The Luddites Were Right: 6 SF Works That Show the Downside to New Technology

It’s a given: new technology is always better than old technology. And even if it were not, it’s our duty to the economy to purchase the new shiny.

Only a reactionary would object to ticket scanners merely because they are much slower than the bespectacled eye. Or object to mandatory software upgrades on the specious ground that everything they do, they do less well than the previous release.

Sure, sometimes the new thing is a bit disruptive—but isn’t a little disruption good for us all? At least that’s what the people who stand to profit from disruption tell us….

Let’s examine the contrarian position: newer isn’t always best. And let’s take our examples from science fiction, which is dedicated to exploring the new…and, sometimes inadvertently, showing that the newest thing may not work as intended.

[Read more]

DC Universe’s Stargirl Release Pushed Back, Will Also Air on The CW

When Warner Bros. launched its streaming service DC Universe, it came with the promise of a number of exclusive, original shows: Titans, Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, and Stargirl. Yesterday, the company announced that it’s moving Stargirl‘s debut back from its original January 2020 release date, and that episodes of the series will also air on The CW.

[Read more]

10 Great Monster Moments From Buffy: The Vampire Slayer

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer was at its absolute best when its metaphorical demons were on point. The season-long baddies had their ups and downs (yay Mayor and Angelus! boo Adam and The Nerds), but nothing could beat a really good monster of the week to highlight whatever our favorite Slayer and her friends were going through during that episode. Because in the end, the monster didn’t matter so much as what it represented about their lives. (Except that one praying mantis teacher who tried to seduce Xander. We’ll take that one at absolute face value and not think about it anymore, at all, ever.)

With that in mind, here are my top ten (in no particular order) monsters of the week:

[Read more]

The Internet Is Watching You, and It Really Wants to Help: Naomi Kritzer’s Catfishing on Catnet

When I started writing this review, a week in advance of publication day, most readers were still waiting for Catfishing on Catnet. I, on the other hand, had read my copy six times. The novel is based on Kritzer’s 2015 short story, “Cat Pictures Please.” The story won a Hugo Award, and also my heart. Kritzer has a gift for writing things that are analytical, insightful and incredibly reassuring. And the idea of an artificial intelligence that wants to improve our lives in return for pictures of cats, is all of those things.

There is no actual catfishing in Catfishing—no one attempts to catch catfish and no one attempts to manipulate anyone else into thinking they are in a romantic relationship. CheshireCat, the AI running CatNet, has no problem with the first behavior in appropriate contexts, and definitely would not tolerate the second on its carefully curated forums. For readers of a certain age, CatNet is a nostalgic monument to a time when the internet was young and new and felt safe in a way that it never does now. It was a place where isolated lonely people could find their far-flung tribes. As a reader who still maintains close connections with her due-date group from Hipmama, Catnet feels like the forum we all wished we had been able to create and then spend all our time posting on.

[Read more]

Childhood and the Burden of Knowledge in His Dark Materials

One of the most compelling themes in Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series is the way in which he represents childhood as both a sacred time and a space for profound frustration at the complexities of the adult world. It’s one of the most unifying themes across all of children’s literature, and a difficult trick to pull off effectively. It is especially difficult to strike this balance in children’s fantasy, since the magical elements of the world can sometimes serve as deus ex machinae that make the adult world literally less complex. While Pullman’s novels are excellent at giving the reader a limited, childlike perspective on a world that is overwhelmingly complex and adult, the television series, in broadening its perspective, must also account for those complexities. The difference in approach between book series and television series was starkly illuminated in this week’s episode.

[Read more]

Okay There’s No Joker 2 in the Works But We Still Want a Poison Ivy Origin Film

So it turns out Joker 2 isn’t in the works, after all? On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter published an article alleging that Todd Phillips had taken a meeting with Warner Bros., and emerged with not only a deal for a sequel to Joker, but the rights to one other DC character’s origin story. (We reported on it here.) Today, the director himself debunked the rumors, telling IndieWire no such meeting ever happened.

