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CURRENT FUTURES: A Sci-Fi Ocean Anthology—XPRIZE
"In honor of World Oceans Day, XPRIZE partnered with 18 sci-fi authors and 18 artists, with contributions from all seven continents, to create an anthology of original short stories in a future when technology has helped unlock the secrets of the ocean. The series is a “deep dive” into how some of today’s most promising innovations might positively impact the ocean in the future, meant to remind us about the mystery and majesty of the ocean, and the critical need for discovery and stewardship."

[via: "Dive into a new sci-fi anthology set in the world’s oceans: In honor of World Oceans Day"
https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/8/18653780/current-futures-sci-fi-anthology-short-series-world-oceans-day ]
scifi  sciencefiction  oceans  fiction  vandanasingh  sheilafinch  rochitaloenen-ruiz  nalohopkinson  mohalemashingo  marielu  malkaolder  madelineashby  laurenbeukes  karenlord  kameronhurley  gwynethjones  gushi  elizabethbear  deborahbiancotti  catherynnevalente  brendapeynado  brendacooper  future  futurism  multispecies  morethanhuman  classideas 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
“On a Sunbeam,” the Sci-Fi Comic That Reimagines Utopia | The New Yorker
[Full comic available to read online:
https://www.onasunbeam.com/ ]

[See also:
https://www.tilliewalden.com/
https://www.instagram.com/tilliewalden/
https://twitter.com/TillieWalden ]

"Tillie Walden is an almost shockingly young (born in 1996) comics creator who received wide attention last year for “Spinning,” a beautiful, melancholy graphic memoir about her years as a pre-teen and then teen figure skater. That book excelled in its tactful line work and use of white space; it looked neither superhero-ish nor ugly-on-purpose nor nearly realist but utterly sympathetic, with vast cold rinks and faces whose expressions you could share. “Spinning” was also a coming-out story, and a school story, and what scholars call a Künstlerroman, the story of how a young person becomes an artist—although, like most Künstlerromanen, it left unresolved the question of what she’d make next.

“On a Sunbeam” is the magnificent, sweeping, science-fictional answer. The big, densely plotted volume has all the virtues of “Spinning,” plus the scale, the sense of wonder, and the optimism intrinsic to what’s called space opera or science fantasy. (Think “Star Trek” and Starfleet Academy.) As with “Spinning,” it can be hard to equal in prose the comic’s inviting, spare line work, use of black-and-white, and expressive qualities. (Walden can make one pen stroke on one character’s face equal two pages of dialogue.) “On a Sunbeam” is at once a queer coming-of-age story, a story about how to salvage lost love and youth, and a multigenerational story about how to thrive in a society that does not understand who you are or what you can do. It is the kind of story that adults can and should give to queer teens, and to autistic teens, and to teens who care for space exploration, or civil engineering, or cross-cultural communication. It is also a story for adults who were once like those teens, and the kind of story (like the Aeneid, but happier) whose devotees might occasionally return to it, hoping for divine advice from a randomly chosen line, or panel, or page.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. “On a Sunbeam”—whose five hundred and thirty-eight pages, rendered in three colors, first appeared serially, online, where it can still be read for free—begins, like some Victorian novels, with two separate plots and settings, years apart. In the A plot, we meet three adult engineers and construction workers who fly their own fish-shaped spaceship from job to job, rebuilding and restoring architecture from their past (which is our distant future). The charismatic, impulsive Alma reports to Charlotte, their cautious commander; Elliot, “our very own mechanical genius,” is nonbinary (taking they/them pronouns) and non-speaking, like many autistic adults in our day. Formerly a trio “together for ages,” the team now has two younger employees: Jules, Alma’s voluble niece, and the anxious newbie Mia, fresh out of her space-based boarding school.

We see through Mia’s eyes, and through Walden’s pen, the comforting intimacy of their sleeping quarters, with its Teddy bears and bunk beds; the sublime ruined space cathedral and the other flying buildings they restore; and the realistic tasks that Mia and Jules slog through—hauling rubble, sharing sandwiches, and trying to “get through a whole day without turning into jelly” from overwork. We worry when Mia worries, and we have fun when she has fun. Jules puts into words the way Mia feels: “We don’t actually do this job to fix things,” she says. “We do it ’cause we get to climb and jump off stuff.”

Before she joined this close-knit crew, Mia attended an élite boarding school. This is where Walden sets her B plot, a place of crushes, mean girls, shifting rivalries, vast halls, anti-gravity stations, and a school-wide, slightly Quidditch-like sport called Lux, whose fish-shaped flight craft race and dodge through tunnels and in midair. Almost as soon as we meet Mia, she falls hard for a new and far more academically talented student named Grace, who reciprocates. Grace convinces a forbidding coach to let Mia chase her dream of playing Lux. The sport is normally off limits to first-years, but our couple won’t let that rule stop them. “We may be freshmen,” Grace declares, “but you can’t put an age limit on passion and dedication.”

“On a Sunbeam” is less like any other American comic, page by page, than it is like a film by Hayao Miyazaki. For Walden, faces and bodies are not types or dummies for action scenes but ways to convey emotion and expression, even as the backdrops—speleological, astronomical, aquatic, or forested—flourish and shine. Walden’s dialogue—never talky, but never too sparse to follow—complements her characters’ body language; it also brings out the feeling of ninth and tenth grade, when every impediment seems like an apocalypse, and every kind word like an angel’s violin. But that dialogue is also a clue to a set of cosmic mysteries that connect younger and older characters, present and backstory, A plot and B plot. Why does Charlotte’s employer distrust her? What does Elliott fear, and why can’t they go home? Can Mia and Jules adjust to life with this tightly knit, and apparently romantic, triad? Will Mia find love?

Mia has already found it, with Grace, and then lost it. Just as in “Spinning”—and in several other comics by Walden, short and long—our point-of-view character fell hard for a smart, dark-skinned girl when both were in their teens, and then that girl left, suddenly, and without much explanation. In “Spinning,” the real Walden goes on with her heartbroken life. In this much longer but equally heartbreaking epic, the school-age couple of Mia and Grace break up for far more complex reasons, and a mission to a secluded planet of volcanic tunnels and warriors with Amish hats (really) is required to rescue Grace, who may not want to be rescued.

It’s probably no coincidence that this comic, so sensitive to its characters’ feelings, is also uncommonly sensitive to newly visible identities: non-speaking autistics, people in triads, people trying to make queer romance work under pressure and across a racial divide. One identity Walden doesn’t draw: men. There are none here, and no one asks why, which means—as in earlier utopias—that all romantic love in this universe would read as queer, or gay, in ours. (Since there are no men, there are no gay men or trans men; perhaps they live on other planets, or in other books.)

Like all science-fictional utopias, “On a Sunbeam” feels imperfect, even (to quote Ursula K. Le Guin) “ambiguous.” But it also feels magnificent: it’s a world in which many readers would want to live, and a way to envision solutions to real-life problems that seem intractable now. It’s a queer love story in a universe where benevolent authorities still get things wrong; it’s also, for all its spacecraft and planets and xenogeology and (eventually) aliens, a story that purists might label not as science fiction but as science fantasy. But such genre labels—though inevitable—seem beside the point. As always for Walden, even when she is writing and drawing pilots and engineers, the point is not how things work but how people feel, and what choices they help one another make.

Comics critics and would-be comics sophisticates—especially the kind who spurn superheroes—may think we have to choose between realistic characters who experience permanent loss and change, on the one hand, and escape, sublimity, and sheer wonder, on the other. Those sophisticates are wrong. “On a Sunbeam” is not the first American science-fiction comic to say so (consider “Finder,” or “Saga”), but it may be the most consistently beautiful, the most self-assured, the one with the best love story, and the one most vaultingly effective in its transitions between small-scale and large, between the deadly caverns under an exoplanet’s mountain and the look on a hopeful girl’s face."
comics  toread  stephanieburt  tilliewalden  2018  illustration  storytelling  utopia  queer  autism  sciencefiction  scifi  hayaomiyazaki  emotions  expression  nonbinary  künstlerroman  comingofage  teens  youngadult  fiction  srg  emotion  bodylanguage  howwewrite  ambiguous  ursulaleguin 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Tentacle | And Other Stories
"Plucked from her life on the streets of post-apocalyptic Santo Domingo, young maid Acilde Figueroa finds herself at the heart of a Santería prophecy: only she can travel back in time and save the ocean – and humanity – from disaster. But first she must become the man she always was – with the help of a sacred anemone. Tentacle is an electric novel with a big appetite and a brave vision, plunging headfirst into questions of climate change, technology, Yoruba ritual, queer politics, poverty, sex, colonialism and contemporary art. Bursting with punk energy and lyricism, it’s a restless, addictive trip: The Tempest meets the telenovela."

[See also:
https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/little-book-with-big-ambitions-rita-indianas-tentacle/
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/02/tentacle-by-rita-indiana-review
http://chicago.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.7208/chicago/9780226405636.001.0001/upso-9780226405322-chapter-007
https://1streading.wordpress.com/2018/12/18/tentacle/ ]

[The original, in Spanish:

La mucama de Omicunlé
http://www.editorialperiferica.com/?s=catalogo&l=147
https://www.zonadeobras.com/apuestas/2015/05/04/la-mucama-de-omicunle-rita-indiana-203300/
https://soundsandcolours.com/articles/dominican-republic/rita-indiana-la-mucama-de-omicunle-40561/
http://remezcla.com/culture/rita-indiana-la-mucama-de-omicunle/ ]

[More on/by Rita Indiana:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_Indiana
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vI4Gj2w0Z0Q
https://www.pri.org/programs/radio-ambulante-unscripted/rita-indiana-taking-caribbean-music-and-literature-new-heights
https://gozamos.com/2013/12/interview-rita-indiana-hernandez/
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=RITA+INDIANA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBVLvIjBFko
https://granta.com/on-cardi-b/http://remezcla.com/releases/music/rita-indiana-el-castigador-video/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-J_n1H2qT4 ]
books  toread  sciencefiction  sicfi  ritaindiana  andotherstories  spanish  español  srg  fiction  domincanrepublic  colonialism  santodomingo  novels  technology 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Announcing Better Worlds: a science fiction project about hope - The Verge
"Contemporary science fiction often feels fixated on a sort of pessimism that peers into the world of tomorrow and sees the apocalypse looming more often than not. At a time when simply reading the news is an exercise in exhaustion, anxiety, and fear, it’s no surprise that so many of our tales about the future are dark amplifications of the greatest terrors of the present. But now more than ever, we also need the reverse: stories that inspire hope.

That’s why, starting on January 14th, we’ll be publishing Better Worlds: 10 original fiction stories, five animated adaptations, and five audio adaptations by a diverse roster of science fiction authors who take a more optimistic view of what lies ahead in ways both large and small, fantastical and everyday.

Growing up, I was surrounded by optimistic science fiction — not only the idealism of television shows like Star Trek, but also the pulpy, thrilling adventures of golden age science fiction comics. They imagined worlds where the lot of humanity had been improved by our innovations, both technological and social. Stories like these are more than just fantasy and fabulism; they are articulations of hope. We need only look at how many tech leaders were inspired to pursue careers in technology because of Star Trek to see the tangible effect of inspirational fiction. (Conversely, Snow Crash author Neal Stephenson once linked the increasing scarcity of optimistic science fiction to “innovation starvation.”)

Better Worlds is partly inspired by Stephenson’s fiction anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future as well as Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, a 2015 “visionary fiction” anthology that is written by a diverse array of social activists and edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown. Their premise was simple: whenever we imagine a more equitable, sustainable, or humane world, we are producing speculative fiction, and this creates a “vital space” that is essential to forward progress.

The stories of Better Worlds are not intended to be conflict-free utopias or Pollyanna-ish paeans about how tech will solve everything; many are set in societies where people face challenges, sometimes life-threatening ones. But all of them imagine worlds where technology has made life better and not worse, and characters find a throughline of hope. We hope these stories will offer you the same: inspiration, optimism, or, at the very least, a brief reprieve that makes you feel a little bit better about what awaits us in the future — if we find the will to make it so.

—Laura Hudson, Culture Editor, The Verge

BETTER WORLDS STORIES

“A Theory Of Flight”
By Justina Ireland | Animation by All In Pixel
A daring plan to build an open-source rocket could help more people escape Earth.

“Move The World”
By Carla Speed McNeil
Once in your life, you can choose to pull a lever that resets the world — but will it make things better?

“A Model Dog”
By John Scalzi | Animation by Joel Plosz
An overbearing CEO demands that his employees engineer a solution to his dad’s aging dog.

“Online Reunion”
By Leigh Alexander
A young journalist chronicling a vintage e-pet reunion gets more than she expected.

“St. Juju”
By Rivers Solomon | Animation by Allen Laseter
A young woman must choose between her secure enclave and the one she loves.

“Monsters In Their Season”
By Cadwell Turnbull
An island commonwealth integrates an AI to defend itself against a worsening hurricane season.

“Overlay”
By Elizabeth Bonesteel | Animation by Device
A family hopes that running the perfect simulation can wake the father from a coma.

“Skin City”
By Kelly Robson
A street performer gets into trouble after falling for a radical privacy devotee.

“A Sun Will Always Sing”
By Karin Lowachee | Animation by Yeah Haus
A spacecraft carrying precious cargo embarks on a lifetime journey to a better world.

“The Burn”
By Peter Tieryas
As people around the world fall victim to The Burn, AR researchers begin to suspect a pattern."

[See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAyBWYlLGGo ]
theverge  towatch  sciencefiction  scifi  optimism  technooptimism  animation  stories  hope  nealstephenson  walidahimarisha  adriennemareebrown  inspiration  justinaireland  carlaspeedmcneil  johnscalzi  joelplosz  leighalexander  allenlaseter  riverssolomon  cadwellturnbull  elizabthbonesteel  kellyrobson  karinlowachee  petertiervas 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Emergent Strategy, by adrienne maree brown | AK Press
"Inspired by Octavia Butler's explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This is a resolutely materialist “spirituality” based equally on science and science fiction, a visionary incantation to transform that which ultimately transforms us.

“Necessary, vital, and timely.” —Ayana Jamieson, Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network

“Adrienne leads us on a passionate, purposeful, intimate ride into this Universe where relationships spawn new possibilities. Her years of dedication to facilitating change by partnering with life invite us to also join with life to create the changes so desperately needed now.” —Margaret Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science

“Adrienne has challenged me, enlightened me and reminded me that transformation happens in our natural world every day and we can borrow from it strategies to transform ourselves, our organizations, and our society.” —Denise Perry, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD)

“A word/heart sojourn through the hard questions.” — Makani Themba, facilitator for the Movement for Black Lives

“Emergent Strategy…reminds us, directly and by example, that wonder (which at its heart is love), is the foundation of our ability to shape change and create the world we want.” —Alta Starr, leadership development trainer at Generative Somatics

“Drawing on sources as varied as poetry, science fiction, forests, ancestors, and a desired future, Emergent Strategy speaks with ease about what is hard and brings us into that ease without losing its way. Savor and enjoy!” —Elissa Perry, Management Assistance Group

adrienne maree brown, co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements, is a social justice facilitator, healer, and doula living in Detroit.:
books  toread  adriennemareebrown  via:pauisanoun  emergent  octaviabutler  self-help  change  flux  morethanhuman  forests  sciencefiction  scifi  ancestors  futures  future 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Nick Farmer
"Nick Farmer is a writer and linguist based in Oakland, CA. He created the Belter conlang for Syfy’s The Expanse, contributed to the best-selling introductory linguistics textbook published by MIT Press, and works to support endangered and indigenous languages. Raised by his MIT trained linguist mother, and inspired by his godfather, Ken Hale, Nick has long been fascinated by languages and the cultures of those who speak them. When he’s not writing or studying, he loves spending time outdoors, lifting weights, listening to music, puttering around in his mess of a garden, and watching baseball."

[See also:

"How to Teach Yourself a Language (Part 1)"
https://medium.com/@nfarmerlinguist/how-to-teach-yourself-a-language-part-1-484da99cb76b

"How to Teach Yourself a Language (Part 2)"
https://medium.com/@nfarmerlinguist/how-to-teach-yourself-a-language-part-2-f6ae3b0d4777

"Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication"
https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/linguistics

"The Expanse’s Belter Language Has Real-World Roots: That Cool Dialect on The Expanse Mashes Up 6 Languages"
https://www.wired.com/2017/04/the-expanse-belter-language/

Belter Creole
http://expanse.wikia.com/wiki/Belter_Creole ]
nickfarmer  linguistics  theexpanse  language  languages  sciencefiction  scifi  srg 
may 2018 by robertogreco
White Allies, Let’s Be Honest About Decolonization by Kyle Powys Whyte — YES! Magazine
"Indigenous environmental movements in North America are among the oldest and most provocative—from the Dish With One Spoon Treaty between Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples to the Mni Wiconi (“Water Is Life”) movement of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. As a Potawatomi environmental justice advocate, I often get asked by other environmentalists in the U.S. to share my views on what they can do to be good allies to Indigenous peoples. Those who ask usually identify themselves as being non-Indigenous, white, and privileged. They are U.S. settlers: people who have privileges that arise from the historic and ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples. 

Whether one participates in settler colonialism is not entirely a matter of when or how one’s ancestors came to the U.S. Having settler privilege means that some combination of one’s economic security, U.S. citizenship, sense of relationship to the land, mental and physical health, cultural integrity, family values, career aspirations, and spiritual lives are not possible—literally!—without the territorial dispossession of Indigenous peoples. 

How then can settler allies move beyond being sympathetic beneficiaries of colonialism? What approach is legitimately decolonizing?

The resilience of settler privilege is a barrier. Gestures toward allyship can quickly recolonize Indigenous peoples. Some people have tried to create bonds of allyship by believing that Indigenous wisdom and spirituality are so profound that Indigenous people have always lived in ecological harmony. This is the romantic approach. Other allies have tried to create solidarity through claiming that Indigenous and non-Indigenous environmentalists should not distinguish their efforts. In this view, environmental issues threaten us all, and we should converge around common problems that affect all humanity, instead of wasting dwindling time on environmental racism. This is the same-boat approach. 

The romantic approach assumes that lifting up Indigenous wisdom and spirituality constitutes action. But this approach does not necessarily confront ongoing territorial dispossession and risks to health, economic vitality, lives, psychological well-being, and cultural integrity that Indigenous people experience. This is why scholars Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang say decolonization is not a metaphor. Yet, the empathetic responsibility to support others’ self-determination and well-being is a major lesson in many Indigenous environmental traditions. Subscribers to the romantic view are unprepared to respond to criticisms of supposed Indigenous hypocrisies, like the alleged contradiction of tribally sanctioned coal industries. Responding to these critiques requires an understanding of colonialism, yet some romantics are unwilling to take the time to learn how the U.S. forcefully re-engineered tribal governments to facilitate extractive industries. This understanding is key if one’s goal is to undermine the levers of power that undermine Indigenous self-determination and well-being today.  

The same-boat approach also misses the colonial context. The conservation movement has been as damaging to Indigenous peoples as extractive industries. National parks, ecological restoration projects, conservation zones, and even the uses of certain terms—especially “wilderness”—are associated with forced displacement of entire communities, erasure of Indigenous histories in education and public memory, economic marginalization, and violations of cultural and political rights. Though certain sectors of conservation have improved greatly, newer movements, such as the international UN-REDD+ Programme, still repeat harms of the past. Almost every environmental achievement in the U.S.—such as the Clean Air or Clean Water acts—has required Indigenous peoples to work hard to reform these laws to gain fair access to the protections. 

A decolonizing approach to allyship must challenge the resilience of settler privilege, which involves directly facing the very different ecological realities we all dwell in. Sometimes I see settler environmental movements as seeking to avoid some dystopian environmental future or planetary apocalypse. These visions are replete with species extinctions, irreversible loss of ecosystems, and severe rationing. They can include abusive corporations and governments that engage in violent brainwashing, quarantining, and territorial dispossession of people who stand in their way. 

Yet for many Indigenous peoples in North America, we are already living in what our ancestors would have understood as dystopian or post-apocalyptic times. In a cataclysmically short period, the capitalist–colonialist partnership has destroyed our relationships with thousands of species and ecosystems.

Zoe Todd and Heather Davis, authors of “On the Importance of a Date, or Decolonizing the Anthropocene,” characterize the ecological footprint of colonialism as seismic. The ongoing U.S. colonial legacy includes forcing Indigenous peoples into grid-like reservations that empower corporations and private individuals to degrade our territories; fostering patriarchy and conditions for sexual violence in Indigenous communities; brainwashing Indigenous children through boarding schools; and brainwashing everyone else through erasing Indigenous histories and experiences across U.S. culture, education, and memory. 

So Indigenous people awaken each day to science fiction scenarios not unlike the setup in films such as The Matrix. Yet in Indigenous science fiction films, such as Wakening and The 6th World, the protagonists are diverse humans and nonhumans who present unique solutions to daunting environmental problems. They are not portrayed as romantic stereotypes or symbols of a common humanity. They do not presuppose naive notions of Indigenous spirituality. They see environmental protection as possible only if we resist the capitalist–colonialist “matrix” of oppression and build allyship across different human and nonhuman groups. These films differ greatly from, say, Avatar, where the protagonist is a white male who passes as Indigenous and uses romantic Indigenous wisdom to save everyone. Indigenous people learn to ignore this difference, embracing a common foe together.  

Decolonizing allyship requires allies to be critical about their environmental realities—and about the purpose of their environmentalism. To do this, allies must realize they are living in the environmental fantasies of their settler ancestors. Settler ancestors wanted today’s world. They would have relished the possibility that some of their descendants could freely commit extractive violence on Indigenous lands and then feel, with no doubts, that they are ethical people. Remember how proponents of the Dakota Access pipeline sanctimoniously touted the project’s safety and that it never crossed tribal lands? On the flip side, when more sympathetic (environmentalist) settler descendants lament the loss of Indigenous wisdom without acting for Indigenous territorial empowerment; buy into the dreams and hopes of settler heroism and redemption in movies like Avatar; or overburden Indigenous people with requests for knowledge and emotional labor yet offer no reciprocal empowerment or healing—then they are fulfilling the fantasies of their settler ancestors.  

One can’t claim to be an ally if one’s agenda is to prevent his or her own future dystopias through actions that also preserve today’s Indigenous dystopias. Yet how many environmentalists do just this? I do not see much differentiating those who fight to protect the colonial fantasy of wilderness from those who claim the Dakota Access pipeline does not cross Indigenous lands. Indigenous environmental movements work to reject the ancestral dystopias and colonial fantasies of the present. This is why so many of our environmental movements are about stopping sexual and state violence against Indigenous people, reclaiming ethical self-determination across diverse urban and rural ecosystems, empowering gender justice and gender fluidity, transforming lawmaking to be consensual, healing intergenerational traumas, and calling out all practices that erase Indigenous histories, cultures, and experiences.

