The strange, secretive world of North Korean science fiction
Stories often touch on topics like space travel, benevolent robots, disease-curing nanobots, and deep-sea exploration. They lack aliens and beings with superpowers. Instead, the real superheroes are the exceptional North Korean scientists and technologists who carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.
These stories are often rich in political tension, featuring “breathtaking confrontations between North Korea and the United States,” said Jang Hyuk, a young math graduate who defected from North Korea a few years ago. As in Change Course, North Koreans in sci-fi are typically portrayed as trying to save somebody, while the Americans are the villains who want “to monopolize and weaponize [technology] to dominate the world,” he added.
To a Western reader, such plots might seem ludicrous, perhaps designed to boost the confidence of a nation with little contact with the rest of the world. However, exploring them deeper might reveal a more nuanced layer of understanding.
Strange Adventures: a film list
Presenting the list I mentioned earlier in which I highlight a number of worthwhile science-fiction films (also some TV productions) that aren’t the usual Hollywood fare. I’ve spent the past few years watching many of these while searching for more. This isn’t a definitive collection, and it isn’t filled with favourites; I’ve deliberately omitted a number of popular films that would count as such. It’s more a map of my generic tastes, and an answer to a question that isn’t always spoken aloud in discussions I’ve had about SF films but which remains implicit: “Okay, if you dislike all this stuff then what do you like?” I tend to like marginal things, hybrids, edge cases, the tangential, the unusual and the experimental.
Just the stills make for interesting browsing.
All the (open) world’s a stage: how the video game Fallout became a backdrop for live Shakespeare shows
The Wasteland Theatre Company is not your average band of thespians. Dotted all across the world, they meet behind their keyboards to perform inside Fallout 76, a video game set in a post-nuclear apocalyptic America.
There are no ticketed seats, and the company makes no money. The majority of audiences stumble across the performances accidentally in the wasteland, and sit to watch the show for free – or tune in on Twitch, where the company broadcasts every performance live. Characters stride across stages that are cantilevered together from in-game objects. Lighting cues provide atmosphere. Soliloquies are passionately delivered.
TVA Multifunctional Computer
Finding the Story
I see that Star Trek: Voyager has added a new character, a Borg. (From the photos, I also see that they’re still breeding women for breast size in the 24th century.) What ticked me off was the producer’s comment (I’m paraphrasing), “The addition of Seven of Nine will give us limitless story possibilities.”
I would watch dan luu trek.
Escape Into These Fantastical, Imaginary Maps
This week, why not venture even farther afield, to lands that don’t really exist at all? Atlas Obscura recently asked map collectors and curators to suggest some diverting maps that chart imaginary terrain.
How to Read “Gilgamesh”
The heart of the world’s oldest long poem is found in its gaps and mysteries.
Movie plots, visualized.
Adventures In Interactivity
That book was Creating Adventure Games on Your Computer by Tim Hartnell. The book taught me how to make rudimentary text adventure games on my Apple ][ as a kid and prompted a recent adventure of revisiting the classic text adventures of the past. So grab a torch and get your map making tools ready because today’s Tedium is an exploration of text adventures through the years. Try not to get eaten by a grue along the way.
Medieval Fantasy City Generator
This application generates a random medieval city layout of a requested size. The generation method is rather arbitrary, the goal is to produce a nice looking map, not an accurate model of a city. Maybe in the future I’ll use its code as a basis for some game or maybe not.
Contemporary science fiction often feels fixated on a sort of pessimism that peers into the world of tomorrow and sees the apocalypse looming more often than not. At a time when simply reading the news is an exercise in exhaustion, anxiety, and fear, it’s no surprise that so many of our tales about the future are dark amplifications of the greatest terrors of the present. But now more than ever, we also need the reverse: stories that inspire hope.
That’s why, starting on January 14th, we’ll be publishing Better Worlds: 10 original fiction stories, five animated adaptations, and five audio adaptations by a diverse roster of science fiction authors who take a more optimistic view of what lies ahead in ways both large and small, fantastical and everyday.
To make 1997’s Blade Runner, Westwood first had to create the universe
Castle’s team faced a considerable number of challenges in bringing the cinematic world of Blade Runner to life using the technologies of the day, most of which stemmed from having to invent, from whole cloth, a way to seamlessly mesh their pre-rendered world with animated voxel characters (it turned out to be vastly more complicated than simply sticking a sprite in front of the background). Tackling this issue introduced an entire interconnected tapestry of difficult problems to solve, very few of which are faced by modern developers who can pick from ready-made game engines to license and use.
HOT TAKE on the recent CPU Bugs
You weep over the side channel attacks and you curse Intel. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know; that speculative execution, while dangerous, probably saves cores. And my optimizations, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, save cores. You don’t want in order execution because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want the most instructions per cycle.
The Little Printf
One day, I was stuck in an airport coming back from a conference, furiously typing at a terminal, when an odd, gentle voice asked me:
If you please, design me a system!
Design me a system!
I looked up from my screen, surprised by the request. I looked around and saw this kid who aspired to be a developer and wanted me to call him “printf”, which I felt was very stupid and gimmicky.
An artist on creating the retro art for a new edition of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers
The Folio Society is responsible for a number of beautiful editions of classic works of science fiction. Earlier this fall, it began offering another fan-favorite edition: Robert L. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.
In addition to the additional commentary, the Folio Society commissions original art for each book, beautiful illustrations that complement the scenes are you read them. The Verge spoke with artist Hickman about his approach to illustrating Heinlein’s classic novel.
Exploring the Future Beyond Cyberpunk’s Neon and Noir
Which microgenres are bubbling up, and which trends and themes best describe how creators are imagining the future? Here are nine suggestions.
After the robot uprising was put down, we hunted down the programmers.
Kolyma Stories, by Varlam Shalamov
That is not blurb inflation. Note that the book is long (734 pp. of stories), and the reading is slow, mostly because the narratives lack redundant information, not because they are clumsy or awkwardly written. It also takes perhaps a few stories to get into the swing of things and figure out how the fictional yet not fictional universe works here. But the content is entirely gripping, and full of social science.
Haven’t read it, but maybe some day.
Life isn’t perfect. Your profile should be.