[Read more]

The Many Adventures of Tom Swift by “Victor Appleton”

In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

In the 19th century, the pace of technological innovation increased significantly; in the 20th century, it exploded. Every decade brought new innovations. For example, my grandfather began his career as a lineman for American Telegraph in the 1890s (it was just “AT” then—the extra “&T” came later). In the early 20th century he went from city to city installing their first telephone switchboards. He ended his career at Bell Labs on Long Island, helping to build the first television sets, along with other electronic marvels. It seemed like wherever you turned , in those days, there was another inventor creating some new device that would transform your life. With the Tom Swift series, starting in 1910, Edward Stratemeyer created a fictional character that represented the spirit of this age of invention. That first series found Tom building or refining all manner of new devices, including vehicles that would take him to explore far-off lands.

Tom Swift has appeared in six separate book series’ that span over a century, and in this week’s column, I’m going to look at three of them. Two I encountered in my youth: Tom Swift and His Motor Boat, which I inherited from my father, and Tom Swift and His Flying Lab, which was given to my older brother as a birthday gift. As an example of Tom’s later adventures, I’m also looking at Into the Abyss, the first book in the fifth series.

[Read more]

Watch This Fan-Made Anime Opening for Good Omens (And See Neil Gaiman’s Reaction)

There now exists an anime opening for Good Omens.

If you sit down and think about it sensibly, you come up with some very funny ideas. Like: why make people so thirsty, and then put some forbidden Amazon adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s famous book right where they can see it with a big neon finger flashing on and off saying ‘THIS IS IT!’? … I mean, why do that if you really don’t want them to make a super dramatic anime opening out of it, eh?

[Read more]

Star Wars: Resistance Is at Its Best When It Stops Worrying About the Resistance

The first season of Star Wars: Resistance was promising if a bit slow, but it typically takes any show a season or two to find its voice. Unfortunately, with the end of the Skywalker Saga upon us, it seems that Disney is hoping to sever any long running media that connects to the third trilogy. So Resistance has to wrap its story in this second and final season, meaning things can feel a bit rushed.

It’s too bad because Resistance is actually best when it chooses to turn its focus away from… the Resistance.

[Spoilers for season 2 so far]

[Read more]

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter One Hundred Six

Greetings, oh wanderers of the Cosmere! Welcome back to Roshar, where we’ll be having fascinating conversations with a deranged Herald, a confused former assassin, and a snarky sword. This week, if you hadn’t guessed, we’ll check back in with Szeth at the end of the flight launched back in Chapter 98. We still don’t get Nalan’s promised revelations, though.

[This is a different danger.]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

Dealing with the King: John Connolly’s “Razorshins”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading John Connolly’s “Razorshins,” first published in the July-August 2015 issue of Black Static. Spoilers ahead.

[“I’ll be wanting an extra bottle from you.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Read an Excerpt From Charles Soule’s SF Adventure, Anyone

Inside a barn in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a scientist searching for an Alzheimer’s cure throws a switch—and finds herself mysteriously transported into her husband’s body. What begins as a botched experiment will change her life—and the world—forever…

Over two decades later, all across the planet, “flash” technology allows individuals the ability to transfer their consciousness into other bodies for specified periods, paid, registered and legal. Society has been utterly transformed by the process, from travel to warfare to entertainment; “Be anyone with Anyone” the tagline of the company offering this ultimate out-of-body experience. But beyond the reach of the law and government regulators is a sordid black market called the darkshare, where desperate “vessels” anonymously rent out their bodies, no questions asked for any purpose—sex, drugs, crime… or worse.

Charles Soule’s Anyone takes us to a world where identity, morality, and technology collide—available December 3rd from Harper Perennial. In exciting news, Carnival Films and NBCUniversal recently acquired the rights to Anyone for a planned television adaptation, with Soule acting as executive producer.

[Read an excerpt]

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.