Posts tagged fiction

The Death of the Magician - Liu Cixin

Medium, liu cixin, fiction, ottoman

His sense of time was very accurate: The tremor came the moment he expected it, a powerful, violent quake that seemed to originate from deep within the earth. The vibrating silver candelabra hummed, and a wisp of dust that had sat on top of the Great Palace for perhaps a thousand years fell down and drifted into the candle flames, where the motes exploded in tiny sparks.


Inbox Autopilot

Medium, Klint Finley, fiction, automation, saas, email, work

It was puzzling. I remembered the suggestion that they were outsourcing the email responses to call centers in the Philippines, but these emails were coming from someone not only familiar with construction administration, but with this specific project. That meant the only possible explanation was that they had some artificial intelligence software learn the project inside out by reading my email and automatically generating responses.


Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction Everything Change features twelve stories from our 2016 Climate Fiction…

fiction, ASU, climate change, climate fiction, cli-fi, climate futures

Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction

Everything Change features twelve stories from our 2016 Climate Fiction Short Story Contest along with along with a foreword by science fiction legend and contest judge Kim Stanley Robinson and an interview with renowned climate fiction author Paolo Bacigalupi.

“a lot of near-future science fiction is also becoming what some people now call climate fiction. This is because climate change is already happening, and has become an unavoidable dominating element in the coming century. The new name thus reflects the basic realism of near-future science fiction, and is just the latest in the names people have given it; in the 1980s it was often called cyberpunk, because so many near-future stories incorporated the coming dominance of globalization and the emerging neoliberal dystopia. Now it’s climate change that is clearly coming, even more certainly than globalization. That these two biophysical dominants constitute a kind of cause and effect is perhaps another story that near-future science fiction can tell.” 

– Kim Stanley Robinson

Everything Change is free to download, read, and share

Systems fiction: a novel way to think about the present

literature, systems-fiction, fiction, writing

Weirdly enough, science fiction is not the best lens through which to examine science fiction. In the 80s, critic Tom LeClair came up with an alternative category for all the weird literary novels that veered into speculative territory: the systems novel. These books pick apart how the systems that keep society chugging along work: politics, economics, sex and gender dynamics, science, ideologies – all can be explored through fiction, especially experimental fiction. LeClair applied this tag specifically to Don DeLillo, but it can be expanded more widely: think Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Jennifer Egan and Umberto Eco, among others. That may seem like an eclectic bunch to unite under one banner, but the systems novel is ultimately a space for ambitious thinkers, the ones who want to weave complex thoughts into a tastier parcel than some impenetrable academic tome.


Modern China is So Crazy It Needs a New Literary Genre

literature, fiction, china, corruption, CQWG, chaohuan

What are we to make of contemporary Chinese reality? Political scientists have their way of looking at things, as do economists, historians, sociologists, and philosophers. Make no mistake, we fiction writers have our way of looking at the world too. Only the fiction writer’s way of looking at the world is not just one more to add to our list. The fiction writer incorporates all ways of looking at the world into one. It is a compound eye. If Magic Realism was the way in which Latin American authors presented their view of their reality, then Ultra-Unreal Realism should be our name for the literature through which the Chinese regard their reality. The Chinese word “chaohuan” (ultra-unreal) is something of a play on the word “mohuan” (magic), as in “mohuan xianshizhuyi” (magic realism)— “mohuan” is “magical unreal,” and “chaohuan” is “surpassing the unreal.”


_9MOTHER9HORSE9EYES9: the mysterious tale terrifying Reddit

fiction, metafiction, review, reddit, storytelling, narrative, sci-fi, conspiracy, _9MOTHER9HORSE9EY

The user continued to post about topics including Vietnam, Elizabeth Bathory, the Treblinka concentration camp, humpback whales, the Manson Family and LSD, but especially about the inexplicable “flesh interfaces”, being built somehow by shadowy programmes. A Reddit user might chance upon a single one of these posts in one of their ordinary discussion threads, but clicking on the username of _9MOTHER9HORSE9EYES9 would let you view all their posts in aggregate, and there, a compelling science-fiction horror story was beginning to emerge, gradually more beautifully and boldly written from multiple narrative perspectives, but with a common mystery.


