with that.

Link (via Posthuman Blues)

Posted in Science April 13th, 2009 by Chip
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Design the Hugo Award Logo

The World Science Fiction Society has announced a contest to design an official logo for the Hugo Awards.

Although the rocket atop the Hugo Award has been one of the most visible signs of excellence in science fiction and fantasy for more than fifty years, there has never been an official logo to designate works as Hugo Award nominees or winners.

The winning designer will receive $500, a trophy featuring their design, membership to an upcoming Worldcon, and lots of other goodies. (The rules also say that the artist will have the right to use the design themselves, which strikes me as a little odd for an official logo, but whatever.)

Full submission guidelines are here. Submit the winning design and become the envy of geeks the world over!

(via Whatever)

Posted in Conventions & Fandom April 10th, 2009 by Chip
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Art for Nerdy Children

Flash CardI wish I’d known about Tiffany Ard when we were decorating Shadowboy’s nursery. She creates “artwork and nursery decor for serious science nerds,” including beautifully whimsical posters illustrating important scientific laws and formulae (there’s even one featuring a squid!), “Nerdy Baby” flash cards, and “Books for Wee Nerds”.

(I particularly love the “Pat Schroedinger’s Kitty” parody of “Pat the Bunny,” especially the wonderful, “Now YOU try to interact with neutrinos!” page.)

These are all lovely pieces of art in their own right, but the science theme makes them all the sweeter. This would be the perfect gift for a new geeky parent or a little science-fair prodigy.

Link (via BoingBoing)

Posted in Science April 9th, 2009 by Chip
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Interview an Author

To help advertise the launch of the new Voyager Books Website, Harper Collins has asked six science fiction/fantasy blogs to interview a selection of Voyager’s authors. They’re inviting their readers to suggest questions to ask each author.

Big Dumb Object will be interviewing Cory Doctorow.

Futurismic will interview Kim Stanley Robinson.

SFF World has Robin Hobb.

Speculative Horizons is interviewing Stephen Hunt.

BookGeeks will interview Raymond Feist.

And by process of elimination, SFF Chronicles will have D.B. Shan. They don’t seem to have a post up about the interview yet.

If you’ve got a question you’d like to pose to one of these authors, be sure to visit the appropriate site and leave a comment.

Posted in Books & Authors April 8th, 2009 by Chip

This Sounds Like the Beginning of a Joke

Common RoomFour Russians, a German and a Frenchman are all sealed inside a research facility….

Last Tuesday, six people entered a Habitrail-like series of living modules in a Moscow research lab, where they will spend the next 105 days exploring what a lengthy trip to Mars would be like. They’ll eat dehydrated food and breathe recycled air and endure faux-wood paneling and try not to, y’know, go nuts.

The Mars-500 project is the initial phase of a much more ambitious 520-day simulation of a complete manned mission to Mars: Launch, Mars touchdown, and return home. Studying the “science of sensory deprivation” will help researchers understand how to keep astronauts happy and healthy and non-stabby during an eventual real mission.

I’m thinking they should also try shopping mission footage around as a reality show to help offset research costs.


Posted in News, Space April 7th, 2009 by Chip