Perhaps these goals and values are among the greatest gifts of Indigenous spirituality and wisdom. I want to experience the solidarity of allied actions that refuse fantastical narratives of commonality and hope. Determining what exactly needs to be done will involve the kind of creativity that Indigenous peoples have used to survive some of the most oppressive forms of capitalist, industrial, and colonial domination. But above all, it will require that allies take responsibility and confront the assumptions behind their actions and aspirations."
decolonization  capitalism  indigenous  indigeneity  2018  kylepowyswhyte  resilience  self-determination  colonialism  dystopia  settlercolonialism  privilege  allyship  solidarity  environment  environmentalism  zoetodd  heatherdavis  anthropocene  scifi  sciencefiction 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Critical Design Fictions CSPL 225
"Design fiction involves the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change. Through practices of estrangement and defamiliarization, and through the use of carefully chosen design methods, this course experiments with the creation of provocative scenarios and imaginative artifacts that can help us envision different ways of inhabiting the world. The choices made by designers are ultimately choices about the kind of world in which we want to live--expressions of our dreams, fantasies, desires, and fears. As an integrated mode of thought and action, design is intrinsically social and deeply political. In conversation with science fiction, queer and feminist theories, indigenous discourses, drag and other performative interventions, this course explores speculative and critical approaches to design as catalysts for imagining alternate presents and possible futures. We examine a number of environmental and social issues related to climate change, incarceration, gender and reproductive rights, surveillance, emerging technologies, and labor."



"Readings include: Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby, SPECULATIVE EVERYTHING: DESIGN, FICTION, AND SOCIAL DREAMING and Patrick Parrender (ed.) LEARNING FROM OTHER WORLDS: ESTRANGEMENT, COGNITION, AND THE POLITICS OF SCIENCE FICTION AND UTOPIA, along with selections from Carrie Lambert-Beatty, Julian Bleeker, Paul Preciado, Bruce Sterling, Darko Suvin, Samuel Delany, Elizabeth Grosz, José Esteban Muñoz, Ursula LeGuin, and Octavia Butler, among others.

Examination and Assignments:
Participation and collaboration, short assignments in conversation with readings, midterm and final projects. Students will design and prototype a series of objects, scenarios, and characters as devices to explore alternate presents and possible futures."

[see also:
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/channels
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/speculative-design-1519962911
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/misc-design-1519956499
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/sensory-ethnography
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/ethnographic-design-films
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/design-methods-1519961030

http://www.wesleyan.edu/academics/faculty/baadams/profile.html
http://newsletter.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2017/10/23/taylor-07-teaches-design-thinking-workshop-at-wesleyan/
http://wesleyanargus.com/2018/02/02/fellow-barbara-adams-talks-design-ideas-minor/
http://www.wesleyan.edu/ideas/faculty.html
http://www.wesleyan.edu/ideas/index.html
http://www.gidest.org/barbara-adams/
https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/design-as-future-making-9780857858399/
https://nssr.academia.edu/BarbaraAdams ]
barbaraadams  design  designfiction  2018  classes  anthonydunne  fionaraby  patrickparrender  carrielambert-beatty  paulpreciado  brucesterling  darkosuvin  samueldelany  elizabethgrosz  joséestebanmuñoz  ursulaleguin  octaviabutler  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  scifi  sciencefiction  utopia  julianbleecker  dunne&raby  wesleyan 
may 2018 by robertogreco
The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction by Ursula K. Le Guin
"In the temperate and tropical regions where it appears that hominids evolved into human beings, the principal food of the species was vegetable. Sixty-five to eighty percent of what human beings ate in those regions in Paleolithic, Neolithic, and prehistoric times was gathered; only in the extreme Arctic was meat the staple food. The mammoth hunters spectacularly occupy the cave wall and the mind, but what we actually did to stay alive and fat was gather seeds, roots, sprouts, shoots, leaves, nuts, berries, fruits, and grains, adding bugs and mollusks and netting or snaring birds, fish, rats, rabbits, and other tuskless small fry to up the protein. And we didn't even work hard at it--much less hard than peasants slaving in somebody else's field after agriculture was invented, much less hard than paid workers since civilization was invented. The average prehistoric person could make a nice living in about a fifteen-hour work week.

Fifteen hours a week for subsistence leaves a lot of time for other things. So much time that maybe the restless ones who didn't have a baby around to enliven their life, or skill in making or cooking or singing, or very interesting thoughts to think, decided to slope off and hunt mammoths. The skillful hunters then would come staggering back with a load of meat, a lot of ivory, and a story. It wasn't the meat that made the difference. It was the story.

It is hard to tell a really gripping tale of how I wrested a wild-oat seed from its husk, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then I scratched my gnat bites, and Ool said something funny, and we went to the creek and got a drink and watched newts for a while, and then I found another patch of oats.... No, it does not compare, it cannot compete with how I thrust my spear deep into the titanic hairy flank white Oob, impaled on one huge sweeping tusk, writhed screaming, and blood spouted everywhere in crimson torrents, and Boob was crushed to jelly when the mammoth fell on him as I shot my unerring arrow straight through eye to brain.

That story not only has Action, it has a Hero. Heroes are powerful. Before you know it, the men and women in the wild-oat patch and their kids and the skills of the makers and the thoughts of the thoughtful and the songs of the singers are all part of it, have all been pressed into service in the tale of the Hero. But it isn't their story. It's his.

When she was planning the book that ended up as Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf wrote a heading in her notebook, "Glossary"; she had thought of reinventing English according to a new plan, in order to tell a different story. One of the entries in this glossary is heroism, defined as "botulism." And hero, in Woolf's dictionary, is "bottle." The hero as bottle, a stringent reevaluation. I now propose the bottle as hero.

Not just the bottle of gin or wine, but bottle in its older sense of container in general, a thing that holds something else.

If you haven't got something to put it in, food will escape you--even something as uncombative and unresourceful as an oat. You put as many as you can into your stomach while they are handy, that being the primary container; but what about tomorrow morning when you wake up and it's cold and raining and wouldn't it be good to have just a few handfuls of oats to chew on and give little Oom to make her shut up, but how do you get more than one stomachful and one handful home? So you get up and go to the damned soggy oat patch in the rain, and wouldn't it be a good thing if you had something to put Baby Oo Oo in so that you could pick the oats with both hands? A leaf a gourd a shell a net a bag a sling a sack a bottle a pot a box a container. A holder. A recipient.

The first cultural device was probably a recipient .... Many theorizers feel that the earliest cultural inventions must have been a container to hold gathered products and some kind of sling or net carrier.

So says Elizabeth Fisher in Women's Creation (McGraw-Hill, 1975). But no, this cannot be. Where is that wonderful, big, long, hard thing, a bone, I believe, that the Ape Man first bashed somebody with in the movie and then, grunting with ecstasy at having achieved the first proper murder, flung up into the sky, and whirling there it became a space ship thrusting its way into the cosmos to fertilize it and produce at the end of the movie a lovely fetus, a boy of course, drifting around the Milky Way without (oddly enough) any womb, any matrix at all? I don't know. I don't even care. I'm not telling that story. We've heard it, we've all heard all about all the sticks spears and swords, the things to bash and poke and hit with, the long, hard things, but we have not heard about the thing to put things in, the container for the thing contained. That is a new story. That is news.

And yet old. Before--once you think about it, surely long before--the weapon, a late, luxurious, superfluous tool; long before the useful knife and ax; right along with the indispensable whacker, grinder, and digger-- for what's the use of digging up a lot of potatoes if you have nothing to lug ones you can't eat home in--with or before the tool that forces energy outward, we made the tool that brings energy home. It makes sense to me. I am an adherent of what Fisher calls the Carrier Bag Theory of human evolution.

This theory not only explains large areas of theoretical obscurity and avoids large areas of theoretical nonsense (inhabited largely by tigers, foxes, other highly territorial mammals); it also grounds me, personally, in human culture in a way I never felt grounded before. So long as culture was explained as originating from and elaborating upon the use of long, hard objects for sticking, bashing, and killing, I never thought that I had, or wanted, any particular share in it. ("What Freud mistook for her lack of civilization is woman's lack of loyalty to civilization," Lillian Smith observed.) The society, the civilization they were talking about, these theoreticians, was evidently theirs; they owned it, they liked it; they were human, fully human, bashing, sticking, thrusting, killing. Wanting to be human too, I sought for evidence that I was; but if that's what it took, to make a weapon and kill with it, then evidently I was either extremely defective as a human being, or not human at all.

That's right, they said. What you are is a woman. Possibly not human at all, certainly defective. Now be quiet while we go on telling the Story of the Ascent of Man the Hero.

Go on, say I, wandering off towards the wild oats, with Oo Oo in the sling and little Oom carrying the basket. You just go on telling how the mammoth fell on Boob and how Cain fell on Abel and how the bomb fell on Nagasaki and how the burning jelly fell on the villagers and how the missiles will fall on the Evil Empire, and all the other steps in the Ascent of Man.

If it is a human thing to do to put something you want, because it's useful, edible, or beautiful, into a bag, or a basket, or a bit of rolled bark or leaf, or a net woven of your own hair, or what have you, and then take it home with you, home being another, larger kind of pouch or bag, a container for people, and then later on you take it out and eat it or share it or store it up for winter in a solider container or put it in the medicine bundle or the shrine or the museum, the holy place, the area that contains what is sacred, and then next day you probably do much the same again--if to do that is human, if that's what it takes, then I am a human being after all. Fully, freely, gladly, for the first time.

Not, let it be said at once, an unaggressive or uncombative human being. I am an aging, angry woman laying mightily about me with my handbag, fighting hoodlums off. However I don't, nor does anybody else, consider myself heroic for doing so. It's just one of those damned things you have to do in order to be able to go on gathering wild oats and telling stories.

It is the story that makes the difference. It is the story that hid my humanity from me, the story the mammoth hunters told about bashing, thrusting, raping, killing, about the Hero. The wonderful, poisonous story of Botulism. The killer story.

It sometimes seems that that story is approaching its end. Lest there be no more telling of stories at all, some of us out here in the wild oats, amid the alien corn, think we'd better start telling another one, which maybe people can go on with when the old one's finished. Maybe. The trouble is, we've all let ourselves become part of the killer story, and so we may get finished along with it. Hence it is with a certain feeling of urgency that I seek the nature, subject, words of the other story, the untold one, the life story.

It's unfamiliar, it doesn't come easily, thoughtlessly to the lips as the killer story does; but still, "untold" was an exaggeration. People have been telling the life story for ages, in all sorts of words and ways. Myths of creation and transformation, trickster stories, folktales, jokes, novels...

The novel is a fundamentally unheroic kind of story. Of course the Hero has frequently taken it over, that being his imperial nature and uncontrollable impulse, to take everything over and run it while making stern decrees and laws to control his uncontrollable impulse to kill it. So the Hero has decreed through his mouthpieces the Lawgivers, first, that the proper shape of the narrative is that of the arrow or spear, starting here and going straight there and THOK! hitting its mark (which drops dead); second, that the central concern of narrative, including the novel, is conflict; and third, that the story isn't any good if he isn't in it.

I differ with all of this. I would go so far as to say that the natural, proper, fitting shape of the novel might be that of a sack, a bag. A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings. A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us.

One relationship among elements in the novel … [more]
ursulaleguin  1986  marxism  economics  labor  work  capitalism  feminism  writing  stories  storytelling  heroes  virginiawoolf  elziabethfisher  lilliansmith  humans  human  hunter-gatherers  humanity  scifi  sciencefiction  fiction  literature 
january 2018 by robertogreco
HEWN, No. 250
"I wrote a book review this week of Brian Dear’s The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold History of of PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture. My review’s a rumination on how powerful the mythologizing is around tech, around a certain version of the history of technology – “the Silicon Valley narrative,” as I’ve called this elsewhere – so much so that we can hardly imagine that there are other stories to tell, other technologies to build, other practices to adopt, other ways of being, and so on.

I was working on the book review when I heard the news Tuesday evening that the great author Ursula K. Le Guin had passed away, I immediately thought of her essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction” – her thoughts on storytelling about spears and storytelling about bags and what we might glean from a culture (and a genre) that praises the former and denigrates the latter.
If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic. “Technology,” or “modern science” (using the words as they are usually used, in an unexamined shorthand standing for the “hard” sciences and high technology founded upon continuous economic growth), is a heroic undertaking, Herculean, Promethean, conceived as triumph, hence ultimately as tragedy. The fiction embodying this myth will be, and has been, triumphant (Man conquers earth, space, aliens, death, the future, etc.) and tragic (apocalypse, holocaust, then or now).

If, however, one avoids the linear, progressive, Time’s-(killing)-arrow mode of the Techno-Heroic, and redefines technology and science as primarily cultural carrier bag rather than weapon of domination, one pleasant side effect is that science fiction can be seen as a far less rigid, narrow field, not necessarily Promethean or apocalyptic at all, and in fact less a mythological genre than a realistic one.


The problems of technology – and the problems of the storytelling about the computing industry today, which seems to regularly turn to the worst science fiction for inspiration – is bound up in all this. There’s a strong desire to create, crown, and laud the Hero – a tendency that’s going to end pretty badly if we don’t start thinking about care and community (and carrier bags) and dial back this wretched fascination with weapons, destruction, and disruption.

(Something like this, I wonder: “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin.)

Elsewhere in the history of the future of technology: “Sorry, Alexa Is Not a Feminist,” says Ian Bogost. “The People Who Would Survive Nuclear War” by Alexis Madrigal.

There are many reasons to adore Ursula K. Le Guin. And there are many pieces of her writing, of course, one could point to and insist “you must read this. You must.” For me, the attraction was her grounding in cultural anthropology – I met Le Guin at a California Folklore Society almost 20 years ago when I was a graduate student in Folklore Studies – alongside her willingness to challenge the racism and imperialism and expropriation that the field engendered. It was her fierce criticism of capitalism and her commitment to freedom. I’m willing to fight anyone who tries to insist that Sometimes a Great Notion is the great novel of the Pacific Northwest. Really, you should pick almost any Le Guin novel in its stead – Always Coming Home, perhaps. Or The Word for the World is Forest. She was the most important anarchist of our era, I posted on Facebook when I shared the NYT obituary. It was a jab at another Oregon writer who I bet thinks that’s him. But like Kesey, his notion is all wrong.

Fewer Heroes. Better stories about people. Better worlds for people.

Yours in struggle,
~Audrey"
audreywatters  ursulaleguin  2018  anarchism  sciencefiction  scifi  technology  edtech  progress  storytelling  care  community  caring  folklore  anarchy  computing  siliconvalley  war  aggression  humanism  briandear  myth  heroes  science  modernscience  hardsciences  economics  growth  fiction  tragedy  apocalypse  holocaust  future  conquest  domination  weapons  destruction  disruption 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Seedship
"Seedship, a simple text-only game about interstellar exploration & colonization. My best result was "Corrupt Post-Singularity Democracy" (9952 points) http://philome.la/johnayliff/seedship/play "
game  text  games  gaming  videogames  scifi  sciencefiction  toplay 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Jeet Heer on Twitter: "1. So, a few thoughts about Ursula K. Le Guin, Boasian anthropology & trajectory of 20th century science fiction."
"1. So, a few thoughts about Ursula K. Le Guin, Boasian anthropology & trajectory of 20th century science fiction.

2. Le Guin was the daughter of Alfred Louis Kroeber & Theodora Kracaw, two extremely distinguished anthropologists, in the tradition of Franz Boas.

3. Boas, of course, was a major figure in moving anthropology away from hierarchical judgements & trying to understand cultures on their own terms.

4. If we ask, what was the science of Le Guin's science fiction, the clear answer is anthropology: the ability to imagine & populate societies with rules very different than our own.

5. Le Guin's anthropological imagination of course went hand in hand with her feminism, since part of what she imagined was societies without contemporary gender binary.

6. On the whole, with a few noble exceptions, early 20th century American science fiction & fantasy was profoundly xenophobic, in ways both subtle & profound.

7. It wasn't just the bug-eyed monsters, but also that many SF writers had a hard time imagining future or alien societies that didn't just replicate norms of 20th century America.

8. Of E.E. "Doc" Smith, one of the great pioneers of space opera, @john_clute wrote that his work had "a lunatic insensitivity to lifeforms (i.e. Jews)...not found in small America circa 1930."

9. John W. Campbell, a foundational editor of sf who shaped field for decades, had a rule that no alien species could be smarter than humans (by which he meant white people, since he rejected stories with black heroes).

10. Even someone like Heinlein, more cosmopolitan than most pulp writers, struggled with diversity. He often had people of color in books but they thought, acted & sounded like middle class white Americans.

11. Le Guin was part of a great shift in science fiction, often called New Wave, which had many dimensions (literary, countercultural, feminist) but was also a move from xenophobia to xenophilia.

12. It's interesting that the move from xenophobia to xenophilia all involved writers who, at an early age, had encounters with non-western cultures.

13. Aside from Le Guin there was Paul Linebarger (a.k.a. Cordwainer Smith) who grew up in China & Alice Sheldon (a.k.a. Alice Tiptree) whose mom was a travel writer & who spent youth traveling in Africa & elsewhere.

14. Cordwainer Smith claimed he dream in Chinese (Mandarin, I think). Mind you, he used his cultural sensitivity to dubious ends (he was a CIA expert on psychological warfare). Still, it informed his fiction

15. And Sheldon/Tiptree (also CIA!) had ties to Africa that were redolent of colonialism, as in this photo when she was a child. But her adult work was a critique of colonial hauteur.

16. Slightly tangential but Le Guin's anthropological science fiction was bastardized by Hollywood: both Return of the Jedi & Avatar are riffs on Le Guin's The Word For World Is Forest.

18. To conclude, if we want to situate Le Guin historically, she's part of the great shift in s.f. where there is a move to genuinely imagine alien cultures and to imaginatively live inside them."
ursulaleguin  2018  jeetheer  anthropology  sciencefiction  scifi  alfredlouiskroeber  theodorakracaw  franzboas  eesmith  alicesheldon  alicetiptree  colonialism  cordwainersmith  newwave  femism  johncampbell  fantasy  xenophobia  aliens  robertheinlein 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Writing Nameless Things: An Interview with Ursula K. Le Guin - Los Angeles Review of Books
"How do you feel about ebooks these days?

When I started writing about ebooks and print books, a lot of people were shouting, “The book is dead, the book is dead, it’s all going to be electronic.” I got tired of it. What I was trying to say is that now we have two ways of publishing, and we’re going to use them both. We had one, now we have two. How can that be bad? Creatures live longer if they can do things in different ways. I think I’ve been fairly consistent on that. But the tone of my voice might have changed. I was going against a trendy notion. There’s this joke I heard. You know what Gutenberg’s second book was, after the Bible? It was a book about how the book was dead."



"You once clarified your political stance by saying, “I am not a progressive. I think the idea of progress an invidious and generally harmful mistake. I am interested in change, which is an entirely different matter.” Why is the idea of progress harmful? Surely in the great sweep of time, there has been progress on social issues because people have an idea or even an ideal of it.

I didn’t say progress was harmful, I said the idea of progress was generally harmful. I was thinking more as a Darwinist than in terms of social issues. I was thinking about the idea of evolution as an ascending staircase with amoebas at the bottom and Man at the top or near the top, maybe with some angels above him. And I was thinking of the idea of history as ascending infallibly to the better — which, it seems to me, is how the 19th and 20th centuries tended to use the word “progress.” We leave behind us the Dark Ages of ignorance, the primitive ages without steam engines, without airplanes/nuclear power/computers/whatever is next. Progress discards the old, leads ever to the new, the better, the faster, the bigger, et cetera. You see my problem with it? It just isn’t true.

How does evolution fit in?

Evolution is a wonderful process of change — of differentiation and diversification and complication, endless and splendid; but I can’t say that any one of its products is “better than” or “superior to” any other in general terms. Only in specific ways. Rats are more intelligent and more adaptable than koala bears, and those two superiorities will keep rats going while the koalas die out. On the other hand, if there were nothing around to eat but eucalyptus, the rats would be gone in no time and the koalas would thrive. Humans can do all kinds of stuff bacteria can’t do, but if I had to bet on really long-term global survival, my money would go to the bacteria."
usulaleguin  2017  evolution  progress  change  diversity  differentiation  diversification  complication  difference  ebooks  publishing  writing  sciencefiction  scifi 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Nnedi Okorafor: Sci-fi stories that imagine a future Africa | TED Talk | TED.com
""My science fiction has different ancestors -- African ones," says writer Nnedi Okorafor. In between excerpts from her "Binti" series and her novel "Lagoon," Okorafor discusses the inspiration and roots of her work -- and how she opens strange doors through her Afrofuturist writing."
nnediokorafor  2017  scifi  sciencefiction  afrofuturism  binti  futurism 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Apocalypse, Now - On The Media - WNYC
"Science fiction has always been an outlet for our greatest anxieties. This week, we delve into how the genre is exploring the reality of climate change. Plus: new words to describe the indescribable.

1. Jeff VanderMeer @jeffvandermeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy and Borne, on writing about the relationships between people and nature.

2. Claire Vaye Watkins @clairevaye talks about Gold Fame Citrus, her work of speculative fiction in which an enormous sand dune threatens to engulf the southwest. 

3. Kim Stanley Robinson discusses his latest work, New York 2140. The seas have risen 50 feet and lower Manhattan is submerged. And yet, there's hope.

4. British writer Robert Macfarlane @RobGMacfarlane on new language for our changing world.

Throughout the show: listeners offer their own new vocabulary for the Anthropocene era. Many thanks to everyone who left us voice memos!"
robertmacfarlane  kimstanleyrobinson  clairevayewatkins  jeffvandermeer  sciencefiction  scifi  speculativefiction  anthropocene  humans  nature  multispecies  language  tolisten  economics  finance  cli-fi  climatechange  utopia  names  naming  silence  pessimism  optimism  hope  dystopia  anthopocene  deserts  natue  change  earth 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Radical Ocean Futures
[via: https://twitter.com/Oniropolis/status/871030625855307778 ]

"INTRODUCING RADICAL OCEAN FUTURES...A COLLABORATIVE #ARTSCIENCE INITIATIVE

Welcome intrepid explorer of the future oceans....

This project is founded on the belief that sometimes science fiction might succeed where scientific papers fall short. It blends art and science and merges scientific fact with creative speculation. The heart of the project is four short 'Radical Ocean Futures.' These are scientifically grounded narratives of potential future oceans. Each narrative is supported by both a visual and a musical interpretation to allow multiple entry points and stimulate the imagination. The purpose of this project is to explore tools that can help us to think creatively and imaginatively about our future oceans and assess how unexpected changes, along with human responses to those changes, may play out in a complex world that is, at its heart, surprising.

This project was financed through a science communications grant from The Swedish Research Council Formas and was featured online in WIRED."



