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?”

Image by Marian Carrasquero/NPR

“’Swimmer Among the Stars,’ the title story of Kanishk Tharoor’s debut collection, tackles one of the trickiest subjects for fiction writers: using language to discuss language itself,” says our critic Jason Heller.

… Tharoor probes the flaws of language when paired with technology, but he also playfully dwells on the way modern media allows us to sift through the world and see it however we wish.

Find the full review here.

– 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.

I just wrote a scene for my thesis and I’m really excited about it! I feel like I found a character who I thought was going to be impossible to find, and I think this is actually going to be a publishable novella that people might want to read! The concept is pretty neat, if I do say so myself, and now that this character is starting to come alive (well… alive might not be the best word…) I think I have a good shot. 

My current read hasn’t sold me. The second part was the strongest, but the first felt tacked on and this third I’ve just begun has drifting into somewhere strange. There’s also been a few red flags that I’m hoping will be addressed (but my hopes are waning a little). However, I can’t ignore just how relevant this book’s speculative future is to current events. I guess I’ll just have to keep reading.

American War by Omar El Akkad

Solarpunk is just as much a utopic fantasy dependent on invisible Macguffin as the Gleaming Atomic future of the 50′s and 60′s.  It’s fantasy is of 100% efficient, clean solar energy that cures all social ills.  This is as much a fantasy as a matter replicator on star trek or the clean and safe nuclear power of the Jetsons

.  Solarpunk’s defined by what’s missing from it’s sunny, stained glass worlds.   Namely, the means of production, the problems of energy storage, ignorance of class inequalities in access to technology, and the miraculous resolution of all social conflict.

Solarpunk is a ridiculous dream as it is now conceived..  If you’re attached to the aesthetic and don’t want to be disillusioned about your nice sun themed fashion lines don’t read on.  Or you don’t want to listen to a cranky person.

Keep reading

All Mixed Characters in a Dystopia

@biology15 asked:

I’ve come up with a dystopian world where everyone is of multiple/mixed races to some extent, including the main characters. The MCs are the heroes but are portrayed by the government as criminals, and, for some time, they also believe that they are criminals too. The president of the country is of mainly European decent, however, she has tan skin, coming from families with North African and East African ancestry as well. And four out of the six main characters have darker skin tones. Would this come off as racism towards darker-skinned mixed people (because they are “criminals” but are actually on the good side), even if there are lighter-toned mixed people on the good side and darker-skinned mixed people on the bad side too?

And everyone in my story is of mixed heritage, naturally, including part-east-asian/part-blacks, part-arab/part-latinx, and so on. Would this in any way come off as fetishization towards uncommon mixed people in today’s world?

Good question. With a dystopian world like that it’s good to really look at your world-building process and ask the right questions. 

  • How did the world turn out the way it did?
  • Why would everyone mix until everyone is mixed race?
  • What happened to the people who don’t want to mix (for any possible reason)?
  • What effect does this “we’re all mixed” situation have on the racism happening globally? (chances of racism being solves are next to 0 to be honest, so really think and do some research to make this realistic)
  • How does this affect the current views on race as a (social) construct?

Personally, I have to say that speculative worlds where everyone is mixed feel very unrealistic to me. I know interracial couples could easily increase over time and be more normalized, but I hardly think all people would let go of their reasons not to. I’ve had people tell them right to my face more than once, as well as seen them on the internet. There’s obviously the people who feel like “race purity” is a thing. The people who feel their or a certain race are superior *cough* white supremacists *cough*

You also have the people who see how other races keep on hating on them and decide to date people who actually appreciate and understand them. I bet there are more reasons on people’s minds, some I’d say good for you while other’s I’d personally want to dump on a faraway island so they don’t ruin the world for the rest of us. Reality is, all of those people exist, so what happened to those groups in your world?

Racism, colorism and anti-Blackness

Your question about the racism against darker-skinned people (colorism) is a good one to ask. Yes, I think colorism would most definitely exist in your world and could even be a hugely popular sentiment. Just think about how anti-Black racism can be found almost anywhere in the world and see how dark-skinned Black people are being treated the worst compared to lighter skinned Black people.

Your country’s leader demonizing your main characters by portraying them as criminals could easily be seen as an act of colorism. It depends on how they treat other dark-skinned people, if the discrimination is systematic and structural, and if and how you portray them in your writing. 

However, with how racism works in our world, many people could easily see this leader as racist or stereotype your main characters, consciously or unconsciously. Good thing to keep in mind. 

Mixed race and stereotypes

Another pitfall are the stereotypes surrounding mixed people that can seep into your writing. Multiracial people are not the epitome of the human race. We are not the answer to ending racism and we aren’t all a clear representation of our cultures and races in terms of our appearances. There are vastly different ways to identify as well. Some identify as one of their races, some as a few and some as all. Some identify as mixed, bi- or multiracial. I bet there could be more. 

Also be careful about the ambiguously brown thing. A common thing with mixed race characters is that writings find ways to omit culture or any sense they might have of their race and how it impacts their identity. They’re only POC in a superficial way. It’s not a problem because such mixed race characters exist, it’s a problem because it’s the norm. It’s a problem because they get whitewashed so easily and frequently. 

On “we’re all mixed”

The whole “we’re all mixed” scenarios leads to and ignores many problems due to (internalized) oppressive views and systems being seen as the default. This is one of the many reasons why many people don’t like it. 

If you want to write such a world, do your research, and ask appropriate beta-readers to check out your story. Be respectful and listen to the people you’re representing as well as the ones whom you’re actively NOT representing. POC often see themselves overlooked and erased from  stories, even their own, so think about how a world where they’ve been consciously taken out (maybe not literally, but that’s how it could feel) feels to POC.

