On the Origins of Modern Biology and the Fantastic: Part 16 — William Gibson and the Human Genome Project

Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding… —William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

Neuromancer is William S. Burroughs meets Blade Runner, a noir thriller where a found family of high tech low-lifes navigate a job full of twists, turns, and double-crosses, through the real to the unreal and back again. Its vision of cyberspace as a neon-drenched nightmare city in a world of crime syndicates and multinational corporations inspired the makers of the internet. Burroughs understood that in a world where information is power and national boundaries are meaningless, everyone is empowered and everyone is helpless, and created a mirror of the dystopian anxieties of the 1980s. It is the book that gave the brief but revolutionary subgenre of cyberpunk its legs.

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Oathbringer Reread: Chapter One Hundred and Twelve, One Hundred and Thirteen, and Venli Interlude

Hey, y’all! Welcome back to the Avalanche! We’re moving fast this week, with three (short) chapters, finishing off Part Four and starting the last set of Interludes! Just in case you missed the note last week, this is the big day—the Battle of Thaylen Field will commence later on this same day.

[Now? I wasn’t prepared! I didn’t know!]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

A Language With Too Many “Awwww” Sounds: Vina Jie-Min Prasad’s “Black Flowers Blossom”

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 Vina Jie-Min Prasad’s “Black Flowers Blossom,” first published in the November/December 2019 issue of Uncanny. Spoilers ahead, but go read it yourself first (not at work, we suggest).

[“I do not offer myself freely to just anyone, even if they did save my life from an Outer Creature.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Guinan’s Coming Back! Patrick Stewart Goes On The View To Invite Whoopi Goldberg Into Picard Season 2

The answer was an immediate YES.

In the run-up to Jean-Luc Picard’s return to television, Patrick Stewart has been making the publicity rounds on entertainment shows, weekly magazines, and the like. Wednesday morning found him on long-running daytime talk show The View where, as it turned out, he had a VERY specific mission: Invite Whoopi Goldberg into Picard season 2 to reprise her role as Guinan.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Reread — The Left Hand of Destiny, Book One

The Left Hand of Destiny, Book One
J.G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Lang
Publication Date: April 2003
Timeline: Days after “What You Leave Behind”, in 2375

Progress: As was pointed out in the comments section of my review of Gateways #4: Demons of Air and Darkness, Worf essentially gets absorbed into the TNG book series post Ds9-finale—with a couple of exceptions. This duology is the major one of those exceptions.

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All of The Wheel of Time Episode Titles Revealed Thus Far

Over the past year or so, the cast and crew of Amazon Prime’s adaptation of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time have been slowly uploading pictures of the scripts, unveiling titles and writers, and causing tons of speculation. This week’s installment comes courtesy of Egwene herself. Taking to her Instagram, actor Madeleine Madden snapped a picture of the script for episode 6 “The Flame of Tar Valon.” 

Here are all the titles that have been revealed thus far, and what we think they entail for The Wheel of Time‘s storyline. Spoilers for The Eye of the World ahead!

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Introducing the Ursula K. Le Guin Reread

Ursula K. Le Guin might very well be the most critically celebrated author of SFF, beloved of both the literary and genre worlds—and make no mistake that these markets, their audiences, and the generic and stylistic assumptions behind each still carry significance over 50 years after Le Guin turned to SFF because the literary journals wouldn’t take her stories (and because the SFF mags paid). Authors like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are darlings of genre and mainstream fiction, remembered by many adults with fondness from their childhood years; their influence has been huge and adaptations of their work have been numerous. Le Guin, on the other hand, has rarely been adapted but has the curious distinction of being beloved by literary elites and genre diehards in equal measure, and her influence has gone beyond the literary to make waves in political circles, among anarchists, feminists, activists for racial and decolonial justice, and others.

As we enter a new decade, the third of a still-young century and even younger millennium, we have been greeted with more of the same: environmental disasters; war and imperial interventions; increasingly polarized cultural and political divisions; and, as always, billions without adequate resources needed to survive. In short, the 2020s look bleak as shit.

[But history has always been pretty damn bleak.]

Series: The Ursula K. Le Guin Reread

Celebrating Christopher Tolkien’s Cartographic Legacy

Christopher Tolkien died last week at the age of 95. The third of J.R.R. Tolkien’s four children, he was his father’s literary executor and the editor of his posthumous works. He whipped The Silmarillion into publishable shape (with the assistance of a young Canadian philosophy student named Guy Gavriel Kay, whom we would hear more from later) and edited volume after volume of his father’s early drafts and other fragmentary tales.

But before that, Christopher Tolkien was his father’s first reader—and his cartographer. And while his obituaries mention the fact that he drew the first published map of the west of Middle-earth, which appeared in the first edition of The Fellowship of the Ring in 1954, they do so in passing, the map overshadowed by his later editorial and curatorial work.

I think that’s a mistake. Christopher Tolkien’s map proved to be a huge influence on the fantasy genre. It helped set the norm for subsequent epic fantasy novels; indeed it became the norm. Epic fantasy novels would come with maps—were supposed to come with maps—and in many cases those maps would look a lot like the one drawn by Christopher Tolkien.

So it’s worth taking a closer look at this map…

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Agent Smith Was Apparently Supposed to Be In Matrix 4

Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith met a pretty definitive end in the final installment of the Matrix trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions but that reportedly didn’t stop the writers from trying to include him in the upcoming Matrix 4. The character won’t appear in the film, however, according to new interview in Time Out London with Weaving.

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