Nothing builds intricate worlds like the attention to detail given to the story’s geography. What makes a setting compelling is the effort that goes into creating elaborate planets that are logical and familiar in terms of geology, history, climate and all that encompasses the geographical nature of the fictional world.
Continue reading “Panology of Science Fiction: G” →
Of all the tropes, the ‘Last of a Kind’ concept is one of that rare theme, plot and character devices that has evolved into mythical existence with one perfect master stroke. Richard Matheson’s classic vampire novel towers over them all. ‘I Am Legend (1954)’ is an ingenious hybrid of two previous classics, such as Mary Shelley’s ‘The Last Man (1826)’ and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula (1897)’. Vampirism and plague, a combination that captures the definitive pretext for a last man alive narrative, grounding the myth of the supernatural with the reality of pathogens.
Matheson also deploys another trope in the finale of the story, one that is more devastating in its social commentary. The vampires, the pandemic, and the last man on Earth are just the setup for the novella’s central message, and it’s the one element shunned by all the film adaptations to date.
Continue reading “The Omega Legend” →
Here I am, facing the nadir of my existence, and I have the need to go to work. A specialist recommended I do so. I don’t think that the psychiatrist had any inkling of who I am, or how volatile I had become, but I take the advice. Learning to live again, and going back to work is the first step.
Continue reading “Neechat” →
The field of economics probably bores the average lit reader, and probably most sci-fi readers as well. Yet the best sci-fi reads are the ones that construct plausible alternative financial constructs and economic environments. Whether we like it or not, our lives are immersed and enslaved to whatever the current economic paradigm is in place. So much so that most people don’t even know that alternatives exist. They don’t comprehend that the economic system that they are bound to be only an invention, and that other (maybe better, possibly worse) systems can exist.
Continue reading “Panology of Science Fiction: F” →
Aris Forcer sensed it in every cell in his human body.
Continue reading “Chthonic Punk” →
A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam.
Stories about the ‘mad scientist’ kicked off genre literature, ever since Daedalus fabricated wings from feathers and wax for himself and his son Icarus. Invention is the heart of all sci-fi stories, which in turn becomes the heart of inspiration that turns science fantasy into reality. Geosynchronous communications satellites, computer worms, Segways, wall-mounted home theatres, exoskeletons, smartphones, virtual worlds, and organ harvesting were all described by sci-fi writers long before engineers turned them into reality.
Continue reading “Panology of Science Fiction: E” →
“It’s a square.”
Silv heard correctly but wanted clarification. “What do you mean a square?”
“Probe One has just completed a second sweep over your location,” said The Captain, sitting comfortably in the Vitalis Express orbiting KIC10905746 C. “We’ve now got a clearer picture of what’s down there. The anomaly’s actually a large geometric shape, fifty metres wide, just north of your location. In fact, there is a grid of quadrilateral structures underneath a kilometre of nitrogen ice.”
Looking over at Denis, Silv felt vindicated. “Was I right in choosing this dormant glacier for a first landing?”
“Could be naturally occurring formations,” said Denis.
Continue reading “Relic Hunters” →
Whether it’s curing existing diseases or encountering new ones, a bit or a lot of pathologies doesn’t hurt a story or make for a bad plot device. Injecting fear and dread into any scenario can be as easy as prescribing an epidemiologist or two.
Continue reading “Panology of Science Fiction: D” →
Life imitates art.
It inevitably has to, because art starts off by imitating reality in an attempt to explain it in ways we humans can understand. We tell each other stories, to teach ourselves how to coexist in this strange existence, this universe. We learn from these tales all about what it means to be complex social beings.
Continue reading “Rise of the Dark Empire: A Star Wars Tragedy” →
The featureless salt desert spread out to infinity. The horizon; nothing but a smooth chrome landscape under a dark taupe sky. The type-2 moon’s gravity helped her along, but the cold surface seemed to sap the warmth out of her suit with every step.
Ashley Isuuza couldn’t complain. She’d craved adventure ever since birth, and no adventure was worth taking without the prospect of death associated with it. So in theory, her little stroll across Obirus b III exemplified the very essence of a perfect, eventful life. Yet Ashley suspected she wasn’t going to live to tell her story.
Continue reading “The Tesseract” →
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