~ Mod Alice


Here’s a little something I came up. Lemme know what you think.

A blend of cyberpunk and solarpunk. Mankind has begun harvesting meteorites and asteroids for their minerals, making buildings and technology out of them. In a twisted version of solarpunk, everything is powered by solar energy, but by draining the energy through a machine, slowly accelerating the Sun’s life cycle by tens of thousands of years every month.


It’s a new season, a new month, and a new week too, which means more new books are out. If you’re looking for what’s coming out in science fiction & fantasy right now… I got you. Here are seven new speculative fiction releases hitting the shelves today:

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by Mark Lawrence (Fantasy)

The international bestselling author of the Broken Empire and the Red Queen’s War trilogies begins a stunning epic fantasy series about a secretive order of holy warriors…

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy, young girls are raised to be killers. In some few children the old bloods show, gifting rare talents that can be honed to deadly or mystic effect. But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls.

A bloodstained child of nine falsely accused of murder, guilty of worse, Nona is stolen from the shadow of the noose. It takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist, but under Abbess Glass’s care there is much more to learn than the arts of death. Among her class Nona finds a new family—and new enemies.

Despite the security and isolation of the convent, Nona’s secret and violent past finds her out, drawing with it the tangled politics of a crumbling empire. Her arrival sparks old feuds to life, igniting vicious struggles within the church and even drawing the eye of the emperor himself.

Beneath a dying sun, Nona Grey must master her inner demons, then loose them on those who stand in her way.


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by Omar El Akkad (Science Fiction | Dystopian)

An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be…

Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.


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by Claudia Grey (Science Fiction | Space Opera | Young Adult)

From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Lost Stars and Bloodline comes a thrilling sci-fi adventure that Kass Morgan, bestselling author of The 100 series, calls “startlingly original and achingly romantic…nothing short of masterful.”

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything–including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.


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by Ruthanna Emrys (Historical, Dark Fantasy | Horror)

“Winter Tide is a weird, lyrical mystery — truly strange and compellingly grim. It’s an innovative gem that turns Lovecraft on his head with cleverness and heart” —Cherie Priest

After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.

The government that stole Aphra’s life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race.

Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.

Winter Tide is the debut novel from Ruthanna Emrys, author of the Aphra Marsh story, “The Litany of Earth”–included here as a bonus.


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by Tanith Lee (Dark Fantasy | Fairy Tales)

You’ve rarely seen your favorite fairy tale characters quite like this.

In 1983, Tanith Lee captivated readers with Red as Blood, a collection of short stories featuring twisted and dark retellings of Grimms’ fairy tales. Earning a World Fantasy Award, plus a Nebula Award nomination for its titular story, Red as Blood uniquely challenged the fantasy genre.

And now Lee returns with a companion collection!

Redder Than Blood features three brand-new and sixteen previously published stories that irreverently reshape popular fairy tales, including Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince, Swan Lake, Beauty and the Beast, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Snow White, and more.

Don’t miss this newest volume of stories encompassing twenty-five years of a master fantasist’s remarkable career.


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by Cherie Priest (Historical Fantasy)

A new dark historical fantasy from the “supremely gifted”* Cherie Priest, author of Mapelcroft and Boneshaker.

In the trenches of Europe during the Great War, Tomás Cordero operated a weapon more devastating than any gun: a flame projector that doused the enemy in liquid fire. Having left the battlefield a shattered man, he comes home to find yet more tragedy—for in his absence, his wife has died of the flu. Haunted by memories of the woman he loved and the atrocities he perpetrated, Tomás dreams of fire and finds himself setting match to flame when awake….

Alice Dartle is a talented clairvoyant living among others who share her gifts in the community of Cassadaga, Florida. She too dreams of fire, knowing her nightmares are connected to the shell-shocked war veteran and widower. And she believes she can bring peace to him and his wife’s spirit.

But the inferno that threatens to consume Tomás and Alice was set ablaze centuries ago by someone whose hatred transcended death itself….


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by Claire North (Speculative Fiction)

At the end of the day, Death visits everyone. Right before that, Charlie does.

You might meet him in a hospital, in a warzone, or at the scene of a traffic accident.

Then again, you might meet him at the North Pole - he gets everywhere, our Charlie.

Would you shake him by the hand, take the gift he offers, or would you pay no attention to the words he says?

Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. He never knows which.

The End of the Day is the stunning new novel by Claire North, author of word-of-mouth bestseller The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.


Are you the protagonist inside a work of speculative fiction? Here’s an idea! Live a normal life doing normal things, like getting on a bus and thinking about dinner, but then encounter some fresh coriander! Yes, fresh coriander is the Must-Have Mustard of the speculative fiction world, and you can buy some right here on this blog today at a reasonable amount! Hurry, the call to adventure awaits, and it’s green!

On the subject of “the /d/iscourse,” I’ve noticed a lot of porn artists tend to “justify” the prescence of f*ta in their works as a “third gender” often with a “sudden emergence.”

Now, this is dumb and problematic on so many levels, but one more of those levels include the fact that, it bugs me how none of those artists bother to actually try to come up with any actual new biological sexes outsde of the actual IRL human sex spectrum.

Like, for example, two of the ones I’ve come up with are an organ that shoots psychedelic prehensile sex-gas, or an organ that produces sonic sex-vibrations called a Fuckscreamer.

Like, the sky’s the limit, and y’all do want to be considered the progenitors of a new fetish, right?! Get creative dammit!