speculative-fiction

On the “What would be humans’ weird thing” topic

What if it’s this insane need to over optimize? I mean, look at our competitions.  You can run fast enough for any practical purpose with, like, a few months’ training. And most species stop there, like sane people. 

But not humans. Humans are like, “Oh, well, you can cover a mile in 4 minutes and 3 seconds? Well I can do it in 4 minutes and two seconds!”  

Most species figure that, if you don’t drown when you’re thrown in a liquid, that’s what we call a “good swimmer”.  But humans are like “No, you have to swim in this specific way.  And then we’re gonna see who can do it fastest!”

How many millions of dollars have been spent on technology, nutrition, equipment, not to mention hours upon hours of practice, just to shave 1/10 of one second off of a race time?? 

Or they make up rules, and then compete to see who can adhere to them better. “Strap blades on your feet and move across a slippery surface – but do it in this way, in this amount of time: no more, no less!”

We have competitions wherein the top two competitors differ only in their ability to make a single muscle twitch 2% faster than their opponent, or to make this muscle twitch instead of that one.  There is no practical difference between an Olympic weightlifter and any random US Marine… but we keep holding the Olympics anyway. 

And I just think it’s possible the aliens are going to look at that and go… “You do what, now?”

7 reasons why solarpunk is the most important speculative fiction movement in the last 20 years
  1. It’s hopeful. Solarpunk doesn’t require an apocalypse. It’s a world in which humans haven’t destroyed ourselves and our environment, where we’ve pulled back just in time to stop the slow destruction of our planet. We’ve learned to use science wisely, for the betterment of ourselves and our planet. We’re no longer overlords. We’re caretakers. We’re gardeners.
  2. Scientists are heroes again. And not just physicists and astronomers. Knowledge of biology and earth sciences matter, they’re the building blocks for a future on Earth. Scientific literacy isn’t just for academics – it’s part of daily life. People know how the things they use work, and if they don’t, they can access that information. 
  3. It’s diverse. Solarpunk is rooted in using the environment, so it looks different in different places. Alternative energy is best when specific to place (I imagine geothermal, wind, tidal, and hydroelectric energy sources are still used in certain places) so no overarching government system is needed. Communities can organize themselves, taking their own location and needs and history into account. Brazilian, Inuit, Egyptian, Pacific Northwest, and New Zealand solarpunk can all look very different, but be unified in resourceful, intentional, low impact living.
  4. Individuality still matters. In a post-scarcity society, ingenuity and self-expression are not sacrificed on the altar of survival. With solar power there’s no reason not to go off grid, if that’s what you want to do. Communities can self-organize. You can find a community that suits you, or go live by yourself if that floats your boat.
  5. There’s room for spirituality and science to coexist. Solarpunk is rooted in a deep understanding and reverence for natural processes. There’s room for spirituality there, be it pagan, Buddhist, Sufi, Transcendentalism – anything. There’s so much to explore, from nature worship to organized monotheistic religions, and how they interact with solarpunk.
  6. It’s beautiful. The most common solarpunk aesthetic is art nouveau, but again there’s room for diversity, incorporating art styles from multiple cultures in respectful, non-appropriative ways. The most important aspect of solarpunk aesthetic is the melding of art and utility. The idea of intentional living is strong in art nouveau, but it’s not the only art movement with that philosophy.
  7. We can make it happen. Now. Earthships. Permaculture. Aquaponics. Algae lighting. Compostable products that turn into fields of flowers. Buy Nothing organizations. Tiny, beautiful, efficient homes. Solar power cells you can see through. That’s all happening now. Solarpunk is within our grasp, at least on a personal level. I’m not saying there aren’t still big, ugly infrastructures devoted to unethical consumption, but we can start to tear them down. We can build a solarpunk world with stories and small changes. And small changes lead to big changes. That’s the real beauty of solarpunk. It’s not a post-apocalyptic power fantasy. It’s not a wistful daydream, or an elite future only for physicists. It’s something we can work towards right now. It’s tangible.
nytimes.com
Margaret Atwood on What ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Means in the Age of Trump
Atwood on whether her dystopian classic is meant as a “feminist” novel, as antireligion or as a prediction.
By Margaret Atwood

TW for sexual assault, gender violence

“Which brings me to three questions I am often asked.