"
Scenarios can help individuals, communities, corporations and nations to develop a capacity for dealing with the unknown and unpredictable, or the unlikely but possible. A range of scientific methods for developing scenarios is available, but we argue that they have limited capacity to investigate complex social-ecological futures because: 1) non-linear change is rarely incorporated and: 2) they rarely involve co-evolutionary dynamics of integrated social-ecological systems. This manuscript intends to address these two concerns, by applying the method of Science Fiction Prototyping to develop scenarios for the future of global fisheries. We used an empirically informed background on existing and emerging trends in marine natural resource use and dynamics to develop four ‘radical’ futures in a changing global ocean, incorporating and extrapolating from existing environmental, technological, social and economic trends. We argue that the method applied here can complement existing scenario methodologies and assist scientists in developing a holistic understanding of complex systems dynamics. The approach holds promise for making scenarios more accessible and interesting to non-academics and can be useful for developing proactive governance mechanisms."



"Sci-fi narratives - Science-based stories about our future oceans

Oceans back from the brink

FISH Inc

Rime of the last fisherman

Rising tide

Scenario building via science fiction prototyping

The four scenarios are built on a robust foundation of scientific knowledge, including:

1) Technological frontiers

2) Marine ecology, ocean and fisheries science

3) The global fishing and seafood industry

4) Marine management, governance and socio-economic shifts

The scenarios were developed following the method of Science-Fiction Prototyping, developed by Brian David Johnson when he was the futurist at Intel Corporation. Mr Johnson is now the futurist in residence at Arizona State University, Center for Science and the Imagination. This method is described in detail in the scientific paper currently under review at the journal Futures.

We have linked key elements in each of the narrative scenarios to relevant peer-reviewed academic papers, news articles from reputable publications and credible websites to give you the opportunity to explore beyond Radical Ocean Futures. We wish you well on your explorations into the future oceans and the scientific work that helps us to imagine them."



"The beautiful and engaging artworks that are a feature of the Radical Ocean Futures #artscience project were created by the world renowned Swedish concept artist and illustrator Simon Stålenhag. His work has been featured in; The Verge, Gizmodo, Booooooom.com and The Huffington Post among others. He has also successfully kickstarted collections of his work and has a number of exciting new projects in development. He is currently working on his third book.

Right from the beginning, this was a true creative collaboration and the original pieces of concept art that you see on this site, so vividly supporting the narrative scenarios of the future oceans, are the result of this collaboration. Below is a small sampling of his other work. If you would like to have the opportunity to work with Simon or see his iconic body of work, please head over to his website."
oceans  future  scifi  sciencefiction  classideas  designfiction  briandavidjohnson  prototyping  science-fictionprototyping  simonstålenhag  klaluna  kaitlynrathwell  andrewmerrie  patriciakeys  marcmetian  henrikösterblom 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Monstrous, Duplicated, Potent | Issue 28 | n+1
"On first read, I was dazzled and bewildered. Desperate to impress the organizer, who I thought brilliant, I strained over it line by line in hopes of insight. In the end, I mumbled through our meeting. I didn’t understand the Manifesto until I’d read it three more times. In truth, I probably still don’t. But for a young woman struggling to understand the world after Hurricane Katrina and a global financial crisis, Haraway beckoned. She offered a way to make sense of the things that seemed absent from politics as I knew it: science, nature, feminism.

The Manifesto proclaims itself to be against origin stories, but its own is hard to resist. In 1982, the Marxist journal Socialist Review — a bicoastal publication originally titled Socialist Revolution, whose insurrectionary name was moderated in the late 1970s as politics soured — asked Haraway to write five pages on the priorities of socialist feminism in the Reagan era. Haraway responded with thirty. It was the first piece, she claimed, she had ever written on a computer (a Hewlett-Packard-86). The submission caused controversy at the journal, with disagreement breaking down along geographic lines. As Haraway later recalled in an interview, “The East Coast Collective truly disapproved of it politically and did not want it published.” The more catholic West Coast won out, and the Manifesto was published in 1985 as “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s,” though it has been known colloquially as the Cyborg Manifesto ever since.

In one sense, Haraway did what she was asked: she outlined the contemporary state of political economy from a socialist-feminist perspective. Her reading of the shift to post-Fordism was loose but lucid. The rise of communications technologies made it possible to disperse labor globally while still controlling it, she noted, scattering once-unionized factory jobs across the continents. The gender of industrial work was changing too: there were more women assembling computer chips in East Asia than men slapping together cars in the American Midwest. Automation was lighter and brighter: in place of hulking industrial machinery, our “machines are made of sunshine” — but this light, invisible power nevertheless caused “immense human pain in Detroit and Singapore.” Family structures were changing: mothers increasingly worked outside the home and headed up the household. The result was what Haraway, drawing on Richard Gordon, called the homework economy — a pointed term for what’s euphemistically and blandly called the service economy.

The Manifesto offered a new politics for this new economy. Prescient about the need to organize the feminized, if not always female, sectors, Haraway explicitly called leftists to support SEIU District 925, a prominent campaign to unionize office workers. She also criticized the idea of a universal subject, whether held up by Marxists (the proletarian) or radical feminists (the woman). A new politics had to be constructed not around a singular agent but on the basis of a patchwork of identities and affinities. How, then, to find unity across difference, make political subjects in a postmodern era, and build power without presuming consensus? “One is too few, but two are too many,” she wrote cryptically. “One is too few, and two is only one possibility.” Acting as isolated individuals leads nowhere, but the effort to act collectively cannot leave difference aside. Women of color, Haraway suggested, following Chela Sandoval, could not rely on the stability of either category; they might lead the way in forging a new, nonessentialist unity based on affinity rather than identity.

This is where the metaphor of the cyborg comes in. For Haraway, the cyborg is a hybrid figure that crosses boundaries: between human and machine, human and animal, organism and machine, reality and fiction. As a political subject, it is expansive enough to encompass the range of human experience in all its permutations. A hybrid, it is more than one, but less than two.

In place of old political formations, Haraway imagined new cyborgian ones. She hoped that “the unnatural cyborg women making chips in Asia and spiral dancing in Santa Rita Jail” would together “guide effective oppositional strategies.” Her paradigmatic “cyborg society” was the Livermore Action Group, an antinuclear activist group targeting the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a nuclear-weapons-research facility in Northern California. The group, she thought, was “committed to building a political form that actually manages to hold together witches, engineers, elders, perverts, Christians, mothers, and Leninists long enough to disarm the state.”

What set the Manifesto apart from other reconceptions of feminism was its embrace of science. The cyborg was a figure that only a feminist biologist — herself an unlikely figure — could imagine. While by the 1980s many feminists were wary of biological claims about sexual difference, evading charges of essentialism by separating sex from gender (biology might give you a certain body, but society conditioned how you lived in it), Haraway argued that failing to take a position on biology was to “lose too much” — to surrender the notion of the body itself as anything more than a “blank page for social inscriptions.” Distinguishing her attachment to the body from the usual Earth Mother connotations was its famous closing line: “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”

Who wouldn’t? The cyborg’s popularity was no doubt fueled in part by the vision of a bionic babe it suggested — a Furiosa or the Terminator — though it couldn’t be further from her meaning. Asked what she considered a true moment of cyborgness in 1999, Haraway responded, “the sense of the intricacy, interest, and pleasure — as well as the intensity — of how I have imagined how like a leaf I am.” The point was not that she shared some biological commonality with a leaf, or that she felt leaves to be kindred spirits (though she very well might have). What made her giddy was the thought of all the work that had gone into producing the knowledge that she was like a leaf — how incredible it was to be able to know such a thing — and the kinds of relationship to a leaf that such knowledge made possible.

Despite her frequent reminders that it was written as a “mostly sober” intervention into socialist-feminist politics rather than “the ramblings of a blissed-out, techno-bunny fembot,” many still read it as the latter. Wired profiled her enthusiastically in 1997. “To boho twentysomethings,” they wrote, “her name has the kind of cachet usually reserved for techno acts or new phenethylamines.” (More recently, the entrepreneurial synthetic biologist Drew Endy deployed the Manifesto in support of his bid to label synthetic biological products as “natural” under federal guidelines to increase their appeal to cautious consumers.)

Its Reagan-era coordinates may have changed, but the Manifesto remains Haraway’s most widely read work. The cyborg became a celebrity, as did Haraway herself, both serving as signifiers of a queer, savvy, self-aware feminism. Yet she has grown weary of its success, admonishing readers that “cyborgs are critters in a queer litter, not the Chief Figure of Our Times.”

Somewhat counterintuitively, it’s Haraway herself who sometimes seems the Chief Figure. There’s no Harawavian school, though she has many acolytes. She does not belong to any particular school herself, though many have attempted to place her. You can’t really do a Harawavian analysis of the economy or the laboratory; other than the cyborg, she’s produced few portable concepts or frameworks. Her own individual prominence runs counter to her view of intellectual work as collectively produced. Yet for thirty years she’s been ahead of intellectual trends, not by virtue of building foundational frameworks but by inspiring others to spawn and spur entire fields, from feminist science studies to multispecies ethics. Her work tends to emerge from problems she sees in the world rather than from engagement with literatures, thinkers, or trends, yet it manages to transcend mere timeliness.

Her new book, Staying with the Trouble, is a commentary on the most pressing threat of our era: catastrophic climate change. It’s hard to think of someone better suited to the task. Climate change requires ways of thinking capable of confronting the closely bound future of countless humans and nonhumans, the basis for certainty in scientific findings, the political consequences of such knowledge, and the kinds of political action that such consequences call for. If Haraway has long practiced such hybrid thinking, that also means the problem best suited to challenging her thought — to testing its mettle, and its usefulness to our political future — has decisively arrived."



"Under Hutchinson’s supervision, she wrote a dissertation heavily influenced by Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 landmark The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn had caused an uproar with his argument that rather than steadily progressing toward truth, the production of scientific knowledge was marked by conflict and upheaval. What scientists had once been certain was true would eventually be considered wrong. Each emerging framework was often incommensurable with what had come before. Kuhn called this phenomenon a “paradigm shift.” A classic example was the transition from Newtonian physics to Einsteinian relativity."

[See also: "Cthulhu plays no role for me"
https://www.viewpointmag.com/2017/05/08/cthulhu-plays-no-role-for-me/ ]
donnaharaway  2017  science  scientism  feminism  cyborgs  serviceeconomy  economics  academia  philosophy  1982  1985  california  ucsantacruz  queerness  biology  nancyhartstock  marxism  fredericjameson  hueynewton  angeladavis  historyofconsciousness  teresadelauretis  climatechange  anthropocene  naomiklein  blockadia  rustenhogness  kinstanleyrobinson  cyborgmanifesto  jamesclifford  histcon  alyssabattistoni  blackpantherparty  bobbyseale  jayemiller  historyofscience  radicalism  radicalscience  multispecies  animals  praxis  gregorybateson  systemsthinking  language  storytelling  politics  intersectionality  situatedknowledge  solidarity  perspective  thomaskuhn  epistemology  reality  consciousness  primatology  theory  empiricism  octaviabutler  sciencefiction  scifi  patriarchy  colonialism  racism  ignorance  objectivity  curiosity  technology  biotechnology  technofuturism  companionspecies  dogs  ethics  chthulucene  capitalocene  ursulaleguin  utopia  mundane  kinship  families  unity  friendship  work  labor  hope  sophielewis  blackpanthers 
may 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - FutureProofing, The Future of the Future
"Does the accelerating pace of technology change the way we think about the future?

It's said that science fiction writers now spend more time telling stories about today than about tomorrow, because the potential of existing technology to change our world is so rich that there is no need to imagine the future - it's already here. Does this mean the future is dead? Or that we are experiencing a profound shift in our understanding of what the future means to us, how it arrives, and what forces will shape it?

Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson explore how our evolving understanding of time and the potential of technological change are transforming the way we think about the future."
future  2017  mattnovak  sciencefiction  scifi  timandraharkness  leojohnson  time  technology  learning  howwelive  change  1960s  1950s  alexanerrose  prediction  bigdata  stability  flexibility  adaptability  astroteller  googlex  longnow  longnowfoundation  uncertainty  notknowing  simulation  generativedesign  dubai  museumofthefuture  agency  lawrenceorsini  implants  douglascoupland  belllabs  infrastructure  extremepresent  sfsh  classideas  present  past  history  connectivity  internet  web  online  futurism  futures  smartphones  tv  television  refrigeration  seancarroll 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Future Agency - The Verge
"“It's really easy to freak people out with science fiction. It's a heavy responsibility,” says Tellart co-founder Matt Cottam when I first meet him and Scappaticci at the company’s New York outpost, located in the corner of a Chelsea loft. He cites a maxim from the author and New School sociology instructor Barbara Adams: “Every act of future making is an act of future taking." Cottam continues, “While creating a high fidelity image of the future may broaden people's imagination for what's possible, it can also really narrow their perception of what's possible or what their options are.”"



"The agencies are paid to adapt unstable emerging technologies to marketing and branding efforts, and in the process normalize and commodify them for a mainstream audience. If you see facial recognition technology at the Museum of Future Government Services, for example, then you might not be so shocked when it actually shows up in airport security. The experiential fiction acclimatizes you to the future in advance."
sciencefiction  scifi  future  futurism  2017  kylechaykra  google  microsoft  googlecreativelab  microsoftresearch  tellart  museumofthefuture  design 
april 2017 by robertogreco
One Book: One Press
"This year, I did something I'd always been meaning to do: I subscribed to the entire year's output of a small press, in this case Wave Books [http://www.wavepoetry.com/collections/subscriptions ], the Seattle poetry publisher. There were new books by writers I already loved, like Renee Gladman and Mary Ruefle. There were books by new-to-me poets who I now adore, like Hoa Nguyen. And there were also books I thought were so-so, or didn't finish, or didn't get around to at all. But I loved the fact that that discrete output of a publisher for the year 2016 came to my doorstep. I loved it so much that next year, and maybe every year in the future, I am going to subscribe to another small press.

A number of small presses will send you a bunch of their books for a smallish lump sum (for instance, Dorothy [http://dorothyproject.com/books-gallery/ ] will send you all 14 of their books for $140) but for me the temporality, the getting the books as they're published, is the exciting part. Here are a few that do a yearly subscription:

Two Lines Press [http://twolinespress.com/subscribe/ ]: literature in translation, fifty bucks! Includes a newly translated Marie NDiaye

PM Press [https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=1 ]: radical history/politics/lifestyle with occasional fiction, monthly subscriptions

Deep Vellum [http://deepvellum.org/product/10-book-subscription/ ]: literature in translation, subscribe for 5 or 10 books

Aqueduct Press [http://www.aqueductpress.com/orders.php ]: feminist science fiction, subscribe to Conversation Pieces series

Black Ocean [http://www.blackocean.org/subscriptions14/ ]: literature, mostly poetry

Sarabande [http://www.sarabandebooks.org/subscriptions/2017-subscription ]: ditto, includes a Mary Ruefle chapbook

Perhaps supporting a small press might brighten your or a friend's year."
suzannefischer  books  subscriptions  gifts  publishing  literature  poetry  sciencefiction  translation  history  politics  temporality 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Maria Fröhlich
["Comic artist and illustrator from the dark woods of northern Sweden."
http://mariafrohlich.daportfolio.com/about/ ]

[See also:
https://www.instagram.com/mariafrohlichart/
https://twitter.com/MariaFrohlich ]

[via: http://us6.campaign-archive2.com/?u=88819455cab0b1139f96cec4d&id=6cb5179504

"The image above is part of the concept art for Maria Fröhlich's book Tales from Miraclecity. Her illustration blog features a society brimming with people of color — especially children — playing and exploring in a world both present and future." ]
mariafröhlich  illustration  sweden  peopleofcolor  scifi  sciencefiction  future  comics  graphicnovels  tumblrs 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Ursula Le Guin Has Earned a Rare Honor. Just Don’t Call Her a Sci-Fi Writer. - The New York Times
"The speech, and her outrage, went viral. “A writer in her mid-80s simply has less to lose,” she said. “An author in midcareer who defies the hegemony of Google and Amazon, and names their immoral or unfair practices as such, takes an immediate risk of vengeance from them and of enmity from fellow writers who are cozy with them. I’m taking the same risks, but what the hell. My work is out there — visible, existent.”

Many younger writers cite Ms. Le Guin as an inspiration, including David Mitchell and Neil Gaiman. In an email, Junot Díaz talked about “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” Ms. Le Guin’s parable about a society whose happy existence depends on keeping one small child locked away in misery. Most citizens of Omelas accept that deal. A few do not.

“That story is both a call and a practice for Le Guin,” Mr. Diaz said. “She has spent all these decades trying to chart a path for those who wish to walk away from Omelas — also known as the horror of our civilization.”

“The Complete Orsinia” is Ms. Le Guin in a quieter key. “The editorial challenge of the Library of America is to strike a balance,” said Max Rudin, the library’s publisher. “On the one hand to publish writers and works that are indisputably part of the American canon, and on the other hand to publish books that stretch people’s imagination of what great American writing is.”

In the introduction, she quotes from a 1975 notebook in which she wrote that much of her work was concerned with one central notion: “True pilgrimage consists in coming home.” The hero of “Malafrena” must leave his provincial farm only to find it again.

“There’s a difference between the circle and the spiral,” Ms. Le Guin said. “We say the Earth has a circular orbit around the sun, but of course it doesn’t. You never come back to the same place, you just come back to the same point on the spiral. That image is very deep in my thinking.”

“Orsinia” has another spiral: As Ms. Le Guin’s works are being put in the canon, she has largely stopped writing. “The fiction isn’t coming. You can’t get water from a dry well.” She still writes poetry, which is a consolation.

There remains that other big legacy-cementing possibility. Last year, Ms. Le Guin was given Nobel odds of 25-1. Her conclusion: “All I have to do in the next 25 years is outlive the other 24 writers.”"
ursulaleguin  2016  sciencefiction  scifi  literature  fiction  writing  historicalfiction  recognition  junotdíaz  nailgaiman  davidmitchell  gender  genre  dondelillo 
september 2016 by robertogreco
The Steps
"I like to think about the ways in which thirty years of reading mostly science fiction have shaped my experiences as a reader. The most important groove my reading mind drops into is what I'll call a posture of openness. I read for "incluing," signs and traces. If a book is narrated by a ghost (I have read many books narrated by ghosts), I take the ghost at its word. I do expect a certain plot trajectory – the way the ghost died will be a mystery that we must discover – but I am thrilled to have that expectation overturned. If you read in a similar way, please do not read the introduction to this edition, which engages in excessive speculation as to what exactly made the ghost's childhood a "before." I much prefer to leave myself open to this breathless, haunting, unresolved story."
suzannefischer  openness  reading  howweread  2016  mindset  fiction  literature  scifi  sciencefiction 
august 2016 by robertogreco
100 African Writers of SFF — Part One: Nairobi | Tor.com
"An African writer who makes mix tapes of game soundtracks. A Nairobi filmmaker with Nietzsche on his smart phone. A chess champion who loves Philip K Dick. An African SF poet who quotes the Beatniks… meet the new New Wave in Nairobi, Kenya. Part one of our series 100 African Writers of SFF.

About that title…

100: Because it’s easy to remember. More like 120 or 130 writers, but many I won’t get to meet. I’ll list as many as I can by location, by social scene. Because people, even writers, succeed in groups.

AFRICAN: Meaning mostly people with African citizenship in Africa, but I’m not going to be draconian. Writers like Nnedi Okorafor and Sofia Samatar are beacons to young Africans. They take an active role in African publishing projects—Nnedi with Lagos 2060 and AfroSF and Sofia with the Jalada Afrofuture(s) anthology, which she helped edit. “African” itself is a dubious concept. I will try to use more precise terms—nations, cities, and peoples.

WRITERS: Will include filmmakers, poets and comics artists. Not all of them have published frequently. Some have only published themselves, but given the lack of publisher opportunities, I think that’s enterprising. They’re still writers.

SFF: Stands for science fiction and fantasy. I use the term in its broadest sense to include generic SF and fantasy, horror, alternative histories, speculative fiction, slipstream, variations on Kafka, fables, nonsense and more.

Some of the most powerful African writing has elements that would be fantastical in the West, but which are everyday in traditional cultures. I use two distinct terms to describe some of the works by these writers—“traditional belief realism” as distinct from “traditional belief fantasy.” The first category includes Tail Of The Blue Bird by Nii Parkes and Kintu by Nansubuga Makumbi. Traditional belief fantasy is actually the older genre, exampled by The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola or Forest of a Thousand Demons by D.O. Fagunwa.

However, many of these new writers bear the same relation to oral literature that (in a different context), Bob Dylan bore to folk music. Family stories are a springboard to something original, that mashes together any language or material that helps these writers express themselves.

What may be special to Nairobi—and perhaps to countries like Nigeria as well—is the way in which monotheistic, traditional, and scientific belief systems hover in proximity to each other, often without a sense of contradiction."
africa  sciencefiction  scifi  lists  literature  nairobi  kenya  toread  2016 
july 2016 by robertogreco
How to Write a History of Writing Software - The Atlantic
"Isaac Asimov, John Updike, and John Hersey changed their writing habits to adapt to word processors, according to the first literary historian of the technology."



"There are three things I really like about that story and why I feel like it’s the best candidate for quote-unquote “first.”

One, it defamiliarizes our sense of what word processing is. It’s not a typewriter connected to a TV set. The key thing turns out to be the magnetic storage layer. The other thing thing I like about it is—there’s a term I use in the book, “suspended encryption.” That captures that dynamic of word processing: You’re writing, but there’s a kind of suspended animation to it. The text remains in its fluid, malleable state, until such time as you commit it to hard copy.

The other thing I like about the story is that it captures that gendered dynamic, that social dimension of writing. It’s not just the author alone at his typewriter. It’s really a collaborative process, there is a gender dimension to it, and there’s something very human about it, I think."



"Meyer: There is a material history you can read from a typewriter. I think you mention the example of Lawrence Rainey, a scholar of T.S. Eliot, being able to decode The Waste Land’s compositional history by looking at his typewriter. And I remember there being anxiety around writing software, and the future of that kind of scholarship. Did writing this history make you buy into the anxiety that we won’t be able to preserve contemporary literary work?

Kirschenbaum: So much of writing now, and that includes literary writing, that includes novels and poetry that will become culturally resonant and important—all of this happens now digitally. And that was something that I was interesting in writing about, writing the book. What I found is that there were often very surprising examples of evidence remaining, even from these early days of word processing history.

There’s a kind of paradox at the heart of this. As you know, we’ve all lost files, or had important stuff disappear into the [digital] ether, so there’s all that volatility and fragility we associate with the computer. But it’s also a remarkably resilient medium. And there are some writers who are using the actual track-changes feature or some other kind of versioning system to preserve their own literary manuscripts literally keystroke by keystroke."