They Took Our Myths

HP Lovecraft, myth, mythos, information, fiction, reality, horror, copyright, old ones, Lovecraft, C

In Lovecraft, nothing is pure evil, and nothing is good either. The moral of every Lovecraft story is: the world is more complicated than you think, and sometimes in ways that will shorten your lifespan! That’s a hard thing to swallow. Science fiction readers have a better time swallowing it, I think, than some other groups (novelty is part of the reason people choose science fiction over some other genres), but nobody particularly likes to think that everything they know is wrong. That said, it’s a realistic worldview – and Lovecraft was prescient in the sense that it’s a worldview that is far more clearly realistic now, when communications technologies have made it very easy to come across dissenting opinions and well-documented facts that explode your umwelt, than it was during an era when a telephone was an expensive luxury and basic literacy was far less common.

The way gevulot works is by generating a tree of public and private key pairs: a new pair is generated whenever the user has a…

quantum thief, fiction, provacy, Hannu Rajaniemi

The way gevulot works is by generating a tree of public and private key pairs: a new pair is generated whenever the user has a new memory, domain or experience they want to specify gevulot rights for. They are also encrypted with the pair above them in the hierarchy. The point is that only the individual is supposed to have access to the root.

‘Except that—’

Hannu Rajaniemi in The Quantum Thief


fiction, Quinn Norton, AI, agents, soft AI, pattern recognition, algorithmics, automation

Since we’re agent engineers, my husband and I tend to think agents are great. Also, we’re lazy and stupid by our own happy admission — and agents make us a lot smarter and more productive than we would be if we weren’t “borrowing” our brains from the rest of the internet. Like most people, whatever ambivalence we feel about our agents is buried under how much better they make our lives. Agents aren’t true AI, though heavy users sometimes think they are. They are sets of structured queries, a few API modules for services the agent’s owner uses, sets of learning algorithms you can enable by “turning up” their intelligence, and procedures for interfacing with people and things. As you use them they collect more and more of a person’s interests and history — we used to say people “rub off” on their agents over time.–3d37adfc69a3

CliFi < Digitalmethods

climate change, cli-fi, near future, fiction, reading, literature, distant reading

This project explores cli-fi—fiction about climate change—in order to understand and categorize fictional scenarios about the future, and the role of human actors in those scenarios. This project uses digital methods to gather data from Amazon and Google Books, in conjuction with manual classification, in order to understand the current zeitgeist of climate change in fiction. Mainstream discourse suggests that the cli-fi genre aims to humanize the apocalyptic scenarios associated with climate change, and make relatable their potential outcomes:

Bruce Sterling: “From Beyond the Coming Age of Networked Matter,” a short story

bruce sterling, fiction, networked matter, eldridtch horrors, spacetime, bees, dark matter, dark e

Then from some dreadful tagged spot in geolocative extradimensionality came a seething, writhing cavalcade of immaterial shapes. These were the ghastly, tentacular exudations of a Dark Energy force in the universe—the multiplex arms of a face-sucking vampire squid, the dark lord of the mayhem around us that withered every mortal thing it could touch.

Opinions are non-contemporary

conjecture, culture, fiction, quotes, future present, future, James Bridle

It was essentially a quotedump of what’s in my head at the moment, but several people asked for the links mentioned, so here goes. The collective false memory syndrome that the UK is being implanted with, in regard of the Jubilee in particular, but everything from the Festival of Britain to “austerity”, is really weird and a little bit frightening; but imagine if we could invert it. Instead of falsifying the past to transform and rationalise the present, we could engineer the future in order to finally reach it. This is a pretty standard design fiction conjecture except I don’t care about design and people might actually get the idea if you explained in in terms of the Jubilee: the dark nostalgia mirror of empire that is eating the real. Eject! Eject!