First, is “The Handmaid’s Tale” a “feminist” novel? If you mean an ideological tract in which all women are angels and/or so victimized they are incapable of moral choice, no. If you mean a novel in which women are human beings - with all the variety of character and behavior that implies - and are also interesting and important, and what happens to them is crucial to the theme, structure and plot of the book, then yes. In that sense, many books are “feminist.”

Why interesting and important? Because women are interesting and important in real life. They are not an afterthought of nature, they are not secondary players in human destiny, and every society has always known that. Without women capable of giving birth, human populations would die out. That is why the mass rape and murder of women, girls and children has long been a feature of genocidal wars, and of other campaigns meant to subdue and exploit a population. Kill their babies and replace their babies with yours, as cats do; make women have babies they can’t afford to raise, or babies you will then remove from them for your own purposes, steal babies - it’s been a widespread, age-old motif. The control of women and babies has been a feature of every repressive regime on the planet. Napoleon and his “cannon fodder,” slavery and its ever-renewed human merchandise — they both fit in here. Of those promoting enforced childbirth, it should be asked: Cui bono? Who profits by it? Sometimes this sector, sometimes that. Never no one.”

Read the full essay by Margaret Atwood here

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Here are my World Book Day picks in no specific order. Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five should be in here but I think it’s waddled off into the sunset without me:

  • Catherynne M. Valente - The Orphan’s Tales Vol 1: In The Night Garden
  • Robert Heinlein - Stranger In A Strange Land
  • Rainer Maria Rilke - The Sonnets To Orpheus
  • Arundhati Roy - The God of Small Things
  • Karel Čapek - War With the Newts
  • Frank Herbert - Dune
  • George Orwell  - 1984
  • Margaret Atwood - Oryx & Crake
  • Jack London - White Fang
  • Jane Lindskold - Changer

[animated version here]

ASPEROUS 

[adjective] 

1. rough, rugged, uneven.

2. bitter, cruel, severe, harsh.

Etymology: ultimately from Latin asperitatem (nominative asperitas), “roughness,” from asper, “rough, harsh”.

[Dora Wednesday - Dune: The Spice Must Flow feat. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard (animated version here)]

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What happens in Russia…

A/NAKA what I hope happens in Russia.  It’s been so long since I did one of these scenes, I feel extremely rusty.  Hope you like!  Gif Credit: ??

Disclaimer:  This is not a spoiler, this is fanfiction.

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In the dark forests outside Poughkeepsie, N.Y., two sisters live alone. Lexa, mute, communicates only with her unnerving rag doll. Addison, the elder, gets on her motorbike after dark and ventures into the city, now deserted and terribly transformed after a mysterious incident called the Spill — which claimed both their parents.

Scott Westerfeld says the inspiration for his new graphic novel Spill Zone came partly from a photograph taken in Pripyat, the city just outside the Chernobyl nuclear complex. I had a cool email conversation with him, which you can check out here.

And for DC/MD/VA locals, come say hi in person!  We’ll be in conversation on Thursday, May 4 at 7pm at the Bethesda Library, 7400 Arlington Rd., Bethesda MD 20814 – see you there! (And of course, May the 4th be with you.)

– Petra

I can’t explain why but out of all the sci-fi subgenres, time travel is the one that doesn’t spark any interest in me. And it doesn’t make sense? I’ll read historical fiction, so it’s not that. I’ve read time travel that I like (Connie Willis, anyone?) but anything that has the premise of time travel I’m immediately like ehhh.

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[image description: the covers of The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie, The Olive Conspiracy by Shira Glassman, The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster, Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst, The Better To Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood, The Warrior, The Healer, and the Thief by Diana Jean, The Swan Riders by Erin Bow, Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee, The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz]

2016 F/F SFF

Books coming out in 2016 that involve women (cis or trans) who end up in happily-ever-afters with each other, either in outer space, the future, castles, pirate ships, wherever. Fantasy and sci-fi lesbians and bi/pan/otherwise multisexual women of the year!