"Meyer: You talk a little bit about looking at different paths for word processing after Word. You go into “austerityware,” which is your phrase for software like WriteRoom, which tries to cut down on distractions. Is there any prognosticating you feel like you could do about what’s catching on next?

Kirschenbaum: I do think we’re seeing this interesting return to what instructors of writing for a long time have called free writing, which is just about the uninhibited process of getting stuff out there, doing that sort of initial quick and dirty draft. What’s interesting to me is that there are now particular tools and platforms that are emerging with that precise model of writing in mind.

The one that’s gotten the most attention is the one I write about at the end of the book. At the time I was writing, it was called the Hemingwrite, but now it’s called Freewrite. It’s essentially a very lightweight, very portable keyboard, with a small screen and portable memory. It reminds me of the way a lot of writers talk about their fountain pens—these exquisitely crafted and engineers fine instruments for writing. The Freewrite aspires to bring that same level of craft and deliberation to the fabrication of a purpose-built writing instrument.

So, you know, in a sense, I think we’re going to see more and more of those special-purpose writing platforms. I think writing might move away from the general-purpose computer—we’ll still do lots of writing of all sorts at our regular laptop, but it might be your email, your social media. For dedicated long-form writing, I think there may be more and more alternatives."



"Meyer: One thing I love about the book are all the office pictures—the pictures from ’80s offices, especially. There is a sense looking at the images that the desks are retrofitted writers’s desks, rather than the kind of generic surface-with-a-laptop setup that I think a lot of people work at now.

Kirschenbaum: The visual history of all of this is really interesting. One of the hard thing was trying to figure out is, what is a literary history of word processing, how do you go about researching it? Maybe by going to the archives, but you also do it by looking at the way in which computers really were represented in the kind of imagery I was looking at earlier. You look at the old office photographs. You see a picture of Amy Tan sitting with a laptop and you try to figure out what kind of laptop it is, and lastly you do it by talking to people. It was the oral histories I did that were the best research for the book."
robinsonmeyer  wordprocessing  software  history  isaacasimov  johnupdike  writing  howewrite  computing  matthewkirschenbaum  lendeighton  ellenorhandley  johnhersey  jerrypournelle  sciencefiction  scifi  thomaspynchon  gorevidal  charlesbukowski  rcrumb  tseliot  lawrencerainey  trackchanges  typing  typewriters  freewrite  writeroom  hamingwrite  evekosofskysedgwick  howwework  howwewrite  amytan 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Human Fear of Total Knowledge - The Atlantic
"Why infinite libraries are treated skeptically in the annals of science fiction and fantasy"



"Humanity’s great affection for the printed word notwithstanding, it’s clear now that books have been surpassed, at least insofar as what’s possible in terms of accessing and connecting information. One wonders what Borges, who died in 1986, might have thought of the internet, which has revolutionized our expectations about how human knowledge is stored and retrieved.

Wikipedia, a vast encyclopedia that is updated continuously by tens of thousands of volunteers, is often described as impressive and ambitious, which of course it is. But it’s also important to remember that mere decades ago it was technologically impossible. A century ago, the most ambitious compendia of human knowledge in the Western world was arguably the encyclopedia. The 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, as Denis Boyle writes in his new book about its history, was at the time “an inventory of the universe” practically a library all its own. Today, anyone with an internet connection has access to a staggering amount of human knowledge, more information than the thickest encyclopedias could ever have contained. Smartphones, from which people can summon answers by speaking aloud, are modern-day oracles.

No longer are encyclopedias and libraries the most ambitious ideas humans have for the collection and stewardship of knowledge. The expectation, increasingly, is that information ought not be collected in one place, but kept everywhere, so that it is accessible at all times. If the concept of an infinite book gave way to ideas for knowledge machines that now exist, today’s imagined future—with all-knowledgeable machines evolving into sentient computer minds—is more ambitious still. Ashby, the science fiction writer, gives the example of a concept explored in the film Minority Report. “Minority Report got a lot of attention for its gestural computing interface, which is lovely and delightful, but hidden in there is the idea of literally being able to page through someone's uploaded memories,” she told me.

And though brain uploading as a kind of immortality remains a beloved subject among transhumanists, today’s digital scholars are mostly fixated on figuring out how to store the seemingly endless troves of knowledge already swirling about online. These aspirations are complicated by the relative newness of web technology, and by the fact that the internet is disintegrating all the time, even as it grows. Groups like the Internet Archive are working furiously to capture data before it disappears, without any long-term infrastructure to speak of. Meanwhile, institutions like the Library of Congress are trying to figure out how the information that’s preserved ultimately ought to be organized. The hope is to reinvent the card catalogue, a system that’s already gone from analog to digital, and is now being reimagined for the semantic web.

The great paradox for those who seek to reconfigure the world’s knowledge systems, is that the real threat of information loss is occurring at a time when there seems to be no way to stop huge troves of personal data from being collected—by governments and by corporations. Like its fictional counterparts, today’s information utopia has its own sinister side.

(It’s understandable why, the journalist James Bamford has described the National Security Agency, as “an avatar of Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘Library of Babel,’ a place where the collection of information is both infinite and monstrous, where all the world’s knowledge is stored, but every word is maddeningly scrambled in an unbreakable code.”)

But there is a check on all of this anxiety about information collection and Borgesian libraries. The threat that human knowledge will be lost—either through destruction, or by dilution due to sheer scale—is still the dominant cultural narrative about libraries, real and imagined. The Library of Alexandria, often described as a physical embodiment of the heart and mind of the ancient world, is so famous today in part because it was destroyed.

In The Book of Sand, Borges describes an infinite book that nearly drives the narrator mad before he resolves to get rid of it. “I thought of fire, but I feared that the burning of an infinite book might likewise prove infinite and suffocate the planet with smoke,” he writes. Instead, he opts to “hide a leaf in the forest” and sets off for the Argentine National Library with the bizarre volume.

“I went there and, slipping past a member of the staff and trying not to notice at what height or distance from the door, I lost the Book of Sand on one of the basement’s musty shelves.”"
libraries  borges  scifi  sciencefiction  2016  adriennelafrance  knowledge  fantasy  wikipedia  history  future  encycolpedias  nsa  jamesbamford 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Arcade, Episode 44 with William Gibson by Hazlitt Magazine | Free Listening on SoundCloud
""I have already told you of the sickness and confusion that comes with time travelling." H.G. Wells wrote those words in The Time Machine, but that quote also begins author William Gibson's new novel, The Peripheral. He speaks with Hazlitt audio producer Anshuman Iddamsetty about resonance, Health Goth, and how infrequently we hear of the 22nd Century."

[via: "I guess it’s here that @GreatDismal closes the loop and says jet lag is a time-travelling disease: https://soundcloud.com/hazlittmag/the-arcade-episode-44-with-william-gibson "
https://twitter.com/yayitsrob/status/717762111699431424 ]

[See also: "I kept remembering this @GreatDismal story about how globalized video games => time travel. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:stJe8tBoy "
https://twitter.com/yayitsrob/status/717761063828242432

"There was a period where my daughter was always sort of vaguely jet lagged because she had to stay up to 3:00 in the morning until the Japanese, or maybe it was the Australian players came on in whatever multi-player first person shooter she was really into because she said they were the best players and they were several time zones away. It's just a little bit of jump from this girl's jet lagged because she's playing online shooters to this girl's got PTSD because she has been playing online shooters."]
jetlag  williamgibson  timetravel  theperipheral  anshumaniddamsetty  technology  fashion  sports  storytelling  books  annerice  politics  2015  jimgaffigan  conradblack  scaachikoul  princelestat  literature  scifi  sciencefiction  videogames  games  gaming  international  global  timezones 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Africa Has Always Been Sci-Fi | Literary Hub
"As Afrofuturism has begun to migrate back to the motherland in earnest, the same relative dearth continues to plague theorists and writers. Even Mark Bould, whose introduction to Paradoxa’s issue on African science fiction offers a comprehensive if nebulous syllabus, implies that it is nascent: “If African sf has not arrived, it is certainly approaching fast.” The appearance of a deluge—a trend, a fad—is in effect a trickle. Is this just what happens when you cross blackness with futurity? As Dery asks of African Americans, “Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces of its history, imagine possible futures?” Or is this lack specific to African literature, where energies might seem to be better directed toward, say, political critique of corruption, poverty, disease, and unemployment?

Nnedi Okorafor, born in the United States to Nigerian immigrants, both bridges this breach and fills it. She appears on lists of black sci-fi on either side of the Atlantic. And while she says that she has “issues with [the label] Afrofuturism,” she is one of the most prolific black writers of speculative fiction out there, and has set several of her fantasy and science fiction novels on the continent. Okorafor, in other words, is Afropolitan and African American: she insists that her “flavor of sci-fi is evenly Naijamerican (note: ‘Naija’ is slang for Nigeria or Nigerian).” Yet in an essay on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website, Okorafor herself bemoans the scant canon:
Here’s my list of “African SF.” It’s really short … How do I define African SF? I don’t. I know it when I see it … The main fact is that this list DOES exist. Africans ARE writing their own science fiction, contrary to what some may think. But the fact is that Africans need to also write more of it.

When building a canon, the question of inclusion becomes paramount. If the African v. African American debate seems unduly academic or divisive, just imagine when the question of race comes in: what does it mean, as Okorafor notes, that the first major African science fiction film, District 9, was directed by a white South African? In another essay, “Is Africa Ready for Science Fiction?,” Okorafor cites two experts—a Nollywood director and a scholar of African fiction—who both essentially say no. Though she is more optimistic on the question, Okorafor explains: “In Africa, science fiction is still perceived as not being real literature. It is not serious writing.… African audiences don’t feel that science fiction is really concerned with what’s real, what’s present. It’s not tangible.”

But to take the intangible, the unreal, the absent and make of them a world is precisely the mandate of science fiction. In his remarkable ur-Afrofuturist film Space is the Place (1974), Sun Ra, adorned in Egyptian regalia, travels to Oakland, CA to recruit black folk to colonize the planet Saturn. Like some kind of intergalactic Marcus Garvey, he wants to “set up a colony for black people … bring them here through transmolecularization … or teleport the whole planet here … through music.” He tells dissipated hipsters at the local youth center: “I’m not real. I’m just like you. You don’t exist in this society. If you did, your people wouldn’t be seeking equal rights. You’re not real. If you were, you’d have some status among the nations of the world. So we’re both myths. I do not come to you as a reality. I come to you as the myth. Because that’s what black people are, myths.” Afrofuturism’s insight is to elide the African diaspora with outer space as loci of blackness, roiling vats of inky, rich, infinite potential. The etymology of utopia, after all, is ou + topos, or not + place. Introducing himself to a wino, Sun Ra cryptically declaims: “I am everything and nothing.”"
nnediokorafor  afrofuturism  scifi  sciencefiction  africa  2016  afropolitan  dieantwoord  southafrica  sunra  samueldelany  lagos  markdery  nigeria  district9  speculativefiction 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Métis In Space
"Welcome to Métis in Space - the podcast where your hosts, Molly and Chelsea, drink a bottle of (red) wine and, from a tipsy, decolonial perspective, review a sci-fi movie or television episode featuring indigenous peoples, tropes and themes."

"Métis In Space hilariously deconstructs the science fiction genre through a decolonial lense. Join hosts Molly Swain & Chelsea Vowel as they drink a bottle of (red) wine, and from a tipsy, decolonial perspective, review a sci-fi movie or television episode featuring Indigenous Peoples, tropes & themes."
mollyswain  chelseavowel  scifi  sciencefiction  film  television  movies  indigeneity  decolonization  tropes  themes 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Junot Diaz & Hilton Als Talk Masculinity, Science Fiction, And Writing As An Act Of Defiance | Literary Hub
"JD: I’m not jumping to some conclusion about some abstract culture. You and I come from backgrounds where people were echo chambers for a lot of the cultural, racial sort of defaults. People would say wild things explicitly, and I thought it would be such a lame thing if my characters weren’t half as frank as my uncles.

HA: Like one of the tías grabbing one of the characters’ balls by way of introduction.

JD: I’ve gotten emails about that from dudes I know, who say, “Dude, my aunts grab my balls, too.”

HA: It takes a village.

JD: It takes five genders to raise this particularly malevolent form of masculinity that we tend to produce so efficiently. You could take two people, who look identical in skin color, and my mom can distinguish them at the molecular level, and say, “That motherfucker’s lighter.” All the vocabulary we’ve lost in America to talk about race is omnipresent in the Caribbean. We’ve lost so many words to talk about race, we don’t even have a conversation about it, we have lost it. Yet, in the Caribbean, there are more than twelve words that I can come up with to describe people’s skin color, at least in the neighborhood where I grew up in. In some ways I think that is useful, because it helps when it comes time to approach the question of privilege. People don’t claim amnesia. Some can think my uncles are super-backwards because they didn’t go to Ivy League schools, but they don’t cop to any of that ridiculous liberal amnesia. The sort of thing that translates into statements like, “Oh, it’s not race, it’s class.” I think you can’t have class without race. It’s called colonialism. Some people come right off the bat and say, a guy is ignorant. My uncles would never make those claims, but rather say it’s about black people. But I find that level of frankness, even if it’s considered regressive and messed up, a better starting point than the constant illusion of the sort of liberal moment that we have."



"JD: I think for most straight men, the problem is not that we don’t have women worthy of us, the problem is that we have women ten times more worthy than us. But coming back to your question, in general, whenever I read about people of color as artists I think it is so overly simplified. We tend to be reduced to the cultural element. Like somebody will trot out a Spanish word to describe our thing . . . How many reviews have I got where a non-Spanish-speaking person will put out a Spanish word to attempt to describe what I do? It’s like watching people who can’t dance salsa trying to do it. Or we’ll be reduced to simplistic visions that say that in these works of art, this artist is talking about this crucial moment, or about the problem of race. They’ll use these terms that mean nothing, because they don’t want to approach what exactly a person is getting at in their work. If white artists were discussed along racial terms as often as people of color, we would be a better country. I never see a white dancer discussing how their whiteness impacts their dance. The first question out of an interviewer’s mind when they talk to a white artist is never if they have experienced racism. But as an artist, I must say it’s incredible the amount of times these questions come up, and when they ask me, I’m always ready to ask back, “Have you been racist lately?” Now, one of the best things about art, as anyone who’s studied a Victorian text knows, is that the future comes faster than we imagine, and there is a future coming up, of young artists and young critics and young scholars, who are thinking in ways that make the current conversations about our art look incredibly reductive."



"HA: You touch upon this idea of what’s coming up and we’ve had several conversations about time travel. You’ve said that one of the reasons why you loved science fiction by people like Octavia Butler and Samuel Delany is because they were talking about time travel, and that literally you have gone from a slave culture to talking to hundreds of people at the Strand Bookstore. How does that happen? Being one or two generations away from the characters in your books, who are living below subsistence level, how does that affect you as Junot?

JD: And how do you narrate it? I always think of that question. I’ll sit at the Christmas table next to my grandmother, who basically grew up in a proto-medieval—comes from an almost slavery background in the Dominican Republic, working as a tenant farmer, in a terrifying kind of subsistence. I’m squinting at her with one eye, and then I’m squinting at my little brother, who’s U.S.-born, a Marine combat veteran, who sounds like someone turned the TV to the Fox channel and broke the dial. And I’m thinking, how do we create a self that takes both of those people in?

HA: You’ve catapulted yourself, through artistry, into another realm, so how do you physically and emotionally take it?

JD: It’s really helpful to assemble selves not always deploying realism. Realism cannot account for my little brother and my grandmother, but Octavia Butler’s science fiction can. Samuel Delany’s generic experiments can explain them. I read his book and that range is present, not only present, but what is unbearable about trying to hold the two together in one place. So it helps not to have realism as the only paradigm to really understand yourself.

HA: Is the story “Monstro” a move towards a surrealism that explains things better?

JD: I wouldn’t say it’s an advance. It’s more a trying to see what would it look like if I was more explicit about not using realism. With Oscar Wao I obscured how little the genre of realism is deployed in the novel. I sort of hid it. Someone can read Oscar Wao and be convinced it’s a realistic novel, with a couple eruptions. Now I wanted to see if it’s possible to get similar effects without obscuring the pedigree. I felt like Oscar Wao was like an octoroon cousin of yours, who doesn’t pass for white, but won’t deny it when people treat him real well. I wanted to take the drag off, and see what happens."



"JD: I always did fiction and I always wanted to write. When you’re young, if you’re aware of your parents’ infidelities, your cosmology starts with this concept that your parents are real big liars. My cosmology begins with this constant deception. So of course I wanted to write about deceivers, people who were wearing masks, and for this purpose fiction felt more useful. As a kid I was that literal, thinking I lived in fiction, so let me write it. It started there, and it seems it’s going to end there. I was always terrible with essays, whether they are confessional or critical, because in that form the whole thing can’t be a lie. My idea for an essay would be to write about a book that’s never been written, or to draw a completely ridiculous conclusion, and then when somebody checks the footnotes . . . I think in fiction, I can lie on multiple levels, which is always what my family felt like. I felt at home.

HA: That essay sounds Borgesian. But looking at your first collection, were there stories that were just a sort of working out before you got Drown?

JD: Certainly, I had so many absurd stories. I still hadn’t mapped out what it meant to be living in central New Jersey. We were one of the first Dominican families in the area and we grew up around a predominantly African-American community, with some poor whites, most of them Irish immigrants. I couldn’t figure out how to scale a family that existed in this really dense Dominican world at home. I had siblings who were black, who didn’t look like me, who weren’t, like, Terrorism Act bait. They looked African-American and I couldn’t figure out a way to scale it. I was reading so many New York writers describing the Latino experience in a really urban setting that my first stories sounded like I was living in NYC, which is a very different world.

HA: Who were you reading?

JD: People like Edward Rivera, who wrote Family Installments, probably one of the greatest memoirs. If you want to know how I wrote my first book, read that, because I just completely copied that book. I also read some of the most classic folks, such as Nicholasa Mohr—even though she was writing about Paterson, it still had a much more urban edge—or Piri Thomas. In my first thirty or forty pieces of writing, a character was always robbing a bodega. It was so stupid. I was an embarrassment to myself. I started out writing film scripts, and before, you know, I jumped to fiction, but even then, I wanted to do a kind of film scripts. So my first few years I was doing scripts, and those were even worse than anything anyone can imagine."



"
HA: One of the things that beats beautifully in Drown and all your work goes back to this idea that if you’re an artist, the hardest thing to survive is the people you come from. And the people that you come from are the stories that you tell. Often. Can you tell us a little bit about your family reaction?

JD: That is a really honest question and recognition. Most of my friends had to protect their parents and the rest of us from their ambitions. A childhood like mine meant that you could not openly air your ambitions to people because it would have been an enormous threat. When I think about it, I guess my family’s situation was always a heartbreaker, regardless how my career turned out. The family dynamic internalized all the craziness of growing up as an immigrant. Immigration is difficult as it is, but the worst way to take it on the chin is to turn it against each other.

HA: Right.

JD: It’s weird, my immediate family gets together almost never, and when we get together, it’s always like a heartbreaker. There’s all this kind of awful stuff: who’s not talking to whom, how some brothers live in California, as far away from the family as possible. And I’ll be honest, I think my family barely … [more]
junotdíaz  hiltonals  2016  sciencefiction  scifi  race  racism  sexuality  masculinity  gender  octaviabudlet  samueldelany  edwardrivera  nicholasamohr  pirithomas  families  immigration  gabrielgarcíamárquez  dominicanrepublic  power  oscarwao  narrativevoice  shuyaohno 
march 2016 by robertogreco
ONE LIKE = ONE BOOK by @JohnBorghi (with images, tweets) · CarinaDSLR · Storify
"I read a lot of books. I work in a library. I do a lot of science and #scicomm stuff."

[Doesn't contain the full thread, so see also:
https://twitter.com/JohnBorghi/status/706859033060352000 ]
books  booklists  srg  johnborghi  2016  science  fiction  literature  scifi  sciencefiction 
march 2016 by robertogreco
All our imagined futures | A Working Library
"No, an end to growth will not look like Blade Runner, Mad Max, or The Hunger Games. These movies imagine what happens when we do not end growth soon enough.

So what would an end to growth look like? Writing in Dissent last spring, Daniel Immerwahr doesn’t paint the rosiest picture, but he also makes clear the alternative:
Such cuts can be made more or less fairly, and the richest really ought to pay the most, but the crucial thing is that they are made. Because, above all, stopping climate change means giving up on growth.

That will be hard. Not only will our standards of living almost certainly drop, but it’s likely that the very quality of our society—equality, safety, and trust—will decline, too. That’s not something to be giddy about, but it’s still a price that those of us living in affluent countries should prepare to pay. Because however difficult it is to slow down, flooding Bangladesh cannot be an option. In other words, we can and should act. It’s just going to hurt.

There’s the rub: those of us living in affluent countries must pay. Porter presumes that technology can get us out of climate change without that payment—that nuclear energy, renewables, carbon capture, and electric cars will let us continue to consume at current levels as if nothing had changed. (As an aside: you can follow the American love of cars all the way to Immortan Joe’s citadel.) But I don’t think it’s likely we’re going to get off that easy. Carbon capture is still a pipe dream, nuclear energy will take too long to ramp up even absent strong local objections, electric cars are hardly a panacea, and renewables such as solar and wind, while certainly promising, won’t help much if we continue to pull coal and oil out of the ground at the rates we are now.

As it happens, though, I think Porter’s instinct to reach for science fiction to understand the future is a useful one. In Submergence, J.M. Ledgard’s novel of planetary depths, Danny remarks: “If this was happening in a science-fiction world we would see it clearly for what it is, but we don’t because it’s happening here and now.” Fiction, and science fiction in particular, can help us imagine many futures, and in particular can help us to direct our imaginations towards the futures we want. Imagining a particular kind of future isn’t just day dreaming: it’s an important and active framing that makes it possible for us to construct a future that approaches that imagined vision. In other words, imagining the future is one way of making that future happen. Writing in Essence in 2000, Octavia Butler asked,
So why try to predict the future at all if it’s so difficult, so nearly impossible? Because making predictions is one way to give warning when we see ourselves drifting in dangerous directions. Because prediction is a useful way of pointing out safer, wiser courses. Because, most of all, our tomorrow is the child of our today. Through thought and deed, we exert a great deal of influence over this child, even though we can’t control it absolutely. Best to think about it, though. Best to try to shape it into something good. Best to do that for any child.

Butler’s Parable of the Sower is, like Mad Max, a tale of the road. And, like Mad Max, it’s a difficult but hopeful one. Maybe Porter should read it."
mandybrown  2016  octaviabutler  mikeculfield  eduardoporter  zizek  peterwirzbicki  submergence  hungergames  dystopia  optimism  hope  scifi  sciencefiction  danielimmerwahl  jmledgard  fiction  imagination  future  futurism  capitalism  growth  zerosum  change  economics  climatechange  globalwarming 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Digital Manifesto Archive: Design Fiction's Odd Present vs. Science Fiction's Near Future
"Julian Bleecker's "Design Fiction's Odd Present vs. Science Fiction's Near Future" proposes that Design Fiction supplant typical Science-Fiction narratives with diegetic prototypes--actual objects that test an idea."



"If there is anything to be gained from these Design Fiction practice it is the playful optimism that comes from "making things up." Making things up is playful and serious at the same time. It's playful in that one can speculate and imagine without the "yeah, but," constraints that often come from the dour sensitivities of the way-too-grown-up pragmatists. It's serious because the ideas that are "made up" as little design fictions - formed into props or little films or speculative objects - are materialized things that hold within them the story of the world they inhabit. There is the kernel of a near future, or a different now, or an un-history that begins the mind reeling at the possibilities of what could be. When an idea is struck into form we have learned to accent that as proof - a demonstration that this could be possible. The translation from an idea into its material form begins the proof of possibility. Props help. Things to think with and things to help us imagine what could be.

This is how the world around us is made, by people who imagine what could be and then go forth and make it material. Wheels did not suddenly appear on luggage, but they are and its hard to imagine that it didn't happen sooner.

Playfully, seriously making things up is how the world around us comes to be. Don't sit around and wait. Make up the world you want. Believe it. Tell its story. Inhabit it and it will become.

Design Fiction strides alongside of Science Fiction, obligating itself to fashion representation of what could be - whether that's a different present, a reassessment of the recent past, or a future likely to be obtained, it may be a reaction to a sense that Science Fiction has given up on the future, or ceded its remit to imagine the future. Perhaps Science Fiction has shifted to envisioning the differently present or the recently past. Ridley Scott recently said, "We have done all we can for Science-Fiction. After 2001 A Space Odyssey, Science-Fiction is dead."

Design Fiction mucks around in this odd present in which we live. Every year the future is held aloft in the hand at widely publicized consumer electronics trade shows. The press eats it up. It's the new science fiction. This is how we imagine the future. Through 100 million dollar trade shows. Through the trade's hand-held technologies and their odd mash-ups of telephone fitness devices brain wave TV remote controls. (No wonder the science-fiction literary has thrown in the towel. They'd do better as consulting engineers. What a great idea.) Our future is shown to use as made things - prototypes, or evocative objects that suggest, MacGuffin like, what they do. Objects that take batteries and have screens that goad us to massage them. Objects that cycle every 12-18 months and thence end up in a discard drawer or in a closet under last year's crap. Or on the Internet's close, Craigslist.

Design Fiction's commitment is to create a legible, tangible, material representation of alternatives. it uses designed objects - props, prototypes, fakes, punks, speculative consumer electronic objects, evocative ingots of color, material and precision manufacturing, prompts, provocations, little films, atmospheres and visual moments - to start conversations about the future. Design Fiction embraces the cycles of obsolescence, that banal next-new-thing - but it does so in order to find chinks in the iron-clad cycle and find innovative alternatives to the mediocre experiences they inevitable deliver.

The emphasis of Design Fiction is on alternative world as represented through the things. These props are called diegetic prototypes." They are objects that test an idea. The fact that they exist as material objects imply their existence in the same way an objects existence in a movie or play makes the object come to life. In some cases, those props spread ideas more effectively than could a laboratory prototype. Diegetic prototypes serve to tell a story about an object and start conversations, sometimes even before technical possibility has been considered. Diegetic prototypes implicate themselves as things that people would live with, rather than operating solely as technological, scientific or engineering possibility. They are designed, evocative, desirable, ineffable and imbued with a sense of imminent possibility, even necessity. They come across as things that actually make sense.

Design Fiction creates these things because they can help tell the stories about the worlds they occupy, without the stories being told in a typical narrative - and because telling good stories is hard. Making suggestive, evocative, compelling, curious objects is a designer's way of telling stories about worlds that could or should become."
manifestos  designfiction  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  design  sciencefiction  scifi  julianbleecker  optimism  making  play  playfulness  prototyping  tinkering  criticalmaking 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Anthropologists in Outer Space - SAPIENS
"Today we not only look at the stars, we send spacecraft to investigate outer space and plan for human habitation on other worlds. The United States and the Soviet Union first sent animals up in rockets in the 1940s, and in 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel to space. By 1969, humans had walked on the moon. Soon after, anthropologists were discussing the problem of how to study emerging cultures of space—a place few people had even been to. In the 1970s, anthropologist and futurist Magoroh Maruyama organized a series of discussions on outer space at the annual American Anthropological Association meetings and the International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. These meetings led to the publication of the 1975 book “Cultures Beyond the Earth: The Role of Anthropology in Outer Space.”

In the 1980s, anthropologist Ben Finney turned his eye to space. He combined his experience in the U.S. Navy and the aerospace industry with his anthropological research on how Polynesian people could have crossed the Pacific Ocean. In 1994 anthropologist Roland A. Foulkes drew from this earlier work by Maruyama, Finney, and other anthropologists in his essay “Why Space? An Anthropologist’s Response.” Foulkes even talked about possible names for the field of anthropology that studies space, suggesting astroanthropology, exoanthropology, aerospace-anthropology, or extraterrestrial anthropology.

The call for anthropologists to study outer space was revived in 2009 when anthropologists David Valentine, Valerie Olson, and Debbora Battaglia published a commentary in Anthropology News called “Encountering the Future: Anthropology and Outer Space.” Since “being earthbound is not a limitation” for humans, they argued, it shouldn’t be for anthropologists either.

Over the last decade, anthropologists studying space have written about dozens of topics, including the debate over Pluto’s status as a planet (Lisa Messeri, University of Virginia); how we respond to the threat of an asteroid hitting Earth (Valerie Olson, University of California, Irvine); the diaries kept by cosmonauts while they lived in space (Debbora Battaglia, Mount Holyoke College); new companies and communities in the private space-exploration industry (David Valentine, University of Minnesota); the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (Kathryn Denning, York University); and the science of studying extraterrestrial life (Stefan Helmreich, MIT).

There is even an archaeology of outer space. At Flinders University in Australia, archaeologist Alice Gorman studies the debris we leave in space, from old satellites orbiting the earth to spacecraft, robots, and even shadows on the moon. In her TED talk Gorman explains how the stuff we think of as useless “space junk” actually has value as part of our cultural heritage.

It takes imagination to think like this. Gorman uses her expertise in archaeology and anthropology to imagine how a piece of technology from our recent history could be an important artifact in the future. Work like this inspires me to wonder what human culture might look like in the future—in one hundred, one thousand, or even ten thousand years. This kind of future-aware anthropology draws from both science and science fiction. And in turn, science-fiction authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Phillip K. Dick, and Frank Herbert are all doing speculative anthropology when they use their knowledge of life here on Earth to write fictional works about people, cultures, and landscapes elsewhere and otherwise—on other worlds and in possible futures.

Science fiction has also been an inspiration for space scientists and astronauts. Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color in space, was inspired as a child when she saw Nichelle Nichols playing Lieutenant Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise in the original “Star Trek” television series. Science fiction also serves as a way of thinking about some of the anthropological problems of both Earth and outer space. What sort of worlds do we imagine might be out there around other stars? What kinds of life, culture, cities, spacecraft, philosophies, and religions might extraterrestrial civilizations have? I also like the idea of turning this extraterrestrial gaze back toward ourselves to ask, What would Earth look like to us if we were looking at it from another world?"



"Anthropologists have often studied what appear at first to be great differences between human communities living across this planet. There are long-standing and ongoing debates in anthropology about differences and similarities, universals and particulars—about how much we can really know or understand about other people’s lives, beliefs, views, and worlds. Anthropology of space can be another way of thinking about these questions. What might we see if we change the scale of the anthropological perspective, imagine ourselves from elsewhere, and look at Earth as a whole from space? For all our apparent differences, perhaps visitors from another world would look down at this small blue planet we live on and think that we’re all quite similar after all."
michaeloman-reagan  space  anthropology  history  future  2016  culture  carlsagan  scifi  sciencefiction  speculativeanthropology  archaeoastronomy  archaeology  astroanthropology  exoanthropology  aerospace-anthropology  extraterrestrialanthropology  magorohmaruyama  benfinney  polynesia  davidvalentine  valerieolson  debborabattaglia  outerspace  lisamesseri  astronauts  cosmonauts  kathryndenning  stefanhelmreich  alicegorman  spacecraft  maejemison  ursulaleguin  octaviabutler  samueldelany  phillipkdick  frankherbert 
february 2016 by robertogreco
INVISIBLE UNIVERSE – a history of blackness in speculative fiction
"In 2003, independent filmmaker, M. Asli Dukan, set out to make a documentary about the 150 year history of Black creators in speculative fiction (SF) books and movies. What she didn’t realize at the time was that she was about to document a major movement in the history of speculative fiction. A movement where a growing number of Black creators were becoming an effective force, creating works that had increasing influence on the traditionally, straight, white, cis-male dominated SF industry. However, while these Black creators imagined better futures for Black people within their fictional works of SF, in reality, the everyday, lived experiences of Black people in the United States – e.g., the rise of massive inequality, the prison industrial complex, and police brutality – stood in stark contrast. She began to wonder if these phenomena were related.

Told through the ever-present lens and off-screen narrator voice of the filmmaker, Invisible Universe will explore this question by examining the work of Black creators of SF through the ideology of the emerging Black Lives Matter movement, which addresses the systematic oppression of Black lives. Since she began the documentary, the filmmaker has compiled an extensive interviewee list of Black writers, artists and filmmakers of SF who have been creating works where Black people not only exist in the future, but are powerful shapers of their own realities, whether in magical lands, dystopian settings, or on distant worlds. In addition, she has documented an ever-increasing number of academic, community and arts events dedicated to the work and critical analysis of Black SF, as well as building connections between the creators, thinkers, organizers and fans. In the past decade, the filmmaker has documented the cultural shift around Black SF and its explicit connections to Black liberation. This documentary explores the idea that in a world of capitalist exploitation, anti-Black oppression and state violence, Black creators are speculating better worlds as a means of resistance and survival.

The documentary will also consider how “Black Speculation” is rooted in the history of “Black Struggle” in the United States by exploring two previous eras of Black creators speculating about Black lives through the genres of SF. The first era occurred during the nadir of African American history in late 19th and early 20th centuries, when slavery, war, lynchings, race riots, disfranchisement and segregation inspired Black writers to pen narratives about international slave rebellions, secret, Black governments and powerful, long lost, African kingdoms. The second era occurred during the 1960’s and early 1970’s, when the work of Black writers of SF seemed to extrapolate on the possible futures that would occur as a result of the successes or failures of the Civil Rights or Black Power struggles. This documentary will explore how this current moment, which the filmmaker considers the third era of Black Speculation, compares and contrasts with the earlier two eras.

This timely documentary includes rare interviews with Black writers of SF like Samuel R. Delany, the late Octavia E. Butler, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson and Nnedi Okorafor, actors like Nichelle Nichols and Wesley Snipes, cultural organizers like Rasheedah Phillips and the AfroFuturist Affair, academics/artists like John Jennings and Nettrice Gaskins, social justice workers/artists like adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha, as well as numerous other filmmakers, artists, academics, archivists, and fans. This one-of-a-kind project is essentially an archive of a “Who’s Who” of Black speculative fiction."
blackness  speculativefiction  sciencefiction  scifi  invisibleuniverse  film  documentary  maslidukan  octaviabutler  stevenbarnes  tananarivedue  nalohopkinson  nnediokorafor  nichellenichols  wesleysnipes  rasheedahphillip  afrofuturism  afrofuturistaffair  adrienne  mareebrown  walidahimarisha  johnjennings  nettricegaskins  history 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Planetes - Wikipedia
[via: https://twitter.com/asimone/status/690047123966992384 ]

"Planetes (プラネテス Puranetesu?, Ancient Greek: πλανήτες "Planets", which literally means, by Ancient Greek translation, "Wanderers"[1]) is a Japanese hard science fiction manga written and illustrated by Makoto Yukimura. It was adapted into a 26-episode anime television series by Sunrise, which was broadcast on NHK from October 2003 through April 2004. The story revolves around the crew of the debris collection craft, Toy Box, in the year 2075.

The manga was published in English in North America by Tokyopop, and the anime was distributed in North America by Bandai Entertainment. Both the manga and anime received the Seiun Award for best science fiction series."

"The story of Planetes follows the crew of the DS-12 "Toy Box" of the Space Debris Section, a unit of Technora Corporation. Debris Section's purpose is to prevent the damage or destruction of satellites, space stations and spacecraft from collision with debris in Earth's and the Moon's orbits. They use a number of methods to dispose of the debris (mainly by burning it via atmospheric reentry or through salvage), accomplished through the use of EVA suits.

The episodes sometimes revolve around debris collection itself, but more often the concept of collecting "trash" in space is merely a storytelling method for building character development. The members of the Debris Section are looked down upon as the lowest members of the company and they must work hard to prove their worth to others and accomplish their dreams.

Ongoing plot elements include an upcoming exploratory mission to Jupiter on the new fusion powered ship, Von Braun, and the lead character's decision to join the mission, no matter the cost. Many other plot threads are also developed throughout the series that help to explain each character's motivations and personalities. The Space Defense Front is a terrorist organization that believes mankind is exploiting space without first curing global problems such as mass famine and the widened socio-economic divide on Earth."
planetes  manga  anime  sciencefiction  scifi  towatch 
january 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no. 1: progress dogma
"Despite the name, Crap Futures is not all gloom and doom. We may view notions of progress with a sceptical eye, but we still subscribe - heartily, even - to the pursuit of a better world, however small our contribution might be.

In that spirit of improvement - and to introduce the first in our new series on constraints - let us turn for a moment to Ray Bradbury, the presiding Crap Futures muse. In his short story ‘A Sound of Thunder’ (1952), the protagonist, Eckels, travels back to the Late Cretaceous period to track and kill a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The slogan of the company that organises these tours, Time Safari, Inc., is straightforward: ‘Safaris to any year of the past … we take you there, you shoot it.’ Time Safari’s main job, aside from organising tours, is making sure each hunter leaves no footprint, literally or figuratively, in or on the past (or future - whatever, it’s confusing).

The spark in Bradbury’s cautionary tale is Time Safari’s meticulous treatment of the prehistoric ecosystem. With the vast timeframes involved, minute changes to a particular point in the past - increasing exponentially through time - can lead to dramatic differences in everything proceeding from that point. To avoid contaminating the past and altering the future, an ‘anti-gravity metal’ path hovers above the prehistoric jungle, from which hunters are instructed never to stray in even the slightest. The possible impact of any deviation from the path is conveyed in dramatic terms by the tour guide: ‘Step on a mouse and you crush the Pyramids. Step on a mouse and you leave your print, like a Grand Canyon, across Eternity.’ The hunters even wear special ‘oxygen helmets’ to avoid introducing ‘bacteria into the ancient atmosphere’.

Naturally enough, however, Eckels panics at the sight of the Tyrannosaurus and accidentally steps off the path. This leads to a typically Bradburyesque climax - which we won’t spoil here for those of you who haven’t read it.

The key message of Constraint No. 1 is that unlike Time Safari, most of those with a hand in ‘how the future happens’ have no motivation to think about long term consequences of their actions. So blinded are they, in fact, by the bright lights of progress and its successor innovation that any potentially negative impact is ignored. This positivistic message about technology is endemic, and is only being exacerbated by the ‘thumbs up’ and ‘like’ culture of the social network. Unfortunately, as we know, life is complicated and unforeseen negative outcomes happen.

Progress dogma keeps us on the current technological trajectory - it is belief as a motivational force of change. It gives this trajectory huge momentum, meaning that is is virtually impossible to change course. If you’ll pardon the bleak image, it’s a bit like the Titanic sailing directly into potentially fatal waters without a care in the world.

Once we remove the constraints of positive thinking, it becomes possible to more realistically apprehend the future in (some of) its complexity, helping us to figure out what to avoid as well as where to aim. So, how can we rethink progress to identify possible implications? How can we disconnect from the utopian mantra and twentieth-century mindset of positivist corporate culture?'
crapfutures  raybradbury  design  titanic  dinosaurs  sciencefiction  scifi  innovation  constraints  progress  technology  systemsthinking  time  longnow  bighere  skepticism  timesafari  implications  consequences  caution  positivism  future  duediligence  diligence  change  ecosystems  californianideology  2015 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Sternberg Press - Benjamin H. Bratton
"e-flux journal
Benjamin H. Bratton
Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution

With a foreword by Keller Easterling

Equal parts Borges, Burroughs, Baudrillard, and Black Ops, Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution charts a treacherous landscape filled with paranoid master plans, failed schemes, and dubious histories.

Benjamin H. Bratton’s kaleidoscopic theory-fiction links the utopian fantasies of political violence with the equally utopian programs of security and control. Both rely on all manner of doubles, models, gimmicks, ruses, prototypes, and shock-and-awe campaigns to realize their propagandas of the deed, threat, and image. Blurring reality and delusion, they collaborate on a literally psychotic politics of architecture.

The cast of characters in this ensemble drama of righteous desperation and tactical trickery shuttle between fact and speculation, action and script, flesh and symbol, death and philosophy: insect urbanists, seditious masquerades, epistolary ideologues, distant dissimulations, carnivorous installations, forgotten footage, branded revolts, imploding skyscrapers, sentimental memorials, ad-hoc bunkers, sacred hijackings, vampire safe-houses, suburban enclaves, big-time proposals, ambient security protocols, disputed borders-of-convenience, empty research campuses, and robotic surgery.

In this mosaic we glimpse a future city built with designed violence and the violence of design. As one ratifies the other, the exception becomes the ruler."

[on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dispute-Prevent-Future-Constitution-journal-ebook/dp/B01ABCB8FM/ ]
benjaminbratton  kellereasterling  borges  baudrillard  blackops  williamsburroughs  fiction  toread  books  future  futures  utopia  politics  security  control  propaganda  sciencefiction  violence 
january 2016 by robertogreco
New wave of African sci-fi will inspire innovation - SciDev.Net
"• Science fiction allows people to see how science and society interact
• Films and novels already explore pressing problems such as water scarcity
• African sci-fi could help catalyse new models of sustainable growth"

[via: "Leery of European attempts to annex afrofuturism to design, but @afrocyberpunk good here on sf & African innovation: http://www.scidev.net/global/innovation/opinion/wave-african-sci-fi-inspire-innovation.html …"
https://twitter.com/justinpickard/status/682820661622865922 ]
sciencefiction  scifi  innovation  africa  2015  speculativefiction  jonathandotse 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Reverting to Type: A Reader’s Story |
"It did become my thing. I transferred to what we thought of as the University of Alabama, the one in Tuscaloosa, largely because it had a better English department. I double-majored in English and history, and at some point decided — what considerations went into the decision I no longer remember — that I wanted to go to graduate school to study more literature. So I attended the University of Virginia. I developed a historical sense — my love for Browne’s prose led me to spend most of my time in the seventeenth century, until a relatively late encounter with the poetry of W. H. Auden made a modernist of me — amassed a repertoire of critical gestures, learned to invoke the names and terms of High Theory in the proper ways and at the proper times. I was initiated into the academic guild; I became a professor.

It wasn’t always easy, of course. In my last weeks as an undergraduate one of my professors had taken me aside and whispered to me the sacred names of Barthes and Derrida, and told me I should make fuller acquaintance with them. I dutifully wrote down the names and immediately forgot about them. Since none of this Theory stuff had previously been mentioned to me in my undergraduate career, how important could it be? So when I plunged into my first graduate classes — including a theoretical survey in which we read Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, Gramsci, Georg Lukács, Horkheimer and Adorno, Husserl, Heidegger, Ricoeur, Jakobson, Althusser, Brooks, Frye, de Beauvoir, Kenneth Burke, and, yes, Barthes and Derrida, among others — I was immediately transformed from a confident critic-in-the-making to a lost lamb, baahing reproachfully, petulantly.

Ten weeks or so into my first semester I decided that I just couldn’t cut it and needed to drop out. But I was a newlywed, and had carried my bride hundreds of miles from her family, set her down in a strange town, and effectively forced her to hunt for compartatively menial jobs, all to support this great academic endeavor of mine. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her how miserable and incompetent and just plain lost I was.

Our apartment in Charlottesville had a small windowless room that I used for a study. One evening after dinner I went in and closed the door and tried to sort through the vast pile of photocopied theoretical essays I had bought at Kinko’s on the first day of class. (We could violate copyright in those days, too.) But it was useless. I could scarcely bear even to look at the stuff. My professor had copied from his own well-used books, and every essay was full of confident underlinings and annotations that seemed by their very presence to judge me and find me wanting. I couldn’t bring myself to read another word.

My eyes wandered to a nearby bookshelf, and were caught for a moment by the glit of a gold cardboard box: it contained the three volumes of the Ballantine mass-market version of The Lord of the Rings. I had never read Tolkien: I was a science-fiction guy, not a fantasy guy. But of course I knew that The Trilogy (as I thought of it) was important, and that someday I ought to get to it. Almost thoughtlessly, I picked up the first volume and began to read.

When bedtime rolled around I set the book down and emerged from the sanctuary. “How’d it go tonight?” Teri asked.

I said, “It went well.”

The next evening I re-entered the study, under the pretense of continuing my academic labors with all due seriousness, and picked up where I had left off in the story. For the next week or so, though during the days I went to classes and did generally what I was supposed to do, I did none of the reading or writing I was assigned. I got further and further behind. I didn’t care; I was somewhere else and glad to be somewhere else. Teri seemed pleased with my scholarly discipline, as each evening I washed the dishes, gave her a kiss, and closed the study door behind me.

When I finished The Lord of the Rings I drew a deep breath. I felt more sound and whole than I had felt in weeks, maybe months. But, to my own surprise, I did not conclude that all that academic crap was a waste of time and I should do something else with my life, something that gave me time to read lots of fantasy novels. Instead, I experienced a strange refreshment, almost an exhilaration. My confusion and frustration seemed like small afflictions, conquerable adversaries. Barthes and Derrida weren’t so fearsome after all. I could do this.

I don’t believe that I was thinking, “Literary theory is as nothing in comparison to the power of Mordor!” Or, “If Frodo can carry that Ring to the Cracks of Doom I can write this paper on Paul Ricoeur!” Rather, I was just benefiting from spending some time away from my anxieties. We had been too intimate and needed separation. So I resumed my studies in a far better frame of mind; as a result, I did better work. I completed my doctorate and began my career as a teacher, but I didn’t forget the debt I owed to that week I spent in Tolkien’s world."



"In a sense I am only talking here about expanding my repertoire of analogies, my ability to make illuminating and meaningful comparisons. For many years now Douglas Hofstadter, drawing on the work of the mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, has been convinced that the secret to creating artificial intelligence lies in teaching machines to recognize analogies. (Ulam says somewhere that it’s all about “as”: we see marks on a piece of wood pulp as a portrait of a beloved child, a cairn of stones as a monument to a dead chieftain.) Similar principles underlie the methods of Google Translate, which collects an enormous corpus of sentences and then tries to match your input to something in that corpus, and Apple’s “digital personal assistant,” Siri. Siri can’t parse what you say to her unless she can connect to the network, which undertakes a comparison of your utterance to other utterances on record. All this might be called brute-force analogizing, but it seems to me that my own understanding develops as I pursue the same method, though with far less force and (I hope) less brutishness.

In one of his most beautiful poems, Richard Wilbur writes, “Odd that a thing is most itself when likened.” And this is true no matter the thing: a book becomes more fully itself when we see both how it resembles and how is differs from other books; one discipline of study takes on its proper hues only when we see its relations to other disciplines that stand close to it or very far away. My repertoire of analogies is my toolbox, or my console of instruments, by which I comprehend and navigate the world. It can’t be too large; every addition helps, at least a bit. And that’s why I’m thankful for my gradual recovery of the books I adored, and thoughts I lovingly entertained, when I was forty years younger."
alanjacobs  howweread  reading  2015  analogies  metaphor  text  pleasurereading  richardwilbur  harukimurukami  jrrtolkein  thelordoftherings  stainslawulam  loreneisley  sciencefiction  understanding  literarycriticism  genrefiction  fiction  literature  academia  writing  howwewrite  howwelearn  books  jacquesderrida  rolandbarthes  whauden  sirthomasbrowne  williamfaulkner  nealstephenson  joycecaroloates  twocultures  cpsnow  jamesgleick  linux  learning  canon  digressions  amateurism  dabbling  listening  communication  howweteach  teaching  education  silos 
december 2015 by robertogreco
UNCANNY VALLEY (2015) on Vimeo
"In the slums of the future, virtual reality junkies satisfy their violent impulses in online entertainment. An expert player discovers that the line between games and reality is starting to fade away. 3DAR’s latest short film explores the frightening potential of our next technological revolution. Behind the scenes coming soon! Stay connected, but not too much ;)
Artwork and process in 3dar.com"
film  vr  scifi  sciencefiction  virtualreality  2015  games  gaming  videogames  reality  3dar 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction
"In this first-ever anthology of Indigenous science fiction Grace Dillon collects some of the finest examples of the craft with contributions by Native American, First Nations, Aboriginal Australian, and New Zealand Maori authors. The collection includes seminal authors such as Gerald Vizenor, historically important contributions often categorized as "magical realism" by authors like Leslie Marmon Silko and Sherman Alexie, and authors more recognizable to science fiction fans like William Sanders and Stephen Graham Jones. Dillon's engaging introduction situates the pieces in the larger context of science fiction and its conventions.

Organized by sub-genre, the book starts with Native slipstream, stories infused with time travel, alternate realities and alternative history like Vizenor's "Custer on the Slipstream." Next up are stories about contact with other beings featuring, among others, an excerpt from Gerry William's The Black Ship. Dillon includes stories that highlight Indigenous science like a piece from Archie Weller's Land of the Golden Clouds, asserting that one of the roles of Native science fiction is to disentangle that science from notions of "primitive" knowledge and myth. The fourth section calls out stories of apocalypse like William Sanders' "When This World Is All on Fire" and a piece from Zainab Amadahy's The Moons of Palmares. The anthology closes with examples of biskaabiiyang, or "returning to ourselves," bringing together stories like Eden Robinson's "Terminal Avenue" and a piece from Robert Sullivan's Star Waka.

An essential book for readers and students of both Native literature and science fiction, Walking the Clouds is an invaluable collection. It brings together not only great examples of Native science fiction from an internationally-known cast of authors, but Dillon's insightful scholarship sheds new light on the traditions of imagining an Indigenous future."
sciencefiction  scifi  via:anne  books  fiction  toread  nativeamericans  firstnations  aborigines  maori  newzealand  australia  canada  us  magicalrealism  lesliemarmonsilko  shermanalexie  williamsanders  stephengrahamjones  zainabamadahy  edenrobinson  robertsullivan  geralvizenor  gracedillon  marmonsilko  māori 
october 2015 by robertogreco
SF: Science Fiction, Speculative Fabulation, String Figures, So Far - Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology
"The British social anthropologist Marilyn Strathern, who wrote The Gender of the Gift based on her ethnographic work in highland Papua New Guinea (Mt. Hagen), taught me that “It matters what ideas we use to think other ideas (with)” (Reproducing the Future 10). Marilyn embodies for me the practice of feminist speculative fabulation in the scholarly mode. It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories. Marilyn wrote about accepting the risk of relentless contingency; she thinks about anthropology as the knowledge practice that studies relations with relations, that puts relations at risk with other relations, from unexpected other worlds. In 1933 Alfred North Whitehead, the American mathematician and process philosopher who infuses my sense of worlding, wrote The Adventures of Ideas. SF is precisely full of such adventures. Isabelle Stengers, a chemist, scholar of Whitehead, and a seriously quirky Belgian feminist philosopher, gives me “speculative thinking” in spades. Isabelle insists we cannot denounce the world in the name of an ideal world. In the spirit of feminist communitarian anarchism and the idiom of Whitehead’s philosophy, she maintains that decisions must take place somehow in the presence of those who will bear their consequences.[2] In this same virtual sibling set, Marleen Barr morphed Heinlein’s speculative fiction into feminist fabulation for me. In relay and return, SF morphs in my writing and research into speculative fabulation and string figures. Relays, cat’s cradle, passing patterns back and forth, giving and receiving, patterning, holding the unasked-for pattern in one’s hands, response-ability, Octavia Butler’s Patternmaster series. My debts mount. Again and again, SF has given me the ideas, the stories, and the shapes with which I think ideas, shapes, and stories in feminist theory and science studies. There is no way I can name all of my debts to SF’s critters and worlds, human and not, and so I will record only a few and hope for a credit extension for years yet to come. I will enter these debts in a short ledger of my teaching and publishing. I start with Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, a typescript of my curriculum vitae that was part of a file for consideration for promotion in the History of Science Department at Johns Hopkins in 1979-80, and a bottle of chalky white out. I had written an essay review of Woman on the Edge of Time for the activist publication, Women, a Journal of Liberation and duly recorded this little publication on the CV. “The past is the contested zone”—the past that is our thick, not-yet-fixed, present, wherewhen what is yet-to-come is now at stake—is the meme that drew me into Piercy’s story, and I was proud of the review. A senior colleague in History of Science, a supporter of my promotion, came to me with a too-friendly smile and that betraying bottle of white-out, asking me to blot out this publication from the scholarly record, “for my own good.”[3] He also wanted me to expunge “Signs of Dominance,” a long, research-dense essay about the semiotics and sociograms developed in mid-20th-century primate field studies of monkeys and apes.[4] To my shame to this day, I obeyed; to my relief to this day, no one was fooled. Piercy’s temporalities and my growing sense of the SF-structure of primate field work made me write two essays for the brave, new, hyper-footnoted, University of Chicago feminist theory publication, Signs, and to title the essays in recognition of Piercy’s priority and patterned relay to me.[5] I could not forget—or disavow—Piercy’s research for Woman on the Edge of Time, which led her to psychiatrist José Delgado’s Rockland State Hospital experiments with remote-controlled telemetric implants, and my finding in my own archival research Delgado’s National Institutes of Mental Health-funded work applied to gibbon studies in the ape colony on Hall’s Island. The colonial and imperial roots & routes of SF are relentlessly real and inescapably fabulated. Later, living (non-optionally, in really real SF histories) with and as cyborgs, Piercy and I played cat’s cradle again, this time with my “Cyborg Manifesto” and then her He, She, and It. Cyborgs were never just about the interdigitations of humans and information machines; cyborgs were from the get-go the materialization of imploded (not hybridized) human beings-information machines-multispecies organisms. Cyborgs were always simultaneously relentlessly real and inescapably fabulated. Like all good SF, they redid what counts as—what is—real. The obligatory multispecies story-telling script was written in 1960 United States space research, when Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline coined the word “cyborg” in an article about their implanted rats and the advantages of self-regulating human-machine systems in outer space."
speculativefiction  scifi  sciencefiction  donnaharaway  toread  speculativefabrication  isabellestrengers  alfrednorthwhitehead  knowledge  ideas  philosophy  anarchism  marilynstrathern  octaviabutler  manfredclynes  nathankline  cyborgs  joannaruss  samueldelany  evahayward  katieking  gregorybateson  historyofconsciousness  hiscon  herscam  jamestiptree  suzettehadenelgin  linguists  linguistics  johnvarley  fredjameson  suzymckeecharnass  ursulaleguin  worlding  cat'scradle  anthropology  ethnography  gwynethjones  heidegger  kant  multispecies  sheritepper  laurenoyaolamina  helenmerrick  margaretgrebowicz  dogs  animals  marleenbarr  marilynhacker  sarahlefanu  pamelasargent  viviansobchack  margaretatwood  vondamcintyre  ericrabkin  laurachernaik  sherrylvint  joshualebare  istvancsicsery-ronay  shulamithfirestone  judithmerril  franbartkowsky  2013 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Queering Outer Space — Space + Anthropology — Medium
"It’s time to queer outer space.

Since the Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011, the U.S. space agency NASA has turned over much of the work on space transportation to private corporations and the “commercial crew” program. As venture capitalist space entrepreneurs and aerospace contractors compete to profit from space exploration, we’re running up against increasingly conflicting visions for human futures in outer space. Narratives of military tactical dominance alongside “NewSpace” ventures like asteroid mining projects call for the defense, privatization, and commodification of space and other worlds, framing space as a resource-rich “frontier” to be “settled” in what amounts to a new era of colonization (Anker 2005; Redfield 2000; Valentine 2012).

However, from at least the 1970s, some space scientists have challenged this trajectory of resource extraction, neo-colonialism, and reproduction of earthly political economies with alternative visions of the future (McCray 2012). Today’s “visionary” space scientists imagine space exploration as a source of transformative solutions to earthly problems such as climate change, economic inequality, conflict, and food insecurity (Grinspoon 2003; Hadfield 2013; Sagan 1994; Shostak 2013; Tyson 2012; Vakoch 2013).

Elsewhere I’m doing research on all of this as a PhD student in anthropology, but here I want to argue that we must go even further than academically interrogating the military and corporate narratives of space “exploration” and “colonization.” We must water, fertilize,and tend the seeds of alternative visions of possible futures in space, not only seeking solutions to earthly problems which are trendy at the moment, but actively queering outer space and challenging the future to be even more queer.

I’m queering the word queer here — I want to use it to call for more people of color, more indigenous voices, more women, more LGBTQetc., more alternative voices to the dominant narratives of space programs and space exploration. I want to use queer to stand in for a kind of intersectionality that I can speak from without appropriating or speaking on behalf of others, as a queer person. So by saying queer, I’m not trying to subsume other identities and struggles into the queer ones, but calling out to them and expressing solidarity and respect for difference in joint struggle, I’m inviting you all. I also don’t want to write “intersectionalize” outer space but it’s basically what I mean. So, when I use it here queer is not marriage equality and the HRC and heteronormativity mapped onto cis, white, gay, male characters ready for a television show. It’s also not me with my own limited corner of queer, minority, and disability experience. Queer is deeply and fully queer. As Charlie, an awesome person I follow on twitter calls it: “queer as heck.”

So in this way queer is also, if you’ll permit it, a call-out to mad pride, Black power, sex workers, disability pride, Native pride, polyamory, abolitionist veganism, the elderly, imprisoned people, indigenous revolutionaries, impoverished people, anarchism, linguistic minorities, people living under occupation, and much more. It’s all those ways that we are given no choice but to move in the between spaces of social, economic, and environmental life because the highways and sidewalks are full of other people whose identity, behavior, politics, and sensitivities aren’t questioned all the time, and they won’t budge.

In a sense, it’s the old definition of queer as odd — because when they tell you that you don’t belong, you don’t fit it, you’re unusual, then you’re queer. It’s that feeling that you’re walking behind those five people walking side-by-side who won’t let you pass becuase you’re not one of them. Queer is radical, marginal, partial, torn, assembled, defiant, emergent selves — queer is also non-human — from stones and mountains to plants and ‘invasive’ species. I know, you’re thinking: then what isn’t queer? But, if you’re asking that — the answer might be you.

***

I. Queer Lives in Orbit…

II. De-colonizing Mars and Beyond…

III. Extraterrestrial Allies

IV. Generations of Queer Futures"
michaeloman-reagan  2015  socialscience  space  outerspace  anthropology  colonization  race  gender  sexuality  multispecies  sciencefiction  scifi  science  spaceexploration  decolonization  donnaharaway  chrishadfield  davidgrinspoon  carlsagan  sethshostak  peterredfield  nasa  colinmilburn  patrickmccray  walidahimarisha  adriennemareebrown  frederikceyssens  maartendriesen  kristofwouters  marleenbarr  pederanker  100yss  racism  sexism  xenophobia  naisargidave  queerness  queer  DNLee  lisamesseri  elonmusk  mars  occupy  sensitivity  inclusinvity  inclusion  identity  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Aaron Stewart-Ahn Talks His 25-Year Relationship with Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World | The Talkhouse Film
"It’s the kind of filmmaking endeavor one only tries when one has made two back-to-back masterpieces such as Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire and one has just enough leverage to even try realizing a film that’s unprecedented, batshit crazy and in love of its pursuit of the epic as much as the possibilities of cinema.

But, for me, that grand vision wasn’t fulfilled in the movie I saw. Something was missing, clumsy, off-key. My love for the movie was qualified, something I kept private. I was certain there was more there, but the Internet that existed then couldn’t fulfill my curiosity about a narrative larger than the film itself, about how it came into being and what happened along the way. This other movie became a dream, something to pursue, a key to a door I couldn’t open. And sometimes I wonder if this isn’t responsible for the profound, unceasing love I had for something so imperfect.

As an example of how information about films used to move: it wasn’t until the next millennium that I discovered there was a director’s cut of Until the End of the World. At some point, I was given an Italian DVD of the director’s cut, this version of the film I’d always dreamed about, but could not bring myself to watch it. It didn’t seem fair to the movie’s spirit to do it that way. I had to hold out, wait for the day to see it projected in a movie theater, turn it into some sort of pilgrimage. For more than half of my life, I lived with this movie only in my head, with no copy, no way of watching it. Only as I write this do I realize how strongly it affected me. It was something more than a movie: a séance, vision, prophecy, a call of longing that, I can admit, changed my life. And somehow decades went by with that faint hope, but no opportunity to see it in a theater.

Twenty-four years later I have finally seen the director’s cut of Until the End of the World. I’m now certain it’s a kind of a masterpiece. It has redrawn this map I have of life running parallel with movies. I can see how we got from film prints to live-streaming cellphones. At five hours in length, it is overwhelmingly audacious to the point of leaving you with an exasperated, exhausted grin. Nothing else has ever been made like it, and cinema is now old enough that nothing will ever be made like it again. The whole world is inside it, a broken ladder leading to who we are today."



"It’s a funny thing to admit that a film can change your life, maybe because more of them ought to and that’s what we’re truly fearful of admitting. A few days ago, on a different sleepless night, here in the future, I watched Alejandro Jodorowsky on a digital video direct from a hotel room in Santiago, Chile pleading that, at 86 years old, he was doing everything he could to fight against the death of auteur cinema, despite the pain in his bones, and how movies ought to change someone’s life. It’s a terrifying thought, one that leaves me ashamed, because I don’t think I’m brave enough to believe that filmmaking can do that, and most of these days I am convinced auteurism is dead, that this film was one of the last great auteurist movies.

But a few years after watching Until the End of the World, trapped in a small U.S. town next to a military base, working as a teenage dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant with no college prospects, I read an interview with Wim Wenders in which his advice to the young people of America was to get a passport. A few months later, I left the U.S. and didn’t return for eight years.

I admit now that a music video I directed in 2008 was essentially my attempt to reverse engineer or shamelessly rip off Until the End of the World. Our small film crew traveled circled the globe in two weeks. I had to comprehend in my own small way if filmmaking was that limitless.

I know these things are directly related, and I don’t want to admit it. But yeah, a movie can change your life, and I left that small town, went everywhere, my world opened up, and I met people all over the world, heard their stories, even once saw kangaroos outside an abandoned video store in Western Australia, and I’m so goddamn grateful for it."
aaronstewart-ahn  2015  film  wimwenders  untiltheendioftheworld  1999  digital  solveigdommartin  sciencefiction  scifi  filmmaking  1991  auteurism  auteurtheory 
august 2015 by robertogreco
No one cares about your jetpack: on optimism in futurism - Dangerous to those who profit from the way things areDangerous to those who profit from the way things are
"This review [http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/tomorrowland-is-like-watching-a-jetpack-eat-itself-1706822006 ] of Disney’s Tomorrowland (and others like it that I have read) got me thinking about something I was asked at the Design In Action summit last week in Edinburgh. I was there participating in the “Once Upon a Future” event, where I read a story called “The Dreams in the Bitch House.” It’s about a tech sorority at a small New England university. And programmable matter.

After I did my keynote and read my story, I did a Q&A. After a few questions, someone in the audience asked: “Why so negative?”

I get this question a lot. I’ve been involved in a couple of “optimistic” science fiction anthologies, namely Shine (edited by Jetse de Vries) and Hieroglyph (edited by Kathryn Cramer and Ed Finn). But people don’t invite me to these because I’m an optimistic person. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. Evidence:

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InDOzrtS42M ]

When I was trained as a futurist (I have a Master’s in the subject), I was taught to see the whole scope of a problem. That’s at the root of design thinking. The old joke about designers is that when someone asks how many designers you need to change a lightbulb, the designer asks “Does it need to be a lightbulb?” Because really, what the room needs is a window. When people talk about innovation, that’s what they mean. A re-framing of the issue that helps you see the whole problem and approach it from another angle.

America’s problem is not that it needs more jetpacks. Jetpacks are not innovation. Jetpacks are a fetish object for retrofuturist otaku who jerked off to Judy Jetson, or maybe Jennifer Connelly’s character in The Rocketeer. “We were promised jetpacks!” they whine. Yeah, dude, but what you got was Agent Orange. Imagine a Segway that could kill you and set your house on fire. That’s what a jetpack is.

Jetpacks solve exactly one problem: rapid transit. And you know what would help with that? Better transit. Better telepresence. Better work-life balance. Are jetpacks an innovative solution to the problem of transit? Nope. But they sure look great with your midlife crisis.

But railing against jetpacks isn’t an answer to the question. Why so negative? Three reasons:

1) We have more data than we used to, and we’re obtaining more all the time.

Why don’t we fantasize about life in space like we used to? Because we know it’s really fucking difficult and dangerous. Why don’t we research things like food pills any more? Because we know eating fibre helps prevent colon cancer. We know those things because we’ve done the science. The data is there, and for every piece of technology we use, we accumulate more. It’s hard to argue with that vast wealth of data. At least, it’s hard to do so without looking like some whackjob climate change denier.

2) Less optimistic futures have the power to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

When people ask me, “Why can’t you be more positive?” what I hear is, “Why can’t you tell me a story that conforms to my narrative and comforts me?” Because discomfiting futures have real power. As Alf Rehn notes:
What we need, then, is more uncommon futurism. A futurism that cares not a whit about what’s hot right now, who remain stoically unimpressed by drones and wearable IT, and who instead take it as their job to shock and awe CEOs with visions as radical as those of the futurists of yore. We need futurism that is less interested in agreeing with contemporary futurists and their ongoing circle-jerk, and who takes pride in offending and disgusting those futurists who would like to protect the status quo.


The truth is that the horrible dystopia you’re reading about is already happening to someone else, somewhere else. What makes people nervous is the idea that it could happen to them. That’s why I have to keep sharing it.

3) The most harmful idea in this world is that change is impossible.

Octavia E. Butler said it best: “The only lasting truth / is Change.” And yet, we act like change is impossible. Whether we’re frustrated by policy gridlock, or rolling our eyes at Hollywood reboots, or taking our spouses on the same goddamn date we have for for twenty years, we act as though everything will remain the same, forever and ever, amen. But look around you. Twenty years ago, thinks were very different. Even five years ago, they were different. Look at social progress like gay marriage. Look at the rise of solar power. Look at the shrinking of the ice caps. Things do change, they are changing, and they will change. And not all of those changes will be positive. Not all of them will be negative, either. But change does occur. Rather than thinking of change as a positive or a negative, as utopian or dystopian, just recognize that it’s going to happen and prepare yourself. Futurists don’t predict the future. We see multiple outcomes and help you prepare for them.

In the end, the lacklustre performance of Tomorrowland at the box office has nothing to do with whether optimism is alive or dead. It has to do with changing demographics among moviegoers who know how to spot an Ayn Rand bedtime story when they see one. There are whole generations of moviegoers for whom jetpacks don’t mean shit, whose first memories of NASA are the Challenger disaster. And you know what? Those same generations believe in driverless cars, solar energy, smart cities, AR contacts, and vat-grown meat. They saw the election of America’s first black president, and they witnessed a wave of violence against young black men. They don’t want the depiction of an “optimistic” future. They want a future where their concerns are taken seriously and humanely, with compassion and intelligence and validation. And that’s way harder than optimism."
culture  future  futurism  discourse  madelineashby  2015  tomorrowland  alfrehn  dystopia  octaviabutler  optimism  pessimism  realism  demographics  aynrand  race  establishment  privilege  drones  wearables  power  innovation  jetpacks  telepresence  transit  transportation  work  labor  scifi  sciencefiction  systemsthinking  data  retrofuturism  climatechange  space  food  science  technology  change  truth  socialprogress  progress  solar  solarpower  validation  compassion  canon  work-lifebalance 
june 2015 by robertogreco
INTERVIEWS - Black Girls Talking
"Creating a space to show films which document the future from a non-western, non-white and queer perspective, that was the desire behind THE FUTURE WEIRD a film screening series co-founded by Derica Shields and Megan Eardley that explores experimental, speculative and sci-fi films from Africa, the Global South or directed by people of color. We discussed this project with Derica Shields, as well as the concept of what is weird, and whether the future should be saved. — interviewed by Fanta"



"SHIELDS: Weird means unruly, uncontained, and situated outside of the mainstream, or at an awkward angle to it. Weird is the creative invention of the marginalised majority. It’s like, people from populations who are exposed to destitution and premature death and organised abandonment are making things. I’m not trying to say that every black, brown, woman or queer filmmaker is from an abject social position, but currently our systems of recognition still fail to register black, brown, queer, trans work as work, or art as art, or thinking as thinking. With The Future Weird I want people to get in a room and talk about the work itself, not just to “celebrate” it in this liberal way which is like a pat on the head, but to say “hey we recognise your art/work/thinking and we are here to talk and think about it.”

The word weird also invites invention and reimagination rather than acceptance of the terms already on offer. Weird means an end to bargaining for inclusion on other people’s terms, and in turn, struggling towards your own terms for art, thought, politics, prosperity…. As a younger person I was definitely weird, but I as I got older I increasingly caved to the discipline of fancy universities, I stopped being weird, which meant that I stopped demanding what seemed impossible. But imagining and then demanding what seems impossible is so powerful, especially when our world is so inadequate and deadly."
dericashields  futurism  scifi  sciencefiction  2014  afrofuturism  futureweird  weird  film  filmmaking 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Octavia Project | Indiegogo
[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gZnUlB0uz4 ]

"We use sci-fi to encourage Brooklyn girls to dream big and empower them to design their own futures.
“Hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now.” —Ursula K. Le Guin at the National Book Awards

Young people are already envisioning, writing, and creating alternative ways of living, but they need to be given the space, the encouragement, the platform, and the tools to make it happen. With your help, the Octavia Project will bring this opportunity to young women from Brooklyn's under-served neighborhoods. These girls have important, world-altering stories living inside them, but without the support and space to flesh them out, these narratives may languish away in the purgatory of good ideas.

We want to use girls’ passion in sci-fi, fantasy, and fan-fiction to teach them skills in science, technology, art, and writing, equipping them with skills to dream and build new futures for themselves and their communities. Our inspiration and namesake is Octavia E. Butler, who broke barriers in writing and science fiction to become an award-winning and internationally recognized author (Kindred, Lilith's Brood). We are inspired by her visions of possible futures and commitment to social justice.

Twelve girls, ages 13-18, will participate in this free summer program. In the first workshop a girl might develop her story set two thousand years in the future. In the next workshop, she works with a professional architect to engineer a physical model of her own imaginary future city. In another workshop, girls might learn to code a simple program that morphs their names into strange aliases that inspire fictional adventures. Or they’ll learn the basics of circuits and light up the pages of their work with LEDs. They might even use Twine, an interactive storytelling platform, to share their narratives with the world.

No matter the final curriculum, our girls will have access to women working in science and tech, internship and online publishing opportunities, and college-aged mentors.

The Octavia Project is the brainchild of a robotics teacher, Meghan McNamara, and a science fiction author, Chana Porter."
scifi  sciencefiction  octaviabutler  girls  stem  education  octaviaproject  dreaming  thinking  futurism  dreams  children  youth  brooklyn  nyc  lcproject  openstudioproject  learning  imagination  fantasy  fanfiction  maghanmcnamara  chanaporter  teaching  howwelearn  ursulaleguin 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Total Archive.
[See also: http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/25660

"The Total Archive: Dreams of Universal Knowledge from the Encyclopaedia to Big Data
19 March 2015 - 20 March 2015



The complete system of knowledge is a standard trope of science fiction, a techno-utopian dream and an aesthetic ideal. It is Solomon’s House, the Encyclopaedia and the Museum. It is also an ideology – of Enlightenment, High Modernism and absolute governance.

Far from ending the dream of a total archive, twentieth-century positivist rationality brought it ever closer. From Paul Otlet’s Mundaneum to Mass-Observation, from the Unity of Science movement to Isaac Asimov’s Encyclopedia Galactica, from the Whole Earth Catalog to Wikipedia, the dream of universal knowledge dies hard. These projects triumphantly burst their own bounds, generating more archival material, more information, than can ever be processed. When it encounters well defined areas – the sportsfield or the model organism – the total archive tracks every movement of every player, of recording every gene and mutation. Increasingly this approach is inverted: databases are linked; quantities are demanded where only qualities existed before. The Human Genome Project is the most famous, but now there are countless databases demanding ever more varied input. Here the question of what is excluded becomes central.

The total archive is a political tool. It encompasses population statistics, GDP, indices of the Standard of Living and the international ideology of UNESCO, the WHO, the free market and, most recently, Big Data. The information-gathering practices of statecraft are the total archive par excellence, carrying the potential to transfer power into the open fields of economics and law – or divest it into the hands of criminals, researchers and activists.

Questions of the total archive engage key issues in the philosophy of classification, the poetics of the universal, the ideology of surveillance and the technologies of information retrieval. What are the social structures and political dynamics required to sustain total archives, and what are the temporalities implied by such projects?

In order to confront the ideology and increasing reality of interconnected data-sets and communication technologies we need a robust conceptual framework – one that does not sacrifice historical nuance for the ability to speculate. This conference brings together scholars from a wide range of fields to discuss the aesthetics and political reality of the total archive."]
tumblr  classification  maps  knowledge  2015  tumblrs  archives  universality  collections  data  politics  bigdata  history  encyclopedias  paulotlet  mundaneum  isaacasimov  encyclopediagalactica  wholeearthcatalog  museums  ideology  highmodernism  sccifi  sciencefiction  humangenomeproject  libraries  wikipedia  universalknowledge 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How design fiction imagines future technology – Jon Turney – Aeon
"As technological choices become ever more complex, design fiction, not science, hints at the future we actually want"



"Design fiction’s efforts to create imaginative realisations of technology, which consciously try to evoke discussion that avoids polarising opinion, have a key ingredient, I think. Unlike the new worlds of sci-fi novels, or the ultra-detailed visuals of futuristic cinema, their stories are unfinished. Minority Report is not about critical design because its narrative is closed. In good design fiction, the story is merely hinted at, the possibilities left open. It is up to the person who stumbles across the design to make sense of how it might be part of a storied future."



Design fiction’s proponents want to craft products and exhibits that are not open to this simplified response, that fire the imagination in the right way. That means being not too fanciful, not simply dystopian, and not just tapping into clichéd science‑fictional scripts. When it works, design fiction brings something new into debates about future technological life, and involves us – the users – in the discussion."



"As design fiction comes to be recognised as a distinctive activity, it will continue to find new forms of expression. The US design theorist Julian Bleecker of the Near Future Laboratory suggests that the TBD Catalog with its realistic depictions of fictional products models a different way of innovating, in which designers ‘prototype and test a near future by writing its product descriptions, filing bug reports, creating product manuals and quick reference guides to probable improbable things’. The guiding impulse is to assist us in imagining a new normality. Design and artistic practice can both do that.

Design fictions are not a panacea for some ideal future of broad participation in choosing the ensemble of technologies that we will live with. Most future technologies will continue to arrive as a done deal, despite talk among academics of ‘upstream engagement’ or – coming into fashion – instituting ‘responsible research and innovation’. The US Department of Defense, for instance, and its lavishly-funded, somewhat science-fictional Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has an extensive catalogue of research and development (R&D) projects on topics from robotics to neural enhancement, selected according to a single over-riding criterion: might they give the USA a military advantage in future? DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office tells us, in a ghastly combination of sales talk and bureaucratese, that it is ‘looking for the best innovators from all fields who have an idea for how to leverage bio+tech to solve seemingly impossible problems and deliver transformative impact’. Here, as in other fields, military, security and much commercial R&D will probably go its own way, and we’ll get weaponised biology whether we like it or not.

For the rest, though, there is a real contribution to be made through a playful, freewheeling design practice, open to many new ideas, and which is technically informed but not constrained by immediate feasibility. There are already enough examples to show how design fiction can invite new kinds of conversations about technological futures. Recognising their possibilities can open up roads not taken.

Design fiction with a less critical (and more commercial) edge will continue to appeal to innovative corporations anxious to configure new offerings to fit better with as yet undefined markets. Their overriding aim is to reduce the chances of an innovation being lost in the ‘valley of death’ between a bright idea and a successful product that preys on the minds of budget-holders.

But the greatest potential of this new way of working is as a tool for those who want to encourage a more important debate about possible futures and their technological ingredients. This is the debate we’re still too often not having, about how to harness technological potential to improve the chances of us living the lives we wish for."
design  designfiction  2105  jonturney  technology  science  participatory  future  complexity  debate  futures  potential  howwelive  lcproject  openstudioproject  darpa  scifi  sciencefiction  change  nearfuturelaboratory  julianbleecker  tbdcatalog  fiction  prototyping  art  imagination  tinkeringwiththefuture  paulgrahamraven  alexandraginsberg  christinapagapis  sisseltolaas  syntheticbiology  alexiscarrel  frederikpohl  cyrilkornbluth  margaretatwood  anthonydunne  fionaraby  dunne&raby  koertvanmensvoort  hendrik-jangrievink  arthurcclarke  davidnye  julesverne  hgwells  martincooper  startrek  johnunderkoffler  davidkirby  aldoushuxley  bravenewworld  minorityreport  jamesauger  jimmyloizeau  worldbuilding  microworldbuilding  thenewnormal 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Monomania L.A. | Artbound | KCET
"Through a series of short films and articles, Monomania L.A. profiles five L.A. as Subject collectors who have turned a monomaniacal obsession with a particular aspect of Southern California history into a public resource. These collectors have documented disparate subjects -- the California orange, sci-fi reading circles, political graphics, a Mexican rancho, African American photographers--but their stories share one thing in common: a passion for history that has enriched our understanding of Southern California's past."
losangeles  history  collections  race  agriculture  sciencefiction  scifi  politics  design  art  photography  socal  monomaniala 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Matt Jones: Jumping to the End -- Practical Design Fiction on Vimeo
[Matt says (http://magicalnihilism.com/2015/03/06/my-ixd15-conference-talk-jumping-to-the-end/ ):

"This talk summarizes a lot of the approaches that we used in the studio at BERG, and some of those that have carried on in my work with the gang at Google Creative Lab in NYC.

Unfortunately, I can’t show a lot of that work in public, so many of the examples are from BERG days…

Many thanks to Catherine Nygaard and Ben Fullerton for inviting me (and especially to Catherine for putting up with me clowning around behind here while she was introducing me…)"]

[At ~35:00:
“[(Copy)Writers] are the fastest designers in the world. They are amazing… They are just amazing at that kind of boiling down of incredibly abstract concepts into tiny packages of cognition, language. Working with writers has been my favorite thing of the last two years.”
mattjones  berg  berglondon  google  googlecreativelab  interactiondesign  scifi  sciencefiction  designfiction  futurism  speculativefiction  julianbleecker  howwework  1970s  comics  marvel  marvelcomics  2001aspaceodyssey  fiction  speculation  technology  history  umbertoeco  design  wernerherzog  dansaffer  storytelling  stories  microinteractions  signaturemoments  worldbuilding  stanleykubrick  details  grain  grammars  computervision  ai  artificialintelligence  ui  personofinterest  culture  popculture  surveillance  networks  productdesign  canon  communication  johnthackara  macroscopes  howethink  thinking  context  patternsensing  systemsthinking  systems  mattrolandson  objects  buckminsterfuller  normanfoster  brianarthur  advertising  experiencedesign  ux  copywriting  writing  film  filmmaking  prototyping  posters  video  howwewrite  cognition  language  ara  openstudioproject  transdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  sketching  time  change  seams  seamlessness 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Why does Hollywood like dystopian LAs and utopian SFs? - Boing Boing
"Jon sez, "When conjuring up the future, why do writers and filmmakers so often imagine Northern California as an edenic utopia, while Southern California gets turned into a dystopian hellscape? While Hollywood, counterculture, and Mike Davis have each helped to shape and propagate this idea, Kristin Miller traces its roots back to the 1949 George R. Stewart novel Earth Abides. Her essay follows the north/south divide in science fiction films and literature through the decades, and explores how it's continued to evolve. In the accompanying slideshow, Miller photographs stills from sci fi movies filmed in California, held up against their filming locations, from 1970's Forbin Project to 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It shows not just the geographic divide in SF, but also how our futures have evolved, and how movies have the ability to change how we see our surroundings in the present."
Northern California-as-utopia, on the other hand, is strongly linked to the countercultural movement of the sixties, with its guides for technologically advanced back-to-the-land living. One can read Ernest Callenbach’s influential novel Ecotopia (1975) as the possible future seeded by Whole Earth Catalog. Ecotopia is a fictional “field study” of a future Pacific Northwest society that has split from an apocalyptic United States and is governed according to ecological principles. While much technology has been abandoned, the Ecotopians have selectively retained public transit, electric cars, networked computers, and improved recycling (Callenbach was a longtime resident of Berkeley). Ecotopia‘s themes were later picked up and elaborated in the eco-feminist tales of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home (1985), a cultural anthropology of latter-day Napa Valley-ites who have returned to indigenous ways; Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing (1993) about a pagan, nonviolent San Francisco threatened by southern biological warfare; and Octavia Butler’s Parable books (1993, 1998) where refugees from the LA wasteland grow a new eco-religion, Earthseed, in the forests of Mendocino.
"

[See also: http://www.boomcalifornia.com/2014/02/postcards-from-the-future/ ]
hollywood  mikedavis  california  dystopia  utopia  sciencefiction  scifi  sanfrancisco  losangeles  2015  kristinmiller  ecotopia  ursulaleguin  cascasia  pacificnorthwest  wholeearthcatalog  counterculture  erneestcallenbach  starhawk  octaviabutler  earthseed  georgerstewart 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2014 - Claire Evans on Vimeo
"Science Fiction & The Synthesized Sound – Turn on the radio in the year 3000, and what will you hear? When we make first contact with an alien race, will we—as in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"—communicate through melody? If the future has a sound, what can it possibly be? If science fiction has so far failed to produce convincing future music, it won’t be for lack of trying. It’s just that the problem of future-proofing music is complex, likely impossible. The music of 1,000 years from now will not be composed by, or even for, human ears. It may be strident, seemingly random, mathematical; like the “Musica Universalis” of the ancients, it might not be audible at all. It might be the symphony of pure data. It used to take a needle, a laser, or a magnet to reproduce sound. Now all it takes is code. The age of posthuman art is near; music, like mathematics, may be a universal language—but if we’re too proud to learn its new dialects, we’ll find ourselves silent and friendless in a foreign future."
claireevans  sciencefiction  scifi  music  future  sound  audio  communication  aesthetics  robertscholes  williamgibson  code  composition  2014  johncage  film  history  ai  artificialintelligence  machines  universality  appreciation  language  turingtest 
february 2015 by robertogreco
All Our Worlds: A Database of Diverse Fantastic Fiction
"Welcome to my database of science fiction and fantasy books that demonstrate diversity in sexuality/gender, race, disability, and other aspects. My hope is that this will both promote existing but less well-known books, and inspire authors to write more and publishers to make them available. I feel that too much time and effort is spent criticizing whatever's currently popular, sometimes to the extent of nitpicking, for not having enough diversity instead of finding the books that do and celebrating them. More are being published every day- and the best way to encourage them is to talk about these books."
sciencefiction  scifi  books  booklists  databases  fantasy 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Fontspots: Eurostile | Typeset In The Future
"In addition to the film-specific typographic deconstructions on this site, I'm keeping track of all the times I spot classic sci-fi fonts in movies. What better way to start than with perennial sci-fi favorite, Eurostile?

Eurostile, and in particular its Bold Extended variant, has appeared in countless sci-fi settings over the years. It's got to the point where the very presence of Eurostile Bold Extended in an opening title card says FUTURE far more effectively than an expensive effects shot:

[image]

Indeed, Eurostile is such a quick way to establish a timeframe that whenever I see it in real life – which happens quite a lot in my adopted home of California – I assume I’ve been transported to some futuristic dystopia, where a local care center feels more like a sinister government facility for scientific experimentation:

[image]

Eurostile is most commonly seen in its Bold Extended form, but Regular, Bold, and Regular Extended sometimes crop up as well. I've captured (and tried to clarify) as many as possible below."
typography  film  scifi  sciencefiction  2014  via:senongo  eurostile  fonts  future  dystopia 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Interview: Sofia Samatar « Post45
"SS: The relationship between fantasy fiction, and the whole African literature thing... So, I get questions a lot, where people ask me why I write this, and I try to answer them as best I can.

Is that an antagonistic question? As in, "why do you write fantasy rather when you should be writing real literature?"

I think it's a little bit antagonistic, but I also think it's genuine. I don't think people are asking it to be confrontational. They honestly want to know. But genre fiction—you know, science fiction, fantasy, Western, romance—all of them are set apart from literary fiction, in the way that our literature is divided. And since literary fiction is generally felt to be realist—which is totally not the case, but it is what people think—the question becomes, well, here is this dominant literature, here is The Novel, we have this idea of the novel as a realist form... That's where the question "why" comes from, the idea that writing fantasy is not a normal thing to do.

One way I address this is to turn things around, and look at how much older fantasy is than realism, how much more widespread in the world. How deeply a part of oral tradition fantasy is—and say, you know, explain to me, "Why write realist fiction?" Because fantasy is not the fringe, really, if you take narrative as a whole. It is the center.

So, there's that answer. But that doesn't work, right? Because we are still looking at things the way they are now, the way literature is divided. So then I go to my other answers. One of them is that I don't know. I wrote my PhD dissertation on the Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih: I wrote it on the uses of the fantastic and the uncanny in his work, plus a comparative piece where I was looking at Ibrahim al-Koni of Libya, Ben Okri of Nigeria, and Bessie Head from South Africa/Botswana. I was looking at how all of these writers are using the fantastic and the uncanny in their work. I did this, in part, to try to figure out why I am drawn to this literature. And I failed! I failed, Aaron. I still don't have a satisfactory answer for my attraction to this kind of literature."

[Compare to https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:0a82a9f1b371 which references Stephen King saying something similar (https://web.archive.org/web/20151003010112/https://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/101627096303/michiko-kakutani-who-writes-reviews-for-the-new )
and Ursuala Le Guin doing the same (http://www.rc.umd.edu/sites/default/files/imported/reference/wcircle/leguin.pdf [.pdf] via http://designculturelab.org/2014/10/23/three-uncertain-thoughts-or-everything-i-know-i-learned-from-ursula-le-guin/ )

Update (4 March 2015): here's another Ursula Le Guin to add to the mix, this one referring to some Kazuo Ishiguro in the NYTimes:
95. “Are they going to say this is fantasy?”
http://www.ursulakleguin.com/Blog2015.html#New and http://bookviewcafe.com/blog/2015/03/02/are-they-going-to-say-this-is-fantasy/

Update (10 July 2017): a thread: https://twitter.com/zunguzungu/status/884431966900113408

"What would you say if I told you that there was a thing called Science Fiction that exists [screenshots]

It's unfair to Ghosh--he's a better reader than the "why no climate fiction?" hottakes citing him--but it's become an annoying cliche.

If what you mean by "contemporary fiction" doesn't include Speculative Fiction, then contemporary fiction will not speculate about futures.

You could go a step farther: the "contemporary" in that sense of contemporary fiction is composed by literally removing the speculative.

The link to that "On the Media" episode on fiction and climate change, btw: https://www.wnyc.org/story/on-the-media-2017-07-07/

This is well put. If contemporary fiction doesn't address it, it's a structural erasure of writers that do, not a lack of them. [screenshot of https://twitter.com/nathangoldman/status/884420124752719872
trope of asking "why aren't writers writing about X?" is weird imo. seems meant as way of asking why don't people care about X...

..by asking why don't writers care. but almost always some writers do care and are writing about it. more interesting question is...

...what forces make that writing invisible and what that might have to do with what broader cultures care about.
]

Related: a short thread I wrote on Kanishk Tharoor's collection as Fiction in the Age of Climate Apocalypse: https://twitter.com/zunguzungu/status/841638743123550208

The first paragraph of that Ghosh essay
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/oct/28/amitav-ghosh-where-is-the-fiction-about-climate-change-

"the irony of the “realist” novel: the very gestures with which it conjures up reality are actually a concealment of the real.""]
sofiasamatar  2014  interviews  aaronbady  fantasy  sciencefiction  genrefiction  literature  fiction  writing  africa  ursulaleguin  kazuoishiguro 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Wanderers - a short film by Erik Wernquist on Vimeo
[See also: http://www.erikwernquist.com/wanderers/ ]

"For more information and stills gallery, please turn to: erikwernquist.com/wanderers
(Just in case my website runs slow, here is a link to an imgur album version of the gallery: imgur.com/a/Ur5dP )

Wanderers is a vision of humanity's expansion into the Solar System, based on scientific ideas and concepts of what our future in space might look like, if it ever happens. The locations depicted in the film are digital recreations of actual places in the Solar System, built from real photos and map data where available.

Without any apparent story, other than what you may fill in by yourself, the idea of the film is primarily to show a glimpse of the fantastic and beautiful nature that surrounds us on our neighboring worlds - and above all, how it might appear to us if we were there.

CREDITS:
VISUALS - Erik Wernquist - erik@erikwernquist.com
MUSIC - Cristian Sandquist - cristiansandquist@mac.com
WORDS AND VOICE - Carl Sagan
COLOR GRADE - Caj Müller/Beckholmen Film - caj@beckholmenfilm.se
LIVE ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY - Mikael Hall/Vidiotism - mikael@vidiotism.com
LIVE ACTION PERFORMANCE - Anna Nerman, Camilla Hammarström, Hanna Mellin
VOCALIST - Nina Fylkegård - nina@ladystardust.se
THANK YOU - Johan Persson, Calle Herdenberg, Micke Lindgren, Satrio J. Studt, Tomas Axelsson, Christian Lundqvist, Micke Lindell, Sigfrid Söderberg, Fredrik Strage, Johan Antoni, Henrik Johansson, Michael Uvnäs, Hanna Mellin

THIS FILM WAS MADE WITH USE OF PHOTOS AND TEXTURES FROM:
NASA/JPL, NASA/CICLOPS, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, ESA, John Van Vliet, Björn Jonsson (and many others, of which I unfortunately do not know the names)"
erikwernquist  space  video  film  scifi  sciencefiction 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The Oyster Review: Ursula K. Le Guin: Everything you ever needed to know about the work of Ursula K. Le Guin and where to start.
"Ursula K. Le Guin is a very famous writer, and she's old enough now that she's entering into legendary. That's the fun part of aging. But she isn't really treated like those famous writers like, say, Philip Roth or Jonathan Franzen. That's in part because she only lived on the East Coast of the United States for a little while—while she was very young and going to college at Radcliffe and then at Columbia. But after that she went to France, where she met her husband, and they came back, and hopped around a bit. But fifty-some years ago, they settled in Oregon and never left. She also considers herself, a lot of the time, a poet, actually. If you get intrigued about her, she has a very fun occasional blog, and she writes about her cats quite a bit. And politics. And ideas. And being a writer.

She also doesn't get treated like many of the fancy writers because she's written a diverse body of work for different kinds of readers. You literally would never know what she was going to publish next, which is pretty cool, when you think about how predictable some writers can be. Also, she wrote a number of books for young adults. Now that's all the rage, and these days it's often difficult to tell what books are for young people and what books are for the rest of us. But things were different in The Olden Times and people were much stuffier.

So where should you start? Let us move from near to far, from comfortable to alien and strange."



"The Dispossessed is a much-loved book, for good reason, but it has a very sneaky trick, one that is hard on minds like mine, which is that two stories run simultaneously, divided into alternating chapters, and they are not happening at the same time. It's a beautiful effect actually but it requires some care in the reading.

The other big truly famous book is The Left Hand of Darkness, which is basically the book that they should give all 16-year-olds when they give out driver's licenses. It's a book that blew the whole world's mind. Usually when people say "Where do I start?" everyone says start here. There are very few better books in the whole world."
2014  ursulaleguin  choiresicha  sciencefiction  srg 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Ursula K Le Guin's speech at National Book Awards: 'Books aren't just commodities' | Books | The Guardian
[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et9Nf-rsALk ]

"To the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks, from the heart. My family, my agents, my editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as my own, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice in accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who’ve been excluded from literature for so long – my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction, writers of the imagination, who for 50 years have watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.

Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximise corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial. I see my own publishers, in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an e-book six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers threatened by corporate fatwa. And I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this – letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.

Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

I’ve had a long career as a writer, and a good one, in good company. Here at the end of it, I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds; but the name of our beautiful reward isn’t profit. Its name is freedom."
ursulaleguin  2014  invention  sciencefiction  fiction  speculativefiction  future  creativity  whywewrite  writing  imagination  capitalism  economics  publishing  genre  visionaries  freedom  alternatives  books  fear  diversity  hope  optimism  paradigmshifts  transcontextextualism 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Ikire Jones: Lagos 2081A.D. on Behance
"I was hired by Wale Oyejide, founder of the inimitable "Ikire Jones" menswear fashion line to create a series of illustrations that combine the crowded and chaotic knot of improvised settlements and ramshackle high-rises that define many burgeoning African Mega-cities such as Lagos, Nigeria with imposing and futuristic super-structures straight out of science-fiction."

[via: https://twitter.com/senongo/status/527167269986918400 ]
lekanjeyifo  scifi  sciencefiction  lagos  2081  design  illustration  ikirejones  conceptart  future  architecture  nigeria  africa  fashion 
november 2014 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses - Michiko Kakutani, who writes reviews for The New...
""Michiko Kakutani, who writes reviews for The New York Times, is the same way. She’ll review a book like David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, which is one of the best novels of the year. It’s as good as Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, has the same kind of deep literary resonance. But because it has elements of fantasy and science fiction, Kakutani doesn’t want to understand it. In that sense, Bloom and Kakutani and a number of gray eminences in literary criticism are like children who say, ‘I can’t possibly eat this meal because the different kinds of food are touching on the plate!’"

— Stephen King: The Rolling Stone Interview [http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/stephen-king-the-rolling-stone-interview-20141031?page=6 ]. Exactly. Exactly."

[Compare to Ursula Leguin on “The Critics, the Monsters, and the Fantasists” [.pdf]: http://www.rc.umd.edu/sites/default/files/imported/reference/wcircle/leguin.pdf

"The modernists are largely to blame. Edmund Wilson and his generation left a tradition of criticism that is, in its way, quite a little monster. In this school for anti-wizards, no fiction is to be taken seriously except various forms of realism, which are labeled “serious.” The rest of narrative fiction is labeled “genre” and is dismissed unread.

Following this rule, the universities have taught generations of students to shun all “genres,” including fantasy (unless it was written before 1900, wasn’t written in English, and/ or can be labeled magical realism). Students of literature are also taught to flee most children’s books, or books that appeal to both children and adults, as if they were ripe buboes. Academic professionalism is at stake — possibly tenure. To touch genre is to be defiled. Reviewers in the popular journals, most of whom come out of the universities, obey the rule. If the reality of what people read forces a periodical to review mysteries or science fiction, they do it in separate columns, coyly titled, at the back of the journal — in purdah.

To declare one genre, realism, to be above genre, and all the rest of fiction not literature because it isn’t realism, is rather as if judges at the State Fair should give blue ribbons only to pigs, declaring horses, cattle, and poultry not animals because they’re not pigs. Foolishness breeds ignorance, and ignorance loves to be told it doesn’t have to learn something. But nobody can rightly judge a novel without some knowledge of the standards, expectations, devices, tropes, and his- tory of its genre (or genres, for increasingly they mix and interbreed). The knowledge and craft a writer brings to writing fantasy, the expectations and skills a reader brings to reading it, differ significantly from those they bring to realis- tic fiction. Or to science fiction, or the thriller, or the mys- tery, or the western, or the romance, or the picture book, or the chapter-book for kids, or the novel for young adults.

There are of course broad standards of competence in narrative; it would be interesting to identify those that span all genres, to help us see what it is that Jane Austen and Patrick O’Brian have in common (arguably a great deal). But distinction is essential to criticism, and the critic should know when a standard is inappropriate to a genre.

It might be an entertaining and mind-broadening exercise in fiction courses to make students discover inappropriateness by practicing it. For example: judge The Lord of the Rings as if it were a late-20th century realistic novel. (Deficient in self-evident relevance, in sexual and erotic components, in individual psychological complexity, in explicit social references. Exercise too easy, has been done a thou- sand times.) Judge Moby Dick as science fiction. (Strong on technological information and on motivation, and when the story moves, it moves; but crippled by the author’s foot-drag- ging and endless self-indulgence in pompous abstractions, fancy language, and rant.) Judge Pride and Prejudice as a Western. (A pretty poor show all round. The women talk. Darcy is a good man and could be a first-rate rancher, even if he does use those fool little pancake saddles, but with a first name like Fitzwilliam, he’ll never make it in Wyoming.)

And to reverse the whole misbegotten procedure: judged by the standards of fantasy, modernist realist fiction, with its narrow focus on daily details of contemporary human affairs, is suffocating and unimaginative, almost unavoidably trivial, and ominously anthropocentric.

The mandarins of modernism, and some of the pundits of postmodernism, were shocked to be told that a fantasy trilogy by a professor of philology is the best-loved English novel of the twentieth century. People are supposed to love realism, not fantasy. But why should they? Until the eighteenth century in Europe, imaginative fiction was fiction. Realism in fiction is a recent literary invention, not much older than the steam engine and probably related to it. Whence the improbable claim that it is the only form of fiction deserving the name of “literature”?

The particular way distinctions are made between factual and fictional narrative is also quite recent, and though useful, inevitably unreliable. As soon as you tell a story, it turns into fiction (or, as Borges put it, all narrative is fiction). It appears that in trying to resist this ineluctable process, or deny it, we of the Scientific West have come to place inordinate value on fiction that pretends to be, or looks awfully like, fact. But in doing so, we’ve forgotten how to read the fiction that fully exploits fictionality.

I’m not saying people don’t read fantasy; a whole lot of us people do; but scholars and critics for the most part don’t read it and don’t know how to read it. I feel shame for them. Sometimes I feel rage. I want to say to the literature teacher who remains willfully, even boastfully ignorant of a major ele- ment of contemporary fiction: “you are incompetent to teach or judge your subject. Readers and students who do know the field, meanwhile, have every right to challenge your igno- rant prejudice. — Rise, undergraduates of the English Departments! You have nothing to lose but your grade on the midterm!”

And to the reviewers, I want to say, “O critic, if you should come upon a fantasy, and it should awaken an atrophied sense of wonder in you, calling with siren voice to your dear little Inner Child, and you should desire to praise its incomparable originality, it would be well to have read in the literature of fantasy, so that you can make some compari- sons, and bring some critical intelligence to bear. Otherwise you’re going to look like a Patent Office employee rushing out into the streets of Washington crying, ‘A discovery, amazing, unheard of! A miraculous invention, which is a circular disc, pierced with an axle, upon which vehicles may roll with incredible ease across the earth!’”"

via: http://designculturelab.org/2014/10/23/three-uncertain-thoughts-or-everything-i-know-i-learned-from-ursula-le-guin/ ]

[Also compare to Sofia Samatar:
http://post45.research.yale.edu/2014/12/interview-sofia-samatar/

"SS: The relationship between fantasy fiction, and the whole African literature thing... So, I get questions a lot, where people ask me why I write this, and I try to answer them as best I can.

Is that an antagonistic question? As in, "why do you write fantasy rather when you should be writing real literature?"

I think it's a little bit antagonistic, but I also think it's genuine. I don't think people are asking it to be confrontational. They honestly want to know. But genre fiction—you know, science fiction, fantasy, Western, romance—all of them are set apart from literary fiction, in the way that our literature is divided. And since literary fiction is generally felt to be realist—which is totally not the case, but it is what people think—the question becomes, well, here is this dominant literature, here is The Novel, we have this idea of the novel as a realist form... That's where the question "why" comes from, the idea that writing fantasy is not a normal thing to do.

One way I address this is to turn things around, and look at how much older fantasy is than realism, how much more widespread in the world. How deeply a part of oral tradition fantasy is—and say, you know, explain to me, "Why write realist fiction?" Because fantasy is not the fringe, really, if you take narrative as a whole. It is the center.

So, there's that answer. But that doesn't work, right? Because we are still looking at things the way they are now, the way literature is divided. So then I go to my other answers. One of them is that I don't know. I wrote my PhD dissertation on the Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih: I wrote it on the uses of the fantastic and the uncanny in his work, plus a comparative piece where I was looking at Ibrahim al-Koni of Libya, Ben Okri of Nigeria, and Bessie Head from South Africa/Botswana. I was looking at how all of these writers are using the fantastic and the uncanny in their work. I did this, in part, to try to figure out why I am drawn to this literature. And I failed! I failed, Aaron. I still don't have a satisfactory answer for my attraction to this kind of literature."
genre  criticism  literature  fantasy  sciencefiction  2014  stephenking  michikokakutani  nytimes  genres  ursulaleguin  narrative  modernism  magicrealism  edmundwilson  postmodernism  realism  sofiasamatar 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Land of Masks and Jewels, Here’s a thing I’ve had around in my head for a...
"Here’s a thing I’ve had around in my head for a while!

Okay, so I’m pretty sure that by now everyone at least is aware of Steampunk, with it’s completely awesome Victorian sci-fi aesthetic. But what I want to see is Solarpunk – a plausible near-future sci-fi genre, which I like to imagine as based on updated Art Nouveau, Victorian, and Edwardian aesthetics, combined with a green and renewable energy movement to create a world in which children grow up being taught about building electronic tech as well as food gardening and other skills, and people have come back around to appreciating artisans and craftspeople, from stonemasons and smithies, to dress makers and jewelers, and everyone in between. A balance of sustainable energy-powered tech, environmental cities, and wicked cool aesthetics.

A lot of people seem to share a vision of futuristic tech and architecture that looks a lot like an ipod – smooth and geometrical and white. Which imo is a little boring and sterile, which is why I picked out an Art Nouveau aesthetic for this.

With energy costs at a low, I like to imagine people being more inclined to focus their expendable income on the arts!

Aesthetically my vision of solarpunk is very similar to steampunk, but with electronic technology, and an Art Nouveau veneer.

So here are some buzz words~

Natural colors!
Art Nouveau!
Handcrafted wares!
Tailors and dressmakers!
Streetcars!
Airships!
Stained glass window solar panels!!!
Education in tech and food growing!
Less corporate capitalism, and more small businesses!
Solar rooftops and roadways!
Communal greenhouses on top of apartments!
Electric cars with old-fashioned looks!
No-cars-allowed walkways lined with independent shops!
Renewable energy-powered Art Nouveau-styled tech life!

Can you imagine how pretty it would be to have stained glass windows everywhere that are actually solar panels? The tech is already headed in that direction! Or how about wide-brim hats, or parasols that are topped with discreet solar panel tech incorporated into the design, with ports you can stick your phone charger in to?

(((Character art by me; click the cityscape pieces to see artist names)))"

[See also: http://missolivialouise.tumblr.com/tagged/solarpunk-tag ]
solarpunk  solar  futures  art  future  artnoveau  craft  make  makers  making  steampunk  victorian  nearfuture  sciencefiction  scifi  energy  edwardian  sustainability  2014 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Algo Nuevo Parte 1 (Ahora es cuando) on Vimeo
[Parte II: https://vimeo.com/82035242
Parte III: https://vimeo.com/82140664
Parte IV: https://vimeo.com/82155657 ]

["noticias de algúna parte para todos ciudadanos colectivos"
http://algonuevoblog.tumblr.com/ ]

[See also: http://www.goethe.de/ins/cl/de/sao/kul/mag/zgi/20377516.html (Google translation follows.)

"The staff of the Historical Museum asserts something, I must strongly disagree: That capitalism is everything einverleibe, resistance is futile. I feel that as a lame excuse and guidance to passivity, almost as aesthetic total surrender of all creators and try my interlocutors an era after irony, cynicism and defeatism show - radebrechend, after two weeks of Spanish lessons in Bella Vista, television rages loudly above us and below us the engine noise of the Calle Merced. I speak of Cybersyn, a cybernetic economy project during the Unidad Popular, a kind of early socialist Internet, which should strengthen the base and promote self-governing structures, swarms of Stafford Beers icosahedron as a geometric model for non-hierarchical, describing the curiosity and alertness of the now 98 -year Victor Pey, who fought in the Spanish Civil War alongside the anarchist Buenaventura Durruti against the fascists and with whom I had the good fortune to be able to talk last week about today's spirit of Chilean youth and finally try on the horizon a new form the "international solidarity" imagine. This, however, would no longer be controlled by a single party in the 21st century, but of a scattered community of interests, of Ciudadanos colectivos (Tito Tricot). Carla Miranda agrees with their employees by disbelieving shakes his head, because "it but really no reason is to hope. " I insist that all over the world formulated resistance and nothing will absorb just because somewhere a new product is created. The energy would not escape, is still available, I try to drown out the TV. Evidence they want to see. Whether we want to drink Coke, Fanta or Sprite, we were asked, before eating, before us a cup wheat bun along with a tube of mayonnaise. Here and now, at this eatery we have no choice and I have no evidence.

Last I spoke with the historian César Leyton Robinson, who had Hannah Arendt's totalitarianism-book lying on the desk, on the "Prussianization" Chile in the 19th and 20th century, totalitarian economy at the beginning of the 21st century, as well as forms of colonial appropriation of indigenous knowledge. He painted me a line on, from the first German newcomer in Valdivia, the zoologist Rudolf Philippi, through to today's biologists and seed magnate Erik von Baer. A week later I meet Domingo Oñate, a Mapuche historian in Temuco, I talk about the beginnings of the racist policy of "whitewashing" in the 19th century. The Germans were the only ones who would not be mixed. The colonial distinction between civilization (= light-skinned, decent, honest, progressive) and barbarism (= dark-skinned, lazy, messy, retrograde) was felt to this day. At the exit to the former Colonia Dignidad we drive over. What interests me less the exception, that place of torture and excessive violence today folkloric euphemistically in Villa Bavaria renamed, but rather the general heritage of German immigration. A book, published to coincide with the 150th German colonization in 1998, is a testimony: German orchestras, choirs, schools, careers, long may they live, three times high! Nazism is simply hidden. Revisionism or sense of tradition? Is the exception the rule? Should I pursue the gloomy thesis Agamben, who claims that all "camp" is, today, the gated communities of the rich? And do not already Voltaire has guileless Candide pockets full of diamonds stuffed in order to free themselves from the struggle for existence? - I hear the cynics happy call.

Confidence on the other hand, the us in the Comunidades is placed in the Mapuche in the mountains behind Curarrehue, the songs of their ancestors, which we get to hear the holistic connection to the earth, to Wallmapu , all of which tells a different story. And the seed of wheat is now "only" to fifty percent in the hands of "Semilla Baer". The optimist would say that the chances are 50-50. Here in Araucanía, the land of beautiful lakes and mountains, created the first images that will tell a different story on stage - neither of constantly still haunted the minds millennium still the hegemonic domination of transnational corporations, which on the best ways are to devastate the planet for thousands of years.

Kevin Rittberger, Curarrehue, January 9, 2014" ]
chile  history  2020  scifi  sciencefiction  neoliberalism  2014  2013  future  buenaventuradurruti  cybersyn  unidadpopular  hannaharendt  césarleytonrobinson  rudolfphilippi  domingooñate  mapuche  whitewashing  temuco  valdivia  carlamiranda  capitalism  araucanía  agamben  germany  germans  kevinrittberger  arauco  forestry  collectivism  anarchism  srg 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Life in the Walking City - rodcorp
"Excerpt from a testimony found inside the back cover of a book misfiled in the Rodcorporate library:

My home is a living pod that's embedded, for the moment, in a frame in a tube in one of the masts that support and move the hull of the city.

The city moves slowly enough that there is little noticeable lateral movement in the masts, but they are often pitched at an angle for long periods of time whilst the other masts move in turn. And they often telescope quite quickly to span a mountain range or find anchor in a valley, which makes some visitors ill. We're proud to be able to live and work in these conditions - the simps in the passencore could never manage it - though if we're honest we look forward to joining them and retiring to the wide-open of the bridge levels.

These days, most walker masts have gyroscopic decks that self-level, but ours doesn't - it's one of the eaters - so we often work and live on a pronounced slope. (We have stories that in premobile times men would traverse the seas in vessels pushed across the surface of the water by the wind - these ancestors also lived for weeks at a similar angle, the wind making the vessel lean over.)

The eater masts support the city, like the many walker masts, but also grab the rock and organic material that help supply the city. My work is to keep the eaters' tubes (which convey the material up to the city, processing and rendering it on the way) and the gastropod (the parts that do the eating) clean and in good working order. We grow new chitin plates for the gastro's radulae; we fit guards and cutting filaments around the gastro so it won't get fouled in the rock, marsh, forest and other Belowmatter. I have been very close to the Below. Most people can't stand its look, smell and stillness - but you get used to it. After a while I could see that the Below is not so different: it changes like the city moves, just slower.

When I'm not working, I go outside and rope-climb the wall in the wind on the cratered weather side, or in the mosses and aquaface of the leeward side. Or I climb the tube to the hull and walk through the city's districts. Barbaropolis and Velicity are settled and stratified but they're always changing as new parts are replaced - even the plug-in frameworks themselves. However, out beyond them, some areas of the city have many old streets and districts: Times Square, the Bab al-Luq, Westworld, Cruzeiro... They were parts of the premobile urban settlements that were absorbed into the city when it was first built, and are falling apart because even though they were originally designed to be temporary they aren't pluggable. You can't get feeds or change things, so people avoid them - they're mostly deserted now.

Often I imagine what it would be like to live in one place that doesn't move. To pick a point - "this is the place" - on the Below and fix my pod there, to look out from my porthole every day at the same view, and to move only when I moved myself. You would need to take your pod apart to move across the Below, or even leave it behind! I can't explain why I like the idea. I know there are others that feel the same way, but we don't discuss it. It is of course forbidden: the city must never stop moving."
cities  future  rodmclaren  walkingcity  archigram  2004  sciencefiction  science  movement  travel  movingcities 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Dennō Coil - Wikipedia
"Dennō Coil (電脳コイル Dennō Koiru?, lit. Electric Brain Coil or Computer Coil), Coil—A Circle of Children, is a Japanese science fiction anime television series depicting a near future where semi-immersive augmented reality (AR) technology has just begun to enter the mainstream. The series takes place in the fictional city of Daikoku, a hotbed of AR development with an emerging city-wide virtual infrastructure. It follows a group of children as they use AR glasses to unravel the mysteries of the half real, half Internet city, using a variety of illegal software tools, techniques, and virtual pets to manipulate the digital landscape.

Dennō Coil, in development for over a decade, is the series director debut of Japanese animator Mitsuo Iso. It premiered on NHK Educational TV on May 12, 2007. Due to the animators involved in its production and its unusually high-profile television broadcast time slot, Dennō Coil was highly anticipated."

Plot

In 2026, eleven years after the introduction of internet-connected augmented reality eyeglasses and visors, Yūko Okonogi moves with her family to the city of Daikoku, the technological center of the emerging half-virtual world. Yūko joins her grandmother's "investigation agency" made up of children equipped with virtual tools and metatags. As their research turns up mounting evidence of children who have been whisked away to the mysterious "other side" of reality, they find themselves entangled in a conspiracy to cover up the dangerous true nature and history of the new technology.



Technology

Dennō is the word used in the series to differentiate between virtual and real, e.g. "dennō cat". Literally translating to "electric brain", the title of the show itself, Dennō Coil, refers to the dangerous phenomenon of the separation of one's digital self from the physical body.

The children access the virtual world through Internet-connected visors called dennō eyeglasses. This allows them to see virtual reality superimposed on objective reality. To visually confirm something as virtual, the children often lift their glasses from their eyes. The visors also work in conjunction with futuristic ear monitors placed behind the ear, which allow the wearer to hear sounds from the virtual environment"

[Reminds me of Chupan Chupai: https://vimeo.com/84978203 ]
anime  towatch  via:tealtan  technology  scifi  sciencefiction  2026  augmentedreality  chupanchupai  hobosigns  hobocodes  glyphs  virtualreality  tamagotchi  children  play  dennōcoil  cityasclassroom  thecityishereforyoutouse  smartcity  smartcities  vr  ar 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Dream thieves: inside America's ban on sleep | The Verge
"Tim Stoker remembers perfectly the last time he slept. “I was out for seven hours straight,” he says, shaking his head. “I didn’t even dream, at least not that I can remember. And when I got into rehab, I thought about it for weeks. I was obsessed. Sometimes I wanted to die but... it’s not that I was suicidal, right? I just thought it might be kind of the same.”

When I meet Stoker, the stocky 23-year-old has spent two months in an Amazon work-release program, fulfilling orders in one of the company’s subcontracted warehouses outside Atlanta. The money is minimal, but so are his living expenses -- and it’s a far cry from the fines and jail time he could have received for violating the recently tightened, near-total national ban on sleep. His thin neon polo shirt clashes dubiously with a pair of fresh jeans and $200 Nikes, proudly bought with his first steady paycheck in years. “I want a TV, one of the big ones,” he says, standing in the bare company cafeteria during a 15-minute break. “But I don’t really have a place yet — just family.”

Stoker credits his family with turning his life around. An admitted academic underachiever, he struggled with high-school classes and was prescribed sleeping medication after a series of panic attacks. But with more pills easily available from friends, he quickly began spending hours in a state that he now sees as tantamount to living death. In the end, it took an impaired driving charge, a year of parental support, and thousands of dollars to get him to his current cold-turkey state. And along the way, he's become one of the millions of casualties in what some pundits have wryly termed the “War on Dreams.”"



""I don't regret making them," says Lanier. "But I might regret ever showing them to anybody. I thought we might learn a whole new way of thinking. We could have used that extra time to understand ourselves, to figure out a new way to relate to reality. But everyone just pushed their noses closer to the grindstone. I mean, years back I told people they weren't a gadget," he says, referencing the title of his 2010 bestseller. "But even gadgets sleep. Even your iPhone needs to recharge sometime. Maybe I should have changed the name.""
sleep  scifi  sciencefiction  speculativefiction  productivity  us  economics  capitalism  work  labor  dreams  slow  control  adirobertson  2014 
august 2014 by robertogreco
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